Archives for November 2017

November 29, 2017

Minimalism + Veganism

How a plant-based (Vegan) diet can bring value & savings to everyday life.

In what is becoming a global epidemic of obesity, eating less unhealthy food is a step toward living a longer and better life.

In my youth I was accustomed to a diet with meat as the meal’s main focus. In my teens I became aware of vegetarianism and the ethical questions raised in eating animal-based products. I felt I was invisible and did not care about how poor my eating had become. It was too easy to go for the fast options. It never crossed my mind that eating healthier would be an investment that could pay valuable dividends.

Now in my late thirties, I’ve moved to consuming a plant-based diet, commonly known as a vegan diet. For years I’ve looked at taking the direction toward vegetarianism. Going one step further and becoming a vegan was another freeing action toward a better life. The first and foremost reason I wanted to adopt vegan living is part of my ethical agenda in connection to animals. How could I continually use my platforms to voice concern and care for animals and still be okay with consuming them? I could no longer reconcile the differences. It was time to absolutely practice what I preached with full commitment of mind.

My spouse has helped lead the way for us into this kind of life. Through her inventive cooking and research, we have found recipes and foods that have given us even more of a variety than I ever thought possible. My initial hesitation was short-lived. We easily made adjustments with some of our favorite foods in order to make them vegan. We already ate well to begin with. There were just some minor changes needed in some of what we put together as part of regular meal plans. The difference now is that there are many different things we keep adding to the regular rotation.

The health benefits of plant-based diets are becoming even more well-known thanks to filmmakers that are giving larger platforms for advocacy. More viewers are taking notes as to how beneficial this kind of life can potentially be.

A common misconception about plant-based diets is that they can be too costly. In the current age however, it is actually becoming easier to consume a vegan diet as the popularity continues to increase. We have personally noticed that our grocery bill has continued to decrease over time. We are getting far more in spending less. We prepare several healthy meals well in advance such as soups and grain-based dishes. We freeze enough to take us through lunches and the occasional supper as needed. This is all balanced out with our own freshly made preparations and standard things which were already incorporated into our evolving meal plans.

In addition to the ethical value discovered in plant-based eating, the health benefits are starting to emerge. My energy levels are increasing. There is just a feeling of overall better well-being that I find difficult to describe. I’m seeing a bigger value to my life when the time is invested into a healthier way of eating.

Prepping meals in advance is saving time. Not investing money into animal products is saving a contribution to the environmental problems of the planet. Eating meaningfully can transpose into a more valuable increase in how you view your own life.

As a Canadian I understand that there are places where eating plant-based would be next to impossible. Many people in our remote Northern communities depend upon the land for their food. Having fresh fruits and vegetables flown into these communities makes buying them very difficult. So despite my beliefs, I accept that it is just not practical to adopt a vegan diet in many of these places. However, some people are working on adopting vegetarian and vegan diets into their lives by using frozen or canned fruits and vegetables and easily transportable products such as rice and beans.

Please note: If you have any questions about diet, it is important to raise those questions with your doctor. The experiences discussed here are personal and not meant to act as medical advice.

November 22, 2017

fourweeksgood: Stockholm

Cycling through Stockholm as a peaceful way to discover the capital of Sweden.

A month ago we introduced 'fourweeksgood' in our Journal, a new series of travel videos created by freelance creative Seraina Silja and experience designer Simon Ammann. The second city we feature is our favorite Scandinavian capital: Stockholm. One of the cleanest cities of its size, Stockholm maintains much of its natural splendor in the parks that cover one-third of the territory. For this reason, the best way to discover the city is by bike as there is an extensive cycle path network. If you travelled without yours, you can rent a commuter bicycle through one of the many providers. The best time for cycling in Sweden is from April through October in the south of the country, as the season is a bit shorter in the north due to the climate.

November 16, 2017

Loss > Gain

Why loss can bring so much more than we think.

Loss can be a hard thing to deal with. This year alone, within the space of five months, I’ve lost four people that were and are still very dear to my heart. But what these events have taught me is that loss is not solely about losing something or feeling empty, it’s about what you gain. So here are three points I’ve learned about gaining while losing.

Loss can build character

I can surely say I’m a much stronger person due to loss. Now, this doesn’t mean that losing someone or something you love won’t hurt, but it will build you up to become mentally, spiritually and maybe even physically stronger. It’s like gold being refined by fire. It’s under a lot of pressure and heat, but once it’s out of the furnace and into it’s settled environment, it shines and glows like never before.

Loss can build relationships

Family are important. Friends are important. But you never know what you had until it’s gone, right? I’ve always been someone who highly values relationships and through loss I have clung tighter to them; however, some I’m still working on. But, I’ve started to alter my relationship vocabulary and replace the word ‘value’ with ‘treasure.’ Why? Because when something is treasured, it is seen as sacred—often guarded carefully and cherished deeply. Sometimes switching up words, even if they hold similar meanings, can make a big difference in how you view life. It’s like saying, “I’m in awe of you” rather than saying “I’m amazed by you.” See the difference?

Finally, loss can build hope—if you let it

Hope is beautiful. It goes where logic and reasoning can’t. It allows you to hold on when nothing makes sense. Regardless of the depth of my loss, something within me still notices the sun shining. I’m alive—my purpose isn’t over and neither is yours. So remember, hope is the one thing you don’t want to lose.

I’ve come a long way through this past season. Grown and shaped by the loss that could have broken me, I never thought such an accumulation of it would amount to such an abundance of lessons. But life’s about learning and growth and I’ve learned that loss hurts but gain heals.

November 8, 2017

Minimalism Journey in Europe

Living with less and enjoying more, for six months.

Door closed, bag on the back. I was about to experience the trip I dreamt about for almost two years. Half a year away from home, six months of adventure in Europe and so many countries and cultures to discover with only the stuff in my fifty-liter backpack. Since I was young, I've never been a huge consumer who always wanted the latest state-of-the-art thing. I mean less than the average person. On the contrary, I always loved the idea of having few possessions and this trip clearly opened my eyes toward minimalism.

It's been almost three months since I'm back from what was the most amazing adventure in my life. The aim of the trip was to discover cultures and people while traveling in the simplest way possible: hitchhiking. So when you're leaving for a trip like that, you have to make concessions: you only bring items which will favor you and make you happy. It's a first step into the wonderful world of minimalism.

The minimalist aspect of this journey wasn't limited to possessions. I was doing simple things. From spending a whole evening watching the stars in the sky from a giant fjord in Norway, to drinking tea and talking adventures with travelers in Ukraine. By putting dedication into every single little thing, I could appreciate their true value. Simple doesn't have to mean boring. I was enjoying more than ever writing about my journey on my computer, learning the basics of a new language or taking memorable pictures of unknown landscapes.

Travel is a lapse of time during which you are in a required minimalism state: you are living with fewer things than you ordinarily have and this state makes you understand that you actually don't need more. Now that I'm home, I have this in mind. I want to continue following this way of living with fewer material or immaterial things: clothes, papers, apps, emails... Because for me, they now belong to a clutter that I don't want to be part of. I'm not attracted anymore by blindly accumulating things without any purpose.

If you're really motivated to change your life, sharpen how you perceive things and try to apply minimalism on a daily basis, you can and it's a highly rewarding task! I'm progressively seeing the true meaning of things and each step towards minimalism brings a feeling of happiness and freedom in my life.

Above all, I'm understanding that you can not only enjoy living with few things, but you should also put the emphasis on what really matters: human values. Minimalism is about reducing things, not feelings.

November 1, 2017

Leisure Time

It’s necessary that we instill space & create the life we want.

We have an influx of movements happening around the world today: the slow food movement, van life, off-grid, back-to-land living, to name a few. At the crux of all these movements is the necessity for downtime. The need for time. The need to step away from the continual rat race society insists upon.

Our nervous systems have long been hijacked. Everything pulls at our attention. We’re high-strung and sold out, exhausted, and feeling a deep lack of time to get things done. Never mind the things we’d really like to do: our creative ideas and watching sunsets; the nighttime sky and full moon.

It’s a turning back of sorts now. And it’s calling to people. We’ve created movements and names for these activities: forest bathing, earthing—all things our ancestors did. Now we’re wired and fired, accommodating our culture’s go-go-go, constant-stream-of-technology consciousness. It’s like our engines continue to be revved up.

Time to reset

We need a breather. We need leisure. This idea of leisure time—of doing nothing, of strolling, or meandering, of pondering, of merely sitting and watching passers by—it’s a novel idea, a fantasy for most of us, and an impossible idea for many.

But it comes back to who and what and how and why we’re living. It’s looking at the ways in which we choose into our cultural system and the ways we can opt out. Yes, even with our commitments, our lifestyles are always our choice. Modeling instills the values we honor and shows others our commitment to changing not only the world, but our world.

Time well spent

A world that honors quality of life is the world I want to live in. A world where joy, laughter, and fun are seen as necessary parts of this incarnation. A world that acknowledges where we’re headed and where we’ve been—a world that could very likely go off the rails if we’re not careful to slow down.

Yes. Slowing down.

Imagine silence. Imagine a silence that’s so silent it’s felt all around you and in your bones. This silence pervades nature, cuts off the noise of society, and allows you to commune with your soul and the deeper aspects of your mind.

Perhaps your thoughts soften, perhaps you drift on a light sleep. Perhaps birds sing in the backdrop and trees rustle in the wind; you watch clouds trail across the sky. You feel yourself alive.

This is leisure time. Time spent doing what you enjoy, what makes you laugh, what connects you back to nature and to family. Time that knows no restraints. Time that’s yours to connect with, be still and remember what it’s like to be a child with a childlike nature.

This leisure time we can create. It’s necessary that we instill S P A C E. Freedom. Openness. Endlessness. Opportunities to open the silence within and the stillness without—without endless distractions and needless things, removing that which we can. Because we can. Much as we protest that everything we do is necessary, is taking the time to look at the stars each night worth missing? We will never forget time spent with family and friends, and time spent in creative repose adds value to our lives each day.

In our hectic, day-to-day lives creating this priority is choosing what is best for our soul, our comfort and our sanity. Leisure time may not be a thing of the past. We can keep it alive. We can create the movement for stillness and peace, of our soul wandering through the fall leaves, taking just a moment in the stillness. Or letting laughter ring out. Leisure time is not a luxury but a necessity.