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Personal Development

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

Hey villagers,

I don’t know about you, but for me, when someone I love begins to take their anger out on me and is highly anxious and stressed out, this can easily affect my energy and I can leave a conversation with them feeling down for the rest of my day.

This can be detrimental to our mental health, especially when someone’s negativity and pessimism begins to affect us chronically. But recently, I have detached myself from people who drain my positive energy, and have learned to build barriers and keep a healthy perspective, allowing my light to shine.

HOW did I learn to create barriers, you ask!?

One simple answer: Mindfulness. 

I have been on a yoga and rock-climbing kick and you know what both of these activities have in common?! A focus on breath and living in the moment.

I have learned to control my emotions by realizing that my emotions are not ME, just a state that I am feeling.

My thoughts don’t need to be dictated by the ebb and flow of my emotions and the people around me who can affect them negatively. My thoughts start with what my intentions are for the day and how I want others to feel when they connect with me.

I have struggled in setting boundaries with my father as we are very different people in our philosophies and ways of life, and I have learned some of these life lessons the hard way.

But here are just FIVE ways that you can manage your emotions when around negative people and keep your values in mind when interacting with others:

1. Your tormentor can be your mentor. Ask yourself why someone’s energy affects you so much. Learn to take a breath before responding, and be PROACTIVE and positive in your words, not REACTIVE. Conflict can be resolved simply with being more mindful of the lessons others can teach you about yourself and your reactions to their negativity.

boundaries

2. It’s them, not you. Sometimes you need to remind yourself that you did nothing wrong, and that people’s moods are simply a result of their perspective that is dependent on the amount of stress they are experiencing or problems they are facing. Try to bring hope to them in your words and actions, and use your positivity and inner joy to brighten their day and leave them with a smile and a sparkle in their eye.

boundaries

3. Set boundaries. Surround yourself with friends that make you laugh and are great listeners that support and encourage you to reach your goals. Spend the MOST time with your lifters, and the LEAST time with your downers as possible. Sometimes, you may feel that completely eliminating that negative person from your life all together would be the best for your own health, although, sometimes, this is not possible if you can’t control your situation, such as if they are family or if you see them freqeuntly at work or school, so limit your time as much as possible to keep your spirits high.

boundaries

4. Draw strength from your Creator. Light comes from within, and positivity starts with where you draw your strength from. By talking to God in the morning, journalling and listening to His will for your life, you can have a grateful and full heart to be able to pour out on others. Let your values be emulated in your words and actions, even when you are around those who are in a dark place.

boundaries

5. There’s a reason for a season. Sometimes you won’t feel positive, and your emotions won’t match your thoughts. Be patient with yourself and the season you are in, and accept that you may need more time to release your habits of reactivity. Take more time for self-care in order to enhance your mindfulness and let go of stress and your need for control. Enjoy a massage, a movie night, a warm bath, or a good book and observe your thoughts and emotions while being fully present during these times of self-care.

boundaries

So I encourage you to be gentle with yourself, and with those who are hurting in your life. Set boundaries for yourself in order to preserve your light and be aware of the difference between your thoughts and your emotions. By surrounding yourself with loving and positive people, you can enhance your health and your longevity.

Listen more, laugh more, love more and react less. 

boundaries

Peace & Love,

Jill – your veggie villager xx

Hey veggie villagers!

Do you ever wonder while you are tossing and turning in your sheets that if your mind was a little more empty, if you just had a little less to do, if you had a tad more time or energy during the day – you might actually be able to fall asleep?

Lately, I have had stress swallowing me with to-do lists and deadlines to meet, not allowing for my restless mind to find peace and contentment, and leaving me in an unsettled, anxious and reactive state. I haven’t been able to focus and be as productive and I catch myself slowly slipping from reaching my new goals for 2017.

So how do we reset and get rid of these negative feelings? It all starts with a shift in the mind. When we are surrounded by negativity, we can start to internalize it. We must be aware of the thoughts entering our minds, while being conscious of the mood and emotions associated with the thought. Once we are aware, we can guard our minds from negative energy and learn to be conscious of our words and actions to produce encouraging and positive outcomes.

mind

Once we can shift our mind to a more positive and proactive perspective, we can shift our control. We need to let go of our future, forget the past, and live in the moment. We must rely on God to direct us and give us insight and understanding about where our path leads us. Let us take one step at a time, and check off our to-do list mindfully and deliberately. Once we spend the majority of our time in a free-flow mode as opposed to an analytical way of thinking, we can let go of the stress and anxiety and be mindful of what we can control – our best effort and energy.

By shifting our control and mind, we can shift our lives! Here are five things for five minutes that we can do TODAY that can help us shift our mind and our need for control in order to ease our emotions, increase our focus and awareness, and  improve and maintain our mental health:

1. Power Poses. This might sound silly, but it works! Before a stressful or intimidating situation, go somewhere for 2-5 minutes, whether it be a bathroom or in your car, and hold yourself in a power pose! A power pose is an opened, strong pose – with feet firmly planted hip width apart and arms held overhead or on the hips, you can unleash your inner Supergirl (or guy!) and strengthen your positive, confident and assertive thoughts and actions!

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Fake it until you become it.

2. Meditation. Get your Yogi on! By focusing on your breath and letting thoughts come and go, you can let go of negativity and gain control over how you filter your thoughts, keeping your emotions and moods being reactive and destructive. Take 5-10 minutes everyday, and try guided meditations or sitting in stillness and focusing on your inhales and exhales, along with keeping a smile on your face to encourage positivity and love! Inhale love, peace, contentment, gratitude and joy and exhale negativity, anger, fear, doubt and hate!

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3. Get creative. Connect with nature and your free-flow mind by going for a walk, and become inspired to write, cook, bake, paint, exercise or play music! Allow your creativity to be an outlet to release your stress and anxious thoughts, even if it’s 5-10 minutes a day. Get balanced and grounded before starting on your to-do list for the rest of the day.

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Get creative in the kitchen!

4. Prayer. I have incorporated prayer into my morning and nightly routine, always asking God for his strength and grace in difficult times, and thanking Him for all my blessings. Giving thanks can turn into a grateful and peaceful heart. Take 5-10 minutes a day to talk to God, or reflect in a journal through a written prayer or poem with Him in mind.

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5. Community. When you are feeling negative or have thoughts swimming in your mind, the best way to alleviate these thoughts is to get them OUT and talk about them with friends and family. Having a close friend to spill your guts to can serve as a way of replacing negative feelings with positive ones as you feed off their positive energy and encouragement. Remember: Your vibe will attract your tribe!! 

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Good food and good people.

These are just some ways that I change my mindset in order to get back to the best version of myself. I challenge you to change your mindset and get rid of negativity, shame, doubt and anxiety through the use of community, reflection, and creativity! Find your light when you are in darkness, and don’t let your emotions become your boundaries to having a joyful and peaceful life!

mind
Positive thoughts lead to positive life! 

Peace & Love,

Jill – your veggie villager xx

Hey villagers!!

Every class I have taken in school, I have not gotten below an A-, yet the most knowledge I have gained has not been in the classroom. The reality is, our left-brain memorizes facts before an exam, we answer multiple-choice questions, write a few short answers, then a few months later, we forget the majority of what we learned.

But then I went on an internship to Greece for seven weeks and volunteered at the centre of social welfare in the summer of my first year of university. I met students from all over the world and travelled for the first time in my life outside of North America. I lived on my own. I booked flights and planned trips with new friends and organized different games, events and crafts for the children at the centre. I communicated with others who spoke Greek. I figured out a bus system that was all in Greek. THAT was when I started to really learn something – life skills that couldn’t be taught in school.

 

School
Finding myself amongst the trees.

I had time to discover myself through hiking up mountains, jumping off cliffs, meditating, cooking, travelling by myself, talking with others and gaining a global perspective. The information we learn in school should be applied to real life and should help guide us and direct us to finding ourselves, while giving us the tools we need to articulate what we truly believe in.

School should be a place where we can focus on our wellbeing in a positive and encouraging environment. School should set us up for success in our advanced and complex world.

Here is how I would change the school system to improve the health of children and set up their path for success:

  1. Exercise: After completing Grade 9 gym class, students have the decision to continue gym throughout their high school career. This means they have a chance of remaining sedentary for the rest of their lives, leading to long-term health problems. Healthy habits need to start young. With children bringing digital technology to schools, constantly staring at smart boards and sitting the majority of their days to study, they need time to move. Safety concerns from helicopter parents have reduced playgrounds to stones and logs, not letting children be monkeys on playgrounds and imagine a jungle of endless possibilities!

What we need: Adjustable standing desks and periods throughout the day for children to participate in yoga classes, kickboxing, and rock climbing walls. We need a little adventure to be scheduled into children’s days that encourage physical literacy and physical stimulation.

School
Back to the basics.
  1. Mindfulness: ADHD, depression, anxiety, panic attacks; all issues that children didn’t have nearly as much of in the past, are increasing at alarming rates. Students need time to get away from the stress of school, and learn to manage their emotions and feelings.

What we need: Meditation spaces, both guided meditation and soothing music. With a focus on breathing and freeing minds by living in the present, teenagers would be considerably more focused and less anxious.

School
Kids naturally live in the moment when they are young. Then comes high school …
  1. Nutrition: Just the fact alone that canned tomato sauce on a slice of pre-heated pizza counts as a serving of vegetables says enough about our lunch programs. Kids are guzzling down bottles of Gatorade and Coca-Cola, without knowing that these sugar filled habits can lead to unhealthy behaviours and consequences to their future health. They can be better students with diets abundant in fruits and veggies!

What we need: Plant-based hot meals prepared with love each day. Fresh salad bars and fruit baskets replacing pre-cooked and preservative filled fried foods can provide children with the brain and mood boosting fuel they need for their school day.

School
Nectarines and community.
  1. Life skills: It’s sad to see college students getting an A in class, but failing on all accounts of how to cook a pot of oatmeal. Students are not taught the basic life skills of cooking, using social media properly and safely, having an interview and being punctual or discovering their purpose in life in ANY classroom.

What we need: Cooking classes, personal development and media and communication classes need to be mandatory, ensuring children are knowledgeable on how to survive and succeed in the 21st century.

School
Baking and laughter are the perfect combo.
  1. Right-brained dominance: We put such an emphasis on left-brain thinking, being that most classes are about memorizing and replicating our notes onto an exam. This is an informational way of thinking, and does not serve us in the long run with automation and exporting of repetitive tasks to other countries with cheaper wages. (More info here on right-brained thinking)

What we need: Majority of our time in class should be about seeing the bigger picture. They need to learn to connect information on a micro and macro level, like in biology – not only seeing how a cell functions, but how millions of cells work to create a person’s body as a whole. They should be spending more time in art and music class, which encourage them to create, think critically, problem solve, and innovate. These classes allowing children to strive towards unique and authentic ideas, not repetition and regurgitation.

School
Dressing up our puppets.
  1. Financial Literacy: Children are never taught in school how to deal with money in terms of what to save, what to spend, and what to give away. Parents are supposed to be their role models, but if they have a pile of debt in their bank accounts, where will they learn how to handle cash?

What we need: Teens need classes teaching them about how to properly manage money, and how to create money through multiple mediums. They need to be exposed to the area of entrepreneurship, as there is a new wave of online businesses through blogging, podcasts, E-books etc.

School
We need financial flash cards, teenager version.

If our school system taught life skills that children sometimes never learn, our world would be a much more functional and successful world. Children would understand themselves, know where they are going, and would stop switching majors, or taking minimum wage jobs after completing university degrees. If they were inspired to start businesses, gain global perspectives and develop creative and innovative problem-solving minds, they would rule the world.

School

Peace & Love,

Jill – your veggie villager xx

Hey veggies!

This week was my relax, revitalize and reset time to look at the next year and reflect on what my summer has in store! Last summer, I worked hard, paid off my car and started saving for this year because I had big dreams and big plans of going somewhere and making a difference! After experiencing a life-changing internship in Greece for 7 weeks, I have had major wanderlust and wanted another experience, this time, doing a job that was centred around my passion.

goals
Reflecting over a cup of tea.

When I heard I could do an internship course in Kinesiology, I thought it would be the best opportunity to travel and do something I love! So I started my search in September for internships that were in the field of health and wellness. I found a few, but none that really spoke to me. I clearly was not using Google properly (find the right key words and you are golden!)

I found an internship in Panama that looked promising in the field of Health and Wellness Promotion. I applied and got accepted, however, it was out of my price range and wasn’t truly what I was looking for. I prayed and concluded that God wanted me to go somewhere else, so I kept searching.

One night when I was brain dead from studying, I started browsing the web. I knew in my heart that there was only one place I wanted to be and that I knew would heal and grow me – and that place was Hawaii. I stumbled upon this magical place and knew it was where I belonged.

It is called the Hawaiian Sanctuary and they have volunteer internships with different tracks – yoga, horniculture, guest services, and cooking their amazing sustainable and organic foods. I have been looking to deepen my practice in yoga and meditation, as well as learn in the kitchen as that is also a large part of the yoga track.

My love for cooking.

When I had my 45 minute interview and was basically told you are accepted at the end of it – I was giddy and exploding with excitement!!! I am so grateful to be able to share my passions, working for a nonprofit self-sustaining sanctuary on a beautiful and healing island!

I would so appreciate your support financially and with much love!

goals
My future favourite place.

I wanted to share my story to INSPIRE and MOTIVATE you. Here are some questions to ask yourself about your upcoming year and goals to reflect on this week:

  1. Travel: Where do you see yourself a year from now? What place is calling you?! What steps do you plan on taking to get there?
  2. Self-care: How do you plan on enhancing your well-being this year? What activities will you engage in to stay moving, glowing and alive?
  3. Relationships: How are you building sustainable communities around you this year? How are you planning on meeting new people and going out of your way to make people feel special?
  4. Personal Development: How do you plan on being bold this year? How do you plan on growing and stepping out of your comfort zone?
  5. Spirituality: How will you become more connected to your purpose this year? What are you passionate about and how are you going to use your gifts and talents to fulfill your mission?

I would love to hear your answers to these questions! Please share and comment below!

How do you plan on finding your Hawaii? Living out your dreams is possible with a little searching, persistence, effort and positivity! I challenge you to make this your best year yet by loving, growing, serving, teaching and discovering!

Peace & Love,

Jill – your veggie villager xx

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