The magical occasion when mom relaxes

Celebrate the magic

As a single mom of 3, I find my power by getting out in nature. Getting myself that nice dose of oxygen is so vital to feeling on top of my game. Add to that some undisrupted “earthing” and I’m truly a happy mommy. I need some quality me-time to recharge my batteries and nature offers me respite from the hustle and bustle of daily life.

Children are precious and being a mom should be celebrated.

Our children are the next generation. The continuation of the species. They are therefore an important aspect valued by our society. So valuable we invest much of our time, money and efforts in raising good and healthy kids. Yet life is not only about the children. There is more to the ultimate meaning of life and your purpose in this existence.

Sacred men and women throughout history have understood the power of nature, using the wilderness (whether forest, beach, or desert) to cultivate an inner spirituality that in turn makes a meaningful impact on the lives of the people around you. It’s in the wilderness, stripped from distractions, that you face yourself and your circumstances in one of the rawest and most vulnerable ways you’ll ever experience. And it’s well worth it.

Moments to relax, harmonize and balance.

Pause for a minute (actually stop reading this article) and think about the last time you incorporated a practice solely for the sake of your spiritual life. You probably can’t remember, now can you ?

Funny isn’t it, how we women tend to undervalue our quality me-time, our reconnection with our inner core. Nurturing your spirituality is in stark contrast to the things our society seems to value. Nevertheless, I recommend you tend to your soul daily, even be it just for a few minutes here and there of mindful awareness of the self. Like power-napping, you can take out a few minutes during your busy day to catch up with yourself. You don’t have to wait for a magical occasion to take care of yourself. Instead I believe in everyday magic. To make many micro moments into a meaningful refills of energy.

Even for those who are career-driven or business-minded, taking a few minutes out behind your desk to power-meditate, is believed to infuse the surrounding area with positive energy.

It’s not always about the kids

Ladies (and gents), it is time you blocked out time in your schedule for yourself. This time won’t create itself; you will need to make it a priority. Unlike physical health, which often takes precedence with exercise and healthy eating, spiritual well-being is a little more elusive and can be put on the back-burner.

Soothing seasonal occupations :

  • Cooking a delicious meal using ayurvedic spices for a balanced, flavourful diet.
  • Relax, cool and harmonize body, mind and spirit with organic herbal teas.
  • Get out pottering around your garden. Plant seeds for the future.

By being a relaxed mom, you are helping preserve healthy habits for generations to come.

Breathe a sigh of relief and get ahead of your day.

Put your spiritual health at the top of your list and spend some time in nature this spring or summer. Retreats are a great way to fill your cup and come back to yourself, especially those where you get to spend time outside in nature.

Where will you go on your next adventure?

This August, I am heading to YogaLand for a 3 Day Signature Meditation and Yoga Retreat. If you’re looking to get away from it all — to slow down, reflect, re-energize, and create a foundation for cultivating purpose in your life — join me and my kiddos in Torhout (Belgium).

The benefits of engaging in this type of retreat are vast. From clarity to purpose, you will walk away feeling refreshed and with a renewed sense of who you are.

— Tremeloo, Belgium (May 2017)

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Earthing : Walking Barefoot

The first time I encountered the idea of walking barefoot in the grass was in the movie Pretty Woman when Richard Gere walked barefoot in a park towards the end of the movie. This was his way of trying to figure out who he was and what he wanted out of life. This was his way of thinking seriously about himself, what he wanted and possibly connecting to himself.

Two years ago I attended Ostara, the yearly women’s festival, where we were encouraged to dance barefoot in the park, to stamp out our frustrations and receive back energy from Mother earth.

Last time I talked about the subject was just a few weeks ago, when I was out on our weekly Friday lunch with my beautiful friend Marta. She was telling me all about her daily meditations out in the woods. She likes to walk barefoot as she enters the forest. This little ritual helps her get in touch with nature before she settles down under a tree for an hour of truly blissful meditation.

When was the last time you walked barefoot in the grass ?

So I decided it was time to test this out for good. I’ve started grounding my feet daily in my back garden, usually about an hour or so before I go to sleep. I love the way the earth feels cool below my feet, how the grass is soft. I am surprised by my own hesitation, scared of getting hurt or stung by some hidden insect.

Humans have been walking barefoot for centuries. Only recently have we all clad our footsies and forgotten what it is like to be in touch with the earth. Feel the earth move beneath our feet. Keep both feet on the ground. Put our foot down. So many collective memories.

Today I took off with my 3 kids to reconnect with Mother Earth. To be honest, my littles looked at me rather puzzled when I asked them to take off their shoes and to walk around barefoot. But they gave it a try, my daughter more hesitant than her older brother. The baby found the entire experience very curious. For him there was more than feeling the grass under his little feet. There were flowers to pick and leaves to eat.

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Keep it simple

I think the best advise I have ever encountered is to keep it simple. Earthing can be done daily by just going out into nature, your garden, the park, wherever and taking your shoes off. That’s the whole point in earthing. It’s being outside in contact with Mother Earth.

Now please explain to me how it is possible to make a commerce out of this, to sell electrical earth mats. As if there is no way you could possibly find 5 minutes to get your feet dirty… outside. Really ? If you bought a mat, really I think you’re missing the point. Please stamp on it as you would if performing a tribal dance. Hopefully you break the stupid mat and you decide to just go outside anyway.

My kids experience

When I asked my children what they thought of having their feet touch the ground, they qualified the experience as :

  • fun
  • tickling
  • cool
  • soft
  • relaxing

 Sole to soul

Feet are the small areas of our bodies that touch the earth and when we touch it sole to soul there is much we can experience and meditate upon. When was the last time you walked barefoot upon the earth and did you feel the earth’s soul through your soles?

— Tremelo, Belgium (April 2017)

Inhale – exhale

 

At beautiful green Parkheide Wandelbos

For the locals of Baal – Tremelo (Belgium), any zen enthusiast and nature lover will love exploring this lush wood with recreational opportunities. The domain is only 7 ha so the experience is petite, yet qualitative. Besides walking and cycling in the area, you can also go there to play tennis or a game of petanque. My children always enjoy the playground. I love making time every weekend for a walk out in nature as I found this largely benefits meditation and mindfulness.

My trio of babes enjoys the wild outdoors and the plants to be found there. Whole foods can be found at the brasserie, which is bathed in the peace of the surrounding wood. This is a distinct place of relaxation where you can eat well and enjoy an afternoon with your kids and their friends. The tennis courts and playground which border the woods are enough fun and action to experience after a leisurely walk.

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Magic is not something you can buy. It’s the experience which you create yourself and then take home when you join together with your littles for a walk. Parkheide Wandelbos is open both summer and winter. The menu is certainly worthwhile to discover the suggestions.

Before you go

What can go wrong in this beautiful experience ?

  1. Parkheide Wandelbos is very popular among the local community and on days of good weather, everybody wll want to sit out on the terrace meaning you won’t find a seat.
  2. In the winter, there are only limited numbers of chairs and tables set out on the terrace, and you will be grounded by personnel if you pull out a spare chair or table for yourself.
  3. The personnel is not friendly and probably doesn’t believe they have to be as the brasserie is so popular. Besides being grounded as stated above (2), personnel might also ignore you if you want to order, because they have too many clients to choose from anyway. If you don’t go there, there are plenty of other people lining up for a table (1).

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If you manage to put your ego aside and do it for the pleasure of your children, you will enjoy a wonderful afternoon at Parkheide Wandelbos. So if the waiters are obnoxious, just inhale, exhale and smile.

PS the guy in the picture holding my youngest babe is so totally not my boyfriend.

Parkheide Wandelbos, Baal (Tremelo), Belgium (March 2017)

The truth behind my perfect children photoshoot

Last year, I asked my trusted collaborator Heleen Larsen to capture my children on photograph for a special occasion. Heleen is a real artist in photography work. I have done some photo courses myself as an amateur and understand the importance of having the right material and investing in proper lenses. You don’t have to be a pro to invest in pro equipment (my inner shop-aholic is smiling).

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Kruisheide, a nature reserve

We took the kids out to the Kruisheide in Keerbergen, another one of Belgium’s nature reserves. This piece of nature used to be part of the moorland that streched on the shifting sands of the surrounding area. The original natural landscape, oak and birch tree on nutrient-poor sandy soil, is cleared for grazing sheep: so arose the moors. The area is dry: you will find mainly heather. Grasshoppers and various species of butterflies, such as the silver-studded blue, can be found here. If you enjoy a walk make a point of coming on a summer evening to enjoy a concert of cricket songs.

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Dressed in white

Don’t let that little girl smile fool you, I was pretty much a zombie after this photoshoot because spent the whole time shouting to watch out not to dirty her beautiful white frock. But I wanted to keep the picture balanced in sponteneity so I let my daughter run wild, and was terrified simultaneously that she would fall.

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Yeah look at me

I specifically went to the Kruisheide because I really, really wanted this shot. Again, scared stiff that my daughter will tear or dirty her dress on the green moss or the dry dirt,  instead of “enjoying the moment”.

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Don’t they just look like little angels ?

Guess who didn’t know that you can’t stop children from running, climbing or falling until they were half way into the photoshoot? I was not prepared at all. Also guess who had never considered the consequences of having them dressed up and then letting them run wild in nature? This woman.

A true artist

Heleen Larsen is one photographers that make your internet surfing more interesting and motivate you to go for a hike, even in the middle of winter. Whether on the mountain or around Wales, Heleen lives for the outdoors and has turned shooting her life from a passion to a career. Heleen freelances for various companies.

— Keerbergen, Belgium (May 2016)

Things I learned by visiting the Japanese Garden with my kids

The Japanese Garden is a small oasis of calm in the city of Hasselt. It combines the delicately controlled nature of a real Japanese sculpted garden, with soft flowing stream of water and a Japanese pavilion. I had wanted to visit this park for some time. I am very interested in meditation and all rituals like the Japanese tea ceremony.

Children are hungry for information

My kids adore beauty and they want to know why. Why is this a Japanese garden ? What do the Japanese do ? Where is Japan ? I was subjected to a tirade of questions whilst running around the park discovering one new beauty around every corner.

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I am all for spontaneity. And I pride myself on being well-read. But my kids got the better of me. Next time, I swore, I’d be better prepared and I’d do my homework. Lucky in our day and age, I can just pull out my iPhone and Google the questions I can’t answer.

Children love water

No sh*t Sherlock, hadn’t seen that one coming. Add a stream of water where children can actually get hands-on involved and you’ve got yourself some happy campers.

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The lake was home to a huge school of Japanese Koi. My kids so desperately wanted to pet the little darlings. Of course they just ended up washing their feet.

Nature is a beautiful place to be with children

The Japanese cherry trees were in bloom. And such gorgeous flowers ! My daughter wanted to eat one, they smelled so delicious.

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Such love for beauty is only complete when spent with mum. Just look at those darling little faces. So happy to be out discovering the treasures of this park. Children just add that little extra spark of luminosity. This picture is one of my treasures. I call it the Cherry’s Jubilee.

Anything can be an adventure

We took a walk round the park, following the small paths and crossed the stepping stones by the waterfall. Like I said, kids love water. It adds to the magic and the excitement of the moment.

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This waterfall sure heats things up ! The wild uncontrollable force of nature, the fierce rocks… Yet everything so calculated and orchestrated into this magnificent setting. Loved it !

And this proud mother learned…

That day, I realized as I was walking around the Japanese Garden in Hasselt, bathed in the loveliest light. What made that day so memorable was the presence of my kids. I had wanted to teach them what a beautiful place this world is. But actually it was my kids who taught me to see the beauty, as they looked and discovered and played in all childish innocence. I was humbled by how much they actually taught me. Would I have spent so much time by the water watching the koi ? Would I have asked myself so many questions about the Japanese culture ? Would I have noticed the sweet fragrance of the cherry blossom ? I felt so lucky. I found so much inspiring beauty. I can’t wait to get outside again !

— Japanese Garden, Hasselt, Belgium (May 2013)