Have you ever had a pair of leggings that you just couldn't get out of? Like I mean you wore them allllll the time? I can honestly say that it hasn't happened to me since University when yoga pants first became all the rage. Like I lived in them....well, me and every other girl at Western. I wouldn't even know what to wear if I had to wash them.
But.... because I didn't support the changes (super high cost regardless of outsourcing from Canada to China) that happened with the very popular and very commercial yoga pants that I once wore, I found myself longing for a serious long term relationship with leggings again, but they are just so hard to find. And honestly the kind you can buy at the grocery store just don't cut it! A) because they are cheap means that someone in some country somewhere did not get paid a fair wage to make them and B) because they simply don't perform - breathe or last.
Enter PranaVida Style. THE most AMAZINGLY comfortable, ethical and sustainable leggings I have EVER worn. Let me just tell you something - I accidentally ordered the fleece lined crops in the middle of July this summer and I loved them so much that I wanted to wear them even though it was a stifling 30+ degrees outside. I wore them and get this - it didn't matter that it was hot as hades outside - they BREATHE! (As a Yoga teacher I have tried a LOT of leggings and this is like...soo unheard of.)
Not only are these leggings incredible, but the woman who created them is even more amazing and makes you want to support her business just because of who she is and what she stands for.
Amelia Barnes is a mother, yoga teacher and creative entrepreneur passionate about helping others live in alignment with their highest self and in harmony with the earth. You can often find her on her Instagram account (@ameliakyoga), sharing little bits of her heart, mothering her daughter Lily, and tips that will inspire you to keep learning and living a simpler, conscious and love-filled life. She also shares her journey of healing after the death of her newborn son Landon in July 2014, and has written a book Landon's Legacy: The Power of a Brief Life to help others navigate loss or to better understand those they love who are grieving. Her clothing line PranaVidaStyle.com (@pranavidastyle) is quickly becoming one of the most sought-after, Canadian-made brands because of her commitment to creating only the highest quality and most environmentally conscious pieces that flatter and fit every body (they are even perfect through pregnancy and postpartum!). Amelia lives in Winnipeg, Canada with her husband Justin, daughter Lily and big white mutt Cody, and enjoys doing yoga and spending time outdoors whenever she can. You can practice yoga with her online at oneOeight.com, and her podcast Living Prana Vida will be launching in the new year.
I was fortunate enough to interview Amelia about her take on gratitude among other things and, of course it just made me want to support her business even more and I am sure that you will want to get yourself a pair of these life changing leggings too!
If someone met you for the first time at a dinner party and asked you to tell them about yourself and your life, what would you say?
I'd say I'm a mom and business owner, but really at the core I'm simply a growth seeking being. I believe that happiness comes from purpose, and purpose comes from always learning and a commitment to consciously evolving through and with whatever comes our way.
How does gratitude come into play in your business PranaVida Style? (I personally feel very grateful that you created this business every time I am wearing my PranaVida leggings!)
I'm immensely grateful that I live in a day and age where owning my own business, and being able to create something of meaning and share that with the entire world, is a real possibility. There are downsides of technology of course, but never before have we had the kind of freedom and opportunity we do today to actually follow our passions and hearts, and make a fabulous living doing it. I'm also incredibly grateful for all the people I've been able to connect with through Prana Vida - many of my customers feel like dear friends now and we have certainly created a true community of like-minded women who are committed to self-growth and conscious consumption. Just seeing the impact I'm making every day in ways big and small truly fills me up.
Can you share a time when you had to dig deep to find gratitude?
Certainly, it was very hard to find gratitude after Landon died. It was a daily struggle to find bits and pieces of hope or happiness. I found journalling and sharing about my grief helped immensely, as well as connecting to others who had been through similar experiences and were further along in their grief journeys.
What is your version of a gratitude attitude today?
When I'm feeling down I try to search my mind for the things I'm so grateful for, and focus on those things. Expressing gratitude through words or actions also helps me to find more gratitude - it's an upward spiral.
Thank you Amelia for taking the time to answer my questions and allow me to share some info about you and your amazing business! Also don't forget that you can check out Amelia's yoga classes on oneOeight,com.
Meet Heather Larson, aka @veganishmama
So, it's been a lot of food posting and reading recipes (and trying the recipes obv) these last few months. Especially with the addition of so many new vegan options. Some of my baking recipes are seriously so on pointe that when they work out I strut around the kitchen all Martha AF.
But, I first needed some inspiration. Especially since when I started looking into this plant-based way of eating I wasn't far off from having to start feeding Quinne solid food. I started to wonder how I would do it with a little wee babe who would need lots of variety and wholesome nutrition. So, as any good mom would do I started perusing Instagram, where I found the lovely Heather Larson aka @veganishmama. She helped inspire me with some recipes and ideas for meals that were more plant based! Heather's food-osophy resonates with me in the sense that it's not neurotic strict and that life allows for exceptions. (I'm currently calling myself a "sometimes-atarian.)
I reached out to her and am lucky that she took the time to answer a few questions about food but also about gratitude and how that fits into her life. And come on, how cute is she!?
Could you tell us a bit about yourself and who is the Veganish mama!?
Hi! I'm Heather aka @veganishmama. My transition to veganism began about a year ago, when I was on maternity leave from my job as a professional cheese and pizza tester. It's a real job, I'm not making that up haha! I ran the Canadian test kitchen for one of North America's largest dairy manufacturers for over 3 years, testing various cheese and pizza recipes. If you're interested, there's probably an opening there now as after going vegan, I obviously couldn't go back to my job! My husband was the one who actually started the whole "vegan thing" at our house. He was looking at the results from his physicals over the years, as he had one coming up; even though he had always been healthy, his weight and cholesterol were slowly but steadily on the rise. He decided to make a change for the two weeks prior to his appointment to see if it would make a difference, and after seeing the results, we couldn't go back to eating the way we were. A few documentaries helped for motivation, "What the Health" on Netflix, was a particularly motivating one for us. After finding a few recipes that we loved, the transition wasn't too difficult, and we haven't looked back!
I started following you on Instagram because I am more and more interested in vegan eating. I find it inspirational to see moms who are vegan with their little ones in tow because I have a perception that vegan eating is either a) very complicated and labour intensive or b) terribly boring (think veggies and hummus every damn day).
Can you walk us through a typical day of vegan eating for your house hold?
I'll be honest, we do eat a lot of hummus! My son in particular, would eat a whole tub with a spoon if we'd let him. One of the biggest differences, I think, in a vegan diet, is that we no longer eat eggs for breakfast. We do however, eat vegan BLT's made with tofu or tempeh bacon, coconut yogurt parfaits, chia pudding, smoothies, toast, vegan breakfast sausage, etc, so I certainly don't feel deprived. Lunch for us is usually leftovers from the night before. I do cook at home more that we're vegan, and I do make more from scratch, so it is a bit more labour intensive. However, I don't HAVE to, there are many vegan options available in stores now, that's just personal preference. Other favourite lunches, if we're not having leftovers, are hummus with pita and veggies, chick pea salad sandwiches (which taste like tuna salad), or vegan buffalo chicken wraps, which in my opinion, are better than the "real thing". Dinners are mostly vegan versions of what we used to eat in our pre-vegan days; tacos with either vegan chipotle crumble, or tofu, or buffalo cauliflower, or pasta with lots of veggies, vegan caesar salad, curries, sushi, vegan cannoli, and many other pasta dishes (I am married to an Italian after all). I've shared a few of these recipes on my blog :).
You wrote a blog about pumping your breastmilk and you mentioned that breastfeeding didn’t work out as planned - I can’t think of a more judgemental area than how we feed our babes, either during the infant period or when they start eating solids. Did you encounter any judgement about this or do you now with having a vegan diet in your family?
I don't think that I ever really faced "judgement" for pumping. Sometimes when I complained about the time commitment, or that I wasn't making as much milk as I wanted to, people would say "why don't you just give him formula"? This was an especially difficult question to answer when it came from a mum who had fed their babies formula. I didn't want to make anyone feel bad about their decision, I truly believe that we're all just doing our best and motherhood is freaking HARD. I definitely just stumbled my way through answering, trying not to offend anyone. As far as raising my son vegan, for the most part, everyone has been pretty supportive, even my husbands Italian grandmothers make him vegan versions of their pizza and pasta, which is so kind of them. My Grandma still offers me fish for dinner but she's trying, lol. She recently helped me veganize her famous oatmeal cookie recipe, and let me post it on my blog! We had a few comments, before our son was on solids, where people would sort of answer for us and say "of course they're not going to raise him vegan, that's crazy", but we seem to have eased them into it and everyone sort of gets it now. My husband will still have steak maybe once a year at Christmas dinner with his guy friends, but that's the "ish" in "vegan-ish" for him. I wrote a blog post all about the "ish" as well :).
So to move things over towards gratitude- Can you think of a time when you had to dig deep in order to find gratitude?
This is something that I'm actively working on. I just listened to my first audio book about gratitude called "The Universe Has Your Back", which has started to remind me to be more present, to be grateful for what I have, and to not stress so much about the future. One of the times that I had to dig deep for gratitude was probably when i was pregnant with my son. I had lost my first pregnancy at 20 weeks, and I delivered him and held him in my arms, and to be honest, my heart is still a bit broken, and I think that it always will be. When I got pregnant with my son just a few short months later, everyone was so happy for us, and I feel like a weight was lifted off of everyone else's shoulders because they felt like they didn't have to tiptoe around me anymore, like I wasn't broken anymore. Though I was so so lucky to be able to get pregnant again so easily, I know many people struggle for much longer, or aren't able to have children at all, I still struggled to be grateful for that. I just wanted to hold my baby in my arms, and I wanted answers for why he wasn't. I never got those answers, but I did eventually appreciate my next pregnancy. I can't remember if it was when the morning sickness was finally gone, or when I felt the first kick, but eventually, I started to appreciate everything that I had. My health, my husband, my family and a baby boy in my tummy.
What is your version of having a gratitude attitude?
Again, this is something that I'm sort of working to find for myself. For me this what this "gratitude attitude" looks like, is being more present, enjoying what I have right now, and recognizing how far I've come and what I've accomplished in this life so far. Being grateful that I have a roof over my head, food to feed my son, my health, my husband, and an overall wonderful life; the daily appreciation of the little things that I sometimes take for granted.
So it has been over a year since I last wrote a blog post on this website. Which is insane really. But you know, a bunch of crazy stuff happened like we moved twice, our dog had two surgeries, I was pregnant, had a baby….NBD. I’m sure I’ll write more about those things at some point but for now I want to share a few of my thoughts about food - yes food. If you follow my instagram posts (@mygrattitudeattitude you’ll see that the things I post most about are Quinne (our 6 month old baby girl), our Maltese-Poodle Jean Luc and .....food.
I personally have been incorporating way more vegetarian and vegan options into our diet for a few reasons…. The first reason is that ever since I was a kid I felt super connected to animals (even when they didn’t feel connected to me - sorry Munchie) and I always had to make sure I couldn’t think about it when I ate meat. This not thinking about it meant that I was never really mindful about what I ate. I couldn’t be! I would be too sad! (I’m not going to get into the unethical treatment of factory farmed animals here because quite frankly I can’t handle it emotionally but if you’re interested there are tons of resources on Netflix and google but don’t say I didn’t warn you…) So, this non-mindful eating led to a very unconscious state of eating and a disconnected relationship with food (ever shove a handful of something into your mouth and not even really taste it?) Ask my husband about how many bags of mini eggs I ate while pregnant - we have different answers! And I’m sure that this is due to being so thought-less around eating.
Lately I’ve been able to bake and cook a lot more while the baby is asleep or playing in the kitchen watching me and I have been having a LOT of fun with it. With this new love of experimentation the coolest thing has happened….I have learned that I don’t shove a handful of biscotti down my throat the same way anymore! You know why? Because you have to bake the biscotti TWICE. TWICE dammit. It takes time and effort to make delicious and wholesome food! I didn’t know that when I bought biscotti that someone else made so I ate it super fast not even thinking about the time it took to make it. And now, I appreciate the process more than I ever have and it allows for more mindful eating. Because I know for sure that I am NOT pumping biscotti out of THIS kitchen every week, so I better damn well savour it! Super cool.
Another reason that I have been incorporating a more plant based diet is due to family history. My family has history of hormone based breast cancer and I’d like to avoid adding any unnecessary hormones to my body - Lord knows I don’t deal well with the ones I already have thankyouverymuch.
So, I am trying to eat more mindfully, ethically and avoid excess hormones and therefore a more plant based diet seems like the natural choice right now. But here’s the truth - we are heading to Germany and Switzerland in December and you can bet your fresh baked buns that I will be eating cheese fondue and schnitzel. If we are invited to a friend’s home for a meal (any takers?) I don’t make a big deal and not eat what they serve - no way! In fact I am more thankful and mindful for having a meal made for me. In this way I feel like we are balancing an 80/20 diet where the bulk of our food at home is plant based and on special outings it’s okay to have whatever we want! Mostly, enjoy the food that we are experiencing! And also the point is to find what works best for what YOU feel is a healthy balance, and for now, this is what works for me. But it may change - just like bell bottoms and skinny jeans, butter - margarine - butter! So, as my sister says “I refuse to be put into a box!”. Anyways, I’m going to keep sharing fun food recipes among other things that I deem interesting for a little bit of a “me” outlet while the baby naps!
Here are some of the amazing cookbooks that I have been using lately in case you are interested.
Yes you read that right and let me just re-iterate: Thordis Elva is a Women's Rights Badass.
I met Thordis in Sweden while participating in a 109 World Humanitarian Trip to support the Panzi Hospital in the Congo and to bring awareness to the global epidemic that is sexual violence against women. Before meeting this powerhouse I watched her TED talk and let me tell you I was floored. I don't want to give too much away because I HIGHLY recommend that you watch it yourself here. But in case you need persuading, she speaks WITH (yes that's right, alongside, beside, next to) her perpetrator with whom she also co-wrote her book South of Forgiveness which you can purchase here (and again I HIGHLY recommend this badass read).
I got to know Thordis while sitting at dinner at this mission trip where we are all new to one another, complete strangers really
(although united in the cause that brought us there.) And I have to tell you that after watching her TED talk I didn't know what to expect now that I was sitting next to her at dinner. Thordis is a delightful dinner companion , asking questions about my sister and I (we travelled together) all while being genuinely interested in our responses. Not to mention she has an amazing sense of humour and I admit that the casual swearing in all the right places made me fall for her even more. (I'm a sucker for a good cuss in just the right moment.) I think the best part was how interested she was in mine and my husband's wedding. She couldn't get over how "Canadian" it was that we got married wearing skates and on an outdoor ice rink!
When Thordis opens her mouth to speak, you just stop and listen. It kind of reminds me of when I was a kid and a favourite show would come on and I would find myself just staring and watching the screen with my mouth half open dumbfounded and in awe. So the next day after dinner when I saw her official presentation it was like I was that kid again - awe struck. The way she speaks so eloquently about an otherwise taboo subject of rape and sexual violence is mind blowing. The way she breaks down statistics without hesitation is admirable. She knows her facts and it's personal. The passion that she has for bringing violence about women to the forefront of discussion be it in political, social or familial settings is palpable. And she does it all with grace. Originally Icelandic but now living in Sweden her English is remarkably native sounding.
Just recently with all of the #Metoo hashtags making waves in social and mainstream media, Thordis answered some questions for the blog. (Thank you, thank you, thank you, Thordis! Keep doing the amazing work that you are doing!)
Can you think of a time in your life or a specific situation when you had to really dig deep to find gratitude?
I think the hardest time I've had in terms of feeling grateful is when I've been consumed with self-pity. The blackest of times have often been triggered by heartache, loss or illness. For example, I was diagnosed with what seemed to be cancer at the age of 22, when I was studying abroad, in a different continent than my friends and family. It felt very difficult to be so far away from them during those trying times. Gratitude was not the first thing that came to my mind. But after the initial shock, I decided that if I was ill, I was going to love my life and make the most of it. I bought a spontaneous ticket to go see a friend in Puerto Rico and felt very grateful for her company, as well as for the opportunities I had. When my doctors eventually confirmed that I didn't have cancer, I was of course very grateful for my good health as well. It is the single most important thing in life, I believe. At times, it was also difficult to see the light in my healing journey, after having been raped at the age of 16 by my first boyfriend. But when I was at my weakest, I found strength in therapy and an online community of survivors who did wonders for me. For that, I will always be grateful.
You wrote your book South of Forgiveness with your perpetrator, can you tell us what the reactions have been from friends, family, and fans in terms of this unique form of healing?
The reactions from friends and family have been unwaveringly supportive, for me. My parents and my husband were naturally concerned when I told them that I wanted to embark on this highly unorthodox journey to try to make amends with myself and my past. But they understood why it was important to me and I couldn't have done it without their support. The public has also been supportive for the most part. There have been those who feel threatened by the idea of a perpetrator being given space to tell his side of the story, and I understand their hesitation. But our collaboration is not intended to lessen the impact of violence or normalise it in any way - on the contrary - we decided to tell our story together to underline how serious sexual abuse is, and how important it is that men and women come together to fight this issue that has been wrongfully classified a 'women's issue' for far too long. It's a human issue that we should all be working towards solving.
When you finally told your family and friends? How did that play out in your relationships and, for your son, what do you tell him now about what you do for a living?
When I told my friends and family, they were kind and supportive, but some of them didn't know what to say. I find that very understandable. The silence surrounding sexual abuse has been thick for a very long time, and as a result, many people don't know how to talk about it. But nobody shamed me or blamed me, which is the most important part.
My son is 8 years old and he knows that I write and speak publicly for a living. I've given him an age-appropriate version of my story, so he knows that once upon a time, his mother had a boyfriend who hurt her. He knows that I was asked for forgiveness and that we've written a book together about our past. As he grows older, I will tell him more.
For any women out there who may feel like they cannot speak up about their trauma and who feel shame about what may have happened to them - what can you say to them?
I can say this: You're not alone. There are many people out there who understand what you're going through and have experienced something similar. Don't let anybody tell you what your path to healing should look like. You alone know what your needs are, there's no magic formula that works for everyone. Remember that you did not deserve what happened to you. Nobody deserves to be abused, no matter what. The shame was never yours to carry. There is light at the end of this tunnel and you deserve to get there.
What is your version of a gratitude attitude?
To count my blessings and remind myself how privileged I am, not only with my wonderful family and my good health, but because I have a voice in a world where so many of my fellow survivors are silenced. With the privilege of having a voice comes the responsibility of using it. Thank you for giving me a chance to use my voice here, now. That is my gratitude attitude today.
To learn more and support the amazing work that Thordis is doing, check out her website.
If you follow Irene Pappas on Instagram and Social Media you'll know her as Fit Queen Irene.
She has been practicing yoga since 2012 and has an extraordinary capacity for movement and understanding her own body and it's limits. After an incredible injury, Irene rebuilt her perception of her own body and what it was capable of but not only this, she has found ways to have gratitude in her own body no matter what it was going through. Not only is her knowledge of yoga inspiring but so are her perceptions and insights on life.
She teaches many retreats and workshops across the globe, but took time out of her busy schedule to answer a few questions about gratitude.
1. Can you think of a time when you had to dig really deep to find gratitude in a certain situation?
One thing I am working on right now is finding gratitude in the moment instead of looking back and being grateful in retrospect. But of course sometimes it takes days, weeks, or even years to see the bigger picture. When I was younger my parents send me to a boarding school that was very rigorous and similar to military school in a lot of ways. Even though my own actions were what got me to a place where I needed such reformation, I blamed my parents and everyone else. Looking back it was one of the best things to happen to me and really shaped me into who I am today, but it did take me years to realize that.
2. On your website it says "After experiencing a life changing wrist injury Irene has redefined her yoga practice in many ways, placing more emphasis on a strong foundation and finding gratitude for her body with or without advanced asana." Can you tell us a bit more about this experience and finding gratitude for your body?
I spent many years obsessing over my body- working out incessantly and counting every calorie, convinced that if I could get the "perfect" body I would finally be happy. Once I found yoga I transferred this same mentality into my practice, convincing myself that once I had a handstand I would be happy. This cycle continued for quite some time. I placed a lot of value on an advanced asana practice and was constantly striving to be better. Eventually I started having terrible wrist pain, and found out that a bone in my wrist had broken and started to die and decay. The first few surgeons I went to told me I would never use my wrist again. Although they all told me I had a genetic predisposition to this happening, I knew I wasn't listening to my body and even as this was happening I knew it was going to be one of the greatest learning expieriences of my life. I finally found a surgeon that believed in her ability to help heal me, and two surgeries later I am able to use my wrist again. While I am supremely grateful that I can do handstands most days, I am even more grateful for how this experience changed my perspective. Instead of focusing on what I can or cannot do, I have found a sense of gratitude for every single thing my body is capable of, even on my hardest days. This gratitude has trickled into all aspects of my life. I am now free from the obsession with my weight, body, and handstands/physical ability- and I feel exactly that, free.
3. You have a lot of instagram followers, you travel to give workshops and teacher trainings, what has been your greatest challenge and your greatest accomplishment through all of this?
One of the greatest challenges for me has been staying grounded. Traveling almost constantly and not having a strong local community of students and friends has been difficult at times. But it has given me an ability to find grounding within myself, without having to rely on my external environment. I think the teacher trainings are the most powerful thing I am part of right now, because they have the ability to give people the tools to be their highest selves.
4. Who is the one person real life, actor, passed away etc. that you would love to meet and why?
This is a hard question! I would have to say my grandfather on my dad's side. I never met him and he is one of the most influential people in my family, I would love to sit down and talk to him and tell him how grateful I am for him.
5. What is your version of #mygratitudeattitude?
Gratitude is everything to me. It changes a situation from negative into positive, and allows me to let go of stress, anger, depression, and anxiety.
To get more from Irene follow her on instagram @fitqueenirene or check out her website www.fitqueenirene.com