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I often think about the importance of ritual, and how it contributes to my sense of wellness in everyday life. The older I get the more rituals I've adopted, less as a force of habit, but more as a form of self-care. I've come to understand ritual in a way that has inspired me to seek out ways to discover and experience more meaning and appreciation in life.

My definition of ritual is short and sweet. Simply put, Routine + Intention = Ritual.

Routines are things that we do regularly, and often subconsciously. When we approach daily activities more mindfully they can become rituals that are not only enjoyable, but play an important role in our well-being. Adding intention to otherwise mundane tasks such as washing your face, putting the kids to bed, walking the dog, brushing your hair, making the bed, watering the plants or enjoying a cup of tea, can turn them into joy inducing activities.

Taking life slowly has helped me to be more mindful, and this has enabled me to approach daily activities more intentionally.

Practicing mindfulness has taught me that there is so much to appreciate from the simplest things to the smallest moments that we often overlook or diminish when we're not taking time to pay close attention.

I believe, that we all want to experience more joy, peace, and meaning in our lives. So, what I'm offering is that there is a simple approach to achieving this. What if your daily chores could service you in new, more meaningful ways?! For example, make your bedtime routine a gift to yourself, by taking the time to set the vibe with scented candles, play some melodic music and wind down with a cup of warm herbal tea. Now suddenly, your evening routine becomes less about rushing to get to bed, and more of a daily reminder that you're worth being cared for. Now, we all deserve that!

So, as you explore where and how you can be more present in your own life, remember the old adage to "stop and smell the roses", because it's simple rituals like this, that help to renew our minds, uplift our spirits, and remind us that there is always so much to be grateful for.

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Holiday Season represents many things and conjures varied emotions for different people. For many, it's fun and festive, for some quiet and laid back, or for others it may be full of angst and tension. Regardless of where you stand, we have tools to help you survive the holidays holistically and in one piece.

As I reflect on the holidays, it brings up really great memories filled with family and full houses, but if I'm being honest also a little angst. Don't get me wrong, my family is amazing, and the people that I most enjoy spending time with, but being a part of a large extended family also means figuring out where you fit in (particularly as a kid). As I've gotten older, the anxiousness associated with showing up authentically as myself to family functions has somewhat faded, but I attribute this in part to tools that I've adopted to help ease any temporary anxiety that might creep in.

As our family has grown and changed over the years, we now have so many lifestyles represented (so I'm no longer the "odd man out"). We have those that celebrate the holidays in full force, those who have adopted new traditions of their own, and those who come just for the pie (lol, just kidding). In our family there are many diets (pork free, lactose free, vegetarian, vegan, gluten free etc.) and many practices observed (gift giving, not gift giving, Christmas, Kwanzaa, and so on)!

So, with some much diversity of lifestyles, perspectives and experiences, how does one navigate all that the holidays bring (good and not-so-great), while remaining true and whole? Well, we've got just the trick!

Well, the trick is less of a trick (no pulling rabbits out of hats here), but more of a practice, that when honored and used with consistency can help alleviate stress, and bring peace of mind and balance to one's life, during the holidays and beyond!

The practice is establishing Boundaries. Boundaries is one of those words that can sometimes create conflict and division, but when enforced with care, is less about saying NO to people and things (which is often what creates the feeling of separation) and more about saying YES to yourself.

As someone who has observed a plant based diet for going on 20 years, learning to establish boundaries was necessary and essential to my health and well-being. I come from a family that traditionally eats meat, so the way that I practice healthy boundary setting is by making sure that I prepare food that agrees with my body that I'll enjoy. This way I eat good, feel good, am not left out, and don't hurt too many feelings in the process. See it's about saying Yes to what's right for you, instead of No to what others are offering. And, you might even introduce someone else to something new and enjoyable in the process. That's a win-win for all!

Another example of how to practice holistic boundary setting during the holidays is by carving out space and time for yourself. I love big family gatherings. They nourish me in many ways, but as an introvert, I sometimes feel spent when it's all said and done. So what I do to help ensure that I am present and enjoying myself when amongst my big family, is to carve out quiet time for myself before and after holidays gatherings. For example, I wake up without an alarm clock to start my day naturally, and have a personal tea time to establish a good mood and flow for the remainder of my day. Another hack that I've learned, is (whenever possible) to have my own transportation. This way, I'm not held hostage to someone else's time, and when I'm feeling ready for a break (regardless of how much fun and good times I've had), I can politely excuse myself to take care of my own needs. Now that's what I call boundaries working for and not against you (or others)!

Lastly, perhaps, you're on a strict budget, but want to do something special for your family and friends during the holidays. Instead of spending money that you can't afford to spend, do something thoughtful like preparing everyone's favorite meal, offering to wash the dishes (whoever is cooking will certainly appreciate that), or leading a fun and inclusive activity for all to enjoy.

See the holidays aren't about spending money that you don't have, eating food that you can't eat, or celebrating in ways that don't feel true to you. Instead, they should be about doing whatever nourishes and fulfills you, and cherishing time with the ones you love ... starting with yourself!

Establishing boundaries and honoring the ones that you've put in place will help you to do just that; be present, full and holistically well during the holidays. So here's to good manners (saying "no, thank you" to things that don't work for you, "yes, please" to that which does), and true "well-being" this Holiday Season!

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Updated: Sep 20, 2022

Walking, like drinking tea, to me is a form of meditation. It is during this time, that I reflect a lot on life, my choices, values and lifestyle. Today during my walk, I reflected on what living modestly has taught me about life, or, more so about LIVING!

Let me clarify that by modest, I don't necessarily mean without wealth, success or achievement. However, what I'm referring to may require a reexamination and redefinition of what these things really mean.

Note: some of the "wealthiest" people in the world live excessively and are constantly in search of connection and fulfillment, whereas people in some of the most economically disadvantaged countries live modestly, and yet experience very "rich" lives. This may be why we are seeing more people with wealth and status choosing to live "modestly" in return for experiencing true fulfillment. All to say, money and accolades is not the measure here.

Before I go on, let me also make clear that I do not believe in deprivation. To me depriving oneself of the joys of life is in essence the opposite of living. However, I also believe that not subscribing to "excess" is a good life practice.

I don't need to spend excessively, accumulate excessively, or produce excessively to enjoy life, and choosing to live modestly, has taught me the value and joy in simple pleasures and sustainable living.

Living modestly, has created room in my life for creativity and flexibility. Because, I choose not to hoard things (a lesson I learned while moving state to state during my 20s and early 30s), or constrict my time (you know the over-scheduler who has to preplan & fill every hour of each day), I've been able to create SPACE to take life as it comes.

So, if an opportunity comes up to go to a concert for an artist that I love, or if I'm inspired to be of service or even generate income in a new way, I'm not locked in with no room for exploration and discovery. I understand that to some this may seem easier said that done, and admittedly this is a lesson that I've mastered going from having (a little) more to having less, and perhaps in some ways this comes with more ease as a person living a child-free life. But, nevertheless, the lessons that I've learned from living this way, have created a sense of peace, joy and autonomy that are at the center of my wellness.

So, how do you begin to live a modest life, one might ask?! And my answer is not a recipe (as nothing is one size fits all), but more so an opportunity for self-reflection.

Consider your values, what's important to you, what motivates you, and at the end of the day what would have truly mattered to you! Now consider, what might you be willing to sacrifice and what aren't you willing to let go of.
Note: sacrifice is not the same as deprivation, as sacrifice is more so a choice or conscious decision often made with the opportunity for gain in another area, whereas deprivation often comes from an idea of suffering, unworthiness or lack.

For me, what living modestly looks like is choosing to spend money (when I do spend) on Experiences vs Things. I love to travel, I love live music, and I love dining. I realized that all the things that I had accumulated over time didn't really make me happy (well, besides my numerous throw pillows and blankets ;) ), so instead I put my finances towards creating experiences for myself and with my loved ones. And more so, I've discovered lots of ways to do more of what I enjoy without having to use (a lot of) money, such as spending time in nature, creating playlists, cooking for family and sipping tea at home. Living modestly, has made me more creative, more resourceful, in many ways more joyful, and OPEN to receiving!

So, what I've learned is that instead of trying to "keep up with the Joneses" or some other lifestyle standard that we've been conditioned to believe is right for all, discover what Living really looks and feels like for you, and be willing to say "no" to some things and YES to re-writing the script!

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