It’s been a year since I started running. A year of reflection. Of change.
So much has happened since the last time I visited Bowen Island and Nectar Yoga B&B that it was like an out of body experience returning last month. Remembering how I felt when we were there last year and being present during our recent visit made it feel like time was running parallel. Retracing the same steps I’d taken before, walking into the beautiful cabin and yoga dome, reliving the emotions from a year ago while appreciating the way I now felt… View Post
There. I’ve said it. I think balance is a cruel word that gets tossed around as we try and convince ourselves that we can do it all in the same day. Someone once told me ‘balance’ is about making choices and being at peace with them, and I’ve reflected on that ever since; on days when I feel like I’m struggling I try to step back and think about what my focuses for that day are and regroup around them, simplify things. I absolutely believe we can do it all– just not all at once. Different days may have different priorities, we just have to accept that there may be/ will be other things that don’t happen- they’ll happen some other time. In other words, I think the concept of balance is more of an outlook than an actual thing we can achieve.
Some days it feels like I can get everything done and I feel like a champion (aren’t those the best!?), and other days I feel like the biggest achievement is that the kids and I make it to the end of the day in one piece (a big, crazy, messy piece). Either way the same thing happens: I go into the day with a list of priorities- this may be a mental list or one I write down and includes things like time with the kids, house work, work, appointments that have to be made, yard work, etc- and inevitably there are usually things that get left for the next day or the next (or the next!)- or if it’s a particularly chaotic day, I throw out that list (unless there’s something that falls under ‘must happen today’), and re- write it for the next. It’s not always easy- some days it feels painful to give up and tell myself ‘it’s not going to happen today’- but I’m learning what’s more important than that to- do list is my outlook towards it. It’s how I think about things and move through the day, not how much I can get done in a day that matters (hands up who else is Type A like me and always tries to cram as much as possible into the day?). Sounds so simple right? But oooooh creating mental habits/ changing your perspective can be just as challenging as changing other habits!!! It takes time and baby steps, and patience, and, and, and…. moral of the story: we have to have patience with ourselves.
As I sit here and talk about choices, figuring out priorities, and finding ‘balance’- whatever that means- I don’t think I could do so without talking about one of the things I’ve made a priority over the past year, something I’ve made time for regardless of whatever else is going on. This choice didn’t come out of thin air, I’ve had to carve out the time from other things, but ultimately I’m happy with the choice of how I spend this time. The interesting thing about a year is you have a very distinct start and end point to reflect on, and I’ve been doing that lately as I look back on the progress I’ve made. Some days I’m stressed out about the time it takes, overwhelmed with everything else I have to get done, but ultimately I feel so much better after having made time for it, happy with the choice I made. The choice I’m referring to is exercise, and the time I’ve taken for yoga and running (and swimming when I get the chance).
It’s been a year since I started running- the longest that I have been committed to exercise in my adult life- and it is something I choose to make a priority (I share more about it in this post). For the most part I have gone on a run every week for a year; there is the odd week that I’ve missed one and weeks I’ve managed to go for two if I felt like I needed it (even if I’m stressed about finding the time for other things that have to get done, I ultimately feel better/ handle my workload better if I’ve taken some time away to give my mind a break with the added bonus of feeling better physically from the exercise). And before you tell me you don’t know where you’d find the time for exercise, I’ll confess this to you: I don’t have a lot of time for exercise. And I know a lot of other people who feel the same. It may not be exercise for them, it might be something else that they’re struggling to fit into their schedules, but either way finding time for some things is harder than others. The trick is to find it, then the second hardest part is to create a habit/ add it to your routine and then stick with it.
We all have other things to do, other things that take up our time, we all have our daily mix that fill our days. And in the end we look back on the day and hopefully feel good about what we got accomplished. Taking care of ourselves and our health is something we’re told to make a priority and rightfully so, but as with many things it’s often easier said than done. How many times do you tell yourself I’ll do it today and then brush it off: Oh well, I’ll do it tomorrow… It’s not hard to put stuff off that doesn’t really appeal to us, or that’s inconvenient/ uncomfortable- let’s face it, fitness isn’t usually something people do for fun (even though it can be), they do it to stay healthy. And we tend to lump health stuff under ‘boring’ and ‘have to but don’t want to’ instead of making it something to look forward to (see how a change in perspective might make that more appealing?). But that doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be a priority- that finding some time to take care of yourself isn’t important enough to warrant a little bit of time each week. And that’s just it: even just a little bit of time is better than no time at all. And that’s what I’ve told myself this past year when I’ve wanted to make an excuse to get out of running: it’s just. a. few. minutes. (and for the record, I didn’t let weather become an excuse either, no matter how tempting/ easy it would have been). I don’t always want to, but ultimately I know how much better I feel, how much happier I am afterwards; it’s worth it and something I’m glad I’ve added to my routine, even if it’s at the expense of something else.
I’m still working on calming down about all the things I want to get done in a day, letting go and really thinking about what I consider a priority- in other words, I’m still making peace with imbalance (see what I did there? 😉 ). But one thing I’m glad I did, even though I’ve had to choose the time to make it happen this past year is to stop making excuses for getting in some exercise each week. I’m not going to sit here and tell you that I have your life all figured out and how easy it is to make changes, to make time for these things. It’s rarely, if ever, that simple. But it is about re- thinking your priorities, re- thinking the choices you make and asking yourself ‘Is this making me a better or worse version of myself?’. We’re grown ups, so obviously things like bills and mortgages aren’t going to go away and make the choice to work less any easier (oh adulting…), but for the things on a simpler level, those things we have within our control, it’s amazing the difference a few different choices and a change of mind set can make. I’m not any less of a to- do list loving person than I was a year ago, but I’m chipping away at changing my outlook on things (instead of thinking ‘these are all the things I didn’t get done today’ turning it around and thinking about all that did get done), letting go, and not making excuses for things that should be more of a priority/ deserve more time. I’m responsible for two little people and keeping them happy and healthy, and at some point I have to make sure I’m doing the same for myself. It’s the choices I make and the perspective I have that creates the happiness and inner peace that I think ‘balance’ is supposed to bring- and it’s not a perfect one- size- fits- all solution- but just making the effort alone has been a big step forward for me. Exercise has been ‘my thing’ this past year that I’ve made a priority, now I want to know: what do you want to make more time for?
When it rains for 2 months straight it makes it interesting when trying to organize an outdoor photoshoot. And of course living here it rains a lot this time of year. So that means sometimes you just need to go for it and shoot in the rain which makes for some crazy hair and plenty of laughs trying to get the shots you want. Thankfully Akane (the photographer I’ve been working with on a few posts) is pretty much up for anything and we ended the shoot with some hot chocolate to warm up. And as you’ll see in the photos, we just tried to laugh through the rain and make the most of the beautiful location. The photos for this post were important to me and I’m glad a little rain didn’t stop us.
But enough about the photoshoot adventure, I’m really excited for this post for a few reasons. The first is that yoga and fitness came back into my life in a big way this year; I had a big reminder in the Summer that I can’t forget to take care of myself and it was the kick in the butt I needed to get back into shape. I’m no star athlete, but I feel better mentally and physically knowing that I’ve made time to exercise in the week. I’m calmer, happier, and it feels good to be taking steps towards a healthier life overall. I’ve made it a priority, had to move some things around, but ultimately it hasn’t been as challenging as I thought it would to fit into my routine. Sometimes it’s just a few minutes of yoga at the end of the day, but it makes a difference. The second reason I’m really excited for this post is that comes with a GIVEAWAY (the last one of the year!) for you, the readers who have supported the blog and me, your love and support means more than you’ll ever know. I thought what better way to go into the holiday season than with a gift for you? I’ve teamed up with some pretty amazing brands- Try On Love, Kristina Benson Art, Free Reign, Mint & Birch, and Built for This Baby– to help you treat yourself, and to serve as a reminder that you can’t forget to LOVE YOURSELF as well as everyone else you care for.
When I was organizing this post, I wanted to work with brands that would help me share my message about not forgetting to make time for yourself, to LOVE yourself, whenever and however you get the time to do so. I know it can be tough, so that’s why I’m hoping this post will help you feel loved and serve as a reminder that what you do is important, you are amazing, and just trying counts for something. We all have challenges and bad days, but we can still find a few minutes for ourselves and it’s so important to do so, so we can be the best version for everyone we love and for ourselves.
So why did I choose the brands I did for this giveaway? With the tee I’m wearing from Try on Love, you probably don’t need any more explanation. This shop is all about being a gentle reminder to love. To love yourself and others, it really does make a difference in the world. What better message could you hope for? Each piece has a small quartz gemstone- the universal gemstone of love- sewn in as a special touch, and I felt these pieces spoke to the message I’ve been sharing about these past few months. Love is such a powerful force, and one that can help people when they’re hurting the most; you never know when a simple gesture can make the difference in someone’s day. Kristina Benson, the talented lady behind the leggings, has combined her passion of art and fitness to create wearable art that becomes a part of your personal journey. The ones I’m wearing are the Surrender leggings. I didn’t realize there was a special meaning behind them until I spoke more with Kristina about them and how this design represented letting go and being at peace. Without knowing it, I had made my selection based on where I was emotionally: trying to let go of some things and move on, to be at peace with things I had been struggling with. All of her designs have a story behind them and they’re as beautiful as they are comfortable to wear.
And if that water bottle from Free Reign looks familiar, it’s because it’s the same one I received on my yoga retreat this Fall (see here and here for more). The founder, Melanie, suffers from chronic pain and is helping to spread the word about not suffering in silence, to have compassion, and to be open about your journey. This lady, her message, and her products have a special place in my heart for very personal reasons and I’m so grateful to have met her. Individuals like this are the positive change we so need in this world and she helped me earlier this year as I worked through some very personal challenges. Mint & Birch is another brand I’ve loved for a long time, and Jessica’s beautiful pieces are all handmade by this talented mama. This bar necklace is a custom piece that says Live Laugh Love in Latin. When she asked me what I wanted, I knew I wanted something I would wear everyday as a reminder for what’s important to me, to represent the journey I’d been on this year. She hand- stamps her pieces, making each one unique and one of a kind, and I love that she pours her heart into her work.
And finally, Built for This Baby is a program I’m excited to share about, helping women to find their inner strength through pregnancy, birth, and beyond. I attended one of Georgia’s workshops this Fall and learnt so much about how my well being and emotional state was much more than what was going on outside of myself- nutrition, sleep, and self care all play in a role- and she reminded me of that. It can be hard, but we can’t forget about ourselves; we have to be advocates for ourselves as well as those we care for. Through yoga, conversation, and guidance from this woman of many talents, I reflected on my journey through motherhood and how it has impacted me, how it affects all women differently. You don’t have to be a new mom to appreciate this program and I am grateful programs like this exist to help us feel connected with ourselves and others as we embrace all that life throws at us, especially when it can feel like we’re losing ourselves trying to keep up with everything.
So now you can see why I fell in love with each of these amazing collaborators and the people behind them. There are so many individuals working to do good in this world, to help us move through life the best way we can, and to be ok when things don’t go smoothly. It’s a journey we’re all on together, and you can’t forget about yourself along the way. This has been a big learning curve for me this year, and I feel like it’s one many others are going through as well. Feeling loved, recognized, and having your feelings acknowledged can make such a difference when you feel overwhelmed. I hope to carry into 2017 with this new- found wisdom and build on what this year started and that you’ll enjoy some exciting things with me and the blog in the new year. This isn’t the last post of the year, but it’s one close to my heart, and I hope you enjoyed reading it as much as I did putting it together.
So what’s up for grabs for one of you lucky readers?
Sometimes you just to need to stop. Step back. Breath. And last month I was given the chance to do just that. Thanks to my friend Janette of Ava to Zoe, a group of us ladies got away for 2 blissful nights at Nectar Yoga B & B on Bowen Island. We enjoyed some yoga & meditation, sipped some wine, and enjoyed slowing down and coming off of our busy routines. I shared about our time at Nectar in this post and today I wanted to share about some the other details from the trip. Not only did Janette organize the whole thing, she spoiled us with some amazing swag bags loaded with everything we’d need for our time away- including the clothes we’d wear while we got our yoga on.
She did such an amazing job bringing together everything we’d need that I thought it would be good to share about it for anyone else thinking about planning a yoga getaway with the girls. I’ve also given some extra info about the items she picked out for the getaway throughout the post, so if you see something you like you can check out the amazing brands behind the item.
So what to bring when you’re planning a well- deserved yoga getaway? Here’s what I’d suggest based on our 2 days away.
Yoga Getaway Packing List
– yoga apparel
think: comfortable/ doesn’t restrict movement
– hat & warm clothes
if planning a getaway in the cooler months, or pack according to the season
– dress clothes & heels
in case you want a night out
no explanation needed!
– water bottle
to stay hydrated after enjoying that wine… and yoga of course
– hair ties/ hair bands
seems simple enough, but having your hair falling all over your face while doing downward facing dog can be annoying
– bag to carry yoga gear in
many places will supply you with mats, blocks, etc, but it’s good to know if these are supplied- especially if you’re organizing your own retreat
– yoga gear
if needed, see above
– healthy snacks
and some not so healthy, because what’s a girls trip without treats?
maybe splurge on some nice soap & lotion to give yourself some TLC after your yoga session
– candles, movies & magazines
basically, whatever else you’d like to bring to treat yourself and set the mood for a few days of R &R
– don’t forget things like your pjs, a good pair of athletic shoes, and anything else you might need depending on time of year & where you’re going (ie a bathing suit for Summer)
Thanks to RYU, we each received two tops and a pair of pants, so we’d be all set when we arrived and have less to pack (but let’s be honest, I just filled that extra space in my bags with more shoes 😉 ). When you learn about the mantra this brand has towards it’s apparel and those who wear it, you can see why it was a perfect fit for a trip like this. In an email we received from the brand that they send out to the athletes who wear their clothes, they speak of the ‘beautiful tough’ and that despite the challenges we face, to always look for the beauty in life. Not just with the aesthetics, but through things like actions, thoughts, and deeds. I loved this idea of the ‘beautiful tough’ and as the time on Bowen unfolded, I could see how each of us had our own challenges we were facing, but how we were pushing through them, each showing strength in our own way.
When it came time to enjoy the yoga sessions with Andria at Nectar, having pieces that were comfortable and moved with us was much appreciated. When you’re stretching and moving your body into different positions, having clothes that work with you rather than restrict you can make a big difference. Janette really thought of everything we would need and made sure we stayed hydrated with beautiful water bottles from Free Reign (the story behind this brand and it’s owner Melanie is an inspiring one), hair accessories from Goody, zipper pouches from From the Seeds for things like lipgloss and other girlie items, and wine (yes to wine!!!) from Evolve Cellars. If you know me, you know I love my wine, and the Pinot Blanc & Pinot Noir we got to enjoy were the perfect ending to our days on Bowen. And I just have to mention how perfect I thought the name was- ‘Evolve’- to come along on our trip that included reflection and moving forward in new directions.
Janette pulled everything together in beautiful tote bags from Oh My Dear Loves (which feature original artwork by the owner all created by hand either through screen printing or linocut stamps), and it was like kids on Christmas morning as we opened our bags of goodies. There were also items from Karma & Soul (love my beanie!), a yoga care kit from Sage, and a hand- poured candle from Free Reign. We seriously got spoiled and all appreciated how much time and effort Janette put into organizing everything.
Life can get busy. Crazy. Chaotic. It’s important that we find time to slow it down and reset. Time is finite and memories are priceless, so let’s make our time here as good as we can. Thanks Janette for pulling together this crazy group of gals and to Heyde & Kristy for being the ladies I shared this time with (and bonus thanks to Kristy for capturing the beautiful photos!). If you want more info about the brands Janette included in our yoga getaway bags, see below for a full list.
Thank you to everyone who helped make this getaway so special:
Last month I enjoyed a yoga getaway with 3 other lovely ladies organized by my good friend Janette of Ave to Zoe; it was my first yoga retreat and it was everything I had been hoping for, looking for, and more. I remember getting her text at the end of Summer: Want to go back to Bowen? Um, yeah I do! I laugh a little thinking that before this year I had never been to Bowen Island and somehow ended up there twice in less than 3 months. Safe to say I’ve fallen in love and it’s been a reminder how beautiful this place we call home is and that I need to play tourist in the province I was born and raised in more often.
This beautiful B&B is tucked away in the trees 5 minutes from the ferry when you arrive on the island, and even though you’re only a 15 minute ferry ride from Vancouver, you feel so removed from the hustle of the city. There are signs throughout the island reminding you ‘you’re not on the mainland’ and to slow down, take everything in, and enjoy yourself. This mantra sinks in and you quickly find yourself forgetting your daily stresses and routine in exchange for a sense of calm.
The story behind Nectar Yoga B & B is as beautiful as the place itself and owner Andrea has created her own little paradise where she teaches yoga and meditation, hosts retreats, and serves the loveliest breakfasts to her B&B guests. For 2 years, she has been welcoming guests to Nectar and helping them find inner calm through yoga and meditation. To be in Andrea’s presence is calming and uplifting, you get the sense that she is in her happy place; living, breathing proof that dreams do come true, if not without some hard work and soul searching.
Andrea’s hope is to send guests home more in touch with themselves, feeling better than when they arrived, and breathing a little deeper as they go through their daily lives; in some way transformed for the better. And that’s how I felt arriving home after the 2 days spent there: rested and calmer than when I left. For readers of the blog, you might have seen me share about some personal things I’ve been working through the past few months (you can see those posts here and here), and yoga has become one of the things I’ve turned to, to help me feel fulfilled both inside and out. This two- day retreat was a beautiful experience that had us exploring the practice of yoga combined with meditation, and enjoying some fun girl time as well.
In 2 days we enjoyed 3 yoga/ meditation sessions led by Andrea in the yoga dome she has built on the property. Looking through the clear panels that overlook the property, it is such a unique and beautiful way to enjoy yoga and meditation. With the air scented with incense, candles, and the cedar plank floors, it’s an experience for all the senses, and one that will have you feeling instantly relaxed. You don’t have to be an experienced yogi to visit, and Andrea leads the hour- long sessions mindful of what her guests are looking for from the practice- are you seeking something more intense and challenging or relaxing and reflective?
We were lucky to enjoy a bit of both, leaving one session in particular feeling rather stretched and flexed from the poses with the other two a little less intense; we got to explore the best of both worlds. During our sessions Andrea led us through the poses and meditation giving suggestions to help improve our form, make them more/ less intense, and how they were beneficial to our bodies (bonus points for learning while relaxing!). I’d say the poses that worked on the hips were the toughest for me- apparently this is quite common- and I’m going to be working more poses into my yoga routine that help with this area. Stretching and staying flexible as we get older isn’t something we necessarily focus on, but there are countless long- term benefits and yoga definitely helps.
As our time came to an end, the four of us reflected on our time there, the fun we’d had, and how amazing the experience had been. This retreat brought the four of us together- some as friends, some as strangers at the beginning- but we all left feeling like we’d shared in something special, appreciating the experience, and how it had impacted all of us. It was a reminder that we’re all on our own journeys, with different challenges and victories, but coming together in a positive, safe place, we felt no judgement or fear. Just peace, calm, and appreciation. Memories were made, friendships formed and strengthened, and a few more laugh lines added to our faces. I’d say that’s a pretty good time, no?
As I mentioned earlier in the post, Bowen really is a special place. Time seems to slow down there. There’s a different vibe there than here on the mainland, and the locals all seem to share in this, including Andrea. If you haven’t been, go. And if you’re looking for a little R & R, some time for yourself, maybe a girls getaway like ours, definitely include Nectar Yoga B & B on your list. Believe me when I say you’re not the same when you leave as when you arrived. Just go there and be, whatever that means to you.
See the other posts about our stay at Nectar Yoga B & B:
Janette- Ava to Zoe (including a beautiful video of our time there)
About Nectar Yoga B & B
Located on Bowen Island, Nectar opened in 2014 and has welcomed guests from around the world. B & B facilities include 2 cottages where guests can stay, with the main house available for rental as well, with room for a total of 12 guests. Yoga and meditation is offered in the Geodesic Yoga Dome located on the property. For rental inquiries please contact Nectar directly at email@example.com
A very special thank you to Andrea for welcoming us girls to Nectar and to my friend Janette for inviting me to be a part of this trip. The experience was amazing beyond words.
Want to visit Nectar Yoga B&B? Visit their website to check availability & book your own yoga getaway. And make sure to follow them on social media: