How the day after Thanksgiving made me stop and think

Posted by in Self-Care

This blog spot was previously written on MJ’s former blog site, on 11/24/2012

Around a decade ago, I first heard of Black Friday after reading about Buy Nothing Day. Being  Canadian, the Black Friday habit has not been ingrained in our family  since childhood and this is something I am really thankful for. I received a few Black Friday emails from some of the businesses I am following. My husband took advantage of the ‘’B’’ day, went online and bought something he really needed. Other than that, we just stayed home and had fun working on our backyard projects.

To me, Black Friday just spoiled all the good intention of celebrating Thanksgiving the day before, thanking the Earth for the bounty she offers us daily and then taking back our words with our behavior by spilling the planet to buy things we probably don’t need anyway.

The Thanksgiving weekend is about being grateful and spending time with loved ones. In our society we tend to be busy all the time. Those rare moments around holiday should not be felt as an extra pressure but rather a time to decompress and doing what matter most with whom we care about, not being stressed out!

That is why I strongly believe that we should also create a ‘’do nothing day’’: not only once a year but once a week. Remember what that Sunday was for?

These thoughts came to my mind as I just got a glimpse of ‘’doing too much in so little time’’, again, in the last few weeks. After being on a ten months journey with my yoga teacher training, I needed a time to step back. I wanted to reflect on how I wanted to serve other people with that new knowledge and work on building the business to be ready for the beginning of the new year. Instead, I jumped right in that other business project, after being offered a goal to achieve before 2012 ends. At my age, I should know better that I need transition time (we all do by the way, we just tend to forget about it!) to acknowledge what was, live the present moment and foreseeing what lies ahead.  I should have set my limits because when I do not, I work too many hours, go to bed well pass my bed time and get sick. Then, I don’t have energy to pursue anything and I don’t feel like I am walking the talk- working in the holistic health industry- if I cannot take care of myself.

Whatever happens in life, I find helpful to sit and reflect on why am I doing what I do

My personal ”why” is about financial freedom so I can spend time on our homestead, be with my family, guide people to take responsibility for their’s and Mother Nature’s health. If I don’t keep that in mind, I get out of balance really quickly because it does not resonate with who I am.

I am old ​and hopefully wise enough as well, to know what I want from life and what I don’t need. Unnecessary stress is something I need to get away from, this I know. I went out of balance many times before in my life and it might not be the last. Sometimes I have learned this the hard way. With these experiences in my toolbox now, I can rapidly detect when I am heading in the wrong direction. I knew it was too big of a leap for me, considering my need to transition and the importance I put on sharing time with my family. I am thankful for being reminded gently (and thanks to you Wendy for the serendipity) that stepping back give us the ability to jump further and run faster, if that is what I want.

How does that work for you? How do you recognize when you are out of balance? Do you need time to transition between milestones? How do you do it?


A different perspective on celebrating and embracing fall

Posted by in Self-Care

This blog spot was previously written on MJ’s former blog site, on 10/27/2012


When I think of fall in my hometown, Québec, an array of colors splashes into my brain just like the leaves do when they are weaned from the sun’s energy. Here in Northern California, from my own perspective, fall is not as spectacular. At that time of the year, I always have the blues, wishing I could just grab a plane ticket and fly home for a week to play in the colorful fallen leaves.

Most of the time, this dream does not become a reality and I need to find solace in what I have here and now. Here is how we can find ways to celebrate fall, wherever we are.

Observing without judgment. If we are quick about judging, then it means we have some ingrained notion about how things should be for us in order to be happy. If too attached to certain conditions or sequence of events, it becomes a mistaken notion, one of the obstacles that Patanjali talks about in his Yoga Sutras 1,30. So instead of judging which fall is best, Québec or California, I may rather name what is a fall in these two locations and just observe the differences. I can also remember the ‘’good old time’’ without staying under the impression that this is the only place where my mind should go.  When judgment comes in, it means they are related emotions attached to it. When you are detached, you can observe and solely naming thoughts become easy.

Enjoying  the elements. One thing that I come to appreciate in California is the value of rain. When you spend more than half of the year without significant rainfall you come to see the rain with new eyes. I am not bothered with rain anymore because I can appreciate its value. So when fall comes, I know the rain is near. Now that we rely on our well for water, the rain is priceless.

In Ayurveda, Vata is air and this dosha is related to fall. In Chinese medicine this time of the year is linked to the lungs. So go outside for a hike or just in your backyard and take some deep breaths and enjoy the crispness of the air.

Let go of…Whatever is in need of leaving your life: things, thoughts, and unhealthy habits or relationships. Like the leaves falling on the ground, this is a time to remove the superficial and keep the core intact, like trees do to survive in the winter. We are getting ready to winterize and going in. Removing extra distractions makes it easier.

Enjoying nature’s bounty mindfully: Harvesting and eating local, seasonal food is healthier for us and the planet: we all know that. Fall is the best time to reap the benefit of your hard work if you garden, or to connect with your local farmers if you don’t.

If you envision food to be more than just filling your body like a car needs fuel, then it will be easy for you to see the relationship you are maintaining with nature while eating mindfully. We sometimes forget about the rituals accompanying certain food. Thanksgiving is the perfect occasion to remind ourselves about what matter most and being thankful for the abundance we have in our lives. I suggest eating warm, earthy food. Soup and stew are just what we need after spending some time outside in a colder season anyhow. Adding healthy oils to our diet help balancing our dosha at this time of year and may correct vata imbalance. Root vegetables abound so use them a lot! I like to braise root vegetables with olive oils and a mix of herbs and serve it on a bed of rice.

Whatever we do, living in the moment is the key, as dwelling too much on the past and thinking too hard about the future prevents us of enjoying life. This year, I am celebrating my California fall by enjoying the rain and harvesting nuts and fruits from all corners or our homestead.

What is your personal way to live and celebrate fall? Have you created your own rituals?


Prop 37: The Right to Know opponents and fear of letting go

Posted by in Self-Care

This blog spot was previously written on MJ’s former blog site, on 10/20/2012


As I was on my yoga mat this morning in a pigeon pose, my instructor mentioned something that strike with me. “Let go”, she said, “as we all know that resistance makes the journey more difficult”. So true, I thought to myself. On and off the mat, we encounter many situations where we need to decide whether we hold on or let go.

Then I got home and went on the computer to read my emails and received another one about Prop 37 aka the Right to Know campaign. I pretty much don’t get caught too much into politics because I don’t have the right to vote in the US. This does not mean I should not be interested and I admit that I could care a bit more. However, this one proposition, I am watching closely.  I believe in our right to have the truth about what is in our food. The campaign for the Right to Know is extremely important. We are expected   to take responsibility for our health and I do anything I can to be healthy. Our family eats organic most of the time even though it is more expensive and I am grateful we can afford it. I understand, however, that this might be difficult for some families on a tight budget.

With mandatory labeling on Genetically Engineered Food (GMO), everyone, without discrimination, can decide if they want GMO on their plates. That is huge to me. Conventional farmers receive subsidiaries to be profitable while organic farmers have more procedures to follow to prove they are doing what is right for humans and the planet. This is one of the reasons why organic food cost more. This is nonsense but let’s not go there today.

Let’s go back for a minute about the title of this blog. When I read how much money the No on Prop 37 camp is injecting- nearly a million dollars per day! –  to get their message out and how far they are ready to go to mislead the population about GMO labeling and the consequences, well, I can’t help but believe that their actions are based on fear. Then it seems to me that this group is atempting to pass on this fear to their audience so they vote NO. Fear like food price increase. We are talking here about adding a phrase on a label that says something like “Contains GMO”. What is the catch?  I think they are more worried with their own pocket than ours, to be quite honest. Big corporations spend so much on marketing already that this will not affect them this much anyhow.

Maybe it is not the labeling part they are scared of, but rather:

  • The consumers’ reactions to their branding and its integrity or lack thereof.
  • That they hid for so long what they were doing.
  • That it will cost them more to market their product in the US or at least California, to start with.
  • That they might also need to reformulate their product to meet consumers demand and it will affect their bottom lines.

The funny truth is that some of these companies are already labeling GMO to meet other countries regulations.

On our end, it means the freedom to act upon our values without breaking the bank. It means boycotting companies that have been playing cheap with our health for so long. It means taking charge of our health without being told lies.

If there is nothing wrong with GMO why those companies are fighting so hard against Prop 37? Fear of not being in control anymore. This is scary. When you feel like you need to crush your competitors, hide dirty secrets behind people‘s back, it means that we do not have clear conscience. That is the same for us as human being.

I strongly believe that great businesses are not necessarily the one who makes more money but rather those who have a sense of ethics and integrity. If these companies had their customers’ needs and wants in mind, they would let the campaign follow its course naturally, listen to the results and change their offering based on what the consumers request. For so long, United States companies could go with a lot of things because with this magnitude of  population even a bad product can make its way for a while and make some people rich. The recession has its good. Now companies have to sharpen their offerings to stay in business and it is not just about pushing and convincing that customer should (old marketing) buy but rather offering what they ask for. It’s as simple as that!

So what can we do about it?

  • Vote! Yes, that is.
  • Spread the word about the real facts.
  • Be a great example in your personal life to live the truth, not hide behind lies because of your fear. Live your truth every day even when this is hard.
  • Learn to let go and believe that life has greater plan for you and knows well what needs to happen and why.

If we trust that our path is the one we need to grow and blossom, if we feel in harmony and united with all there is on this planet, we sense neither competition nor threats.  This applies to businesses as well, big or small. What are your take on this subject? How can you relate about fear and letting go in your own life?


3 ways my son taught me how a simple backyard adventure can make you be grateful

Posted by in Self-Care

This blog spot was previously written on MJ’s former blog site, on 10/12/2012


While a few days ago I  felt like I could do anything, yesterday was quite different. My life has not changed overnight so there were no external reasons to blame my moods on. I don’t have these kinds of days too many times, so usually, I just hang in there and know that the next day will be a better one.  When one of these “black clouds” is over my head, I know that this is a good time to count blessings, and remember about these little things that we usually take for granted.

There are hidden treasures at our doorstep every day and we rarely take the time to acknowledge them. Children are, if we are open to listen to them, the best teachers in that matter. Follow me and Gabriel for a quick tour of our backyard.

  1.   Appreciate what you have

Instead of focusing your attention on what is missing, not perfect or just so ordinary, seek out to look at everything from another perspective, through the eyes of a child.  Get on all four if you need to! Stop whatever you are doing, bring your inner child with you and go outside for five minutes and look around.

In fact, do the opposite: close your eyes. Is there anything different that you can discover using your senses?  What do you hear? What can you smell? What kind of sensation do you feel on your skin? Try to guess and then open your eyes and follow the cues.

You may witness bees shoveling around to gather pollen and get totally lost there for quite a while. With a child mindset these simple and humble observations are quite fascinating!

If you have a garden and you are like me, days can pass by without any intervention. Just walking and trying to notice some changes is like an adventure in itself.

Life is a miracle and I am always in awe to see how a tiny seed, some sun, great soil, air and water can create the food I need to keep me energized, healthy and alive.


  1.    Share your bounty with your friends

When harvest time knocks at your door, you may have more than your share of the same vegetables or fruits. Sharing your abundance with your neighbor’s or swap some produce is a wonderful opportunity to connect with your community. When we give, we feel uplifted. There is no way to stay in a bad mood when you see someone else’s eyes light up at the sight of your offering.

Don’t forget that when we give, we also receive. As long as this comes from the heart, the feeling of gratefulness and abundance is yours. What a gift to yourself as well!


  1.    Change one habit and get a sense of adventure (without leaving home)

When we think about getting kids outdoor or in nature we often think we need to go somewhere, out there, away from home. I can understand the drag. Same apply here on our quest to be grateful. Being in nature is most of the time just a few steps away. When our time is crunched, just doing something usual in an unusual place might be just what you need to brighten your day. A few days ago, my son decided he was preparing lunch for us and made me a surprise: we were to eat outside. I was expecting the patio table and usual chairs. To my surprise, this was a little bit more rustic, but so much fun! And that is how our friends (aka our chickens) got to share the bounty on our leftover plate as soon as we left the table.

Young children have a sense of wonder that as adult we tend to lose by being so busy with our responsibilities. Nature has a lot to offer in terms of wonderment. That is why I think those two ingredients together, the eyes of a child and any green space can make you feel grateful for your life. I bet if you tried any of these ideas, the black cloud would leave you before you even realize it. What do you do to change your mood? Is grounding yourself in nature is something that works for you as well?