Creating my happy life on the other side of fear.

Thursday, 28 April 2016

Big skirt, tiny top



I'm currently sitting in my parent's kitchen, watching the morning dawn. I woke up at 5am, courtesy of jetlag, and I'm enjoying the peace and quiet of an awakening new day.
It's freezing cold here in Germany: Around 0°C at night, and only marginally warmer during the day. Crazy!
Luckily, I took these pictures before I left, on a balmy morning that turned into a wonderfully warm and sunny day. I'm more thankful than ever that I live in beautiful Canada!

Anyway, moving on to the skirt. I originally wanted to name this post "Hell froze over", because that's what I once said had to happen before I would wear a crop top.
Well, I'm eating my words now, which has happened before. Nothing goes as well with a big skirt than a crop top! I've seen the light, and I apologize for my short-sightedness before.
This is actually not a real crop top: I hiked this one up in the back and made a knot, because I didn't like it tugged into the skirt. I'm gonna buy a real one asap, because now that I have seen the light, I can't wait to wear more big skirts and tiny tops!




Skirt: SheIn
Top: old (similar)
Heels: old (similar)




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Monday, 25 April 2016

Tips for your yoga home practice


The yoga world can be intimidating. If looking at the bendy super-yogis who twist themselves in half when you can't even touch your feet makes you want to give up, don't - take a deep breath, and let me tell you a secret. 

They all started where you are right now. 
While some people are naturally more flexible than others, everybody had to start at the beginning. Yoga is not like a race with a start- and finish- line. It doesn't have a finish line. It's a practice, a commitment to yourself, and it isn't about doing poses perfectly at all. 
During your time on the mat, you connect with yourself, slow your racing mind down, and forget about what's troubling you. It's all about you. 
Learning some cool postures is just a great side-effect ;-)

I have been practicing yoga at home regularly for over a year now. Lately, a few people have asked me how I got started and what a typical practice looks like. I'd love to show you!

I always, always start with sun salutations to warm up my body. You can click here for a step-by-step guide (with pictures) that breaks down what a sun salutation is. "My" yoga teacher Kino is demonstrating it here:


2. YouTube Videos.
YouTube is my secret weapon. I haven't bought a single DVD or been to a yoga studio in the last year, because YouTube is wonderful. On some days I simply use it to have a certain pose explained to me. There are lots of 2- and 3-minute videos that are great for doing just that. On other days I will do longer videos. Two of my faves are below.

If you want to skip the talking and go straight to the workout, go to minute 4:44

If you want to go straight to the workout, go to minute 5:12


And a quickie for core strength (it's tough, but so good):


Here is a playlist of 8 videos that are part of Kino's yoga for beginners series: Yoga playlist.  


3. Instagram challenges.
Before I explain what they are, let me tell you that Instagram is the single-biggest reason why I started yoga, fell in love with it, and continue to show up on my mat at least 5 times a week. 
It provides me with the 3 magic ingredients to keep going:  
Accountability, community, and inspiration.  

As an introvert, the thought of  having to go out to a studio 5 times a week is daunting. Not only because of the cost (yoga classes are expensive), but also because knowing that I have to pack a bag, get into my car, drive the 15 or so minutes to get to the nearest studio, look for parking, go inside, small-talk ... exhausts me before I even get on the mat. Realistically, I know I wouldn't stick to it.
But I also know that my self-motivation isn't that great to do my practice faithfully all by myself day after day. 

That's where the Instagram yoga community comes in. It has been a total game changer for me, and I hope it will be for you, too. 

So what are yoga challenges?

Kino May yoga challenge
 This is a beginner one, perfect for you! What are you waiting for?
Follow the hosts Kino and Kerri and get your yoga on!


Yoga teachers from all around the world are hosting these now. Simply put, they post a picture of a yoga pose, and you try to copy it. So what's the big deal, I hear you ask?

Support. 
What I didn't expect when I did my very first challenge in March last year, was the level of support I would get. It blew me away, and still does. Other yogis comment, praise, help out, and motivate you to keep going. They keep me accountable in a very non-judgemental way: Nobody really cares if I show up or not, but I care. Plus, documenting my journey with photos has the benefit of seeing progress when you often don't feel it. 

These are my three very simple tips for my home practice. 

I realize that posting photos of yourself on social media isn't everyone's cup of tea. A yoga studio has the same benefits: It will keep you accountable, motivate you, and provide you with a community. 
The trick is figuring out what works for you, your personality and your life. 

If you're looking for more yoga resources, here are a few I recommend: 
Do You Yoga: An online yoga journal with tons of tips, videos, news, and inspiration. 
The Journey Junkie: My favourite yoga blogger Allie has lots of great tips and video tutorials. 
Laura Kasperzak: A badass super-yogi who can fly! Don't believe me? Click here

Meeting your teacher in person: Biggest motivation ever 


What are you waiting for? Get on the mat, and fall in love with yourself.
You can do it!

  



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Sunday, 24 April 2016

You are stronger than you think



I feel like I just emerged from a long, dark tunnel, blinking in the sudden brightness. 
The last ten days were - well, it's hard to put into words. Busy, sad, overwhelming, emotional, stressful, surprising, with good bits and love and heartbreak. It was a lot.

There was a reunion with a loved one I had lost touch with - and a death of another beloved family member just a few hours later.

There was work drama, but also beautiful heart-to-hearts and the feeling that "omg, this person gets me! - is this the beginning of a beautiful friendship?". (Best.feeling.EVER.)

There was a little collaboration that made me proud.

There was breathtakingly gorgeous weather that made everybody feel like we live in the south of France. 

There were lots of dishes, and splatters on the stove (my pet peeve, and I didn't make them, but had to clean them up anyway, grrr). 

There was an exam that scared the shit out of me, because despite what some people believe (Richard), studying isn't my thing. I can't retain book wisdom, I have a terrible short- and long-term memory (in short, a bad memory), and I'm always convinced that I will do badly. I don't just say it to get the "you will do fine!"s and "you're smart, you got this!"s - I seriously think I will fail. Maybe I have a rare form of examophobia?
To make it more interesting, I also worked every day leading up to it, with some added difficulty at work to keep me on my toes.

I had prepared myself for the possibility of failing this exam. I have done this many times before (examophobia, remember?), but back then I always envisioned the worst: doom and gloom, irreversible failure, the end of life as I knew it. 

This time, it was different.
I knew that I wasn't as well prepared as I would have liked. But I also knew one thing for damn sure: I wouldn't go down without a fight.
Life is complicated, full of twists and turns and unexpected surprises, but in the end, it's very simple:
You fight, or you don't. 

I chose to fight.
Every day, I got up two hours early to cram some study time in. Every day, I fully intended to do a few more hours after work. 

That didn't always happen. 

Life gets in the way, and there were days were I simply couldn't. I had no concentration left, and I simply couldn't force myself to do it. So I would drink a couple of glasses of wine instead, or watch a few episodes of The Big Bang Theory with my husband, or go to bed at 8:30pm. 

And the next day I would get up three hours early to study.

I'm on this journey of getting the hang of life by doing something I never did before: Listen to my body/mind/soul. Not forcing things, but going with the flow and letting life happen.

It works. It really works, you guys!

In the old days, I would have forced myself to stare at the books at night no matter what, becoming increasingly more frustrated in the process and invariably bursting into tears at some point.
I wouldn't retain anything, and feel panicky and stressed on top of it.

This time around I listened to my limits, and gave my body and mind the break they needed. By doing that, I was refreshed again the next morning to tackle the beast with renewed energy.

Yesterday morning I wrote the damn thing, and you know what? I gave it my all. I won't know the results for three weeks, but I feel good about it.

Once you decide to fight for what you want, you are more in control of your life. You may not always get the outcome you want (or think you want), but knowing that you did your best is an empowering feeling.
It makes you realize that you are much stronger than you think.

Because you know what?
We are all much stronger than we think.  






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Wednesday, 20 April 2016

Do good, feel good, look good



I love animals. A fact you may have guessed, since we live with about 500 of them :-)
They have pure souls, an ability to calm me down like nobody else can, and a lust for life that's contagious. Watch a flock of lambs running and jumping around on a sunny afternoon, and your bad mood will disappear. I guarantee it! It's impossible not to smile and feel uplifted. 

I also have a soft spot for elephants. One of our family traditions is watching the Discovery Channel after family dinners, and the beautiful shows often feature these majestic giants: Elephants.

When Preciousy contacted me and asked if I would like to introduce them on the blog, I didn't think twice about it.
They are a company that is passionate about the same things I am: Animals and fashion. They donate 5% from their profits to Save the Elephants, an organization that works tirelessly to save elephants from poaching and create and maintain a safe environment for them.

Preciousy came up with a great idea to help these beautiful animals: Offer unique, fun and affordable items and support elephants at the same time. It's a win/win!

I browsed their fantastic collection and assembled my 20 favourite pieces - all under $30!


For the home
Home decor


This holder is awesome: You can use it to drain your cutlery, for your toothbrush, to hold pens on your desk or as a flower pot - the possibilities are endless. 

If you want to add a pop of colour to your home, the easiest way is to add some colourful pillows. How about this beautiful elephant?

I'm actually going to order this curtain myself, because I'm smitten. How great is this beautiful guy?
If you click to the website, you can choose from different designs. There is also an elephant on the toilet ;-)

You can never have too many phone cases, can you? This one is unique and stylish.

This gorgeous oil painting comes in many different sizes, from 11.81" x 15.74" to 29.52" x 59.05".  


Jewellery
Elephant Jewellery


If you're a stud girl (this sounds wrong somehow, but you know what I mean, right?), these smiling elephants are perfect. They are about the size of my thumb nail. 

7. Delicate necklace: $16.86
This little elephant is so adorable! It comes with a chain that's 26" long, making it perfect for wearing over a simple white tee, or for layering with other necklaces (like this mom and baby necklace). 

8. Watch: $14.99
Hi baby! The watch strap comes in several colours: white, black, light turquoise and a bright shade of turquoise. Even if you don't usually wear a watch, this one is pretty enough to wear simply for its cuteness factor. 

Abstract elephant head necklace. The charm is small (0.5" x 0.4"), making it perfect for everyday wear. It comes in gold and silver.

10. Elephant wrap ring: $9.95
Those ears! They remind me a bit of my corgi. I can't resist big ears. 


Fashion
Elephant fashion


11. Summer shirt: $18.87
This fun tee is on my list for this summer. Can you see yourself wearing it for a pool party/barbecue? The colours are so summer-y, and the fit is flattering enough to hide the extra hot-dog (or two). 

12. Scarf: $24.99
Light-weight scarves are great accessories year-round. This one also comes in red.

13. Form-fitting dress: $29.99
I'm never sure about body-con dresses, but I have learnt that they are a lot more flattering than our judgemental minds led us to believe. A fun print like this elephant one is a great way to distract the eye from any (imagined or otherwise) lumps and bumps. I'm so tempted to order this dress!

Okay. If there has ever been a "Miriam"-dress, this is it. The cut, the colour, the print - this is exactly my style. Watch out for this one in an upcoming style post!

15. Loose cotton shirt: $18.99
Breezy, flowy, fun - the quintessential summer shirt.

Yoga
Yoga clothes


16. Leggings: $18.99
I have a wide-legged pair in the same colour that I bought last year. I adore this print as well.

17. Kimono: $24.99
The more I get into yoga, the more I become fond of the boho style. This kimono is lightweight and stylish, I love it!

18. Wide-legged high-waisted pants: $23.99
Ditto for wide-legged pants. So hippie-chic!

19. Sleeveless elephant-print shirt: $19.85
Hi there, pretty flowy shirt!

20. 3D Leggings: $23.98
Leggings are pants. There, I said it. After years of steadfastly ignoring it, I have finally seen the light. Here's a cute pair for working out, lounging around, and yes, wearing out in public! ;-)

What are you waiting for? Get your shopping on!






This post is sponsored by Preciousy. All opinions are 100% my own.


Linking up with Fashion Should Be FunA Pocketful of Polka DotsRachel The Hat and Sheela writes


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Monday, 18 April 2016

A spring for the books


Over the last few weeks I have liberally flooded my posts with photos of spring. Blossoms, flowers, sky - they all made repeat appearances. I can't help myself - this spring has been extraordinary! I decided that I needed to bring them all together in one place - this post. Rest assured, it's not all the photos I have taken, there are literally hundreds! Just a few of my faves.

Today the temperatures are supposed to climb up to 25°C! It looks like summer is making an early appearance this year, and I couldn't be happier about it. 

Bring it on, summer!

Dewdrops
Family outing with the little babies
Fresh green
Evening walks
That sky! Those blossoms! Heart-eye emoji on steroids 
See all the other eggs? They have since hatched! I'll try to take another pic (this time with the baby birds in focus).
One-legged King Pigeon pose
 Bird
Proud bird
Magnificent Magnolia
Bringing spring in


Yet another Monday has arrived. I hope it's a good one for you!





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Friday, 15 April 2016

"Pour yourself a drink, put on some lipstick and pull yourself together"



This week was hideous. It was awful because of my dog passing, stressful because I need to study for an exam next week (and I didn't), and it therefore had plenty of moments of me burying myself under the covers in the middle of the day. 

But. 

Life goes on. And it must. And there were also a few amazing things that happened this week:
I reconnected with one of my daughters after a long time, and it made me so happy. Another daughter came for a visit and was as compassionate as you could wish for. 
A friend and I went for coffee, to talk about everything that was going on in our lives. (And it felt so good.)  
Then there was the fact that Rich and I felt undoubtedly closer this week than we have in some time. 
The other dogs were as loving and attentive (or even more so!) than ever. 

And our youngest daughter had some reason to celebrate: She got an apprenticeship at an electrician's company. After two weeks of work, it was time to take her out and celebrate her amazing accomplishment. 
So we did, and beforehand, I snapped a few quick pictures of my outfit. 


Dress: old (similar, and oh yes, this one is cute, too!)
Necklace: old (amazing alternatives (under $20): herehere and here)
Clutch: Old (similar)


They always say that kids make you continue on with life even if you don't want to, and you know what? They are right. We had a great night, with delicious food, drink, and lots of laughter.


Shop my look: 

Life has its downs, but it also, always, has lots of ups. 
Never forget that. 


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Thursday, 14 April 2016

The day after the storm


Dear friends,
I wanted to check in with you today. Yesterday was completely overwhelming. I haven't cried so many tears since Eddie died in 2009. While I love all my dogs, some leave a special imprint on you. My great past dog loves were Eddie, the Leonberger (Snowy's best friend when she was a pup), and Snowy. So it was a tear-soaked, heartbreaking and painful day. 

But, my reason for checking in is a different one. First, I want to thank you all so very much for your kind words, sympathy, hugs (real and virtual), and general kindness. You might think that nothing can ease the pain of losing a loved one, but you are wrong. I could actually feel love surrounding me yesterday, and you all are a big part of it. So thank you, with all my heart!!

I also want to share an experience from yesterday that was a bright spot in a dark day.
As soon as my beautiful girl took her last breath, I knew that I wanted to bury her by myself. It was important to me to do this last act for her. 
It had rained during the night and was supposed to rain all day. 
When I started digging, it was still grey and glum, a suitable environment for such a somber task. Rich helped me to lower her into the ground, the dogs standing by, looking confused. 
We stood there for a moment, hugging each other tightly, telling each other and her how much she had meant to us. 

That's when the sun came out. Suddenly, everything was bathed in golden, soothing light. 
And I felt a sense of peace wash over me. I was still incredibly sad, but I also knew that everything would be alright. It felt like a message from my happy, life-loving dog, reminding me to remember all the fun and good times we have had.

And that's what I have been trying to do.  
I miss her terribly. But I'm also so incredibly thankful that I had so many wonderful years with her. That knowledge, and all the love and support around me makes the loss more bearable.

I have Rich and the other dogs, who have been nothing but wonderful. Lily even snuggled up in bed last night, something she doesn't do often, preferring to have some personal space. 

Thank you all once again. You are angels, and helped me a lot. 

It's gonna be okay. 

All my love, 

  




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Wednesday, 13 April 2016

A girl and her dog


I found her in Bear's house. She usually never went in there, but for her own reasons she had sought out her brother's place as refuge. Seeing her there, pure white and tail wagging ever so slightly, she almost looked like she was just resting. 
But we both knew the truth: That our time together had almost come to an end. I crawled into the dog house with her, wanting to give her comfort with my presence, but needing her soothing closeness even more.
Holding her sweet face with one hand, and her paw with the other, I retold her the story of how much she meant to me. 


Snowy was my surprise baby. One day nine years ago I came home, and there she was: Lying on the couch with Rich, a little orange bow tied around her neck, looking at me curiously. My husband had bought her without telling me, for reasons that are lost to both of us now. 
I fell in love with her on the spot. 
So did she: She would follow me around for the rest of her life. 

Her best friend as a puppy was Eddie. Eddie had the patience of a saint: Her favourite game was pulling his tail as hard as she could, or sinking her sharp little puppy teeth into the scruff of his neck.
He let her, never once growling at her.


At four months old, we took her on an epic road trip through the States. She encountered buffalo, had her first (and last) bath at a pet store, and hiked with us through the magnificent Arches National Park.
It is one of our favourite trips ever taken, in large parts due to her being there with us.


But she was most in her element on the farm. Snowy quickly became the alpha dog, protecting her territory fearlessly. She understood the difference between friend and foe, greeting friends with exuberant joy and her trademark crotch sniff.


Her special gift was passing on her love for walks to me. Early on she developed the habit of sitting by the door, waiting until she heard me, and then scratching vigorously until I came outside, leash in hand. 
It was our special time together. 
Knowing that she would protect me with her life, I often walked at night, when the neighbourhood was quiet. 
The darkness was never scary when I was with Snowy, but peaceful. During those hours together I would tell her about my day, mull over problems and have little epiphanies about life. I will never forget those walks. 


When I started taking photos for the blog, she was the real star of the outfit photos. 


She cheered me on during every single yoga session outside. 


I'm so very grateful for the time we had together. She was my baby, my fitness coach, my protector, my best friend. I can't believe she's gone. 


Snowy, I will love you forever. 





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