Bridal Bliss or Nightmare?

Hindsight is 20/20. Now that I have lived through the planning my own wedding and have been a part of subsequent friend’s and family members’ weddings, I have learnt a lot over the last year and a half. Seeing how other people behave, prepare, and execute wedding duties has taught me a lot about weddings, especially my own. I can now reflect back upon my own wedding day and share some insight into what I would have done differently. This is not to say that I didn’t enjoy every second of mine and Michael’s (or Mike Jr. as you may know him as) special day but there are always lessons learnt in everything and I want to share those with all of you.

Growing up I was never the girl dreaming about her future wedding day. I knew I wanted to get married but the logistics of the wedding itself was something that I didn’t get invested in. I had heard horror stories from other people over the years about how the bride turns into a hot mess (“bridezilla”), or family members fight, friendships becoming ruined, etc… and it really stressed me out. This fear of the “crazy” that weddings can evoke in people had a profound impact on me and made me terrified for my own wedding day as I didn’t want to become the next bridal disaster story. Often times, this one day gets built up so much that, in my personal opinion, people end up placing too much pressure and expectation on it which only leaves room for disappointment.
Leading up to, and including the wedding day, I tried my best to keep it as simple as possible. I wanted to be as cool as a cucumber - but, to be perfectly honest, in doing so I think I slightly minimized myself and the occasion and over-compensated in the opposite direction. By being so acutely aware of everyone else’s needs, I found myself dismissing my own.

As much as I still believe in my original philosophy of making every day as important as a wedding day, I think I could have basked in the bridal bliss role a little more fully and guilt free.

If you are someone like me who is unsure of how to find a healthy balance between bridal bliss and bridal nightmare, here are my biggest tips to future brides and grooms:

1- Live it up - Don’t be afraid to go into full on bride and groom role, or groom and groom, or bride and bride. If you let other people’s judgements hold you back from diving into your dream wedding day, you will quickly realize that you cannot make everyone happy and the only thing that matters on your wedding day is you and your partner - the rest becomes fluff. I discovered that if someone is offended or criticizes you for asking for something simple, then they aren’t really celebrating you after all and they are not deserving to be there. However, please keep in mind that there is a fine balance between dismissing your own needs and becoming self-centred and overly demanding (cough *bridezilla* cough). Essentially, don’t let the culture of weddings change you. Follow your heart and do what serves you and your partner above all else.

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2- Veils - Based off of point number 1 - If I could go back in time, I would have worn a veil. In an effort to play the bride card down, I didn’t wear a veil. At the time I didn’t quite understand the concept and symbolism of a veil however, after seeing a few of my friends get married wearing them it really grew up me quickly. I now appreciate the value of a veil from a bridal fashion statement perspective and I think that it adds a nice delicate touch. And seriously, when will you ever again get the chance to wear a veil again in this lifetime!? Don’t be afraid!

3- Vows - Michael and I read beautiful vows that were full of truth, love, and words that resonated with us. However, they were not our own. If I could go back in time I would have written my own vows and asked Michael to do the same. We didn’t do that mostly because we didn’t know how. We found it difficult to put into words the love we feel for each other, and not having an older sister or someone to guide the way for me left many questions unanswered. We made the best choices we could in the moment; however, after experiencing the effects of personalized vows at subsequent weddings, Michael and I both said we wished that we had of written our own. Luckily for me, on our 1 year anniversary, Michael gifted me vows that he wrote by hand, so I ended up getting them after all :)

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4 - Hire a professional wedding planner for the day of the wedding - After Michael proposed to me my mom quickly volunteered herself to be our wedding planner. This was gratefully accepted as it saved us a lot of money by not having to hire an official wedding planner. Click here to read my other 5 tips on how we saved money! However, come the actual wedding day, my mom was in a frenzy. She was super stressed out about the execution of everything, set up, tables, etc… and wasn’t able to enjoy the day of the wedding with me, the bride! She also didn’t have as much time on the day to dedicate to herself for hair, makeup, etc… Poor thing. My mom had the best of intentions but for everyone’s sake, hiring a professional wedding planner at least for the day of, would have been great for everyone’s sanity. Therefore, as much as I encourage you to save money by being smart (here are my top 5 tips to save big money) I highly recommend hiring a professional wedding planner just for the day of the wedding so that those tiny details such as design, chair set up, etc… can be delegated.

5- Pre-made photographer shot list - This is probably one of my biggest and most important tips. Again, without someone giving me advice on how to organize the photographers, (I naively assumed that they would know what to do and guide us effectively on the day of), I didn’t end up getting as many varied group shots with friends and family as I would have liked. Had I given a shot list to my photographers outlining every photo, I would now have a lot more precious moments captured with different group from mine and Michael’s lives.

These are examples of 5 lessons that Michael and I learnt leading up to and including our wedding day. I hope that these insights help shine light on a few things to consider when you or a loved one is planning a wedding and may have feelings of bashfulness like I did.

xoxo Sending Love and Light
Lisa Marie Holmes

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The Benefits Of Grounding/Earthing

I’ve had some people ask me lately to discuss grounding techniques and why I like being barefoot outside. 🌱👣
Grounding, also known as “earthing” is a really cool phenomenon that takes place between humans and the earth. I think, from a healing perspective, grounding should be used daily if possible. There is a vast supply of electrons on the surface of the earth that we once had an intimate connection with; however with the evolution of modern lifestyles, we have created a physical separation and barriers between us and the earth itself. As a result of fashion and modern living trends we spend less time connecting because of the daily use of shoes, we walk around concrete jungles, and live in high rise buildings 🏙. Science is beginning to prove that this literal disconnect from the earth is having physiological impacts on our health and can create an internal “static”. Grounding is the process of making skin contact with the earth and I’ve been told that as little as 15 minutes of physical connection can have substantial improvements on ones health. The exchange of ions by connecting barefoot to the earth has been shown to help in chronic disease, insomnia, autonomic nervous system dysfunction, inflammation, pain, and cardiovascular disease. Also, from a mind-body connection perspective I personally find grounding useful in becoming more present. With so many of us living with our heads in the clouds, making a physical connection to the earth can help mentally and emotionally ground us as well.

I know this may be a different cultural norm in North America and for that reason I think I would get along just fine in Australia and New Zealand as they walk around barefoot all day every day - even to do their grocery shopping! I think it’s brilliant. Mike Holmes Jr., is it time to go down unda !? 👣

I urge you to consider how much time you spend out doors and make a conscious effort to make a physical connect to the earth. Get your children playing in a safe area around the yard. If we can start teaching children at a young age to make a connection with the earth I think it will have a positive impact on their immune systems, overall health, and also their environmental footprint as they will develop an appreciation for the planet and the flow of energy.

If you suffer from insomnia, try walking around barefoot before bed! I know it has worked for some close friends of mine, and I hope it helps you too.

xoxo Sending Love and Light
Lisa Marie Holmes

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How Mike Holmes’ & My Wedding Ceremony Impacted Our Relationship

 29/11/2015

29/11/2015

After Michael (Mike Holmes Jr.) and I were engaged, we quickly realized that we didn’t know how to navigate planning a wedding. We already felt like an “old married couple” and we considered the ceremony to be more of a celebration of love for our friends and families and less about what a wedding symbolizes. We were so relaxed and nonchalant throughout the wedding planning process that when it came to the day of the ceremony there were a bunch of unexpected surprise emotions and lessons learnt.

Michael and I were interviewed before our wedding day and were asked if we thought that the wedding would change our relationship in any way and we both (naively) said “no.” Albert Einstein said it best when he said “The only source of knowledge is experience”. Our experience taught us a lot and we have much to reflect upon after that special day.

 2006

2006

Michael and I have known each other since we were teenagers, so finally getting married after 11 years of having a strong connection felt very natural to both of us. Like I said above, we already felt like we were married, so much so that we wore our wedding bands for 5 months before the actual wedding. I can speak for both of us when I say that we completely underestimated the power of a wedding ceremony and how it would change our relationship. I originally thought that our wedding was a great opportunity to throw a party in the name of love and invite all of our closest friends to celebrate with us. However, the next morning when I woke up and realized that I had officially gone from girlfriend to fiancée to wife, something had shifted within both of us. This new title that we both took on as husband and wife had a profound impact on how we viewed our relationship.

Michael and I have a great partnership and we have realized that it is true what the “pros” (those in long term relationships) say about falling in love with your partner over and over again. We have been told that as you do, the love surprises you and grows to new depths, deeper than you can anticipate.

I think the biggest impact that our wedding day had on both of us was the expression of devotion and permanency which solidified the sentiments that we already felt for one another. It is one thing to feel that bond privately but to celebrate love with a formal ceremony and share it with the world creates this unexpected new depth that both Michael and I cherish every day and will continue to work towards deepening.
Having the love and commitment that we have for one another get acknowledged by the people that we hold dear to us was a very powerful experience, one that neither of us could have anticipated or prepared for. Furthermore, the fact that there were minor details included in our wedding such as the smoke medicine ceremony only enhanced the experience and took our commitment to each other to new levels physically, emotionally, and spiritually.

 12/08/17

12/08/17

Our wedding day was a so precious to both Michael and I and we are so grateful to be able to share these insights and special moments with all of you.

xoxo Sending Love and Light
Lisa Marie Holmes

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 12/08/17

12/08/17

The Spiritual Side Of Mike Holmes' and My Wedding Day

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Are you familiar with smoke medicine ceremonies? Perhaps, mostly as a result of geographical location, you may be more familiar with the sacred First Nations term “smudging.” Smoke medicine ceremonies are a traditional spiritual practice that have many different interpretations and are used by many cultures around the globe. The First Nations community in Canada refers to their sacred interpretation of smoke medicine as “smudging” and I would like to emphasize that this practice deserves the utmost amount of respect and acknowledgement as it is, by their own right, the First Nations culture’s revered medicine. “Smudging” is a term that this community holds dear to their hearts and it is not a word or a practice that should be used without respect or understanding of its history and the depth of meaning behind it’s existence.

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Smoke medicine is a powerful and therapeutic tool that uses specifically chosen medicinal plants to help you enter into a different state of mind and which subsequently leads you into deeper parts of yourself (4). Michael (Mike Holmes Jr.) and I have had the astute honour of being introduced to smoke medicine from our dear friends and family who are members of the First Nations community. It has become a primary part of our own spiritual practices and as a result we included a smoke medicine ceremony on our wedding day as a tribute to the land that we were married on.

Michael and I also did a hand-fasting ceremony and welcomed all 4 elements on our wedding day. We were surrounded by the earth (we were at the centre of a forest in the Blue Mountain region and I was barefoot!), air (the warm breeze), water (we were married on the side of a river bank), and fire (I lit a candle to honour those who could not be with us, especially my grandfather who I was always closest with) which is important to me as I felt the need to be deeply connected as I said my vows. We used sweet grass as a part of our hand fasting ritual and a hand made white sage bundle that was gifted to us for our smoke medicine ceremony. We asked our very dear friends if they would do the honour of leading the smoke ceremony as we wanted the wedding space to be filled with clear, loving, and vibrant energy, and of course, we welcomed our ancestors as I know my grandfather wouldn’t have missed it even coming from the spirit world. Having the powerful scent of sacred white sage covering me from head to toe was the very last thing I remember before walking down the aisle and marrying my husband. The whole wedding was truly a powerful experience.

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These unique and special details were incorporated into our wedding day as we truly believe that our bodies and environments are more than just physical entities. Everything, including us, the plants, animals, earth, and the stones, vibrate with an invisible energy and if you are able to connect to their frequencies it can be a powerful and enlightening experience (2).

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If you are interested in learning more about smoke medicine and how you can incorporate the practice into your daily life, here are a few of my own personal tips:
1 - When I lead a ceremony, I always request that each person set a positive intention for themselves, the group, or the greater consciousness. Or, for beginners, simply picking a kind word and repeating it over to themselves may be easier. A word like “love” or “gentle” or
”peace” or “healing” can be very effective for deepening the experience. I encourage each person to focus on their word or intention and make it their mantra.
2 - By setting a positive intention and combining sacred herbals, negative energies can be cleared and the healing power of the sacred ceremony can bring balance and harmony between the physical and spiritual worlds. This practice is a beautiful way to bless and purify ourselves, special objects, and the land around us (1).
3 - Smoke medicine ceremonies can be done by using a variety of different medicinal plants including, tobacco, sweet grass, lavender, cedar, sage, and juniper.
4 - Understanding that what you take from the earth you must too give back. If smoke medicine is a practice that interests you, here is what I have been taught to do before taking from the earth. First you must ask permission from the plant if you can use it. I know this might sound silly but when you develop a connection to the plants you will find yourself easily talking and singing to them. I have spoken to many grandmothers that say when they sing to their plants they grow more abundantly - old wives tail? Perhaps, but I don’t think so - remember that plants have their own vibrational frequency too and are highly intelligent. Science has proven that plants are aware of their environment, they are highly adaptable, they communicate with one another and they have memories too! They are truly conscious species. Secondly, take time to understand the sacred ceremonial herbals that you are using. By learning about them you will quickly connect with them and see how much energy and knowledge the plants embody.
5 - Lastly, respect the plants as they are directly connected to the spirit world and are our greatest allies in healing ourselves, each other, and everything within Mother Earth.

Some very important things to note about smoke medicine and using plant medicine in general:
Being aware of the types of plants you are using is very important as the over harvesting of herbals can quickly become detrimental to the survival of that species. For example, white sage is a primary plant used in smudging ceremonies; however, as a result of its commercialism and ignorance from the consumer, it is quickly becoming over harvested and has been placed on the “watch list” for at risk species (3). Furthermore, white sage is one of 4 sacred medicines cherished by the First Nations community and should be respected accordingly.

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xoxo Sending Love and Light
Lisa Marie Holmes

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Source 1 - http://ammsa.com/node/12407
Source 2 - https://powwow-power.com/smudging/
Source 3 - https://unitedplantsavers.org/species-at-risk-list/
Source 4 - http://www.dancingtoeaglespiritsociety.org/medicines.php

Gluten Free Apple Crisp Recipe

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Gluten free apple crisp is one of my all-time favourite treats.  I grew up having warm apple pie for dessert with a slice of cheddar cheese - influenced by my British side of the family - I think the quote goes something like "apple pie without the cheese is like a kiss without a squeeze".  But after I was diagnosed with celiac disease, I couldn't find a gluten free pie crust that tasted as yummy. SO I have been making my own homemade GLUTEN FREE apple crisps ever since and I think this has to be my new favourite recipe!!  Not only does this apple crisp warm the soul, it is gluten free, processed sugar free, vegan, and melt in your mouth delicious

I know that traditionally speaking apple crisp is a dessert, but yesterday Michael asked me to add extra oats/granola to his batch so that he can turn it into a breakfast meal and man is he brilliant for suggesting it! This apple crisp can literally be turned into a dessert or a breakfast depending on what you add or subtract to it. 

This has to be the cleanest gluten free apple crisp recipe I have ever made as it only has the purest of ingredients.  It is so easy to make since you can literally throw it in your crockpot/slow cooker and voila! In 2 hours your tasty treat is ready to eat!

Feel free have a nice slice of cheese with it if you're feeling extra British or even a scoop of vanilla ice cream if you're craving some extra sweetness! 

Bon appétit!

Sending love and light
xo

L

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Mac & Cheese With An Autumn Twist!

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There is something so comforting in a classic macaroni & cheese recipe.  It was a staple in my house growing up. My dad did all of the cooking for our family and I remember always getting excited over his homemade mac & cheese. After I was diagnosed with celiac disease in 2006, macaroni and cheese quickly became a thing of the past and remained a distant memory... until now!!!

I have recently been on a GLUTEN FREE mac & cheese bender... Great for my palate, not so great for my thighs... but hey! When you have been deprived of something you love for so long, it is easy to tip the scale and over indulge... #noregrets #amirite!?

When I played around with this fun fall-mac-and-cheese recipe this weekend, I knew it was a must share! Not only is it gluten free, vegan, and processed sugar free, it is delicious, full of carotenoids, and tastes like autumn! 

Before the kids go out trick-or-treating next weekend, think of this recipe and send them on their way with warm bellies full of their favourite meal with a special pumpkin halloween twist! 

Click on the link below to access the recipe for free!

Sending love and light
xo

Lisa Marie Holmes