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Decluttering : Space : : Detoxing : Body Part 2 – Team Family!

In chi, Clutter, Emotions, Life skills, Lifestyle on September 20, 2014 at 1:18 pm

To read part 1 click HERE

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Remember the family who fell in love with their new home? Remember how pretty and fresh and organized it was? Now, remember how they all felt after a few months of living in it. It got all messy and jumbled up. No one really knew where anything was anymore. Josh kept needing new clothes to be bought because he didn’t know where to put them when he changed. And Mum kept losing her important work papers because she didn’t make a space in the new house for her own desk. And Dad was annoyed with the garage not being easier to use because he had forgotten to add some shelving and storage areas along the walls when they were first moving in. Everyone was feeling sad, and Mum had already started looking for another house. And poor, sweet Ivy was almost an afterthought, often being almost forgotten as everyone rushed out the door every morning. She felt like she was just another bag of stuff to be carted around with Josh’s swim and school things.

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There is a simple plan to help this lovely family so they can get back to loving their lives and enjoying each other’s company and new home. It starts with small steps that are repeated everyday.

1. Gather the whole family together and share feelings and thoughts about the house and how things look and the way things run. List both positive and negative things. Someone can take notes, and remember to keep this friendly and curious. This is not about blaming or shaming.

2. Decide together what is most important from the negative side and make that the top priority that everyone will help with first.

3. Everyone take on 3 things they will personally be responsible for. Adults will need to help the kids see their own rooms and clothes etc. as their responsibility, and adults will need to take on larger tasks affecting the household.

4. Create a weekly calendar that can be repeated for 4 weeks. This is easier than launching into a month-long plan as that can seem overwhelming. Just make it a week and repeat it 4 times. Post it somewhere bright and easy to see.

5. Group hug or high five or cheer as a family to boost energy and enthusiasm for working as a team! This last step may seem cheesy, but it’s truly the glue that keeps everyone connected to the goal. And keep the cheer or high five around when you see each other complete the tasks.

Now that list may seem a little abstract, so I’ll fill in some details based on our sweet, make-believe family, to illustrate.

Success Starts Here Freeway Style Desert Landscape

Starting with step 2, our family decides that the kitchen and dining area are the most important places to start with. Food and nutrition is important for everyone to think and feel well, so they started there. Mum and Dad both agreed that whoever did the cooking, the other would do the dishes. Josh volunteered to help the washer dry and put away dishes that wouldn’t fit, or couldn’t go in the dishwasher. Dad and Josh also said they could spend 5 minutes in the morning before swim practice to unload the dishwasher. Then Mum asked Ivy if she could be in charge of sweeping the floor with the dustpan and brush as part of the clean up process, and Ivy said she would love that!

Moving on to step 3:

Mum: 1. Morning laundry, 2. Groceries, 3. daily bedroom (master and Ivy’s) and bathroom monitoring and cleaning.

Dad: 1. Evening laundry, 2. daily front hallway, closet and shoe rack monitoring, 3. daily living room cleaning and vacuuming.

Now, Mum and Dad worked on helping Josh and Ivy list their 3 tasks. Josh: 1. put worn clothes in the hamper in the bathroom before having a shower/bath each night, 2. empty lunch box and place dirty stuff in the dishwasher. 3. Using designated fridge drawer (Mum sets this up as part of groceries), pack tomorrow’s lunch.

Ivy: 1. Put toys away in bins when asked, 2. help Dad with shoe monitoring in the hallway, 3. help Mum with laundry – find matching socks and fold small items.

Step 4 needs to be as clear as possible. The most efficient use of space and time, in my opinion, is to get some fun tape (like Washi tape), and divide a white board into 7 columns and 2 or 3 rows. A narrow row at the top and a narrow one at the bottom for notes or important dates etc. The middle is for listing people’s duties. Choosing colours to represent each person is easy to see and visually pleasing. So all of Mum’s tasks are green, Dad’s are red, Josh’s are blue and Ivy’s are purple. You can choose your own colours of course! Then events that affect everyone can be black.  The only things that would change would be the dates across the top of the board, and specific events along the bottom. All jobs would stay the same for the four weeks. Organizing the rows is flexible too; if you prefer your special events nearer the top, right under the date, then do that, and keep the daily tasks in a wide row at the bottom of the board.

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This white board idea is also fun because you can put little happy, messages or images on the board next to people’s jobs to say thank you, or well done, etc. And they can be erased and started again each week. I recommend a large white board so you don’t feel cramped, and mount it so that it can easily be taken down to be cleaned and written on again. And make sure those who want to write on it, can reach it easily! Those sweet encouraging notes to each other create a real magic energy that lifts everyone’s spirits!

Step 5 is pretty easy to implement. Start simple with easy high fives until you start to feel more enthusiastic. And you will as the tasks keep getting done! Some cheers or celebrations may lead to spontaneous expressions that might become special inside jokes with your family, and this creates a strong bond of fun and togetherness!

So there you go! 5 simple steps to create peace, harmony and efficiency in your home, just in time for new school routines to kick in! Now get over to  your local office supplies store and get a large white board and spiffy Washi tape and colourful dry erase markers!

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Decluttering : Space : : Detoxing : Body – Part 1

In chi, Clutter, Emotions, food, Life skills, Lifestyle, mind, spirit, teaching on July 31, 2014 at 1:39 pm

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There once was a beautiful house with high ceilings, large windows, spacious rooms and a lovely warm light flooded in through those large windows. A family fell in love with it and decided to move in. They bought, beds and couches, tables and shelves. They stacked the shelves and filled the closets and drawers until everything was full. Everything had a special place, and they were happy and settled.

The new home was clean and cozy, a perfect retreat for the end of a busy day in their new town. School had its new challenges for the children, and work was tough and tiring for the parents. Most nights everyone was too tired to do the dishes after dinner. And first thing in the morning, Dad had to take Josh to early morning swim practice, and this made Mum mad and she didn’t want to do the dishes all by herself. Ivy was just too small to help her. But she did them anyway. Then Josh’s room started to overflow into the hallway, and Ivy’s toys were strewn all over the house. Dad’s shoes were never in a neat row and Mum’s work papers kept getting lost on piles of papers on the dining table – where no one ate anymore because there was no room! Josh could never find any clean clothes, so new ones would be bought. Mum couldn’t find anywhere to store her work things, so she went to Ikea and bought a bunch of lovely neat boxes to use. But when she got home, she couldn’t find a good place to put them! So they sat in the entrance way, unopened. Dad couldn’t find his golf clubs and thought he must have given them away, so he went to buy new ones. Now those live in the entrance way too. One day Ivy stumbled and fell into them, and the whole bag of hard metallic clubs fell on her and she got a bad bruise!

Mum got really angry and told Dad he needed to move the stupid clubs or she would throw them away! After a big argument Dad put his clubs in the bedroom which made it really difficult to open the door properly. Then Dad took Mum’s new Ikea boxes and yelled that she needed to do something with them because he had to move his clubs from the entrance hall, so she had to as well! So Mum took them and crammed them, still unopened into a corner of her closet, squashing all her sweaters making them all crumpled. So now everyone in the new house was sad, hurt and angry, and the house was all a jumbled mess. Getting ready to go took an extra long time, and coming home felt depressing because it was so confusing and ugly everywhere. It felt like they always had to eat in the car because they were always late and needed drive through just to stay fed. Soon Mum started looking at new houses because she didn’t like this one anymore…

 

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There was once a beautiful boy with bright eyes, curious fingers and strong legs. His name is Billy. Everyday he grew more and more and more and soon he could walk and run and chase other little children in the park and playground. He started going to school and learned to play sports and how to use his words to communicate. He had a lunch box to carry his food and always had a white bread sandwich with a slice of meat and cheese between them, a chocolate milk, a bunch of grapes and a granola bar. When he was learning his multiplication tables one day he suddenly got really tired. He couldn’t remember how to do this set of numbers, but he knew he had done it only yesterday! But then the bell rang and it was time for the nutrition break. So our beautiful boy went to get his lunchbox and have his grapes. He went to play on the monkey bars too and when he came back inside, he remembered how to do the  multiplication table! When he got home he told his parents and they were so proud they said, “You can watch an extra hour of TV tonight!”

Now Billy is 16 and he works out in the school’s gym because he is on the rugby team. You have to be strong to play rugby, and you have to be fast. So Billy lifts weights with his team mates everyday and he also goes running on the track. But sometimes he just can’t lift enough, and he feels bad because his team mates can lift more. And when they run, he is often left in the back and runs out of energy… his muscles just can’t go on. This makes him sad. But one of his team mates says, “Don’t worry about it. You’ll keep training, and you’ll get faster and stronger! I know how to make you feel better. There’s a party this weekend, you should come! It will be fun!”

At the party Billy has a blast. He drinks beer, tries smoking pot and likes it, plays strip poker with some pretty girls and falls asleep really easily afterwards. In the morning he walks home with some other guys who stayed over and they all agreed to party more often. It felt great, and it was fun. So the next weekend, they do it again. This time someone says they should order pizza, and it was amazing! That was their new ritual – order pizza at midnight to satisfy their munchies. The guys keep going to the gym and lifting and running, but the group who have the party every weekend keep getting slower, they get heavier, and some have trouble breathing while they run. So they drop out of the team. Billy tries to stay  on the team a bit longer, but he misses his buddies. So he drops off the team too.

It’s Billy’s graduation now and he has a great university offering a scholarship for him. Since dropping off the rugby team, Billy found out that he really liked gaming and that it also fit in really well with his enjoyment of partying, so he gamed a lot, and got really good at a lot of games. Then he started messing around with making his own games and this was fun because he loved numbers thankfully! But over the years of sitting at his computer, drinking pop and beer, smoking and eating fast food, he had developed bad posture, acne, and was overweight. He didn’t always feel very good, but he knew that once he got to university he would make a new start…

 

When we overload ourselves in some way and eschew a simple system to keep a basic routine, life can seem excruciatingly difficult and arduous. Stay tuned for the flip side of these two stories.

Giggling, Exercise and Orgasms – 3 Free, Natural Ways Out of Depression

In food, kwirky, Life skills, mind, Nia, Sensatioin, spirit on May 8, 2014 at 6:59 pm

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Ever feel depressed? Blue? Sad and bummed out for no apparent reason? Do you look around to blame the heavy, dark cloud of feelings on something and can’t figure out for sure what it is? Then become more depressed because identifying the reason seems like the only way to come to a solution? Or do you know why you feel so low and the solution to the problem seems insurmountable? Unapproachable? Totally beyond your control?

Depression-depression-33252772-800-707You are not alone. I am not alone. I lost my mum and then my god father within 6 months of each other, both very suddenly. Their gunshot-like deaths rocked my world and each day has been my own personal mix of tears, pain and joy. Joy from my support network of friends, family and activities I give myself. But some days, none of those things do any good. Pain and tears come far more easily now that I feel I have lost my personal support system, my mother; and work and financial problems drag me down way more than they used to.

It’s been a particularly dark week for me, and the best I could do was lose myself in the warm nest of comfort eating, Netflix and sleeping for far too long. But today, day 4 of this deep slump, I heard my mum’s voice as a lay, pretending to feel too tired to get out of bed at 1:30 pm… in her firm, yet teasing tone, “Come on! Up you get! You know exactly what to do, you lazy so-and-so!” I did have to pee, so I rolled slowly up and started to mentally plan my day: pee. make tea. watch more of the series I’m into on Netflix. eat something. make more tea. watch more Netflix…

IMG_0375It was just as I was opening the Safari browser that a photo of my mum I keep on my desktop caught my eye. She is posing with a tub of Greek Gods honey flavoured yogurt with a huge spoon and pulling a silly face. It made me smile. And I immediately remembered all the things that I can do, without much effort, that will chemically alter my brain and body state so that I do not feel as depressed. I chose my top 3 for this article based on price (free!) and ease of making them happen.

 

 

M_Id_363760_Man_laughing1. Giggling

Giggling, laughing and smiling engage specific muscles in the head, neck and core which combine with sharp inhalations and exhalations. These movements and breaths cause the brain to release endorphins – the happy hormone. Recent studies now show that laughing improves mood for this reason, and it has been shown to increase pain tolerance. (www.nytimes.com/2011/09/14/science/14laughter.html?_r=0)

So watch some funny youtube videos, read some silly jokes or comics or look at some ridiculous pictures to get yourself laughing. Here are some to get you started – bear in mind, these are my personal favourites!

Eating lemon baby faces http://youtu.be/luOU5gLeA4A

Eddie Izzard – Cake or Death? http://youtu.be/rMMHUzm22oE

Funny Talking Animals – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xaPepCVepCg&list=FLtISih3v30iRGx3oSWWo8Gw&feature=share&index=39

fibro-exercise-happy-400x4002. Exercise – MOVE!

Exercise is another endorphin releasing activity, but there’s more to it than just that. Exercise also releases dopamine – the pleasure chemical. Dopamine is also released when we eat, which is a big reason why comfort eating is so popular as a way to feel better. However, regular exercise releases dopamine without the negative side effect of packing on the extra weight! Serotonin is another chemical that is responsible for feelings of happiness, restful sleep and healthy appetite. You want to keep consistent and high levels of serotonin in the body so sleeping is easy and feeling happy is easy, and regular exercise achieves this. (http://www.fitsugar.com/Hormones-Released-After-Working-Out-19252431)

Dancing is my go-to happy place!
Nia – a dancer’s Interval Training workout: http://youtu.be/AQBYXuCo6A8

This is excellent for boosting metabolism and pushing yourself to your personal edge.
HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) hard core: http://youtu.be/-dthjOzzS84

I love Pilates for targeting trouble spots, but also getting the heart rate up and sweating!
Pilates: butt blaster: http://youtu.be/7Q7L673i8OY

This gorgeous outdoor video is the prefect balance of challenge and peacefulness for me.
Sweat your turtle off! Yoga: http://youtu.be/jxLXPj84ILk

fake-orgasm3. Orgasms – A Hormonal

Reset Switch

Orgasms release a whole host of other chemicals in addition to serotonin and endorphins that promote the ass-kicking of depression!  HGH (Human Growth Hormone) is released, and this helps with renewing and repairing cells throughout the body. DHEA (dehydroepiandrosterone) is a hormone produced by your adrenal glands and is linked to various anti-aging effects as well as rebuilding and nourishing effects on cells. DHEA is released before orgasm and during as well. Also, oxytocin is released during orgasm. Oxytocin is known as the love hormone and it causes people to feel increased feelings of bonding and intimacy. Orgasms are a simple and easy way to elevate these hormone levels and bring back a chemical balance to the body. This allows for either relaxation and rest, or a surge in energy and creativity. I shall not share any of my personal options for reaching orgasm, because that would be weird! But I will say that orgasm does NOT need to be reached through partner sex. (http://www.billysundaymars.com/news/nourishing-neurochemicals-hormones-released-during-sex)

3 simple tools to help you get rid of the blues. You’ve got this! 😉

 

Holistic Living is Like a Grand Feast!

In Ekhart Tolle, food, kwirky, Life skills, mind, Nia, spirit, Uncategorized on April 20, 2014 at 7:50 pm

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The word ‘holistic’ has been tossed around a lot lately and to some it has a waffly, insubstantial reputation. To others it’s an ideal that is just too far beyond a realistic lifestyle, and so it causes feelings of yearning and sometimes bitterness at the prospect of aiming to attain it, and feeling constantly like one is falling short.
“Who really has time to meditate before their workout in the morning, AND have organic and free range food everyday, while balancing work, community and family obligations?”

But when we come right down to it, we ARE capable of fitting in extra items on our daily list of to-dos if we are really Imaginationcommitted, or if we just really WANT it. The motivation is where it’s at. But I’m not writing today about how to light a fire under your arse, that will be another blog! Today I want you to consider how a holistic lifestyle CAN be cobbled together on a weekly basis. A daily basis to start off with is what sends most of us into overwhelm; and perhaps you need to scale back even more and consider a monthly cycle. But first lets exercise our imaginations!

Imagine a great feast, like Easter Lunch, Christmas Dinner, Thanksgiving. Laid out upon the table are many dishes of food. Some are considered main course foods, some are sides, some are the vegetarian options, and some are gravies and condiments. Each wonderful feast has a variety of all these dishes; if it didn’t it would certainly feel as if something were missing!
What do you mean there isn’t any turkey? How could anyone forget to have gravy? But Thanksgiving just isn’t the same without pumpkin pie!
Now I want you to imagine that each of the dishes you might get at one of these feasts is an activity or element of life that is important to you. Consider what it brings you and whether you give it main, side, dessert, or condiment status.

keep calmHere’s my list:
Main 1: consuming clean, organic, free-range food
Main 2: dance or other joyous movement as exercise
Main 3: sharing my knowledge about health and wellness with others
Side 1: researching (health, wellness, nutrition, exercise)
Side 2: Spending time with friends and family
Side 3: Personal reflection, writing, meditation
Dressing 1: sleeping in
Dressing 2: self-care – baths, acupuncture, massages, etc
Dressing 3: reading for pleasure
Condiments: outdoors activities, movie dates, game nights…

Anyone can see that it would be quite challenging to fit all of these in everyday. And notice I left out things like cleaning, laundry, shopping etc. These things can be folded into your daily chores – tucked in around the edges. Because, lets be honest. Laundry (unless you own and run a laundromat) isn’t anyone’s idea of a passion in life! Yes it’s necessary, but it shouldn’t take precedence over a main or side dish. Now, consider your holistic lifestyle feast over a week or month, and feel the ease seep into your bones, because your body knows this is doable, and also so very necessary for your overall well-being.

Now take 15 minutes today and write down your list of mains and sides. Then organize them over your calendar for theseize the moment next few weeks making sure to rotate some sides and dressings and condiments so that they all get in there. The main dishes are more likely the ones you need to keep in for each week. And perhaps you may find that you actually don’t feel like a main dish you first listed is really a main anymore! Or perhaps a dish you listed as a side needs to be bumped up to main for a while. The circumstances in our lives greatly impact what things become non-negotiables for us, so be flexible in allowing your list to fluctuate and shift.

So when are you going to take that 15 minutes? Decide now and stick to your intention. It’s totally worth it! You can seize the moment right now and list them in the comments below, and we’ll all be here to support you as you make the best feast of you life!

 

I have a skill set that can help you in designing a holistic lifestyle for yourself. So feel free to contact me to discover where your priorities and goals are taking you.

[Bliss] Bedroom Feng Shui – Your Headboard

In chi, feng shui, Life skills, yin and yang on January 10, 2014 at 12:27 pm

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Bliss – Beautiful Living IS Simple

A solid headboard is the best type to have. It literally represents a solid relationship (if you are in one). You have a sense of unity, solidarity and stability with your partner. Even if your bed isn’t a -headboardsrelationship bed, a solid headboard can reinforce personal confidence in your decisions in life. You are supported. You’ve got your back, as it were, by having solid reasons for your decisions and subsequent actions.


Headboards with bars or slats or other holes and gaps are not conducive to monogamous relationships and represent more open relationships. If a solid headboard isn’t possible at the moment, you can use fabric, ribbons or silk plants and flowers to weave in and around the spaces to create the connection and solidarity of one.


Materials used in headboards are traditionally wood, metal and fabric. Wood is the best choice because it is sturdy, warm, has a friendlier feel and represents life and growth (trees). It also carries yin chi (feminine energy) and is more in line with resting. Metal headboards are rarely solid (although wood-elementI’m sure they exist), and are often in the shape of bars or wrought iron swirls. The metal element is also yang chi (masculine energy) that is more in line with action and not rest, which is the primary purpose of the bed. The fabric headboards are usually solid and have some sort of wooden backing, and although it wouldn’t be my first choice, it is much better than a metallic headboard. The fabric also provides the restful yin chi that soothes us to sleep and relaxation.


There is much more to the headboard than one would consider aside from aesthetics, but sleeping is so important for overall health. Therefore I advise deeper consideration of these points when looking at your bed. Other things to watch out for on headboards from a feng shui perspective:

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  • avoid mirrors (or cover it when you sleep).
  • shelves that sit above your head. Don’t set anything on them except for intertwining plants, but make sure they are off to one side. Books and heavy objects should not be on the shelves.
  • extremely angular designs, like spikes or points along the top – they are too fire-like and action-oriented.


If you have no headboard you can create one with a heavy, soft fabric and hang it from the wall. Choose colours that are dark to add to the solidity, and avoid too much patterning. This can be a fun creative project as well where you (and your partner if you have one) can consciously fashion a headboard to suit and support your rest in just the way you need.

For information on how I can help you sleep well, visit my BLISS page.

Smooth Move

In food, greens, kwirky, Life skills, reviews on August 3, 2012 at 1:07 pm

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Did you know –  because I didn’t until yesterday! – that a human’s diet is supposed to be composed of 50% leafy greens? Yah-huh! I know!!! Like, WHAT??? I thought I was doing rather well in my little world of me, myself and I (and 3 cats) with green smoothies every morning and a good leafy salad at dinner and mainly berries, seeds and an egg or quinoa bean mess in between. But HALF my in-take of food be leafy greens? Not me. I perhaps have about 30%… on a good day. Anyway, I learned this from Victoria Boutenko’s book, ‘Green For Life’. I got the audio book and listened to it on my 11 hour drive to New Hampshire yesterday. Here’s the most interesting thing about green stuff (chlorophyl) and the fibre that we NEED to be fully functioning and self-healing creatures:

1. Chlorophyl is liquid sunlight. We need sunlight to survive.

2. Chlorophyl is the closest thing in nature to our own blood! It is instantly absorbed into our bodies and rejuvenates us.

3. The fibre is a crucial aspect. We must have it. Fibre (and this is Victoria’s awesome analogy) is like a sponge going through our excretory system. It soaks up all the smaller toxins that our body is flushing out and carries it out in our poop. If we don’t have the fibre to carry it out, it gets stored in us, most commonly as fat cells.

4. About 70 – 100 lbs of our excrement each year is actually our own dead and toxic cells (or should be!). These cells can’t leave our body on their own. They need a ‘carrier’. The fibre from our greens.

5. Over the centuries humans have become less and less healthy due to diet changes. So now our teeth and jaws can’t actually chew up the cellulose in all these greens enough to make the digestion process and absorption of nutrients efficient.

6. Blending your greens into delicious smoothies is the perfect answer to getting all the greens you need to heal your body from just about every disease you can name!

In my opinion, having a large (32 oz.) green smoothie for breakfast is the best thing to start with. Don’t change the rest of your diet. Not until you feel ready. You will notice the benefits in just a few days. Here are my favourite ingredients and a couple images of how I fill my blender. (A quick thing on blenders… We all wish we could drop the $500 for a Vitamix or Blendtech, but my reality prevents me from this right now, but this is the thing: as long as your blender has sharp blades, you can do green smoothies just fine. The 1 – 2 horsepower of the super blenders means that no matter whether the blades are sharp or not, the produce will still be pulverized enough for us to be able to digest it well. So for now, make sure your blades are sharp, and the blender will still work for you.)

Stack the blender like this – leaves on top:

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Some fav’ ingredients I always include:

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Rotate and combine types of leafy greens throughout the seasons – kale, spinach, dandelions, parsley… your imagination is your limit. There are also wonderful eBooks and free online recipes all over the web.

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Tell everyone you know about the magic deliciousness of green smoothies! Take it with you places and let friends, family and nice, clean-looking strangers try some! *giggle* At the end of ‘Green For Life’ there are testimonials of people who healed themselves with green smoothies – things from warts to cancer to diabetes to arthritis to depression. The leafy greens truly are magical. We don’t know what we’ve been missing. Do it for a week and start with this recipe: 3 cups of spinach, 2 cups water, 2 bananas, half a mango, third of a pineapple. If the colour green puts you off, replace the mango or pineapple with blueberries. They turn it dark blue and delicious and it’s still excellent for you. It’s meant to be BIG. And it will fill you UP! Yummmm!!!

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Earth Steward

In Life skills, Nia, Uncategorized on June 21, 2012 at 7:34 am

Earth Steward

When I think about this phrase I am struck with a strong sense of responsibility mingled with deep passion and commitment. I love this planet. It is so beautiful, especially where humans have not slathered lush grasses and forests with concrete, or sullied emerald and sapphire waters with toxic sludge! On my journey with Nia I have come to embrace wholistic patterns for living, eating, and thinking. I have also been viewing travel, shopping and human interactions and relationships through this earth steward lens. Are the choices I make on a daily basis sound and in line with my passion for protecting and helping the Earth thrive? Perhaps not 100%; we are all to some degree limited in how we care for our planet. However, it is always possible to improve our actions, or at least become mindful of the times we need to drive the car instead of walk, bike or use public transit.

Recently I became involved with Norwex. Norwex is a direct sales company which manufactures cleaning products that do not harm the environment or human health in any way. Their most popular products are superior quality microfibre cloths that are blended with silver to act as an antibacterial agent. These cloths only need to be moistened with water to work their magic! The fibres in Norwex cloths are so finely split that they act like tiny fingers that pick up and hold onto any particles found on practically any surface. These particles remain in the fibres of the cloth until rinsed out with warm or hot water. If any of the particles happen to be living organisms (like bacteria) the silver element woven into the fibres will suffocate them. Silver basically removes oxygen from the immediate area, causing all respiring cells to die, and effectively acting as an antibacterial agent minus all the toxic chemicals that are currently used to kill bacteria.

For me, this step with using and promoting Norwex is a step along the path to cleaner and simpler living. Cleaning time in my house now takes a quarter of the time it used to. A quick wipe over most surfaces in my home and I know each surface is totally clean and there is no residue left from heavily scented chemical sprays and polishes. I can relax about rinsing the cloths and mop heads in the sink because they won’t put any extra strain on the water purification systems; I can be reassured that my pets aren’t inadvertently ingesting toxins from my cleaning products because I only use water. And, because Norwex has a line of softer, microfibre cloths designed for skin, I can be sure I am not adding unnecessary chemicals to my body via my skin with soaps! These products are revolutionizing the way I clean and care for myself, and I am so glad that they are also helping me reduce my carbon foot print. I use a lot less water as well when cleaning because by folding the cloths into quarters, I am able to use each side before rinsing out the dirt. That’s 8 different surfaces, and that usually gets most of my daily cleaning done (kitchen counter, stove, dining table, dresser, shelves, sink, mirror, toilet). With this frequent quick rhythm most days, I find I don’t have to slave for hours on the weekends to catch up with all I didn’t clean during the week. Another bonus to using these products is that I no longer have to buy bottles, cans and other packaged items to clean with. These items are therefore not going to end up in the landfill or having to be recycled (which uses a fair amount of energy). With all this extra time on my hands I can spend more time doing what I love. This then makes me happy and calm and so I do not pollute the world with negativity and stress! It’s a holistic cycle, all starting with a little silver-lined microfibre cloth!

See more about Norwex HERE

Clarity in Progress Cont.

In Life skills, Nia Class, teaching, Uncategorized, vocalising on February 21, 2012 at 5:57 am

I want to share my experience since writing the ‘Clarity in Progress‘ post from (insert date).

The week following my writing the blog, a dear friend told me about a yoga studio in her local area that would be receptive to hosting Nia classes. It was located above a health food store with a loyal clientele and, in her opinion, was a lovely space to dance. I set up a meeting with the owner and class co-ordinator for the coming Saturday morning. As I climbed the stairs to the studio, I saw a handful of young kids, around 10 to 12 years old, milling about and getting their shoes on. A tween yoga class had just ended. Nice! I am such a fan of getting kids, and especially tweens and teens, into a freeing and grounding practice like yoga. The two women I met with were very friendly, and I was shown into the studio. (Cue celestial choral music!)

There were high ceilings. There were two large windows… and wait for it! A VIEW OF MOVING WATER!!! The studio looks out onto the Grand River. It is situated in such a way as to not show the ground below us. I would have to stick my head out of the window to see the sliver of earth between the building’s foundation and the water. I think I was looking out of one of the top row windows in the photo above. It was beautiful. Needless to say I vocalized in wonderment, and this caught the attention of the yoga instructor showing me around! So I told her the story of my recent blog post basically describing this very studio, and in our conversation I went on to describe the basics of Nia, its history and its endless adaptability for all fitness levels and age groups. We settled on a date for a community class (pay what you can) to give the locals a tasty preview, and then a session of six classes if enough interest  was shown (8 people signing up minimum).

Now, I realize that my original blog on ‘CiP’ was describing a living wall and juice bar in a well-equipped centre for holistic wellness, but I also want to credit the details of part of my vision already presenting themselves to me in reality. There is no ‘living wall’ or a ‘do-it-yourself juice bar’ but there is the health food store downstairs. Images and visions we have may seem finished and ready-made in our mind’s eye, but in this world may be stepping stones to a reality we can’t fully imagine yet. I just know this meeting at the yoga studio was a large breadcrumb on my path leading me in a direction I need to follow! Dreams do come true. But the catch is having the dream and then sharing it with others. Being proactive and finding tangible, practical ways to talk about your ideas and passions is key to bringing them about. The trickiest part for me is getting clear on what it is I want… what is it that I want to envision?

It is a work in progress, and for now, I like my studio floating above moving water!

The studio in this blog is, The Paris Yoga Studio in Paris, Ontario. See My Nia Classes page for full details on dates and times for the upcoming classes there.

Thank you for reading, and please comment below with your experiences and thoughts! There is only LOVE.

Smokers have it right… sort of.

In chi, Life skills, mind, music, Nia, Nia Class, spirit, Tai Chi on February 15, 2012 at 6:31 am

Smokers have something going for them that non-smokers don’t. It’s the required 15 minute break every few hours throughout the day. No one seems to question them. No one tells them they can’t go. After all, they are addicted. They are sick and cannot help themselves. I mean, who else do you know, who doesn’t smoke, takes a 15 minute respite away from their job, desk, daily routine, whatever! totally and completely for themselves at regular intervals through the day? Ha! Speaking from personal experience here, I have been both: a smoker and a non smoker. I am currently a non smoker, and sometimes I miss the nasty, stinky cancer stick just because it gave me a “legitimate reason” to have some me time. Because, you know, if you have been around a smoker who hasn’t had a cigarette for a while, they can match even the meanest PMSing woman! So without much ado, we let the smokers slink off to poison themselves into a stupor where brain fog is reset, disallowing clear thought and fresh emotion to rock their lives into something more creative and lively. Creativity and feeling alive can be unpredictable and a little scary from time to time; but now that I am a non smoker, I wouldn’t want my life any other way.

However, I would like to take back my regular 15 minute breaks! But, instead of huddling a minimum of 10 feet away from the building in the freezing sleet or blistering heat (depending on your time of year!), I would like to roll out my yoga mat and stretch. Or, play some music and dance.

In some large airports there are specific locations designated for smokers that don’t require them to entirely leave the terminal. This convenience allows them to smoke without the hassle of having to leave and trudge back through security again. Outside many public buildings there are large garbage receptacles with a plate of sand on the top where the smokers can easily put out their butts. And it’s only been a few years in some cities where smoking has been prohibited in most public social establishments. At least now going out dancing doesn’t include inhaling second hand smoke as necessary evil of the activity! But as evidence grows and people wake up to the devastating effects of smoking to health, these little details of convenience will also continue to disappear. Soon, even the smokers won’t have any recourse to public areas to satiate themselves and relax in this mad world!

So, what if we replaced all the little conveniences smokers have and had, with a healthy and progressive collection of spaces to put down a yoga mat to stretch or meditate or dance? Each hotel, office building, grocery store, mall and airport could afford a room for this. It could be a sanctuary to calmly and quickly recharge with short stints of one’s personal favourite centring activity, be it yoga, dance, mediation, tai chi, Qi gong or whatever! The closest I have seen to this idea is the super short massages (or massages by the minute) in airports. It’s perfect really. If you are spending lots of time cramped up without much space to move and stretch while traveling, getting someone to give your muscles a quick shake up and rub down is very helpful. So why not take it one step further and provide spaces to take on the responsibility ourselves? Wouldn’t a movement to create small oases all over the cities for the sole purpose of rejuvenation and relaxation send out ripples of peace through our civilization? I feel we desperately need more access in our day to day lives to peace and relaxation. After all, it is frequently touted that it is from a place of peaceful relaxation where most creativity stems. Being hunched and tense and stressed only makes us weak, tired and irritable. There is no room there for open and free thought or inspiration!

On an aside, I think this short, frequent practice is different from a regular exercise routine. This practice will surely enhance one’s physical body, but it should not replace longer workouts. Just think of smokers who workout! I know that many professional dancers smoke, yet they are very physically active. This 15 minute repeating interval is for our holistic sanity. Within the swirl of daily activity there needs to be accents of stillness. From the stillness we can reconnect to our inner guiding voice or higher/authentic self. The more we connect with it, the easier it will be to forgive  – being cut off while driving, waiting in line when in a hurry. It will be easier to see the beauty that surrounds us everywhere and let this Love buoy us along our path. I know that my Nia practice can only improve from these 15 minute respites. I can already sense my creativity gasping for the space to reboot and tap into the musical cosmos that sends me magical messages about new music and fun focuses to use in class!

I am starting today! I may not have a specified location to roll out my mat or play music, but I know I can find a place to stretch. I have actually done yoga in airports while waiting for the next leg of my journey to start boarding. I take a space out of the way of traffic and move through a selection of poses that call to me. And every single person who looked my way, either smiled, nodded in silent agreement, or spoke to me in passing about what a great idea that was. People are ready to embrace these places of restful rejuvenation. I just need to find a way to start them! And for the time being, I will start with myself. This is where all great change across the world starts – the self. I will take 15 minutes every 3 hours today, where I stretch through a few of my favourite yoga postures. I will focus on my  breathing to energize my cells with plenty of fresh oxygen, and I will quiet my mind, sending my clamouring thoughts to my internal answer machine to pick up once my 15 minutes are done. When I am at home I will most likely dance for 15 minutes or meditate, since I can control my personal environment more.

I would love to hear what you will do to start this movement. Comment below and share this post with others! Let the Conscious Movement begin!

Setting the Focus

In Life skills, Nia, Nia Class, teaching on November 20, 2011 at 10:28 pm

The focus that is described at the beginning of a Nia class gives the opportunity to become more aware of something. It can be physical, emotional, mental or spiritual in nature; and it could be all of these or any combination of these things, at once. At the very core of Nia, the focus is physical health. This is just the first building block. From the physical we can deepen and extend our growth towards optimal health in all areas of life.

Each Nia routine that is created comes with a prescribed focus. The focus of Sanjana is ‘dynamic ease’. R1‘s focus is ‘connection’. Earthsong’s focus is ‘the one point’ (our centre of gravity, or the hara), and so on. When I became a teacher of Nia, I learned that there was a formula of sorts, to help describe the focus for each class. In fact, teachers would use myriad foci over several weeks/months while dancing the same routine. This fascinated and intimidated me. I was confident with dancing, but not speaking about the dancing. How did they think of all these different foci? Where did they get the ideas for them? And more importantly, how was I going to come up with my own foci when I started teaching?

I asked a few of my Nia mentors for guidance in this area and, then, as a white belt teacher, I was told to connect with the 13 white belt principles. I thought about going in order and doing one a week. But that would only get me through 3 months. What would happen after that? Well, I thought to myself, I would just cross that bridge when I got to it, since my mentors only said, “Connect with the white belt principles, and you’ll be fine.”  So I did. I wondered whether I should go in order from 1 to 13, and figured I might as well. There’s no point in re-inventing the wheel.

Now, I have been teaching Nia for nearly 2 years and giving focuses for every class. And you know what? I still use the 13 white belt principles… but I use other stuff too! I now have my blue belt training in Nia and I have more Nia family members to call upon for guidance and inspiration. Our community is strong, creative and very supportive. We come together at Jams (movement based fundraisers for various causes), playshops, paloozas, trainings and regular classes when we can, and as a result of this contact I was inspired to do the following: Over the last year I allowed myself to explore my intuition as it effected my Nia practice. This meant that I would not only come to class fully prepared with a particular routine, but I would leave room for spontaneous changes that came to me. These changes could take the form of changing the direction the class usually faces, or making a choreographed tune a free dance, or changing the prepared focus at the last minute! For the most part, this exploration, this PLAYfulness, has been very rewarding and enjoyable.

So, back to the focus. I suppose that over the months I taught my own classes, I was able to glean snippets from speech on the Nia teacher’s DVD for learning routines, and turn the snippet into a focus. Debbie Sterwart-Rosas and Carlos Aya-Rosas speak so beautifully and clearly about movement and sensation, that their narration through a class is almost like an essay on Nia. As I said, I also revisited the 13 white belt principles regularly, and found I had favourite ones. I also played with ways to combine several principles into one focus. With each Nia training intensive, playshop and Jam I participated in, I was introduced to more and more information to educate myself with. Each belt intensive provides us with a 2 inch-thick manual as well as a few pages of suggested reading. Each gathering of Nia-phites leads to conversations about personal discoveries and reflections on journeys and lessons learned. These experiences all create a web involving Nia, and how Nia has changed, healed and uplifted our lives. I take all these elements now and use them to create my foci for class. I listen to my intuition for guidance into a general subject area, and then whittle something down with my rational brain to make it simple enough and memorable enough to apply in class.

And then one day, a client of mine asked me, “How do you choose a focus for the Nia class?” At the time I didn’t answer as we were just stepping into class, so I resolved to answer her later. And this is why I now have a blog about it! To be honest, creating the focus for the past few months has not been the most intimidating thing for me anymore! I feel confident when thinking about what it will be, and sometimes I even leave the planning of it to the day of the class!

There is one more part of this journey I want to share. As I began to think of how I create the focus for each class as an answer for my curious client, my thoughts strayed to a woman and Nia sister, who I hold in very high regard. She has taught me Nia (before I got any belts), she has loved and supported me before and after I got trained, and she totally inspires me to be the best Nia instructor I can be; and I don’t think she realizes quite how much she does for me! Anna Schantz teaches in Burlington, Ontario and has her black belt training and has been teaching for over 10 years. Check out her website: Zensation Fitness. I asked her about creating foci and she said, “I like to play the ‘What if?’ game.”  What if I was to challenge myself today? What if I were to use the same focus as last week? What if I wasn’t going to talk during class? What if…? This game opens up so many doors and it tests my creative muscles about how to describe such focuses in class! This part of Nia is my favourite! The part where my brain is forced to create new neural pathways. These feel difficult and sometimes uncomfortable in process, but in the end my 2 brain hemispheres are more integrated and I feel wiser! It’s REALLY awesome!

So that concludes my ‘How I choose a focus’ blog. I use the 13 white belt principles, Debbie and Carlos’s wisdom, my Nia education manuals, the Nia community’s wisdom, and my own intuition. I hope you have more clarity around the subject, and I hope you can understand that this idea of having a focus can be applied to anyone in any situation. Choose a focus for yourself each day… or maybe just each week… or month – time just flies by these days! And see what happens when you bring consistent awareness to a specific focus in your life. Some focuses I have used in the past which are easily adaptable to anyone’s life, are listed below:

Calm simplicity Anything goes – do not judge
Always do your best The Joy of movement/life/love/shopping
Tai-Chi – slow motion to de-stress We are all connected
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