NYC Surprise

My sister had a milestone birthday last week so as a special surprise my mom and I took her to New York City for the weekend. We tricked her into taking a Friday off work and then picked her up early and whisked her off to the airport. There is nothing better than pulling off a great surprise and the look on her face when we told her the news was priceless!

Since the weekend was my sister’s celebration, my mom and I wanted to make sure we focused in on her favourite things. And that of course really meant only one thing- shopping! We literally shopped until we dropped (well mom and I did – my sister kept going ; ) and we managed to squeak in some great meals, site-seeing and attractions in between stores. Here are a few highlights of our trip as inspiration in case you are considering a little getaway to the Big Apple:

1. The Marriott Marquis Hotel in Times Square – any great trip requires a fantastic place to say and we absolutely love the Marriott Marquis. This is the third time I’ve stayed at this particular hotel (we even stayed here with the kids 2 summers ago) and I am impressed every time. Conveniently located in bustling Times Square, this high-rise hotel has a modern space age design and the service is always impressive. In addition to nicely appointed and spacious rooms, there is also a Starbucks in the lobby (booyah!), a beautiful bakery and store on the 8th floor, 3 super cool restaurants and lovely glass elevators that go all the way to the top of the hotel (very handy when you are travelling with a couple of closet claustrophobics like my mom and I).

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2. Juniors Restaurant and Bakery– right across from the Marriott Marquis, this restaurant and bakery is the perfect spot to grab breakfast before a busy day of site-seeing and shopping. The place is packed all day long because they serve up big helpings of delicious home-cooked food and although we’ve only ever enjoyed breakfast – the freshly baked desserts look incredible.

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3. Walking, walking and more walking – because our hotel was in the heart of Times Square, we were able to walk around our neighbourhood with lots to see and enjoy while feeling very safe. We strolled by the NBC Building and Rockefeller Center, Radio City Music Hall, all around the billboards and crazy action in Times Square, the shops on 5th Ave (and Trump Hotel) and all the way up to Central Park. We also took a cab to Soho (see below) and strolled for hours and even hiked a good hour home from a gourmet dinner on Friday night while gawking at the stunning million-dollar high-rise apartments on Park Avenue.

4. Candle 79 Restaurant– I booked our dinner reservations and I was thrilled to get us in to this vegan hot spot on Friday night. Located on 79th and 3rd, this dining establishment even made it on to the VegNews Vegan Bucket List of 99 Things You Must Do. The food and wine were superb and we all agreed that this was well worth the higher end price tag. We split appetizers of steamed dumplings over wilted greens and smoked hummus with pitas and then tucked into main courses of Spaghetti and “Wheat” Balls, Moroccan Chickpea Cakes and Pumpkin Seed Crusted Tempeh. Everything was scrumptious and our only complaint was that we were too darn stuffed for dessert.

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5. Shopping in Soho– on our last trip to the city, my mom arranged for us to do a guided shopping tour in the Garment District and it was an adventure not to be missed. But since we’d already experienced it, we decided to try something different so we hopped a taxi down to Soho for the day. We had a blast popping in and out of unique and interesting boutiques set along the cobblestone streets of this quaint neighbourhood. It’s so interesting seeing chic art galleries and small boutiques situated beside well-known stores like Anthropologie and Lulu Lemon. And a highlight for my reality tv junkie sister and myself? Stopping in to the Kardashian sister’s store Dash!

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6. Pedicab ride through Central Park– we had planned to do a bike trip through Central Park on our last day in the city, but as we approached the park a friendly young man walked up to us and offered us a few suggestions. Although he said the bikes were fun, he recommended a pedicab ride instead with himself as our driver. He assured us this would be a much better way to learn about the park as he would act as tour guide and teach us all about the wonders of this New York landmark. I’ll admit that I wasn’t so sure at first (and we all felt a bit guilty having the poor guy lug us up and down the hills) but it turned out to be an unexpected highlight of our trip. If you are in the city, you’ve got to find our amazing tour guide Tao (he was outside the Plaza Hotel at the 5th Avenue entrance of the park). He was the most lovely fellow and gave us a wonderful, funny and informative tour that was well worth the $90 price tag.

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7. New York Style Pizza– although I generally don’t eat much cheese, no trip to New York City would be complete without a slice of NY-style pizza  and we snuck in a couple of slices at different spots this time around. On our last trip to the city, we trekked down to Lombardi’s for some of the most amazing pizza I’ve ever tasted. This time we grabbed a slice in Soho which was good but a bit oily for our taste and later in the weekend we stayed closer to our hotel and went to John’s Pizzeria for a much crisper and delicious pie. I learned that most New Yorkers fold their thin-crust style pizza in half to make it more manageable – I wish we’d know that before we dripped sauce all over ourselves!

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8.  Cocktails at Rockafeller Plaza– Just being in Rockefeller Center is impressive enough – I’m always blown away by the 30 Rock building, the flags, the stores and the people watching. But set beneath the center of the plaza is a charming little café that was calling to my mother and I after 3 long days of shopping. While my fearless sister pressed on, my mom and I settled in for a well-deserved cocktail (I had a mojito and she had sangria) and the most delicious nachos and fresh guacamole. The perfect spot to put your feet up and watch the hustle and bustle of the city.

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Of course there are countless wonderful things to do in New York City and this is only the tip of the iceberg. We didn’t get to fit in a Broadway Show, ride the Hop-On-Hop-Off Bus, visit the 9/11 Memorial site, cross the Brooklyn Bridge, enjoy the ferry to the Statue of Liberty, shop at the crazy and fun Century 21, walk on the historic High Line, experience a swishy cocktail in a fancy night club or take the lift to the top of the Empire State Building this time around among other things on our to-do list. I’m also convinced you could live in that city for a year or more and go out to dine every day and never eat at the same place twice. Talk about fun!

I personally can’t wait for my next visit to NYC. And just in case someone near and dear to me is thinking of maybe booking a trip for me for my next big birthday (hint, hint) – I’m always ready to take a bite out of the Big Apple!

Happy Birthday Jodi!

*** P.S. If you are planning to go to NYC with your children, I’d highly recommend The American Girl Store for “tea” and shopping, the Lego Store in Rockefeller Center, FAO Schartz, Toys R Us in Times Square (you gotta ride the ferris wheel!),  the M & M Store in Times Square, Central Park, The Museum of Natural History and a kid-friendly Broadway Show.

Fabulous Style Advice from An Expert

Do you know one of those women who always looks put together and stylish at every occasion – even picking up her kids from school? Hair gorgeously styled, nice fitting clothes, shoes and jewelry to match and it all looks effortlessly beautiful? I am decidedly NOT one of those women. I’m the one staring at that woman in my Lulu pants and a schlumpy sweatshirt with my hair in a ponytail. The good news is I just got off the phone with the folks at the Guinness Book of World Records and I’m in the running for “Yoga Pants Worn on Most Consecutive Days” so that’s exciting!

My friend Deborah Boland is a style expert and definitely one of those fashion plates. She is a mom of three, a television producer, the publisher of Fabulous After 40 and a beautiful person inside and out. Deb agreed to chat with me about the importance of fashion and style and how to stay current without breaking the bank.

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You can read our interview below to learn how some small changes can have a huge impact on how you look and how you feel about yourself.
(please note that most of the clothing pictures are Fabulous After 40 “What to Wear for Spring Contest” entries)

Lori: I want to be comfortable but I always seem to default to yoga pants or sweats- what’s a comfortable but more stylish alternative?

Deb: In all honesty I don’t think there’s anything more comfortable than yoga pants (LOL) but you wouldn’t wear p.j.’s to the mall. Yoga pants are a close second.

A great stylish alternative for what to wear when running around town in is colored jeans. The best ones are lightweight, stretchy and  comfy. Colored Jeans look modern and hip. Pair them with a neutral colored blouse or top (so you look less loud and more chic), some ballet flats or low wedges, and a cute jacket, and you have a great casual look that’s also very practical and versatile.

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Lori: How can I stay fashionable on a budget?

Deb: It’s all about planning your wardrobe. You know what happens when you go grocery shopping without a list. You end up with all kinds of goodies that aren’t good for you at all. Same with shopping for clothes. When you are not focused on what you need you end up falling into the “ shiny object syndrome”. You buy whatever is bright, fun, new or cool…. or on sale at a fantastically reduced price (even though you never end up wearing it.)

If you want to be fashionable without going into debt  plan out one or two main classic items per season you are willing to spend money on and build a good basic wardrobe slowly. You can make smaller less expensive purchases in-between to fill in the gaps. For example, splurge on a great colored jacket that you will wear with everything and have for many years, but skimp on that color blocked lime green and pink striped top that may be out of fashion next spring.

Lori: Is it important to stay on top of current fashion trends?

Deb: Yes, it’s important to follow trends to look modern, hip and youthful but don’t be slave to trends. Fashion is like a buffet. You don’t have to load up with everything on the table. Pick and choose which trends work for you. It’s o.k. to take a pass if it’s not right for you.

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Lori: What are your best tips for accommodating a woman’s aging/changing body?

Deb: Don’t look at size tags. Wear clothes that fit. As we age our bodies get softer and rounder. Too many women try to cover up weight issues with baggy clothing. Baggy clothing doesn’t fool anyone. It just makes you look fat and frumpy. Choose quality clothes that skim your silhouette (not cling to it) and pick clothes that are well constructed to give you shape. A jacket with a good strong shoulder  that nips in at the waist will camouflage a lot of midlife problems.

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Lori: Are there particular stores that you can recommend where I can find age-appropriate, stylish and reasonably priced clothes?

Deb: This is tough because so many store are either old lady or teeny bopper. I think Banana Republic strikes a great balance between price, quality and age appropriateness. I also like Michael Kors, which is on the higher side and BCG for their brilliant use of color. Brands like Calvin Klein, Jones new York, Ralph Lauren, Not Your Daughter’s Jeans and several other at The Bay are good quality, moderately priced and often on sale!

Lori: If you aren’t happy with your current wardrobe – where do you start if you want to make some changes?

Deb: Clean out your closet. Be brutally honest. Get rid of the things that take up space that you never wear, no matter how hard it. You can’t make way for the new unless you get rid of the old.

Then take an inventory of what you need. Research what’s in style. Make a list and shop when you are in a focused positive mood.

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Lori: Are there ways to jazz up my current wardrobe without chucking it all in the trash?

Deb: That’s a hard question to answer because it depends on the state and age of your wardrobe. But in general – two things-

1. Play with your clothes- look at magazines and see how outfits are being put together. Create outfits with what you have and try them on to see if they work. Often women have lots of clothes but they aren’t wearing them (they wear the same things over and over), or they are not combining items in a modern way.

2. Wear more color- Women, especially after 40, are notorious for falling into the all black rut. I call it ABD or Abundant Black Disorder – that compulsion to buy and wear black, black, black. Color  is energy and energy is life. Wearing color will make you look healthy, happy and youthful. Wear more color and add more color to your wardrobe.

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Lori: Tell me about your newsletter and the services you offer.

Deb: I am the publisher of Fabulous After 40– an online fashion magazine and style community for women 40, 50 and beyond. If you have fallen off the style track and need help to dump the frump I help you Tweak Your Chic®. Visit http://www.fabulousafter40.com and pick up a copy of my FREE special report 5 Massive Fashion Mistakes That Make You Look Too Old Or Too Young and How To Get It Just Right.

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Lori: Can you think of anything else that would be good to share? 

Deb: I think that’s it except to say that when you look good you feel good and life is so much more fun. As I always say, “Life is Too Short to Be Frumpy.”

Thanks so much Deb! On a personal note, I have learned that feeling good is not just about what I put in my mouth but also how I present myself. Taking the time to think about my clothing choices and wearing more flattering pieces makes me feel more beautiful, stand a little taller and walk with more confidence in the world.

Am I going to throw out my sweat pants? Not a chance! But I am certainly going to make more of an effort to pull together clothes that highlight the radiance and health that I feel on the inside. Coloured jeans here I come!

Dear Mum

Every week I learn something new and interesting from doctor and writer Yoni Freedhoff. His blog “Weighty Matters” always make me think, challenges my beliefs and forces me to question conventional practices in the fields of health, diet and medicine.

This past weekend he included a link in his post to an article written by Kasey Edwards that I literally cannot stop thinking about. This piece is part of a book called “Dear Mum“- a collection of letters from Australian athletes, musicians, models, cooks and authors communicating what they would like to say to their mother’s before it’s too late, or would have said if only they’d had the chance. The book is published by Random House and all royalties go to the National Breast Cancer Foundation.

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Far too often, I hear even my fittest and thinnest girlfriends complaining about their weight and their appearance. What we sometimes forget when we complain about our “fat ass” or refuse a piece of birthday cake at a party because we are “watching our weight” or drink a protein shake for dinner because we need to “cut down” or refuse to go swimming because we don’t want to “be seen in a bathing suit” or work out obsessively to lose “that last 10 pounds”- is that our children are watching and listening. Our daughters, granddaughters and nieces are taking notes from us- their most important role models – about what it means to be a woman in today’s society.

Every girl, woman, mother, grandmother, daughter, sister, aunt, cousin and friend needs to read this brilliant article. Even if you can’t 100% relate to Kasey’s letter, I’m willing to bet you’ll learn something about yourself by the time you’re finished reading:

WHEN YOUR MOTHER SAYS SHE’S FAT      

BY: Kasey Edwards

Dear Mum,  

I was seven when I discovered that you were fat, ugly and horrible. Up until that point I had believed that you were beautiful – in every sense of the word. I remember flicking through old photo albums and staring at pictures of you standing on the deck of a boat. Your white strapless bathing suit looked so glamorous, just like a movie star. Whenever I had the chance I’d pull out that wondrous white bathing suit hidden in your bottom drawer and imagine a time when I’d be big enough to wear it; when I’d be like you.  

But all of that changed when, one night, we were dressed up for a party and you said to me, ”Look at you, so thin, beautiful and lovely. And look at me, fat, ugly and horrible.”  

At first I didn’t understand what you meant.  

”You’re not fat,” I said earnestly and innocently, and you replied, ”Yes I am, darling. I’ve always been fat; even as a child.”  

In the days that followed I had some painful revelations that have shaped my whole life. I learned that:  

1. You must be fat because mothers don’t lie. 2. Fat is ugly and horrible. 3. When I grow up I’ll look like you and therefore I will be fat, ugly and horrible too.  

 Years later, I looked back on this conversation and the hundreds that followed and cursed you for feeling so unattractive, insecure and unworthy. Because, as my first and most influential role model, you taught me to believe the same thing about myself.  

With every grimace at your reflection in the mirror, every new wonder diet that was going to change your life, and every guilty spoon of ”Oh-I-really-shouldn’t”, I learned that women must be thin to be valid and worthy. Girls must go without because their greatest contribution to the world is their physical beauty.  

Just like you, I have spent my whole life feeling fat. When did fat become a feeling anyway? And because I believed I was fat, I knew I was no good.  

But now that I am older, and a mother myself, I know that blaming you for my body hatred is unhelpful and unfair. I now understand that you too are a product of a long and rich lineage of women who were taught to loathe themselves.  

Look at the example Nanna set for you. Despite being what could only be described as famine-victim chic, she dieted every day of her life until the day she died at 79 years of age. She used to put on make-up to walk to the letterbox for fear that somebody might see her unpainted face.  

I remember her ”compassionate” response when you announced that Dad had left you for another woman. Her first comment was, ”I don’t understand why he’d leave you. You look after yourself, you wear lipstick. You’re overweight – but not that much.”  

Before Dad left, he provided no balm for your body-image torment either.  

”Jesus, Jan,” I overheard him say to you. ”It’s not that hard. Energy in versus energy out. If you want to lose weight you just have to eat less.”  

That night at dinner I watched you implement Dad’s ”Energy In, Energy Out: Jesus, Jan, Just Eat Less” weight-loss cure. You served up chow mein for dinner. (Remember how in 1980s Australian suburbia, a combination of mince, cabbage, and soy sauce was considered the height of exotic gourmet?) Everyone else’s food was on a dinner plate except yours. You served your chow mein on a tiny bread-and-butter plate.  

As you sat in front of that pathetic scoop of mince, silent tears streamed down your face. I said nothing. Not even when your shoulders started heaving from your distress. We all ate our dinner in silence. Nobody comforted you. Nobody told you to stop being ridiculous and get a proper plate. Nobody told you that you were already loved and already good enough. Your achievements and your worth – as a teacher of children with special needs and a devoted mother of three of your own – paled into insignificance when compared with the centimetres you couldn’t lose from your waist.  

It broke my heart to witness your despair and I’m sorry that I didn’t rush to your defence. I’d already learned that it was your fault that you were fat. I’d even heard Dad describe losing weight as a ”simple” process – yet one that you still couldn’t come to grips with. The lesson: you didn’t deserve any food and you certainly didn’t deserve any sympathy.  

But I was wrong, Mum. Now I understand what it’s like to grow up in a society that tells women that their beauty matters most, and at the same time defines a standard of beauty that is perpetually out of our reach. I also know the pain of internalizing these messages. We have become our own jailers and we inflict our own punishments for failing to measure up. No one is crueller to us than we are to ourselves.  

But this madness has to stop, Mum. It stops with you, it stops with me and it stops now. We deserve better – better than to have our days brought to ruin by bad body thoughts, wishing we were otherwise.  

And it’s not just about you and me any more. It’s also about Violet. Your granddaughter is only 3 and I do not want body hatred to take root inside her and strangle her happiness, her confidence and her potential. I don’t want Violet to believe that her beauty is her most important asset; that it will define her worth in the world. When Violet looks to us to learn how to be a woman, we need to be the best role models we can. We need to show her with our words and our actions that women are good enough just the way they are. And for her to believe us, we need to believe it ourselves.  

The older we get, the more loved ones we lose to accidents and illness. Their passing is always tragic and far too soon. I sometimes think about what these friends – and the people who love them – wouldn’t give for more time in a body that was healthy. A body that would allow them to live just a little longer. The size of that body’s thighs or the lines on its face wouldn’t matter. It would be alive and therefore it would be perfect.  

Your body is perfect too. It allows you to disarm a room with your smile and infect everyone with your laugh. It gives you arms to wrap around Violet and squeeze her until she giggles. Every moment we spend worrying about our physical ”flaws” is a moment wasted, a precious slice of life that we will never get back.  

Let us honour and respect our bodies for what they do instead of despising them for how they appear. Focus on living healthy and active lives, let our weight fall where it may, and consign our body hatred in the past where it belongs. When I looked at that photo of you in the white bathing suit all those years ago, my innocent young eyes saw the truth. I saw unconditional love, beauty and wisdom. I saw my Mum.  

Love, Kasey xx  

Love and Fear….and a Baby Ben Update!

My good friend Leslie is a life coach and I have had the pleasure of doing some work with her. One of the most profound lessons I have learned from her was that at the most fundamental level in any given moment and in any situation I can respond with only 2 things – fear or love. That’s it. Underneath all of our wild and crazy emotions, thoughts, decisions and reactions…..just those 2 simple choices.

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I can make my decisions as a parent based on fear (oh my gosh my 12-year old son is texting his girlfriend – I have to read all of his texts and ban that freakin’ ipod!) or based on love (I trust my son and respect his privacy and we can maintain a mutually respectful relationship if I give him some independence and he shows me he can handle it). I can make changes in my life based on fear (I have got to sign up for more exercise classes and work harder because I’m not skinny enough and I’m going to have to squeeze myself into a bathing suit soon) or based on love (this body gave me 3 beautiful children and I am going to embrace my curves and exercise doing things I enjoy to improve my overall health and wellbeing). And I can move forward in the world focusing on the fear (war, crime, poverty, hatred) or the love (philanthropy, compassion, charity, family, laughter).

I know, I know it’s easier said then done. And I’m certainly not going through life with rose-colored glasses on (or a bikini for that matter) thinking that bad things will never happen. But here’s the thing – there is a ton of negativity and fear-mongering coming at us all the time. And we have a choice to make: do we believe that life is scary and frightening or loving and supportive? Will we constantly focus on the stuff that scares the hell out of us or redirect ourselves to face the positive things that are also right in front of us waiting to be acknowledged?

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Bottom line– you cannot love and fear at the same time. These two states of being cannot exist in the same space. You have to let go of one or the other. So for me, that means I purposely set my intention to come at things from a loving perspective as often as possible. I offer up green smoothies in the morning as an energizing and healthy way to start the day vs a dreaded mandatory drink to keep my family from getting sick. I keep open lines of communication with my children and I am willing to admit my mistakes vs always telling them what to do and acting invulnerable. I workout to feel strong, flexible and powerful vs frantically chasing a warped ideal of the perfect skinny body. I offer my time and energy to help and volunteer when I can vs sitting at home and bemoaning the state of the world. And at the end of the day, even though I thoroughly muck things up on a regular basis, I just keep reminding myself to come back to a loving place.

AND speaking of LOVE – I have some of the most wonderful and amazing news to share. Back in February, I posted an article on my friends Bill and Susie and their baby boy Ben who was born at just 24 weeks gestation and 1 pound. Well guess who finally came home this past Monday?! Weighing in just over 7 pounds, after 125 days in the NICU, Benjamin Finley is enjoying life from the comfort of his own crib surrounded by his parents and big brother Liam. I am sure there were many, many fearful moments for this family, but every communication they sent out over the past 4+ months was focused on the love they felt for this beautiful little fighter and the love and support they received from doctors, nurses, family and friends. Congratulations on the next step forward in your journey Coy family- you are an inspiration. Welcome home baby Ben!

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3 Powerful Life Lessons from Yoga Class

I  am over halfway through my 30-day yoga challenge and I have thoroughly enjoyed the experience. Oh sure, some days I am so sore that I feel like I need a hoist to haul my butt out of bed and I’ve had my fair share of missteps along the way (crow pose gone wrong = landing solidly on my head) but for the most part it’s been an enlightening journey.

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This past week, one of the lovely yoga teachers at my studio stayed after class to chat with me for a bit and she imparted 3 wise lessons that I think can be applied not only to yoga but to life as well. I was so impacted by her words that I shared them with my husband and children and I thought I’d share them with you too:

1. I Am Flexible– I’ve taken a few classes from this particular teacher and she had heard me say “I’m not a naturally flexible person” a couple of times. She told me that she is a big believer in the power of the mind and the laws of attraction and if I put the message out to the universe that I’m not flexible – I will continue to struggle with my flexibility. Instead, she gently encouraged me to reframe my image of myself as someone who is leaning into my natural flexibility and growing and becoming more limber and pliable every day.

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This really got me thinking about how often I maintain an image of myself that is holding me back from my potential. Do you do it too? We tell ourselves – “I’m fat, I’m bad with money, I’m stressed, I’m out of shape, I’m unworthy, I’m not smart enough” and then those things become true for us. Even our children are already deciding things about themselves based on their perceptions and things they have been told by parents, family members and friends. The amazing thing is that by noticing and then reframing these thoughts (because they are only thoughts after all), we can create a different and more positive reality.

2. Visualize the Move Before You Make it– have you ever tried to do a reverse jump into an aerial yoga silk using just your arms? Not easy! Or attempted an arm bind while in pyramid pose? My hands don’t even touch! But my teacher suggested that I visualize myself making these moves successfully in my mind before I do them and this mind-body connection will speed up my success with the more challenging postures.

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I love this because visualization is such a powerful tool. My oldest son adores soccer and he will often take the time to see himself scoring goals in an upcoming game before he hits the field. I like closing my eyes and visualizing future successes (like landing a huge voice-over gig), making vision boards with pictures of my goals (my kids love making these too) and even using downloaded guided visualizations from iTunes (try this one).

3. Learn From instead of Comparing To– I frequently find myself studying my fellow yogis during class and I am blown away by their strength and flexibility. Immediately I start telling myself “I suck at this move, I’m so inflexible, I wish I could do it more like them, etc, etc.” My teacher reassured me that everyone falls victim to these comparisons but suggested that I catch myself when these thoughts bubble up and to instead take the opportunity to appreciate that person and to learn and improve my own practice by making slight adjustments to my postures as I work towards their level of skill.

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I also often make these comparisons in my everyday life. “She’s a better cook than me, they are so much more organized, she is so much fitter than me” and these thoughts can be crippling. Instead of comparing, I am going to take the time to appreciate that person for their talents and then think about what I could learn from them that I could possibly incorporate into my own life.

One of the most important things I’ve gleaned from my yoga practice is to be more gentle with myself. I am far from the uber-elastic yogi that I aspire to be and that’s ok. I am now working towards my goal by leaning into my highly impressive natural flexibility, visualizing my eventual head stand and learning from my fellow students. Thank you to  all of my teachers and especially to Jennie!

10 Gift Ideas for Mother’s Day

As we head into Mother’s Day weekend, I thought this would be a good time to share some of my favourite things as inspiration for those of you looking to pamper yourself or someone you love. These are my go-to products, special indulgences and ideal gifts. My sister and I will be treating our mom to a gift certificate at one of the best stores on the planet – Joelle’s here in Burlington, Ontario – but just in case you don’t live in the area, here are a few other suggestions:

1. Prosecco – my husband and I had the pleasure of travelling to Italy in 2012. There are many things I took away from that trip and one thing that really stuck was a love of Prosecco. I’ve seriously got my entire family drinking this wonderfully bubbly stuff and most Friday nights you’ll find us cracking a chilled bottle, ordering in some takeout and trying to have a conversation while 6 children and 2 dogs run around us laughing, screaming and barking. Yes it’s chaos but the Prosecco takes me right back to a café in Florence. Ahhhh….

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2. Dr. Bronner’s Rose Bar SoapDr. Bronner’s is the gold standard in organic body care and I absolutely love this gentle and lightly scented bar. It comes in a wide range of fragrances but the rose is my favourite.

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3. Shredded Rubber Pillow – a good pillow is hard to come by and far too often commercially made pillows are full of synthetic ingredients and harsh chemicals (ahem…dad- off-gassing a pillow outdoors for 72 hours…yeesh!) My husband and I swear by these comfie organic shredded rubber pillows. I ordered ours online from Grassroots Store in Toronto.

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4. Pacifica Lilac Solid Perfume -just because I wear all-natural deodorant and steer clear of synthetic perfumes doesn’t mean I don’t want to smell like a flower. Pacifica has a great line of solid and roll-on fragrances that are made with organic soy and coconut oil and contain natural essential oils. They come in a wide range of scents that aren’t overpowering or obnoxious and they also have a beautiful line of scented soy candles that I adore.

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5. Ortho Adapt Vegan – it may seem odd to include a supplement on my list but this is a fairly expensive but totally amazing product. Ortho Adapt is a high-quality adaptogenic formula that supports the body’s ability to respond to stress with balanced, proactive energy rather than alarm or exhaustion. Stress? What stress?

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6. Yoga Classes – I recently signed on for a 30-day yoga challenge and it has reminded me how important it is to take some quiet time on my mat. Yoga offers incredible physical, mental and spiritual benefits and allows me to make time for my body and my mind. I am a big fan of Be Yoga but there are countless studios to choose from.

mothers day - yoga

7. Gift from the Sea by Anne Morrow Lindberg – originally published in 1955, this beautiful book written by an aviator, author and busy mother of 5, contains Anne Morrow Lindberg’s insights and reflections on life as she takes a brief solitary vacation by the sea. I learned so much about motherhood, marriage, contentment and solitude the first time I read this book that I try to reread it every year.

mothers da - gift from the sea

8. Pangea Organics Japanese Matcha Tea with Acai and Goji Berry Mask – every single product that I have ever purchased from Pangea has been amazing so it was tough to narrow it down to just one but I gotta say this mask is pretty darn spectacular. It tones, moisturizes, exfoliates, deep-cleans, de-toxifies and reduces fine lines. Who could ask for anything more?

mothers day - mask 2

9. Victoria’s Secret Bra – I am a fairly busty girl and I need a decent bra to wrangle my girls into position. The Body by Victoria Perfect Coverage does the trick and it looks nice to boot! Ladies – I would recommend taking the time to get one of the lovely women at Victoria’s Secret to properly fit you for a bra on your next visit. You might be surprised how your boobs may have changed and/or shifted over the years and you might need a new size. And while you’re there -why not grab some matching panties to go with your new bra to make you feel beautiful under your clothes.

mothers day - bra

10. Family Photos– this year I am getting the best Mother’s Day gift of all – photos of my 3 beautiful children. We are fortunate to have a very special photographer here in Burlington who takes the most stunning family pictures I have ever seen. Amy Montgomery has done 2 photo shoots for our gang and with a smile on her face she undertakes the herculean task of wrangling 6 children (my 3 and my sister’s 3) into a variety of casual poses and then turns out a gallery of pics that literally takes my breath away. This is a gift that I will enjoy for years. Check out one of the shots of my 2 boys below to see a small sample of her work-

cal and kaden

Happy Mother’s Day to all of you moms and special wishes to my own mom who is beautiful, strong, supportive and the #1 commenter on my blog!

And thank you to my friend Jen who sent me this short video highlighting what women REALLY want on Mother’s Day. Guys – take notes:

How I Look

I recently had some new headshots taken. I’d last had them done way back in the 90’s and even though in my mind I’m fairly sure I still look 20 – realistically I knew it was long past time for an update. It was a fantastic experience complete with a makeup artist and a well-known photographer in Toronto. I was thoroughly pampered and entertained during my half day session and I loved the easy and thought-provoking conversations that flowed between Helen (photographer), Cathy Ann (makeup artist) and myself. They are both beautiful and interesting women and it was a pleasure to spend time with them. I was nervous about how the pics would turn out but I decided to surrender to the experience and let the experts take charge of the situation.

A week after my session I received a link to all of my photos. I put the toddler down for a nap, poured myself a cup of tea, steeled my courage and opened the link. And it was hard. Really hard. At first glance, I hated every one of the 100+ pictures that stared back at me. “I look  chubby” I immediately thought, “and old and unattractive”. I’m not proud of myself but those were the things that immediately sprang to my mind. I was upset and that led to me being grumpy and out of sorts with my husband and my kids for the rest of the day. And I didn’t tell a soul – I just wasn’t ready to share yet.

A few days later I had the opportunity to talk with my sister in private. I told her about how I was feeling and she listened and sympathized. I agreed to send her a couple of the shots in return for  her honest opinion (and trust me, I know she’ll always give it).

Her response  came back almost immediately-  “Not a word of a lie….my gut reaction was beautiful.” So I decided to look again. And again. And again. And after a quite some time spent looking, I started to sort of like a few of them and to appreciate small things like the maturity and wisdom in my 41 year old face.

LW197

I stumbled upon this video recently and it made me think about my experience with the pictures and how we view ourselves. About how hard  we are on ourselves and how we can unknowingly pass along our insecurities and obsessiveness to our children. This 4 minute video brought tears to my eyes and made me realize that I am much harder on myself than anyone else ever could be. Are you? Have a watch.

(email followers you may have to go to my site at www.lorileighwilson.com to view the video)