As someone who has a full-time job and a business on the side, it can be really easy to get caught up in the day to day to-do’s. If you’re a blogger, perhaps you’ve felt the same. Your to-do’s might look something like mine:

  • Planning recipes
  • Making and photographing recipes
  • Editing photos
  • Writing a post
  • Inserting images
  • Scheduling the post
  • Creating images for social media
  • Sharing the post across social networks
  • Reading and responding to comments
  • Engaging with other bloggers
  • Sharing other people’s great content on social media
  • Pitching companies with new partnership ideas
  • Responding to emails
  • …. and just when you get to the bottom of the list, you go straight back up to the top!

With all these tasks to take care of, sometimes I forget to look externally for inspiration because I’m so caught up in my own head.

notebook and to-do list

Time is something I always feel I could do with more of, but one of the habits I’ve implemented for the past year or so has been (almost) daily listening to podcasts. I love them because I can listen while doing other things (like making and photographing recipes!) and learn at the same time. I’ve added tons of new podcasts to my library in recent months, but in case you missed it and are looking for some suggestions, here’s a post with a few great recommendations.

I’ve been a long-time listener of The Lively Show, a podcast hosted by Jess Lively. Many of her guests are female entrepreneurs with small (but growing!) businesses, and their messages often resonate strongly with me. Quite a while ago, Jess interviewed Dr. Alisa Vitti (episode here), and in February she did another 2-part series (part 1 and part 2). In case you’ve never heard of Dr. Vitti before, she’s a pretty darn awesome lady with a ton of expertise in women’s hormonal issues. She has programs for clients dealing with PCOS, acne, infertility, post-birth control pill side-effects. In these podcasts, she talks about how women can optimize hormones to make all the other areas of life more awesome.

A large portion of what Dr. Vitti speaks about is related to nutrition, and of course as a foodie, I found this totally fascinating. But another topic that she and Jess spoke about in the February episodes was pleasure – not necessarily sexual pleasure, but the importance of doing things that genuinely bring you joy and happiness.

there is power in the feminine spirit

Masculine vs feminine energy

Dr. Vitti and a few other experts I’ve enjoyed learning from have taught me that all people, male and female, have varying amounts of feminine energy and masculine energy. What is this? Here’s the gist:

Masculine energy is rooted in action, and associated with competition, directness, entrepreneurship and risk taking. You’ll likely find these traits in entrepreneurs, C-level executives, leaders and goal chasers (yes, female ones too.)

Feminine energy is intuitive, creative, collaborative, and feelings-based. By no means is it inferior to masculine energy though – if you’ve ever made a decision based on your gut and it turned out to be right, you’ll know the power of this over what your head thinks it knows to be true.

Isabel Allende quote - Eat Spin Run Repeat

Learning about these two types of energy got me thinking about how they exist in me. I concluded that my full-time job has me acting with masculine energy about 80% of the time. I’m always striving to complete my queue of tasks each day, keeping meetings as short and to the point as possible so that everyone present can get back to work.

Outside of work, I also tend to act with a lot of masculine energy. I’m very entrepreneurial and put a lot of hours in to my business, and am also very focused on my athletic goals. Sometimes I’ll persevere with both of these things even if I’m tired, suppressing my inner voice that tells me to relax and calm down.

I’m quite sure that I’m not alone in the whole masculine energy dominance thing. In fact, if you work in the corporate world, I’m willing to bet you feel it at least a little bit too. Dr. Vitti spoke in all of the 3 Lively Show podcasts about how channeling more of our feminine energy can help us optimize everything from mood and energy to sex drive, weight, and skin health. Just like the food part of the equation, I found this super interesting and began down a quest of learning more about how to channel more feminine energy.

In this article from Mind Body Green, therapist and coach Shelley Bullard explains: 

“When we overvalue masculinity, we spend most of our time working and very little time resting, taking vacation, and spontaneously connecting with others. When we overvalue masculinity, we become dependent on man-made things, such as our smartphones and laptops, and spend less time in nature or expressing our creative selves.”

Shelley’s article, Jess’s podcasts and Dr. Vitti’s website were 3 of many sources that I turned to. Once I felt like I’d read enough, I started experimenting with all sorts of things that I figured would engage more of my senses, and bring out my creative side. Some were a little more obvious than others, and some (as I’m about to describe) are going to sound a little crazy. Here’s what I’ve identified so far:

1. Fresh flowers

I used to think of these as a pointless, wasted expense and never bought them for myself, but I’m now a believer in the ability of flowers to boost my mood. I tend to alternate between my faves: gerbera daisies one week, then pink oriental lilies with mini hydrangeas the next.

lilies

2. Cooking with no intention of blogging about it

It probably comes as no surprise that cooking makes me happy. This blog wouldn’t be nearly 6 years old if this wasn’t an intense passion of mine! While recipe development for blogging purposes is on my mind a lot, some of my favourite weekend afternoons are spent on my feet, chopping, spiralizing, blending, stir-frying, and experimenting with all sorts of ingredients in my kitchen – all with zero plans to write about it. It’s sort of like making art, in edible form!

lunch salad

3. Painting my nails

I’ll never turn down a manicure or pedicure, but sometimes it can be really awkward (and painful!) in a salon when the aesthetician accidentally files too aggressively or cuts your cuticles just a little too far back. I love doing my own nails while I drink my tea in the morning before work, and right now I’m in love with pastel colours. (Now hurry up and get here soon, spring – I want to put my winter clothes away!!)

notebook and to-do list

4. Spa Sundays at home

Sundays are my long bike ride days on my triathlon training plan, followed by a short run. Every week, the shower that follows these long workouts feels absolutely amazing. To make it even better, I use my entire stash of Sibu facial products – facial wash, facial scrub, mask, toner, hydrator, eye cream, and moisturizer.

Sibu skincare - refreshed packaging

Then it’s neck-to-toe with body moisturizer, and if I have heart rate monitor chafe spots on my chest (which is 90% of the time), I use either the Sibu Miracle Stick or Sea Berry Seed Oil, which is awesome for repairing things like cuts, burns, inflamed red skin and blemishes. I’m being 100% honest when I say that my skin has truly never been better.

Sibu Sea Berry Seed Oil

Psssssst! I’ve got a new discount code to share with you! If you want to hook yourself up withe some Sibu goodies (or gift them to one of your besties), use mysibu20 for 20% off your order until April 30th, 2016.

5. Spotify playlists in the car

One of the things I really dislike doing is sitting in traffic, so one day while doing that very thing, I thought about what I could do to make the experience more enjoyable. I became a Spotify Premium member last month, and can confidently say I’ll continue to pay for the service because it has made my car trips – even short ones – SO much better.

6. Really awesome raw trail mix

There’s this great place in the Kitsilano area of Vancouver called Ayoub’s Dried Fruit & Nuts, and I have no idea why it took me so long to pay them a visit. Have you ever bitten into a nut that just doesn’t quite taste right? It could very well be because the oils in the nuts have gone rancid due to not being kept cold enough. This has happened to me several times, and recently after having run out of trail mix, I decided to find a local source with super fresh and affordable options. Ayoub’s is that source, and I’ve become totally obsessed with their raw energy mix, raw sweet mix and raw Brazil nuts.

raw nut mixes from ayoub's dried fruit and nuts

Ayoub’s roasted nuts are hand-roasted daily in small batches, and they’ve got all sorts of seeds and dried fruits too – tart cherries, barberries, mangoes, blueberries, mulberries, dates, goji berries and SO many more. Not only are all of these delicious, but they’re super nutrient-dense and nuts are great sources of healthy fats, which also help to boost mood.

raw nut mixes from ayoub's dried fruit and nuts

But here’s where you guys will think I’ve totally gone crazy…

I have this ‘taste testing’ game when I drive home from Ayoub’s. My bags of trail mix sit on the passenger’s seat next to me, and these are the rules of the game:

  1. No tasting unless sitting at a red light
  2. No more than 2 pieces at a time
  3. The bags stay on the passenger’s seat

You win the game by hitting every red light between Ayoub’s and home, and so far I’ve yet to be victorious but I’m trying hard. This is an exercise in mindful eating at it’s finest (minus the fact that I’m technically multitasking by being behind the wheel), and it’s forced me not to devour a handful of nuts in the blink of an eye. If you like trail mix as much as I do – especially high-quality, fresh ones – you will be begging for ALL the red lights!

7. Giving my paid parking to somebody else

It’s rare that you go to a public place in Vancouver without having to pay for parking, and thankfully there are now apps so that you can top up your meter from your phone. However, other places are still a bit old school and require you to go to a pay station and get a ticket. Costco is one such place, and they charge a flat rate of $2 for 2 hours. It’s only $2, but it’s a pain when your visit only requires 20 minutes. Rather than getting frustrated about this, I’ve decided to do the complete opposite and delight the driver lined up to take my parking spot after I leave by passing them my paid ticket so that they don’t need to buy one. It’s such a little thing, but it’s also unexpected, and that’s what makes this so much fun to do.

8. Super soft sweaters

A while ago I found some great sweaters at Banana Republic that were not only crazy soft but ALSO on sale. (It would have been rude not to buy them, right?!) With clothing in general these days, I’m working on removing things from my closet that don’t make me feel great when wearing them, and that’s also one of my top criteria when considering new purchases.

9. Meditating before bed

I’m not talking about the legs-crossed, on-the-floor meditation because that is probably one of my least favourite positions to sit in. As part of my March goals I’ve been meditating each night before bed, in my bed, using Insight TimerI initially wondered if I’d fall asleep mid-meditation, but this has yet to happen even on my most tired nights. However, I’ve felt super well-rested lately, and I’m sure this is partly due to 1) the gratitude guided meditations I’ve been doing, and 2) consciously focusing on slowing down my breathing.

… and a few more, including…

  • brunch with friends
  • afternoon naps (rare, but a true pleasure)
  • flavoured teas, specifically David’s Tea Pistachio Ice Cream from the new spring collection, Forever Nuts (a long-time fave), Organic Super Ginger, and Melon Drop

So what have the results been?

Aside from the benefits I’ve mentioned already (better skin, better sleep etc), one month of paying extra attention to little things that make me feel happy and joyful has been really interesting. For one thing, it’s made me think more about balancing masculine and feminine energy which I’d never even considered before. It’s also helped me to work smarter, not harder. Making time to do things that bring me joy sets me up with more positivity and energy to go into situations where I need to be more action-oriented.

To sum up, I don’t have any super actionable tips for you in this post today, other than to think about how this might apply to you. And I’d love to hear…

  • Do you feel like you sway more to the masculine or feminine energy side? Do you tend to be more action-oriented and competitive, or do you find yourself to be a more collaborative and creative type that relies a lot on intuition?
  • What little or big things bring you joy? How often do you experience them?