How to start the New Year gracefully – the Essential Guide

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Too often, we rush through our next year goals without too many thoughts, probably because we know that probably by Valentine’s Day our good intentions will be out the window. Going back to the gym, losing five pounds, or being more patient with the kids is not enough to make us tick. We need more. That is when starting the New Year gracefully comes into play.

If you were like me, the last few days off before Christmas Eve were spent finishing up some action items on my list.

Some of you may have experienced:

  •  Last minute gift buying or making;
  • Cleaning the house to be ready for guests;
  • Doing anything that if food related  on time for the celebration: menu planning, grocery shopping and cooking;
  •  Packing and traveling to join family or friends.

If you are lucky, you may have had a few days in between the two holidays to recuperate. If you are not like me, a mompreneur, then, chances are you need to show up at work. Then, New Year’s Eve comes and you realized you had no time to ponder about last year’s accomplishments let alone dream about the year to come!

While at a fun family retreat in the snow for few days, I was finally able to plunge, at night, in the inner work I was craving for. Now instead of feeling erratic about trying to work on goal planning here and there, I took the time to really envision how I wanted to do it.

But why did I mention doing it with grace? First we need to agree on a definition. If you look at the definition of graceful in the Merriam-Webster online dictionary, graceful is defined as:  displaying grace in form or action: pleasing or attractive in line, proportion, or movement.  To me, a graceful movement is slow, well thought of, and adds beauty and emotions.

I will use my weekly posts for all of January to share with you my process. This will give us time to work on one phase each week, should you want to experiment alongside with me. I  am welcoming you to share with me as well your thoughts, suggestions and questions as we are all navigating  together in planning to make 2013 our best year ever.


We have a choice: whether we are fast paced and we might not fulfill our dreams or we take our time and do something meaningful and long lasting. I choose the later. After many years of writing goals, I knew that this year was different. I needed to reinvent my goal making process. I read a lot about what others had to say about this subject and decided to experiment to make it be something that makes sense with whom I become. It takes longer to go through it but it is worth the excitement it creates in me when looking at what is ahead. Because it is longer, I need to take it slowly so as to have time to integrate my thoughts to each part of it. This is the foundation for a great year. Goal making is like tracing the map for your new venture. If you leave for your trip without knowing where you are and where you want to go you will be wandering… and wondering where all these dreams went.

Well thought of

When we pace our work, we meet the necessity of something well done, as all meaningful work brings us closer to who we are. Remember that the destination is not all that matters. Enjoying the journey is even more crucial (more on this later). It is one thing to map out where you want to go but one should not forget the journey. What would be the point in life if it was only to go from point A to point B? What really makes us vibrant and alive is the experience we have during our travel. We can be so enthralled in our goal that we forget why in the first place this is where we wanted to go. What makes the mount Everest (whatever your mount Everest is)  quite a thrill is not to touch the tip of the mountain as much as the challenge of every step and all it encompasses: the physical, mental and emotional uneasiness and joy. That which you go through, makes who you are.

For this reason, we will divide the work in chunk as weeks go by. By the end of January, we will have a full 11 months to get the ball rolling and make it happens-FOR REAL.


Beauty is a necessity more than we can think of. Anyone had fallen in love with a piece of art, a performance, a song or a poem at some point of the other. Beauty makes this journey fun and inspiring. Find the artist in you and get out your color pencils, or crayons is that is all you have and make sure to keep them handy to add some color to your intentions, hence your life, during the process. Finding inspiring images, pictures or quotes to make a visualization board will help those of us who are visuals. An image is worth a thousand words….

You will also see how important the words you chose will be. An online dictionary or the good old paper version will be needed. Beauty and peace start in our thoughts, in our words and in our hearts. Precision is key here.


Let’s talk about the real deal. Resolutions usually don’t work as all we do is stating something and forgetting about it. Goals are what we are used to, but do they seem like fun? Inspiring? I tried so many years to state goals and if they are not connected with feelings, chances are we won’t go that far either. Goal setting is mostly a mechanical process where only the mind is involved. We are one, mind, body and soul, and cannot disconnect any of these parts. To really get to the destination while having some great fun during the trip, we need to pay attention to feelings and thoughts. Then good emotions will surface and makes you want to stick to your intentions all year long.

 Wordings and a few details

Have you notice I said intentions? Why is so? Goals are only focusing on the destination while intentions are what they say they are, an intent, which means they are not as rigid. When setting goals and not achieving them we either feel like a failure, guilty or find many excuses why it did not work. When you intend something, you give yourself some slack, acknowledging that life is full of surprises and that the only constant in life is CHANGE. What if during your traveling experience you got lost but found the most amazing place to stop by, and on top of that, you met great people that became friends? This was not part of your goal… Well should you beat yourself up for this happenstance? This is life and it will happen. I promise.

Setting intentions does not mean you are complacent about getting to your destination. It is a reminder that life happens and we need to be able to let go and allow ourselves some flexibility on our schedule. Once your intentions are set, based on the feelings you want in your life, then emotions will surge. Then the goals are somewhat related to have these feelings in your life as many times as possible. More on that later this month. Keep reading if you want to try out or learn about my experiment this month as we are getting clarity for 2013.

Week one: mapping where you are and where you want to go

This type of exercise is best done when you have some uninterrupted time on your own. Whatever your style is, wine cheese and crackers or coffee/tea and dark chocolate, make this enjoyable. This is your life after all!

First you need to describe your current life, not a rosy picture, not a dark one either. You need the plain truth. Be as descriptive as possible about all areas of your life. There are as many ways to divide them as there are people on earth, but mostly we can define these as:

  • Wealth (money, material goals, lifestyle and career);
  • Body (health, nutrition, exercise etc);
  • Mind (self development, education, hobbies);
  • Soul (religion, spirituality, mindful practices, inner self);
  • Connectedness (family, spouse or life partner, friends, nature, pets, strangers, the universe)

Make sure you also explain how you feel, your likes and dislikes and why.

Then redo the exercise by projecting yourself in the future. It helps to have a five year view, as what we dream of might not be achievable in a year, thus seeming unrealistic. Remember, there are no unrealistic dreams, only unrealistic time frames  Then, once this is done, it is easier to see how this could be broken down in one year intentions. But let’s wait! We want to take it slow because we are doing this with grace. We need to ponder about it, add beauty and emotions to it.

You can start capturing pictures of your dreamed life by categories either by clipping magazines or browsing on the web. Pinterest is very inspirational.   Cut them out and keep them on a file or copy and paste on a document and save it for now.

Don’t hesitate to connect with me with questions and comments. If you get stuck I am here to help!


The six forgotten gifts that make the best of this season

Posted by in Self-Care


While some may have parties after parties, our family holidays are sometimes really low key and cozy. Our families live far away and we sometimes visit them during the summer vacation. Hence, some holidays are spent amongst the four of us. You might think: ‘’this must be boring’’, but we like it just the way it is.  We are social beings, but too much of it, all at once, throw us off balance. The fact is: we’re homey. It is a good thing to like to stay home when you are a homesteader! Oh, and we are not addicted to shopping malls.  We could even say we’re allergic to them! When one keeps the noise away, the true gifts of life seem to shine out.

Homemade gifts

Did you give or receive a homemade gift this holiday? I received a few of these and was so pleased by them. What I realized is that these gifts are the ones that brought me to tears, thinking about the intention behind it and the time spent on creating something special, just for me. When you make some gifts yourself, you also learn about their values. Time is probably the most precious currency these days. So when someone decides to create from their heart, whatever the result, it means a lot. We started shifting our gift giving traditions for holidays and birthdays a while ago and it always evolve, depending on how busy our lives are. However, we always put emphasis on making at least one gift for each of our family member and we also give second hand on some occasions. Gift wrapping is not something we spend money on, either. We meticulously keep and reuse gift bags, all types of paper and make our own creation. We use yarn and fabric, the kids’ finger knitting, and clothe tags and transform them. All this fuss about the outside and after 30 seconds, it goes in the trash! So when we reuse and repurpose, we also give to the earth.

Experiential gifts

Last week, I told you about  my holiday wish list. I was thrilled to receive what I asked for: some family help to declutter and reorganize the house. Hubby and the kids gave me four hours of their time to help with whatever project I have in mind. In only one hour we did so much! I will also have a special date with my husband to eat spicy food, something I recently complained about when we eat homemade food: the kids don’t like it and so we forgo the hot peppers. I don’t know about you, and all the other parents out there, but sometimes, I still like to do things my way. As parents, we devote a lot of our time to make our children happy and provide what they need. One should not forget however, that happy parents make happy kids.

My kids also got a one on one date with one parent. This special attention is something they love! When we divert our money to put into experiential gifts, we have a smaller impact on the earth and most of the time we foster our local economy. These deeper connections we create make us stronger as a family and those cherished memories stay with us forever.

Limited screen time

To start with, we are not big on TV and media in general. The kids rarely sit in front of a screen. But both adults in the house use the computer daily for hours as this is our primary work tool. This is refreshing to stop the cell phone ring, to unplug and recharge ourselves rather than these devices. It is amazing to realize what one can accomplish when we are not hooked to any of these ‘’machines’’. What I found this last week is how much I miss this balance between mind and body. I can be in a productive mode and work all day long in front of my computer or tablet. Yet, when I take the time to stop long enough, I feel the need for….

Unstructured free time

This is something I strongly advocate for kids nowadays as they have their parents’ schedule to follow. If you add to that all the extracurricular activities, sports, practice, homework, etc. there is not that much time left to be a kid anymore. Most children have forgotten how to play. Adults too. I think we can all benefit from this hidden gift: when there is no schedule to follow, no goal to achieve, no deadline, we tend to do what we feel like doing at this very moment. This is called freedom and joy. We used our unstructured time to:

  • Play with new toys/use new gifts;
  • Reconnect with the land/nature/ourselves;
  • Doing what we like most;
  • Be creative and crafty;
  • To think about this last year and what is ahead.

Real connections

When we have more time on our hands, we can create more meaningful interactions with people and have real deep conversations. A while ago, farmers had a tough life, working hard most of the year. On the other hand, they followed nature cycles naturally and would go to bed earlier, rest and play, process their harvest, and plan ahead for the next season during the winter. This is the time when my grandfather would play music and sign with neighbors, as my mother told me. Because of all that technology provides us with, we no longer stop. When we stop and let go of planners and watches for a while, we can recreate that space to reacquaint ourselves with old friends and family, thus deepening relationships.

Heightened sensual experience and happy reminiscence

Yeah, you may have had another idea than the one I intend to talk about here…that is alright, this is probably part of the list of activities we have more time to do as well. But here is my point. Just yesterday, I went ice skating with another family and I was chatting with the dad about our childhood souvenirs while some music from the seventies and eighties was playing.  It made me thought about the family traditions and rituals I witnessed as a kid.

If you have kept some family traditions intact and reflect about their meaning, you might as well go back in time and remember some of your best childhood memories. It may sound funny, but I came to realized that as adults, we do not use our senses as much as children do. We shut them down; we are too busy to stop. The sad thing about this is that memories are easily triggered by our senses. How many of you can remember the smell of your favorite dinner, or your grandma’s perfume? How well could you described the texture and taste of melted ice cream in your mouth? How often do you stop to look at a sunset or sunrise in amazement with the beauty of the colors blending together? When have you listen to nature for the last time?

I did more of all of these in the last weeks than I did for a long time. It felt so good. We need to remember what it is to be alive. Life’s meaning has changed because we decided to attain goals and feel like we always need more, better, faster. If instead of trying to fill the void inside we are courageous enough to take a peak of what we have and who we really are, the gift we will long for will not be material. The holiday break away from my usual life reminded me of that.


Peace, Joy and Simplicity

Posted by in Self-Care


As I was pondering what to write this week with so many  ideas in my head and last week tragic event, I decided to  jump right onto the web site and let my  heart spill over with whatever will come up. This may be risky but emotionally this feels good to just letting things flow once in a while. I believe we all need to learn to be more vulnerable as this is when we show who we really are, without any masks. Once I look at the end result it sounded like my wish for this holiday season: I don’t need any material gift. I want to focus on Peace, Joy and Simplicity.

So here’s a random set of thoughts to feed your soul or maybe more mine, who knows?

– Even though it seems like everybody talked about the Connecticut event this week and it sadden me deeply when I heard about it, I do not want to dwell too much on the negativity. I rather use my energy to send heartfelt thoughts for all involved in the tragedy and see how I can bring more peace around me as I believe it starts at home and in our own community. My children attend a school with a no/low media culture and I am so grateful for that. Out of 32 children in my fourth grade daughter class, only one mentioned the tragedy to the teacher and I have not heard one word about it at school. Don’t get me wrong here: It is not that we do not care about what happened, quite the contrary: we care enough not to get the children scared or worried. At my children school assembly, where most grades perform in a holiday celebration, the principal was really diplomatic and just asked us all that in a time of such joy to stay silent for a minute and to remember about peace. We could feel that the energy in the room was intense.

– Last month, I learned that the child I sponsored for the last twelve years with World Vision, Guerlin, is no longer in the program. I knew this would come as he is a young man now, at age 23. He started school late and it was not easy for him so he is not done with high school. I was wondering what happened because I knew he was immensely grateful for what the sponsorship as brought into his life and for his family. So in my last letter to him, I asked what his reason for quitting was.  I received a letter a few days ago and found out that at a certain age, children are asked to leave their spot for younger children. I was in shock, angry and sad at the same time.

Today, I was returning a call for from the same organization as I also had a request to see the house we help them to build with our extra donations. I also took the opportunity to told the person on the phone that I did not like their “rules”. Supposedly, the family, World Vision and Guerlin were all involved in the decision. What I was not expecting though, was to be in tears while on the phone. I had not grieved my loss. How the truth or my understanding of the truth came to me made this worse. We were never told that the sponsorship was ending at a certain age. I felt it was so unfair to end our relationship like this without our mutual consent. I always had the hope I would go see him one day. Now I need to make PEACE in my heart.


– I started to work more lately and family life is busier because of that. I sure appreciate being in the workplace but I could not wait for the holiday weeks to come so we can spend more time as a family. At this time of year with rainfall that seems to never stop, we like to spend some time crafting around the holiday theme, make our gift and play board game by the fire.  Last weekend, my son decided to dress up as Santa. Children as such a joy to be around as they bring out the best in each of us. It seems like as adult we oftentimes celebrate less and I can surely say that I am more serious than I used to be. So this year I worked hard on having more fun and so far  I enjoyed it so much that I also wish for JOY to all as this bring good vibrations to ourselves and other s and when we re joyful, we attract more of what we want.

– I read more blog posts in the last six month than I did my entire life. I wanted to experience receiving them and see what others had to say about things that matters to me. It is a great work tool to understand how, among other things, my blogger peers use social media. What I was not prepared for however, was to be hooked on some of these posts I received in my email box. I read a lot more about minimalism and it changed my perspective on stuff once again. We made small adjustments in our family life and more than ever, I am looking for a clutter free house, a sanctuary, a respite from our busy day.  I like to be surrounded by order and beauty and cleanliness as I can concentrate of what matter at the moment. Working from home makes this need more relevant to me because it is easy to get distracted as a mompreneur,  when you see the ‘’other job’’ waiting for you. I said to my husband and children that all I really wanted from them was a gift of their time to help me work on decluttering and reorganizing the house. I need some new space to be dedicated for work and already had a pile of homesteader tasks left undone: seeds pods and nuts waiting to be hulled, tons of nuts a chest full of clothes  needing some repair,  and permaculture design to think about and fruit tree selection to create our orchard. All in all, I need  SIMPLICITY.  What  is your non material  holiday gift list? Share your idea with us!


The King’s oil, past and present

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As I was sitting in a church for my daughter holiday Ceremony of Carols, I felt my heart fluttering and my eyes filled with tears of joy. I was in awe with all these beautiful voices sharing the holiday spirit. It reminded me of the previous day, when I heard about the kings’ oils history. Some of you may know that I started working as a wellness advocate sharing and educating on  pure and therapeutic grade essential oils not so long ago.  I did learned and experienced a good deal since using these oils for almost a year now, but it never occurred to me to read about the oils’ history. So as the holiday approached, I thought it would be fun to investigate frankincense and myrrh and share my new knowledge with you today.

Everyone who is a little bit familiar with Christianity knows that the wise men gave frankincense and myrrh to the Christ alongside with gold. Both frankincense and myrrh are derived from the gummy sap that oozes out of the Boswellia and Commiphora trees, respectively, when their bark is cut. These resins are used in traditional Chinese medicine, Ayurveda and, of course, in aromatherapy.

Myrrh’ scientific name is commiphora myrraha. Historically, myrrh was used as incense in religious rituals and as a cure for cancer. It has many health properties. It is recognized to help support healthy  skin , oral health and is said to be uplifting.  Myrrh and frankincense were prized commodities in ancient time.

Arabia was the center of the lucrative spice trade route between 1000 and 400 BC. During that time frankincense was the biggest commodity, bringing great wealth to this county. In Europe, during the great Plague, houses and workplaces in London were fumigated daily and frankincense was among the aromatics used to fight the disease.

Frankincense essential oil is described from some as “God in a bottle”. When in doubt, use frankincense some say, as it is very versatile. It is an oil that blends with all oils, which is rare to find. I personally use it in conjunction with other oils as to enhance their benefits.  It is said to have a plethora of properties and uses and is an immune stimulant. This is why I add it to the bottom of my feet when dealing with winter seasonal threats.

Both oils can also affect our emotions, something we don’t necessarily think about when using oil aromatically. Emotionally, Myrrh Oil is grounding and helps to mellow out the emotions whereas frankincense helps to create emotional balance, Both are said to enhance spiritual awareness and meditation.  I invite you to try them before meditating, aromatically or topically on the bottom of your feet. With all these properties, no wonder why this was such a prized gift for this newborn called Jesus.  Hope you will appreciate these oils too! Let me know how you use them!


Why t’is te time to give… to yourself

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As I was working on my computer last night, I made a bad fall. Don’t ask me how it happened, I did not really had time to notice. All I remember is that my feet were tangled in my blanket (our house is not well isolated and I try to be mindful of our energy consumption) and I ended up on my sacrum. My husband came to the rescue as he heard this loud BOOM! Needless to say, today I have aches and pain on my back and my head pounds as I walk. So forget about being productive, so I told myself:  ‘’Let’s bundle up and work on my daily health rituals!’’

The best time is always now

If you are like me and most moms out there, you hardly put yourselves first. If you don’t do it, nobody will do it for you. Stopping to figure out how to rearrange my life and fit in some rituals is something I putted off for a long time. However, this time, life told me I had no more excuses. I think we should all take some time to find this much needed balance in our life, now. Why now? Because the best time to act upon it is always in the now. Who knows what tomorrow will bring? Chances are you may thank yourself for your early morning yoga practice because your boss decided to call a last minute meeting at 5pm, right when you usually go to the gym! Or when you will finally decide to take an evening off with your significant other, one of your kids is sick and you need to reschedule. Life is full of surprises, good or bad. So why wait for later when you can enjoy it now? For life’s sake, we are talking about something beneficial not painful!

Slowing down when everybody else is accelerating is your best antidote to getting sick

I can hear some says but why right before the holidays, when we are all trying to get a gazillion things  done fast so as to be merry with everybody else on D day? Because this is when we are the most under pressure and stressed out that we need some extra TLC. If you haven’t noticed, most people get sick with the change in weather and lots of social contacts. Then we all gather together to celebrate, touch and kiss each other, eat homemade food, hence share germs. On top of this we all went crazy, stressed out and skip a few hours of sleep here and there in order to finish everything on time. Some of us even need to travel to spend time with our family. With all this commotion, you need to stop before leaving for this party or the next and do something that will help you boost your immune system.

Because it feels good!

There is nothing logic about this reason. It is totally sensual. You can feel it in every cell when:

You soaked in a hot bath,

You had a good night of sleep,

You woke up with feelings of gratitude for your life,

You breathed that fresh crisp air when you took your morning walk,

You diffused essential oils at home or work and kept your mind sharp,

You felt nourished after that healthy homemade meal made with love.

The thing is, the better you feel physically, emotionally, mentally or spiritually the more presence and joy you can bring to whatever you do. So please, don’t wait until life hit you in the face to take some time off of your to do list. Start some pampering rituals today and this time, achieve something that will l make you feel good and rejuvenated daily.  I vote for that! What is your best health ritual? I invite you to share your trick with us to grow this list.