Less noise, clear focus

 

We visited my parents in ‘cottage country’ and while there, lounged on three different beaches, went snorkeling, SUPing, and hiking. We watched glorious firey sunsets, sat by the bonfire and toasted marshmallows, then gazed at the stars sprinkled across the velvet sky. We ate freshly picked local blueberries, peaches, and corn. We fished a snake and crayfish out of the lake, observed them more closely, then released them. We rode on a mountain roller coaster and one of us even decided, on a whim, to go ziplining for the first time. We reveled in the tranquility of nature away from the city.

August113While away, I also celebrated my birthday and set a new intention for my personal new year:

I want to live with less noise and with focused intention, directing my attention to whom and what matters most.

Over the weekend, I picked up my phone once per day for a few minutes, quickly glancing at my email to ensure that there was nothing pressing to which I had to respond. In truth, I was reluctant to pick up the phone. I have grown tired of the noise and overload of information. In spite of the quick glances at my email, I enjoyed an extended break from technology and, specifically, social media. I did not miss it.

Maybe the fleeting, magical days of summer are to blame, or maybe it was the effect of getting away from the everyday routine, but the tech break sparked ideas in my mind: I could delete my social media accounts. Yet, I know that many people use Facebook to send private messages, and it’s good to keep in touch. It’s also a great way to communicate with the wonderful readers of this blog, for whose support I am always grateful. Perhaps I could take a sabbatical from social media for a few months?

August112For now, I have decided against taking a true sabbatical from social media. I will still be here, will continue to publish stories on a weekly basis, but social media posts from me will likely become less frequent. Time is precious, and I don’t want to waste it in front of a computer screen.

If you’re looking for me, I’ll be at the beach, on a forest trail, or hiking up a mountain.

I would like to know how you make space for intentional living with less noise. Please leave a comment below.

 

Scheduling playtime

Last weekend, Mr. Wanderlust and I planned to paint the bedrooms in our home. On Saturday, he painted one of the rooms while I did laundry. We couldn’t bear staying indoors on the first summer-like weekend of the season, and that is why we spent an entire day exploring the city and the beach with Wanderlust Juniors, visiting our old neighbourhood in Toronto, to which we return when given the chance. Discipline, especially when it comes to home renovations, is not my strong suit. Give me permission to explore at leisure, and I will be eternally grateful. That is why schedule and discipline are important to me. As an INFP, the idealist, it’s natural for me to dream the day away, forgetting all about my responsibilities. Given the opportunity, I wouldn’t think twice before heading out the door to drive to the forest for a long walk, then make my way to a favourite cafe, followed by the park or the beach to write in my notebook and read for many hours.

Planning and careful scheduling are important, and although housework and other weekly routines need to be planned in advance, equally important to me is to schedule time to play. I carve out daily time for yoga, pilates and/or dance, and weekly writing time, as well as date nights with Mr. Wanderlust, because unfortunately, what we enjoy is often superseded by something else that seems more pressing but most often isn’t really all that important.

Likewise, I don’t have a natural tendency to be a strict, practical parent. I’m your typical easy-going hippie mom who prefers to discuss big ideas with her children than remind them to do their homework. Enforcing discipline in our home by reminding Wanderlust Juniors about their responsibilities as part of the daily structure is something that I don’t enjoy, yet I continue to remind myself of the ‘bigger picture,’ of the importance of teaching them lessons early on in order to allow them to succeed in life. Then, I wonder whether this is the correct approach or if I should parent intuitively.

Perhaps that is the reason why, given the chance, we choose to explore. Strict scheduling and self-discipline get me through the week, allowing me to stay on track while taking care of my family. And then, we reward ourselves with permission to play outside without a care – well, at least without too many cares. Whether our playground is the beach, the forest, the park, or a city neighbourhood that we haven’t visited in a while, we seize every opportunity to get out and wander, allowing our souls to retreat from the daily responsibilities at home and at work, giving ourselves full permission to be dreamers.

How do you create the perfect balance between self-discipline and time to rest and play? Please leave a comment below.

Walk like Audrey Hepburn

May 4th is on the other side of the weekend, plus a few days, and it marks the birthday of the late Audrey Hepburn. You might ask yourself, dear reader, whether I’m a crazed fan who remembers the birthdays not only of her family members and close friends but of her favourite actress. The answer is yes. Yes, I am. I also remember Mozart’s birthday and admire his music greatly, but that’s beside the point. This week’s post is a tribute to the legendary Audrey Hepburn, or AH. I sing Holly Golightly’s Moon River to Wanderlust Juniors while snuggling with them at bedtime. I sing Sabrina’s La Vie en Rose while washing the dishes. I have been known to walk into hair salons and ask the stylist to chop off all my hair, à la Princess Ann in Roman Holiday. I have read and reread all the biography books that have been published about AH. She is an inspiration to me not only in style but also the lifestyle she led.

Two weeks ago, I wrote about my transition from intensive HIIT workouts toward walking and dancing. These two forms of exercise have become my choices for exercise that does not feel like exercise. I recently started to let go of the more rigid and competitive forms of fitness that require me to work at high intensity for 20 minutes. In truth, no matter how little time I spend on bursts that bring my heart rate to 80-90%, I do not enjoy that time. Instead, I prefer to take a long walk – the longer, the better – in my neighbourhood, even if that means getting up even earlier than I used to. What all this has to do with AH is that she also was an early riser and, as her son, Sean Hepburn Ferrer, writes in Audrey Hepburn: An Elegant Spirit, AH enjoyed long walks with her dogs. Instead of dogs, I have a cat, who happily stays at home to nap or watch the world from a cozy spot on her windowsill, but I, too, enjoy long walks.

And so, after feeding Tigger, and following my daily yoga practice, I slip on my comfortable running walking shoes and head out for a 5 km walk, greeting the sunrise, allowing the bright golden rays to bathe my face as, at once, the cool morning breeze gently brushes my face. I watch as the world around me starts to wake up, listen to the serenade of the birds, observe people as they settle into their cars in the driveway, preparing to drive to work. Sometimes, I wear earphones to listen to my favourite music and focus on the melody, the lyrics. At other times, I allow stories to weave their way through my imagination as I let go of my practice of mindfulness, giving myself permission to play. I feel the solid ground as I firmly set down one foot in front of the other. I move, I breathe, I feel. Cold, rainy days beckon me inside to dance in the warmth of my home, but I mostly crave movement outdoors. And that is why I walk. I am not a runner; my knees don’t allow me to enjoy the activity. Walking provides me with the fresh air and movement for which I thirst. Earlier this week, I was away on a business trip during which I saw the world out of the tiny airplane window, then was surrounded for two days by the walls of the airport, the hotel room, and the office building, without an opportunity to step outside. It’s good to be back home with my family, and I’m also grateful for the opportunity to return to my daily walks. Walking is my hobby. Walking is my calming cardio. Walking makes me a happier, grounded, lighter woman, mother, and partner. I suspect AH would have said the same.

Where is your favourite place to walk? Please feel free to leave a comment below. Do you know someone who might enjoy this blog? Please feel free to share it with a friend.

Nostalgic daydreams about Amélie

“In such a dead world, Amélie prefers to dream until she’s old enough to leave home.”

 

I was planning to write this week’s blog post about the intuitive process I use to make important decision, but this Mindfulness-based practice soon made way for my Daydreamer side. You see, dear reader, at the time of writing the original essay, I was listening to the soundtrack of the movie Le fabuleux destin d’Amélie Poulain or simply, Amélie. The waltz on Yann Tiersen’s accordion sent toward me waves of nostalgia that continued to beckon until I finally gave up my attempt to write about the original subject and gave into the temptation to allow my mind to roam (and oh, how my mind loves to roam).

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The street from the opening scene of Amélie. I took this photo through the gold-tinted polarized sunglasses I had on me at the time to create a filter similar to the one used in the film.

I first saw Amelie in the spring of 2002 with my mom at a local budget movie theatre. I was smitten. I’m still infatuated. In Amélie I found a kindred spirit, and Audrey Tautou quickly became one of my most admired actresses. The shy but remarkably curious and passionate girl on the big screen fascinated me with her daydreams and hilarious fantastical scenarios that she wove in her head, affording her so much more comfort than she finds in the world outside. Yet, she also nudges herself to slowly explore and awaken her inner strength in order to create a real life out of her daydreams, all the while getting an altruistic kick out of helping people in her community in endearing unconventional ways. As an INFP, I was riveted by the screenplay, the dialogue, whimsical quotes, and the even more whimsically charming little flat in which Amélie lives in the Montmartre in Paris, which also happens to be my favourite neighbourhood of the city. As I sat in the dark theatre, with a wide smile on my face, I marvelled at the affinity that I felt toward this fictional character, my long-lost twin. I knew I had to find her.

Almost ten years ago, while on our honeymoon in France, Mr. Wanderlust and I dedicated an entire sunny day in late July to exploring Amélie’s Montmartre. I remain infinitely grateful to Mr. Wanderlust for his patience. After researching the movie locations online and planning our day, we started our visit at the Lamarck-Caulaincourt metro station, then visited the little corner grocery stand that transformed into ‘Collignon & Fils’ for the film (that’s me in the photo above, reading the many newspaper clippings that adorn the window of the little shop), visited Cafe des deux moulins where Amélie works, made our way to the Sacré-Coeur basilica, and even unexpectedly spotted, while strolling along rue Pigalle, the adult video shop in which Amélie’s love interest, Nino, is employed. I felt I found her there. I found Amélie.

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When the film first made its North American debut, I was in the midst of completing my first year of journalism school. Every day, I second-guessed my choice of the field of study, and felt greatly intimidated by my assignments, which required me to step into a role of a confident extrovert. I went into that field because I enjoyed writing. Yet, each time I was expected to pick up the phone to speak with interview subjects, I wished I could run home and hide under the covers of my bed with a novel in which fascinating people went out into a fascinating world, to do fascinating things. I preferred to hide behind email than to pick up the phone and speak with a live person. Come to think of it, I still do prefer email as a mode of communication; it provides me with plenty of time to gather my thoughts and compose messages that allow me to express myself more eloquently, more carefully.

Amélie reminded me that it’s not enough to daydream and live vicariously though the exciting lives of others. She showed me that I must nudge myself, over and over again, to step outside of my comfort zone, to go out and create life as an active participant. Although I no longer need to remind myself of this message on a regular basis, I remember the shy, terrified girl who hides somewhere within me. From time to time, she wishes she could stay under the covers and not have to deal with the real world in which she lives, with the real people with whom it’s not always easy to get along. And so, over and over, I get up, take a deep breath with a long exhale, and resolve to sprinkle a bit more kindness throughout the world around me as I take sips from my confidence shake. Before long, I walk a little taller along my suburban street, with the sunshine on my face, hearing La valse d’Amélie as it plays somewhere close by. I think I will watch the film again this weekend, for the umpteenth time, to satisfy my nostalgic reminiscence.

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Amélie’s workplace.

Is there a film toward which or a character toward whom you feel an extraordinary affinity? Please leave a comment below, and thank you for sharing this blog with a friend.

Our mindful Disney vacation

Yesterday, we returned from a week-long family vacation in the sunshine of Florida and the Bahamas. This was our first big family vacation. Prior to this, we had enjoyed road trips and cottage getaways in Ontario, so by ‘big vacation’ I mean that this was Wanderlust Juniors’ first time on an airplane. It was also the first time on a cruise ship for all four of us, and we spent a wonderful week together.

We wanted to take our children to Disney World for the out-of-this-world experience. However, I have a very low tolerance for crowds and do not enjoy roller coasters. Although Mr. Wanderlust has a slightly better tolerance for both crowds and rides, we planned our vacation carefully. After hearing excellent reviews of Disney cruise lines and learning about the option to embark on a three-night cruise to the Bahamas, we were sold. We reasoned that if we were to find that we did not enjoy the cruise, at least we would not have had to suffer through it for too long. Nothing to worry about there! The experience turned out to be relaxing and entertaining, and the three days flew by too quickly. At Castaway Cay, a private Disney island in the Bahamas, Mr. Wanderlust got to cross an item off his ‘bucket list’ after feeding stingrays and snorkeling with them. I half joke that he must have been an oceanic creature in one of his past lives, given his passion for aquatic fauna, and he doesn’t rush to correct me.

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Off the Disney Magic and on to enjoy a day at Disney’s Castaway Cay in the Bahamas

Following the cruise, we planned to visit two Disney parks. After careful consideration of the various options, we chose to visit Magic Kingdom because we wanted to see the classic, and Hollywood Studios for the Star Wars and Indiana Jones attractions. However, before heading back to Orlando, we drove in our rental car along the coast from Port Canaveral to Barrier Island Sanctuary in Melbourne Beach. Mr. Wanderlust is a cause-related partner of The Sea Turtle Conservancy, located in Gainesville, Florida, and although we were not prepared to drive for a few hours to that location but were in the vicinity of Barrier Island Sanctuary, Mr. Wanderlust wanted to pay a visit to this educational centre to share his passion for ocean life advocacy with Wanderlust Juniors. We learned about the sea turtles that nest on the local beaches, and the potential threats they face. We also explored the local beach and admired the gorgeous green plants that grow on the path that leads from the educational centre to the beach.

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Exploring the beach near Barrier Island Sanctuary

On Monday, we visited Disney’s Magic Kingdom and, thanks to a relaxed itinerary and carefully chosen Fast Passes, were able to thoroughly enjoy eight hours at the park, without ever feeling rushed. We allowed Wanderlust Juniors to choose the rides and respected their decision to avoid certain others. We also created many opportunities to rest in the shade while having a snack and drinking water. Packing our own lunches with groceries from the local supermarket was not only a cost-effective but also a healthier alternative to many of the conventional eateries at the park. We left Magic Kingdom feeling tired but happy. We provided Wanderlust Juniors with a choice for the following day: visit Hollywood Studios or drive back to the beach near Port Canaveral. They chose the latter. Like their introvert outdoor adventure-loving parents, they prefer a balance of quiet days outside in nature and several hours spent among fun crowds.

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Fun at Cocoa Beach
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Mr. Wanderlust is in the background, lost in deep thoughts.

We had a great day at Cocoa Beach and also went on an impromptu walk on a nature trail near Melbourne Beach. We cut our trek short because (a) by the time we arrived on the trail, mosquitoes started to come out in search of a snack, and we did not have bug spray with us. (b) We all were wearing sandals after a day at the beach, as the walk on the trail was a spur-of-the-moment decision. (c) We read in the guest book at the start of the trail that alligators can often be seen near the trail; the sun was starting to set and we did not want to find ourselves on a dark trail with alligators and mosquitoes. Mr. Wanderlust was somewhat saddened at having missed the prospect of coming face-to-face with an alligator, but I suppose that is yet another item to add to his ‘bucket list’ for a future travel adventure.

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While searching for alligators, we found a few mosquitoes and lizards.

On our last day in Florida, we visited Hollywood Studios, where the eldest Wanderlust Junior trained to be a Jedi, then battled Seventh Sister. We also watched the Indiana Jones show twice, went on a Star Wars ride, and explored a few other attractions. Once again, we took our time moving through the park, working around our relaxed Fast Pass agenda, and left after dark to head back to our hotel to pack for our return flight.

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Just singing in the rain at Hollywood Studios

And that, dear reader, is how the Wanderlusts mindfully enjoy Disney — with beach breaks in-between. We asked Wanderlust Juniors whether they prefer the beach or Disney parks. Their answer? Although they like Disney, they would always rather go to the beach. We couldn’t argue with that.

Have you visited Disney World or Disneyland recently? Do you have any mindful tips to offer to readers who might be planning their own family vacation to the parks in the near future? Please leave a comment below. 

Thank you for sharing this post with a friend.

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Quote Mindfulness for the introvert business traveller

“If you are depressed you are living in the past.
If you are anxious you are living in the future.
If you are at peace you are living in the present.”

Lau Tzu

On Friday evening, I returned home from a short business trip to Montreal. Thankfully, in my current position, I only am required to travel three times per year, and for no more than three days at a time. However, as an introvert, even the shortest of trips can leave me feeling tired and off-balance. I have learned to do my best to get plenty of rest, eat as well as I can while away from home, stay well-hydrated, and sneak some movement into my day. I travel with a thin yoga mat that fits neatly on the bottom of my carry-on luggage, and I unroll it for early morning yoga before heading into the office for meetings. For me, yoga is essential for dealing with jet lag when in a different time zone. I also cherish the hidden pleasures involved in travelling solo (see: extra time to read while in flight).

Those are all important points, but what can be most tiring to an introvert is the mere prospect of being introduced to new people, with whom we may have to make small talk over lunch or dinner. I reflected on this aspect during my travels last week, after attending several events at which I had to make small talk with many new people. As always, presence is the key word. When I attempt to mentally prepare myself for an event such as a cocktail reception, I start to feel exasperated over the prospect. What will I say? Should I shake their hand or give them a kiss on both cheeks? Which cheek do I kiss first? Will there be food at the reception? What kind of food would be safe to eat, so as to ensure that nothing gets stuck in my teeth or gives me bad breath? These questions themselves are enough to leave me feeling drained and anxious about leaving my hotel room.

On the other hand, when I stay present in the moment and work on being the best version of myself right now, that right now turns into the next moment, which becomes the new right now. Eventually, when I find myself at the reception, shaking hands and greeting colleagues with a kiss on both cheeks, right now continues, and before I know it, right now turns into the moment when I find myself once again in the elevator, on my way up to my hotel room for a few restorative poses on my travel mat, followed by a comfortable bed. Just like that, the evening is over and I can move on. I no longer stop to analyze the events of the evening, following the evening down a path into the past, finding myself wondering, “What would have happened if I had said xyz…” Preoccupation with past events no longer interests me. Tomorrow will take care of itself, provided that I continue to breathe deeply, relax my shoulders, and remember to stay present in this moment, right now

Do you have additional tips to offer? I would love to read them in the comments below. Wishing you a week of PRESENCE.

Loving-Kindness for Paris

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I read the news last night. I knew it was too late to be in front of the computer, but my family and I had just finished watching a movie and I wanted to check the weekend weather forecast before heading to bed. I read about Paris and my heart tightened. I experienced a similar sensation several times in the past, including an occasion when an attack had taken place close to my dad’s workplace. Last night, overcome with sadness, unable to find the words to express the heartbreak that millions felt at the same moment, I tiptoed into the bedrooms of Wanderlust Juniors, ensured that they were asleep, and leaned in to give them kisses, to whisper ‘I love you.’ I repeat this ritual every night, but some nights are more emotional than others.

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Mr. Wanderlust and I visited Paris and other cities in France on our honeymoon in July and August 2006. Today, we are praying and sending love to everyone affected by Friday’s tragic events.

This morning, with bittersweet determination, I guided my Saturday morning yoga class through Metta (Loving-Kindness) meditation. I turn to this meditation practice when I feel instability and unease in my life or in the environment around me, when I experience conflicting emotions and struggle to tune into a compassionate space. Metta meditation helps to build community by reminding us to let go of judgment toward ourselves and others, and to focus instead on acceptance and kindness. Today, I will share this meditation with you.

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Feel free to light a candle and settle into a comfortable position in a quiet space. Take several deep breaths to invite yourself to tune fully into the experience.

Start by sending love and compassion to yourself. If this feels challenging, start with one aspect of yourself that you admire and build up from this space. I naturally gravitate toward the image of myself today embracing myself as a young child. Stay with this stage for as long as you need, breathing smoothly and evenly and radiating kindness and compassion. Next, send loving-kindness to a person whom you love deeply. This can be a good friend, your partner, sibling, child, or a pet. Visualize yourself embracing that person and radiating love toward him or her. The third stage is to send love to a person toward whom you don’t experience any strong feelings of like or dislike. The four step can be somewhat challenging, as you are invited to send loving-kindness to a person with whom you do not get along. Instead of focusing on judgment toward the person, work to strip away all those layers to find the being within, who is very much like you, who wants to love and be loved, to experience personal safety and peace. Stay here for as long as you need. The final step is to send Metta to all the four individuals whom you visualized earlier; then, continue to expand your beams of loving-kindness to the entire world, to every being on the planet, sending healing kindness and compassion. Visualize every being on the planet feeling healthy, peaceful, and joyful.

Close your meditation with a few centering breaths and thank yourself for your time and attention.

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I would love to read your thoughts and experiences with this meditation. Please leave a comment below. I would also like to read about how you navigate turbulent experiences. Where do you turn in times of need?

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Chez Kathleen Kelly and Holly Golightly

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“So, where are we going, exactly?”

“It’s on West 89th Street, past Broadway,” I told Mr. Wanderlust.

We had inadvertently taken the express subway train north toward Bronx, and had missed our stop. After getting back on a southbound train to backtrack, we walked along Central Park West and then continued our pleasant sunny stroll through Upper West Side, admiring the brownstone buildings on our way to search for Kathleen Kelly.

I first watched You’ve Got Mail in the year 2000. My mom, sister and I had rented the movie on a Saturday night. I was riveted by the beautiful New York setting of the film; the precious children’s bookstore, The Shop Around the Corner, central to the story; and the old school-style romance between the two main characters, with a modern day twist. I also became fascinated by Meg Ryan’s adorable character of Kathleen Kelly, her love of literature, and particularly Jane Austen; her optimism; her understated style; her quirky mannerisms; and yes, even the decor of her apartment. I wanted to be Kathleen Kelly, or at least to have her as a BFF. This wasn’t the first time I wished that a fictional character were real, but I remember how strongly I felt the inspiration to be like Kathleen Kelly.

Kathleen Kelly

Mr. Wanderlust and I enjoyed a wonderful quick getaway to New York City over the weekend for some couple time. I had previously visited Queens and Long Island, but had never been to Manhattan and felt elated at the opportunity to enjoy a few days in the city. Of course, I also wanted to pay a visit to an old friend.

Approaching the house in which Kathleen Kelly ‘resides,’ I looked up at the front door to see it open. I actually let out a quiet gasp as I watched a woman in her mid-30s exit the building, dressed in a yellow cotton tank top, black cropped leggings and running shoes, with two large canvas bags slung over both shoulders. As she walked toward her car, parked at the curb, to deposit the heavy bags in the trunk, she glanced at me briefly with a blank expression on her face. I image she must see many tourists like me on a daily basis as they approach the building timidly, snap a selfie, giggle self-consciously and walk away, muttering quietly about how nerdy they feel.

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I crossed casually to the other side of the street and took a photo of the building from the sidewalk. In my periphery, I watched as the woman drove away, then sprinted back across the road and up the cement stairs toward the brown wood and glass door, channeling my best impression of Kathleen Kelly returning home after a busy day at The Shop Around the Corner. Mr. Wanderlust directed me through a few more poses and I gingerly stepped down the stairs again, shaking off the feeling of intruding in some way upon the privacy of the residents upstairs. I imagined them sitting at the front windows above me, glaring at me and shaking their heads with a bored expression on their faces, thinking, “There goes another one.” I had to steal a quick glance toward the third storey windows. No one there.

Before walking west toward Riverside Park, Mr. Wanderlust offered to take a photo of two women who, like me, had quietly stopped in front of the entrance to take a selfie. He directed them to walk up toward the front door for a similar picture of the one he took of me.

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The following morning, after breakfast at the beautiful lounge of the boutique hotel where we stayed in Midtown East, at 7:30, wearing the little black knit dress I had packed for the trip, I paid a visit to a favourite spot of another dear BFF, Holly Golightly. This time, we didn’t have to travel far. After a five-minute walk along an almost-empty 5th Avenue, Mr. Wanderlust and I had the street to ourselves, just like Miss Golightly, greeting the sun’s sparkle as it bounced off the perfect diamonds in the window of Tiffany & Co.

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“I should have stopped at Starbucks to buy a coffee and croissant, just for the sake of the photo,” I half-joked.

“It would have been your second breakfast of the morning, at Tiffany’s.”

“I suppose you can cross two items off your wish list,” Mr. Wanderlust announced to me several minutes later, as we walked toward Rockefeller Center. I sighed in response.

“Yes, I suppose you’re right,” I smiled up at him. “It’s been a perfect weekend.”

Allowing Serendipity to Find Us, or Our Beach-Hopping Adventure

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After our indoor skydiving experience, Mr. Wanderlust and I had the rest of the day wide-open before us. We had previously arranged for the children to stay with Pawel’s parents for several days, to the boys’ delight. The afternoon was full of possibility.

Although we sometimes go out on dates in the evenings or for a few hours in the middle of the day, it’s highly unusual for us to have a full day to spend at leisure. When we first started dating, we used to spend an entire afternoon wandering around the city. A bit of an insider story for Torontonians: we once started our walking journey near Yonge and Sheppard, turned west at Yonge and Bloor, and continued walking all the way to Keele Station. That’s approximately 17 km, or a three-hour walk, but we didn’t notice the passing of the time. We share a passion for touring cities by foot, and being tourists in our own city can be surprisingly fun!

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So, what were we to do at 2 p.m. on this beautiful, sweltering afternoon?

“Let’s go to the Burlington waterfront,” I suggested, and we did.

Following a wholesome lunch at a vegan restaurant, the beach was calling to us. I felt the need to take off my shoes and ground myself after hovering in a wind tunnel.

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One of my favourite pictures, taken by Mr. Wanderlust last weekend.

Our beach afternoon turned into a Lakeshore Blvd.-cruising, beach-hopping adventure. After we left Burlington, Pawel felt the Oakville pier calling to him as we drove past the marina. He careened the car into a side street and after finding the perfect parking spot close to a children’s playground, we went off to enjoy yet another beach, upon which I found a remarkable treasure.

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My friend Sheniz, whom I have actually never met in person (see: we took an online writing course and have remained in touch), had been on that beach a week earlier, where she used driftwood to create a ‘nest’ for oval-shaped rocks, the likes of which lay abundantly beneath and around the spot where I stood gazing down at the inspiration that surrounded me. On many of the rocks around the nest were written, in dark marker, inspirational quotes, some of which hold special meaning for me. My eye kept following the rocks as I bent down, and finally, my gaze froze upon a rock on which was written Sheniz’s name and information about the nest she built. Given that I had never met Sheniz in person but continue to follow her beautiful adventures on social media, and considering that I had never before visited this particular beach, the magic of the experience was palpable. I thanked Pawel for following his intuition to explore the pier, allowing serendipity to find its way to us.

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What followed next was a drive across the city to Ashbridges Bay, in the east end of Toronto — one of our favourite spots. We enjoyed a takeout dinner on the boardwalk and climbed the rocks by the water for a spectacular view of the pink-and-orange playful sparkle of the setting sun on the almost-still water. A peaceful ending to a day that we seized firmly, enjoying the ride, recreating a new version of an old favourite experience of touring with spontaneity and complete abandon, allowing ourselves to simply be there, enjoying the moment, the views, the sand beneath our toes, the cooling water, and each other’s company.

Inspiring, serendipitous experiences happen when we give ourselves permission to fully enjoy the moment, letting go of our responsibilities, of the ‘shoulds’ and ‘musts,’ if even for a short time. We must allow ourselves the time to experience nature, to have adventures, to create new memories. And we must remember to do it as soon as it’s possible for us. We must make the time for it. Too often, I feel a spark of inspiration to do something unusual, something enjoyable, something that someone else has recently done to which I feel a strong pull. Then, I stop myself at, “Maybe someday…” When I arrive at Someday, I inevitably forget why I wished to do what I wished to do. I forget about the spark of inspiration, the excitement I felt in the moment. I am reminded of the pure delight that arises from spontaneous decisions vs. carefully planned ones. So, why not make Someday happen today?

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I would love to read about your most memorable adventures. Please feel free to share your story in a comment.

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Making Room for Expansion

walk

A walk in the forest: one of our favourite ‘quiet’ activities. This was my ‘artist date’ for the weekend that has passed.

If spring is known as the time of growth and renewal, summer is for basking in the sunshine while enjoying the fruits of our labour. To me, this transition time offers a good opportunity for personal growth and exploration of new ideas, new interests and plenty of ‘quiet time.’

garden

We planted our vegetable garden over the weekend. Growing in our garden are eggplant, cherry tomatoes, zucchini, swiss chard, and sweet peppers. We also have rhubarb, chives, and blackberry bushes from the previous years.

The garden has been planted – both literally and figurative – and now is the time to tend to it, to promote growth by providing the essentials of sunshine, water and nutrients. The months between early May to late August tend to be very hectic for many people; sure, they are fun-busy, but they are fleeting, not always in a productive way. So, I am changing my routine this summer. Instead of filling my schedule to the brim with various summer-appropriate outings, I am clearing extra time in my schedule to dedicate to silence and personal growth.

pawel

One of Pawel’s favourite ‘quiet’ activities.

Here are a few highlights from the month of May:

I don’t watch TV. I don’t miss it. – Giving up TV proved to be a non-event for me but has been essential to my personal growth.

Flirty Spring – I have been embracing my feminine nature more and more over the past few years, balancing out the masculine and feminine energies, allowing myself to receive life’s gifts amidst providing good care for my family.

Renew to Retreat – Minimalism does not mean life becomes boring. We can create big changes in our mental and emotional states simply by rearranging just one item to which we have become accustomed.

Magical Catharsis – On the practice of journaling as a ritual of emotional purging.

My Lifelong Experiment with Nutrition – Sharing my experience with this year’s spring cleanse. I have been reminded of our ever-changing nature and the importance of letting go of rigid ideas. Life is more enjoyable when we allow ourselves to be carried along with the ebb and flow.

sale

The sale continues in our online store until the end of the month, which means you only have a few more days to take advantage of the 30% off offer. We are also offering free worldwide shipping of every sale of a minimum of $100. Use the code ‘HappyBDay’ at checkout to receive your discount.

trillium

What have been your traditional spring/summer self-care rituals? Are you doing anything differently this year to take better care of yourself?

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