My Intentions for 2017

Happy New Year!

Like many, I love the fresh start of a new year.  I’ve been doing a lot of thinking and reflecting over the last little while to try to decide what my resolutions will be this year.  I love exploring different sources for creativity and inspiration, and a theme that keeps coming up over and over again, and one I am really latching on to, is the notion of self-care.

img_1011Self-care is unique to the individual so it really means figuring out what is right for you.  Here’s what I’ve discovered so far about the components of my own self-care practice that I hope to implement this year.

PHYSICAL HEALTH

Exercise

This year, I’ve decided to cancel my gym membership and find different kinds of exercise that I truly enjoy.  Some things I plan on doing are:  walking my dog, cross-country skiing, hiking, at-home basement workouts (cardio, strength training, weights). I’ve also finally registered for my first yoga series at a local yoga studio that I can’t wait for.

Nutrition

I’ve decided to commit to cleaning up my diet for a few reasons.  One, I’ve continued to struggle with ulcerative colitis and am hoping that by making changes to my diet, it will improve my symptoms and eventually put me back into remission.  Secondly, I want to be in the best physical shape of my life and I know a huge part of that is eating properly.  I’ve decided to try something different and have recently started the 21 Day Fix in hopes that a new program will give me the motivation I’ve been lacking.  Finally, I know that eating healthy foods (and cutting back on the unhealthy ones) will give me more energy and help alleviate a lot of the fatigue I have been feeling.

Water

As part of my new nutrition program, I am trying to consume more water on a daily basis.  I find drinking out of a reusable water bottle helps me to get my daily water intake and also helps me to easily keep track of how much I’ve consumed.

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MENTAL / EMOTIONAL

Yoga

Besides its physical benefits, yoga positively benefits our minds helping us to become more mindful, release negative thoughts, and open our hearts to love, light, and peace.  Yoga helps me to feel relaxed and helps me to slow down the rush of day-to-day life.  I am really excited to get started on my yoga journey!

Journaling

The main reason I started this blog was to have an outlet for creativity.  While others may paint, dance, sing, or scrapbook, my creative outlet is writing.  I think a lot and sometimes my brain feels overloaded with too many things.  Journaling helps me to release some of the things I am thinking about which eases my mind.  Furthermore, it allows me to express myself and reach out to others in a positive way.

Slowing Down

As I get older, I find I crave a more simple and quietwe life.  The drama, chaos, and negativity that thrive in the world, make me upset and make me desire a slower, simpler pace. This year, I intend to slow down my daily activities whether it’s my morning routine, driving, reacting to the choices of others, teaching, or just day-to-day tasks.

Being Outdoors

Until recently, I never truly understood the benefits of spending time in nature.  Lately though, I’ve realized that being outside makes me feel overall more positive, calmer, happier, and more at peace.  I’ve even found a new appreciation for our Northern Ontario winters.  I’ve finally realized that fresh, outdoor air and quality Vitamin D is essential to my mental health.  This year, I intend to spend more time outdoors by doing things like: walking (with friends, my hubby and my dog), hiking, cross-country skiing, skating on outdoor rinks, camping, and exploring the woods.  When summer rolls around, I may even try canoeing or kayaking!

Home

One of the places I love being the most is at home.  Our house is small but it is cozy and it’s one place where I can (usually) fully relax.  Most of the time, this happens in my favourite arm-chair, with a cuddly blanket.  Nearby, you’ll find my water bottle, sometimes a coffee, the latest book I am reading, my Chapstick, my hand cream, my iPhone, and my iPad.  Next to me, my husband is watching TV from the couch with our fur baby curled up beside him.  Another favourite place in my home is my bedroom. I love the cozy weight of our duvet, the coolness of our pillows, the light pouring in from behind our white, gauzy curtains.  On my nighttable, I have a simple statue of Buddha that helps me to feel peaceful before bed.  I love long, slow mornings lounging in bed on the weekend with my husband and our dog, scrolling through social media, reading, or making plans for the day.

Of course, there is always room for improvement in our home.  While I have some projects I’d like to see happen this year, there are a few simple things I can do to help make my home even more cozy.  I’ve started listening to acoustic music when doing household tasks.  I love lighting candles around my home.  I love the greenery of dispersing plants throughout our house. I love having cuddly blankets and pillows.  I am also considering putting up some white twinkly lights in my bedroom to help create a cozy, romantic, warm space.

Relationships

There is nothing in life more important to me than the relationships I have.  I am very blessed to be surrounded by so many special family members and friends.  This year, I hope to cultivate those relationships even more by paying more attention to my loved ones’ needs and showing more kindness and appreciation where I can.  I hope to stay in better contact with friends that live far away and to visit my three, precious nieces more often.  There’s nothing that makes my heart feel fuller than time spent with those I love.

Parenting

Parenting is a tough job, and I would argue that step-parenting is even harder, especially to two teenagers.  That being said, this year I intend to practice more patience when it comes to parenting.  I am a highly sensitive and emotional person that tends to react too quickly to feelings of stress, frustration, hurt, or anger.  This year, I will pause and think before reacting to these kinds of situations.  I will listen, not half-heartedly, but really listen to their needs and interests when they talk so that they feel the love and attention they deserve.  In essence, I will be kinder and more loving to my children.

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SPIRITUAL

Mindfulness

This year, I hope to practice being more mindful and fully present in the moments of my life.  By slowing down my day-to-day routines, I hope to notice the small things that make life so pleasurable (example: the beauty of the snow-covered evergreens that line my route to work).  Practicing mindfulness will also fill my heart with gratitude, faith, and love.

Yoga / Meditation

I am excited to learn more about yoga and meditation this year and hope to discover more about myself through the practice of both.  I plan to explore some guided meditations and perhaps even create a yoga space in my basement surrounded by things that inspire and motivate me.

Light

For me, light is both figurative and literal.  Especially in the long, dark days of winter, spending as much time in daylight is crucial.  It’s one of the reasons I always open the blinds in my home and in my classroom, and switched all my indoor supervision duties for outdoor ones.  But light can also be figurative. For me the notion of bringing light into my life means to bring positivity and happiness ~ something I definitely intend to do this year!

Morning Intentions

At school each morning, our principal asks us to take a moment of silence to reflect on our day.  Each day, I use that time to set some intentions for myself, for my students and co-workers, and for my loved ones.  Recently, I have starting sharing my morning intentions via Facebook as a means of sending hope and light into the world. Also, by writing down my intentions, it allows me to reflect on them and express them more clearly.

Gratitude

Similar to my morning intentions, I sometimes share daily expressions of gratitude on my Facebook account.  Again, writing these thoughts helps me to see them and feel them more clearly.  But it’s also my intention to help others recognize the small, simple things in life that we have and to realize how very blessed we are.

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What are your goals / resolutions / intentions for the New Year?  Whatever it may be, I hope your year is filled with love, light, peace, and positivity!  💕

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Summer Lovin’: Where I’ve Been & What I’ve Been Up To

Well it’s been awhile since I’ve blogged.  I guess I inadvertently took the summer “off” from blogging.  But I’m happy to say that my summer has been jam-packed with mini road trips, family & friends, and lots and lots of fun.  Here’s a snapshot of what I’ve been up to!

Summer started off off perfectly with a wonderfully relaxing and peaceful camping trip with Mom, Dad, and my 3-year-old niece Isabella   It was just the refresher I needed after ten long months at school!

In addition to camping, I was able make a few visits back home which of course meant lots of time with my three adorable nieces!  These girls definitely have a huge piece of my heart!

Of course a trip back home is never complete without seeing two of my best girlfriends and their sweet babies!  We spent an afternoon at the beach, played at the park, enjoyed lunch together, and went swimming at the pool where I spent many childhood summers!

Along with friends back home, this summer included vists with two dear friends who now live overseas! I took an overnight road trip to visit with my university roommate Chadley and her family who were home visiting from China!  It was a short but very sweet time that involved swimming in Lake Muskoka, delicious drinks, and a lot of reminiscing.  Last week, I visited my old high school friend Maureen who was home visiting from NYC (and the UK before that!) It always fills my heart and feels so good to see old friends again!

Immediately after my trip to Muskoka, I had the pleasure of enjoying another camping trip with Mom, Dad and my nieces   This time we enjoyed Christmas in July, the beach, campfires, and best of all, more family time!

Of course those are just some of the highlights of my summer so far that I was lucky enough to capture on camera.  Trips to Gillies Lake beach, reading, doing yoga, playing softball, spending quality time with my hubby and kids, and following the Toronto Blue Jays on TV have also been a big part of my summer!  And the fun’s not over yet because this weekend coming is the one I’ve been waiting for all summer! Stay tuned to hear all about it…. Let’s just say, right now I’m more excited than a kid on Christmas morning!!!

Hope you’re having a wonderful summer too!

 

 

Cottage Dreams

cottage6Growing up in a small town, I dreamed of urban living.  The bigger the city the better, and I wanted to get there as fast as possible.  I wanted the hustle and bustle, the amenities, the skyline, the endless possibilities.  While I did go to university in a fairly large city, I ended up settling in a smaller northern city where I currently live.  Not only do I love it because it’s close to my hometown (which allows me to visit family often), but now that I am older, I cherish the simplicity of life away from the “big city”.  And lately I am realizing that the older I get, the more appreciation I have for living in the north surrounded by nature.

In fact, lately I am actually experiencing an unusual craving for nature. I say unusual because I wouldn’t describe myself as a particularly outdoorsy person.  I enjoy camping – but only in provincial parks with flush toilets and lots of other fellow campers nearby.  I don’t swim often but when I do, I prefer pools over lakes.  I like to go for walks, but never in the woods alone since one can never be sure what’s lurking out there.  I’ve promised myself for three years straight that I am going to learn to kayak, but I’ve still never set foot near one.  Often as I’m driving our local highways, I take everything for granted and forget to enjoy the beauty of our northern rivers, lakes, trees, and fields.

But not lately.

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Lately I can’t get enough of the glory of the nature that surrounds me.  I am fortunate enough that my hour commute to work is down a secondary highway lined with beautiful evergreens and dotted with lakes and rivers.  The scenery is often breath-taking, especially in the fall when the leaves change colour or when the sun is at just the right angle so the water on the lake glistens and sparkles.  Even in the winter, when the sun is setting through the long, bare branches of the trees, I appreciate the beauty.

As I am getting older, I am discovering a new appreciation for the outdoors and I am pretty sure I know why. I’m at a time in my life where the days, weeks, months, and years seem to be speeding by. My step-kids are teenagers, my career is finally becoming established, my parents are nearing retirement. While life is hurrying along, I am trying desperately to slow things down.  To learn to relax.  To live each day to its fullest.  To find peace and serenity.  So I am not sure if it’s the actual wilderness I am craving, as much as it is everything it has to offer.

The peace and tranquility.

The quiet and calm.

The serenity and beauty.

The simplicity and relaxation.

The easy, relaxed, slow way of life that happens in the country and that allows one the opportunity to look around and truly treasure the moment they’re in.cottage7

Along with this newfound love of nature, comes my ever increasing desire for a lakefront property – either a cottage or even a home – somewhere peaceful, quiet, and simple. Somewhere where I can look out the window and have a spectacular view of one of our beautiful northern lakes.  Somewhere with a screened in porch for summer evenings and a huge deck for barbeques and family gatherings.  Somewhere where I can sit outside in the sun, drinking coffee, and reading books.  Somewhere where I can hear the loons calling on the lake in the morning, and the crickets and frogs singing at night.  Somewhere secluded and private – away from the hustle and bustles and stresses of life – surrounded by beautiful greenery, and lots and lots of trees.   Surrounded by nature – and everything it has to offer.

Check out some more of my cottage inspiration inspired by my Pinterest board “Cottage Love”.

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