Is it really June 1st today? What happened to May?! Are you feeling like SPRING is flying by too? I’ve been so busy these days that I didn’t even make time to get a newsletter out to you last month! My apologies! 

First of all, welcome to my new subscribers! There were quite a few new inspired lovelies that signed up since my last newsletter and I am so honored to have you here!

So, let’s get to the good stuff! 

My very brief  WHOLE30 recap. (For those that are new, I challenged myself to eating WHOLE30 for 30 days in the April newsletter.)

  • I am glad I did it, for the 26 days I did it.
  • I really enjoyed my colorful breakfasts with eggs, avocado, some kind of potato or squash hash wit
    garlic, onions, greens. It was beautiful to see so much color on my plate in the morning. And yes, garlic and onions rock any time of day!
  • I rarely, if ever, felt hungry in between my 3 meals a day or deprived. And my sugar cravings are gone. 
  • I did not like how much animal protein I had to consume! In fact, this is a huge reason why I will never do this cleanse again. (Environmental reasons, humanitarian reasons…still sorting this one out.)
  • I still had digestive issues on the cleanse. Hmmm, that is still a work in progress.
  • I did feel less “puffy” but did not lose any real weight…perhaps 2 pounds.  My husband, on the other hand, lost about 10lbs. 
  • I proved to myself that I can do anything I set my mind to and that being inspired and motivated is KEY to accomplishing what I want. 
  • I certainly am more aware of my sugar and protein consumption and find I am naturally choosing to eat less sugar and incorporate more protein into my diet than I did before (but NOT to the extent I was on the cleanse!).
  • I love my naturally balanced way of eating…and I intend to stick to it but with more awareness and intentionality about how and why I am consuming what I am eating. Mindfulness in eating. YES!
  • Overall, I am happy I did it as I feel it has brought me back to myself and confirmed how I love to eat. No extremes, just good balanced eating.
  • And, finally, do I feel like I failed because I didn’t make it to 30 days? No, I don’t. And here’s why: I chose this challenge in a spirit of joy and inspiration. I was committed and engaged, until it started to feel icky for me. In my core, I knew this ultimately was not a good fit for me. And I honored that voice inside. I could have pushed myself, yup, that is true. But for what reason? Just to say that I made it to 30 days? To prove something to WHO exactly? Not myself. I had already proved to myself what I set out to do. I ditched my cravings and really tuned in to how I eat and WHY I eat what I eat. So be sure you make decisions for yourself because they hold true for you, not to impress someone else and their “vision” of what it means to be successful. I am proud of my WHOLE26. 🙂 Onwards!

Inspirations
I had the priviledge of attending TEDx Montréal Women this last weekend (I love TED talks!) While the live talks were SO inspiring and incredible, I wanted to share this one (previously recorded) by Candy Chang, an artist in New Orleans, who creates art that prompts people to think about their hopes, dreams, and secrets.

Here is her 6 minute video. I dare you not to cry! 

Give yourself permission to take 6 minutes out of your day and let yourself be moved. It’ll be worth it. I promise!

There is so much rich information on TED, so much to learn and be inspired from. When you find yourself needing a break from your work or craving some inspiration, head on over and find one of thousands of talks to get your heart pumping and, if you are anything like me, your tears flowing! Here are a two of my favorites!

https://www.ted.com/talks/ken_robinson_says_schools_kill_creativity
https://www.ted.com/talks/brene_brown_on_vulnerability

Recipe
Ok people!

This recipe is so delicious and so healthy that I told my kids they could have it for breakfast. Wait until you indulge in this yumminess that is rich, filling and without one bad ingredient on the list!

Chia-Almond Chocolate Pudding Parfait  (from Against all Grain)
SERVES: 6

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 1/2 cups unsweetened almond milk
  • 6 ounces pitted dates
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened raw cacao powder
  • 1/3 cup chia seeds
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • 2 medium bananas, sliced
  • 1/3 cup unsalted, natural almond butter
  • 1 cup mixed berries of choice
  • 1/4 cup roasted almonds, chopped

INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. Combine almond milk, dates, cacao powder, chia seeds, vanilla, cinnamon and sea salt in a blender. Blend until very smooth, about two minutes.  Transfer the mixture to a bowl, cover and refrigerate overnight.
  2. To assemble the parfaits: Divide the banana slices between six 8-ounce Mason jars or bowls. Spoon equal amounts of almond butter into the jars, then top with equal amounts of the chilled pudding. Top with berries and almonds and serve immediately or refrigerate covered for up to three days.

On a final note, as we head into warmer weather, longer days and summer vacations, I wish for  you that your days be filled with savoring the ordinary moments and having the presence to be able to recognize them for how extraordinary they really are. It’s a process, I know!! 🙂

blessings, love and light!
marieke xo

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A few years ago a colleague of mine recommended a fantastic book with a SUPER cheesy name: The 5 Love Languages, by Gary Chapman. I have to admit that I rolled my eyes when I heard the title. Love Languages? Seriously?

Turns out I got a lot out of this book! It taught me that we each have a preferred language we use to COMMUNICATE our love and a preferred language for how we want to RECEIVE love as well. Huh? Who knew!

So I was very happy to see the fabulous Marie Forleo talk about it yesterday, which prompted ME to want to share it with YOU! This is juicy stuff, I promise!5-love-languages-fierce-marriage-2P I N this to pinterest

This book was eye-opening. I discovered that my own preferred LOVE language (so cheesy, I know, every time I say that phrase I kinda giggle inside!) is Words of Affirmation. I will take a sweet word from anyone as a sign of love and affection over a gift or even over quality time or hugs (or maybe even SEX!). What?! 🙂

Speak sweet nothings into my ears and I am yours, baby!

Ok, back to seriousness here. This really is an incredibly empowering thing to know about yourself AND about your loved ones! I mean, let’s face it, not having our emotional needs met can cause some real friction and discontent in our relationships that often comes from basic “miscommunication”.

An easy example to demonstrate this point comes from a time when our oldest was about 10 months old. Our marriage definitely went through some growing pains as we learned to navigate parenthood, working, lots of breastfeeding, work travels, sleep deprivation, lack of intimacy…you get my point. Well, I was feeling particularly disconnected from my husband during that time and rather unappreciated for all my work in keeping up our home and being a full-time mom. He was often away for days at a time for work-related trips and I felt pretty lonely at times. Anyway, the point of the story is this. We had a fight over the phone one night while he was in his hotel and I was home feeling sorry for myself. I insinuated that he never thought about me while he was away. And then cried myself to sleep.

Well, boy did he come through!! Big fat diamond bracelet? Nope. Bottle of perfume or a fine painting? Nope. A gift certificate for a massage? Nope, wrong again (although, THAT would have been nice!). François came home with a letter FILLED with all the reasons he loved me and how he was always thinking about me…I mean, this thing was LONG and oh so beautiful. It is, to this day, the most beautiful gift he has ever given me.

You see, when you know how your partner prefers to be “loved”, then you’ll be better able to express your love for him so he receives it in the way that makes him FEEL most loved and appreciated. Same with your kids, your parents, friends, and even colleagues! Marie Forleo, who I mentioned above, knows the LOVE languages of her entire business team so they can support each other in a way that actually resonates with each person. And I am now really looking forward to exploring this LOVE languages thing with my kiddos!!

The only bummer (yes, there is a catch!) is when your partner’s preferred language doesn’t come naturally to you. My partner loves when I do little (and sometimes big) things for him. All my home-making, cooking, etc. The little gestures throughout the day that let him know I have his back. I am thinking of him. Sometimes, I have to force myself to go the extra mile and do that little thing to make him know he is deeply loved. Not because I don’t love him. Mainly because I am also taking care of 2 little ones that need a lot of attention too. But, in the end, if I want my husband to FEEL loved then I know what to do. I have a tool that guides me. And I think that is just awesome!

ANYWAY, the point of this post is to tell you that YOU can now figure out your own LOVE language thanks to the online quiz now available on the 5 love languages site.

DO THIS QUIZ!! Have your partners do it too!! (My kiddos are next on my list!) You won’t regret it. And then share with your loved ones. Heck, you can even share it in the comments here!! I would love to hear what you discover.

This is a such a simple way to have profound insight into your LOVE language (yup, still giggling!) …knowing it can ONLY bring good things to your life. Go for it!!

love and blessings! xo

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I was in the shower the other day pondering my life, my issues, my business, my kids, my dimples, my flaws, my beauty, my dreams….blah, blah, blah. But then I stumbled upon a rather unpleasant realization that really shook me to my core AND made me laugh out loud about how completely ridiculous I can be. 

So without further ado, here it is:

If I were to wake up one morning and not have a good coffee readily available to me within the next 2 hours, I would make it my MISSION (my MISSION!) for the day to be sure I found one.  I would even go so far as to drive to the next village (assuming I lived in a village myself), just so I could indulge in my beautiful morning ritual.

YET…

I won’t take 35 minutes out of my day for a brisk walk. Or an hour a day to hit the gym. Or 20 minutes EVERYDAY to meditate. Nope. I will find excuse after excuse after excuse to NOT do what I say I WANT to do.

I will sacrifice sleep (knowing I will wake up way too tried to be as patient as I would like to be with my kids and husband) to stay up late to watch a movie or favorite TV show, but I won’t go exercise or find 20 minutes, or even 5 minutes, to dedicate to meditating!?

What the fuck? “What is wrong with me?!”, I started repeating to myself! Why do we do these things…or rather, NOT do them?

You see, I will find all sorts of reasons/excuses as to why it makes perfect sense to drive to the next village FOR A COFFEE just as I will find all sorts of “legitimate and reasonable” reasons/excuses as to why I couldn’t possibly hit the gym for an hour today. 

ACK. As you can see, this was not a pleasant thing to realize about myself. NOT. AT. ALL. So now what?

Well, I had to ask myself why making exercise a priority in my life wasn’t important enough to me to MAKE the time for it? I had to ask myself why meditating everyday wasn’t important enough.  And I went on and on with the things I make excuses for until I found my truthful answers. And the truth for me is that it’s hard. It’s hard to be at the gym and be confronted with the fact that I am not as fit as I would like to be (YET!). It’s hard to meditate, even when I don’t feel like it. It’s hard to remind myself how good I feel after a full 8.5 hours of sleep versus only 6 hours because that show or movie or whatever helps me “forget”.

Hard work can really suck. I mean REALLY suck. Like it hurts my muscles (gym), my brain and body (meditating).

However, not doing the hard work ends up hurting us too. And that, my friends, is the golden lesson here too.

I know, as I know YOU know as well, that bringing in positive change starts with one teeny, tiny step. One degree at a time right?!  😉

So that is exactly how I am approaching this unpleasant realization that I make ALL SORTS OF EXCUSES to not do what I say I want to do…I am starting somewhere.

One little shift in my behavior, every single day. 

This does not mean I am hitting the gym everyday, meditating everyday, and getting to bed early everyday. It means I am bringing the awareness of my behaviour and my thoughts to the forefront. They are no longer hidden…not after the spotlight I shined on them!!

So my teeny steps look like this so far: some kind of activity almost everyday (walking, skiing, weight resistance at home…whatever moves my body!); meditating (hmm, this one I am still working out but have signed up again for this 21-day meditation challenge…this will be my 3rd or 4th time and i LOVE it!); and I have managed to get some really good and long sleep lately and am really feeling the difference in my energy and clarity!

I am also being really nice to myself as I try to implement these “hopefully permanent” changes into my life. If I miss a day, ok. I missed a day. I will get up again tomorrow and keep on moving. And I encourage you to do the same, PLEASE be gentle with yourselves as you explore how you can start somewhere to get moving in the direction of your best life. Go slow, be kind, and above all know that you are not alone as you stumble through your excuses. Just notice them and then ask yourself how you can begin to take one step forward. Just ONE! 🙂 and then two and three and four….

PLEASE share your own strategies for moving forward and blasting through your excuses!

Huge HUGS! Thanks for reading. xo

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Happy Wednesday Novel Lifers!! Ok, so in today’s post I am SUPER excited to share a concept with you that has made a difference in my life in the last few months. It’s the concept of One Degree. It’s a concept I was introduced to in my coach training but I just recently came across this article that inspired me to think about my ONE DEGREE changes and share them with you.

Anyway, here is the gist of the concept of ONE DEGREE. Take this example of a pilot flying off course:

Did you know that for every single degree you fly off course, you’ll miss your target landing spot by 92 feet for every mile you fly? That amounts to about one mile off target for every sixty miles flown. If you decided to start at the equator and fly around the earth, one degree off would land you almost 500 miles off target.* *http://www.irrefutablesuccess.com/2010/04/one-degree-off-course/

CRAZY, huh?! And it turns out that this is a powerful coaching metaphor because it points to the importance of how even the smallest change in our daily habits, decisions, and choices can have major impact and bring us to a completely different place or even state of mind. And this works, obviously, in both positive and negative ways. But, since it’s late February and I’m feeling a teensy bit beat-up by winter, I would really rather focus on the positive right now and I have a hunch you would too. 🙂

So, in an attempt to inspire you all to make one tiny, little ONE DEGREE change in a habit or way of thinking or acting, I want to share you with my newest habit: The Five Minute Journal. I spotted this wonderful little book  just before the holidays and immediately LOVED the simplicity of it. Yes, finally, a 5 minute journal!!! I can DO THAT! Right?! 

I mean, I have found LOADS of excuses to not journal over the years since having kids (almost 10 years ago!): too tired, not inspired enough, can’t find a pen that works, not enough time, sleep-deprived, too busy, not enough time, don’t feel like it, I can’t, I’m too busy, who has time for THAT?, oh I should, but I don’t feel like it right now, I hardly have any time to myself so I know I don’t have enough time to journal….can you see a pattern here? 😉

And I also heard Tony Robbins once say, “If you don’t have 10 minutes, you don’t have a LIFE!”. Yup, that right there gave me the freakin’ nudge I needed to think about “time” and “busy” a little differently and I decided to create, take, make (whatever word you want to use!) 10 minutes of my time/my LIFE (5 minutes in the morning and 5 minutes at night) to start this journal and I am happy to report that after almost 2 months without missing one single day, it is my new habit! 

But here is why it is so awesome (the following is taken from their website):

  • Begin the day right: When you start the day on the right note, things automatically start to fall in place. Every day.
  • Cultivate Gratitude: Gratitude is the opposite of depression and anxiety. It’s the conscious experience of appreciation of the gifts in our lives and the results are tangible.
  • Introspection: Ending the day on the right note can be essential to a good night’s sleep, eliminating negative thought loops and learning more about yourself.
  • P I N this to pinterestAnd here is my take:
    • Gratitude: When I start my day thinking of three things that I am grateful for, I am immediately coming from a heart-felt place. My day begins in my heart, not in my head. and I am noticing how much more relaxed, appreciative and calm I am as I start my day. 
    • Making today Great: Then I consider what would make today great (LOVE this part!) and I become super intentional about what I want to DO today and how I want to FEEL. This is all about what we can control, in terms of our own behaviour, and how we THINK about things and not about “wouldn’t it be great if Bill Cosby actually went to jail or if ISIS disappeared?” (while those are certainly noble things to “wish” for). 
    • Daily Affirmation: If you like affirmations, you’ll love this part. Gets me focused on how I am feeling and, more importantly, how I want to feel!
    • What happened today that was AMAZING? At the end of the day, you get to review your day…Some days I have more to write about then others. And on days when I’m having a bit of a shit day, I am still thinking in the back of my mind about what “amazing” thing could be right in front of me. It shifts my perspective into looking for something positive as opposed to dwelling on the negative. 
    • What could I have done better? And this last question is turning out to be really juicy for me: This one is SO good because it asks me to consider my day, my actions, my thoughts, my feelings and reflect on where I fell short or how did I not show up for myself or someone else. This one holds up a mirror to myself and asks me to be real and it’s NOT F-ING EASY! But I always feel better for having written something down. 

    My journey started in an already good place when I began my journal writing on January 1st. This ONE DEGREE shift (10 minutes of my time dedicated to gratitude and living with more intention) has slowly taken me onto a different course with a destination that I am not yet able to see but the traveling in my day-to-day sure seems calmer, more purposeful, more grateful, a little challenging at times (NOT gonna lie, this journal stuff brings up your shit!), more disciplined, and more joyful! 

    Ok, so here is what I am dying to know!! What could a ONE DEGREE shift look like in your life? Earlier to bed by 5 minutes (this is another one I am working on!)? Or, perhaps, cutting out that third cup of coffee and replacing it with a green smoothie? Or perhaps spending 30 minutes less on Facebook? Whatever it is, I hope you find a small, teeny, tiny shift of ONE DEGREE that feels delicious to your soul and it ignites the flames in you to live your very own Novel Life.

    Keep on keeping on with this Winter!

    with LOVE! xo

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Have you ever had something happen to you or been in a conversation or experienced something SO PROFOUND that you knew, IN THAT VERY MOMENT, that your life would never be the same? If you are anything like me, I bet you can recall at least a handful of those “pivotal” moments. There aren’t that many. For me, one of those life-altering moments happened as I was sipping delicious Pacific Northwest beers in my favorite pub in Tacoma, WA (the town where I went to University to do my BA and subsequently returned to after a brief hiatus away).

I was hanging out with my boyfriend of 5 1/2 years discussing our future. We’d been through some rough patches over the last few years, but I was CONVINCED that he was THE ONE. We had even just been “ring shopping” (yup, for that perfect engagement ring) and were now settled into a comfortable conversation about THE FUTURE. Until….things got uncomfortable. 

Feeling antsy and excited about my life ahead of me I shared that I had dreams to travel, work abroad, learn new languages, explore! I was all pumped up on that kind of adrenaline you get when you DREAM of your future and how AWESOME it will be. The butterflies in my stomach were dancing and dancing!

So in my excited state, I asked my boyfriend (who would CLEARLY be my husband one day, right?!), “So, what are your biggest dreams? Where do you see yourself in 5 years?” And I foolishly assumed he would want to the same things as me.

We were free of enough responsibilities that we could pick-up and move ANYWHERE. We were skilled enough that we could have gotten jobs doing any number of things. So, I waited with bated breath for his answer. On the edge of my seat, brimming with anticipation. And I got…

Nothin’. NOTHING. Not one dream. He was unable (unwilling?) to DREAM something for himself, for us.

I was crushed. I was stunned. I was angry. I was irritated.

“What do you mean you can’t see that far ahead? What do you mean you have no dreams? Can’t you see ANYTHING for yourself, for us!!? What do you want to do and see and explore in this world?”

NOPE. He couldn’t come up with anything other then the usual status quo, “I want to work. I like living here.”

And in that instant, my life changed. I couldn’t marry this man who had no dreams. It was as clear to me as anything (although I certainly DID NOT want to admit that to myself, much less to him. That wouldn’t happen until 6 months later).

I look back on my life as it was then with my boyfriend…filled with so much struggle to make something work that clearly wasn’t meant to be. My blinders were on, fastened as tight as could be, because I had this weird conviction that we were meant to be together. Until that one fateful moment. That one fateful question that changed EVERYTHING and gave me clarity. 

So my question to you is this…what are YOUR dreams? Are you living in such a way that you are headed towards making them come true? If not, why not? What or who or whatever do you think Is standing in your way?

For me, I ended up leaving the dreamless boyfriend to EXPLORE…I took a job across the country, had an incredible opportunity to travel around the world with my sister, met my future husband in Greece while on that trip, learned French, travelled some more with my new boyfriend (who has PLENTY of dreams, btw) moved to Montréal and… the rest is history, as they say. 

Some say I’m lucky that my dreams came true. I am. No doubt. But they NEVER would have been realized had I not taken the first step to make them a reality. And that first step took enormous courage to say goodbye to a life I thought I had all mapped out…until I didn’t.

Keep on dreamin’ people. Your right life lies in those beautiful visions you have for yourself. 

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