Spring Awakening

Oh, hi!

I know it’s been a while but I’m not going to apologise. What for? I know you don’t mind, and quite frankly, I’ve come to the realisation that when there’s a small human in the house, there’s a rare few seconds spare.

But today I’ve had a spring awakening. A rare moment of clarity to sit and quietly write while Arlo’s down. Which is fabulous, really, because it coincides with the end of spring – the season that’s all about shedding excess waste, removing your winter coat and hurling yourself into new beginnings – and the start of summer; the time of sunshine, refuelling and digging into salads, rather than soups.

And so I’ve been thinking. Thinking about how fast the year is slipping away and what I want to achieve come January 2015. What’s left on my list? What’s left on your list?

Think about it. So often the year sails by without us really getting the opportunity to stop and unfurl the sails. Summer turns into Autumn, which turns into Winter, which turns into Spring, which brings us back to Summer again, only one year on. Did you have time to pause and change with the seasons, as nature does, or were you so caught up in the day-to-day that the four quarters of the year simply merged into one?

Having just returned from a fabulous 3-day yoga and meditation retreat at Billabong Retreat (more on that in another post), I’ve had the chance to pause for a moment and consider what it is I need to do in order to reconnect and tie 2014 up with a bright pink bow, while also honouring the season ahead. Keen to do the same? Here are some options…

Step 1: DE-CLUTTER

Spring and summer are light, airy, breezy months, meaning that you need to shed what’s holding you back. Often, that’s possessions. When was the last time you did a serious house chuck out? The kind where you go through every draw and get rid of the unnecessary things that are cluttering your home; your life; your head. There’s an incredible lightness that comes with having fewer possessions, so if you’re feeling heavy and sluggish and weighed down, now is the time to de-clutter your life. Start with the kitchen and work your way around every room.

Step 2: SWITCH YOUR SCHEDULE

The sun’s shifted gear; rising earlier and setting later. You should too. Embrace the longer days by setting your alarm (or waking naturally) even 15 minutes earlier than normal, slowing bringing the time earlier and earlier as the weeks progress. Spiritually there’s a believe that the energy in the early hours of the morning is calmer, as the thoughts and busy-ness of the evening has settled as we sleep, so take note of that and allow some time in the morning for yoga and meditation to set you in good stead for the day. Come night time, enjoy the later evenings by going for a walk, having an outdoor dinner picnic with your loved ones or just reading a book. My advice? Ditch all electronics at least an hour before bed.

Step 3: KEEP IT LIGHT (AND EASY)

Winter calls for heavy, hearty meals that satisfy your body’s comfort cravings but come summer, it’s time to keep it light, fresh and seasonal. Look around your local farmer’s market and you’ll discover that summer fruits and vegetables are starting to make an appearance, so cash in. Make fresh fruit, zingy salads and smoothies, varying your nutrients as much as possible.

Tell me Happies…

What’s on your to-do list to close out the year?
Any of these?

The Ultimate Clear Skin Cleanse

The buzzer rings. I squeal, knowing that on the other side of that door is the delivery I’ve been waiting for. Clear skin, flat tummy, and bright eyes bottled into those hipster glass jars and filled with raw, cold-pressed, unpasteurized juice that I will happily be sipping on the for the next three days. Summer, here I come.

Its name is Lucky You Cleanse, and if you’re a fan of Miranda Kerr, you’ll likely know that it’s her juice cleanse of choice. What you might not know is that LYC prides itself on creating cleanses that are easy to follow (each bottle is numbered, so there’s no guessing what comes next), incredibly tasty (the cashew mylk is sublime) and a marketers’ dream in terms of presentation and packaging (those hipster bottles I was telling you about make for great vases and the big cooler packs are a handy addition to your picnic basket). Their aim is to break unhealthy eating patterns, refocus, and move towards feeding yourself vibrant and health generating foods. Easy, right?

There are 6 nutrient dense, cold-pressed juices per day on a LYC cleanse (including a Green Smoothie and Nut Mylk) – consumed every 2 hours. Each juice is raw, fresh and cold-pressed using state of the art juicing equipment, made with love and delivered straight to your door.

LuckyYou

But here’s what I find with juice cleanses; they encourage me to cleanse all aspects of my life. What’s the point of eliminating toxins in one department, but continue to have them in other areas. Like your skincare? Or cleaning products? Or emotions? The fundamental point of doing a cleanse, I believe, is detoxing everything to get the best results. Sure, it’s an incredible springboard into a healthier lifestyle and to rebalance the body, oxygenate & alkalise the system and give you energy, but by using your cleansing time to reflect and sweep out the unnecessary, ever-accumulating waste in life, you’re going to get even more value for money.

Which is why I embrace a juice cleanse with aplomb. I love the fact that I’m challenging myself, clearing out the system and giving it a well-earned break every once in a while. It’s cleansing on the mind, body and spirit, and while I do eat 80% clean and 20% mean all year round, sometimes that 20% creeps up and I need to tame it, and my post-baby belly, with a smack of liquefied nutrients and a spring clean of life. Think: more yoga and meditation, clearing out the wardrobe, reorganising cupboards and draws, and finally, letting go of any negative emotions associated with only drinking my meals for three days.

But there’s one other very important aspect of cleansing that needs to be addressed – your skin. Often, with the onset of juicing also comes an onset of pimples, as your skin purges toxins and eliminates waste. Your muscles can ache, your eyes can become puffy and your body dry and flaky. Headaches may surface, energy levels will probably dip (just for the first day and a half) and your mood will swing more than an aerial artist in Cirque du Soleil. The remedy? All-natural skincare to support your system while you cleanse.

It’s lucky then that Sodashi, one of my favourite skincare brands, has partnered with Lucky You to create the ultimate clear skin cleanse, offering detoxers the chance to drink their way to good health while also giving their skin everything it needs to pop out bright and sparkling post detox. I massaged the Sodashi Toxicleanse Body Oil into my limbs post shower to stimulate circulation and help eliminate toxins, the Rejuvenating Concentrate to gently exfoliate dead skin cells and the Eye Lifting Gel to relieve the tell-tale signs that I was currently undergoing a serious waste-elimination process. All of which come with your cleanse, too. The results? Spectacular. Clear, soft, smooth, glowing skin, bright eyes and more energy than I’d has since pre-baby days.

So I urge you, Happies, to consider a cleanse for yourself. It’s challenging and intriguing and an amazing opportunity to go inwards and reflect, if you allow it to be. Cleansing isn’t just about drinking juice for three days and then going back to your old ways, it’s about pushing the reset button on negative patterns and breaking them, before moving forward in more healthy, positive ways. With killer abs and glowing skin.

Tell me Happies…

Have you ever done a cleanse?
Do you want to?

 

Yes, You Can Meditate With a Small Human

As far as I’m concerned, meditation is one of the most important life skills I can teach my son. Right up there with using the toilet and eating healthy food and, you know, being a good human, learning how to stop, breathe and just chill the hell out is an essential life skill in this day and age. Just ask Jerry Seinfeld. Oprah Winfrey. Lena Dunham. The late Steve Jobs. All extremely successful people who… you guessed it… regularly meditate.

But let’s be frank. Finding the time to sit in silence is challenging at the best of times; throw a one-year-old into the picture and it may, for some, seem completely impossible or just a waste of time. But hear me out.

YazandArlo

 

Countless studies have shown that meditation doesn’t just reduce stress on the surface, it physically changes your brain too. How? Meditation increases the thickness of your prefrontal cortex – the area linked to decision making, planning and even your personality – making it stronger and potentially more resilient to change, stress and today’s hectic, technology-driven lifestyle. Begging the question, who wouldn’t want to meditate?

So how do you get a toddler to sit still and tune in? You don’t. That’s impossible. Instead, like with all things baby related, you expose them to different experiences of the same outcome over time. Here’s an example: when Arlo was a newborn, rather than sit in front of the TV at night for his feeds I’d remain in our dimly lit room and play guided meditations. My thought process was that it’s the middle of the night and I don’t want to stimulate him (or me) with the TV, so this was an incredible way for us both to get close and remain in a nice sleepy state, while also being entertained.

Cut to now, when things are slightly more (ahem) busy and I’ve had to adapt to the situation. Now, when he’s eating dinner I dim the lights and play relaxation music, giving him cues that it’s quiet time. There’s no TV or electronic devices, just time to sit and eat and enjoy in a really calm, relaxing setting. We play and have fun, but there’s no external distractions. And he loves it. He loves that we’re so present with him and that he can slowly (so slowly!) eat his dinner without feeling rushed or sensing any stress.

Or, when he’s just having a crazy manic day, I stop everything, pick him up and put on a guided meditation. I hold him and gently sway, breathing deeply into his ear and reassuring him that it’s okay to be expressive and frustrated, and to just breathe it out. To me, this seems completely normal. I see my job as Arlo’s mum to remain as calm as possible when he becomes overwhelmed, I’ve had more practice than he has, and heck, life is overwhelming. It will continue to be. But it’s how you learn to cope with the craziness that sets you apart.

 

Tell me Happies…

Am I crazy?
Do you meditate?
Do you want, or more importantly, need to?

 

Stay Happy,

Yaz x

Dinner in Under 10 Minutes? Yep, It’s Possible

Here’s the deal: I guarantee the worst cook in the world can make this dish. In under 10 minutes. And appreciate its simple, tasty flavours.

Here’s the dish…

photo

Buckwheat pasta spirals with onion, garden peas, olives, lemon zest, kale, kidney beans, salt, pepper and olive oil

It’s one of those dishes you whip up when you just can’t be bothered or when cheese on toast is calling your name, but you know you haven’t had your daily vege quota yet. Or, in my case, the ‘oops, I haven’t prepared Arlo’s dinner yet so let me make something we can all enjoy’ moment. Although, his doesn’t have the salt or pepper but everything else remains the same.

Anyway, here it is. The world’s easiest dinner.

You need: 

  • 1/2 x bag buckwheat pasta spirals (found in the health food aisle of most supermarkets)
  • 1 x onion, finely chopped
  • 1 x cup garden peas (frozen is fine)
  • 1 x cup chopped kale
  • 1 x lemon, zest removed and juice squeezed
  • 1 x handful of pitted olives, roughly chopped
  • 1 x cup of pre-cooked kidney beans (or a can is fine if you’re strapped for time)
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • A big glug of cold pressed, extra virgin olive oil

And here’s what you need to do:

Step 1: Bring a pot of water and salt to the boil and toss in your pasta.

Step 2: Through your onion into a fry pan on medium heat to sweat off. Once transparent, add remaining ingredients.

Step 3: When your pasta is cooked, strain and leave a cup of its cooking liquid aside. Toss pasta and some of the cooking liquid into the fry pan and mix with the other ingredients.

Step 4: To serve, add your pasta to the bowl. season with salt and pepper and drizzle with a generous glug (or 2) of olive oil.

Stay Happy,

Yaz x

Morning Ritual, Do You Have One?

Who are those people happily skipping to the gym or barre or yoga at 6am with smiles on their faces? Well, truth be told, it’s often me, but that wasn’t always the case. The thing is, I’ve never been a morning person. The mere sight of the sun would have me screaming defeat and hiding under my pillow for at least another 2 hours, until I discovered a morning ritual.

That first crack of the sun is a sacred time. A time when the world is slowly whirring to life, but not in over-drive yet. There’s silence, stillness….peace, even. And it’s magical. But there’s more to becoming a morning person than just setting your alarm clock. For me, it was about creating a morning ritual that enables me to start the day on the best foot. No bullshit, no stress, no one else but me.

It used to revolve around mediation and often yoga, but since having Arlo I’ve had to be realistic about what I can and can’t achieve. Yes, the whole point of a morning ritual is to make it about you, but any mother will tell you that’s almost laughable. So I’ve had to be smart and trick the system. Here’s what I’ve done…

dancing

Step 1: BREATHE

I’m truly blessed with a child who sleeps. A lot. We put him to bed between 6 and 7pm and don’t hear a peep until 7:15am. Don’t despair mums of non-sleepers, it took us A LOT of work to get here, but now we’re reaping the rewards. Anyway, as Arlo isn’t up until after 7 that allows me time to either go to Barre early in the morning to get my exercise done or stay in bed for a relaxing meditation upon waking. Rather than getting up, I use that time to focus on my breath, settling into the day ahead in the most relaxing way possible. You can do this, too. Whether you have a baby or not, stay in bed for an extra 5 minutes (or 55, who’s counting) and just take a few really deep breaths, focusing your attention inwards as you scan your body and let go of any tension.

Step 2: CONNECT

The reason I’m reluctant to jump out of bed for anything other than exercise is that my favourite part of my morning ritual actually takes place in bed. When Arlo wakes up, Alex goes and gets him from his cot and brings him into bed with me, where he has his morning ‘milky’ and we snuggle and connect and he tells me (in his own little language) how he slept and what he dreamed of. It’s a beautiful time. A sacred time. Where we can all just connect and feel love oozing out from the get-go. Ask yourself who you’re connecting with first thing in the morning. Are you connecting more with your phone or TV than your partner, flatmate, children or pet?

Step 3: PLAY

I’ll let you in on a little secret, I’m incredibly shit at dancing. But I LOVE it. I love the way it makes Alex laugh and I love the way music lifts Arlo into an excited frenzy. So, I’ve started incorporating dancing into my morning ritual. I put on Happy by Pharrell and I bounce around the room with Arlo on my hip and he squeals with delight. He even claps along. Alex is yet to discover the wonder but definitely enjoys watching on. The point? We’re having fun. I think play time has been lost on us. It’s been replaced by a sense of urgency, which, rather ironically, sucks all the lifeblood out of us and is the exact antithesis of fun. It’s boring and bland and stressful. So instead I encourage you to make more time for fun in the morning. Dance, sing, do handstands… play… and see where it takes you.

Step 4: NURTURE

Obviously food plays a big role in my morning ritual to ensure I’m fuelling my body (and my family’s body) in the best way possible. Most of the time it starts with a piece of seasonal fruit, before moving onto a smoothie or our homemade wonder muesli, but more on those later. What do you have for breakfast? Are you giving yourself the best start possible, or is a cronut and coffee exactly what you need each day?

Tell me Happies…

Do you have a morning ritual?
Do you want to start one?