We sold our house, packed our suitcases, and moved to the other side of the world

We travel not to escape life, but for life not to escape us. ~ Anonymous

Those of you who follow me on Instagram and/or Facebook likely already know that the Wanderlust Family has moved from Canada to New Zealand. Many of you have been waiting to hear the full story of our move, and although it is comprised of many chapters that I will most definitely write over the next few months, today, I share with you the prologue.

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View of the coast from our hike to the summit of Mount Maunganui

In late September 2013, Mr. Wanderlust and I were on a weekend getaway to Goderich and Stratford, Ontario. Earlier in the afternoon, we had enjoyed a peaceful walk on the grounds surrounding the charming, quaint country inn in which we were staying. Following dinner, as we relaxed in our room, we had decided to turn on the television. We never watch TV at home, so this action in itself was highly unusual for us. We had flipped a few channels and settled on HGTV and a fantasy show on which a couple from our neighbourhood in the Toronto area was offered, purely hypothetically, a chance to sell their home and, with the money from the house, purchase a home in one of three different appealing locations in the world. One of the locations was Hawke’s Bay, NZ and simply looking at the shots of the location on TV, we started falling in love. Mr. Wanderlust expressed that he has always dreamed of visiting NZ. Yet, reality check! The couple from Ontario wasn’t actually about to sell their home. If they were to move to a different country, more than just the cost of the home would have to be taken into consideration. What about the cost of living, job prospects, etc.? We dismissed the show due to its fantastical nature, but the universe works in wondrous ways, storing information on some faraway shelves in our subconscious minds.

Several months later, on a -30°C day in Toronto, Mr. Wanderlust and I, in typical Canadian fashion, were commiserating about the frigid winter temperature when I sighed, “You know, people complain about the weather and wonder about why they are living in such a cold place. Well, why don’t we do something about it?” When Mr. Wanderlust asked me where I would want to move, I blurted out, “New Zealand.” Then I laughed, brushed aside the crazy idea, and prepared lunch for the youngest Wanderlust Junior, then put him down for a nap. Several hours later, Mr. Wanderlust approached me with a tentative proposal to move to NZ. He had spent some time researching the major cities in the country, job prospects, housing prices, and the cost of living. After several months of serious contemplation, we decided to put the idea into action.

Ultimately, the temperate climate of the north island was just one small deciding factor for us. Both Mr. Wanderlust and I spent our childhood in three different countries, emigrating twice with our parents. These international moves gifted us a lifelong love of travel, and we travelled extensively together, whenever possible. Perhaps, for that reason, the idea of uprooting our family did not seem intimidating to us. We feel at home anywhere in the world.

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SOLD

Having thoroughly researched NZ, we were attracted to its diverse landscapes and the various opportunities for activities that we love most — camping, hiking, and paddleboarding — and for new ones that we are looking forward to experiencing in the near future. We wanted to move to a smaller city but one in which we would have access to everything that we need and where we would be able to enjoy a slower way of life. For that reason, we chose Tauranga, currently the fifth largest city in NZ. It’s a large enough city that feels like a small town. Frankly, I loved the idea of Wellington, which reminds me of San Francisco, one of my favourite cities. However, as a person of mostly Vata constitution, I do not like the idea of living in a windy location, and Wellington is known for precisely that kind of weather; Toronto was already too windy for me on most days. But there I go talking about the weather again. We wanted to be in a relatively quiet and family-friendly city in which we would have an opportunity to spend plenty of time outdoors. And so, we chose to follow our dream.

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Celebrating the sale of our home with some bubbly.

We made a timeline for our move and followed through. We knew we wanted to relocate in late 2016 or early 2017 and submitted our initial visa application. We went through the immigration process, arranged everything for our move, sold our house north-east of Toronto, sold many of our furniture pieces and housewares, shipped some 100 boxes of personal belongings and furniture, packed our suitcases with clothes and other essential items that we require for the first three months in NZ (until our shipment arrives), and were on our way.

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Saying ‘goodbye for now’ to our books, Lego, and a few other valued possessions.

We have been in Tauranga for a week now and are settling into our new temporary home, exploring our new town and its neighbourhoods, and getting used to a new way of life. I will continue to write about our adventures in NZ, new discoveries, and lessons.

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On our way to the airport.

I will publish a second post on a weekly basis, on Saturdays (in NZ) / Fridays (in North America and Europe), featuring a photo journal of weekly highlights, as well as notable links from around the web, related to mindfulness/awareness, literature, travel, and other subjects of interest. There is so much to discover, but I remind myself daily to slow down and savour each new incredible experience.

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A spectacular sunset on the local beach.

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Until next time, wishing you a peaceful week!

Lessons from a Facebook photo challenge

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On a ferry from Tobermory to the whimsical Flowerpot Island.
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A tranquil afternoon stroll in Toronto’s High Park.
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Lunch in the clouds atop the Zugspitze.
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La vie en rose in Paris. A rose-coloured sunset with the Notre Dame in the foreground.
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A harvested lavender field outside the Abbaye Notre-Dame de Sénanque, Gordes. We had just missed the harvest by a couple of weeks. Tant pis.
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The magic of Bretagne.
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A breathtaking view of Gordes. To me, this is a wonderful example of living in harmony with nature, building a life to fit into the environment.

I was invited by a friend to take part in a photo challenge on Facebook, the premise of which is to share one nature photograph per day, over a period of seven days. As a general rule, I ignore invitations to participate in challenges and play games on social media, mostly because it is one more task to add to my ‘to do’ list and requires that I visit my social media pages at least once per day to post an update. Yet, I chose to accept this invite. Today marks day 7 of the challenge, and although I will be glad to take a break from social media for the next few days, I gained a few interesting lessons from the experience:

1. Wanderlust reigns.

While searching the hard drive of my computer for nature photos to share, I noticed that my attention gravitated not toward recent photos of beautiful local hiking trails and beaches but older photos taken during my and Mr. Wanderlust’s travels in Germany, France, Austria, Arizona, and other spectacular destinations. I don’t need to analyze this pattern to understand that I long to travel again.

2. I love cities with green spaces, and seek nature even in the busiest locales.

While on a weekend trip to NYC a year and half ago, I longed to stroll through Central Park after visiting the Museum of Natural History. In Prague, I loved hiking up Petrin Hill. In Paris, I enjoyed the Jardin du Luxembourg. When we travelled to Las Vegas seven years ago, we spent a day in the busy city, then woke up early the following morning for a two-day road trip to Sedona, the Grand Canyon, and Antelope Canyon. Last year, while visiting Florida, we interspersed visits to the Disney parks with day trips to the beach. That photo of the hummingbird above? Mr. Wanderlust snapped it on the street in San Francisco. It’s safe to say that although we love interesting urban locales, we always seek nature, whether it’s in a park, a forest, the desert, or the seaside. Even in the busiest city, the view of a breathtaking sunset behind the skyscrapers calms me, reminding me to breathe deeper and walk taller while firmly planting my feet on the paved sidewalk.

3. Stepping outside is the quickest, most effective way to recharge.

I enjoy a quiet morning walk on my way home after taking the Wanderlust Juniors to school. Although the mornings are crisp and some days can feel cold, that is my opportunity to engage in a moving meditation, setting one foot in front of the other with awareness. I return home feeling recharged and ready to clean the kitchen after breakfast, then plan my work for the day ahead. There is no need to go far to enjoy the beauty of the outdoors.

4. Social media sometimes has its merits.

I have become disenchanted with a lack of true connection on social media. It is easy to mechanically click ‘like’ on a photo or an update and I do not consider this to be a manner of engagement. Yet, some days, I am pleasantly surprised and delighted when someone takes a few seconds to type a comment, and this is something that I strive to practise, taking time to genuinely engage with others via the online world. This challenge has also served as a valuable opportunity for me to reevaluate the content I share on my social media pages. I am not one to post frequent photos of myself and selfies are not my cup of tea. In the future, I will dedicate my social media accounts to sharing more inspiring content related to beautiful natural landscapes and breathtaking city views, books and words in their many forms, art in its many expressions, and of course, yoga and meditation.

Do you enjoy sharing photos on social media of beautiful places in nature? Do you, perhaps, have an Instagram page dedicated to such art work? If so, I’m curious to take a peek. Please tell me about it in the comments below.

Favourites from around the web:

Now that you have read my thoughts on the ubiquitous ‘like’ button, here is more on that topic.

Using clickbait to recruit interest among young readers? I think it just might work.

This beautiful article on simplicity has gone viral over the past week. The word ‘mediocre’ is, of course, used strategically, so please take the time to read beyond the headline.

Minimalists are the quintessential connoisseurs of life.

From the archives:

Project: House Detox

I learned something about stress

Here’s to a week infused with inspiration!

Wrap-up: Top 11 posts of 2016

Depending on where in the world you reside, you might already be well into your festivities. I wish you a warm and cosy week of celebrations with your dear ones. I also want to thank you for your support over the past 12 months. Mindful Daydreamer is forever evolving as I continue to learn and mature in my writing and exploration of ideas. I’m grateful to have this platform to share my thoughts and for the support of my loyal readers. I bow to you in deep gratitude.

Happy holidays! I am taking a mini retreat from blogging and social media, but will write again in the early days of 2017. Until then, may we all bask in the quiet peace of these final days of the year before welcoming the new one. Enjoy every moment! 


If during the holiday week you have a few minutes to relax with a cup of tea and would like to catch up on some reading you might have missed, or re-read a few favourite posts, allow me to share with you the 11 most popular Mindful Daydreamer posts of 2016:

1.  Mindfulness for the introvert business traveller, published on February 22nd

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2.  Transformation through discomfort, published on February 24th

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3.  Our mindful Disney vacation, published on March 4th

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4. The best version of myself, published on April 21st

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5. Deciding to simplify, published on June 10th

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6. A story of commitment, dedication, and love, published on June 17th

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7. Anniversary, published on July 22nd

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8. Milestones and memories, published on August 4th

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9. On Friendship, published on November 10th

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10. Festive season yoga time-out, published on December 15th

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11. The top 11 books I read in 2016, published on December 22nd

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Kindest wishes,

Katia (Mindful Daydreamer)

Seeking enchantment

Humming songs about Thumbelina while skipping toward the patch where wild strawberries smirk as they play hide-and-seek.

Running along the rustling golden path laid carefully with delicate cascading leaves.  

Stopping to twirl now and then, silver bells of laughter playing with the gossamer leaves of the surrounding trees.

Seeking demure mushrooms that lurk behind the robes of gnomes disguised as tree stumps. 

Constructing cosy moss houses for the faeries on the floor of the lush green forest.

Wandering off the path to explore, sometimes discovering surprises both pleasant and fascinatingly spooky.

“Mama, does a witch live in the little cottage in that clearing over there? Do you suppose she’s lonely? The squirrels and birds must keep her company.”

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The memories of my childhood days of playing in the pine and maple forests remain strong with me to this day. I seek solace on the winding paths, allowing myself to be guided. I thirst to hear the whisper of the trees, the rustle of the leaves, to dance with the breeze and swaying willows and to stand rooted, attentive to the murmurs of the mysterious life that surrounds me. It always made perfect sense to me that the Brothers Grimm, Hans Christian Andersen, C. S. Lewis and J. R. R. Tolkien chose to set many of their stories in the forest. The setting has always been enchanting and continues to enthrall. 

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Several years ago, while visiting Fussen, Bavaria with Mr. Wanderlust, we chose to walk up the misty mountains toward the quietly bewitching Neuschwanstein Castle. The visit brought my fairy tales to life before me, overwhelming my fantasies as I sought to absorb the visit with great gulps, urging the colours, textures, and smells of the castle to remain in my memory without ever fading. The building lured me within and hypnotized me. My affinity toward it is that strong. I listened attentively to the strange stories of King Ludwig II, recounted by our tour guide. Prior to visiting the impeccable castle, I had read the fascinating story behind the Fairy Tale King’s idealistic vision for the perfect dwelling, and his story spoke to me, from one lover of magical storytelling to another. Standing in the lavish rooms of the castle and admiring every carefully planned refined detail, I felt I understood the king’s passion, and I whispered as much to the walls that were silently watching the processions of tourist groups. Those walls tell wonderful Medieval stories with their murals, yet I imagined the secrets they keep to themselves, with all that they have seen and heard over more than the past century.

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After Mr. Wanderlust and I reluctantly left the castle, we took a walk in the darkening Black Forest beneath an overcast autumn sky and the heavy canopy of trees to marvel at the beauty of the swan castle from different angles. I read about the Black Forest in my favourite fairy tale books, and its significance was heightened for me at that moment. I saw what Rapunzel and Sleeping Beauty saw on their own walks through the woods to collect mushrooms and berries. Shhh, don’t tell me they are fictional characters. If you have ever walked through those woods, I’m sure you were awed into stillness, allowing magic to weave its way around you, silencing your logical mind, if only for a few moments.

I continue to seek that magic every time I step onto a forest path. I wish to reawaken the enchantment, to bring back to life the fascinating stories of my childhood… If only for a few moments.

Have you ever felt such magic? Tell me about it, perhaps by leaving a comment below. 

Thank you for sharing this blog 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.

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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.”

Magical, nautical August

July and August are our favourite months of the summer season. Yet, there is that certain something about August, specifically. Perhaps it’s the reminder that the warm, lazy weeks of summer are numbered before the autumn breeze starts to make its appearance, with the turning leaves, inspiring us all to run out and buy new pencils, notebooks, and start new projects. Until then, we remind ourselves to cherish these fast-moving days and make special memories with the people we love.

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We recently returned from a week-long getaway with the kids to Kincardine, Ontario. We spent our days visiting a few other small towns and the beaches along the shore of Lake Huron. And of course, we loved the countless hours of playing on the waves, some outdoor yoga, and evenings spent by the firepit.

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Stand-up paddleboarding (SUP) has become one of our favourite summer activities. Although we are still working to keep a steady balance on the waves, we prefer calm waters for now. Thanks to Pawel’s parents, who stayed with us for the first couple of days and generously offered to watch the kids, we didn’t miss our chance to get on the boards to enjoy the spectacular sunset, as well as the sunrise the following morning.

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Now that we are back (and missing the beach immensely), we have been stirred by views of the charming lighthouses and beautiful seashells to create nautical-themed jewellery pieces.

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Here are the first few designs:

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We will add these pieces to our website within the next few weeks. So, stay tuned for updates! We will publish our blog once a week, on Tuesdays. To ensure that you do not miss any updates, please take a moment to subscribe to our blog. Also, ‘like’ us on Facebook and follow us on Instagram for additional updates. In the meantime, we hope you also will have a chance to get outside and enjoy these precious days, regardless of the weather.

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