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

Hey fellow yogis!

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

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

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

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

Let me explain.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

But how does one even prepare for such an endeavor?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  1. Ask

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

  1. Seek

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

  1. Wait

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

  1. Allow

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

  1. Action

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

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

Peace & Love,

Jill – your veggie villager xx

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

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

Hey 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 villagers!!

Ever thought about attending a yoga class but the idea of trying to get your head to your knee seemed too overwhelming and scary? Especially in front of a bunch of yogis who can stand on their heads?

I know because I’ve been there. But I hope I can convince you that yoga is so much more than trying to relax, hold a pose with screaming legs and burning arms, and attempting to not hold your breath all at the same time.

So …. What is yoga?

Yoga means union, a focus on the interconnectedness of your mind, body and spirit to improve aspects of health. Yoga is more than just poses, which is the most basic form. It is called asana, and is just one limb of the eight limbs or components of yoga. Yoga consists of ethical principles for living a purposeful life, while acknowledging the health, mindfulness, wellbeing and spiritual aspects of oneself.

Sometimes, in order to truly understand the major themes of yoga’s teachings, we need to practice asana with the intention of drawing inward and looking at what our minds and bodies are telling us about our souls.

But we aren’t given this yoga information when we attend a yoga class, and maybe we have different intentions to start practicing. For most, it’s to relieve stress, or to get some exercise in, but as you continue to practice and engage in an everyday yoga routine, you begin to focus on the spiritual side of yoga.

So …. How do you do yoga?

Yoga begins by showing up. Engaging your whole self and slowing down to the speed of our rapid and quickly changing, crazy lives. Yoga is for all bodies, shapes and sizes, and no comparisons need to be made as it is a practice of going within, not looking outward at others.

Yoga is for you, your development, and your growth so that ultimately, you can better serve others. The asana or poses, is just a vehicle for you to reach your greatest potential, and love with a humble and grateful heart.

So … Feeling inspired yet?

What if I told you about my yoga journey?

I was exposed to yoga since I was a child, as my aunt was a yoga teacher. I would watch the yoga for kids video and hang out in my cat and cow poses, while actually making the animal noises … it was a fun way for me to move and let my energy out.

I would attend hot yoga classes with her, and she would lead me through yoga flows at her house. But as I went into high school, my poor diet, sedentary lifestyle and academic focus shifted away from my health and my yoga practice.

As my mom was getting into health and fitness, I started to eat better and be conscious of movement and changing my negative mindset. I began doing home workout videos, and jumping on my rebounder (mini trampoline .. plan on doing bootcamps with it one day!).

Fast forward to university, when I decided that business was not my calling and that Kinesiology was much more in line with my values and lifestyle. I began having a regular yoga practice at different local studios, mostly vinyasa and hot yoga. I enjoyed moving, and started to see how yoga was being translated into my life and improving my health – physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually.

I was also always drawn to spirituality. I’ve always been a big church go-er, and served at my local church in all capacities. I felt God has always lead me down the right path, and has instilled healthy habits in me. But yoga allows me to go deeper, everyday.

 

As I decided to go to Hawaii for 2 months on a yoga internship this past summer, I was immersed into the true yoga world – one that isn’t commercialized and advertises yoga as exercise in one quick hour. I was doing vinyasa, yin and kundalini yoga for 1.5-5 hours a day and loving every minute of it.

I felt like I was on a yoga high … and I still feel that way coming out of classes and even doing my own yoga routine and stretches back at home.

Now as I teach at Strong Body Fitness as a bootcamp instructor, I have access to yoga on a daily basis and have been attending hot yoga 1-2 times a week at a studio closer to home. I do my own daily flow if I can’t make a class, and always incorporate breathing techniques (pranayama) and meditation into my morning routine.

yoga

Yoga has given me clarity, healed my relationship with food, is slowly healing my hormonal and digestive health, improved my relationships with others as I am more present, engaged and sensitive in conversations and has helped me connect with God that is within me (I call it the Holy Spirit … some call it your higher Self).

So …. Feeling ready to reap the benefits of yoga but don’t know where to start?

Here are my top 10 yoga tips on how to get started on your yoga and inner journey to reaching your highest Self!

1. Get a mat.

If you are planning on taking a yoga class, the first step you can do is buy yourself a yoga mat that suits your needs and your style! There are some for as low as $20 will cool designs, and even grabbing a block and strap package for your home practice is helpful, especially if you need an extra stretch from injuries or chronic pain. I finally upgraded to a heavy-duty Jade yoga mat that is extra long for my extra long limbs and will hold up to my daily practice.

yoga

2. Get some inspiration.

See how others are moving and get inspired! Maybe check out some Instagram accounts of yoga teachers and their favourite flows and poses, and read about the eight limbs of yoga through resources like the Yoga Sutras.

 

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Dancing by the sea.

3. Figure out which type of yoga works for you.

Maybe you hate being hot when you are moving, so hot yoga would probably not be the best choice for you. Listen to your body and try out some different yoga classes. Different types of hatha yoga are the most common types of yoga that we practice in North America.

When you want to be mellow and stretch it out in static poses, go for some yin yoga. If you have lots of energy and like to not hold poses for a long time, try some vinyasa power yoga. If you want to challenge your mind and engage in more repetitious breathing and meditation practices, try some kundalini yoga. And if you like routine and want to progress through set sequences, try some Ashtanga yoga.

Vinyasa yoga is my go to, usually a yoga class that holds poses and where I can push myself and hang in a headstand for a while, but I do switch it up depending on my needs of the week.

4. Do your research and shop around (local is better).

Find a studio that has a variety of different classes that you think you would enjoy, as well as one that is near to your house or work. Check class schedules weekly and fit them into your schedule (set reminders, put it on your calendar or write it in your planner!!). Make time for you and your personal growth a top priority! I love my power flow and slow burn vinyasa yoga classes at Strong Body, my vinyasa hot yoga at Moksha, and my inversion practice at my own yoga sanctuary.

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5. Try different classes that involve water, sun or animals.

There are some special exceptions to traditional yoga classes that you might want to try out if you’re feeling adventurous. SUP yoga is always a fun way to challenge your balance and connect to the sea (or lake…).

When the seasons change, there are usually 108 sun salutation events that salute to the new season and connect with other yogis in your community … I went to one of these for the fall and it was so much fun!

Also, there are some classes that are by donation to animal rescue charities, and include goats, cats and dogs wandering around and chilling on your mats as you move through your downward dogs with them. This is the usual at my house … minus the goats.

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Definitely harder than it looks.

6. Bring a friend or go with someone who is all Zened out.

It always helps when you know someone who is into yoga and that already goes to a yoga studio. You can hold each other accountable as well as share ideas and thoughts about classes and how yoga is influencing your lives together. Also, your friend might give you the encouragement as well as inspiration you need to get to your first class.

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Find your tribe.

7. Be consistent.

To have a daily practice would be ideal, but when starting out, try to go to yoga at least 2-3 times a week to really experience the benefits – mind, body and soul! You will feel yourself becoming more mindful and slowing down and you will realize that what you learn on the mat is projecting into your daily life – but this only happens when you are committed and consistent!

8. Listen to your body (know your limits).

Don’t ever compare yourself to the yogis in the room. Focus on your breath and listen to your body as you flow through different poses. Stay in the ones that are uncomfortable, but not the ones that hurt. Know your limits but also know when to push yourself to your edge. Get adventurous and try out new poses without fear or judgment of yourself or what others will think.

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108 sun salutations … and go.

9. Find a yoga instructor (mentor) that gets you.

Trying different studios and going to different yoga events in the local community can help you find a teacher that speaks to your soul and your growth. Once you find a yoga teacher that you can relate to, that understands you and knows your limits can make your yoga experience even that much better. Having a mentor can teach you new things about yourself, about the practice itself, and can create the support and guidance you need to reach your highest Self.

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My yoga mentor … she got me.

10. Be patient.

Being kind to your body also means that getting to more advanced yoga poses takes time, effort, focus and patience. Be patient with your progress, and know that there is a lot of hard work on all accounts – mentally, emotionally, physically and spirituality. Contemplation, reflection, listening, and letting go are all parts of the journey. Trust in the development of your yoga spirit.

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Surrender.

Please comment below about how you have used these tips to start your yoga practice! I would love to hear about your yoga journey and how you incorporate the eight limbs of yoga into your daily life!

So I encourage you to get your Zen on in order to improve your health and your interactions with yourself, others and the world off the mat.

Namaste,

Jill – your veggie villager xx

Hey villagers!

For my last week of summer, I decided to do something a little out of my comfort zone. I had the amazing opportunity of portaging in Algonquin Provincial Park for nine days AND get a university credit for it! I wanted to share about my camping trip in the woods and how you can apply what I learned to your own life!

As a child, I wasn’t much of an outdoorsy person and grew up staying in hotels (I know … shocker!) The most camping I ever did was on an air mattress in a tent, with a kitchen and shower close nearby.

However, I have evolved into a nature and dirt enthusiast and felt that the challenge of completing a camping gear checklist, learning to paddle and portage a canoe and cook my meals over a fire would be fun and exciting! I went with 33 other students and leaders with a full Duluth (a huge backpack that I could fit in!) and an open mind.

The first couple of days were spent solidifying our paddling strokes, compass skills [with our Algonquin park map!], our basic knowledge of how to set up camp, including our tents, tarp and camping food hang (to keep our goodies away from the bears!) and getting comfortable sleeping under the stars and adjusting to the circadian rhythm of the earth.

We began on Crotch Lake (someone with a dirty mind came up with that name … ) then portaged (hiking with a canoe on your head or shoulders) to Booth Lake and Shirley Lake for the remainder of the trip, scouting out camping spots along the way.

We stayed there a few nights and spent most of our time with our core groups as well as went on a day trip to another lake nearby (I went to Robin Lake, which was quite the portage – basically a vertical hike up a mountain in the mud … and mud filled with leeches)! That’s when we were immersed into the Algonquin lifestyle and applied the skills we learned [like how to properly remove leeches] … crash canoeing course 101.

We also had a four-hour solo (chilling in the woods, doing some yoga and writing!) and shared our insights during the council for all beings. The council was meant for us to share the perspective of something living around us. I was in awe of the pine trees surrounding me during my time alone, and wrote a poem from its perspective.

One of our last days, we spent the afternoon constructing our creative projects that showcased our connection to nature and our experience during the trip. I made a wind chime out of calm shells that were all over our campsites, twine, sticks (plenty to choose from) and pinecones [all Algonquin symbols!]!

It represented to me all that I am learning to do this next year – to go with the flow (the wind) and let go of control about my future plans, leaving them up to God because I know His plans are SO much better than I could ever hope for!

We spent lots of time together laughing, swimming and dancing! I also spent a lot of time reflecting in nature and wanted to share my ‘camping tips’ and how they can apply to YOUR life … so HERE it is:

Community.

I absolutely loved living in community as we shared meals, tents, cooking responsibilities, equipment, stories and laughs! Everything is better together (even if you are an introvert and need space from time to time … I get it) and experiencing Algonquin together made the trip so much more enjoyable and exciting! So spend a little extra time this week with the people that lift you up and bring a smile to your face!

Campfire coziness.

Learning how to start a fire was such a rewarding experience. It was so heart warming to be able to cook our meals and s’mores over the fire while we shared life experiences and passed the talking stick to express our feelings about the trip and the day we all had. Campfires are the perfect way to get deep with the perfect ambience! If you need to have a crucial conversation with someone … Maybe it’s best to have it around a campfire.

Nature’s tune.

Without a radio, TV, or a phone, we were very present and learned to truly listen to our surroundings. I did love to sit still and listen to nature at its best – the waves by the beach, the wind in the trees, and the flapping of bird wings and the loon calls.

Although, we did still miss our music at times, and would make up for it by singing our camp songs while paddling and sitting around the bonfire; we always remembered to engage in our sense of play and fun! So, enjoy music but still remember that nature has its own tune that we can sometimes miss if we aren’t listening.

Survival skills.

We went back to basics and learned such a simplistic way of living. Learning basic skills like how to start a fire and paddle properly gave me an appreciation for our interaction with nature and how priorities can change so fast. Everything was a process in the woods, but was so rewarding when that meal was finally made, the lake water was filtered, when we finally felt clean and when we reached the end of the lake to our next destination.

Remember to be grateful for a stove that lights itself, clean water to drink, a hot shower, and a car as a source of transportation. We are sometimes so caught up with relationship, work and school problems … all issues that somehow seemed so much less important in the woods with survival as our main priority.

No clocks, no mirrors, no worries.

My favourite part about our trip was that we did not have a sense of time (only the leaders), allowing us to truly get in tune with the circadian rhythm of the earth, as well as our bodies as we listened and ate when we were truly hungry. We didn’t worry about getting somewhere at a specific time, and could pace ourselves and enjoy each moment in the journey.

We also had no mirrors, which was a refreshing change. We went by how we felt, not by how we looked. We felt less self-conscious so we could be our authentic, real selves with each other, no masks [or makeup] allowed.

Just keep paddling.

Sometimes, we didn’t feel like paddling, or hiking to the end of the portage. We learned to persevere through the rain and sore muscles and finish strong. Remember that this too shall pass … and that once you reach your goal you feel so satisfied and accomplished! And if there isn’t a specific goal in mind, remember that things can get better and that pain and suffering can make you stronger and teach you a lesson along the way. There is always a sun after the storm.

Our core group consisted of 6 girls and 1 guy. So we called our group … Doug and the Girls. It was catchy.

So I challenge you to take some time in nature and get back to basics … find the inner child in you and spend some time just playing! Revel in the beauty that is all around us … be still and look up. I am always in awe of the moon and the stars… Especially in a canoe and on a clear night [The Milky Way!]

I encourage you to be your vulnerable and authentic self, because those who truly accept you are those that will help and support you to be your best self! Be kind to yourself and enjoy the journey!

Remember … Nature does not rush … yet everything is accomplished.

Peace & Love,

Jill – your veggie villager xx

 

 

 

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 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

Hi my villagers!

With a different school schedule and starting my classes at 10 AM, I’ve had time in the morning to get grounding and walk my dogs! Since reading up on how your sleep can improve through grounding, I have been walking my dogs BAREFOOT through the park each morning. Yes, even through the leaves, and the benefits have been AMAZING!!

I used to have lower back pain from sitting all day in class, but since earthing each morning, it’s been so much better! I also have been sleeping like a log, have increased energy, less stress and feel much more balanced. {Even though I look like a full-blown treehugger walking barefoot in the park, my body thanks me!! 😉 }

What exactly is this earthing thing?!

Grounding involves coupling your body to the Earth’s surface energy by walking, sitting or sleeping outside in direct contact with the Earth or using a device that creates the same response indoors.

grounding
Aka …. why we sleep so well after being on the beach all day. 

Why is grounding so IMPORTANT? 

  • As we are inside the majority of our time during our busy days, we have become disconnected from nature! We have created a build up of positive ions in the body, causing long term health problems. Nature gives us the negative ions we need to thrive!
  • We are exposed to electromagnetic waves radiated by mobile phone signals and Wi-Fi  and is known as  “dirty electricity”or “electromagnetic pollution”. We have built up an excess of positive electrons in the cells of our bodies without even realizing it! (This is the only kind of bad positive vibes in the body!!)

What are the health benefits of grounding?

  • Reduce inflammation by reducing excess positive electrons
  • Increase energy
  • Lower stress
  • Promote calmness
  • Improve blood flow and pressure
  • Relieve muscle tension and headaches
  • Lessen menstrual and female hormone symptoms
  • Support adrenal health
  • Boost the healing process
  • Protect the body from EMFs
  • Shorten recovery time after athletic activity / from injury
  • Reduce or stop snoring
  • Eliminate jet lag

If you want to learn more about the research on grounding … check this out! 

Grounding can help your joints!
Grounding can help your joints!

So how can we get the benefits from earthing when it’s minus 100 and frostbite attacks our skin?

  1. Earthing sheets and mats! With Christmas and winter on its way, my christmas wish list includes a yoga mat that connects to an outlet that helps to get rid of those excess positive ions! Earthing sheets also are a great way to improve your sleep and stay healthy!
  2. Flux – Protect yourself from EMF by downloading the app flux on your laptop to time your screen’s blue light with your sleeping patterns.
  3. Tachyon technologies – Getting a tachyon micro-disk reduces the EMF from your phone and laptop! {It actually works – seems like a placebo effect but you can feel the difference!}
Fall, grounding
Fall is my favourite time of the year!!

Protect your health and get outside {barefoot} to stay healthy this fall season! Plus, jumping in leaves is fun too 😉

Peace & Love,

Jill – your veggie villager xx

 

Hey my villagers!

I had such a fun Sunday spending time with family and seeing all my health-conscious friends at the Vegfest. So excited to see it FINALLY happening in Windsor!!!

vegfest, vegan extremist
Indian vegan food truck!

I was delighted to see all the vendors that were there,  including all my fav Windsor and Tecumseh go-tos like Healthy Mama, Breathe and Brandner Farms as well as some fresh faces from Living Chocolate and Eat What’s Good!

healthy mama, vegfest
Great stew today!! Mung bean and spaghetti squash with some kale chips! Xx

vegfest, eat what's good

vegfest, living chocolate
Impressed by Living Chocolate’s goodies!

brandner farms, vegfest

I had the best pumpkin and gingerbread ice cream sandwich, made by Renee. Definitely will be attending one of her cooking workshops in the near future. She also had a cooking demo featuring a tofu scramble and raw chocolate cheesecake for dessert – YUM.

vegfest
I will be dreaming about this for a while.

My girls at Empowered Wellness provided the amazing speaker of Neil Bernard who had such great information about his research with plant-based diets and reversing heart disease. Loved his knowledge and was pretty funny and entertaining to listen to 😉

neil bernard, vegfest
Neil was awesome!

I also enjoyed seeing all the amazing organizations that were focused on helping and loving our cuddle creatures like DAWG!

vegfest, DAWG
Meaghan you are such a LIGHT!

I had a chance in the afternoon to stop by at the Health Fair in Tecumseh at Lakewood Park. There was such fun community activities going on outside on such a gorgeous day including Zumba and drum circles! There were lots of giveaways at booths focused on physical activity and nutrition.

vegfest, health
Let’s get moving!

I loved seeing all the health initiatives happening that encouraged Windsorites to focus on their physical activity, nutrition and stress by listening, engaging and loving in their communities!

Peace & Love,

Jill – your veggie villager xx

 

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