May 21, 2015

The Little Things

Now that the weather is finally warmer, I'm spending more time outside and realizing how good it feels to go at a slower pace, to enjoy more of the little things in life: the trees turning green, flowers blooming everywhere, playful birds or squirrels, and geese returning home.

This time of year, there is so much happening all around with nature coming alive again that, even in the city, I find that I can't help but "stop and smell the roses" from time to time no matter where I am or what I'm doing. It's such a welcome change from the cold days of winter when all I can think about while I'm outside is how to make my way quicker from one place to another. Sure, there are just as many things piling on my to-do list as ever but, once I've stopped for a second to notice a bunch of bright yellow daffodils, switched my attention from my phone to the chirping birds nearby or caught an intoxicatingly sweet whiff coming from a lilac tree, everything seems a bit more manageable and a little less threatening or overwhelming. It's a good reminder that I need to do this more throughout the year, and not just in the spring.

This past weekend was a long one, and it was long enough to be outside enjoying the beauty of our garden and prepping it for even more beautiful (and delicious!) things to come over the next few months; long enough to rest and recharge with my family, and yes, long enough to fill my camera with snaps of everything that caught my eye; my favourite, by far, was the blooming apple tree from our backyard.

April 20, 2015

Clear Skies Ahead

Literally and figuratively. Although we are anticipating some rain intermittently throughout this week (and the rest of the season, I'm sure), the tendency is towards warmer, sunnier and longer days. Similarly, I've felt that my life is slowly heading in the right way, towards the vision that I've had for many years and that has gotten so much clearer in the last few weeks. Just like the changing of the seasons, I am aware that the process will be slow and gradual and yes, I am expecting some rain (read: setbacks) along the way but now, unlike any other time before, I'm feeling so much more confident about this path.

In more concrete terms, over the last few weeks I have been following the B-School course by Marie Forleo and it's been such an eye opening experience. Beyond clarity, this course has given me so many tools to help me grow my business and to go after my dreams that now, unlike before, not only do I have the vision for the future but also an action plan with steps I need to take to get me there. I now know what changes I need to make to this site for better design, navigation, and functionality; I know how and when to send my upcoming newsletter and what to include in it; I am much more aware of my mission with this blog and all the other aspects of my business; I am committed to sharing so much more over here than I have until now. And this is not all; there is so much more on the pipeline. But most importantly, I know that, slowly - as time permits - I will make it all happen.

In addition to the lessons from B-School, I'm putting into practice what I've learned at IIN as well (if you'd like to chat about health and wellness with me, please make sure to get in touch), I'm building an online yarn shop that I am more and more proud of, and I'm talking regularly with like-minded people. I truly feel like this is the time when many good things are converging and helping me build momentum towards something especially good. Of course, there is so much more still to figure out, but I feel like I am finally getting a good start towards my dreams - sunshine and warm weather are helping too.

I'd love to know, where are you on the road to following your dreams? Please let me know in the comments below.

April 7, 2015

Self-Care Week

I believe that self care should be a priority every day of our lives. This is something that I have learned from the beautiful Jess Ainscough as I've witnessed from afar her commitment to giving herself the best possible care every single day, and something that I will carry with me forever.

That being said, with everything that I have on my plate right now - a full-time job, a side business, a blog, and hopefully some time to spend with loved ones, including two energetic pets - there have been times when I felt that I had to choose between taking care of myself and keeping up in all these different parts of my life. Although I know better, that taking good care of myself first will actually help me handle all the other things much more effortlessly, self-care has in fact taken the backseat on quite a few occasions lately.

This is not something that I want to keep doing though so, since I am off work this week, it felt like the perfect time to reprioritize and make self-care a main focus in my life again. I thought it would be even more fun to share my progress on Twitter and Instagram with the hashtag #tsojselfcareweek and I'd love to have you join in if you'd like.

So what exactly do I mean when I'm talking about self-care? To me, self-care is anything that helps my body, mind and soul to be well and to thrive. For some examples, below is a list of the things that I'm planning to or have already started to incorporate into my days:

- daily green smoothies and, who knows, maybe some green juices too
- early bed times and/or later wake-up calls, to allow my body enough time to rest and recover
- healthy meals rich in vegetables, fruits and whole grains
- pampering my skin with nourishing, all-natural oils, creams and treatments
- hot towel scrubs
- long walks outside with the pup (hopefully soaking some healing sunshine too)
- any type of exercise that will get me to move my body and enjoy myself at the same time
- oil pulling with coconut oil
- cozying up on the couch or the bed with a good book
- reminding myself of all the good things that I have in my life and that make me happy
- slowing down, doing less, or even nothing at all sometimes
- decluttering and cleaning up my space

Of course, this isn't a comprehensive list and I'm sure that there are plenty other things both you and I can incorporate into our days to give ourselves the best possible care (because we really do deserve it!) - please share your favourites with me either in the comments belor, or on Twitter and Instagram using the hashtag #tsojselfcareweek. Here's to a truly self-indulgent week and the beginning of a more self-caring and self-loving version of ourselves.

March 31, 2015


Last week I talked at length about what my life has looked like over the last few months and about everything that has been on my mind, so I thought now would be a good time to focus on the present and look at what is going on right now.

These are a few of the things filling my days lately:

enjoying the evening sunlight until long after I get home from work (read: for another hour or so)

finally seeing bigger and bigger patches of ground as the snow is melting (read: happy dance!)

wearing slightly fewer and slightly thinner layers to go outside

jumping for joy about this short workweek followed by a full week off from my 9-to-5 job

taking short walks in the sunshine every day at lunchtime

listing new items in the yarn shop: thinner yarns perfect for spring and summer in all sorts of pretty neutrals

joining this year's session of B-School and loving it

Skyping every week with some wonderful ladies who are keeping me accountable and helping me move through any challenges that come up

using every free moment (ha!) to write and write some more so I can get myself out of this terrible block I've been in

eating chia pudding almost every day and craving it on all the other days

chasing a particularly playful kitty around the house

I'd love to know, what's going on in your world? Let me know in the comments!

PS: This post was inspired by similar ones I've seen - and loved! - on Elise's blog

March 28, 2015

From My Heart

These days, posts are few and far between in this space. It isn't because I don't enjoy blogging anymore, not at all; in fact, I'm constantly "writing" posts in my head and dreaming of sitting at the computer with the post editor open, creating and expressing myself through this medium. Blogging is actually something that shows up in all of my dreams of the future, a big part of my life and my career.

Recently, I've felt such a deep longing to write again here, in a more consistent way. At the same time though, I've felt stuck. So completely stuck. At the end of February, I made an editorial calendar for the entire month of March, and I had planned 3 posts for every week. I created only one of those 13 posts - the one where I talked about becoming an online shop owner - but I opened this blank text box so many times trying to fill it up with words and pictures, with no success.

You see, what's probably even more important to me than consistency in this space, is authenticity. I've been immersed in this blogging world for long enough to know what I like about my favourite blogs and what I'd like to emulate in my own. And powering through, talking about kind travelling or natural face products I use and love, like I had planned, just didn't feel authentic when all of my time, energy and thoughts are taken over by other, deeper and more challenging issues. Sure, these are things that I am still very much interested in writing about at some point, just not right now, when most days I feel like I'm just trying to keep my head above the water.

These last few weeks and months have challenged me in many ways. I've been spending my days working at a full-time job that, although I enjoy, has been demanding so much more than a full-time commitment from me. I've been using the little time I have outside of that job to build my own business, to focus on my self-care (not always with success) and to spend time with the most important people in this world to me, my family. I've been taking care, alongside my family, of a sweet pup that has been dealing with health issues for over two months now (and for whom, thankfully, we finally found answers last week, so things are starting to look up). I've been adjusting to life without one of the handful of women who inspired me the most and who completely changed the course of my life for the better - something that took me completely by surprise in how much it has affected me - while still constantly learning from her. All of this - and more - has happened through one of the most frigid winters we've had, that has been tough on the body and mind of this summer-loving girl.

I'd love to write more about each of these things, and I probably will, slowly, along the way, as I take time to think them through and to make sense of them for myself enough to turn the jumbled mess that's swirling in my head right now into a series of thoughts and sentences that make sense to everyone else too.

I've been craving to write some more light-hearted posts as well, where I can put some words and pictures together in a way that is still valuable enough for you to take time out of your day to read and that allows me to express my own creativity and views of the world. With all that has been going on, this is where I have gotten stuck a lot, not just because my thoughts have been taken over by the heavier stuff, but because long days at the office don't make for very many photo opportunities, so my digital camera has remained home and my phone camera has stayed neatly tucked into my coat pocket.

At this point though, I'm very optimistic about what lies ahead, both because some of these issues are starting to get resolved (spring is here and warmer days are on the horizon, and the pup is getting back his health, energy and playfulness too!) but because I've come across a message that has been shifting my perspective. 

The idea that life is beautiful no matter what we are faced with has shown up for me in so many forms lately that I can't help but take notice and explore the meaning of it. I know that not every challenging thing is going to magically disappear from my life and that I cannot control what will happen in the future (good or bad) but I'm learning that I can take control over how I react and how I let these things affect me and more importantly, I'm learning to enjoy or at least appreciate all of them - especially the tough ones - for what they are because they are such an essential part of our experience of life. 

What I am most looking forward to though, is sharing all these experiences here because the most important lesson I have finally learned recently is that everything is better when you're part of a supportive community.

So, I'll end this on a positive note, by saying thank you for being here and reading these words - whether you're a long-time reader, a recent one or just someone who happened upon this page through a Google search that seems completely unrelated to the content on this site - and wishing you a wonderful spring ahead!

March 2, 2015

My New Title: Shop Owner

On January 4, just in time for the new year, I officially started a new chapter in my life: I opened the doors to our online yarn shop called Josephine Yarns. Although we had been working on getting everything together for many months before, sharing our work and making it available to the whole wide world felt like such a massive step forward.

This journey has been nothing like I had expected. It challenged me in ways that I didn't see coming, and in forcing me to overcome those challenges so we can move forward, it made me braver and more confident in the things that I can do. I'm sure that it will continue to test me constantly and, despite that, I'm filled with excitement when I think of the future of this little venture, and of my future including it. It's giving me so much energy and joy that I finally wake up happy again. Every day, I'm dreaming, planning and building this future, but today, almost exactly two months after that exciting step, I want to take some time to look back at everything we accomplished since July of last year when we decided to move beyond the idea phase:

We chose a meaningful name, in honor of the woman who instilled the love of handmade in both me and my mother: my darling grandmother.

We legally registered and incorporated the business - a step that I researched and stressed out about a great deal and that, of course, turned out much less daunting once I actually did it.

We opened a business account at the bank.

We researched, found and communicated with our first potential suppliers.

We placed our first wholesale orders to build our initial inventory, and since we had limited funds and a wide selection of wonderful yarns, it was quite a decision-making challenge.

We photographed all the yarns; knowing about my lack of skills and professional equipment, I dreaded this step quite a bit, until one day, I realized that all I need to do is to keep it simple. Now I am actually very happy with the results.

We decided on an online store platform; with plenty of options out there and not much knowledge about this field, it felt like diving into unknown waters, but I'm glad to report we made it back to shore safe and sound. We went with Shopify and we're very happy with our decision, since it's been a very user-friendly and straightforward process.

We got our business logo through a wonderful Etsy shop called Autumns Creek.

We did a lot of changing and tweaking (and learning in the process) to build our store to the look and functionality we wanted.

We figured out shipping costs. This was another one of those tasks that I found incredibly daunting, in part because it got the best of me in the past when I had some other online shop ideas, but this time we prevailed; of course, it's still something very new to us, so we're learning as we go.

We wrote product listings, which was a little more difficult than expected, as we tried to translate all our research and excitement for the products into a few concise lines.

We designed and ordered business cards.

We rented a PO box, something that was very important to us, since we are operating from home.

I say we because without the help and support and input of my family, I have no doubt that I would still be stuck in the idea phase even now. Josephine Yarns is the work of all of us, and I'm thrilled to watch it grow over the years. I am so proud of it already but I have many more ideas to make it even better, and I hope you'll join us on this journey!

Disclaimer: the Shopify link used in this post is part of the affiliate program, which means I get some compensation if a subscription results from it.

February 27, 2015

The Wellness Warrior

I am writing with a heavy heart today. Just a few hours ago, I found out that the world lost an incredible being: Jessica Ainscough, The Wellness Warrior. As I was sitting down after eating my lunch, I logged into my email account and I saw the message. The news hit me to the core and I am still reeling.

I've learned about the power of technology quite a few years ago - I wouldn't be connecting with you here & now otherwise - but until today, I don't think I fully understood just how massive an impact someone from the other side of the world whom I had never met before could have upon my life. All thanks to the power of technology.

I remember the day that I discovered Jess' website so clearly. The details of how I first arrived there are a little blurry in my mind now - I think it might have been through an article she wrote for Mind Body Green that I came upon while researching something health related - but I knew that I had found something very special. I spent a couple of hours reading through countless posts that she had written. I couldn't stop myself and I was literally shaking with excitement. The only way that I could take myself away from the computer screen was to get up, then and there, and go to the kitchen to make a carrot and apple juice, just like I read that she was making as part of her Gerson therapy regimen. It was the first juice that I ever made and something completely unlike me; I always pin, bookmark, or save things I want to remember in some way, but I never actually get up and try them right away. Jess was the only one who got me to do that, who inspired me to a level beyond what I had known before. I was not (and am not) in even a remotely similar situation to hers (on days like today especially, but really every day, my health is one of the things I am most thankful for), but I found so much inspiration in her story and her determination regardless.

I discovered a whole new world through her. I discovered the world of juicing and the world of health blogging. I learned about the empowerment that comes with taking control of your life and your health and the importance of self love. I discovered IIN through her, as well as B-School. This was about three years ago, in the early stages of my current health and wellness journey. There is no doubt in my mind now that I wouldn't be able to call myself a health coach, that I wouldn't be so deeply immersed in the wellness world, and that I wouldn't be the person that I am today without her - her bravery, her kindness and her brilliance.

I am sure that there are many many people out there who feel the same way. My heart aches for her beloved father, her devoted fiance and all the loved ones who will have to keep going in her physical absence - I say physical, because I know that she will forever live on in their hearts, the same as she will for all of us who never got a chance to be in her presence yet were deeply impacted by her message. I can't even imagine the amount of hurt that they are going through right now, but somehow I know that they are also proud to have shared their lives with her.

I don't understand why such tragic things happen and right now, I'm not trying to. All I want in this moment is to take some time to remember, recognize, and celebrate Jessica Ainscough, the true wellness warrior, and all the wonderful things that she stands for. I can only hope to become as kind and brave as she has been in my own lifetime and I'm thankful to have such a fantastic example and ideal to strive towards.

My heart is aching today and writing down all these thoughts has been helpful. I could say so much more, but I will stop here for now. Thank you for indulging me.

I will end with the words that I first saw today in my inbox next to her fiance's name, that I think are the essence of Jess's legacy:

Be Kind. Be Brave. Be Well.
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