Having a gratitude journal has been in my consciousness for several years. In that time, I have practiced gratitude informally and inconsistently. A colleague and friend Erin Phelan encourages us all to have a gratitude practice at her spin class. I got more serious about the practice last year with her enthusiastic encouragement.
At the start of 2018, it became an intention and goal that I will note things I am grateful for each day in my journal. So far it has been an amazing experience. Taking a few minutes each day to reflect on gratitude is the perfect combination of meditation, reflection, positive thinking, prayer, humility, and spirituality. What are the effects? I am finding that the practice of gratitude helps me to focus on the positive direction I can take and to let go of various stressful events much more easily. It feels like contentment and the middle ground is becoming easier to find, which is great news in making life good!
2017 was a year full of discovery and growth for me with many highlights. A couple weeks ago, a client mentioned wanting to make New Years resolutions for 2018. I suggested that he reflect and take stock of all the accomplishments and positive experiences of 2017, make note of the areas that need improvement, which will guide him towards goals to work on for 2018.
Willpower is like a muscle that will fatigue, so when we approach any change of behaviour, it is best to align with what you really want rather than to resolve to change something drastically. Put in other terms finding unconditional acceptance and love for yourself will make any change possible.
I am practicing what I preach today by reflecting, taking stock with gratitude for all the accomplishments and wonderful experiences of 2017. I’m making note of the needs improvement areas and will meditate on and set goals for 2018. Happy new year to all!
Enjoy food and eat slowly is a line I saw on an Italian menu board. I have enjoyed a variety of delicious Italian food on my holiday in Tuscany. I am managing to stay in shape by exercising and choosing to truly enjoy food. I look for a level of enthusiasm I feel in the foods I eat. If I am not really enthused, I choose other foods to eat. For example, I am no fan of bread dipped in olive oil, so I skip bread most of the time here in Italy. I love pasta, so I enjoy that regularly. A daily dose of a small gelato is great. The cheese is awesome! I love desserts too.
So I believe the making life good secret to staying in shape while on holiday is to exercise and enjoy foods you love, plus eat green veggies daily.
This month I posted a few thoughts on social media that touched upon what health information we find, what ideals our society seems to hold, what those ideals sells in our consumer society and who actually benefits in the end? What we are exposed to in the media remains on my mind as this month ends and we head into the season of spring. I must share that I do not have a television and do not watch the news. This is a conscious choice I have been making for many years. I find the news to be a source of negativity if I expose myself to it too much, so I decided to live under a rock so to speak. I catch snippets of news when I pass by televisions at gyms and I am given news by people I interact with on a regular basis. I find this way of living creates a filter of discernment of what may be true and pertinent in the ‘news’. What is news or newsworthy to you?
I try to pay little attention to president Donald Trump and with what little I know, I would like to credit him with ‘fake news’ infiltrating our consciousness. If we consider the term ‘fake news’ more deeply, I would say most of the news we see is becoming more fake as time goes by. It seems people with vested interests are in charge of the production of news and with competition for our ever shortening attention spans, the news needs to be quick and pithy. Journalism standards have changed with the times. I’m not sure we are all taking the time to discern what the news really is-
As spring comes in and we see new growth in nature and ourselves, I invite you to meditate on what is your news? What is newsworthy? What effect does exposure to television news have on you?
2016 was a great full year for me. Much inspiration, vast learning and growth. Here are 3 life changing experiences I had in making life good to improve health and wellness this year:
Teaching yoga-I am so grateful my intent to reach more people with my health and wellness expertise came to fruition this year in teaching numerous yoga classes at Equinox. Every class was a learning and practice for me to deepen my yoga practice and be a positive influence on people on the mat and in life.
Traditional Chinese Medicine-I am afraid of needles and started studies in traditional chinese medicine this year for herbs at first. I had my first acupuncture treatment in February and it was amazing in its effects on giving me a gentle re-balancing to improve my health. I also tried cosmetic acupuncture, which is amazing as well, because it improves health at the same time as improving the facial skin. Chinese herbal formulas are also incredibly effective in my limited experience so far.
Crystals-I noticed the tool used to rub my face in preparation for cosmetic acupuncture was a specific stone and its effects were incredible. I am growing older and wiser, so maintaining my skin or improving it feels like a miracle! This fall a 7 year friend of mine was digging for crystals on his driveway and I was proven wrong that he would not find any. My little friend said crystals are all good and that inspired me to discover them for myself. Crystals are a great way to get in touch with one’s own intuition in looking at them, feeling them and experiencing them in any way you feel inspired.
There were many other incredible experiences of 2016. These are 3 wider categorical first hand transformational experiences to bring greater health and well being I am sharing in making life good. Wishing everyone a healthy and fulfilling 2017-Happy New Year!
I have tried to like hot oatmeal throughout my life. Hot oatmeal always seems like such a nice thing to have on a cold morning. What I noticed consistently was I would like the oatmeal and then become thoroughly tired of the taste and texture halfway through the bowl! I would not be full, just sudden loss of appetite for the slightly bland mushy texture.
My sister gave me a copy of Genius Recipes last Christmas. There was a recipe for oatmeal that caught my eye, which was half steel cut oats and half rolled oats. I finally made the oatmeal earlier this month and am thrilled to report this is a bowl of oatmeal I enjoy eating an entire bowl of. The secret is the salt. I tried to reduce the amount by a bit and found the oatmeal went straight back to bland icky despite copious amounts of maple syrup. The 1/4 teaspoon of salt per 1/2 cup of oats is crucial to deliciousness.
Serves 2-3, use 1/4 cup steel cut + 1/4 rolled oats as per person serving guideline
1/2 cup steel cut oats, rinsed
1/2 cup rolled oats (not quick cooking)
generous 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1 cup non dairy milk of your choice
1 cup water
Maple syrup to taste
Bring milk and water to a boil with salt. Add steel cut oats and rolled oats, bring to a medium-low simmer, covered. Stir the oats occasionally during the 20 minute cook time. The oats should have a bit of chew from the steel cut oats and taste salty at first-add maple syrup to taste and create a salty sweet flavour. Enjoy hot topped with currants, pomegranate, blueberries, pecans, or any toppings of your choice.
Mid to late November is the perfect time to organize and step up our indoor workouts. I notice that time seems to speed up during these last few weeks of the year. My advice is to consciously step up your exercise routine now to prevent an unnecessary new years resolution.
I must admit to low attendance at the gym myself since I have been running outdoors for over 8 months and so enjoy being outside. It is a major adjustment for me to create an indoor work out routine now. I feel such resistance to going inside to work out it seems ridiculous, considering I am a professional fitness trainer! However, this is the purpose of this piece, to share motivation to get moving more at this crucial time of year-it is absolutely necessary!
Make an appointment with yourself for yourself to head to the gym now. Your body will thank you, as you are guaranteed to feel better in every way and your waistline will expand less or remain the same over the holidays. Plus, you can enjoy yourself more while you are taking care of yourself, and start the new year with the right habits already in place. Making Life Good recommends stepping up your workouts in November and really enjoying the holiday season!
A relaxing pose that helps improve your posture
Posture is a concern and priority for many people. My friend Dr Blessyl says your posture is like a physical calling card you exhibit to the world. Stand tall and feel confident. Regular life has us sitting at a desk, driving a car, looking down at a cell phone, which tends to round our shoulders forward, which easily creates tension in the neck and shoulder areas and can also impede our breathing.
The relaxing pose featured in the photo above is borrowed from restorative yoga and can be practiced anywhere you can lie down with a rolled towel placed across your upper back underneath your armpits. If you find that your neck is extending back too far back or you feel uncomfortable, try placing a small folded towel underneath your head to improve your alignment. You can also bend your knees and have your feet flat on the floor if your lower back is not comfortable. The important point is to feel comfortable and at ease.
Just about everyone I have taught this pose to finds it relaxing and beneficial, as the position reverses shoulders that are rounded forward by opening through the chest, heart and arms, which also affects the heart and lung meridians according to the traditional chinese medicine map of the body. Physically being in an open hearted posture helps us to be more in tune with ourselves, since the heart can be considered the centre of our personality. In addition, the gentle back bend in the thoracic and lumbar spine helps the accessory muscles of breathing to relax, which can bring our breath pattern to a more optimal relaxed, effortless state.
Taking the time to relax in this position can also benefit your posture through gentle stretching across the chest, shoulders and arms and relaxation of the traps and neck-areas in which so many of us experience tension. Since this position is comfortable, you can easily remain in the pose for more than 5 minutes or as long as you wish. With consistent practice, you may experience improved breathing and posture, which makes life good!
Three weeks into the new year and the only intention that has come to mind is to be kind, here and now. A daily goal to be kind, caring and compassionate to ourselves, here and now. Be kind to all around us, here and now, which requires an effort to be present at all times.
All changes that we wish to make are much easier when we are able to peacefully accept what is here and now, from here we can take a step forward on a clear path in the right direction.
My list of memorable taste experiences was compiled by the end of 2014 and I am only managing to publish after the new year…perhaps I had too much fun over the holidays if that is even possible, a good way to start the year
The best sweet potatoes ever: I converted to eating sweet potatoes on a regular basis upon the discovery of the recipe in the Ottolenghi cookbook. Here is the recipe http://www.vivianlaw.ca/tag/best-ever-sweet-potato-recipe/
Pistachio Zeppole at Buca Yorkville: I had never heard of a roman donut until I ate this divine one at Buca. Looked like a bagel, but light and airy filled with delicious pistachio cream and cherries topped with candied pistachios. www.buca.ca
Scones at Harvey Nichols: Clotted cream is a favourite food of mine and the clotted cream met a special scone this fall at Harvey Nics.
Duck tacos and duck confit wings at Dailo/Lo Pan: Chef Nick Liu has some very creative asian dishes at his restaurant Dailo and bar above, Lo Pan. Loved the duck tacos and duck confit wings http://dailoto.com/
Ciccoria: is Italian for dandelion greens and I only learned to appreciate them this summer when I ate them sauteed and drenched in olive oil at a local restaurant in Tuscany.
Party Hummus: the best hummus recipe yet by Briana Santoro of the Naked Label www.thenakedlabel.com who I met on a beach to start 2014.
Jiro Dreams of Sushi inspired sushi at Yasu: the movie was an inspiration in 2012 , so imagine our delight in a delicious dining experience along those dreams of sushi in Toronto http://yasu-sushibar.com/
Coconut Shrimp at the Halekulani: the coconut shrimp served at House Without a Key in Waikiki are the best ever time and time again