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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 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 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’.

 

 

 

Hey villagers,

We are all asked as children the daunting question, “what do you want to be when you grow up?”

We answer with some unrealistic, yet creative answers like “a princess” or “a pirate”.

Now, when we are asked the same loaded question as adults, we feel a wave of anxiety and are forced into some respectable and practical answer like “a professor” or “a surgeon”.

But why is this even a question AT ALL?

Why do we have to pick one thing?

What is growing up?

Why do our whole lives have to be centred around the idea of success being in what we DO?

Through travelling and talking with friends who have also travelled for extended periods of time, I have come to a conclusion that our careers shouldn’t be boxed into a traditional education and we shouldn’t be staying in one city for the rest of your life (aka. The Windsor Life).

At least for me, it seems kind of boring to do one thing for the rest of your life in one place, especially when you have a curious soul exploding with ideas and visions.

Does your soul scream for adventure? Does your soul thrive living in a minimalist environment filled with abundant relationships, health, and passion in how you serve the world?

Well, me too.

So, maybe you need a little travel in your life.

So, here is the world traveller’s answer to the question “what would you like to be when you grow up?”:

We want to feel ALIVE and live a RADICAL life filled with the majestic views from mountains, the salty mystery of the ocean, and the pounding purity of waterfalls.

We want to work to live, not the other way around.

But don’t call us lazy, or not motivated.

We are driven.

Driven to connect in community.

Driven to be of service to others, and try new things.

We have opened minds, willing hands and receptive hearts.

We have ears ready to listen to stories about traditions and rituals, lips to sing ancient songs and chants and mouths ready to eat traditional dishes made with [love] and fresh veggies from farmer’s markets.

We travellers love to live simply.

We don’t need a lot.

Maybe just a backpack [and a yoga mat] for a while.

We break down walls and aren’t afraid to show our vulnerable souls and bare faces.

We love to laugh and immerse ourselves in the lifestyle of the locals.

 

We want to use our God-given potential to drive change.

We are big picture thinkers.

We are radicals that don’t follow the rules [only as guidelines].

We care about the dying corals and floating landfills in our oceans and the starving souls roaming the streets of city sidewalks.

We are realists that want to live out our dreams.

We are not vacationers.

We are not tourists, and we shy away from big cities and tourist attractions.

We look for the rural communities living in isolated rainforests.

For the retreat centers on tops of mountains.

For the tiny houses and air bnbs along the way.

We hang out in open-concept jungaloos and tents are our preferred shelters.

So, we should never ask a child or an adult for that matter, “What do you want to do?” or “What will you be?”

Instead, we should be asked:

“Who do you want to be?” or “Where do you want to go?” or “How do you want to share your talents with the world?”

Let us shape and mold our character like water, going with the flow and adapting to new environments and new skills we acquire along the way.

Let’s not determine our success through how much we fit into our structurally sound smile-less and superficial society.

Let’s live radically beautiful lives filled with daring adventure, endless sparkly-eyed stories and countless connections.

Let’s keep things fresh and explore villages of love, laughter and longevity.

Peace & Love,

Jill – your veggie villager xx

Please comment below about how travelling has impacted your life and how you are using your potential to change the world!!

Aloha villagers!

I have had quite the adventure the past few months, and wanted to share my experience with you in the hopes that you can add a little Hawaii into your life!

Hawaii

I worked at a yoga wellness retreat called the Hawaiian Sanctuary in Pahoa, Hawaii for just over 2 months, and it changed my life for the better. My Hawaii summer job consisted of ‘glamping’ with the sounds of frogs and peacocks at night and the view of the Milky Way from my room. I felt so incredibly connected to the Earth. I drank and showered in rainwater and chilled at beaches on the weekends, staying grounded as I drew from the healing energies of the sand and sea.

Hawaii

I would walk to our ‘grow’ room for ‘Hawaii yoga’ every morning. The room was filled with tropical plants and had screen walls, so we could feel the mist from the rain, the heat of the sun and hear the chickens and roosters to make sure we were awake in shavasana.

Hawaii
Show off.

 

Yoga in Hawaii consisted of hour and a half classes beginning with a warm up, some pranayama, meditation then went into a vinyasa flow. They were challenging (and hot!) but so much fun. Part of my yoga trade in Hawaii included private sessions and weekend workshops with my yoga instructors and mentors to practice my inversions and perfect my forearm stand. Wednesday mornings we had Kundalini classes after our morning yoga that challenged our endurance, and then a restorative class at night complete with socks filled with tennis balls to soothe our backs and our minds. I gained such a deep appreciation for how to do yoga, on a spiritual, emotional and physical level.

Hawaii
Playing with some acro!

 

Lunch was the highlight of my day! Always vegan and gluten-free, complete with dessert on Fridays! Kimmy, our professional chef with over 10 years of experience, was from New York but originally from Tokyo. I fell in love with Japanese cuisine!!

Hawaii
Kimmy showing us how to roll sushi!

 

She would always make amazing stews, including my favourite, mung bean curry. We would have fresh salads filled with veggies picked from the garden or from the local market and topped with local mac nuts and edible flowers. We also have some type of grain like brown rice or quinoa and a different side dish each day of the week!

Hawaii
Lunch is served to the sound of a conch shell!

 

We had Asian Mondays with spring rolls and veggie stir fries, Taco Tuesdays with guacamole and salsa and the best crackers [in the world], and side dishes like vegan shepherd’s pie, pad thai(!), pizza, purple sweet potato salad and zoodles with mac nut pesto throughout the rest of our week.

Hawaii
Rainbow rollsss!!!
Hawaii
Pad Thai was amazing!!!
Hawaii
Mochi cake. My favourite dessert!

 

Not only was the food amazing, but lunchtime was also a time to relax, sit outside with everyone from the community and chat about our day. We would connect with those who were working on the farm or in the kitchen all day and make plans for our weekends! Oh, how I loved my weekend adventures!!!

Hawaii

The general manager of the Hawaiian Sanctuary was somewhat of a daredevil and rubbed off on me … for the better. He brought me cliff jumping, snorkeling, rock climbing to the top of waterfalls then rappelling down them, climbing coconut trees to harvest coconut goodness, hiking to the summit of Mauna Kea to watch the sunset and swimming through caves.

Hawaii

I saw sea turtles, manta rays, lots of cool fish, more rainbows than I can count, livestock and wild pigs and goats, and every colour of sand you could think of, even green. I am eternally grateful to have seen most of the island in my two months and experience life on the edge [literally – off cliffs and waterfalls]!

Hawaii
Just one of many.

 

We had two different classes each week, both beneficial to my soul and my mind. We went to weekly classes called Non-Violent Communication or Compassionate Communication. We learned how to effectively communicate with others, through listening empathically and connecting our feelings with our universal human needs. It was so applicable to daily life, as we practiced listening to each other and making empathic guesses and truly understanding the other person, without criticism or judgment.

Hawaii

We also had our Ohana circles, meaning ‘family’ where community members came together and discussed problems [utilizing NVC hopefully] and played games. We also had a talent show that was by far my favourite week. Julia and I sang Riptide accompanied by the ukulele – how Hawaiian!

Riptide – We had fun!

Through this whole experience, I have completely transformed my body, mind and soul. Here is what I learned about the Hawaiian way of life through my yoga internship and adventurous weekends:

  1. Community.

    Living in community makes you so much more mindful of your actions and how they can affect others, like leaving your dishes out or staying up all night. While eating lunch in community, I learned to slow down and eat a balanced meal that was so nourishing and satisfying. I learned to find balance and moderation with my favourite foods and enjoy some delicious [healthy-ish] desserts once a week and fresh fish from the sea on the weekends. I loved constantly being around such diverse people and engaging in fun and deep conversations about their experiences, beliefs and lifestyles back home.

    Hawaii
    My Ohana [Family]!
  2. Adventure.

    I loved that such a variety of adventures were only a drive away, with nature surrounding us wherever we went. I learned to become a rebel, jumping over no trespassing or danger signs when exploring waterfalls and valleys. I loved the exhilaration of jumping off cliffs and rappelling down waterfalls. I am grateful for knowing locals that showed me the hidden beauty of Hawaii, even if it was living a little on the wild side.

    Hawaii
    Jump with no thought, just a smile.
  3. Yoga.

    Do yoga, almost everyday. Yoga was so soothing for my body, as it contributed to balancing my hormones, giving me a ton of energy and relieving me of any anxiety or tension I was feeling. My mind was so clear and I was so present in everything I did. My spirit was also fulfilled as I could spend my practice with God, thanking Him for this amazing opportunity and listening to His plans for my life. I mentioned doing yoga almost everyday, because I was taught that we do need to rest for at least one day a week in order to give our bodies a break and let our muscles heal.

    Hawaii
    My yoga mentor and inspiration, Kristen! Incredibly knowledgeable and so much fun!
  4. Freedom.

    The Hawaiian culture is all about being expressive and to truly be who you are, no makeup [or bra] required. People did whatever they wanted [weed was a popular commodity], and were truly accepted for whatever their beliefs were, or what their occupation was. I did not wear makeup during my time there, which was so foreign to me, and wore yoga clothes and a bathing suit 90% of the time. I felt that others accepted me for who I was and were so relationship oriented. I was constantly greeted with an Aloha and a hug and felt such a loving energy from the people of Hawaii. Our NVC classes was also a reminder of how love is the ultimate goal of relationships as we learned how to express our feelings and needs to those around us freely and without judgment.

    Hawaii
    Be you.
  5. Conscious.

    The Hawaiians are so conscious about what they put into their bodies as they wanted to keep everything as natural as possible; everything had to be from the ground! There were ava bars everywhere [usually stocked with kava, kombucha and jun {jun is kombucha except with green tea and honey – I was obsessed}, no alcohol allowed!] People played music about loving others, and health food stores were hopping at lunchtime. Yoga was a part of their daily lives, not just for exercise, as people lingered before and after class and chatted. The locals were so present in deep and meaningful conversations. Most restaurants used local ingredients and there were farmer’s markets everywhere, both during the day and at night!

    Ava Bar Fun!

  6. Slow.

    I have never been so unaware of the time as well as what was going on in the outside world. I had no TVs to watch, radios to listen to, and no constant to do list. Everything went by Hawaiian time, with yoga classes starting and ending 5-10 minutes late, and hours and hours spent at local beaches with friends. Time seems to slow down and go according to your pace of life. You are in control of time – time doesn’t control you in Hawaii. There is a healthy work and play balance, with many people bringing their children with them to dances and yoga classes. No one is in a rush … remember that when you are driving there.

Hawaii
Chill like a cow in the meadows.

 

So I challenge you to incorporate some of the Hawaiian lifestyle into your own. Go makeup free, get to a yoga class, cook a balanced meal and eat it with your friends, go explore a new part of town, disconnect your TV [maybe a little extreme?] and don’t be scared to live on the edge.

Hawaii
Or on the side of a palm tree … go with the breeze.

 

If you aren’t happy, make a change to your lifestyle. With a clear mind, you can have a clear heart – one that is ready to receive and give freely.

Hawaii

Feel free to share some of your changes with me, and let me know how yoga has transformed your mind, body and soul for the better. I would love to connect with those of you whom have had similar yoga retreat work exchange opportunities and hear about how Hawaii yoga has changed them for the better (Comment below!!)

This will not be the last of my Hawaiian adventures or yoga travel, as I was deeply impacted by the energy of the island, and the deep connections I have made. I hope you can experience the beauty in this world and discover a place that embraces the lifestyle you imagine for yourself to ultimately enhance your health and wellbeing.

Hawaii
Sit and bask in the beauty.

 

Mahalo my villagers!

Peace & Love,

Jill – your Hawaiian villager xx

Hey villagers!

When you see a 40-year-old man with a Harley jacket on and 20-year-old hippie-ish woman talking at a restaurant, what is your initial reaction? Yeah, right – it’s just wrong. But sometimes we shouldn’t make snap judgments, especially with who we see connecting over coffee.

We can be friends with anyone, no matter their age, gender or race, as we are all energetic beings that have gifts and talents to share. When we have an open and growth mindset towards our relationships, we can grow our own skill sets and gain invaluable knowledge.

mentorship

When we hangout in community, we can connect with the most unexpected people. These networks can lead to business partnership, weekly mentorship, and long-lasting friendship.

mentorship

Similarly, we can become friends with someone who could be our child or sibling’s age. We need to remind ourselves to stay humble, and to not act in a role of superiority. Here is our chance to teach, inspire, guide and love!

So here is why I have friends that are 15 years old and 50 years old and everywhere in between:

 1. Insight. When you are having a difficult time in life, either in your relationships with your family, friends or your {non-existent} love life, you can always gain a new perspective from someone who is in a different stage of life. Even when dealing with the deep and philosophical questions, people with a different perspective and mindset can give you answers and enlighten you, thus, strengthening and solidifying your own values and beliefs.

mentorship

2. Experience. When seeking advice or simply chatting, learning from someone who already went through major life events that you have yet to experience, can be reassuring and helpful with the mental and spiritual preparation that is being demanded from you. Talking to someone who has kids, is married or got a divorce, who is in retirement, or who went through university and has their PhD, can be extremely helpful when dealing with whatever comes your way.

mentorship

3. Guidance. Sometimes you need a little guidance, and those that know you best can help in reaffirming your decisions and opportunities. After creating your life web, you might just need to talk with someone who knows you better than you know yourself. They can give you the reassurance you need by drawing from their own experience to help you in your next step – whether that be university, a career change or ending a relationship. Someone older or younger just might know your heart and what will truly shine your light in the best way possible.

mentorship

4. Teach. Through your own words and actions, you can teach your friends life lessons that they are in the process of learning. You can be a role model and mentor for them and share your knowledge and gifts with those you love. We can shine our lights together by collaborating and getting creative! We can change the world, one awesome idea and connection at a time.

mentorship

5. Interests. You can expand in your interests and do different activities with friends that aren’t your age. I love doing yoga and rock climb with my friends who maybe are a bit older or younger than me but that thoroughly enjoy it! Also, it’s always fun to share your knowledge in a field with friends who are interested in learning new skills, like cooking, photography or gardening!

 mentorship

So I challenge you to get in community and start engaging with EVERYONE around you, even those who aren’t your age. I encourage you to keep an open mind and get ready to learn, grow and change the world.

Peace & Love,

Jill – your veggie villager xx

 

 

Hey my villagers!

Do you ever have a hard time saying no to people because you don’t want to let them down? Have you been presented with an opportunity and find yourself weighing the pros and cons and not getting anywhere? How do you know you have made the right decision?

We all make hundreds of decisions in a day, most small, but some can change the course of our lives for the better or worse. Through my own experience, I have had to learn to say no to opportunities and yes to others, while always trying to keep a sense of balance and peace.

Sometimes you have to sacrifice volunteer commitments or jobs that no longer serve YOU or your higher purpose in order to make room for you to let your creativity wild, your spirit free and ultimately, become more joyful and productive in the long run. Once you serve yourself better, you can pour yourself into others!

Decisions begin with knowing WHO you are and WHERE you want to go.

Decisions are the key ingredient to improving your health, especially in terms of how you are allocating your time, talents and treasures.

life web
There is always time for juice 😉

So how do you learn to make the right decisions? Here are some steps you should go through when making a decision that can affect your health:

1. Ask. Begin by asking yourself and God. How do I feel about this opportunity? Where will this lead me? How does this opportunity fit into God’s plan for me? Is He taking me to unexpected places and on a new and exciting journey? Spend time in prayer and reflection and simply put it out there and let your Spirit respond.

life web
Journal and take time to reflect.

2. Be still. Take time to meditate. Be still in God’s presence and in your thoughts and ideas. Listen or create some music, read some poetry, walk in nature, and spend time in reflection and stillness. Recognize your feelings and emotions concerning your decision.

life web
Or roll down some hills to get some inspiration.

3. Draw your Life Web. Forget the pros and cons list. Here’s what I use to balance out my life and make sure I know my big commitments when reflecting at night. This Life Web helps you to know your limits and figure out what you actually have said YES to. Try creating a present and future web to see how the decision fits in and what needs to be eliminated from your life.

  • How big is your web and how busy do you want to be?
  • Does your extra commitment fit into that web?
  • Does your life web reflect progress towards your goals for the week, month and year?
  • Do you have a balance of play, work, personal growth, health and fitness, and volunteering?
  • How are you incorporating your mind, body and spiritual health into your web?
life web
What does your web look like?

4. Yes or No. Finally, make the best decision that serves you and God, and follow through. Once you feel a sense of peace and contentment, you will know you are on the right track! Using your life web as an outline, you can make commitments that you can actually stick to and put your full heart and soul into everything you do! The quality of your work will increase along with the clarity of your mind as you take ownership of your life and where it’s going.

life web
How are you setting yourself up for success?

So, I challenge you to create your life web and reflect on your opportunities before making a commitment that you can’t actually stick to. To hold yourself accountable, feel free to share your web with others and me!! Tag me in your picture of your web at @veggievillager with #lifeweb!

life web
Take time to play.

Create limits for yourself, but know that you have endless potential to reach your goals simply by getting organized and letting your creativity flow!

Peace & Love,

Jill – your veggie villager xx

Hey my villagers!

I realized I have a problem: I am an extremist. Although it may not seem like a problem, it can hinder my mental, emotional, physical and spiritual well-being when I become obsessed and focused on giving my all in the many areas of my life: my grades, research, diet, work, rock climbing, yoga practice, harp and volunteering.

When you are busy trying to do everything, balance is a hard thing, especially when your self-care and relationships begin to suffer. I have slowly learned to understand how to keep balance and create boundaries when I am prone to going to the extreme and being so self-disciplined that I miss out on the fun and carefree life we are meant to be living.

So how can we stay focused and optimize our performance in all areas of life without becoming obsessed with perfection?

It all starts with how deeply involved and engaged we are with ourselves and others.

We need to be conscious of our impact on others and how sustainable we are in the choices we make. And this starts with the QUALITY of our choices.

When I decided to let go of my unrealistic and perfectionist expectations: expectations of being a strict vegan, expectations of having the most knowledge in the health world, expectations of giving the best service, having lots of friends and expectations of being the most fit version of myself – I accepted that my best is enough and became healthier mentally, physically, spiritually and emotionally. 

 

So, here are some guiding principles to focusing on the QUALITY of your life without being perfect:

1. Quality food. I am all about my local and organic produce, and even incorporating some free range eggs, wild BC salmon, organic bone broth and organic goat cheese on occasion. So no, I’m not a strict vegan, but I try to eat sustainably and listen to what my body is craving. If I have to put a label to how I eat, I would say I am primarily pegan. Be conscious of where your food COMES from in order for it to fully nourish your body and forget about your expectations of an ideal diet.

Yes, my body craves banana bread. Xx

2. Quality time. I have a few close friends, and am invested in connecting with others on a deeper level, no matter their age or gender. I love having open discussions with others and learning about what they know and their experiences. Spending quality time (with no phones present) in wholehearted and rich discussion is how we can find fulfillment and happiness (your positive vibe attracts your tribe!)

Life begins and ends with people.

3. Quality things. I have embraced the idea of minimalism, and believe that less is truly more. Spend your money on things that you value and bring joy to your life is so satisfying. Aim for quality, sustainable products that will last you. I love thrift stores and having clothing swaps! Give up the world’s expectations of having the next best thing!

4. Quality breath. Stress usually results in shallow breaths between cluttered thoughts in an anxious mind. I have learned through my daily practices of yoga and meditation that taking quality breaths when feeling anxious can bring such a sense of calm and relaxation in the beginning, middle or end of your day. Focusing on not only how our mind responds, but how our bodies respond to stress is so important for us to remain peace and grace filled throughout our days.

Breathe in beauty.

5. Quality experiences. Use your money not only on things you value, but on building memories. Travelling to work or volunteer for a cause you care about and that is making a difference in this world is so rewarding! My experience travelling to Greece to work for the Center of Social Welfare was not only satisfying because I worked with children, but I also discovered my next steps in life. This summer, I will be going to Hawaii to volunteer at the Hawaiian Sanctuary for a yoga internship to expand my personal growth and learn from the healthy traditions of the Hawaiian people! Explore and let your creative mind soar! 

So I challenge you to focus on the quality of your meals, breath, relationships, possessions, and experiences and take time to reflect on what you can change to enhance your well-being. What expectations are affecting you mentally? Physically? Emotionally? Spiritually? Please share your thoughts with me below!

Be present in each and every moment of this beautiful life and remember that less is truly more.

Peace & Love,

Jill – your veggie villager xx

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