A Pain in the Ass

Oh this past summer was going to be the one! Yep – I had the grandest of plans. Yoga three times a week. Get back to running and finally complete the half marathon training that I ditched in the spring. Meditate- Every. Single. Morning.

I could already hear what my friends would say come September “My gosh Lori – you look amazing! You have an ethereal quality about you…. downright angelic!” And I’d just smile coyly and reply “Geez it must be all the fresh air. Maybe the quality time spent with my three loving children and ultra-romantic husband. I guess it might be that …oh and perhaps the homemade gourmet food I whipped up.” [insert self-deprecating laugh here]

And it really did start off with a bang – 3 yoga classes and two runs the first week of July. Booyah! Week two we were heading to a friends cottage for a relaxing vacation. After about an hour of driving – I felt a slight twinge in my left butt cheek. Kind of like a pulled muscle. “My bum hurts” I said to the kids and my 7-year-old erupted with laughter. I smiled at him in the rearview mirror and kept driving – confident in the knowledge that the pain would soon disappear.

However, when I hopped out of the van a couple of hours later, the pain was even more intense. In fact, I could barely put any pressure on my left leg. It felt like an electric shock was racing from my butt cheek down to my left knee with every step. “I must have done something at yoga. Damn downward dog!” I muttered to myself, as I hauled armloads of stuff into the cottage.

The first few days were excruciating. I was convinced that I’d pulled a muscle, so I stretched it out and went for a walk each day to try to get it to release. Sleeping was impossible. The only position I could get comfortable in was with my left ankle crossed over my right knee. More than one night I left the bed and went to sit on a chair in the living room with my legs criss crossed and my eyelids drooping as I thumbed through an old issue of People magazine (I may have shed a few tears over the unrelenting intensity of my pain….and the still shocking breakup of Brad Pitt and Jennifer Anniston. They just seemed so perfect for each other!)

I emailed my massage therapist from the cottage. “I know rubbing my ass probably isn’t high up on your summer wish list. But I need you” I pleaded. She replied with an LOL and promised to fit me in as soon as we got home. “Her magic hands will do the trick” I smugly thought to myself.

It wasn’t until week later, as I lay face down on her massage table, that I got an inkling that perhaps this wasn’t going to be a such quick fix. “This seems like sciatica,” she said. “Don’t expect to hop off the table feeling all better. This is going to take a while to heal.” What?! I had to tamp down the urge to reach back and smack her. Never mind, I thought to myself. I’ll just do my own research as soon as I get home.

Turns out she was bang on. Over next three months- I repeatedly consulted my doctor, my massage therapist, an acupuncturist, an osteopath,  and a chiropractor. Sciatica was the official diagnosis but turns out – there was no easy fix to alleviate my discomfort. So I took pain killers, plied my back, butt and leg with ice, heat and healing lotions, and contorted my body into a variety of stretches. And still the pain persisted.

Eventually, I even did a session with an intuitive to find out if an old buried childhood issue was causing the pain. Hey – I was desperate! She leaned over me intently and put her hands on my sore bum. “This pain is coming from your feminine side,” she said. “There is a female in your life that is literally giving you a major pain in the butt.” “Aha” I thought. “This is gonna be good!” I waited anxiously for her to blurt out the name of the offending female. Oh boy – that woman was in for an earful! But after the hour session – it turned out that the pain in my butt was me. ME. According to the intuitive, I am my own pain in the butt. Ugh.

Needless to say, I did not emit an ethereal glow. Rather I wore a somewhat pained expression and limped through each day with  grim determination. Sleeping continued to be a real challenge so I was tired. A lot. I was grumpy -a lot. My husband and kids were sick of hearing about it (and frankly I was sick of talking about it) – so I just pushed through and carried on the best I could.

To top things off, because I could barely walk or even bend over for that matter – exercise was virtually impossible. I was limited to floating in the pool or taking painfully slow walks around the neighbourhood. And no exercise plus an inordinate amount of time sitting on my ass meant that soon my pants all started to feel tight. Sigh. (Bless you jogging pants and your delightful expanding waistline).

I really started to believe that the pain was never going to go away and vacillated between crying, raging and trying to maintain a sense of humour about it. I told my husband that if it got to the point where he had to start wiping my ass – he might as well just shoot me.

BUT. But. Butt.

As I write this, the pain has finally, blessedly subsided significantly. I can feel a dull ache in my leg but the sharpness has disappeared. I feel hopeful for the first time in three, long, agonizing months. I also feel a deep compassion and greater understanding for people who live with chronic pain. The pain in my bum and leg made me feel crazy and there were times I think I would have tried anything to find just a moment’s relief. (That’s probably why I found myself googling “medicinal marijuana” at 3am on a particularly tough night).

I wish I could say that the pain transformed me into a brighter, shinier and wiser version of myself. But truth be told – the past 3 months were often a brutal slog of simply trying to stay afloat as a human being. And right now, I am so overwhelmed with relief that I haven’t had time to truly process the lessons this experience has taught me.

All I know is that today I touched my toes – and that is huge.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Embracing (and my big boobs)

Last night, I had the honour of co-hosting 250 people at a special community screening of the documentary Embrace. It was a truly magical event. All of us came together to share the positive energy in the room and to soak in Taryn’s message of body acceptance.

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250 is a big number – but it would be wonderful if the message could spread out to reach a wider audience. And the good news is that EMBRACE is now available to watch on Netflix and to download on iTunes – so you can gather up your family and friends and watch the movie in the privacy of your own home!

I had the privilege of opening the evening with a personal story and I thought I’d share it with my readers:

For those of you who don’t know me – my name is Lori Wilson and I want to welcome you here tonight and thank you for supporting this event.

Before we get started, I want to share a little story:

A few months ago, I hopped out of the shower and I scooted into my bedroom with nothing on but a towel around my hair. My teenage daughter just happened to by lying on my bed watching TV and she turned to look at me. Her eyes scanned me up and down and her mouth fell open – “Oh my god mom!” she started.

I braced myself. How was she going to finish that sentence? Was she going to comment on my blubbery belly? Was she going to gag at my saggy butt or my dimply thighs (that definitely don’t have the obligatory gap between them). Was she going to use the dreaded f-word….FAT! I stood there totally vulnerable.

 I steeled myself in the moment and waited for what was coming. My daughter said – “Oh my god mom! Your boobs are huge! I wonder if mine will be that big one day too?” And she turned back to her tv show.

 I had to chuckle to myself. My boobs! She looked my body up and down and her only comment was on my boobs.

I realized two things in that moment. One – when my daughter looks at me – she isn’t seeing the glaringly imperfect person I’ve constructed in my own mind. She is seeing her mom – a woman with big boobs apparently.

And two- despite the fact that I am passionate about promoting healthy body image, I devour whatever reading I can get my hands on on the subject and I preach it to my kids – if I’m being perfectly honest, I am still deeply unhappy with my body. I catch myself hating how my pants fit or cringing when I pass a mirror. Or recoiling with horror when I go to take a picture with my iphone and the camera is pointed right at me!

And having talked with many of you – I know I’m not alone. I think I could comfortably speak for all of us in this room in saying we all know that we should be accepting, but we have a long way to go in making that shift happen.

That is why we wanted to share this film with you. We want to start that shift in our own mindsets and we want to support this shift happening for our friends, family members and all the females in our lives.

And though one movie might not fix the years of reprogramming that we likely need, it’s a great place to start. 

Enjoy the film! Let’s Embrace!

*If you are interested in building upon a local EMBRACE community – email embracelori@gmail.com to be added to our mailing list.

Embrace

Last summer we took our kids to a waterpark. It was a stinkin’ hot day and we had a blast zipping down slides and cooling off in the wave pool. At one point, my husband and the older kids decided to try a toilet-bowl style ride geared for an older crowd, so my littlest and I stood at the bottom waiting for them to poop out into the basin below.

As we watched the riders happily splash down in front of us, little K pulled on my arm and pointed to a child exiting the water nearby – “Hey mommy, I don’t like that girl” he stated . “Why not?” I asked. I’d never seen her before. “Because she’s fat” he answered matter-of-factly.

I just about fell over backwards! Body image has been the monkey on my back for as long as I can remember, and I’ve worked hard to overcome my own insecurities and to foster an environment of acceptance and kindness within my own family. And goddamn it – no child of mine was going to shame someone because of the shape of their body!

I knelt down and spent the next ten minutes lecturing my son about the beauty in all body shapes and the importance of never, ever judging other people. Trust me, he got an earful. He listened intently, then ran off with his siblings to enjoy another slide. “Crazy kid” I mumbled to myself. I figured he must have picked up that nonsense on television.

Then a few months later I had dinner with a group of girlfriends- all of them brilliant, beautiful women with high-powered careers, incredible families, strong opinions and the passion and means to affect change in the world.

And yet. Our conversations that night kept coming back to the same thing – body image. We shared stories of how weight has impacted our sex lives, and contributed to feeling too physically disgusting to appear naked in front of our spouses – even with the lights off. We talked about caloric intake and the restrictive cleanses we’d endured – all the while feeling sick and deprived. We discussed our boobs (too small, too big, too saggy) and our butts (too big, too small, too saggy) – and we even dissected our individual diets and compared notes about what foods and drinks (or lack thereof) would help us achieve thinner, happier, sexier, less-wrinkly versions of ourselves.

As I laughed and commiserated and chimed in, something struck me: that friggin’ monkey is still clinging stubbornly to my back. Because for all of my lip service about acceptance and self love – a really big part of me still believes that being thin is equated with being better. And the fact that I have droopy post-nursing boobs and a squishy belly – in my own mind, ultimately means that I am losing at womanhood..and at life.

Then I came across a “before and after” photo on social media that changed my whole perspective. Taryn Brumfitt posted side-by-side images of herself posing with a muscular body-builders physique (before) and then with a softer, curvier body (after). It was revolutionary!

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Here was a woman actually showing off her curves, and rolls, and stretch marks. Proudly! Her impish smile belied the fact that she was actually HAPPIER with her less-toned and heavier body. My mind was blown.

I learned that Taryn had gone on a crusade to  uncover “why poor body image has become a global epidemic and what women everywhere can do to have a brighter future.” She turned her findings into a documentary called Embrace “A funny, touching, at times gut wrenching but above all, life changing documentary, the heart of Embrace is Taryn’s story. How she went from a body hater to a body lover. From being devastated by her perceived ugliness to proudly posing nude for the whole world to see.”

I downloaded Embrace as soon as it was released and sobbed my heart out through almost the entire thing. I could relate to so many of the women in the film who shared feelings of inadequacy and failure when discussing their bodies, and I felt inspired to make a change.

So can I do it? Can I move my body in an effort to be strong and healthy without obsessing over the calories I’ve burned, or whether or not I’ll be able to squeeze into my old jeans after a long run? Can I enjoy food without worrying about each and every bite? Can I show my children that I am a confident and fully-actualized woman no matter what size my body is? I honestly don’t know. But I am willing to try. And Embrace is the perfect place to start.

Taryn - ornament

I am beyond thrilled to be co-hosting a special community screening of the life-changing/perspective-shifting/monkey-on-back-destroying documentary Embrace – right here in Burlington, Ontario.

Please join me and my friends Sue Abell and Joelle Cooling on Thursday, June 1st at 7pm at the Art Gallery of Burlington . Tickets are $10 and are available for purchase by contacting me directly at lori@vaportek.ca, or by emailing Sue at sue@treadpowerfully.com, or by visiting Joelle’s clothing store at 457 Brant Street in downtown Burlington.

Come and enjoy a glass of wine, a bag of popcorn and an opportunity to fully love and embrace your body. Together – we can be part of a movement to create positive global change. Let’s Embrace!

The Pot In The Parking Lot

On December 23rd, after a particularly stressful few weeks, I left a stock pot containing a severed head and limbs in the parking lot of the Burlington Mall. It was haphazardly wrapped in an old grey sheet, and I glanced back only briefly as I drove away and wondered who would be the first person to lift the lid.

When I reflect on the days leading up to that incident – I know several things to be true:

  • I had abandoned all of the practices that traditionally help me stay calm and grounded. No working out, no meditating, no reasonable bedtimes, no decompressing on the couch with a glass of wine or meeting up with girlfriends. I was woman on a mission. Why you ask? Well…..
  • Despite promising myself every year that I won’t go overboard on the holidays-  I inevitably become this harried list-making uber-mom – searching fruitlessly online for “the trendiest gift for a teenager”, “the most thoughtful present for your dad” and “touching homemade gifts for your closest friends.” It starts small and before I know it I’m staring red-eyed at my computer monitor at 1am ordering a $250 curling iron from a website in California.
  • I also took on an obscene amount of work to be completed by Christmas eve.  Justified or not, I still feel a nagging sense of guilt over the years I spent as a stay-at-home mom, and the financial burden that put on my husband. So – the writing assignments kept rolling in and I decided I could tackle them ALL goddammit.
  • It was only after I dug in that I realized what an intense undertaking I’d agreed to. I was burning the midnight oil writing about time traveling zombies and war and violence in 14th century Europe. In once particularly gruesome show, a contract killer was sent into the forest to ambush two members of the royal family. After he’d completed his task, he returned to the local courthouse and dumped a bag containing their heads, hands and feet onto the tiled floor. Many nights I was up until 2 or 3 in the morning rewinding and re-watching these images over and over and inserting appropriate description.

So back to the pot. On December 23rd, I dragged my little guy to the mall to retrieve one last “perfect” present. I knew I was overtired and strung out – but the end was in sight!

After we me made our purchase, we trudged back to through the lot. The first thing I noticed as we hiked back towards the van was that the back door was ajar. Odd. But I figured my son likely hadn’t closed it properly or had wedged a pack of goldfish crackers in the runner.

I opened the door and spotted a lump covered in a wrinkled grey sheet wedged between the back seats. “Buddy – was that sheet here when we left the house?” I asked warily. “No mommy. I’ve never seen that before.” My little guy answered. I nervously peered under the sheet and could see that there was a stainless steel pot underneath. I tried to lift it and found it was unusually heavy. In a flash I knew immediately what it contained – either a severed head or dismembered body parts. I had absolutely no doubt in my mind.

Then the question became what should I do next? I didn’t want to open the pot because I didn’t want the contents to frighten my young son. How would he ever recover from seeing such horror?

So – I did what any rational person would do. I lifted that pot out of my van and set it down in the parking lot. “What are you doing mommy?” My son asked. “You know what – I think this belongs to someone else so I’m going to leave it here and that person will come find it.”

He accepted my answer at face value, I set the pot down in the parking lot and we drove away. By the time we got home – the usual chaos of dinner prep was in full swing and to be honest, as odd as it might sound, I kind of forgot about the whole thing.

The next night I was snuggled up in bed reading with my son when my husband popped his head into the bedroom. “Hey hon – do you know what happened to Lisa’s chili pot?” he asked. “I left it in the van and I can’t seem to find it. It was wrapped in a sheet. Did you see it?”

I felt the blood drain out of my cheeks. Chili?! Chili!? Holy crap! The pot was full of chili. Not a head. Chili. My mind started racing – how was I going to explain what I had done to my husband? He already thinks I’m impulsive and overly anxious. What would he think if I told him the truth? He leaned in a little farther – “Did you see it?” he asked again.

“Mommy left something at the mall.” my son offered helpfully. “It had a sheet on it.” My husband met my eyes. I raced through a few different scenarios in my mind then decided I had to fess up. “You what?!” my husband said incredulously. I was hoping he’d see the humour – perhaps view it as proof of my adorable whimsical nature. But he just shook his head and drove back to the mall to see if the pot was still there.

In the end, he found the it but the lid was smashed and the sheet had blown away.  And a few days later, I had to sheepishly show up to Lisa’s house with her dinged-up pot and explain why the lid and sheet were no longer part of the set. Thankfully she has a forgiving heart and a great sense of humour.

Looking back, I keep trying to figure out why I didn’t just lift that lid. It makes me kind of uneasy that I so quickly jumped to such a rash conclusion and acted so impulsively. It took me a few days of pondering to refocus on what I could learn about myself from this experience.

I learned I need sleep. I need to go easier on myself. I need to stop taking on so freakin’ much. I learned that when I don’t have “time” to do the things that ground me – I absolutely, positively need to make time right that very moment – or chances are good that I will get a little loopy! (or a lot loopy ; )

I learned that when I try to be the perfect mom, the perfect hostess, the perfect writer – I only end up leaving a trail of wreckage in my wake…. and a severed head in a parking lot.

A Day In Silence

“Mom, there is no way you can stay quiet for an entire day!” – my 13-year-old daughter 

I like to talk. And day-to-day my life is full of words. Not only do I love chit-chatting, but I also use my voice to make a living as a narrator and voice over actress.

So when I found out that one component of my Mindfulness Meditation course was to participate in a silent retreat, I had mixed feelings. How would I handle a full day without saying one single word from 9am to 5pm? I mean without me- who would pepper my children’s day with gems of wisdom? Who would tell my husband what jobs need to be done around the house? Who would shriek at the dogs to stop barking?

I approached the retreat with a mixture of trepidation and excitement. As much as I relished the idea of not being responsible for anyone but myself for the day (a true luxury for a mom of 3), I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to handle it and would blurt out something inappropriate. I had a vision of myself surrounded by serene people seated in lotus position with their eyes closed and me screaming out “I can’t freakin’ do this!” and bolting crazily from the room.

But despite my fears, on a beautiful sunny day in November, I joined 18 fellow meditators at a studio along the shores of Lake Ontario. We were equipped with yoga mats, pillows, blankets, water bottles and lunch bags to fortify us through the experience.

To my surprise, the day flew by and the hours unfolded in strange and wonderful ways. Our teachers had led many previous retreats and confidently steered us through the hours with ease. We transitioned through gentle yoga moves and guided and silent meditations with the soft “ding” of a bell. We sat in chairs and on the floor, reclined on our mats and wandered through the gardens surrounding the studio.

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Now don’t get me wrong- there were definitely some uncomfortable moments. My leg fell asleep during a cross-legged meditation and I kicked the man across from me when I stretched it out. A lady seated next to me ripped a fart part way through a “loving kindness” meditation and it took all of my strength not to burst into hysterical laughter. And a passerby asked me for directions as I sat on a bench eating my lunch and I had to gesture like a crazy person to try to help him out (despite my prowess at charades, the poor guy ended up shaking his head and storming off angrily. Sorry buddy!)

At the end of the day, our instructors had us break the silence and invited us to share our reflections. And as you can imagine, everyone had a different take on the experience. Some had really struggled and others said it was the best day they’d had in ages.

For me, the day shone a spotlight on how rarely I take the time to really pay attention to my thoughts, my body and my surroundings. What an opportunity to immerse myself in things that normally zoom past in a flurry of activity.

I noticed the feeling of my butt on the hardwood floor, and breath moving through my lungs. We were encouraged to pay attention to our steps as we wandered around outside and to savour each bite of food as we ate our lunch. I stopped to gaze at flowers in the garden and spider webs hung in rafters of an old art gallery on the property. I paid attention to my arms and legs as we stretched and contracted our muscles. And I watched as thoughts came and went – some old tapes that I’ve been noodling around in my brain for years and other new ideas that popped up unexpectedly.

I drove away from the retreat feeling renewed. I secretly wondered if my family would look at me differently when I returned home – if I’d radiate an ethereal glow from dwelling on a higher plane of existence for the day.

I burst through the front door and the dogs started barking, my youngest was fighting with his sister and the sink was piled with dirty dishes. “Mom-what are we going to do for dinner?” my oldest asked. Nope, apparently not hovering on a higher plane. But I took solace in the fact that I did it – eight hours and not one single word was uttered from my lips (in your face 13-year-old daughter!) Namaste. : )

 

 

The Right Way to Meditate

Martha is easily one of my favourite people in the meditation class. She turned to me midway through the second session and whispered “I have no idea what the hell is going on here.” – and I knew instantly we’d be kindred spirits.

She’s brash, outspoken, quick to laugh and definitely the most skeptical person in the bunch. And as soon as we lie on our yoga mats to meditate, she inevitably drifts off and snores like a truck driver.

In the hushed and focused environment of our gatherings, she often makes me smile with her brutal honesty. “Well I wanted no part of that meditation,” she admitted after a guided reflection where we were encouraged to imagine ourselves floating underwater. “I can’t even friggin’ swim so I just sat here and made my grocery list!”

It’s not that the class isn’t amazing. It is. I am learning a ton and breathing and trusting the process and I can see that perhaps the skyscraper of worries I’ve meticulously built up over the years is starting to crack and shift just a little tiny bit.Or maybe I’m viewing it differently. Either way – I feel better.

Just last week we were led through a half-hour seated meditation. When it came time to share our experience, Martha blurted out “I’m not doing it right! My mind wanders endlessly or I fall asleep. I keep thinking about what I have to do and what happened yesterday and when I should book my next nail appointment. And you people all look so smugly blissful. What am I doing wrong? How come you are getting it and I can’t?!”

Our leader simply smiled peacefully and said “By a show of hands – who else in the class doesn’t feel like they are meditating the right way?” All 18 of us raised our hands. And Martha started to cry.

“The answer is that there is no right way to meditate.” our teacher shared. “You come to the practice and observe what happens. So you fall asleep. That’s ok. So your mind wanders. That’s ok. Everyone will have a unique experience that is right for them. Just keep coming back to your breath. And please be gentle with yourself.”

Isn’t that just the perfect metaphor for life?  It’s so darn easy to look around and think that everyone else has their shit together. Look at that perfect family, that gorgeous couple, those well-behaved kids, the beautiful house, her amazing career, his killer body – that zenned-out person meditating across the room. And we think- what am I doing wrong? Why isn’t this working out for me? It’s frustrating and depressing and makes us feel really alone.

But the truth is we all have messy parts to our lives if you scratch just beneath the surface. We all struggle. Sometimes the dog drags his butt across the freshly washed floor, or you rip the crotch out of your jeans while  volunteering in a kindergarten class, and sometimes you flip out at your kids and threaten to move to California! (or is that just me??)

We all wonder if we are doing things right. Martha just had the guts to say it out loud.

After class I walked to my car with Martha.  Her eyes were still red from crying and I gave her a hug as we parted ways. “Thanks for saying what you did tonight,” I said. “It was really brave.” Her face broke into a wide grin. “I really feel so much better knowing the rest of you are just as shitty as I am at this whole meditating thing.” 

Then she drove off before I could tell her that I have no idea what the hell is going on most of the time either : )

9 Healthful Products That I Adore

As we head into warmer spring days, I felt inspired to share with you some of my favourite finds, foodie items and all-around awesome products that have all enriched my life in different ways. Some of them help me to relax, others make me feel my best, a couple of them have improved my health and some are just for fun!

So if you are looking to treat yourself or someone you love to something special – these 9 items have the patented “Lori Wilson” stamp of approval:

1. Spoonk Mat – I’m not sure if it’s all the time I spend writing at my computer or that fact that I am getting older but I’ve noticed some persistent achiness in my lower back. A friend told me about this amazing acupressure mat so I rushed right out to buy one and it was definitely a stellar purchase. I’ll admit that having over 6000 stimulation points pressed into your body is a little uncomfortable at first but the results are well worth it. Benefits include: increased circulation, decreased pain, relaxation of sore muscles, release of endorphins, improved sleep and stress relief. My husband and I are both hooked!

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2. Saje Perfume – I had dinner with a few girlfriends this past winter and I couldn’t stop sniffing my friend who was seated right next to me – she smelled so darn good! (At one point I’m pretty sure she thought I was hitting on her ; ) She was wearing a pure essential oil  blend from Saje Wellness called “Stress Release” that has a lovely clean and fresh scent. Saje started in western Canada and they are committed to using pure 100% natural ingredients in their products that are all are guaranteed free of “parabens, SLS, SLES, PEGS, glycols, petrochemicals, synthetic colours and synthetic fragrances.” Plus they smell amazing!

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3. Joy For Beginners by Erica Bauermeister – I am a regular at our local Chapters book store and I always seek out my favourite employee whenever I visit for book suggestions. Margaret is my go-to girl and she never fails to find me something fantastic – and this book is no exception. It’s moving and thought-provoking and I still find myself thinking about the characters and their unique situations months after I finished reading the book.

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4. Living Libations Rose Best Skin Ever – I know what you are thinking – how the heck does Lori keep her face looking so youthful and glowy? You’d never know she was about to turn 44. Well I’m glad you asked! I’m kidding but I did luck out by inheriting good skin from my mom and grandmother. I also like to keep my skin routine simple – I can’t be bothered with tons of different lotions and potions. My go-to items are Witch Hazel toner and this incredible Rose Oil from Living Libations. It smells incredible and keeps my face fresh and blemish free.

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5. 100% Pure Makeup – it is incredibly difficult to find makeup that is truly clean and safe in addition to working well. I’ve tried a few brands that were guaranteed all-natural but left me looking pretty frightening – mascara running under my eye, concealer the colour of mustard and garish pink lipstick that felt like I was smearing silly putty on my lips. Not flattering! I don’t wear much makeup but for my money the cleanest and most effective brand on the market is 100% Pure. It’s a bit on the pricey side but their fruit-pigmented make-up delivers on quality and looks great on the face. Win-win. (Black Tea Mascara and Berry Blush are two of my favourites)

100% pure

6. Zazubean Chocolate– I’m pretty sure the most amazing thing I’ve learned about healthy eating is that chocolate is actually a superfood! Who knew?! However, I have come to realize that all chocolate is not created equally. Those candy bars that line the check-out aisles of convenience stores are far from super – they are full of high-fructose corn syrup, artificial ingredients and nasty chemicals. But thankfully there are brands that are committed to fair-trade practices and produce delicious organic delights that will make you forget all about that stinkin’ Kit Kat bar. My absolute favourite is Zazubean’s Smooch Bar – decadent chocolate with vanilla caramel and a pinch of sea salt. Heaven!

smooch-bar

7. Strawsome – I don’t know about you but my kids are crazy for straws. Apparently drinks just taste better when you sip them through a tube (or a piece of licorice for that matter…) But I’ve never been a fan of cheap plastic straws – I work my butt of to prepare green smoothies each morning and I hate to see them consumed through something that is made with BPA and other harmful plastic ingredients. Luckily for me I found an amazing company that makes the coolest glass straws on the planet. They come in many funky colours and designs so that we can each have our own unique straw and they come with a nifty device to keep them sparkling clean.

strawsome

8. Four Sigma Foods Mushroom Teas – Back in the fall, I had the pleasure of getting to hear the president of Four Sigma Foods give a presentation on the superpowers of mushrooms. I was absolutely blown away. Apparently these little fungi are incredible healers, immunity boosters and hormone balancers. And the “Funguys” at Four Sigma are committed to unlocking the maximum power from all of their mushroom products. Each blend is specially formulated to address specific conditions in the body and they have a mild and pleasant taste. Their new XOCO Hot Chocolate is downright sinful!

chaga

9. Headspace – Although I fully realize the positive impact meditation has had on my life, I have struggled over the years to maintain a regular practice. I will go for weeks at a time and then get too “busy” and fall completely off the wagon. This easy-to-use app on my iPhone has made all the difference in the world. I am a huge fan of creator Andy Puddicombe and his easy-going and approachable manner. Somehow he manages to make meditation accessible to everyone – no incense or fancy mat required. You can download the app for free and sample a 10-day trial and then decide if you’d like to buy the full program. I have been especially enjoying the different themed meditation sessions on creativity, anxiety and relationships.

headspace

Those are my current favs and I’d love to hear about yours! What products or services are you loving right now? How are they impacting your life? And better yet – have you got another chocolate to recommend? Please leave your suggestions in the comments.