General

What it Really Means to Self-Love

Self-love is more than just a day at the spa...Though it just so happens I did spend a day at the spa last week with a couple of very dear friends. We listened to each other’s stories, and connected deeply on a level of understanding about how the work we do for our clients and ourselves takes a very strong commitment to self-care and self-love. It was that very experience at the spa, where I realized that one day of healing waters isn't enough to sustain me day-to-day in the practice of self-loving. In order for us to serve others the way we desire, with love and our highest integrity, we’ve recognized that offering ourselves self-care looks like many different actions and takes on many different forms on a daily basis. 

Let’s start by listing some of the ways we typically hear of how we should include self-love in our lives: 

— Spa day with your friends

— Quit your job and go travel the world

— Buy yourself a fancy new dress

— Splurge on cosmetics 

— etc. etc

(This is not to say that all of the aforementioned ways aren't absolutely incredible, and I that I do think you should incorporate as many of them as your heart and soul desires!)

However, I’m all about remembering to be grounded and actively participating in this exquisite human life. This exquisite human life, that sometimes demands we do very mundane, human life tasks. 

 

I want to make it clear that self-love is not about finding ways to escape your everyday problems. 

Self-love is about alchemizing your everyday problems, into magical and incredible everyday experiences. 

 

I also want to highlight how, with the right attitude, these very basic human life tasks we have to do all add up, surmounting to a very incredible amount of self-care and self-love even though they can be boring, tedious, or mundane. Let’s take a look at some of the things that might seem monotonous daily practices, but that are also pieces of your daily self-love and care regime. 

— Household chores: washing the dishes, sweeping, cleaning, organizing, purging

— Home improvement: renos, decorating, fixing

— Cosmetic: nail filing, moisturizing, shaving, waxing, scrubbing (whatever floats your fancy)

— Finances: Accounting, taxes, filing

— Creating: writing, singing, dancing, playing, photographing, filming, acting, painting

Now, you may think that the daily chores of dishes, mending clothes, or cooking meals are not the incredible trip to Bali that all your friends are going on for their holiday getaways, however, on a daily basis we are caring for ourselves by getting our chores done. For instance, take accounting; we can do our taxes with the appreciation that we were able to buy many things over the last year, and with the understanding that abundance in monetary form is a blessing. Acting as such allows you to receive and care for yourself more in the future. It can be a source of empowerment if you let it be, rather than a means of discouragement and irritation.

After a very plain old Sunday spent at home, one of my housemates mentioned that she often thinks about how almost everything we do on a daily basis is done with the intention of self-sustenance. We go to work so that we can make money to feed ourselves. We mend our clothes so we can wear them again. We sleep so that we have the energy to wash, rinse and repeat. This may sound pretty dull to you, but I want you to know that isn’t dull at all when you change your perspective from, ‘I have to do this just to survive’ to, ‘I am doing this because I care about myself enough to create and live another day.’

Because here is the truth; when I don’t do my laundry, or sweep the floors, or finish my taxes, I feel like I’m living in a mess…that mess trickles into how I experience my life on all fronts. When I do my laundry and sweep the floors, I have a clean space to work, I get things done, I’m more creative, I invite friends over (I’m more social), I feel good, and I definitely love myself more. 

Even when I go to the gym and lift weights, I feel better.

I just spent a month waking up 2-3 times a week really early to get my ass to a circuit class at my place of work. I unofficially took part in my own ‘November challenge.’ 

Being a dancer and a full time entrepreneur/freelance artist is a very tricky thing to balance, so I wanted to show myself that I could stay strong, healthy, and feel good without having to take dance class everyday. (Because the truth is, I can’t afford to take dance class every single day right now.) Throughout the month I had moments of “I hate this, I’m going to throw up, and I can’t do it,” but by the end of the month I’m feeling healthier and I’ve learned so much from my co-workers about fitness through their new challenges. 

I also discovered that I really do like lifting weights. I find it so empowering to feel strong as a woman! 

 

The most clarity I’ve received from a steady workout regime where I’m constantly being challenged is that being physically stronger allows me to open up to being more vulnerable in other facets of my life.

I feel I’ve made quite a shift, not only physically but emotionally, mentally, and spiritually.

 

Now that’s just one example (my most recent and personal example), of what self-love can look like and what it can create and make space for in your life. 

 

Ultimately, self-love means a deeply rooted commitment to yourself. It means doing what you know you truly want to do always, and sticking to it long enough so that you can reap the incredible benefits, from the mundane to the marvelous. 

 

It means not being a people-pleaser in the plainest terms. The only exception should be that you aim to please yourself.

It means taking responsibility for your emotions, your thoughts, and your current creations. It means loving yourself just enough so that you can show up and get things done. It means loving yourself enough so that you can serve others, once you’ve served yourself. 

It means breaking down the foundations and restrictions that hold you back, so that you can be revealed and unleashed in the most pivotal ways. 

It means remembering who you are and what you love. Remembering to always ask yourself — What makes you happy? What do you desire?

It means refining and creating more of that in your life, right now. 

Self-love means committing to new levels of health. For me, it means more acupuncture. For others, it means less late-night partying. 

For you, maybe self-love means a new supplement to your diet, or cutting out that extra cup of coffee.
It may mean more water, or a new herbal tea. 

It may mean setting up 20 minutes of meditation or spiritual practice each day, and less tv. 

It may mean swaying away from things that are violent.

It may mean letting go of connections that are collecting dust.

It may mean listening to your heart and traveling across the world alone on Christmas when everyone else is with their families. 

It may mean signing up to work with a mentor, or spiritual guide and energy worker. 

It may mean quitting your job and starting your own business. 

It may mean that you pick up that pencil again and start writing. 

It may mean you start to sing down the street and care not what anyone thinks. 

It may mean you no longer need to shop at high priced trendy stores, and you become best fiends with the treasures of thrift.

It may mean you make your own superfood hot chocolate as opposed to drinking the crappy store-bought version.

 

It may mean you start a savings account.
It may mean you move out.
It may mean you break up. 

It may mean you surrender and let them win. 

 

Whatever it is for you, it will be different for someone else. Self-love takes on many forms. 

Only you know best what you need to feel fully and completely loved within yourself. 

 

The problem is we’re often not quiet enough to hear, and we don’t feel capable enough to listen and act accordingly. Let me tell you at the very least that, you do deserve it

You do deserve to listen to your heart. You do deserve happiness in all its forms and manifestations. You do deserve to move through all the difficult things and come out on top, shining and feeling forever-free.

 

And the only reason I can fully say that, is because I deserve it too…

and I have, and I will. 

If I can do it, if I can look fear in the face every single day of my adult life and tell it that I love it so much, I want it to rest and play right near me, all while I keep moving forward no matter what — then, so can you

If I can listen to my heart when my mind wants to abandon, sabotage and drop everything, then so can you

If I deserve to move through all the shittiest, crappiest feelings that spiral out of control for no reason other than to teach me some badass and bold lessons — 

then my darlings…so can you.

And you have, and you will.

 

With love, 

Vanessa

Edited by: Moriah Stendel

Live Each Day

I watched a man’s dead body being pulled from lake to shore by EMS this early this morning while on my usual run. 

Needless to say, I am still in awe. 

The way they attended his floating body in the water, and tried in the most awkward of ways to bring him onto solid ground. The way his skin and face looked like our fingers do when we’ve been in the bath tub too long. The way his clothes were completely in tact, there was no blood drawn. He was simple, seemingly perfect. But he was not. 

He was not because when they finally landed the dead weight of him to the patch of grass — there was no emergency. There wasn’t that sense of urgency in the way they checked for a pulse and likely had found nothing. Even in their earnest resuscitations, there wasn’t much hope. They went on and on, as us passersby waited. As we waited for news of what we too knew, wasn’t true. 

And then when he was wheeled away, that was it. For everyone else around that was it. We’re fine. We’re expected to go on with our day. Knowing what we knew and didn’t know, but having seen what we had seen and a whole new frame of view. 

I spent this day wondering and thinking. Feeling and guessing about everything I knew. I thought about what I was doing and how I was living. I think about this everyday, but today there was something even more pressing. 

This life that we have, right now in this way — how fleeting. And if we aren’t living it in the way that we truly desire, then why are we here? Why would we continue to go on living in pain, or with discomfort? Why wouldn’t we try and face what is hard and difficult for us, so that we can feel and experience something better? 

We know this, we’re told this: Live everyday as though it were your last. But do you? 

Do you really? Do I?

No. Not everyday. 

Some days I live as if I have an infinite amount of everything. Some days I sulk in my own little circumference of privileges, and do absolutely nothing about it. Some days I let the rain pour down the windows as if it were my skin and I let it ooze and spill and fall away. 

Other days, I sit alone waiting for someone or some thing to come down from the sky like a beaming green and gold shimmering light from the future and transform me into everything I’m day-dreaming of. They would change everything I disliked and turn me into the person I want to be. I’d be set for the rest of my life..

When I really want a lover by my side, sometimes I just fantasize over couples that I see in envy and cross my fingers that I’ll one day be brought my prince charming. 

Other times, I close my eyes and cry as though I’ve lost everything. And it’s with full knowledge that I know I’ve lost little, and gained much. 

So from what I witnessed today, from my eyes of green and openness…From a heart that I know works well and full on many good days…From being close to death for the last week in many forms I need to vow and make some kind of re-honouring statement for no one other than myself. It’s just for me and what I’m going through today. Right now, after this day. After this day that started off cryptic and strange and then opened up like a blossoming flower with love and sharing and fun. 

I may not live everyday like it’s my last, but I can’t justify myself living as though I have infinite amounts. Not even for myself, but in honour of those we’ve lost, or who have left us too soon. I am going to live as though I’m remembering them, all of them. And my remembering will be felt by living in my own integrity. Of living in my fullest range of beautiful and bold, sensitive and passionate, quiet and exciting, irresistible and estranged, lost and found, and all encompassing.

I will live for you, through me. 

In peace may he rest <3

Best Practices - Best Selves (The way we do the things we do)

best prac·tice noun

noun: best practice; plural noun: best practices

    1    commercial or professional procedures that are accepted or prescribed as being correct or most effective. 'the proprietors are keen to ensure best practice in food preparation, storage, and serving'

I’d like for this definition to also include that the term ‘best practice’ can apply to everyday procedures – procedures that are the most beneficial to the quality and vitality of any given person’s life.

‘Best practice’ can fit into every aspect of our lives. Through our businesses, our work and our relationships, we are constantly practicing to be our best selves. 

I want to ask you, what do you practice and how do you practice it? 

Once you’ve told me all of this I’d then like to know if we can make this next practice the best practice. How?

What is it that I need to do to make the next run of it my personal best?

In business, best practices are what an industry uses or does that allows for the best outcomes.

What works for your business and how do you practice it on a regular basis, to continue growing your success?

Same thing for goes for professional athletes, dancers and creators. 

What is it that gets you moving your best? How do you continuously do that thing over and over again without getting tired? What is it that you do slightly differently each time you rehearse? What is it that makes it your best practice? 

Where do you see results? Where do you see improvement? 

You know what comes to mind? That quote by someone, somewhere that states, 

Practice makes perfect.

Now, there are a lot of arguments that counter this strong statement, such as:

No one is perfect. There is no such thing as perfection. If you just practice the same thing over and over again you’ll never learn. 

And this, in my opinion, is true. 

I believe that if I practice the same thing over and over again, I will not actually reach perfection, I will just find repetition. 

And yet, just because it’s impossible to reach perfection…does that mean we stop practicing? Apparently, (and absolutely) not.

The key to finding our ‘best practices’ and practicing to be our best selves lies in the way we do the things we do. 

So my invitation is simply this: the next time you are practicing your cooking and making yourself or someone a meal, feel out whether you are using your 'best practice.' If you are great, continue on! And if you aren’t, no judgment necessary – just change it right there. Make it a small thing, a small shift in that instant. It could be that you clean and wipe your knife before chopping a new vegetable or meat to discourage contamination. There is your better practice. 

When you are dancing in the studio ask yourself if you are using your 'best practice.' Where is your mind at when you’re at the barre? Are you thinking about how awful you look doing your grand battements? Remember again, no judgement – just change your thought pattern in that instant. Allow yourself to feel into your body instead and be able to beautifully embody the movement. There is your better practice.

If you are teaching a class or guiding people ask yourself what is your 'best practice' within your role? Are you doing those things? Have you included and engaged as many people in the room as you could? If so, awesome. If not, better still. Give yourself space to change what you are doing, or give yourself space to feel how you are doing things right. Then see what happens. Maybe it’s as simple as asking a question that would apply to the entire group so everyone feels like they can engage. Challenge yourself in ways by breaking habits that you know are difficult to change. There is your better practice. 

Try to remember that you are practicing being your best. And doing that authentically and as consistently as possible will pay off. Those small, tiny, baby steps you decide to take in each specific instance will get you where you want to be. 

Best practice comes into conversation in every industry, workplace or activity I can think of. It’s true on varying levels for bankers, for geologists, for mothers and fathers, for teachers, lawyers, restaurant owners, bakers, hair stylists – you name it – it’s for everybody. 

It’s true for practicing yoga, pilates, meditation, sex, singing, inventing, studying, reading, writing – again you name it – it’s applicable.

We may not think about ‘practicing’ on a daily basis, but it’s important because it affects our everyday lives. 

How we practice anything is how we practice living. 

Here’s a nice little affirmation (if you’re into that and if you’d like a daily reminder for a while):

By being my best in everything that I practice, I am engaging in the best practice of all.

In our days we will continue to practice. We will continue to rehearse, not for reaching perfection but for exploring and feeling in each new moment, a new sensation. In each second attempt, a new viewpoint or insight. Something different will arise. It’s possible something better will show up, and it’s possible something worse may too. That is okay, because it will be what challenges us and teaches us for the next go ‘round. Through our best practices we may just find what we are seeking, needing or wanting. So no, you won’t be perfect. But you'll be that much closer to being your very best self. 

 

If you would like more support on how to practice being your best self, and what that personally means for you right now – contact me HERE.

Here's To...

Here's to How —

How we do not know the way things will turn out

 

How we don't always see 

exactly when it will all show up

 

Here's to how we wonder, 

Here's to how we worry

 

Here is to how much? How many, and however…

 

However long it takes

Whichever way it decides to get here

 

I will not worry any longer

 

However which way, 

However which day

 

Here's to How

However it may..

Rose Clove Exfoliant {Recipe}

Here is a quick recipe I discovered after an awesome rose facial treatment at Laya Spa on Queen St. (Thanks for the inspiration!) It was the perfect little take-home DIY luxury I was searching for. It's an astringent and potent facial scrub that's great for exfoliating and removing dirt in clogged pores and leaves you feeling soft and feminine and your face bright and polished. 

Now, I usually just eyeball everything when it comes to baking, cooking or making things as I find it really fun to explore the process of creating it more than anything. However, I've made up a bit of a recipe for anyone who's been asking about it. Here it is!

Rose Clove Facial Exfoliant

- three tablespoons of a lighter organic honey

- one tablespoon of finely ground up organic clove

- four drops of organic rosehip essential oil

- a pinch of organic rose buds

Grind up the clove either by hand or in a preferred grinder. If you choose to do it by hand know that you may have some chunkier pieces fly into the mix and clove is quite a hard spice. Mix all of the ingredients together until you have a paste that is a medium thick or your personal desired consistency. Then transfer to a small jar or container and use a few times a week! 

Enjoy!