I've been reading a lot about the Scandinavian concepts of Lagom (not too little, not too much), Hygge and Lykke (simple pleasures and everyday happiness). I've also been pulled towards decluttering my personal space to make room for...well, more space basically. Clear space, to help keep my mind clear too (sidenote: chemo brain fog is a thing!).
So, as someone who wants to live with less, it's been an interesting challenge as a small business owner. Of course, like any business, I want to see it grow and become a steady source of income. But to embrace this philosophy with integrity, means creating stuff with purpose.
While Lagom is about finding balance, Hygge is about the cozy comforts that surround you. Even for the mindfully minimal person, the point is not to detach and deny yourself of the simple pleasures in life that bring you happiness. Rather, think of yourself as a curator instead of a collector and fill your personal space with things that are meaningful.
Pretty honest it turns out. I recently bought some from Maiwa and it is the most beautiful linen I've ever seen.
Embroidery is a big part of my family's tradition so it's no surprise that I grew up to adore it. Who wouldn't fall in-love with the intricate work involving soft textiles, colourful dyes, beautiful threads and block prints? I know I did. So when I discovered Honest Yarn through Maiwa, I couldn't resist getting my hands on some (literally). This beautiful linen was naturally dyed and made from Belgian organic flax, spun in Bengal.
You can read more about the company here, and please do because they have a Foundation, which is a non-profit organization dedicated to education and the relief of poverty for traditional artisans and their family. The purpose is to reduce poverty in rural villages by promoting artisan self-sufficiency. Good people doing good stuff.
I decided to use this beautiful, naturally dyed organic linen to make these tassels. Paired with birch wood and some simple silver details, I am so happy with how they turned out.
My family is from Kenya, and a love of wildlife in all of it's forms was passed down to me. David Sheldrick is well-known in East Africa for the work he began in the 1940s, transforming some of the land into one of Kenya's National Parks. His conservation efforts were unparalleled for his time and his love of wildlife helped change attitudes. He founded The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust, a haven for elephants, rhinos and many other animals.
Since then, so much has changed and yet, there is still so much important work to be done. I really try to focus on the positives in life, but it would be silly to ignore the important work that still needs to be done. The reality is that today, threats to the environmental stability of the area includes elephant and rhino poaching (for ivory and horn), snaring of animals for large scale trade (some countries will pay big bucks for that rare, game meat), and illegal logging of forested areas (which is another issue all together). But The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust is doing it's part and more, and one program in particular - their incredible foster program is an example of that. I hope through these types of small efforts, we can raise some awareness. The Last White Rhino is now gone, and I think we have it in our power to create a shift in animal conservation in our lifetime.
So, to celebrate the arrival of summer, I’ve decided to donate all proceeds from the sale of the bracelet pictured above towards DSWT. It was handmade using carved birch wood, and features one hand-stamped and sterling silver fair trade elephant charm.
I’ve been an elephant foster for a few years now. I love it and hope you’ll join me in helping these beautiful elephants find their way back to the wild. Also, it's time for me to pay it forward as Kisii is named after a Kenyan city after all!
The fundraiser will run until August 1. Thanks for your support! 🐘❤️
Have you heard of the company péla? It’s the first compostable phone case, made using biodegradable plant-based materials to help keep less plastic out of our oceans. I have always been a lover of the ocean and have never owned a phone case, so when my phone got smashed beyond repair, this was my chance to justify the purchase of a product I've never needed before.
Signe, a good friend of mine who is an eco-blogger introduced me to the company. I loved their mission: trying their best to preserve the planet for our children and beyond. They don't claim to be perfect in their efforts but they are always pushing themselves to believe in better, to be better and to do better every single day. That is a philosophy I respect.
I feel so good knowing that companies like this exist. And I LOVE that a Canadian company is leading the way towards positive change, with a truly sustainable, innovative eco-friendly product that can really make a difference. It's beyond ironic that this plant-based material is going to protect my technology.
Can you believe that 1 million seabirds are killed annually by ocean plastic? Or that 93% of Americans aged 6 and up test positive for BPA. Too many more scary statistics.
The earth is what we all have in common, and we must do our part to take care of it.
Wouldn't it be amazing to get home and find a surprise parcel filled with things you love at your doorstep, or a hand-written letter waiting in your mailbox? Warm, unexpected, friendly gestures melt my heart. I'm sure there are lots of people out there who still make time to do things like this for others, but it seems more and more rare.
Life is busy. We keep ourselves distracted by aiming for more, planning for more and even spending more. More, more, more! It's a culture of consumption. That's one of the reasons I tried to create a shop that is filled with goods that are handmade with intention. But is there a way to balance a slower, more mindful lifestyle while hustling to be a girl boss and a teacher, and still make time for random acts of kindness? Sure there is!
Time is no infinite resource (unless we're talking about it in a grander scale, relative to the Universe). Becoming aware of how we spend our time is a start. For example, I wasn't on social media until recently so it takes me a little longer to learn/understand it, but the hours I spend each day online can be saved. I don't have to use as much time thinking about daily posts or Instagram stories to build an authentic brand. People who care will be there. What does it matter how many followers you have, if you're not truly connected to them? All that time spent thinking about the online world suddenly becomes extra time. Maybe the online world is a giant, black hole where time may actually be infinite - it's always there regardless of where you are.
Maybe we can find little reserves of time in our day that can be redirected in more meaningful ways that make us a little nicer to ourselves and the people around us. Like a tree that spreads it's branches in all directions, we can create goals and make plans that are not based solely on ourselves, and our roots of kindness will grow farther. We can make our own work more meaningful, and bring joy to others too. I'm trying to reinforce this in my own life these days.
So here's our homework: do something really nice for someone this week. Follow the ideas in the picture above (taken from The Little Book of Lykke: the Danish search for the world's happiest people), or think of something different. Do something for someone who isn't expecting it. Just cause. Here begins my new personal project to start random acts of kindness. I hope you'll join me on these warm and fuzzy adventures.
I've always been interested in meditation. Having grown up in a South Asian home during a time where getting 'Indian' groceries meant driving all the way to Gerrard Street in Toronto for fresh mangoes, I also had the incredible experience of learning about Eastern medicine, spirituality and culture (an education I wouldn't receive in public school).
As a kid, I remember watching my Grandfather silently practice yoga with 30 minute headstands, or watching my Grandmother cook traditional foods, listening to my family gather to sing and read traditional poetry, or even enjoying freshly picked mint from a loved one's garden...there was method to each practice. They were being mindful.
As a teenager and young adult, I would watch my Mom stand before her special spot at home and light a diya (homemade cotton wick and ghee in a small clay pot). She would meditate and send out good wishes in silence. My aunt told me about Vipasana (a silent retreat) that she attended for one week where everyone just meditates in silence.
Meditation was everywhere, and people who influenced me were making it a part of their daily life. And science began to back up the theories. Researchers began to study the effects on the brain through neuroscience. Doctors began stating that stress is a leading cause of heart disease, cancer and pretty much every other ailment.
There's nothing wrong with meditation apps (I've used many), but many people didn't need them. They didn't have to set a timer on their phones. They just focused on fulfilling their intention of creating or completing something with purpose, and they did it as perfectly as possible. Full attention, limited distractions (and definitely didn't take pictures on their phone to document it).
We spend a lot of time in our daily life multi-tasking. I wonder how much more productive and creative we would be without technology distracting us. We need to find more time to rest our minds and reset. I know I do.
When do you feel the most focussed in the day? Have you wanted to try meditation? If so, try this exercise to help you get started:
So, open a window and listen to the breeze, put on some of your favourite music. Do something that requires all your attention and helps you to slow down. Whether baking, reading, knitting, crafting, gardening, running, yoga, traditional meditation, singing, cycling. Something that gets you away from stressful work or screens.
Just focus, take a deep breath and enjoy that moment of zen.
It recently dawned on me that we construct our own destiny through the tiny decisions that we make each day. Impulse evolves into action. I think these little actions can lead to big life changes.
Like most people, my life has been a series of unexpected events. For what it's worth, I'm learning to embrace it and share some of my work and the lessons I've learned along the way. One thing I know for sure is that everything has a purpose which serves as a catalyst for change. Everything we encounter triggers a response that forms a little impulse that drives us forward. Sooner or later, we end up somewhere new.
Two roads diverged in a yellow wood.
To think about the magic that happens in that moment of impulse - that interesting split second that fills our brain with possibility. The outcome of the impulse is the decision. Which road did you follow, and I wonder where it may lead you?
Either way, it will lead you here (wherever that present moment is for you). And the beauty of finding your purpose is that it can always be reinvented, or even repurposed.
The same can be said for the everyday objects we fill our worlds with. They have a life and energy of their own, and can be used in so many different ways. I had some leftover clay and decided to repurpose it into some beads. I've never made my own beads, so this was a fun experiment for me. I decided to string them onto vegan suede and am planning on adding them into the shop. You can even add some essential oil to them, as clay retains the aroma.
I feel happy when I see the finished product. It reflects all those tiny decisions I made that lead me right here :)
Wherever your road leads you, I hope it brings you happiness. I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference.
Within you there is a stillness and a sanctuary to which you can escape at anytime. That's what I felt the first time I practiced savasana. I felt peaceful and my mind was still, while the rest of my body was buzzing after being able to finish an entire class without collapsing on the mat. Yessss.
But whether practicing in a class or in a quiet spot at home, this is such a great pose to incorporate into your daily life. I realized after a few classes that I didn't have to reserve this pose for yoga only. Although believe it or not, you have to practice it in order to master it. Savasana involves the ability to spend between 1-30 minutes in deep relaxation.
Maybe collapsing is just what savasana encourages us to do. In a world that is rushing forward and prides itself on being able to multi-task, it really does take some effort to shut it all down. For a few minutes at least. All the challenges of the day disappear and your mind feels completely clear. It's the perfect pose for meditation, promotes deep relaxation, and helps your mind and body connect.
So, let yourself let go and gently collapse onto the mat. It's good for you! :)
I'll see you in savasana
when I was a kid, my Mom decided to send me to pottery camp. By camp I mean my Dad's client who was a potter and graciously offered to babysit me for a week in her gorgeous studio filled with clay. I was a happy camper and had the best time.
Louise and the other artists taught me a new technique each day and by the end of the week, I had a collection of deformed treasures. There's something really special about working with clay - the earthy energy of it. I loved every minute of that camp but never went back to working with clay until recently, when I started experimenting with these little dishes.
So for this family day weekend, I wanted to say thanks to the potters who were my family for a week and to my Mama for encouraging me to express myself.
Kisii is a small city in Kenya. It's not where my family is originally from (Mombasa), but in the 70s when my Mom was starting her amazing teaching career, she decided to move there.
To be a young woman in Kenya in the 1970s could have meant many different things. For my Mom, it meant moving away from her family and friends in a big city to a very remote and rural town in a country divided by politics, racial injustice and gender inequality. It was a bold and brave move for her time.
Full of excitement and fear, she forged ahead, and lived in a small cottage and taught in a classroom that many would consider ill-equipped for learning in today's digital age. But the kids prevailed and succeeded, they even planned a class field trip to climb Mount Kilimanjaro. She is that kind of a lady.
Decades later in a new country and at a very different time, I started facing similar decisions as did the women before me. What was I going to do with my one wild and precious life? Like my Mom, I am also a teacher and I came to realize the importance of my past. It was full of risk, sacrifice, optimism and hope. My parents immigrated from Kenya to England and then Canada for a better life.
So kisii represents a starting point. It's a symbol for taking a risk while having a heart full of good intentions.