The Caymen Island's Caribbean Club

This is the view from our balcony. Every night we had a perfect view of the sunset.

This is the view from our balcony. Every night we had a perfect view of the sunset.

The Caymen Islands
This January Michael and I joined our friends for a spontaneous 4 day trip in the Caymen Islands and could have stayed forever. The island is growing at a very fast rate but it has in no way lost it’s special island charm. 
The direct flight from Toronto to Grand Caymen is a simple and quick 4 hour flight. Before we knew it we had left -30 degrees weather in Toronto and had arrived in paradise at a comfortable +28 degrees. 

Accommodations
We chose the beautiful Caribbean Club Boutique Resident Hotel to accommodate us for our quick getaway and we were not disappointed.  The hotel is located a quick 7-10 minute drive from the airport, right on the famous 7 mile beach. 

morning mimosas!

morning mimosas!

The Caribbean Club is truly a home-away-from-home and unique in its design.  This boutique resident hotel is pure class and every detail has been polished to perfection.  To say that this is simply a hotel does not give it justice as the Caribbean Club combines everything you need from a hotel with the added comforts and amenities of home that are usually missing in your standard hotel room.

What really struck me while we were there was the unique feeling that we didn’t feel rushed to leave our suite. You know the feeling you get when you stay at a standard hotel room, even the nicest ones, and you think “ok, where to next?” because you don’t want to linger in your hotel room for too long? This hotel offered a completely different experience - we didn’t want to leave! 

Our suite was an experience in and of itself and we never once felt ‘stuck’ or separated from the rest of our group since we were sharing the same suite with them. There was really no reason to feel rushed to leave the room because it was so comfortable, had the views, the food, the living room, the dining room, the balcony, and our friends! I thought that this would be an ideal place to return to when our own family grows and we have kids running around.

Within the one suite each couple had their own bedroom with an ensuite bathroom, sliding glass doors with access to their own sections of the balcony, wall to wall windows with a ton of natural light, and plenty of room to spare. There was so much space we never once felt like it was too close for comfort. It was the first time I have traveled with friends and shared a suite like that. Usually each couple gets their own room and the group gets divided up but this was more like a home… just better!

A Traveling Celiac
From a celiacs perspective, traveling and having access to my own kitchen is invaluable.  I have traveled to many countries and although I do my best to do my homework and communicate my gluten free needs when I dine out, nothing trumps having a kitchen of my own to make my culturally inspired gluten free meals in. Having the option to cook for myself if I don’t feel safe dining out gives me peace of mind and that is something worth paying top dollar for. 

Click here to see my top 5 favourite tricks for traveling celiacs!

gluten free menu

Restaurant Dining
Beyond the kitchen in the suite, there is an on-site top class Italian restaurant called Luca. Luca offers authentic Italian food with an array of options for vegetarians and meat eaters alike and they also provided me with an exclusive GLUTEN FREE MENU!

This is a dream for every celiac. Not only are they aware of what gluten free means, they actually have a whole separate menu for us and ensure that when you tell them that you are a celiac they consult with the head-chef and cook everything separately with extra caution regarding cross-contamination.  We were also told that if you let the restaurant know of your celiac disease in advance when booking the reservation, they will prepare you a gluten free dessert free of cross-contamination. Bonus!

Brunch
On Sundays Luca offers a first class brunch. People from all over the island line up to dine and enjoy the delicious buffet brunch. The restaurant makes up for the fact that there is a line by pouring everyone complimentary champagne while they wait. I can’t complain about that!

Caribbean Club Highhlights:
Every home amenity and detail was thought of.

The Caribbean Club has won some impressive awards this 2019.

The Caribbean Club has won some impressive awards this 2019.

- There is a fully stocked kitchen in every room with top quality appliances. I am talking dishwasher, fridge, oven and stove top, blender, dish ware, Tupperware for storage, glassware, food processor, cookware, etc… If you need it they’ve provided it.
- Laundry machines.
- Comfortable beds and pillows (which is hard to find when traveling, especially when sleeping next to a 6’4, 210lb man.)
- The balconies are expansive with incredible patio furniture. The sun bathing chairs were professionally dressed with really comfortable padding & decorated with a beautiful crisp white Caribbean Club sheet. 
- The hotel is west facing so every night we parked our butts on our balcony and watched the sun-set over the expansive horizon of turquoise water and white sand beaches.
- The water is nice and calm so swimming or floating around on floaties is no problem.
- Friendly staff.
- The boutique experience ensured that the beach was never overly packed and there were always plenty of beach chairs always available.
- Plenty of privacy.
- Fully serviced beach front with a delicious cocktail and hors d'oeuvres menu.
- Infinity pool - this was my first experience playing in an infinity pool and the views were spectacular.
- There is a grocery store & alcohol shop directly across the street from the hotel. There is also a market (Camana Bay) 1.1 km away.
- The Caribbean Club has been awarded 3 prestigious awards on Trip Advisor 2019 for
1- Top 25 Small Hotel in the Caribbean.
2- Top 25 Luxury Hotel in the Caribbean.
3- Top 25 Hotel for Family

Thank you to everyone who made our stay at the Caribbean Club Boutique Resident Hotel so very special. Michael and I made memories that will last a life time. We cannot wait to return, hopefully sooner than later! A special thank you must be made to our dear friend Mia Parres for the incredible hotel suggestion. See you in the sun again soon!

Photo Gallery:

Thanks for following along on our quick 4 day journey to the Caymen Islands!

xoxo Sending Love and Light
Lisa Marie Holmes

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Michael and Lisa Marie Holmes' Wedding Photos

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It has been a year and a half since Michael and I said “I do” in August, 2017. Since our wedding was filmed and aired on the DIY Network USA and HGTV Canada, we had to sit on our engagement and wedding photo albums for a while so that we didn’t reveal too many details before the show was released.

Now that it has aired, it is with much anticipated joy that I share with you some of our most cherished moments from our wedding day captured on film. Even my own family and wedding parties haven’t seen all of the photos yet! Trust me, it wasn’t easy keeping these private for so long but it was definitely worth the wait.

Our Private Blue Mountain Outdoor Wedding

The Blue Mountain region of Ontario has a very special place in my heart. I have been coming here since I was 19 to visit my family as my parents moved here in 2007. The Blue Mountain region offers so much more than the famous "Blue Mountain Ski Resort.” In this beautiful and quaint area of Ontario there is a rich cultural history as this is the original land of the Pétun (Tobacco) & Wyandot (or Wendat) people.

With rolling hills sculpting the land alongside the shores of the Georgian Bay water, hiking trails that cut through dense and untouched Canadian forests, and little communities scattered along highway 26 full of artists and artisans, there is much to revel in. The air smells different up here, more fresh and clean with the soft scents of pine and cedar.

One thing I always knew for certain was that when I married the love of my life, I wanted to do it outside, barefoot, connected to the land, and surrounded by nature and all of 4 elements (earth, water, air, and fire). This land is very special to me and I am thankful that I was able to be married in this beautiful region that I now call home.

August 11, 2017. The Dress Rehearsal:


August 12, 2017. Wedding Day: Team Bride Getting Ready.


August 12, 2017. Wedding Day: Team Groom Getting Ready.


August 12, 2017. Wedding Day: Ceremony and Reception.


Our Official Wedding Day Video:

Michael and I had set an intention for our wedding. We wanted the focus of our wedding to be on more than just the two of us; we wanted to celebrate and throw a party in the name of love, for everyone in our lives, and that is exactly what we accomplished. In so doing, we received more love than we could have ever expected or anticipated. It’s an amazing feeling being on the receiving end of so much love and we continue to feel that same dedication from our friends and family to this day.

Thank you so much to everyone who was involved in making Michael’s and my wedding so very special. From the hair and makeup artists, to the film crew, to the friends that are family and the family that are friends, and to everyone in between who has supported our relationship from the very beginning, THANK YOU! We could not be where are are today without your unwavering love, kindness, support, and guidance.

xoxo Sending Love and Light
Lisa Marie Holmes

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Our Icelandic Engagement Photoshoot

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Engagement Photos In Iceland

Michael proposed to me on November 29, 2015. We followed that with engagement photos taken in Iceland August, 2016. We chose Iceland for our engagement photo shoot for several different reasons:
1- We thought that we would secretly elope first before having a formal Canadian ceremony; however, naïvely, neither one of us realized the amount of paperwork that needed to be done before we left so we decided that an engagement photo shoot would be a great way to make our trip extra special!
2- Michael and I wanted our engagement photos to be a little unconventional and different from the norm. Iceland is without a doubt one of the most rugged and breathtaking countries that I have ever been to. We thought that having Iceland’s dramatic landscape as the background of our engagement photos would help tell a tale of both love and adventure.
3- Neither Michael nor I had been to Iceland before but Michael’s ancestry can be traced back to the Vikings. Iceland is a Nordic country so we thought it would be really cool to explore some of the historical roots from his father’s side. Furthermore, as someone with a passion for healthy traveling, I was drawn to this country for its amazing reputation for hydrotherapy (my favourite!!). We spent 10 days soaking in beautifully preserved hot springs, cold springs, and hiking through the mountains. (side note - If you ever consider visiting Iceland, the country of fire and ice, please do so with a gentle foot and be aware of your environmental impact as this is a country that does everything it can to preserve its wildness and integrity.)

Our friend Jon staying hydrated as we spent 12 hours driving around Iceland searching for the perfect backdrop to our photos.

Our friend Jon staying hydrated as we spent 12 hours driving around Iceland searching for the perfect backdrop to our photos.

By complete coincidence I found one of Iceland’s most renowned photographers and we spent the day touring through glaciers, mountains, volcanoes, beaches, and flat lands with the very talented Jon Gudmundsson. It was an extraordinary experience touring through Iceland’s gorgeous vistas and we had the added benefit of getting a private tour with our photographer who is a local Icelander.


Homemade video of our 10 days in Iceland:

Video made by: ME! Watch until the very end, that is my favourite part ;)
These are some of our favourite moments from our trip to Iceland.


Our engagement photo gallery:


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Iceland will forever hold a special place in my heart. It was an honour traveling to this magical island country and doing it for the first time with my fiancé. Iceland for me will be remembered as a special trip for so many different reasons. It was the first time that Michael and I traveled and lived out of a car for 4 days together in a little Suzuki that he was literally too big for. He wasn’t able to stretch his legs out for 3 consecutive nights haha. It was spontaneous because we toured around the golden circle with no schedule or agenda. Everything we did was on a whim and as a result we created the best and most unexpected memories. We went sea angling, whale watching, hot spring hopping, ate authentic Icelandic cuisine, swam in the ocean, made friends with some locals, and hiked day and night (because you can do that when the sun doesn’t set in August). Lastly, taking our engagement photos with the beautiful Icelandic landscape in the background is so special as it marks the beginning of our lives together; full of adventure and love.

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xoxo
Sending love & light,
Lisa Marie Holmes

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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

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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.

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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