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jilllacasse

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What is light?
Light is where you can see everything,
Light is where darkness disappears.
Who is enlightened?
One who can see everything: good, bad and neutral.
One who can see all and see God.
If you cannot see God in all,
You cannot see God at all.
Those who seek God inside, find it.
Those who seek God outside,
Waste their time and waste their lives.
~ Yogi Bhajan

Hey fellow yogis!

Do you crave to travel and roam around different countries as a way to seek freedom and independence? Do you want to experience new and exciting cultures and learn some new languages? Or maybe you want to travel to meet new people and make new friendships?

Well, for me, travel means more than just freedom, exploration, or connection.

Travel means reaching new levels of clarity, consciousness and community.

I saw a glimpse of what reaching my highest and truest self in my relationships, my being and in my practice of yoga looked like when I stayed in Hawaii.

Let me explain.

I worked in a community as a yoga intern for nine weeks in the rainforest of Pahoa, Hawaii. It challenged me in more ways than one, and gave me a fresh perspective on the life I wanted to create for myself. A life rooted in healthy community, healthy communication, healthy food, and healthy movement in nature.

Yoga opened up so many possibilities in my life and acted as a gateway to healing my relationship with food, healing my relationship with my parents, healing my relationship with myself and accepting the slower paced life to allow me to regain my feminine energy. Yoga revealed my true self and the lifestyle that aligned with my truth and my heart.

After experiencing living in community, and being around other conscious and like-minded individuals striving and stretching for spirituality, it made me crave community more and more. Coming back to an individualistic, self-absorbed city left me feeling drained, numb and depressed. I was craving connection … connection to others, connection to God, and connection to my inner being.

That’s when I made the ultimate life-defining decision about my future. What a convenient time … being that I was finishing university, was single and could create a future me that was ready to research, ready to revitalize, and ready to receive.

I recently have been working for an international yoga school, the Kula Collective and started my journey in Peru this August, as I completed my 200-hour yoga teacher training with them.

I bought a one-way ticket and the biggest backpack I could find.

I am ready for anything and everything to come my way.

But how does one even prepare for such an endeavor?

How does one plan for an adventure of the unknown, an adventure solely planned by God and an adventure built on trust, positivity and hope? How does one prepare for an adventure of learning and growing and expanding … whether that’s on a surfboard, on a cliff or on the top of a mountain??

I don’t plan to go away for a while and then return home … this is not a temporary finding-myself-backpacking-kind-of-trip. This is a journey of conscious-community-seeking filled with work exchanges, with yoga teaching, and with finding beauty in the ordinary and the extraordinary moments.

This is a journey of being both settled and unsettled in the uncomfortable. This is a journey of being a vessel of light to allow for darkness to disappear, and for love and connection to begin. I am on the search maybe not for an end point, but a beginning point … to experience my truest self, being in my elements of nature, community, and yoga. I want to find home everywhere I go, … the feeling of home found in the coziness of people, not places.

I am opened to opportunity. I hope to be inspired to spark initiative, spark change, spark ideas and spark awareness. I hope to create space for others to seek wisdom from within and to reach their highest potential, whether that’s through my teaching, my words or my actions.

So, how have I physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually allowed myself to process such a way of being … such a lifestyle change?

It started with defining what I wanted. Pressured to do a masters and go the traditional route, I had different plans for my future as I have had such a drawn to spirituality and have completely fallen head over heels for yoga. And I know my route is different, however, it is the only route that makes sense for me to experience God from the inside. I don’t want to waste time or waste my life going down a path that isn’t aligned with who I am, what I stand for, and my ultimate life purpose.

I believe that we need to create the life we were meant to live … and that does involve sacrifice and change. We do not grow into the people we need to become when we stay stagnant and in our comfort zones. It’s only when we learn and expand our minds and our hearts do we see the possibilities … and see how we can reach our most joyful and conscious selves.

So here is my blueprint to help you follow your intuition when travelling as a yogi to align you with your dharma, your highest self and the vision God (or the Cosmic Energy, or the Universe … whatever YOU identify with!) has for you:

  1. Ask

Put out your positive and hopeful vibrational energy into the universe and ask for answers. Maybe you don’t know where to start your journey … start by asking and surrendering control. You must trust in the process and release all expectations of what your future looks like to allow for expansion and growth.

  1. Seek

Now don’t just sit there!! Do your research about opportunities around the world that best highlight your skills, your interests, and your values and beliefs. Seek out communities, work exchanges, retreat centers, education or anything that speaks to your soul. Fill out applications, set up Skype interviews … put in the effort without fear, judgment and control of the outcome. But remember to value your worth and your skills so that others value your work and energy too.

  1. Wait

Have a neutral mind towards the outcome of your efforts. See what places return your calls and emails, then sit or go for a walk and meditate on the different places and opportunities. What feels right to you? What are you sensing? What is God telling you? What is aligned with your truth? What signals are you getting internally … not externally from family and friends? What ignites your soul and makes you excited? This is your inner journey … trust your inner guide. 

  1. Allow

Allow yourself to feel. Run to release your anger, cry to release your unease, dance to release your joy, or talk it out to release your anxiety. Allow yourself to process your journey, and process the change that you are about to make. Take time in solitude to be still and silent. Journal it all out to truly understand your intentions, your thoughts, and how you will proceed forward … make a plan for action.

  1. Action

Now it’s time to take the risk and make it happen. Book the plane ticket, accept the offer, get the backpack and start packing!

So I encourage you to live the simple life … live the nomadic life … live the lifestyle your soul is longing for … and don’t be scared to be different, to be bold and to be a trailblazer.

Peace & Love,

Jill – your veggie villager xx

PLEASE SHARE YOUR JOURNEY! Comment below about how you are being a trailblazer and following your passion and your dreams!!

And don’t forget to follow my upcoming Peru adventures and life journey on my Instagram @theveggievillager!

Hey amigos!

Do you have a heart that loves to serve others?
Are you doing a job that you love so much that you would work for free?

Sometimes it’s hard for us to realize our value and to attach a price tag to the service we provide to others, simply because we either love doing it or we don’t feel qualified enough. We have thoughts like “there are probably a hundred other people doing the same thing … so what makes me different?” This can be harder for women, who generally receive less than men in terms of salary and tend to not be given high positions in companies … which can make us feel that we are never doing enough or being enough.

Well, I’m here to tell you that you are enough … even more than enough and that the good you are doing in the world is actually worth a lot! We need to take back our power and value ourselves for all that we are worth!
It starts with self respect and self love … towards all that you are and all that you have the power to be. 

We need to dig in deep and empower ourselves in the words we say to ourselves, and how we are reacting to situations around us. Are we passive or assertive? Are we standing up for ourselves and all that we can become … or are we being taken advantage of?

I grew up serving in my church and was always a volunteer doing something … whether it was watching kids, worshipping on stage or helping in the kitchen and bringing healthy snacks on Sundays. When I entered university, I was up to my knees in volunteer work, including being in a Vice-President role that felt like another part-time job on top of the one I already had AND being a full time student.

Sometimes we need to have our volunteer experiences to grow and evolve in our skills and abilities. I’m not saying that volunteer work needs to stop when you discover your value and purpose, but I am suggesting that there is a point where being a volunteer can leave you feeling exhausted, unappreciated and unsupported.

We need to recognize this breaking point but also make volunteering and serving a part of our daily lives in order to find our voice, our passion and our power. 

I volunteered for a while and played the harp at special events at my church and retirement homes until I felt comfortable enough to start playing at weddings, yoga classes and at bigger events. Now, with more experience and skill, I set the price for my services … and that has been both a humbling and exciting experience and makes me feel even more grateful and appreciated when I get to play for others!

Soooo …. How do you know when it’s time to start valuing yourself? How can you ignite your unique, assertive and passionate fire?
Here are a few tips to awaken yourself to the power and value within: 

  1. Your time and energy are expended to the max.

If you feel resentful and are spreading yourself too thin … chances are that you are. Claim your power and be assertive in setting prices for your services outside of volunteering. When it isn’t an act from your heart, it is no longer volunteering or serving. Make your work rewarding and feel satisfied at the end of a busy day in order to live out your best self.

One of the weddings that I played at.
  1. Your skills are up to par with professionals.

Take notice of your skills and how you have evolved along the way. Are you no longer at an intermediate level? Do you feel able to teach and inspire others with the knowledge you have accumulated? Be honest with yourself in your unique skills and understand your niche in your field. 

  1. Others come to you for expertise.

Do others come to you with questions related to your hobby? Do they ask for advice or guidance about a certain topic that you know a little too much about? Start to listen to the feedback from others and what they tell you. They may be the ones showing you your next career in your life that you are passionate about and that makes you come alive!

Graduated … I must have learned something!
  1. You are certified and have experience [more importantly].

Did you take an online course? Or a weekend immersive workshop to get certified in something? That’s the first step to attaining the knowledge you need to shine. When you start to volunteer and get experience, that’s when you can do your trial and error runs, and learn what works and what doesn’t, which can add so much value to you!

Yes to puppy kisses all day long.
  1. Learn to say no, and learn to say yes.

Valuing yourself starts with tuning in to what you want and what you don’t. When others ask too much from you … learn when to say no. However, when opportunities come your way don’t be afraid to say YES to the right ones and be grateful that others are taking notice of your value! Listen to your intuition … it will guide you to value and purpose!

So take back your power in situations when you feel used and when your value is not being recognized. We have to be kind to ourselves before we can be kind to others … and it starts with being honest about our situation, our resources and our knowledge.

Peace & Love,
Jill – your veggie villager xx
Please comment below about how you have gained back your power and valued your beauty and light within!

 

 

Hey hey!!

Now that all the craziness has settled and I have officially FINISHED my undergraduate degree, it’s time to walk into a new phase of my life. A phase of uncertainty, a phase that involves me making up the rules and routines, and for me deciding where my lifelong learning journey will take me.

I feel a calling to be a nomad, and to travel and learn from other cultures in the hopes of finding answers on my purpose path. But with this calling, I must get out of my comfort zone and my head. I booked a one-way ticket to Peru last night and it was both LIBERATING and TERRIFYING.

I can’t wait to take my yoga teacher training in Peru for a month, and what an amazing month it will be.

But then what?

I could get caught up in my fear of the unknown, the insecurity of being in a foreign country, OR I could trust in the journey and in my intuition and guidance by God.

Am I being brave or courageous?

Bravery is the absence of fear … of throwing yourself into situations and not having an ounce of apprehension.

Courage has the presence of fear, but it is being able to move past the fear and still throwing yourself into a situation on mere trust and adrenaline.

I feel I am in tune with my path and am drawn to Peru out of the new learning opportunities about spirituality and healing that it will bring, as well as the people and connections I will discover along the way.

I also know that I want to continue my exploration, and discover how to help and heal others … and feel that yoga and Ayurveda will definitely play a role in that.

So how did I build up my courage? How did I go from being a ball of nerves to a calm, and trusting person who has some direction but has learned to go with the flow?

Here are some of my tips on how to build up your courage in new situations to get out of your head and into your heart:

  1. Reflect on your past to move forward to your future.

Learning to deal with your past takes a whole lot of courage but can give you insight into what fears you have and how they are driving your current behaviours. Do you have a fear of losing someone? Why? Your fears can reveal your hopes and dreams. You fear loss because you crave connection. Tap into your fears and past beliefs, in order to understand your hopes and dreams for your future.

  1. Be proactive, not reactive.

Recognize your feelings when they arise and identify them. Being self-aware in understanding that you feel upset, and learning to stop and breathe before you speak. Why are you upset? What is the root cause of that feeling and how should you move forward in addressing the feeling? I bet not exploding on your loved one or becoming impulsive in your behaviour is going to do the trick.

  1. Live out your purpose … even if change is required.

Truly understand what your gifts are and why you were put on this earth. What makes you feel alive? What could you do for hours (being in your flow state) that you are good at? Is it public speaking? Counselling others? Making calculations? How are you contributing to the world now and how does that align with your purpose and gifts? If it doesn’t … make the change required. You will be happier and feel more fulfilled … we were given one life … let’s live out our truth and find joy, purpose and peace in each breath and day given to us.

4. Prayer and meditation can give you superpowers.

Being aligned with the universe and God’s plans for us can be super powerful in allowing the right opportunities to come into our lives at just the right times. Being mindful of God throughout your day through prayer is a great way to stay connected with power and energy. Meditating on compassion, abundance, truth and seeking out goodness and truth is a way to feel empowered and give you the courage to make decisions without fear and anxiety that are intentional and God-filled.

  1. Rest in the unknown and learn to embrace it.

Most of us fear the unknown … especially death. But we can also learn to embrace and marvel at the plans God has for us. Being reassured that there are plans that we just can’t see, and that we take a windy and uncertain road to reveal them, is an exciting and encouraging idea! We can have a positive and opened heart and attitude towards the future, instead of viewing it as something scary, and embrace whatever comes our way. We can step into opportunities and situations with courage knowing and trusting that God’s got this.

So I encourage you to build up your courage through deepening your spiritual practices, reflecting on how you react to your emotions, and having an open and positive mindset when change is coming your way.

I can’t wait to grow and see what Peru has in store for me … and whatever comes next will be both beautiful and serendipitous.

Jill – your veggie villager xx

Comment below and let me know how you are stepping into courage and out of fear in this season of your life!!

Hey my people!

Are you frustrated when you open your sleepy eyes in the morning to spot yet another pimple erupting on your rosy cheeks? On your chin? On your forehead?

I think we’ve all been there.

Some of us, more mornings than not.

I’ve had my own fair share of acne from my disordered eating as my hormones were all over the map and my doshas being out of whack.

But do you ever stop to wonder why you are breaking out? What the root cause of your inflammation really is? Especially when puberty was so 15 years ago.

Well, I’m here to tell you how acne happens and give you some natural ways to cure acne. It may be a longer process than using harsh medications and conventional treatments, but it can be a long-term and permanent solution to clear skin and worry-free mornings.

So what can cause acne?

There can be multiple and complicated reasons that we get acne, however, some people are more susceptible simply because of their genetic makeup. The trick to managing your acne is controlling how you internally respond to your external environment.

Our Hormones Might Be to Blame

How is acne caused by our hormones you ask? Medication, diet, lifestyle, smoking, stress or lack of sleep can trigger hormone imbalances. In adult women with hormonal acne, there can be menstrual irregularities that makes the skin more sensitive and causes it to break out in a dreaded predictable cycle associated with the menstrual cycle. These breakouts can be due to higher estrogen levels relative to progesterone levels, particularly in the second half of the cycle, before a woman’s expected period. Women could also have higher levels of testosterone and that can trigger acne, especially in women with PCOS (story of my life).

It All Begins in the Gut

The diet and acne connection is an important one. Our skin is like a wall between our body and our external environment, similar to our intestinal tract. Our digestive tract is the decision maker that allows substances to enter our bloodstream. When nutrients are not digested and absorbed properly (also known as leaky gut), particles like food molecules, fungi, bacteria and viruses get through the spaces in between the cells of the digestive tract and enter into our bloodstream, triggering an immune response and causing inflammation.

The body desperately tries to eliminate these particles by circulating them to the liver to be filtered and excreted through our waste. However, when there are too many toxins inside the body, the skin becomes the primary organ for elimination, and waste products can get stored in our skin tissue as acne.

Dosha Imbalances

From a Ayurvedic perspective, your acne could be an imbalance of your dosha – your energy. Acne could be an imbalance of all three doshas, although it is predominantly pitta dosha that could be to blame for your breakouts. You may be full of too much fire energy, and this could result in an imbalance in your emotions, your body and ultimately, your skin.

Sugar Could Be Your Secret Enemy

It’s sad to say that sugar is hidden in everything you eat and could be the culprit of your breakouts! Sugar spikes the release of insulin and insulin-like growth factor (IGF), which can create inflammation in the body and increase the production of oil in skin glands and the amounts of testosterone and estrogen in the body. Eating foods that have a high glycemic index like sugar can increase IGF and testosterone in those with acne, causing further breakouts.

acne-what-causes-it

How We React to Stress and Breakouts

When our work demands, relationship problems, and life events cause us emotional and psychological stress, our bodies react in a negative and destructive way. When we are stressed, we can experience digestive distress due to the abnormal functioning of the gut’s filtering system.

High stress levels can increase the hormone cortisol in our bloodstream and can open the floodgates to acne. Stress can also increase sebum production in the sebaceous glands, causing them to get clogged and turn into unwanted pimples.

And how we react to our skin might be an important contributor to our mental health. A recent study suggested that people who suffer from acne are more likely to develop depression. So your breakouts might even lead to serious and detrimental consequences if you react to your skin in a self-harming and negative way. Your beliefs can BECOME your reality, even on your face.  

So now that you know what causes acne, here’s my top ten lifestyle acne tips for how to clear your skin and get rid of acne for good:

  1.  Eat an Anti-Acne Diet.

Sticking to an anti-inflammatory diet is the best way to stabilize your blood sugar, decrease your glycemic load and promote healthy and radiate skin. This includes incorporating healthy fatty foods into your diet that are high in omega 3-fatty acids like avocado, fish, seeds and nuts, along with liver cleansing foods such as leafy greens, beets, berries, milk thistle and turmeric.

Support your digestion and heal your leaky gut by including probiotics and collagen into your diet through eating fermented veggies, apple cider vinegar, coconut yogurt and bone broth. Intermittent fasting may also be a great alternative for you to help stabilize your blood sugar and speed up the recovery of your inflamed gut.

Eating foods high in zinc including beans, mushrooms, nuts, spinach and sustainably raised pork and veggies that are high in vitamin A including carrots, sweet potato and broccoli can supplement nutrient deficiencies that contribute to acne, giving you clearer and glowing skin!

Decreasing your intake of any sugar, dairy products, mass-produced meat and recognizing foods that you are sensitive to through an elimination diet  (common culprits include eggs, soy, corn and gluten) can decrease inflammation in your body and promote acne free skin. Try to always eat locally and organically, following the seasons and your dosha needs

eat-your-greens-acne-healing

  1.  How you Eat is Just as Important as What you Eat.

Your eating habits can contribute to a healthy or leaky gut. When you eat, you want to engage your parasympathetic system, or your ‘rest and digest’ system. This can be done through creating a calm and relaxed dining environment. Don’t eat when you are stressed, in a rush or anxious, and always try to eat with others around. Don’t eat while on your phone or at your desk, and be aware of each bite you take.

Engage in mindful eating and give gratitude for your beautiful meal then chew, chew, chew! Listen to your hunger signals and stop when you are 80% full. Your gut and your skin will thank you for it.

community-acne-healing

  1.  Drink water … and lots of it.

Drinking water helps to keep toxins moving, your bowels moving, and helps to rehydrate and replenish your body after a workout. If you aren’t a fan of plain water, add some fruit or herbs to infuse some flavor and make your fluids more exciting. I love to sip on herbal teas that have turmeric and ginger throughout the day, especially in the winter, to support my digestion and skin.

  1.  Sweat it Out.

Exercise improves our use of blood sugar so that there are fewer blood sugar spikes and thus, fewer pimples! Find a type of exercise that works for you, whether that is lifting weights at the gym, hiking, flowing through a vinyasa class, or doing some HITT interval training – have fun while you sweat!

Moving your body in a fun and free way can reduce our stress, and control our cortisol levels that can spike blood sugar and cause unwanted breakouts – it’s a win win! Just remember to properly cleanse your face after your workout to prevent future breakouts.

hiking,movement,acne

  1.  Balance out your hormones.

Getting your hormones in check can be a long process … but be patient. If you think you have PCOS, are experiencing missed periods or have terrible PMS symptoms, get your blood work done and see a naturopath for alternative treatments.

I would suggest staying away from birth control as a means to treat acne. Hormonal imbalances can be a consequence when coming off the pill, and can increase breakouts as hormones overcompensate after being suppressed by artificial ones. Fixing the root cause through diet, exercise, and stress management as well as finding support through natural treatments like chaste tree, DIM and acupuncture can be some great options to heal your hormonal issues for good.

acne, health, yoga
Open your heart and be receptive.
  1.  Catch up on your Zzz’s.

Sleep is crucial in supporting your hormones, your stress, and your skin. Engage in healthy sleep practices like having no screen time at least 45 minutes before bedtime, having a warm bath or shower, spraying or using some magnesium gel on your body before bed, reading a book or sipping on some herbal tea like lavender or chamomile can promote healthy and deep sleeping patterns. Remember to go to bed at a consistent time (10 pm is prime time) and aim for at least 8 hours of uninterrupted sleep to promote supple and smooth skin.

moon-acne-sleep

  1.  Deal with your Negative Vibes.

Negativity towards yourself and others can be detrimental to your skin, as there is a strong connection between your mind and body. Engage in repeating healthy mantras to yourself and journal at morning or night to let out any negative thoughts or feelings you experience throughout the day. Acne can be frustrating and long journey, and sometimes we need to release our pain and negativity in order to move forward in a healthy and optimistic way.

Don’t be ashamed of your feelings, and be vulnerable with those who are close to you. Let out those tears to someone you love. Engage in community and surround yourself with positive and fun people who can take your mind off your skin and make you feel beautiful inside and out.

community-healing-acne-laughter

  1.  Use Skincare Products that Help the Anti-Acne Cause.

Using a combination of natural and medicated products could be a great option to deal with your acne, depending on the severity. Finding a cleanser that works for you that is free of parabens, parfums and have active ingredients like salicylic acid, activated charcoal, and probiotics are great options to treat acne-prone skin (Currently obsessed with Fitglow and Living Libations). Following your wash with a toner that has sea salt, aloe, rose or neroli hydrosol or witch hazel are great for managing acne and healing scars.

Serums are amazing for healing hyperpigmentation and managing oil production and can include ingredients like gotu kola, turmeric, jojoba oil, and essential oils such as frankincense and tea tree (Eminence Organics and Province Apothecary have great acne-prone and sensitive skin options). Finish your skincare regimen with some light moisturizer and if you are going to bed, spot treatments are great for active acne. Benzoyl peroxide can be a medical spot treatment option for those with severe and deep cystic breakouts.

 

  1.  Manage Your Stress in Creative & Fun Ways.

Get your body out of ‘fight or flight’ mode and balance out cortisol levels to achieve acne free skin. This can include getting your zen on with some meditation practices, clearing your mind with some deep breathing techniques, going for a walk with your dogs, dancing around the house to your favourite song, or cooking a delicious dinner with your friends – whatever takes your mind off your worries and into the present moment.

  1. Soak up some rays and swim in the sea.

Getting some sunshine in your day can help with your vitamin D levels, which are crucial to clear skin. Get connected with nature to ease stress and reflect on your thoughts. Catching some salty kisses from the ocean can be just what your skin needs to heal. Letting your feet sink in sand is also a great way to decrease inflammation as you practice grounding.

So remember to be kind to yourself and patient in the healing process, as you try new foods, new exercises, new sleeping routines and new meditation techniques for a holistic, hormonally balanced and long lasting approach to clear and beautiful skin.

paddleboard-acne

Peace & Love,

Jill – your veggie villager xx

Now I’d love to hear from you!

Which lifestyle changes worked for you in your process from acne to clear skin?

How did you stay positive during the acne-healing journey?

Share your story in the comments below!

 

Hey my beautiful readers!

This post is really hard for me to write and has taken me several months to think about and formulate with the right awareness and intention. Although, I did write this post in a couple of hours, I feel like I am finally floating on this sea of emotions, rather than sinking. I want to be real and honest about my eating disorder journey with you, but that requires a lot of courage, strength and introspection on my part.

I feel compelled to share my story to fully identify and articulate what actually happened throughout my health journey, as well as give you a story that inspires, encourages and hopefully gives you the tools you need to heal yourself. I have had so many realizations along the way that have evolved me into the person I am today.

I am still in the healing process, although I feel I am very close to reaching my ultimate health. I didn’t know what health really meant until I became obsessed with it to the point of turning into an anxious and sick person and had to apply the knowledge I had to heal. Only did becoming mindful and using yoga was I able to completely heal my destructive habits and become grounded in self-love.

So … Here’s the whole story.

binge eating disorder, orthorexia
Bearing my soul.

My Journey from Fit to Sick

It all began in Grade 11 when I discovered Jillian Michaels boot camps and how good greens made me feel. My mom had decided to start exercising at home as part of her 100-pound weight loss journey, and I decided to jump on that bus. I hated to exercise at this point, and was addicted to sugar-filled foods like Arizona green tea and peanut M&Ms.

The high-achiever in me got bored of her basic exercise videos and found the hard-ass workouts of Jillian Michaels challenging and satisfying. I did her videos about five times a week, and started to eat a healthy vegetarian diet, with more salads and less sugar.

At this time, I was having mild breakouts and went on birth control to help the cause. Little did I know what this meant for the future of my periods. As I started to educate myself more on health through documentaries, health podcasts and blogs, I realized I had found my passion. But the perfectionist and curious soul in me of course wanted to take my health to the next level … and so I took on the challenge of becoming a vegan.

Dipping my toes into the vegan world.

I was hardcore vegan for about two years, and during that time, I tried many different types of vegan diets – the fruitarian, the high carb, no fat diet, the juice cleansing … and during this whole process I went off birth control as I learned all about the negative effects of it.

Well, I had no period for two years after that.

And during this whole time, I learned how to have incredible self-control and discipline. I had an exercise routine, I had a strict diet and I had a plan to feel good. But somehow, focusing on my physical health made every aspect of my health suffer.

My physical health didn’t really improve, in fact, it got worse. I developed an obsession with every meal I would have, and started to feel anxious when it came time to eat. I was nutrient deficient through the insane blood sugar spikes I had and started to eat huge amounts of food, in secret of course.

I loved to bake, and would bake a whole tray of vegan, gluten-free, refined-sugar free muffins, snap a pic for my blog, then eat the whole tray and think that I was fine and eating a healthy diet. But I felt guilty, bloated, ashamed and sick. However, my anxiety was gone when I finished my binge. And I could exercise it off to keep at a steady weight.

And so the pattern continued.

cookies, health, eating disorder

I became obsessed about my diet to the point where I isolated myself, and would keep myself so busy to the point where I lived in a chronic state of stress. I would have my extra-curriculars, my schoolwork, my harp lessons, and work to fill my time so I could stop thinking about food and my parent’s shaking relationship.

My first few years of university I decided to major in business because I wanted to start my own health business as I thought I had all the health information I needed. I worked at a smoothie bar and vegan restaurant. I was golden.

Until I started to hate my classes, hate the cutthroat vibe of my program and knew I wasn’t living out my truth.

I broke in my second semester of my first year, and was miserable, nutrient deficient and full of stress as I pushed away the people I loved. I remember sobbing in my harp lesson with a teacher that didn’t know how to help and thought that the circle of fifths was my biggest problem. But I knew.

I knew I needed to change my major and travel to re-discover who I was and where I belonged.

My mom also started to notice that my ‘healthy’ and restrictive vegan diet wasn’t working for me when I ate a whole pot of brown rice she had cooked for me for dinner. And so she asked how I felt about going back to my vegetarian ways. But at that point, I had been brainwashed by other fruitarians and vegans to think that eggs and dairy were bad and not healthful. But she said maybe my skin would improve, and as it was getting worse, I felt weak and tired and continued to not have a period.

I remember the day when I agreed to her caring suggestion and she bought some free-range organic eggs per my orthorexic request. I remember her handing me my veggie omelet she made with love, and a side of salsa and avo, just how I used to like it. I was terrified to eat it, but decided to make the decision to listen to my body.

In that first bite, it was like every cell in my body finally cried out with happiness and hollered and hooted ‘THANK YOU!’

And so my healing journey began.

I included eggs into my diet, which helped with the whole feeling satisfied after a meal thing. And I started to go to a naturopath to address my period and acne problems. But I was still a ball of stress. I started to relieve it with my newfound love for rock climbing.

My friend was also experiencing similar symptoms, as she was having an autoimmune reaction to everything she ate, but was eating primarily paleo. It was interesting to hear her perspective, especially on the subject of bone broth and how it can heal your gut inflammation.

My stomach was a disaster zone. I was bloated constantly as I ate primarily raw food and grains. I was so adamant about my vegan label that I had lost my curiosity and growth in my health journey.

I was a complete mental and physical mess.

But what about spiritually?

Well through these times of isolation, my parent’s separation and internal pressure  I placed on myself to keep getting 90s, God knew what He was doing. He was giving me self-help books to read, started to create a support system of friends in the health field, and gave me plans of changing my major to Kinesiology, where I fell in love with research and understanding the mechanics of the human body.

I also went to Greece and experienced deep connections with those around the world, and discovered how much I loved talking to others about my health journey. I also had to eat some feta and greek pastries while I was there (because duh, I was in Greece), and ate in community, loosening the grips on my orthorexic and binge eating ways.

community, eating disorder, health, greece

God kept me stable and grounded, even when I was depressed and anxious. I remember on a really bad day as I was driving home from school, I felt a surge of anxiety run up my spine paralyzing my body and causing me to hyperventilate. I then had the thought of swerving my car into the oncoming traffic.

That’s when I knew I needed help.

greece, eating disorder, orthorexia

Then came the era of acupuncture, journaling and yoga – my saving graces.

By this time, I had tried everything to balance my hormones (I thought) and decided to give acupuncture a try. Well it zened me right out and eased my digestive pains. I also decided to keep an open mind with introducing new foods into my restricted plan, and eliminated inflammatory foods to speed up the healing process. I stuck to my qualitarian ways and started to drink bone broth that my friend was making with organic and grass-fed beef and chicken.

Well that shit was liquid gold.

I felt like I was getting closer and closer to healing myself and finding the right diet that worked for my body. But it wasn’t until I became truly mindful through the healing art of yoga did I release the negative emotions I had towards myself and towards my father.

I remember being in a yoga class with one of my favourite teachers, and the theme of the class was forgiveness. In shavasana, she encouraged us to hold our hearts and release any resentful thoughts we had towards ourselves and to forgive anyone in our lives that had hurt us. I left that class with tears feeling lighter and loved. My parents relationship was finally resolved in my mind as my dad left during this time. My mom and I could finally live in a less harsh and angry environment that could heal us both.

I felt deeply connected to my Spirit and loved by my Father, and knew that everything would be okay.

My addictive personality of course moved on to something else … and that was yoga. My daily yoga practice forced me to become reflective and aware of my obsessive thoughts about food. So my binge eating episodes didn’t make much sense after my yoga classes, when I wasn’t even that hungry and wanted to sit and enjoy each bite.

So I started to eat less by including sustaining meat in my diet for the first time in 13 years.

I started with some wild fish, as I thought I could stomach that. I learned that I loved salmon. And then I had some grass-fed buffalo and a little chicken. But I remembered to keep limits on things, and to have small portions of nuts, of seeds, and meat. I also made a habit of drinking tea after my meals, to signal to my body and mind that I was done eating and could move on with my day.

Then I went to Hawaii for my yoga internship and that solidified my healing process. The travel bug again came to the rescue in my pursuit of health and happiness.

eating disorder, balance

This second opportunity in my life to live in community and let go of my perfectionistic ways allowed me to be human. I felt so alive and liberated to eat in community where I could slow down, have a calm and relaxed stomach, and engage in deep and meaningful conversation.

I hung out with people who ate everything and exposed me to new foods and ethnic cuisines, new adventures and new ideas and opinions. I was challenged in my faith, challenged in my diet, challenged in my flexibility and yoga knowledge, and was opened to a new and beautiful world. Did I mention my period had returned and was consistent during this time? No coincidence there.

community, eating disorder, health

When I came home, I became depressed for a little while as I left my tropical paradise. And that’s when I binged once more and knew it felt wrong. I knew my behaviour was due to my feelings of wanting to live in the past and caused me to revert to my old habits. I knew I had come this far in the healing journey and focused on what my beautiful future would hold and made the decision to stop. But how did I stop binge eating?

I made the decision to stop and be aware of my actions following that decision. And I wasn’t scared if I slipped up … I would just try again.

Be kind to yourself and intentional in the process.  

My research also went along with my health journey, as I discovered Jordan Younger‘s journey with orthorexia and did a project on #orthorexia on instagram not only to better understand others’ battles with the eating disorder, but my own. It also isn’t a coincidence that my passion for yoga is now translated into my thesis on #yoga.

I came to the realization that this thing I did, this eating too much, wasn’t normal and it was confirmed in my brain in my abnormal psychology class when we were talking about the diagnostic criteria for binge eating disorder. How hard I had tried to become this label of vegan and healthy person to let go of it all … to now come back to a new label. But as I left class with tears of understanding, it was only fitting to be able to say it out loud and now to write it out for you to read.

I had orthorexia and binge eating disorder and I am a better person because of it. 

health, eating disorder, happy, binge eating disorder

So how am I doing now you ask?

Well … I’m still over labels but will stick to my qualitarian ways because I do love to eat a healthful diet. I do eat primarily grain free with intermittent fasting and some chicken and fish with bone broth to supplement my plant-based diet because that’s what my body needs right now. And I feel my best when I eat like this. But I won’t be scared or anxious to go out with friends and eat something outside of my criteria. Not only do I listen to my BODY … I also listen to my MIND.

I have learned health is so much more than physical health … and that your emotional health is just as important.

chicken, eating disorder, health
I’ve learned to love chicken.

I release my negative emotions by journaling every morning and being with God in my meditation practices. I do yoga daily to keep me sane and flexible in all aspects of my life. I realized my love for nature and being connected to Mother Nature has helped me in the healing process and has given me a carving for living a nomadic and simple life.

eating disorder, health, algonquin park

I have taken some extra-curriculars off my plate so I’m not in a chronic state of stress, and have come to terms with the fact that I can’t control my life … and that my trust rests in Him alone. I am proud to call myself a calm person now that goes with the flow and lives in the present moment.

My past struggles have prepared me for my bright and beautiful future ahead.

health, hawaii, eating disorder

I am so excited to continue my yoga and travelling journey as I train for my yoga teacher certification in Peru in August. I also plan on helping others with their eating disorders as a health coach by using my perfectionistic and obsessive personality as a way to relate and love those who suffer from disordered eating.

I believe God gives us suffering and let’s us struggle in order to better understand our purpose in this world.

Yes it’s hard and it sucks but in the end … we can share our stories in vulnerable and real ways to be a light and source of love to others.

So love yourself, be mindful and make a mental inventory of your physical, emotional and spiritual health. If you feel out of balance, attempt to determine the underlying cause behind it, and research some strategies that you think could work for you to release your stress and ground you.

By releasing fear, and being sensitive to your heart’s desires, you can free your soul and reach ultimate health, one moment at a time.

yoga, health, eating disorder

Peace & Love,

Jill – your vulnerable veggie villager xx

 

Thank you for letting me share my story with an open heart! Now, I’d love to hear from you! Have you experienced disordered eating? What strategies did you use to overcome it? Comment below!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hey my world changers!

It’s a pretty daunting task when you walk across that stage as your name is called, and are handed your degree. You know what it means ….

Freedom.

No limits.

But also responsibility.

And making decisions ….

Life changing decisions …

Lots of them.

But how do you know if you are making the right one?

Having a degree has its advantages and disadvantages … it’s a great foundation, but usually needs more schooling no matter what route you go.

 

But decisions are also driven by something,

something deeper.

 

Your values, your beliefs, your attitude …

Your purpose.

 

You are called to something bigger …

a mission bigger than yourself,

bigger than your decisions,

bigger than the plans you have for your future.

You are called to live a life of surrender,

a life dedicated to love,

to service,

to be moved by your spirit and mind and heart.

 

So do you stay or do you go?

With all this freedom …

What type of life do you live?

One that challenges you

Or stunts your growth?

Maybe you are not meant to stay in one place.

You are meant to be nomadic

Spreading love in every community

Every city

Every town …

 

You are meant to be light

Spreading it everywhere we go

Lighting up the corners of darkness and despair

With your hope and optimism

for changed hearts and transformed minds.

You are meant to cry

And scream

and dance

and feel pain

Because in the suffering

You find your path

You find your voice.

 

I feel I am being called to something greater … and have been given many opportunities before even finishing school.

I apply,

pray,

and surrender to His plans,

not my own.

 

The future may seem scary,

Because it is unknown

But maybe that is the best part

The unknown

The sitting back and being amazed …

 

The release of control

The release of the weight on your soul

The release of being perfect

The release of being busy …

Too busy to be still

To be silent

To be engaged

To allow the flow

To move you to conquer

To face your greatest fear

Of showing your heart to the world.

 

So enjoy your journey

Be present in the process

And let your spirit take you …

To the top of mountains

To the depths of waves

To the edges of cliffs

To the thickest of forests

To mother nature

As she hears your heart

And guides you down the unbeaten path …

 

The path of light

The path of love

The path of change

 

To a broken world

We are called to something deeper,

something greater,

something extraordinary

 

Listen

Lean in

And follow.

So should I stay or should I go …

Only God knows …

I am just along for the journey.

Release,

Inhale love

Exhale fear.

journey, decisions

Peace & Love,

Jill – your veggie villager xx

 

How have you listened and followed your purpose and path? I would love to hear from you! Comment below!

Hey everyone!

So how’s keeping your New Year’s resolutions going? The start of February is about that time that you have made healthier choices that have stuck, or are indulging in pizza after such a rough month of lifestyle change.

Changes to your schedule or routine, changes to your career, or changes to your unhealthy habits … they all can take a lot of discipline and motivation to stay focused in order to reach your idea of success.

productive
Starting my day off right.

For me, I have always had a lot of discipline and have been a pretty productive person due to my Type A personality. But with trying to find balance in my life with friends, yoga, school, work (x3), research, harp and managing my blog, life has also taught me to schedule my time efficiently and effectively in order for me to feel my best (not have a mental breakdown at times) and to be able to show up wholeheartedly for others.

Having self-discipline begins with a choice – a choice to do better, to be better and to live in a better way. But where does such a drive come from?

It’s innate in you … and starts from having goals and dreams of contributing to a higher purpose.

Self-discipline is just a step in the process of helping you reach your greatest potential to be able to pour yourself into making the world a better place …. And I think that sounds pretty awesome.

productive, sunset

So how do we stay disciplined to achieve success and ultimately, our purpose?

Here are my ten tips for being more productive and gaining a little more self-discipline to be successful and achieve your goals! 

  1.  Get rid of distractions … aka social media scrolling.

Having a clear mind starts with being focused on the task at hand, and not being distracted by the lure of social media. It is best to create, not consume on social media and use it as a creative and fun outlet. Give yourself one time of the day that you can check your feeds, for approximately 5-10 minutes then move on to your next task.

  1. Reward yourself … after you are productive.

This adheres to the principles of operant conditioning, and is an effective way to get work done that maybe you are procrastinating on. Homework assignments, calling the insurance company, doing your taxes … tell yourself that after that project, that phone call, and crunching those numbers, you can reward yourself after a productive day with some self-care like getting a massage, writing in your journal, going outside for a walk, or taking a warm bath.

productive
Game night with some kombucha and berries.
  1. Balance out your day.

Being productive can also mean feeling that you were successful in working on different areas of your life … what is your success criteria? If you spent time with a friend, made some calls, worked on a project, went to yoga, and found time to journal, you may feel more successful than if you only focused on one aspect of your life for the whole day. This can leave you with more energy and feeling less drained. To prevent procrastination, working on things in chunks can also be a productive strategy, as you take projects day by day rather than waiting last minute.

productive
Take time to chill.
  1. Do what you feel like.

Fill your day with things that light you up yet are productive and healthful. If you love yoga, go to a class, or start your day off with meditation … figure out a routine and listen to your body and mind for what you should do next. If you have a to-do list, you don’t always have to go in order! You are in control of your day … make the most of it.

productive
Always feel like yoga.
  1. Don’t stress or worry … it will all get done eventually.

Take one step at a time and enjoy each day …. And if you are worried about studying for an exam, or getting a project done in time … just do what you can each day. Spend chunks of productive time focused on your task, then take a break and know that it is better to produce your best work rather than spending hours to produce mediocre work. There is no need to worry … be patient with the process and enjoy where you are now.

  1. To do lists are a must.

Sometimes, in your head, everything can be a mess, and all you need is a pen and paper (or notes on your phone or computer, sticky notes on my mac are my fav … and colourful!) to help you organize your thoughts. To do lists help you to prepare for deadlines, upcoming exams and events, and help you to plan each day in order to be successful. An agenda is also my go-to in order to stay productive and organized with deadlines and dates.

productive
Feeling like Stew sometimes when looking at my agenda too.
  1. Repetition sucks … but it works.

Consistency is key to mastering your art and developing a routine. Taking 20 minutes a day to do something everyday, can add up fast! They say it takes 10,000 hours to become an expert … a little discipline everyday can get you to achieve your goals … especially if you are repeating skills like learning a musical instrument or learning a language. The more repetition, the faster you will learn and the closer to a master you will be!

productive

  1. Mindfulness helps … a lot.

Being mindful and aware of your surroundings, how you are feeling and your thoughts can help give you clarity on how you should be spending your day. You can enter into a flow state when you are present, and being productive becomes pretty effortless when you are doing something you love and are fully immersed in it.

productive

  1. Slow and steady wins the race … know your limits.

Take everything one step at a time and know when you need to stop working and play. Don’t stay up all night when you know you will suffer in the AM. Start first thing the next day, and take care of your health first. Know your limits and listen to your body, mind and spirit.

  1. Teamwork and accountability.

If you need a little motivation to get started, have an accountability partner that can help move you forward and help you create the best daily habits for success. Social support is always helpful when meeting deadlines, bouncing off ideas, and getting questions answered.

So I challenge you to start a new project, make a routine, write down your list and start getting productive! How do you balance healthful behaviours and productivity? How are you using your self-discipline and harnessing it into your purpose for your life? Share your productive habits and tips below, I would love to hear all about it!

productive
Me in drawing form.

Peace & Love,

Jill – your veggie villager xx

 

Hey everyone!

Happy 2018! We all know the importance of setting goals, but you are probably tried of setting goals for the New Year that you will probably keep for about 20 minutes. So here is a refreshing take on setting and actually achieving goals by manifesting the right opportunities in your life.

I’m proud to say that I did accomplish most of my goals for last year; however, some are always an ongoing process.  I was intentional about setting SMART goals that were consistent with my 2017 timeline and the new opportunities in my life!

manifesting

Recently for 2018, I have been actively searching for a yoga teacher training that not only fit my own criteria, but that was abroad and that I could do a work exchange. I did my research and applied online for many different opportunities and jobs in order to keep my options open and also to have a plan post-graduation.

I was so excited when I found The Kula Collective as their values and passion aligned with mine and they had many different teacher trainings throughout the world that I could work in exchange for. I applied to work as a website manager and sent in my resume and continued to pray about my future year. In the meantime, I also applied for many wilderness therapy jobs but felt a little uneasy by the beginning of December, as I still didn’t know what my future would hold.

I was in yoga class one day and created an intention of surrendering to God and letting Him decide my next steps for my yoga teacher training, as I was exploring other local options. I got home that night and found an email in my mailbox. It was the intern manager from Kula! He said he was reading my resume and was so excited that I went to Hawaiian Sanctuary and did a yoga internship there … as he had also been there and loved his experience! I felt such peace and knew that this was the answer from God that I was searching for.

Even though I won’t be leaving until August and wanted to leave earlier, I believe I need to be patient and prepare myself for my journey ahead. I plan on continuing to travel as I graduate and after my training for 2018. I want to teach and travel for a while to learn from other cultures and meet those in other like-minded communities.

My other quick story about manifesting is achieving my goal of getting my mom’s poetry book published. I typed up a book for her birthday of all her poems, and I knew that it was good enough to get published. So we called a local bookstore that publishes, and they directed us to another publisher that specifically does poetry books. I emailed them and they told us to send them a sample of her poems.

I sent them the sample and within 3-4 days, they said they loved her work and will get back to us in the New Year. The power of being vulnerable and sharing your soul with others can get you places.

I feel I have had such a deep connection to God and His plans for my life and have learned a few things about asking, seeking, knocking …. the door will be WIDE open if you choose to enter!

manifesting

So, with all this excitement for the New Year and learning how to set your goals using a SMART format, here are my FIVE tips for manifesting your reality:

1. Pray.

Make your list of goals then pray about it. Ask the universe if these goals are in alignment with your passion, your purpose, your skills, your ambitions, and how you can best serve the world. If you don’t know your goals, pray about it and listen in stillness. Spend time listening to your soul and what is on your heart.

If you aren’t happy, what changes and opportunities do you want to see?

How do you want to grow and stretch yourself?

2. Seek. 

Now that you know what is on your heart, do your research. Opportunities aren’t handed to you … you have to work for it. I researched for months looking for the right opportunities that aligned with my values and my vision. Take the time to figure out what your next steps are to making your dreams a reality.

If it’s travelling, research different places, where you can stay, or what work exchanges are available in the area.

If it’s changing your career, what schooling or certifications do you need to be one of the best in your new field? Who can you learn from that has experience in the field?

And if it’s healing from a divorce or chronic illness, who can you reach out for help in order to move forward and change your old habits and ways of thinking?

3. Be patient.

Everything will happen, not in your timing but in God’s timing. I wanted to leave sooner, but I know that God will give me the time I need to prepare myself for travelling through working, taking time to be creative and work on new projects, learning new skills like Spanish in order to communicate while abroad, and allowing me to connect with those I love here before I leave.

Everything is a process. Be patient with healing, with growing, and with new opportunities coming your way

4. Trust.

Trust in all that the universe has to offer and stay connected daily. Trust in the journey and all that is awaiting you, and don’t be afraid. Have no fear and know that God has got this. When you know that all the decision-making and plans aren’t on your shoulders, you feel a sense of peace and joy. Be confident and do you. 

5. Send out positive vibes.

Have a positive and opened attitude to new opportunities and those around you. A little good Karma can’t hurt anyone. Love on others and you will find love comes back to you! Also, when you are confident in yourself and your skills and abilities, others will recognize that and give you the opportunities you need to thrive.

So I challenge you to look within and set goals that challenge you, grow you, and that are also aligned with the universe and its timing. Comment below with your list of goals to hold yourself accountable and to have support along the way! Also, share your manifestation experience … I love to hear God working in others’ lives!

Peace & Love,

Jill – your veggie villager xx

 

 

Hey my beautiful humans!

It makes me sad to think that we have been brainwashed to believe that there is only one idea of beauty. We approve of that symmetrical and flawless face plastered with makeup: foundation to cover any imperfections, highlighter for the cheeks, rainbows of eye shadow to emphasize those plump eyelashes and some gloss for shiny luscious lips.

Only to be accompanied by hair that has been bleached, fried, and styled to keep up with the latest hair trends. And let’s not forget that slender yet fit body, with toned arms and legs and a perfect 0.7 waist to hip ratio.

And that’s just for women.

But is this really the definition of beauty?

And what about those ‘imperfections’ – acne, wrinkles, dark spots, light spots, rashes … why should we be embarrassed? Why do we need to cover them up in order to be acceptable, or even, normal?

beauty

I want to challenge the status quo.

I want to redefine what beauty means.

So here’s how to DEFINE BEAUTY …

beauty

Beauty is being unique.

Beauty is being yourself.

Beauty is not being defined by a number.

Beauty is being in your rawest and purest form.

Beauty is being authentic and real.

Beauty is being comfortable with yourself.

Beauty is being confident in all that you are.

beauty

Beauty is in your smile.

Beauty is in your eyes.

Beauty is in your curves.

Beauty is in your muscles.

Beauty is in your chaotic mind.

Beauty is in your words.

Beauty is in your actions.

beauty

Beauty is from within. We should embrace all the beautiful qualities about ourselves – our personalities, our passions, and our purpose.

Beauty comes in all shapes, colours and sizes. There is something beautiful in being your raw self. It is about showing others you, not the mask you put on to go out into the world. Present yourself just as you are.

Beauty is letting your light shine.

beauty

Beauty is being fearless in exposing all your hopes and dreams to the world, and not worrying about what others think about your lifestyle, your hairstyle or living freestyle.

So let beauty be reflected in your interactions with the world.

beauty

The most beautiful people are the ones that create beauty around them, simply from their presence, their thoughtful actions, their kind words, and their gratitude towards others.

So don’t let different definitions of beauty touch your self-esteem.

Don’t compare.

Respect yourself and all your ‘imperfections’.

Because each of us are unique, and built in specific ways to fulfill our different purposes, our different passions, our different roles in this world.

And that alone is … beautiful.

beauty
Beauty comes in all colours and in all forms.

 

So yes, you are beautiful.

Even with that scar.

Even with those curves.

Even with that ‘big’ nose.

beauty

This is my best beauty advice.

Let this be an affirmation to remind your self:

My body is beautiful.

My mind is beautiful.

My soul is beautiful.

 

beauty

Peace & Love,

Jill – your beautiful veggie villager xx

Continue your self-love journey by checking out my article about how to free yourself from expectations! Subscribe to be a part of the village for the latest blog posts and check out my instagram for daily photos and videos at @theveggievillager!

P.s. here’s a slam poem for a little more inspiration that redefines what beauty means entitled ‘Pretty’.

 

 

 

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