Lost in thought

Living Intentionally! What It Means, and How to Begin

As I grow older (and hopefully wiser) I’m finding a need to work more on myself and change my perspective. As a young woman in my 20’s, I concerned myself mainly with how I looked and focused primarily on how the world perceived me from that angle. I wanted to appear like I had it all. The looks, the fire, the energy and determination to do anything. I wanted our family to look like a model family, and I wanted to be the model of a perfect mother. I’m sure I’m not alone in this – society has placed so much pressure on women for so long to focus on these things!Living intentionally

I find that in my later 30’s, (although I’m still a lover of beauty and a bit of a perfectionist) – I’ve realized that there is much more to life than appearances. There is more to life than playing a part and attempting to appear to be a perfect mom or have a perfect family, and I learned this the hard way (after stressing myself out so much I completely burned out).

I still like to look attractive, and it does make me feel great to keep in shape and look after my appearance. I like a clean home and groomed yard. I’ve given up on my kids and husband looking or acting ‘perfect,’ because that just isn’t going to happen! They are amazing the way they are, and I love them dearly.  I’ve realized that there is so much more to life than just the way we ‘appear’ to others. I now aspire to be a patient, loving, kind mother and wife – not a perfect one. There are some fantastic character traits that I have naturally, and some not-so-great ones that I’ve been focused on improving in order to become a better version of me.

The term ‘living intentionally’ has a different meaning for each individual. For me, it means looking deeper than appearances and working also on the inner person. It means stepping back and evaluating the things that I’m doing. Trying to understand why I’m doing them, and then deciding if they are helpful or not.

 Living intentionally

Intentional living or lifestyle is a life lived by someone as per his choice based on his core values, ethics and beliefs determined after a deep introspection with a view to living a truly meaningful and purposeful life devoid of any regrets, now or later on in life. It’s a life lived with total awareness and consciousness regarding the choices that are available to an individual. It’s a life where there is total synchronization between thoughts, words and actions.

Intentional living is quite the opposite of the mundane, stereo-typed lives based on patterns determined long ago without much thought going into the aspect of living with awareness. Living intentionally means interacting and engaging with life on a daily basis, even  on a moment-to-moment basis at times.



 living intentionally – beginner tips

“Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication,” so goes an old saying. Simplicity and minimalism are two key factors to be kept in mind while consciously pursuing the path of intentional living. The following steps make the journey of living intentionally a smooth one:

  • Know and accept yourself – Do some introspection to know who you are and what exactly you want to do and achieve in life. Accept yourself for who you are. You are enough, you are strong, capable and you are beautiful! Don’t ever compare yourself with others who are on their own individual journeys. Every personality and life is different! The comparison game is a trap that will keep you from feeling fulfilled and loving your life as the gift that it is.


  • Know the choices you have every day – Use your best judgment to make choices that  align with your ideals, morals, ethics, values and beliefs. Don’t be guided by the choices you have made in the past in similar situations. You are constantly growing, learning, and maturing. Don’t look to others and the choices that they are making or fall prey to wondering what someone else would do.


  • Know the culture surrounding you – Fine-tune your choices made consciously with the culture surrounding you if possible. For example, trying to swim against the tide all the time just for the heck of it may not truly be in line with your determination to live intentionally. Do your best to work with your own strengths and limitations. If you don’t know what they are, do some soul-searching to figure them out. A vision board (like the ones I have pictured below can be extremely helpful in this process).

  • Know your calling and passions – Live your passion out completely with total awareness. Let your heart guide you in living a meaningful and purposeful life! I have recently created a visual board that I look at daily to help keep me motivated and on the right track. This is a great and creative tool to help figure out where you want to be, set goals and plan. You can find information to make one here.

Living intentionally vision board


Much love as always!

Julie Black   xx


New year 2017

What do you want 2017 to look like? Make a plan!

Make a plan for 2017! I picked this topic to write about because I had a terrible 2016! I mean, it was a roller-coaster year. My daughter was diagnosed with Autism, and I spent countless hours at her school advocating for her while we waited for assistive services. My father had pneumonia last April (and after further testing was diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer). He passed away this September.

The company that my husband contracts with lost some of their large contracts, and so work became sort of scarce for him. (He owns his own big rig). Finances were very tight for most of the year, and we spent most of our savings to stay afloat. We couldn’t afford a vacation or any day trips over the summer with our kids, and on top of that, I nearly died myself in July from a severe case of acute hepatitis (cause unknown) and I still have some issues with my liver. I’m so extremely careful now about what I put onto and into my body!

I almost have to have a chuckle now because it was like we had everything under the sun thrown at us. Like, everything! The good news is, we’re still going strong. Our marriage is intact and our family has grown closer. We took a few hits but things have leveled out for the most part and we’re doing much better 🙂

Yes, I am done with 2016, and I have never been so excited or looked so forward to a new year!!


Mapping out the year, MAKE A PLAN:

So, what am I going to do? Make a plan of course, and you can too if you like. I will take you through my planning process because I fully intend to have a wonderful, exceptional, kick-ass 2017.

The main things that I want to focus on this year are:

  1. My family. I want to spend more time connecting with my kids and my husband, and this will be a part of my plan.
  2. Fun – scheduled and summer activities and time spent with friends
  3. My blog. I intend to post 4 blogs and 3 reviews per month for you to enjoy J
  4. My marriage – I think we’re due for some counselling after our struggle this past year and also due for some sizzling hot date nights.
  5. My health. I will be working out 3 x week and intend to do 2 5-day juice fasts by the end of February. Check back over the next month or so, I will be posting about the benefits of these, my experience and how to do them.
  6. Our Finances. We pretty much used up our savings to get through the year. It’s time now to start banking and saving so that we can have a good summer as well as replenish our nest-egg and plan for home repairs and upgrades.
  7. Personal Growth. I think it’s very important to always have an open mind to self-improvement.


Planning tips


  • Break larger goals down into steps that you can take daily to attain them. For instance, I want to lose 15 lbs. What am I going to commit to doing on a daily/weekly basis to achieve this goal?
  • Set goals that are realistic. My plan for this coming summer is a camping trip/or cabin rental and 4-5 day trips. More visits to our local beach. Attend festivals etc. It would be unrealistic to attempt a large family trip this year as we will still be recovering from 2016.
  • Look at all areas of your life. What areas do you need to work on the most? Concentrate on those. Don’t forget self-improvement! These sorts of activities give us a renewed sense of self-confidence and help us to grow as people.
  • Plan to revisit your goal chart on a monthly basis. Celebrate areas of success, and work on any areas where you may have fallen off-track (we all do, best intentions and all). Work on this monthly throughout the year to monitor your progress. It’ll make you feel more in control of your life, and it just feels good, I promise!


Some Charting ideas to look at:

smart goals




make a plan

Setting goals

These goal planning sheets can be found by searching google images for goal planning worksheets 🙂










Please leave me a comment! I would love some accountability partners to work with, and I’d love to hear about your goals as well!


Much love and all the best for 2017!

Julie Black Xo



Holiday stress

Feeling the holiday crunch? Try these stress-busting techniques

In this fast-paced world, change is inevitable. The one thing that you can pretty much count on in life is feeling stressed. LOL! I know, that sounds morbid but it’s true! Have you ever wondered why you have lost motivation in your work? Why you feel tired even when you wake up in the morning? There is a one word answer to these questions and that is “stress”.

Stress is a “germ” that is behind many creepy little illnesses. If not controlled and minimized, increased levels of stress can be very harmful, especially if you are stressed-out for long periods of time. Stress “kills” the mood, lowers our energy and motivation levels and seriously affects our health.

Have you ever considered trying to reduce your stress levels? It is possible! Bear with me as I go through some of the best techniques that I use personally to reduce stress.


If you are super-stressed, this may be the last thing that you feel like doing. You’ll have to force yourself into it at first. It may take a couple of weeks to get your body into gear, but the benefits are absolutely worth it! Researchers have shown that working out stimulates your body fluids, your adrenals and increases the chemicals in your brain that make you feel happier. According to medical research, exercise releases healthy enzymes that detoxify the effects of stress and inflammation on the body. Exercising daily keeps you active (and lively) which in turn helps you work in an efficient manner. Workout as much as possible in a time of your own convenience and make sure you exercise (at least 3 times weekly) for a healthy and stress-free lifestyle.

Stress relief

Young girl in lotus pose in the snow

Meditation is not a mystery technique anymore. Sort out your schedule and give your mind some time to relax and think. It can bring calmness and relaxation in your mind. According to researchers, the neural pathways of brain are altered by meditation, resulting in resistance to stress. Resilience against stress in turn makes you immune and robust physically. There are plenty of apps that can take you through a guided meditation, or I find that I do well with yoga at home. The stretch feels good and my mind feels cleared.

Get up early:

We all know the importance of the phrase, “Early to bed and early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise”. This is no hidden secret that waking up early makes you a healthy person. Moreover, waking up early also exposes you to an “environment of peace” (associated with early morning) which helps you in reducing your stress. Do some morning stretches, I find they help to get me moving.

Get enough sleep:

Even though waking up early helps you work efficiently but that doesn’t necessarily mean that you shouldn’t get enough sleep. A normal human being needs eight hours of sleep to perform efficiently. Less sleep will make you dull and hazy and that, in turn, would give rise to stress levels in your brain.

Minimize inflammation:

Studies have shown that inflammation gives rise to chronic stress. By consuming good fats (namely omega three fatty acids), inflammation in body can be greatly reduced. Omega three fatty acids stimulate the hormones and enzymes for good. I would suggest an omega supplement. Ignoring your diet can be disastrous. Hence, by managing your diet you can actually work on your stress levels.


Don’t stay inside and in dark places for long periods of time. It induces the gloomy behavior in your personality. Instead get outdoors, socialize with people and make new friends. Join a club or find a class. I’m going to an oil-painting class tonight with friends (should be interesting). Socializing and networking with people is another good option for stress management.

Switch off:

Research shows that those who always keep connected on their gadgets and phones are prone to greater stress levels. Checking your emails frequently and social media updates can induce anxiety. Instead, living a good (yet moderate) social and physically active life can bring you more happiness (than any gadget can bring).


It’s easy to feel numb for moments under pressure and in stressful situations. For those who crack under pressure, practice mindfulness.  Staying “present” (both mentally and physically) helps you tackle any given condition of stress. Find something that works for you. Believe it or not, I tend to excuse myself for a moment, freshen up and recite the alphabet mentally while I do some deep breathing. It might sound silly, but when I return to the situation I’m much calmer.

Breathe deeply:

When involved in a stressful situation, it is recommended to breathe deeply. Breathing deeply helps reduce the cortisol levels in the body (which in turn reduce the stress levels). It also lowers the blood pressure temporarily. I breathe in to the count of 5, and then out to the count of 5. Counting helps me to focus on my breath and reduces tension.

Laugh and Cherish:

Last but not the least; enjoy every small moment of happiness in your life. Learn to live happily and in gratitude. Listen to music, sing in your bathroom, laugh loudly, openly and crack jokes. Bake cookies, read inspiring books, and enjoy the mysteries and realities of this world. Focus on that warm cup of coffee and linger on its pleasant taste. Feel the warm comfort and safety of your bed at night. Linger in a hot bubble bath.

Living life to the fullest is the most essential point in getting over the problem of stress in your life. Don’t let anyone destroy your happiness. Be a source of someone else’s happiness and life will bring you joy!

If you found value in this post, or want to say hello – perhaps you have tips to share as well. Please leave a comment, I would love to hear from you!!

Much love,

Julie Black  Xo



winter blues or SAD

How To Beat The Winter Blues

It’s estimated that approx. 12 million Americans are affected by ‘winter blues’ or seasonal depression in winter. This kind of illness is known as Seasonal Affective Disorder or SAD. The symptoms of SAD include feeling sluggish in the morning, food cravings and weight gain. Experts have connected this seasonal depression to the shorter days. The lack of light disrupts the body’s circadian rhythm and induces higher than usual production of the hormone melatonin – which usually helps to bring on sleep, but can cause depression symptoms in higher amounts. I have suffered from this myself for many years and it is absolutlely miserable! This poses a question. How can we beat the winter blues? Let me share some things that have helped me.


Get outdoors

A dose of sunlight and fresh air will balance out your body’s rhythms and pump in more oxygen into the body. Natural light lowers your melatonin levels and boosts production of Vitamin D. I know the weather isn’t pleasant, but if you bundle up warm and invest in a good pair of winter boots, the cold air can be invigorating. take some ear buds and listen to music while you walk!



Find something to do outside that you love!

Be active

Exercising and staying active keeps the body’s metabolism up. Exercise helps kick release the hormone dopamine which is a feel good hormone. The health benefits of exercise include higher immunity – to keep off common ailments that come in winter as cold and flu and a plethora of other health benefits.


Eat healthy

A healthy diet keeps the body’s energy levels up and fights off sugar cravings. This helps avoid piling on the pounds. A healthy diet that includes fruits and vegetables will also boost the body’s immunity against common seasonal ailments. I also recommend a good quality multivitamin, a vitamin C supplement and calcium/magnesium.

Healthy eating

A healthy diet rich in vitamins and minerals helps to keep moods stable

Light therapy

Light is very effective in fighting off seasonal depression. If you are in a place where days get considerably shorter in winter, light therapy can work in simulating natural sunlight. Sitting in front of a light box is helpful. Light boxes give off stronger light than usual lighting in the office and at home. You can also use alarm triggered lights that mimic sunrise and help your body’s rhythm adapt the changing light patterns.

Connect with people

The feeling of darkness and isolation is reinforced if you have minimal interaction with people. Getting out there and connecting with friends and family is guaranteed to keep your spirits up. You can also share any problems that are pressing you. Just talking about your problems can lift a huge load off your shoulders. Be silly, and have a good laugh. Laughter is the medicine of the soul!

Stay warm to Beat the Winter Blues

Being cold triggers a defensive mechanism in the body which includes storing more fat which can lead to adding weight. Studies have shown that being warm can reduce the risk of developing seasonal depression by half. Aim to stay at between 18-21 degrees Celsius warm. Taking hot drinks and dressing for the weather is strongly advised.

stay warm

Dress appropropriately for the weather

New interests

Keeping mentally alert will help you fight away the melancholy. Find a new interest or take up an old one. I’ve gotten involved in a vocal group recently, and I love it. I also volunteer once a week as a Sparks leader and the kids warm my heart. I paint, and I read. I play a couple of instruments (not well, but I enjoy it anyway). All of these things give me pleasure and help get me through the blue months of winter.


Hope this helps! Much love as always, and stay warm!

If you enjoyed this article, or if you have additional tips that you’d like to add – please leave a comment below! I would love to hear from you!

Julie Black









beauty routine

Changing Up Your Beauty Routine for Winter

Everyone talks about changing up their beauty routine for winter. Let’s take a look at how to do this effectively!

During the summer,  you likely had to deal with shine issues resulting from the heat and hot sun. Now that winter has (pretty much) arrived, the air will be less humid and the cold will start biting your skin. Soon, even the oiliest of skin will be dry and flaky if it’s not properly treated. You need to make some changes in your beauty routine to ensure that your skin remains well-nourished and supple during the winter season. Here are some simple routine changes.

Work those lips  

Don’t leave the house without lip balm! Your lips are likely to crack and feel dry a few hours after your last lip balm application. I personally prefer the natural beeswax products that you can find at your local health food store. Check the ingredients to ensure they are natural!

Do away with the long soaks and Long hot showers

This is a tough one for me! I love nothing more than a steaming hot bath in the winter to warm up after being out in the cold. I could relax there for hours and read a good book! Unfortunately, the extended exposure to hot water dries out the skin and causes a loss of essential oils that are needed during this season. If you’re going to bathe, use moisturizing products and or essential oils in the water. My favourite mix is lemon and balance from Doterra – they smell so soothing when they are mixed together!

Get a humidifier  

The winter air lacks humidity and can be very harsh on the skin. Your heating device will likely make matters even worse. A simple humidifier can add some much-needed moisture into the air. Your hair and skin will thank you, and increased humidity will make your sleep more comfortable as well!

gentle on the skin

Do away with harsh scrubs and deep cleansers. Even the oilier skin types will not require much scrubbing to open the pores. Consider using gentle cream cleansers to prevent dehydration of your skin. You can also use coconut oil or avocado oil to soothe your skin after the cleaning. I like to use coconut oil for pretty much everything!

Moisturize the skin

Apply a good moisturizer before applying your make up. The moisturizer acts as an anti-irritant and anti-flaking product. Moisturizer also helps to visibly reduce the size of the pores. Use again at the end of the end of the day after removing your makeup. I like to use organic, all-natural products suited to my skin type. For winter, I use a face oil and then a good moisturizing balm.

Organic face masks can be very helpful to help in more intense hydration of the skin, especially if you have very dry skin. Do not use a face mask on a daily basis. Try for 2-3 times per week. Don’t  forget to care for your hands and your body. Get some intense hydrating cream for the exposed parts of the body such as neck, hands, and the legs.

Go for the shine

The matte finish is common in the hotter seasons of the year. Get some glow this winter by going for a hydrating foundation. Luminous foundation keeps you looking and feeling fresh all the day long and helps your skin to retain some moisture.

Do not forget to treat your hair as well with hair serums and oils. A good hair oil will help to discourage static and will prevent your hair from drying out. I love the Rejeuvenique oil from Monat for both my skin and my hair – you can look into it here if you like.

I’m looking forward to frolicking with the kids in the snow, whenever we happen to get some of that lovely white stuff again! Guess I’d better get all the the leaves raked up soon…it’s just so much more fun to write 🙂

Much love!

Julie Black




fabulous woman in nature

Look and Feel Fabulous! With, or Without Makeup!

How to contour correctly,’ ‘Strobing – the professional way,’ ‘How to get flawless skin!’ We have all spent a countless amount of hours searching these subjects and watching endless tutorials to achieve the ‘ultimate perfection’ in our skin care and beauty regimes. Guilty! But have we really thought about internalizing our research to make us beautiful from the inside, first?!

Foundations, brushes, sponges and concealers are terrific but will only take us so far in terms of our beauty goals. Without ‘looking inside the box,’ we may be trying to mask a problem that doesn’t need to be  there in the first place! Want to look and feel fabulous?

What if I told you that we are all perfectly beautiful just the way we are, and that we can look great  without having to layer our skin with tonnes of beauty products? You heard me! It’s much simpler than what meets the eye.


flawless skin
                     Natural Beauty

Perfect skin comes from a good, clean, healthy diet, plenty of water and self-love and compassion for ourselves and the incredible bodies that we have been blessed with. Not to mention that giving our skin a break from our often extensive makeup regimes also gives our skin a chance to breathe; making it clearer, fresher, cleaner and thus – more rejuvenated. Just like our bodies need healthy food as well as the occasional bit of junk food, our faces need air, water and circulation to be at its very best.

If you are anything like me, you probably don’t really have the time or enthusiasm to style and beautify ourselves to the ‘professional standard’ that we see in magazines, Instagram and the media all too often. I am here today, to share with you my top tips for looking fabulous with or without any makeup whatsoever!

Some of these tips you may have heard before, and some of them may be new to you, but let me express that each and every one of them are all equally as important as one another and we must prevent ourselves from turning a blind eye to the basic knowledge that is handed to us. Do all of these things for one week, and let me know what impact they have on how you feel about yourself in the comments below.


1. Cleanse, tone & moisturize.

Yes you have heard it before, and you are going to hear it again. Too often we get fixated on the ‘how to’s of YouTube,’ ‘the Tutorials’ or the ‘New Trends’ like blemishing our pores with a wall paint roller or ‘using a spoon to contour,’ that we very easily forget the key information that is crucial to our flawless, healthy looking skin.

If you haven’t got a toner, moisturizer and cleansing set yet, then take it upon yourself this week to do some research into products that you feel would be best suited to your skin type. There is a world of information out there that can make such purchases very daunting, resulting in us ‘researching the problem,’ rather than actually going out there and purchasing the perfect product. Follow my blog or sign up for my newsletter as I am currently testing natural products and will post reviews in the coming weeks.

Top tip; ask yourself these questions; what skin type do I have? Is this product designed for my specific skin type? Do I want a water based, oil based or silicone based product? Do I want an animal cruelty free brand? Natural, organic? And, do I want high-end or drugstore?

Once you have answered these questions, you’ve narrowed down about 70% of the products on the market, making your next steps to purchasing the product that is right for you that much easier.

Important – I highly recommend limiting the amount of chemicals, sulphates, perfumes and additional derivatives that you put onto your skin. Over time these ingredients may dry your skin out, cause health issues and may have unknown, long-term side effects. I suggest only using organic products. Check the ingredients on the back of the label, and if you are unsure – Research the ingredients to see what they are.

If you already have your cleanser, toner and moisturizer set, then checking the back of your product for ingredients may be a good thing to do for your skin too. Then the next time you go to purchase you may find something a little less harsh.


2. Water, water, water!

Drinking water, not only does the obvious thing of hydrating our bodies, but it also makes our skin firmer and more plump – reducing fine lines and wrinkles, aids our bodies in a detox – thus slimmer waists and increased weight loss and it provides us with boosts of immunity, focus and energy.

Everybody’s definition of ‘fabulous,’ is slightly different but for me – if I am productive, energetic and vibrant; I feel at my best and so, makeup or no makeup, I will feel a little more fabulous than if I was dehydrated, low and lethargic.

Top tip; Try adding lemon, mint, lime or other fruits for an extra boost in vitamins and detox.

3. Want to feel fabulous? Do MORE of what you LOVE!

This to me is the most important of them all. Have you ever bumped into someone who was confident, happy and living the life that they have always dreamed of and thought to yourself that they were anything less than fabulous?

No? Neither have I!

Doing what we love produces active positive chemicals in our brains that stimulate us; making us feel more uplifted, fulfilled, energetic, creative and all round more at ease, peaceful and happy. These to me are key ingredients to looking fabulous and being fabulous.

Now, I get it. Everybody has jobs, and not all of them truly entail what we love doing, but we all have bills to pay, right? I am not advising to quit your day job and take up a full time career in the arts, painting, listening to music, running, site-seeing or travel. Although how great would that be, eh? I am advising to do a little more of those things that lift your spirits and make you feel like the super woman who you really are. Just a little bit of room every few weeks for an activity that you are passionate about does wonders for the soul; which will internally make you feel more relaxed, excited, proud and therefore – fabulous!

Feel Fabulous
Care MORE about what YOU think





4. Care less!

So, whilst I am telling you to care more about your passions, skin care and diet – I am telling you to care less about what other people are thinking, doing or saying. Too often we prevent ourselves from doing, saying or looking the way we truly want to, simply because of the vulnerable position it may put us into. It opens us up for criticism. But I say who cares! Wear what you want. Be who you want to be. Do what you want to do. Comparing ourselves will always play a small part in our lives, but the more you practice this, the more our comparing nature will dissolve. When you start to feel fabulous on the inside, you will most definitely look even more fabulous than you already do on the outside, makeup or no makeup.

I hope these tips give you all a little boost of inspiration. I’m off to practice what I preach and have a nice long glass of icy water to start my day. Let me know if you have any other tips! And don’t forget to like, share, and comment!

Warmest regards, and lots of love! Did you find this post helpful or would you like to add something? Please leave a comment below 🙂

Julie Black,