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My skincare selects and practices

My skincare selects and practices — the full loot by Vienda Maria

 

I’ve spent most of today creatively wrestling with myself: I have a couple of articles to complete that arise from a more serious and deeper note, but all I really want to share with you is my skincare selects and practices. There’s something intriguing about looking into the intimate aspects of another’s beauty rituals — what their biggest vanities and superficial dreads are — and what magic creams and potions they use to calm, treat and care for their skin and most importantly, their face. The one area of our body that leads the rest of us and endures the most evaluation and judgement.

 

Instead of suppressing my desire to reveal my own habits and practices, I am flamboyantly sharing them with you today, including my thoughts on ageing, adult acne, sun damage, and all.

 

In truth, I suspect that real beauty, the kind that lifts eyes and turns heads, comes from within. It’s an energetic thing, and the more we become clear channels for our inner beauty to sparkle outwards, the more we glow, look and feel healthy and beautiful. This kind of beauty comes from a soul at peace with itself, that knows it is on a journey in a human body and takes care of itself at every level. Which includes, of course, skin care.

 

I notice that, when I am truly in tune with myself, self-care and self-love become a priority and so taking care of my appearance is an easy and fun aspect of that. The more I love myself, the more I take care of myself, which is reflected in the way that I carry and present myself. Essentially, when I feel good, I look good, and I take time out to care for myself.

 

While the products and practices I have, change with the seasons, this is what I’ve been loving so far, this year.

 

 

Cleansers

I tend towards drier skin so using creamy, nourishing, nurturing cleaners is really important to me, especially now that I’m living in a desert between the Rocky Mountain and the Atlantic Ocean that gets both bone-dry and super cold. I like to use 3 different options, that I generally apply intuitively based on how I feel and my skin is feeling.

One, I use the Australian brand Sukin’s Cream Cleanser because it feels and smells so good, and always gets all my makeup off, if I’m wearing any. I tend to smear it all over my face rubbing it into the skin and then wash it off in the sink or when I get into the shower.

Two, I just use virgin coconut oil, in exactly the same way. I like to take coconut oil travelling with me because it’s multi-purpose and perfect for warmer, balmier locations.

Three, when I’m not wearing any makeup and I want to nourish my face I use Lush’s Ultrabland, almost like a mask: I smear it on and let it soften into my skin while I shower and then when I get out, wipe it off with a hot washcloth. It always leaves my skin feeling really soft, supple and ready for some serums or oils.

 

 

Oils, serums and creams

Again, depending on how I feel and how my skin feels, and if it’s morning or night and if I’m going to wear makeup or I have been, I do one of the two:

I use the Maritime Naturals Vit C skin serum, mostly at night but there aren’t any rules really, in an effort to erase the entire decade of my twenties spent chasing the sun under the assumption that ageing is a myth, and that it would never happen to me. Ha! Now I have a tender little sprinkling of sun damage on my forehead and on the sides of my face that I’m faithfully performing damage control on. And, I’m happy to say, with a combination of spending much less time in the sun (thank you Canada) and a few little, bottled miracle-workers, it’s visibly getting better. The serum is then always followed up with the hydrating Retinol Moisturiser accoutrement.

Otherwise, I choose my much trusted Sukin Certified Organic Rosehip Oil that always leaves my skin looking hydrated and glowing and apparently also heals any skin damage, followed by the simple and delicious-smelling Sukin Facial Moisturiser to lock all the goodness in.

I’m a big fan of finding a healthy balance between natural and effective. Let’s be honest: we’ve all bought natural products that sound amazing, but really don’t do anything helpful at all. I’m interested in finding the middle path when it comes to skin-care.

 

 

 

 

Masks

I expect 3 basic results from my masks: detoxify, exfoliate and nourish, not all in the one package, however.

Subtle Energies is a dry aryuvedic blend that I just have to add water to, to turn it into a clay mask. It smells amazing, and I’ve never had a face mask that is soooo jam-packed with natural, healing ingredients have such a positive, immediate impact on my skin as this one. It takes away redness and inflammation, clears up spots and generally makes me feel good.

Sukin Detoxifying Clay Mask does what it says it will, and I tend to use it when I have hormonal acne. I always thought spots, were a thing of puberty, but it turns out that they determindely reemerge whenever my body is a little bit out of balance. I actually appreciate them as I see them as my body communicating with me when I need to rest more or generally take care of myself.

Lush’s Bunny Moon is a recent addition to my collection and I love it because it nurtures my skin and hydrates it like nothing else, leaving my face feeling softer than anything. In these harsh conditions, it’s good to have a mask like this to fall back on.

REN Glycol Lactic Radiance Renewal Mask is a hard worker in that it exfoliates my skin removing all the dead, old debris and cells that are stopping my skin from renewing, while also clearing away sun damage and skin spots. I use this one once per week, and often before a photoshoot because it leaves my skin looking clear and radiant.

REN Flash Rinse 1 Minute Facial is also a little miracle worker — it really only takes 1 minute — and forms and tones my skin. I notice that it does tend to dry out my skin and leave me a little flaky, due to its tendency to exfoliate, so I’ll often follow it up with Weleda’s Skin Food. I think Skin Food is meant for hands, elbows and other dry patches, but I use it as a sort of rescue remedy for any part of my body, including my face.

 

That concludes my skincare selects and practices. I like to keep it simple and potent, without cluttering my life and bathroom with too many products. I’m also a bit of a stickler around finishing what I have before I buy more, in an effort to be a conscientious consumer. Now that I have this topic out of my system, perhaps I can focus on the psychology and spirituality-based topics that I have ahead of me. Or… I might just distract myself and write up a makeup version of this rendition, instead. Would you like that?

 

How I hone in and focus on a specific project even when I have alllll the ideas

 

I woke up this morning at 6 am feeling a familiar combination of excitement and anxiety: I had a full day of Skype calls with clients and a creative project persistently tugging at my ankles. It is the one. I want to give it every ounce of my attention. I wake up in the middle of the night to type notes with eyes half closed into my phone for it. I dream about it and stress about it and it is consuming me.

 

But it wasn’t always that way.

 

Like every idea, this one came as a passing thought, amongst many other thoughts on a regular thought-filled day. There was nothing special about it. It didn’t stand out in any particular way.

 

After years of creativity, I now have a candid system, that allows me to capture the ones that are meant for me. This is how I hone in and focus on a specific project even when I have alllll the ideas.

 

Just like the seasons and the moon and everything else in nature, I go through a sequence of cycles in my creative process. There are four parts: idea, incubation, evolution and formation. Within those four parts are woven four other strategies: testing, space, structure and offer.

 

Idea

Ideas are like stars. There are billions of them but not all of them are going to light up the sky in your corner of the universe. Whenever I have an idea that I feel particularly inspired or excited by, I add it to a fluid ever-changing list of ideas. I often get ideas while I am working on something else, and sometimes there is an irresistible urge to jump ship and move onto this new idea now. If it’s something smaller, that I can do in a day, I allow myself to be swept away by the creative current. If it’s something bigger, I add it to my list and trust that, if it is the next one, it will incubate and start to reveal more of itself in the future. Some ideas are particularly persistent and alluring, while others fade away and end up being crossed off the list.

 

Test

Once an idea had caught my attention particularly, I test it out. I start with self-enquiry:

 

Does this idea stand the test of time?
Do I have the resources to execute it?

Will I still be excited by it in a week, month or year?
Can I commit myself to it for however long it takes to complete?
Is the commitment worth my time and energy?

 

If there is even an inkling of apathy, I let it be for now. If there is a full-body yespleasetakemenow, I move onto the next phase: testing. I check in with my tribe, the people that I create for, and see if they’re as into the idea as I am. I love that I can rely on them to always tell me how it is. If it’s “no” I drop it and move on. There are always more great ideas.

 

Incubation

Upon receiving a green light from my folks, the idea generally moves into the incubation stage. This is where timelines start to differ. Some ideas have been quietly incubating before I even took notice of them, so the incubation phase is shorter. The creative project that I am working on right now, has been incubating for about 18 months, but in reality, it is the culmination of my 36 years of existence.

 

Space

Incubation requires a lot of space in order for the idea to take form. Because it is my idea, it is something that I am already wildly fascinated by and involved with in my life in one way or another, and so it is being fed by my natural curiosity and interest to explore and learn more. Ideas come through me, they are not mine, but rather an expression of all of us, that takes pieces of me and integrates them into it as it grows. I give it space and quietly ruminate, allowing myself time to come to a place where I can feel the fullness of it start to burst forth.

 

N.B.: Incubation and Space are non-active parts of the creative process. What that means is they require nothing from me, but the allowing of them to be present in the back of my mind, while I do and focus on other things. I might be working on a different creative idea or project while a new one is taking form and incubating. I might be in-between ideas. I might be brimming with allll the other ideas, and giving some of them my attention, while I file others away to refer back to in the future, using the system outlined previously.  My focus is not entirely on the idea. Instead, I allow it to guide me, around when it is time to give it my undivided attention. I know when that is, because, like right now, there is nothing I would rather do or think about.

 

Evolution

This is when things get exciting because I get to initiate the making of the idea into a real, tangible, accessible thing. Generally, all that the evolution process involves is some blank paper or my journal and some coloured pens. I give myself the freedom to play, to be curious, to brainstorm and write down all the concepts and ways that I could engineer this idea. Sometimes it takes a few minutes, as a result of much incubation, sometimes the process happens in moments between other things over several weeks.

 

At this point, I usually have a number of options around roll-out and will go back and test those with my tribe once more. Sometimes what I think is best, is not what they want, and they always provide me with fresh insight on how to make the things I make, better.

 

Something else that often happens at this point, is a new wave of bright and brilliant ideas, vying for my attention. I give them the same treatment as I do all ideas: follow through if they are resolute and easily completed, or add them to my list for further review. I firmly believe that if the idea is that good, it can wait for me or move on to someone else who can provide it with the nurturing it requires in that moment.

 

Structure

Along with this evolution of the idea into a more cohesive form, a tangle of many elements, thoughts, concept and visions, comes the need to wrap the idea in structure, to give it lasting power.

 

Much like we swaddle a newborn, we want to tightly envelop our idea-babies in a safe web of timelines and plans, so that it can grow into the thing we want. I used to believe that structure was creative kryptonite. I quickly learned after many incompleted and failed attempts to follow through on creative ideas, that without something to hold and move it all together in union the evolution of my ideas are at risk of getting lost and falling apart.

 

It is here, where I take everything and break it down into a comprehensive, chronological flow that can be easily utilized. I write the overlying concept to guide me and pull out the leading topics. I create a breakdown of all the various steps that need to be done to completion and map out a timeline within which I want to create my vision. And finally, I place each step into my calendar over the defined time-period.

 

Formation

I often feel like formation is the most paradoxical phase because it is both the most fun (yay: creativity) and the one that brings up the most resistance because now you’ve actually got to do this thing and give form to something that was previously only a notion. The birthing of a creative idea is not without pain or challenge.

 

The one I am working on right now has been full of stops and starts, and yet every day it finds a way to lure me back in and engage me. I am being stretched and asked to dig deeper than I ever have before which takes more time than my overly-optimistic taskmaster mind likes. I know this about myself and plan in less than I think I can do when I am creating the structure and timeline. I also make a note of celebrating my accomplishments as I go along, every day, even if it’s as small as completing a particularly difficult paragraph.

 

Offer

This is all about sharing the creative idea with the world and offering it. Another word I could use here is marketing. My marketing process begins as soon as I’ve engaged in the evolution stage. I start by sharing my creative process on social media. I write little hints about it on my blog, like this article you are reading right now. I keep the lines of communication open with my tribe and keep coming back to them, asking how they feel about specific approaches I have in mind around the creative project I am working on. The closer I come to completion, the more I share.

 

At this point, I am still fairly early on in the active formation stage, and so I’m still holding much of this project close to my heart. It’s important to keep some secrets, secret. But slowly, slowly I am revealing more and more. What I do know and can share is that that I am going to have a month-long pre-sale period where folks can buy this project at a significantly reduced price, before the official release date in January 2018.

 

That’s my strategic process for honing in and focusing on a specific project, even when I have allll the ideas. I teach other heart-led creative and business practices, like this one, in another of my projects: The Heartful Biz.

 

 

If I want to live a new life I have to sacrifice my old one

From the in-between: integration in the face of mountainous transition

 

I am kneeling over my laptop on my bed, feet curled up underneath me, sipping one of my “healthy hot chocolates” made of cacao powder, a little medicinal mushroom powder, a teaspoon of honey topped up with boiling water and a dash of almond milk. It’s Halloween and I can hear the fireworks going off on adjoining streets as I tap away at my laptop keys.

 

At the start of this year, I sat down and made a promise to myself that I would see this year through, in this little city between the Rocky Mountains and the Atlantic Ocean. I knew it would be a year of transition. I knew it would take all my strength and will. I knew it would be one of my greatest challenges yet.

 

This transition feels like being deliriously happy one moment and sinking into a lingering dissatisfaction the next. I have this beautiful opportunity for reinvention right now. As I integrate, I allow myself to feel sad, to mourn for the person I once was. To sit down with myself, once more like I did so many years ago, and redesign the life that I want for myself.

 

Transition is a kind of death. A death of one life, to make space for another. It’s quite apt to be writing about this on All Hallows Eve. Tracing back to its roots, this holiday was known as Samhain, a time where death was celebrated. Perhaps tonight marks the death of my past life, as well.

 

Again and again, I’ve surrendered into trusting that I am exactly where I meant to be right now, as I’ve watched myriads of dreams and wishes unfold and lay to rest around me. For the first time since I started my digital lifestyle business, I’ve met all my financial aims. I’ve bought a home to call our own with my love. I’ve created 2 courses that are having such a powerful impact on people’s lives that they are transformed. I’ve travelled to London and San Francisco and all around British Columbia.

 

Life has unfolded with absolute ease and grace — the two things I always look to — to confirm that I am living in the flow of life, and not against it.

 

Still, I’ve spent more hours than I’d like to admit, pouring over my journal or curled up on the sofa, wondering whether living in Canada really is the right thing for me. It’s hard for me to confess this because I’m terrified that I may be misunderstood.

 

I keep remembering that time the psychic in Bali told me that my fate would be to find the magic in the mundane. The thing is, I want so much more than mundane. I want extraordinary. I’m terrified that I am missing out on all the adventures I am supposed to have. And pacified by the sense that my adventures will be of a different kind from here on out.

 

I remember the heartache I would sometimes feel from belonging to no-where and no-one when I lived, travelling, always on the road. There was a sadness there that pulled me towards wanting a home, and a physical place that I could feel moored to. This feeling is what propelled me towards wanting a new life… it is what brought me here, to this place, where I find myself, now.

 

I also remember the exhilarating freedom that came with travel. Fifteen years of it has left me with a mark stamped into my heart. A feeling of there being no limits. A desire to taste the edges of that limitlessness. It acts like an addiction imprinted on my soul. I always want more.

 

Yet, there is this deep inner knowing that here is exactly where I am meant to be. That all the mental noise, the toing and froing, back and forth between the life I used to live and the new life I am conjuring up now, is a result of the transition I am undergoing. This is what it feels like here, in the space in-between. It’s a kind of no-mans-land between one world and another with feet in both places as I integrate the transition from one way of life to another.

 

Integration, in this case, means completely letting go: if I want to live a new life I have to sacrifice my old one.

 

I don’t know how I’d manage all the big emotions that this transition has brought up if I didn’t have my daily spiritual practices to anchor me. I keep returning to my breath, to my body. I escape the precarious thoughts playing like a broken record in my mind “you are missing out” and “maybe this isn’t the place for you” by being still and present.

 

Starting fresh means integration and new manifestations. The details of the life I am calling in are only just starting to form their first tendrils. I require patience, time and space to allow myself to sink into this new me that is emerging while I gain more clarity around what I want and trust that the right things are already on their way.

 

I am always growing and changing and evolving while at the same time learning how to stay still within myself. This death, the sacrifice of my old life, is just another cycle within the larger cycle of life, as I make room for something new.

 

To celebrate this inner death of mine, on this particularly sacred eve, I am offering a $50 discount on my most popular course: Manifest More. Almost 200 wise women and a small handful of men have sauntered through its doors, to heal, to release and to shape a new approach to their lives, with the 6 simple steps that I use in my own life, time and time again.

 

Use the code ‘mmv2’ at the checkout to make use of the discount.

 

Read this: if life is total chaos, and you’re soooo ready to be organized

 

It’s Wednesday today, the day that I work with my private mentoring clients, schedule my meetings and take care of emails and admin tasks that pile up. Wednesdays are the best day for tasks that require delicate and eloquent communication as they are ruled by the planet Mercury.

 

I spent the morning on the phone tying up loose ends with Canadian immigration, went downtown for two meetings and to pick up root vegetables from the Framers Market to roast in the oven tonight, and then came home to an enormous pile of papers that needed to be filed away, and emails that need answering.

 

There was a time in my life where the words ‘structure’ and ‘planning’ made me cringe and shrink in repulse. I was certain and terrified that those two elements in my life would cripple my freedom, my spontaneity, and my adventurous spirit. I was so resistant to organising my day-to-day life that I would pass up opportunities in favour of having a free and open calendar.

 

Until one day, when I sat myself down and said: “Vienda, you are playing small. You say you want to do all these marvellous things with your life, but without structure, you are getting lost and wasting precious minutes of every day.”

 

It was a wake-up call. I was in the first year of my business, a business I created with the intention to help free-spirited and creative women to take charge and own their lives through manifesting, intuitive living and heartful, conscious enterprise after my own spiritual awakening that helped me recognize that the way most of us are going about life is totally out of alignment with our purpose and truth.

 

I wasn’t getting anywhere because I hoped that my spiritual values would provide me with the magnetism I needed to succeed. Yet I had failed to ground my beliefs down into the physical world with tangible and practical rituals and practices that would allow me, and my business, to thrive. I was starting to see this now.

 

Determined and willing to change, I started to approach my life in a more organized way.

 

I began using my Google Calendar for everything. A business mentor of mine once said: “If it’s not scheduled, it’s not happening.” I did not believe her at the time. I didn’t enjoy the very definitive circumference that a calendar created. But I tried…

 

I started by manually inputting my client meetings. Then I added other meetings too. I included specific work and play times. Slowly I noticed a sense of relief wash over me. With the most important things in my calendar, I had more mental space to think about other things, instead of constantly trying to remind myself of my commitments. Slowly, I gave the holding of my responsibilities over to my calendar.

 

Now, I let my calendar be the custodian of my timeline for everything. My client calls are automatically inserted by my scheduling app: Acuity, I have specific days for creative projects, rest and relaxation, my dinner dates and parties go in there, I even put in when I need to vacuum the house before friends come over for ‘art night’.

 

While my calendar is a helpful guide that keeps me on track and gives me the freedom to create more space for the things I love, I still flow with my intuition and am flexible with myself, when needs change. That means that,  if I have scheduled a productive day into my calendar, but I feel like I need to take some space and time, I’m ok with that. Organisational tools are meant to support us, not crush us.

 

Instead of allowing myself to start and work on tasks and have meetings haphazard across my week, I block specific tasks into specific days, with the help of astrology and the energy of the days of the week. Tuesdays and Wednesdays are for clients and meetings, Thursdays are for strategizing, copy-writing, planning and marketing, and Fridays are for working on my creative projects.

 

Everything in my calendar has a time limit and when I go over the time, I drop the task and move on. I notice that by having specific times to do and complete specific things in, I waste less time fluffing about with other distractions, and instead focus, and then let go, no matter how much or how little I have done. As long as I keep showing up and doing my best, I’m happy.

 

I have Saturday, Sunday and Monday off for other life-things outside of work. Rest, relaxation, fun and imagination time is just as important as learning, studying and working time. Putting those elements of my life into my calendar, and sticking to them, allows me to create harmony, space and time for myself which is vital for living a happy, compelling, creative life.

 

When I first decided it was time to get organised a few years ago I wrote 20 mantras for disorganised people who want to get organised, and bought a planner to give myself a pretty container within which I could methodologically arrange my life. A year later I had a system in place that I teach in this free workshop and share with my clients.

 

I’m an avid believer that organisation is the yang to the yin of creative expression and the key to living a fulfilling and extraordinary life. Instead of limiting me to a structured and linear way of living it actually provides the foundation and support that I need to reach new heights and grow as a very alive, spontaneous and creative human being.

 

This is why I devote 2 entire lessons to structure and systems in the 2-day workshop I have created with my incredible friend Claire: The Heartful Biz. We teach how to use natural cycles like the moon and stars as well as internal cycles like menstruation as pointers to creating an organized life. And we share how we use very practical resources and tools to help us maintain a supportive, flowing anatomy in our heart-led businesses.

 

The Heartful Biz is open for ongoing enrollment — you can join us right now — and access is instant.

 

 

How to delve more deeply into your spiritual journey

 

When I was a small girl I found wonder in the little things around me. I spent hours staring at flowers. I cried once when I saw a tree bleeding sap where it had been cut. I genuinely believed in fairies and would interact with them in my fantastical games. I often marvelled at the beauty of nature and pondered if there was some magic beyond what I could touch, feel and see.

 

With a difficult home-environment — a step-father who took his frustrations out on me with malicious words, and a mother who had lost herself somewhere along the way — I escaped into my fantasy world as much as I could.

 

As I became a teenager I found it harder and harder to translate my enchanted ideas into the world. My connection to nature and wonder started to fade until I was left with a cold, hard reality that saved little room for magical thinking. I became withdrawn, self-conscious and embarrassed by my inability to make sense of the world.

 

At 19, after travelling around Europe for 2 years feeling exceptionally disillusioned by life and the human race, I decided to study psychology: the science of human behaviour. I was seeking something… Some deeper understanding to life. I didn’t know what the questions were that I wanted to ask. I just knew that I had them.

 

In my final year of university, I started asking myself a very important question: Does God, or some kind of God-like energy or entity, exist, for me, as I know and experience life and the world? I hoped for a dramatic thunderous clash in the sky and an outpouring of proof that this wasn’t some weird thing religions had made up, but nothing happened.

 

I felt disconnected from the wonder, the oneness, and enchantment that had once filled me as a child. I set it aside as childish sentiments that one outgrows. Perhaps, being an adult really is a greyscale of mundanity and responsibilities, I mused. Maybe this is all there is… I questioned my motivation to do the things I was doing. Why was a getting a degree? Did I actually want to be a psychotherapist? What was the point of all this? I kept seeking. Looking for answers to questions that I didn’t know how to form.

 

A few months before my 23rd birthday, I woke up one morning and heard a bird sing outside my window. As I lay there and listened, an overwhelming sense of joy and belonging washed over me. I felt I heard a bird sing for the very first time in my life, and it was the most beautiful thing.

 

Lying in my bed, I noticed other things: sensations in my body that were new to me. I felt like I could feel every single cell in my body — alive and dancing — vibrating in tune with every living thing outside my window. A sense of well-being permeated my body and for the first time that I could remember, I felt what it is like to be fully present in the moment. This, a thought passed through me, is what God is. Connection to everything.

 

In those moments, my entire life took on an entirely new meaning, and I changed trajectory. I learned about the power of positive thinking, meditation, and manifesting, to name a few things.

 

I finally understood the question I had been looking for. What is the deeper meaning to life? And felt the answer. It’s not something that you understand. It’s something that you feel. And it’s everywhere, inside and outside, of you.

 

Since then my life has, in one way or another, been devoted to maintaining and intensifying my connection and relationship to source energy, God, the Universe. Name it as you feel.

 

There are particular practices that help me, and that I teach, to delve more deeply into your spiritual journey.

 

Look within for the answers.

I still catch myself sometimes, looking for the answers outside of myself, that can only be answered by my own soul and the connection I have with something greater than the physical version of myself. My greatest dissatisfaction comes from the habit of trying to fill myself up from the outside. Seeking fulfilment — from social media interactions and likes, from food, from drugs, from sex or love, from society’s ideas of success — never works. It is when I come back to myself, to stillness and look within myself for answers, that everything starts to make sense again. What that looks like is literally turning my attention inwards and listening. I will tune out the world around me and check in with myself. What am I feeling right now?

 

Breathe in, breathe out, and feel everything.

The fastest way that I know to reconnect to my soul and get out of my mental entanglement with the world outside is to breath. Breathing, when done with absolute presence, feels like fucking ecstasy. It’s not about making yourself breathe in a particular way, but rather, being an avid observer of your breath. The moment you watch and feel yourself breathe you reconnect and can start to really feel. Being able to feel yourself, your own energy, and every cell in your body offers you moment-to-moment wisdom on what is your own personal truth right now. What that looks like is whenever I’m doing something, anything, even writing this to your right now, I check in with my breath. Am I holding it? How does it feel to breathe? What else can I feel?

 

Give every moment your whole presence.

Our minds like to entertain us with a broken-record of chatter. Like a 2-year-old that wants your attention every single second of every day, we have to teach it to take a timeout, by recognizing that your mind is, in fact, not the centre of the universe. You are not your thoughts. Your mind is not the result of who you are. Rather it is a collection of information that it has gathered and is spouting back at you without restraint. When we stop giving our thoughts attention we disconnect from that frenzy and are able to sink into the wholeness of each moment. What that looks like is paying attention to every sensation, every moment, every breath, that is happening right now. I love how time and space expands and everything drops away when I give what I am doing right now my whole presence. This is not about thinking or doing: it’s about being.

 

Live in alignment with your truth and from your heart.

Grounding it all down into the physical, tangible, right-here-and-now world is the most potent practice of all. When I am connected to myself, when I listen and pay attention, and I am present with every moment, I am always receiving a stream of very subtle, soft awareness guiding me towards the next step. When I trust this spiritual counsel and act on it, always with total presence, my life flows and I am connected to the enchanting magic of life at all times. When I fall out of alignment and step forward out of fear my path becomes more difficult and I waver and begin to doubt myself.

 

To live in alignment with my truth and from my heart, I keep coming back to myself and my connection with the ethereal, the energy that permeates everything and can be felt but not seen. The fastest way that I know how to keep coming back to this link between me and the Universe and keep diving into that spiritual relationship that I have cultivated is through journaling. I journal whenever I need more tangible answers: things that I can see and understand through my mind beyond how I feel. I teach much of my journaling practices in my 30-day journaling course. You can check it out here.

 

My turbulent journey with the copper IUD

 

Three years ago, after a series of pregnancy scares, I felt frustrated, lost and sad that my body felt like an enemy to me. I wanted to freely enjoy my sexuality without using hormonal birth control.

 

I spent many hours researching on Google for the perfect solution. But there really wasn’t one. Every answer was crossed by some kind of adverse secondary effect. I cursed men for not taking more responsibility. It is so irritating that we have come so far as a society and we still don’t have a healthy, natural, effective form of birth control that is widely used and known.

 

In my terror and fear, I decided to get a copper IUD. It seemed to be the best alternative I could find.

 

I felt anxious at the appointment and breathed through the pain on insertion like a woman giving birth. When At home I could feel this foreign object sitting in my cervix and felt a hot flash of anger rise through me. In hindsight, it was my body telling me “no!”. I intentionally disregarded it, feeling hopeful that the nurse was right, and I would adjust and start to feel comfortable.

 

It took 3 weeks for me to stop noticing the IUD sitting inside me. Then the leaking began. Clear, odourless, watery, liquid started leaking out of me drenching my panties. There was no warning or pattern to it. Then I started getting sharp pains in my ovaries and spotting in the week before my period. I went to see several gynaecologists and sexual health nurses who tested me but couldn’t find anything wrong. Give it 6 months to a year, they said, It will settle down.

 

My periods became a little heavier and longer than before, I started using a moon cup which I had never needed to before, but what I noticed the most was the extreme heavy tiredness I felt that never seemed to go away. Month after month it felt harder and harder to connect to my light, buoyant, joy.

 

I was having sex. I wasn’t getting pregnant. It was working. And that was the point. But I stopped feeling quite myself.

 

When I did my coconut water cleanse in Bali I bled the entire time. Under the assumption that I was detoxing old blood, I hoped that the cleanse would stabilise and harmonise my body, and I would stop leaking and paining so much. Nothing changed. In fact, it started to get worse.

 

I felt inflamed and bloated, my immune system weakened and I started getting colds often, and I lost sensitivity to sexual arousal. I started having a hard time falling asleep and staying asleep. Feeling happy and energetic felt like hard work. I didn’t connect these changes to the copper IUD. I thought I was simply exhausted and not taking care of myself well enough.

 

Every now and then my intuition nudged me, gently, and said Hey, that thing needs to come out. But at the convenience of not getting pregnant I stubbornly ignored it, with a silent, Yes, I know… I will… Eventually.

 

For two and a half years I suffered the pains and the leaking and inflammation. Insomnia and the lack of energy. It affected my life on every level.

 

Early this year I went through a series of health issues that included depression and anxiety that resulted in being identified as hormonal imbalances caused by adrenal fatigue. I threw myself into healing. It worked… for a while. Until it didn’t. I started to unexplainably cry again.

 

Hating your life when you have no reason to is one of the most bewildering, dishearting and paralyzing feelings. Especially when you know that there’s no reason to feel that way and still, you want to run away from yourself and your life faster than your legs can carry you.

 

I started listening to the signs. A friend shared her experience with the Copper IUD and how it had led to copper toxicity. Another friend told me a similar story. They both shared how the copper overload in their systems had impacted their lives, their mental health, and their relationships. The stories landed too close to home. I knew it was time.

 

I called a local health clinic and made the soonest available appointment. I had to wait three weeks to get it out. Two of those weeks I was travelling around San Francisco. The inflammation became worse, as did my insomnia. I often woke up at 4 am with sharp pains in my ovaries, while my inflamed cervix pressed up against my bladder, causing me to need to use the toilet more than normal, and not being able to get back to sleep.

 

Tired of being tired, unenthusiastic and sad, I counted the days until my IUD came out. On Thursday, a few weeks ago, by the hands of a kind and gentle nurse, it slid right out. As is common, she was quick to offer me hormonal birth control alternatives, and I smiled and thanked her, assuring her that I won’t be needing it.

 

Two days later my period came. As I slid into the soft, comfortable and familiar period-haze, I realized that I hadn’t been able to connect to myself and my body at this depth, for the last few years. It was sweet relief to be in touch with myself in this way again. It feels like sliding into a safe, warm bath of silken cotton where nothing matters and all the feels are amplified with a level of introspection and understanding that I do not find at other times of my cycle.

 

Since then things have changed. No more leaking. No more pains. My period has been as light and short as I remember it being before the copper IUD. I am sleeping soundly, and deeply. My energy is slowly increasing again, and I feel like I can think, and feel, more clearly.

 

I’ve dedicated myself to healing the damage that the copper IUD has done on my body which includes a few simple things: hot yoga to sweat out the copper and get the toxins moving through my lymph glands; lots of quiet yin-activities reading books, watching movies and being still; probiotic-rich hot foods like miso soups, steamed greens and vegetables, eggs and chicken. Zinc is the harmonizer for copper and the best way to gently detox is by consuming it. Epsom salt baths and gentle movement.

 

I am taking supplements and following a simple morning routine to support my system as I find my new balance.

 

— First thing in the morning for contraception, I test my temperature with a basal body thermometer when I first wake up, before I start to move around, and then enter it into my Kindara app along with checking and entering my cervical fluid when I use the bathroom. I still feel quite new to this even though I have been doing it for a few months, because the copper IUD caused my hormones, temperature and cervical fluid to be chaotic, so I couldn’t rely on them until now.

 

— I take a Vitex / Chaste Tree capsule on an empty stomach to help stabilise my hormones with a sip of water and then move to the kitchen to put on the kettle and squeeze a lemon into a tall glass. I always add a dash of cold water to the lemon juice before I top it up with hot water so I don’t cook the lemon and kill all its enzymes.  This concoction helps detoxify my liver which is working hard every night cleaning my body of toxins, especially the copper build up. I like making this “me time” and will often meditate during and after I drink the warm lemon water.

 

— I aim to do yoga in the morning before I start work. This doesn’t happen all the time but as long as I move my body and sweat in some way, every day, I’m happy.

 

— Mid-morning I make warm drinks with collagen and medicinal mushrooms in them, more often than not in either chai tea or healthy cacao. My favourite is Reishi or Mason’s Mushrooms mixed with collagen, maca, cinnamon, sea salt, a dash of honey and coconut milk. I had to stop drinking coffee because the copper reaction was so strong every time I had it that I would have headspins and feel really sick, followed by anxiety and exhaustion. It was awful. So I’ve opted for drinks that support and heal my nervous system instead.

 

— I often skip breakfast but if I am hungry I’ll usually have some kind of porridge made with either oats, millet or buckwheat cooked in water and then drizzled with cinnamon, honey and a nut milk.

 

— Lunch and dinner are always some kind of grain, vegetable and protein variety, avoiding gluten and dairy wherever possible. I’m not against those things, I just think that my body has an easier time without them, especially while it is healing. Right now, ramen-style soups with rice noodles are highly featured in my repertoire. While I love cooking, I don’t love cooking every day, so I often meal prep enough for a few days and then eat a variation of the same thing for 3-4 days.

 

— With one of those meals, I will take magnesium, whole vitamin C and evening primrose oil, all of which help support healing and detoxing.

 

— Intuitively when I feel drawn to oil of oregano, vitamin D, trace mineral drops or adrenal support I will take one of these in-between meals.

 

— In the evening I read before bed to help wind my mind down (here are some of the books I have loved and recommend so far) and take a milk thistle capsule before I go to sleep, again to help my liver detox the copper out of my system.

 

Eventually I will wean myself away from using so many supplements because I do believe that our bodies are ingenious at healing and supporting us, but for now, I want to give my process as much of a helping hand as I can.

 

My turbulent journey with the copper IUD has been an invaluable lesson in learning to listen to my body and learning about the contrast between when I am fully plugged in and when I am at discord with myself, my body and my intuition. This lesson seems to play a large role in my life’s karma as it shows up, over and over again under various guises. A lesson that I am deeply grateful for as it teaches me to lean further and further into living a life that is entirely intuitively guided.

 

 

These past 12 days in Northern California…

Vienda at Farm:Table in San Francisco

 

One thing that I love about going away and travel is the chance for reinvention. It provides a cosmic state of limbo from which I can see my life, both present and future, more clearly and access a broader, more creative perspective on where I want to go from here. These past 12 days in Northern California have been no different. While I’ve been here before, it doesn’t matter where I go. Travel acts like a truth serum, to experience a fresh perspective, simply the act of going brings it.

 

 

 

Friday + Saturday

 

The dreamy state that I wake up with at 4.40am to catch the first flight out of Kamloops, stays with me the entire day. I laugh wholeheartedly and loudly when our flight attendant turned her entire safety talk into a comedy act. Eat pretzels served with cranberry juice, and sleep.

 

In San Francisco, I take the BART into downtown and walk the 10 minutes to my hotel, feeling torn by terror and painful compassion by the countless homeless and their open sores in the streets as I pass by. I have become so sheltered and sensitive in the short time I have lived in Canada now. I begin to wonder if the Layne Hotel was been a terrible choice as I scamper off the alarming streets into its doors. Moments later, enamoured by the Victorian style room I fall in the bed equal parts relieved and excited.

 

The next day my best friend Lilly flies in from Hawaii. We count that we had travelled in 11 countries together now and reminisce on old adventures and spill our hearts and souls to each other as we only can when it’s the two of us.

 

In partnership with SF Travel, I arranged a few surprises for us that afternoon. First, a guided food tour around little Italy. We meet our guide, Tom, at an assigned corner at 2 pm, and are astounded and in stitches at his socially awkward and quirky manner. As he guides us from pastry shop for cannelloni to deli for salami sandwiches and everything in between, he entertains us with stories about himself told with a flourish of spit flying out of his mouth and a jolting stampede forward at every punch line, like a bull in Pamplona.

 

We run as fast as we can back to the hotel to change, giggling about our eccentric food guide, hastily preparing for an evening out. We have a reservation at Asia SF and have to be there on time.

Lining up behind a gaggle of overdressed giggling women I wonder what we were in for. We are both wearing skinny jeans and little tops that don’t meet the dress requirements.

 

Inside we are led downstairs to a dark nightclub with red velvet curtains and drink gin out of short glasses. We led back upstairs and placed at two seats by the bar with menus to choose from as our bartender explains what to expect. “You’ve got the best seats for the show”, she winks and takes our orders. Around us, beautiful big-busted women strut taking orders and flirting with the clientele. They are transgender men who prefer to be women.

 

Our first course arrives, tuna sashimi for me, shrimp salad for Lilly, and the first show begins as a gorgeous curvy tall transgender woman steps up into the bar and starts singing and undulating in a sparkly dress with a high thigh split, shimmying up and down the bar. She is followed by two more women, each with their own unique performance and set of skills.

 

The second-course is followed with a similar display and rounded out with dessert as we gape, giggle and admire the women around us who have gone to such great lengths to embody their feminine beauty.

 

Stumbling out afterwards we feel gleeful and grateful to be women and to have witnessed such a spectacular celebration of women in such an unusual way. I wonder why these transgender women could embody female sexuality and power with such grace and beauty while many of the rest of us feel compelled to hide and dull the aspect of ourselves. Is it because men are afraid of it? Is it because we are afraid of it?

 

 

Sunday + Monday

We wake up late, check out, and go for breakfast around the corner of the hotel. Farm: Table quickly becomes my favourite cafe in downtown San Francisco. Lilly has never been here before so I take her on a long walk to the Golden Gate Bridge and we get burgers at a diner on the way back while spilling our hearts out to each other. There are few people on the planet that I can share my most vulnerable fears and painful experiences with. Lilly is one of those people.

 

In the afternoon we catch a bus to Sacramento, to stay with a friend. He gives us his bed and takes us out for a drink and lays out all his camping gear for us to use and is kinder than anyone should be.

 

 

 

Tuesday + Wednesday

 

I pick up the hire car in the morning. Hiring a car feels like an enormous responsibility to me — I am nervous — but try to be a sensible adult. We pack it with all the camping gear, just in case, and I carefully wield us through the city and out towards the mountains and Lake Tahoe.

 

At the campsite, the sun is setting and a cold wind blows in. All of a sudden we are peltered with pine cones the size of my head and are showered with sweet-smelling needles. I look at Lilly and say that maybe camping is not such a great idea. We drive the South Tahoe strip finding a hotel that looks like out of the movies with a giant neon sign and fall asleep to the sound of wind squealing around corners.

 

Lilly and I compliment each other well: I take care of the pretty details and she takes on the practical things. When I wake up she is prepared with a plan. We pack up and drive to a trailhead to walk up for a few hours until we get to Eagle Lake. A few minutes into the walk we feel as nature quietens us. There’s this intangible magic between a human being and the spirit of nature that takes our breath away. At the lake, we lose our path and scramble over rocks like little children for an hour until we find our way again. Our stomachs rumble with hunger as we make our way down and drive to a hidden spot by Lake Tahoe for a picnic.

 

We decide that camping life is not for us. We are ill-prepared for the windy, cold weather that has decided to turn up and head back to Sacramento.

 

 

 

Thursday + Friday

 

I wake up at four am again, with sharp pains in my cervix, pains that have plagued me on and off for months. I count down the days until I finally get my copper IUD removed — the day after I come home — and gently place my hands where it hurts sending Reiki healing energy to the area. I can not go back to sleep.

 

We spend the next two days exploring and laughing and learning. While we see markets and walk around botanical gardens and sip wine at wineries I see a deep craving in my sweet friend: to be vulnerable enough to give herself to another.

 

Like many of us, her tender heart has been bruised and battered in the name of love, by those who knew no better. There’s an immediate reaction to protect the heart, through comedy, with invisible walls, and collapsed boundaries. I tell her it’s time. That she needs to listen to her heart’s yearning and change, to open up and love, but with revised clarity around what she truly wants. That the loving partner she seeks is there, but first, she needs to change her ways.

 

We find a charity shop and she buys me a fluffy blue sweater that I cannot put down. I love it, not just because it’s so soft that everyone I pass wants to touch it, but because I know that it will forever remind me of her, and these moments that we spent together.

 

 

 

Friday + Saturday

 

We share one last meal at a little place called the Orphan Breakfast House and I take the bus back to San Francisco.

 

It’s hotter here and I am sweating as I walk those infamous hills back to Layne Hotel. Moments later my friend Caz shows up too. We unpack our bags in our room and pick up snacks at Trader Joes and spend the afternoon on our beds allowing minds and souls to transition from where we both were, to here.

 

We are working on a surprise: a short film, together.

 

The next day we head out and end up in Japan Town where we get aura photos taken at Sharaku, a little Japanese clothes store. The owner recognizes us immediately and asks “Photo?” in a stilted accent as we run our hands across the silken kimonos. I nod and she motions us to wait while she rapidly speaks in Japanese to the women trying on clothes.

 

Caz buys a beautiful pink and red kimono and we are ushered into a back room. One by one she instructs us to sit on a bench and place our hands on a metal box while takes our pictures. I squeal when I see mine… it’s all yellow and green and pink and purple. The explanation that is printed out describes me perfectly.

 

We stroll the streets of San Francisco looking for cute corners to film in, slurp giant bowls of ramen at Yamadeya, meet dolled-up transgenders that give us directions and fall into bed after hours of walking.

 

 

 

Sunday + Monday

 

I desperately want to go to a flea market, something that I miss in the little provincial town in Canada where I live, and we find one in Oakland. We take the BART across the water and end up in a car-park turned marketplace where everyone speaks Spanish. To wrapped up in my excitement to notice that we are the only white girls there, I skip from stand to stand, searching for treasures.

 

I chat in Spanish to the guy who is selling pineapple and strawberry juice that gives us one for free and buy two silver rings and a vintage leather backpack to turn into my mobile office. This. This is my idea of heaven. A blend of cultures and people coming together. It’s places like this I feel most at home. Amongst the chaos and the madness and the jungle of differences that ultimately bind us.

 

There is a beautiful mosaic on a set of stairs on 16th street and we wake up before the sun to find it. I am quiet and slow and Caz barely manages as grunt as we make our way out and tumble into the waiting Uber. The early start is worth it though, as we get the most spectacular soft candy sunrise over the city. Moments like these are breathtaking. Caz gets to work and we film a little more before the sun hits us.

 

We find a cute cafe in a suburb filled with million-dollar houses and enliven ourselves with cups of coffee and matcha and pastries. A girl with pink hair sits next to us and writes postcards.

 

 

 

Tuesday + Wednesday

 

Caz is leaving. The friendship I have with her is spiritual. We understand each other at a level that requires no words. I like that. Our inner worlds are too vast and deep to elucidate. I often feel frustrated by the limitations that words can have and am relieved when I spend time with people whom I don’t have to explain myself too. We hug goodbye. I miss her already.

 

I have a few big-city things to accomplish before I leave, too. I need a winter coat for Canada and that perfect mix of underwear that is both sexy and comfortable. Things that just can’t be found viscerally online. I run around searching for the perfect items, stop by Lush for marshmallow bath oils and feel pleased with myself when I come home with a navy wool coat and 10 pairs of lacy panties.

 

In the afternoon I meet with Velvet Valentine. She is a San Francisco native, with iridescent memories of SF from a naughtier era, as she walks me around some of the famous streets feeding me stories of murdered cross-dressers and famous dancers that fell from grace. I know Velvet through a mutual friend, a man we both met 10 years apart in Amsterdam, who thought we might be well suited. He was right. Walking with her in these streets she feels like a sister even though I have only just met her.

 

That night I hold a mentoring session with a client from the hotel room. I really like this woman and love seeing how close she is to a massive breakthrough. Once she steps past the line of fear that is reigning her in, anything will be possible for her.

 

I stay up late and can’t sleep. I am on my own for the first time in 10 days and the wailing from the crazy woman outside on the street keeps me awake.

 

I wake up groggy and tired and ready to go home. I pack my bag. Somehow my suitcase seems to have doubled in size. I sit on it as I try to zip it up and pray that the airline will still accept it as carry-on. The hotelier gives me generous farewell. He is very cross and stern but I made him laugh several times during my stay and I think he is starting to like me.

 

The BART takes me back to the airport and I sit in a cafe while waiting to board, diving back into my overflowing inbox after 2 weeks of neglect. I read email after email and answer the urgent ones and leave the others for later.

 

As I board my plane I thank San Francisco, as always thank every place that I leave, for her gifts to me: a devotion to the creative fire that is slowly reemerging within me.

 

How to wrap intuition in structure to make it work for you.

 

I used to think that intuition worked like a magic crystal ball — it would tell me exactly what I needed to know — and then I would just have to go ahead and do it. But sometimes I felt frustrated — the direction that those intuitive ideas were taking me in — was unclear.

 

When you devote your life to being intuitively guided like I have, you want some certainty that intuitive living is actually going to work for you.

 

It wasn’t until I was being interviewed by Natalie when I realised that even intuitive ideas are wrapped in structure. No matter how illogical, magical and elusive there is always a way to bring intuition to earth by grounding it with tangible steps.

 

My approach is pretty simple.

 

I always start with a specific intuited idea, for example, that I need to start making more videos. I’ve had this intuitive message come to many, many times this year, but I’ve mostly ignored it. Making videos feels out of my comfort zone, and to start doing something new means to stretch, stumble, learn and make mistakes, which sometimes feels like too much work.

 

The longer I have left it, the stronger the messages have come, until finally, not making videos it feels almost as uncomfortable as doing it. The thing is, I can’t see any logical reason why I should start making videos. I like writing. I am good at writing. Isn’t that enough? 

 

My intuition acts as an extension of the universe. If there is one thing I have learned by now, it is to listen.

 

 

So I began.

 

— I started by writing down lists of ideas of things that I could make videos about.

— I experimented by filming a wedding I went to.

— I procrastinated and made up excuses why I couldn’t / wouldn’t do it

— And then I finally made one

 

All intuitive messages are here to guide you. Even when the reason why will often bewilder you. Obviously, there are no guarantees. You will never know if following an intuitive vision is going to get you somewhere. But sometimes it’s not about the results but about the process and what you learn along the way.

 

Intuition is smart and strategic.

 

Sometimes when I feel scared and insecure about what I am supposed to be doing I tune within myself again and ask. Are you sure this is what you want from me?

 

The answer is always Yes. Trust me. Intuition is always guiding me to something beyond my limited imagination, as long as I am willing to go there.

 

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