Absorbing the Mental Load

Forgive me if this is all over the place. So is my brain. Also, this blog won’t actually have any photos in it, so if you come here for the visuals, you should probably just press that little x at the top right of the screen right now.

I’ve been back at work full time now for about a month. During this time, Ontario has also entered the second wave of the pandemic, and cases are at an all time high. My kids are back in school as well. Truly, I savour every minute of knowing they’re at school, socializing (from a distance), and learning from a more qualified teacher than me (I’m great at teaching Shakespeare, but I can’t teach little kids to read and write). Every day we’re in school is a good day, despite the constant lingering fear that one of us will contract Covid. I mean, it’s in the schools. It could happen to us. I’ve stopped looking at that ever-growing list, because simply put, my heart can’t take it.

My first few weeks back were such a rush of excitement and exhaustion. Having been out of the building since March, it felt amazing to sit at my desk, greet my students in the morning (albeit half of them), and teach face to face. Even the afternoon virtual component of this hybrid model is fun for me. It’s crazy the types of engaging dialogues you can have with students virtually, when everyone is committed and invested.

But in the past week or two, the initial excitement has worn off, and teacher burnout has ensued. A big part of this is my students need me. I have 72 of them this semester (which is actually a small number compared to the 90 I’ve had in previous years), and they all email me with questions, requests for support, etc. I’m the one who they turn to not just for academic support, but emotional support too. I absorb their stress, burdens, and anxiety. I am their guide. And to be frank, during this time, that is entirely too much for me.

I’m really struggling to compartmentalize everyone’s emotional and physical needs. My students’. My own. My families’. Not to mention all the brands I partner with on top of all of this, which is essentially a third job beyond teaching and parenting. My brain can’t absorb this mental load, and I often wake at 5 am on the dot, panic-stricken at all I have to do that day.

So what gives?

Do I put my Instagram job on hiatus? No, because I’ve just been offered some amazing partnerships. Do I go to sleep earlier? I mean, you can’t go to sleep earlier than my already ridiculous 9 pm bedtime. I’m not really sure how to proceed without the inevitable crash. This isn’t long term sustainable. Usually I have a vacation to look forward to, but alas, that isn’t in the cards for a long time to come.

Basically I’m reaching out to all of you. Not to unload (well, okay, to unload a little), but to hear if you have any suggestions. I already practice so much self care, but it isn’t helping me stay afloat.

If you’ve made it to this part, I genuinely want to thank you for reading. Athleisure Teacher, out.

resolveCBD Review

For those of you who have been reading my blog for the last couple of years, you know my summers are typically pretty chill. All the anxiety and stress from the 10 months of the school year completely diminishes for me, and I live my best life as a lady who lunches, while my kids go to camp. There are shopping trips to NYC. Road trips to Wine Country. Well, not this summer. Due to the pandemic, summer is looking pretty different this year, and while I’m still making the best of it, my anxiety is raging.

Enter resolveCBD.

Resolve

I reached out to this local company after a few months without CBD, as my sleep wasn’t great, and I just generally haven’t felt my best. Not only does CBD typically help with my sleep, but it also helps with pain management, something that I most definitely need right now, between achy and sore muscles, and a couple of other health issues that I don’t want to get into.

I’ve been using resolveCBD now for a couple of weeks, and it’s been amazing. I take a dropper of the tincture under my tongue about 45 minutes before bed (basically right before I meditate), and it helps me turn my brain off and prepare for rest. CBD doesn’t make you sleepy – it just makes you more even keeled and at peace. This oil has a mild peppermint flavour, and it’s much more palatable than other CBD brands I’ve tried. Since I started taking it, I’ve been falling asleep faster and waking less times in the night. For the last few months, I’ve been ruminating quite a bit for hours after a middle of the night wake up, and that isn’t happening now. I’m able to block out the external thoughts and fall back asleep relatively quickly.

Overall, I’m loving partnering with this company, because they make some amazing products, and I’m proud to support a local brand doing something to help people who struggle with pain and anxiety. Their website is www.resolvecbd.ca, and you can purchase the full spectrum CBD oil here (and even save 10% off using my code RSLVATHLEISURE!), and also get the new CBD pain cream that they just launched here. They were kind enough to gift me the pain cream too, and wow, it’s actually awesome. I was skeptical, but I put it on my sore calves after a run, and it soothed them instantly! Shipping is free on all orders, so this is really a no brainer.

XO,

Athleisure Teacher

Quarantine Coping Mechanisms

As we enter week TEN (insert mind blown emoji here) of quarantine, I thought I’d share some things I’ve been doing that have helped keep my mental health in check during this awful time. It’s no surprise that when this all began, I was not okay. I was pretty transparent about how my anxiety about the unknown was raging, I was depressed due to having my world pulled out from under me, and just generally I wasn’t handling it well. I really do feel I’ve found my stride in acceptance of this as our new normal, and I wanted to share my strategies, in the hopes of helping others.

In Ontario, a lot is re-opening after this long weekend. This does provide some comfort because the government thinks we’re ready to loosen restrictions, but because I think most people will still opt to stay home a while longer, here’s what has helped me:

1. Daily Routine

home workouts

homeschool

We’ve established a really great schedule for the last month or so. Right after breakfast, I head to the mat for my daily workout. Days I don’t exercise, I obviously don’t feel as great mentally or physically. It doesn’t necessarily even have to be high impact, but just 30 mins of low intensity exercise is great for endorphins and helps me mentally tackle the day. It also gives me the energy I need to be productive.

After my workout, we do homeschool for a couple of hours. Truthfully, this is not my favourite part of the day, but it’s so important for the kids because it gives them a sense of normalcy, and ensures they don’t fall too far behind. I’m not the most patient teacher, so I often end up typing while they dictate, but honestly, I’ve made my peace with the fact that we’re “cheating,” because I’m not trying to be at the computer all day while my daughter types one letter at a time. Shhh, don’t tell her teacher.

2.  Vitamin D

this will pass

As part of our daily schedule, we take walks outside every day after lunch. The weather in Toronto is really hit and miss, and most days have either been super cold, or rainy (worst spring ever), but on days where the sun is shining, this is my happy time. I’ve also been incorporating mantras into my daily practice to help me get through this, so seeing that someone has painted rocks with “this will pass,” and other motivating words and phrases, has kept me going a lot of the time where I’ve felt really down. To the kind soul who did this, I love you (unless it’s the neighbor I really despise…I don’t love you).

3. Music

If you follow me on Insta (@theathleisureteacher, shameless plug) and watch my stories, you’ll see I always post a “hype song of the day.” Music helps fuel me in so many ways. I listen to upbeat songs of varying genres to get excited for my workouts, stay positive, energize me, etc. Music helps a lot of people cope, and truly, there is nothing better than an impromptu dance party to get you through hard times.

4. Fueling myself with proper nutrition

healthy food

We do takeout 1-2 times a week, but otherwise we’re eating pretty healthy at home. I have been mostly plant-based for a while now, and only eat meat maybe 30% of the time max. My body craves veggies and carbs, so that’s what the majority of my diet is, and this helps to keep me satiated, and my brain and body functioning at optimal capacity. A lot of people have been baking up a storm in quarantine and finding comfort in that, but yeah, that’s not me. I do snack a lot throughout the day, but I mostly do vegan protein gummies, Greek yogurt, or a fruit for a snack. That being said, if I have a craving, I honor it, and have been indulging from time to time.

5. Staying strong for them

spring 2020

This is a biiiiiiig one for me. My kids will always be the reason I wake up daily and have purpose, drive, and motivation to keep going. I can’t wallow in bed or show my anxiety visibly, because they need me. Sometimes I find myself expressing negative thoughts about all of this in front of them, and then my daughter starts to echo them. I’m cognizant of this, so I make a concerted effort just to project strength, hope, and positivity. Lately we’re starting to realize I will likely be home with them all summer and camp won’t be an option, and although I’m selfishly shattered by this (how *will* I be a lady who lunches with kids in tow?), I’m trying to frame it like “don’t worry, we’ll still have a fun summer.” I know there are many people who will have to continue to work from home all summer with their kids there, and I guess I should just be grateful as a teacher that I likely won’t have to work and will have the time with them.

6. Distance visits

This is a new one for us. As regulations start to ease, I’ve started seeing friends again from 6 feet away. As sad as it is, not being able to hug them or get close, this fills my cup in ways a Zoom chat never will. I also see my parents from a distance, and was so grateful just to be able to sit outside with them last weekend on Mother’s Day. Social distancing is something that will be present in our lives for a long time I think, so getting accustomed to it now is best for me personally. I wasn’t really up for it until last weekend, but now I feel great about it, as long as precautions are met.

Local Businesses I LOVE

With the economy suffering so much from this pandemic, I thought it was a good time to share some of the small, local businesses I support and love. I’ll keep this one concise, and just get started.

  1. DIY Dye

DIY Dye

Maxine is making the CUTEST custom tie dye pieces on Instagram. And did you even survive Quarantine ’20 if you didn’t wear a tie dye hoodie and/or sweatpants daily? I know I didn’t. Go to her order form on her Instagram and get you a vibrant, gorgeous piece. You won’t regret it!

2. KyKy Kookies

EasterKOOKIE_1024x1024@2xGuys, I can’t even with her cookies. They are the most gorgeous things I’ve ever seen, and they’re packed with sweetness and flavour. Order on her website (linked in heading); she ships nationwide in Canada and does local pick up in Etobicoke or Vaughan.

3. Yumi Organics

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Based out of Montreal, this overnight oats company was created by nutritionists and is an amazing start to your day. They’re in ready-made packs; all you have to do is pour them into a glass jar, fill with your choice of milk (I use unsweetened vanilla oat milk), and leave overnight. Nothing makes me happier than waking up knowing my breakfast is ready! They’re delicious, organic, and keep me full for 4-5 hours, so honestly it’s a no-brainer for me. I do have a coupon code for this product too! It’s THEATHLEISURETEACHER15, and it’ll get you 15% off your order. Also, PSA, I like to top mine with cookie butter. Not the healthiest choice, but damn, it’ll change your life.

4. NextDoor Restaurant and Smash Kitchen

NextDoorsmashkitchen

If you’re in the Markham area, these two sister restaurants are still doing takeout and delivery, and are two of the most delicious spots I’ve been to. Both of them are doing weekly family platters (pre-orders recommended), and offering 15% off on pick up orders.

5. Herbaland Gummies

herbaland

This Vancouver-based company makes the best gummy vitamins and clean candy (low sugar, high fibre and HELLA delicious)! I’ve been buying their protein gummies forever as my 3 pm snack, but I recently started taking their supplements (love their vegan calcium, daily multi, and sleep aid), and buying their candy as well. They currently have an initiative to donate immunity gummies to healthcare workers during the crisis, and honestly, I feel so honoured and proud to associate with a company doing such good things right now. Use my code THEATHLEISURETEACHER15 for 15% off their website (linked in heading).

6. Sorry I’ve Got Plants

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I love this vegan meal delivery service. Their meal kits are low-waste, easy to make, nourishing, and incredibly delicious. Every week their menus change, and you can choose to order 2, 3, or 4 meals per week. Each meal feeds 2, and it’s really cost effective when you do the math. The produce is super fresh, and they come up with the most creative dishes. I highly recommend!

Locked Up

Let me start by saying I wanted to write this blog ages ago. We’ve been quarantined due to a world pandemic now for 5 weeks, and just now am I mustering up the emotional and physical energy to craft this. Real talk, the first few weeks were mentally the hardest days of my life. I’ve been through things with my health, but damn, being trapped inside with so much uncertainty was way harder on me than even battling illness. I’m an extrovert. I thrive on face to face social interaction. I love going to restaurants. Events. Social gatherings. Even just the mundane routine of driving to work daily and being in that physical space makes me happy. So having my world pulled out from under me was a shock unlike anything I’ve ever experienced.

But here we are. A month in. I went through my stages of grief, and emerged on the other side of it all. Stage 5 – acceptance. Acceptance of my new normal; this life that I never signed up to, of being a stay at home mom who also works from home. Of watching my two very well adjusted kids become emotionally unstable, at each other’s throats, and just generally prone to upset and non-compliance. I’ve realized that this is not a short term thing, and just this past week, I made a schedule for what I believe my next three months in captivity will look like, and guess what? I’m happy now. I have some semblance of normal again, and being back at work has helped tremendously. Yes I’ve had to navigate difficult waters with elearning, but I’m here, I’m present, and I’m making the best of it.

So without further ado (haha j/k, I talk too much), here are my coping mechanisms for you. PSA: Coping mechanisms or not, you’re allowed to feel ALL the emotions during this. I’m tired of the “sad shamers” who tell you that you’re not entitled to grieve because people are enduring much worse right now. You can be grateful for being home and being safe, but you can also be sad. Mourn the loss of your canceled events. Mourn the loss of your social life as you knew it. Mourn whatever f*cking loss you need to mourn for and don’t let anybody tell you not to.

Okay. I’ll get off my soap box now and tell you what I’ve been up to and how it’s helped.

  1. Getting outdoors. Guys, I really hate going outside. I used to joke that if it was less than 20 degrees out, I wouldn’t step foot outside except going car door to door. BUT, life has changed so much this year, that I’ve basically had no other option. First I spent many days through the winter picketing 3-4 hours at a time, and well, that was frigid and no fun. Now, in quarantine, getting our steps in outdoors has been a game changer for everyone’s mental health. I even bought these weighted Bala Bangles to make my walks more challenging. It’s crazy how 1 lb on each ankle can make a HUGE difference. I’m obsessed, and I look forward to walking outside daily with the kids because of them.

bala bangles

2.  Going for the occasional drive. We do it maybe once a week, and it’s been great to feel some normalcy. We listen to music, we chat, and it almost feels like regular life, minus having a destination.

car drive

3. Daily workouts. This has probably been the biggest game changer for me and my mental health during this time. I LOVE the gym. Like really really really really love it. I adore taking group classes because of the loud music, the energy, and the sense of community. I like high intensity classes like spin, Body Pump, etc., and the sweatier I am at the end of that hour, the better. BUT, this was taking a toll on my body. I was perpetually in pain from doing high intensity activity 3 days a week, and suffering muscle pain and strain every damn day. At home workouts have completely altered this. Now I exercise 5-6 days a week, and sometimes only 20-30 minutes at a time. I do some lower intensity workouts like yoga and Pilates with Melissa Wood Health (I’m BEYOND obsessed and will continue to pay the monthly fee for her workouts when normalcy resumes and my gym re-opens), as well as LesMills barre classes. I still do Body Pump once a week, but with lighter free weights instead of the heavy barbell, and I do cardio like Body Attack and Body Combat, but I don’t run or cycle, which are the culprits of a lot of my muscle strain. And guess what? My body feels AMAZING. Not only am I pain-free, but I’m also getting way more fit, and my anxiety and stress is drastically reduced after these workouts. Can I get an amen?!

pilates

4. Keeping up with the kids’ school work. Keeping them busy is a challenge, and I’m so happy that school has resumed, albeit virtually, if only because it gives us all something to do. Both my kids LOVE learning and school, so reading daily with my daughter and completing her math work has been great for all of us. I thrive on productivity, and this feels productive to us.

reading with Liv

5. And lastly, healthy eating. We are eating GOOD during this quarantine. I’ve had many amazing meal/food deliveries, including this beautiful wild caught salmon filet from Papa Earth, a high quality meat delivery service. Eating at home daily (with the exception of once a week takeout on Saturday nights) has allowed me to really fuel my body with the proper nutrients that it needs to stay strong during this, and also to be able to track what ingredients are going into my meals, and control my portions. I don’t weigh myself, but if I did, I’d guess I’ve probably lost a pound or two through this, because I eat way “cleaner” at home than I do out. I don’t think I’m eating less, per se, I just think I’m making better choices.

salmon dinner

Overcoming Anxiety Triggers

Let me preface this post by saying I’m not a mental health professional, nor do I have any real expertise on this subject. I’m merely writing about my own experiences and what has worked for me and my own anxiety.

I’ve always been a relatively anxious person. Despite not having a clinical diagnosis, it’s something I’ve had to cope with for most of my adult years, and even some aspects of my teenage years, to a lesser extent. I’d say my anxiety is mild. I’ve only had maybe one or two panic attacks in my life, but whenever I have medical testing or procedures done, I get my blood pressure taken and it’s perpetually high due to anxiety. Once I calm down, it goes back down, but the fact it can get so high is proof that my mental health can have a serious impact on my physical health and I feel the symptoms of anxiety in my body.

With this being said, I think the most important part of coping with anxiety is being aware of your triggers. And since I’m astutely aware of mine, I thought I’d share them with you today and talk a little about how I cope with them, or even how I’ve overcome them.

1. Winter driving anxiety

In 2007, I had a pretty bad car accident on Valentine’s Day. I was driving downtown to meet my boyfriend (now husband), and it was snowing. I sped up to pass someone who was going at a snail’s pace, and I hit a guard rail, went OVER it, and essentially drove down into a ditch next to a ravine. I was fine, but I’ve forever had winter driving anxiety and PTSD from the incident. For many years post-accident, I’d have my husband drive me to work on snow days because I just. could. not. BUT – here’s my tip for overcoming this anxiety. Just get back in the saddle. Literally. Avoidance strategies won’t help in the long run, and recognizing that you can still drive safely in the winter is so integral to overcoming your anxiety. It was probably last winter when I started driving myself to work on snow days, and I haven’t looked back (except to check my blind spots and rear view mirror). The key is to drive slowly, defensively, and recognize that you’re not in a rush. Especially given that if you’re late, everyone else will likely be too. Snowy conditions are just not a time to let that type A urge of punctuality consume you. But if you don’t take that initiative to attempt the winter driving again, you won’t get better. The end.

2. Social anxiety

Never in my life had I previously gone to an event or party alone. EVER. The thought of it made my heart palpitate and my palms sweat profusely. But since I started this blog a year and a half ago, I’ve been invited to multiple events and tastings without a plus 1. GASP. Sans plus 1 was initially something that instantly triggered me. But I’m happy to say I’ve since overcome this fear and now attend events solo. Don’t get me wrong, I’m awkward af once I get there, but I still go. How? With the help of my BFF; CBD.

CBD

I take a few drops under the tongue about 45 mins to an hour before the event, and it helps me to be more even keeled and rational about what I’m about to do. CBD doesn’t make you drowsy and doesn’t contain THC, so it’s safe to drive on, and it helps immensely with clarity and focus. When I take CBD before an event, I feel more calm and ready to tackle social situations. Overall, I highly recommend it to help with sleep after a long day, and also when you need a little extra help with staying afloat during the day. My preferred brand is CBDMove, because it’s flavoured. I love the mango, and they also have watermelon and a couple other flavours. You can order CBDMove on CBD Cargo and use the code CARGO15 for 15% off your order. You’re welcome!

3. Sick kid anxiety

This is the one trigger I don’t cope well with, but I’m working on it. Despite being a mom for almost 8 years, the times when the kids get sick are still really hard for me. Specifically with regards to fever and puke, I don’t tend to handle it well. I can mutter “this too shall pass” to myself over and over all day, but it doesn’t seem to help. When the fever spikes, or the vomit starts spewing, you can just stick a fork in me, because I’m done. Witnessing your children when they’re miserable is really hard. If anyone has tips for overcoming this anxiety, I’m all ears!

I’d love to hear some of your own coping strategies in the comments or DM me on Instagram; @theathleisureteacher!

 

Media Tastings, Collabs, and Podcast Promotions

Hey boo! It’s been about 6 weeks, and I felt it was important to write something here for the 1 person left who actually looks forward to my blog posts. My absence is entirely my fault. I’m learning that maintaining an Instagram page, blogging, AND podcasting, realistically cannot coexist and is not sustainable. Something had to fall by the wayside, and unfortunately it’s the writing. This obviously saddens me, because it’s my passion, but when there’s so much momentum elsewhere, and sometimes blogging feels like a dying art, you have to accept defeat and realize where the casualty will lie.

Anyway, I wanted to fill you in on where I’ve been. In the last couple of months, my Instagram has really taken off. I’ve been invited to media tastings, been given products to promote and giveaway, and just generally have grown a very active and organic following that feels really special. I wanted to share some of these highlights here.

Feng Cha Canada Media Tasting

fengcha

Feng Cha is the cutest little bubble tea and fruit tea spot in Scarborough. The aesthetic was adorable, with a floral wall and a giant stuffed bear. We got to sample a bunch of their teas, as well as their pastries and buns, and I had so much fun meeting other foodies in the city and partaking in all things cutesy and Asian.

Podcast Promotional Photoshoot

A few weekends ago, me and Blair (along with her boyfriend in tow as our photog) went to Lov’t Studio (cutest little studio with amazing sets and props) to take some podcast promotional photos. Our podcast has really taken off, and we’re having so much fun spreading our message of self-care and self-love! We decided to take some photos to help promote it and increase our listenership (is that a word?), and I LOVE LOVE LOVE the way they turned out.

Welo collaboration

welo

Welo (short for We Love) is my favourite Canadian brand of organic, vegan probiotic bars and beverages. My kids love their kids’ bars, and I love the ingredients in their products. So naturally this was an organic (pun intended) pairing, and I thoroughly enjoyed everything they sent to me, and doing a product giveaway with them! Hilariously enough, the winner of this giveaway was a new follower and someone I didn’t know, but it turns out he lives around the corner from me!

Revive Organics collaboration

reviveorganics

Revive Organics is also a Canadian company, selling ready-made organic and vegan smoothies that just require adding liquid and blending. I LOVE the concept, and felt like this partnership was very on-brand and made sense as a busy working mom of two. They sent me some of their smoothies, as well as their new overnight oats product, and me and the kids thoroughly enjoyed all of them. The company was also kind enough to send me a coupon code for my followers and readers, so if you’re reading this and want to try them out, you can use my code LAUREN50 for 50% off your order!

Imperfect Fresh Eats Media Tasting

imperfectfresh

A couple of days ago I attended a media tasting at Imperfect Fresh Eats, a new restaurant at 318 Adelaide St. W. The concept is amazing. They use imperfect/slightly flawed produce in order to keep costs down and reduce food waste. The bowls were beautiful and full of fresh, delicious ingredients, but for a very reasonable price (small bowl is $9.50, a large is only $11)! You pick from a base of forbidden black rice, Asian sweet potato noodles, spring mix or spinach, add your protein (chipotle chicken, tofu, shrimp or kalbi beef), and then you can add unlimited toppings and dressings. I tasted the chicken and had a base of all four options, and honestly, it was amazing. I love what they’re doing there. Stay tuned for a giftcard giveaway!

Anyway, this is where I’ve been. Yes I’ve been neglecting my OG baby, but I’m out there hustling and I promise to give this blog more loving in the coming months.

XO,

The Athleisure Teacher

Combating the November SADs

Is it just me or is November officially the month of exhaustion, stress, burnout, depression, and all things awful and shitty? Despite feeling like I’m staying afloat in all aspects of my life, personally and professionally, I have to say that the perpetual night of Daylight Savings, early morning wakings, freezing cold weather and labor-intensive days at work have definitely gotten to me to some extent. So today I decided to compile for you some tips to help you cope with this extremely long winter that has already begun in Toronto.

  1. Maintain your workouts. Getting out of bed when it’s cold and snowy is definitely a special kind of hell, but you won’t regret it. No one ever regrets getting to their workout. The hardest part is getting there, but the endorphins at the end will be well worth it. They’ll help center you and make navigating this gloomy time of year a bit easier.
  2. Invest in adaptogenic herbs like Reishi and Ashwagandha. I’ve addressed these before in my podcast and on Instagram, but both are super helpful in combating stress and anxiety. Reishi, a wonderful little magic mushroom (not one of the fun kind though, sorry), also helps increase your immune system, which is perfect for this time of year when the kids are little living and breathing incubators of illness. You can purchase the Reishi I use here. It’s pricey, but it works.
  3. Get outside, even just for a few minutes. This is the tip I have the hardest time with, because ew, outdoors, but honestly…it works. Particularly if it’s sunny outside. Just a couple minutes of sunshine and/or fresh air does wonders for your mental health and clarity. For the last few weeks on my lunch, I’ve been taking a little walk in my school parking lot, followed by a break in my car. Will this be sustainable when it’s blizzarding and -10 degrees? Probably not. But I really ought to try to, because I come back to work refreshed and ready to tackle the rest of the day.
  4. Meditate. It’s good for helping shift your attitude and perspective, and ensures improved sleep. I admit I probably only do it 4-5 times a week, as opposed to daily like I want to, but I find a huge difference in my mental state after I do a quick 10 minute practice on my Calm app.
  5. Increase your vitamin D intake with a supplement and invest in a Seasonal Affective Disorder lamp. I personally haven’t done either of these things, but they were tips I received from colleagues, and might try this winter. I’d be curious to hear if anyone has found the light therapy to be helpful.
  6. Visit a salt cave. This week I had the pleasure of doing an hour meditation at Hoame, which is at 430 Adelaide St. W. in Toronto, and it was seriously the most phenomenal experience. Salt caves replicate the same benefits as being in the ocean, including improved immunity, stress reduction, and various other internal and external healing properties. I don’t think one visit is enough though, and would recommend a few throughout the winter to fully reap the benefits. All I know is I left totally rejuvenated, way more centered, and all the muscle pain and tension I had been experiencing that day, melted away. I also slept like the wee baby Jesus that night. 11/10, highly recommend.

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Salty.

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If you’re looking for me this winter, this is where I’ll be. K, bye.

Thankful.

Happy Canadian Thanksgiving friends! I know I haven’t blogged in forever, but the reason for this is threefold:

  1. I’ve been bogged down with planning and marking at school.
  2. I’ve been focusing on our podcast (episode 2 about food and nutrition as self-care is now available on the podcast app! Just search “Self-care with Lauren and Blair” to listen!)
  3. Aaaaand I just haven’t been inspired to write, unfortunately, and I didn’t want to blog for the sake of blogging.

But here we are, and damnit, I’ll try to write something relatively coherent and engaging for all of y’all, because I know my 5 loyal followers want it.

What am I thankful for this year? Like, a lot. It’s been a really good time both personally and professionally, and I need to make a list because I love lists and lists are awesome.

1. My health. Always first and foremost. How lucky am I that my body is healthy enough to allow me to do high impact exercise 3 days a week? To run around with my children? To get out of bed every day and live a productive life? I will never ever take this for granted. When I sit on that spin bike, I thank gd for my health multiple times. I also thank gd I’m not pregnant, because being in that body really freaking sucks, but that’s a whole other blog post.

2. My family. I mean, duh. I’m eternally grateful that my children are happy and healthy and not the spawn of Satan. I also feel so blessed to have a wonderful husband, the best parents, and the cutest of sisters eva.

appleorchard

Apple picking when it’s still hot out is fun too. (TB to a few weeks ago…)

3. My friends. I tightened my inner circle A LOT this year and it’s been very liberating. I have the world’s most patient friends, because for the last four months, my conversations, meals, and life in general have revolved around Instagram. They don’t get to eat until I’ve photographed (or rather, they’ve photographed because I’m a shitty photographer) their meals, and my conversations with them are a steady stream of follows and unfollows, podcast plans, and asking which picture to post. I’m sorry guys. I really truly suck. You’re all amazing for tolerating me.

4. Impromptu weekend trips to NYC. The fact the most incredible city in the world is just a one hour flight away is nothing short of amazing! I don’t want to live there, but every few months I just feel the pull of the city and gravitate towards it. It’s an addiction, I suppose, but the energy, food, nightlife, and shopping are beyond magnetic.

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5. My job. I have the best students this semester. We have the most interesting class discussions, and they’re all so engaged and participatory. It’s rare to get a group where the majority of the students have strong opinions, so this is pretty much English teacher heaven for me! Also, in case people think teenagers are rude and disrespectful, I want to tell you that every morning, my students come into my class and greet me with a “hello” or a “good morning.” When they leave the class, they say “have a good day miss,” or “bye!” They’re such mensches! I really appreciate their warmth and kindness, because it keeps me in a good mood and sets a really positive tone for the day.

6. Refined carbohydrates and gluten. Pizza. Donuts. Tacos.

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This maple bacon donut from Dipped Donuts in Kensington Market is pretty much the epitome of fall in Canada, amirite? I think I am most grateful for this donut. Like, I love my family and stuff, but…donuts win.

I Live Under a Rock

This summer has truly been one of new discoveries. I’ve been exposed to many new things that haven’t just changed my summer; they’ve changed my life. I don’t know how I didn’t know about some of these things, but in case you didn’t either, I thought I’d share them with you, because sharing is caring and I’m nothing if not the nicest most generous person in the world.

Spotify – Apparently I’m living in 2015, because I didn’t know there was a free version of Spotify. But there is, and I downloaded it, and now I have a soundtrack to my summer. Virtually the only difference between the free version and premium is you get a limited number of skips (6 per hour I think) of tracks you don’t want to hear, and you have to listen to an ad every 30 minutes. I’d invest in the premium, but tbh, my matcha habit is really effing expensive. I’m especially loving using the app at the gym, because it can stream on the wifi while I run on the treadmill, do my cardio circuits and my strength training

Aerie – WTFFFFFF guys. How did I not know this is literally the best store on the face of this planet? My travel companion/bad influence bestie (love you A) introduced me to their cute bralettes in early July, and since then, I’ve dropped half my summer lump sum there. I love it all. Their workout gear, comfy pj-esque clothes, and undergarments (you know you’re a real adult when you use that word) are all amazing. Well priced, good quality, and so adorable. Plus their ad campaigns support the #bodypositive movement; featuring models of all shapes, sizes, and abilities.

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Exhibit A

Calm – This app is life changing. At the beginning of the summer I discovered it, and questioned whether to invest in the $77/year membership. A super kind former colleague alert me to the Calm for teachers application, which gives educators in the classroom a FREE membership! Needless to say, this was a no brainer for me. I got the free membership, and have spent the last 6 weeks or so beginning my meditation/mindfulness journey. Full disclosure, I totally suck at it, but I’m getting better. I like it because it’s helped me work on things I struggle with, like non-reactivity (I like reacting. Reacting is fun), letting go of control and other negativity that doesn’t benefit me, and just generally being more in the present and not dwelling on memories, plans, etc. What I still grapple with is not letting my thoughts wander during the practice, but I like that the narrator tells me not to judge myself for it, and to gently bring myself back to the moment. Like, obviously I still judge myself, because it’s kinda what I’m best at and I like to recognize my strengths, but I appreciate her telling me not to.

Snapchat – Okay so this was a re-discovery for me. I used to have it before Instagram Stories existed, and it was a lot of fun using the filters with the kids and posting them publicly. This summer I’ve used it differently, because I don’t think people post their stories publicly anymore. Now I kinda just chronicle my life in quick photos and send them to my nearest and dearest. It’s a great time waster, and that’s why I use it. Don’t worry though, I’ve already read three massive novels this summer too, so my brain hasn’t turned entirely to mush. I’ll likely delete it the second I step foot into my school.

VSCO and Lightroom – How did I not know about editing apps before I made this public Instagram account? Here I was thinking people actually *use* the Instagram pre-set filters. But like ew, they’re all hideous in hindsight! Even though I’m the world’s shittiest photographer still, I can make my pictures a little less horrendous by increasing the exposure, saturation, contrast, etc., and it really improves their quality. I don’t spend too much time editing them, but I just try to make the finished product look a little prettier.

Anyway, have the greatest weekend friendships, and…you’re welcome.