Thursday

Exhibit Dec. 2 - 8
















Rodney's latest art project opens this Friday from 6 to 9 at the corner of Albert and McDermot (2nd floor).  We'd love to see you there!

Tuesday

News Bits

 A few new things are coming into play this fall.  Let me tell you about them.
  • Rodney has taken on a part-time teaching position at Red River College and is enjoying the challenge.  (The studio is now closed on Mondays and Fridays).
  • We will no longer be offering 2-for-1 sessions on the last Tuesday of the month.
  • The studio will be closed the week of Remembrance Day.
  • Rodney is currently working on two art projects to be unveiled this winter.  Watch for times and dates!

What does it mean to be beautiful?

On Facebook today, Kim Malchuk (Manitoba best-selling author of Tasting Rain) asked the question, “What does it mean to be beautiful?”  Here are the thoughts she inspired in me:

I think there are many ways to describe what it means to be beautiful, but here's what I've been thinking about lately...

To be beautiful is to be a woman.
To be a woman is to be beautiful.

Yes, there are things that can mar or cover a woman's beauty: usually through the responses to a wounded heart--hardness instead of strength, weakness instead of tenderness.

I believe every woman has beauty at her very core.  She was designed to bring beauty to the world; to be beauty in her own unique way.

It may sound fluffy or shallow, but beauty is important.  Beauty is not a luxury.

Beauty is something we all hunger for at a very deep level:  to see it and create it.
Without beauty, we live a truly impoverished existence.

God realized as soon as he created Adam, that he would live an impoverished life without Eve.  So woman came to be.  Beauty embodied.

So to be beautiful, does not mean to put on something.  It means to be who we were created to be: beauty.

Beauty inspires us to live better.
Beauty invites us to linger in its presence.
Beauty tells us all is well and all shall be well.
Beauty nourishes us.
Beauty causes us to look to the one who created it...it transcends the everyday and draws our eyes heavenward.

**My thanks to Stasi and John Eldredge for their insights shared in "Captivating" and to Thomas Kinkade in "Lightposts for Living".

Thursday

Sexy in the City - "Being Sexy" by Carolyne Braid

Sexy is not determined by your hip to waist ratio, length of your hair, or how long your legs are. Rather, just as the saying goes, “sexy is truly an inside job.” As owner of Pole Dancing Winnipeg, I’ve built a business around providing women with the opportunity explore being sexy, and over the past six years I have seen the spectrum from goddess to empty shell. Outward beauty is no indication of where a woman will fall on the “sexy continuum” - rather it is determined by how they perceive and feel about themselves.

Sexy is a combination of confidence and sensuality. It is the belief in one’s self coupled with the acknowledgement of being a woman. When these two forces - strength and beauty - are brought together, it is a powerful force which can inspire, empower, and change lives.

Some women don’t feel they have the right, don’t deserve to be, don’t believe they are, or have forgotten how to be sexy. I feel to be a true authentic woman, all aspects need to be explored and embraced. Living an incongruent life can leave women unfulfilled, unhappy, and quiet inside.

I first became involved with pole dancing after seeing it on Oprah. While working with the pole I found a home, a channel, a way to explore my sexy side. I knew I was a woman, but I was disjointed and unsure. Over time, and being open to what the pole allowed to emerge, I am now all woman – I walk sexy, I talk sexy, I am sexy. It is a feeling from within and needs no external confirmation. 

Sonya's note:  Congratulations to Carolyne on expanding your business to Brandon and being one of four PoleFit Canada certified businesses.

What's your definition of sexy and what makes you feel sexy?  You can read what I said on our facebook page.  But we'd really like to hear from you!  Everyone who comments on facebook, on our blog, or sends me an email (if you want to be more anonymous or have a very long answer) will be entered to win some fabulous prizes, including something from Pole Dancing Winnipeg!

Friday

Sexy in the City--coming to Winnipeg!

Just a quick announcement of what's ahead: next month we'll be talking about what "sexy" means to us and what makes us feel sexy. And you'll have the chance to do a very cool session in the heart of our city.  I hope you'll join our discussion on facebook or chime in with a comment here on the blog.  (You can also feel free to email me at sonya at evestudios.ca if you would like to remain anonymous or don't want to comment or facebook).  Everyone who submits something will be entered for a prize draw from some fabulous businesses.  Already have prizes confirmed from Pole Dancing Winnipeg!

We've been focusing on family relationships this summer and now just want to focus in on you as a woman. If you're coming to our blog for the first time and are looking for info on family ideas and portraits, just scroll down and you'll find it. The summer is going by fast, so be sure to book soon if you're thinking of it. Our studio number is 221-8413 and the best time to call is around noon. Or you can email sonya at evestudios.ca.  Please note we will be away for the first part of August.

Monday

Winnipeg Family Ideas -- Summer Yum!

With a few simple ingredients, you can enjoy some yummy summer goodness.

OJ frozen concentrate, milk, vanilla ice cream, vanilla, sugar, summer fruits, ice, popsicle molds

Orange Julius

2/3 cup frozen OJ concentrate
1 c. milk
1 1/2 c. water
1/2 c. sugar (can use less)
1 tsp. vanilla extract
10-12 ice cubes

Mix in blender and enjoy

Homemade Popsicles

1 cup OJ concentrate (slightly thawed works best)
1 cup vanilla ice cream
1/2 cup chopped nectarines or peaches
1/2 cup chopped strawberries

Blend OJ and ice cream until smooth.  Fill popsicle molds half-way.  Drop in one set of fruit chunks.  Jiggle a bit to submerge.  Drop in other set of fruit.  Fill molds rest of the way and add handles.  Freeze.  (Amounts are approximate...adjust as needed).  Experiment with different fruits.

What are your favorite summer treats?

Tuesday

Winnipeg Family Ideas--from Tara Miller

Being professional photographers, we look for ways to spend family time in a way that reflects our passion.

When we are not shooting for a client we love the chance to jump in the car as a family with a few snacks and drinks and drive the Manitoba back roads to look for that special place to spend the time as a family photographing a secret garden or rolling valley.

Our 13 year old is happy when he can use all the modern ipad, ipod, and technical gadgets on the way. But when we arrive we might grab a local lunch or visit the farmers market for a fresh treat! Then all 3 of us with cameras in hand head out together to capture some images of the day. It's really exciting to me as a mom to see what my son finds interesting at this age to shoot.

I always get excited when he has the same interest in his photography. To keep one up on him, we make it as a fun competition to upload and view what adventures we shared in the day.

I keep in mind as a parent that encouragement and positive feedback goes a long way!

Sonya's note:  Tara is currently a finalist for CNIB's Eye Remember photo contest and you can see her photo/vote until June 30th. 

One family idea that I (Sonya) plan to implement this year is sketching excursions with my kids.  It's been a very long time since I've done that and I'd love to see what my kids come up with.  I'm planning to buy my supplies at http://www.cre8ivesupplies.com  It's a great new store in the exchange district here in Winnipeg (Adelaide and William).

Thursday

Winnipeg Family Ideas--from Laura Finlayson

We met Laura Finlayson during one of our art projects.  She is the mother of two girls: a tween and a toddler.  She has graciously agreed to give us some of her ideas for family time.
I'm Laura Finlayson from Nest Executive Home and Lifestyle Management.  "Work. Life. Balance Both." is the motto for my business.

Great outings  
 We like to go to the St. Norbert Farmer's Market, take hikes at Bird's Hill Park and have a picnic or walk to our local park.  The Mennonite Heritage Village is also a great outing, although not free.  

Activities at home 
  • picnics in the back yard
  • family movie night
  • family games night
  • a fire with marshmallows in our back yard
  • scrapbooking
Family rituals  
We don't answer the phone during dinnertime, and that's a strict rule in our house.  We also pretty much ALWAYS eat dinner together with no TV on!  We let our 12-year-old choose what's for supper once per week, and we allow her to sit in the living room and have dinner watching TV once per week. 

Best ever vacations   
A trip to Salt Spring Island, B.C. 
Sonya's note:  Laura also had some great conversation starters.  You can find them on our Eve Studios facebook page.


Tuesday

Winnipeg Family Ideas--from Kelly Dvorak

Kelly Dvorak is a marriage and family counselor from Pregnancy and Family Support Services on Spence Street.  This is what she wrote:
We have some good ideas for memory making ... although our kids are presently at a stage where getting them to spend family time is like pulling teeth...we still think family fun is possible with teens!

We like to go on family walks in local parks, especially when getting ice cream is part of the equation. Assiniboine Park + DQ on Portage Ave. is a favorite combination.

Rituals ... well, we have some family things we do together...  We make ribs for supper  whenever we're celebrating something.  We buy A & W Bacon Egger sandwiches for breakfast on the day of everyone's birthday, and on the way out of town for a road trip.  We do hand or foot massages when we're sitting around on the couch.  (that is a great way to get kids into a talking mood, by the way!) We have sitcoms that we buy by the season, then we watch it when it fits our schedule.  (We watched all 6 seasons of Reba last year! This year we're working on Corner Gas.)  On birthdays, we say what we appreciate about each other.  On Mother's Day, we do crazy things like review our family mission statement... I take full advantage of 'my' day to do things that would not happen on any other day!

We've only taken one big family vacation, it was to San Francisco last summer.  We highly, highly recommend that as a destination for a family, especially if the kids are a bit older.  The public transport is terrific, there are good deals for accommodations to be had, and Westjet has frequent seat sales there (although you may have to fly out of another city, we flew from Calgary).  

Thanks for a chance to write about us and remind myself that we are indeed a fun family!"

Sonya's note:  if you'd like to learn more about creating a family mission statement, read "7 Habits of Highly Effective Families" by Stephen Covey.

Thursday

Winnipeg Family Ideas--from Stephanie Staples

 I asked Stephanie Staples from "Your Life Unlimited" to share a few of her family time ideas.  Her kids are 17, 19, and 21.  Some of her answers are here and some will be popping up on our facebook page  in the next couple of weeks.  One of my favorites is what they do at the dinner table to get conversation going and create positive attitudes.
  • great outings   -  anything one on one (sometimes we try so hard to do everything as a family we forget the power of 1:1 interactions/experiences)  
  • activities at home  - homemade playdough - never too old for that warm dough! 
  • family rituals  - Manitoba Marathon - any length 
  • best ever vacations  - camping, camping, camping 
 You can listen to Stephanie's radio show on CJOB from 8-9 on Fridays when there are no sporting events competing for air time.  She will be discussing the topic of family time this Friday and has asked us to be her guests!   Maybe she'll expand on some of her ideas...like her playdough recipe!

Monday

Winnipeg Family Ideas - Box of Summer Fun

Thanks to Heidi Reimer-Epp from Botanical Paperworks for giving us some creative ideas for summer fun:

An annual tradition in our family is the Box Of Summer Fun. I have two MacBook laptop boxes (the original packaging for the computers) that are constructed like little briefcases. Every June, I stock the two boxes with supplies for summer fun. The boxes always include a new package of markers, scissors, stickers, pad of paper and glue. I also have included word searches, coloring books, bubble soap or a journal. I mix it up each year and as my girls get older, I customize the items to fit their age and interests.

The girls know that I'm getting it ready but they aren't allowed to open them until July 1! They love the anticipation and surprise, and I love how the Box of Summer Fun gives them something to do over the summer, whether they are traveling in the car, at home or at the cottage. If they come to me saying "I'm bored", I suggest they get out their Box Of Summer Fun and they're able to entertain themselves.

A new thing that we've done this year is to print this graphic of 101 Fun Summer Things for the Kids and frame it in a simple black frame from Michael's. It's sitting on our kitchen counter and we're already choosing which fun things we want to tackle first.

Anyone else have boredom busters to share?  Feel free to comment or send me an email at sonya @ evestudios dot ca.

Wednesday

Ideas for Families

As we head into summer, I am reminded of a favorite activity we've done together as a family:  the Farmer's Market Feast.  First we get in the van for a road trip with a bit of cash along.  After we arrive, we find some delicious fresh food (like farmer sausage, corn on the cob, baby potatoes and carrots).  Then we take it home and enjoy our feast!

What are your favorite summertime family activities? 

Some of the ideas we receive will be posted on our facebook page.  If you haven't "liked" our page yet, go there now so you don't miss anything...it's also a great way to know when our blog has been updated (or you can follow by email - top right of this blog).

Friday

Focus on Family


At Eve Studios, our focus is women: capturing their beauty and building their self-esteem.  But we also know that one of the most important things to a woman is her relationships.  This summer we'd like to focus on family relationships primarily.

Over the next months, I hope you'll come back to our blog regularly to read tips on creating great family memories.  One way is to bring your family together for a fun outdoor portrait session.  June is a great time to do it!  There is something about a natural setting that is special, especially if that setting is a favorite hang-out for your family.

We're very excited to be partnering with Supper Central again.  If you've never visited them at McGillivray and Kenaston, you should.  They have a beautiful location and offer great meal ingredients all ready for you to assemble or pick up in order to create a delicious home-cooked meal so you can savour more time with your family!

We've also got plans for some sort of family give-away, so stay connected to see if there's a prize draw you're interested in.

If you'd like to book an Eve session or outdoor family session, be sure to book soon so that you can get in while the weather is good.  Calling 221-8413 Tuesday to Friday between 11 and 1 is your best bet to talk in person to someone.  Rodney will be happy to answer any questions you may have and set up a time to talk about what you're thinking.  There's no obligation or cost involved.  (As well, if you've won a mother/daughter gift certificate, please don't hesitate to call and book a time to do it).

"Because time with family is precious"

Thursday

Announcing our Winners!

Congratulations to Celine and her mom for winning our prize baskets. I had to do a second draw and that one went to Kelly and Beckie. And I thought I would also give a prize for the best entry and that goes to Shauna, whose friend will receive a free facial from Rituals in Hair and Skin as well as some Yonka product.

Thanks, everyone for participating! And thanks to all of the generous business owners who contributed.

And speaking of winners, I would like to congratulate one of our clients, Karen Insley of Aspen Fitness, who won a Woman Entrepreneur of the Year Award tonight in the category of Contribution to Community. Way to go, Karen!

A mother/daughter story

"I wanted to let you know how my Mother's Day session went. It couldn't have been better!

Since I met Rod in Nov '09 and had a great fun filled session with some girl friends of mine, I knew if anyone was going to make my mom feel great in front of a camera, it was going to be him. I too am not always that keen about my picture being taken, but Rod does have a way to get people to relax and have fun.

Being able to have myself, my 2-month-old daughter and my mom in a picture of this quality is something I am always going to remember. I know my mom had a great time and she can't wait to see her finished "zen" piece. I want to thank you two again for being the ones who made this happen. It means the world to me."

~J.K.

Note from Sonya: This is the last day to enter our draw. If you just won a gift certificate, please don't panic. Just let us know when you'd like to come in and use it (within the next week or so). We also want to assure you that you won't be pressured to buy more photos than you've won. We are here to serve, not to sell.

Looking forward to seeing who our lucky winners are...

Tuesday

Mother's Day Extended


How quickly Mother's Day passes! I enjoyed breakfast in bed and lots of homemade cards and gifts. My hubby cooked for me the whole day and I received a bunch of tulips from my beaming four-year-old.

But it doesn't have to be over! You can celebrate being a mom or celebrate your mom with a mother/daughter session at Eve Studios, where our specialty is women. Sessions are $50 (complimentary for returning clients) and packages start at $100.

Today Rodney has the privilege of photographing two sets of mother/daughter pairs. Each of them will be entered for a special prize draw happening on May 19th. Lots of goodies: two hours of housecleaning, free facial, free manicure, free cut & style, free meal packs, free pampering and skincare products, free jewellery, free inspiration, free coaching, free art books, and free photo session are all available to be won! (We just need some free chocolate...maybe I should work on that!) You can enter to win by commenting on this blog post and telling me why you think your mom or friend should win (and you'll have a chance, too!) and/or by coming in for a session yourself!

Hope to hear from you soon...

Wednesday

Enter our Mother's Day draw


Received the following entry by email and thought I would post it. Keep telling these stories. It's wonderful! For anyone new to this blog, we are having a draw for some fabulous prizes and you can enter two ways:
  1. Tell us why your mother/friend deserves to win either by commenting on this or another post or by emailing me (sonya at eve studios dot ca)
  2. Come in to the studio for a mother/daughter session and you will be entered
At this point, there are two prize baskets. If the person you picked wins, you will also win. Or, if you come to the studio and your ticket wins, you and your mother (or friend of your choice) will win the prize basket.

Our number of prizes keeps growing, so we may do two draws. We'll have to see!

Thank you to these business owners for their donations:

Hi,
I think my mom deserves to win for so many reasons. My mom has been an inspiration for me through so many ways. She has shown so much dedication in her role as a mother, a listener, a therapist and most importantly as a friend. Over the years she has worn so many hats. My mom has always been there for me especially when life has hit me hard. She sacrificed so much over the years to ensure our happiness. She has never been judgemental and has always been patient. I hope to one day follow in her footseps and be an amazing mother like she has been. Overall I think my mom deserves to win for just being who she is because that person is remarkable.
Thank you,
Céline Land

Tuesday

Mother's Day Expression



I was inspired to write a song for my kids a while back and thought I would share the lyrics with you all (it's not recorded yet or I would share the actual song). Although Mother's Day is meant to honour and give to mothers, I think it is a time for mothers to also reflect on what it means to be a mother. (By the way, this photo was taken near a creek here in Winnipeg, just off of Portage).

The Three of You
(by Sonya Braun)

The three of you have changed my life immensely
No one can melt my heart like you
No one can move my heart like you

For the three of you I've lived my life intensely
No one can love you like I do
No one can change my love for you

It's just for the three of you...

As each of you made your entrance into this world
You made a special entrance into my heart
And as I held you, rocked you, fed you,
As I gazed into your eyes,
It was love,
Deep, deep love

As each of you become the person you're meant to be
So special, so unique, and on your way
Just know you can always be yourself
And I'll still look into your eyes
With love,
Deep, deep love.

(Feel free to use this poem and adapt it for the number of kids you have!)

Monday

Mothers and Daughters--each unique


Every mother/daughter relationship is unique and multi-faceted.

Capture the special bond you share....

in whatever season of the mother/daughter relationship you're in.

Friday

Winnipeg Mother's Day Prize Draw


What makes your mother so special? Do you have a friend that inspires you in her mothering? You can give her a chance to win a special mother's day prize basket just by commenting on this blog and telling us why she should win. You'll both be entered to win!

Or just come in for one of our mother/daughter sessions and you'll also be entered to win!

Tuesday

Mothers and Daughters--Mother's Day 2011


Have a whole lot of fun with your mother/daughters/sisters just in time for Mother's Day!

Our special promo runs until May 19th.
Sessions only $50.
Packages starting at $100.

Phone 221-8413 between 11 and 5 for more info or to book your appointment!


Rodney will help you create beautiful images and an unforgettable experience for you and the women in your life. It's what we do best at Eve Studios. You can see more of our work and philosophy at www.evestudios.ca

Wednesday

Winnipeg Mother's Day Idea gets Better!



I have great news! Now everyone who comes through for our Mother/Daughter event will have a chance to win a prize basket for them and their mother (or a friend).

All you have to do is enter your names and phone numbers/email and we'll announce the winners on the 19th (we just want to give everyone the maximum amount of time to make it in).

I'll keep you posted on the exact contents, but for now, I'll tell you two of the businesses who have already signed on: TotalShe, which features amazing Manitoba-Made Products by Women. And Botanical Paperworks, which features Botanical PaperWorks Seed Paper. If you'd like to learn more, be sure to find out How Plantable Paper Works. I love her Easter Egg Decorating Ideas, too! Thanks Heidi, and Kristen!

As well, I would love to hear why you think your mother or friend should win! If you have a special mother or a friend who is an awesome mother, I'd love to hear about them. You can either leave a comment, or email me: sonya at evestudios.ca (use the @ in place of at). With your permission, I will post them on the blog over the next few weeks. Everyone who submits something to me will get a ballot for the draw, too! (You'll get two if you come in to the studio...)

Tuesday

Celebrating Mothers and Daughters

We have our mother tongue, which is our native language. We have mother earth from which all growing things come, and Mother Nature, the unpredictable source of typhoons and tornadoes. The mother lode is the source of riches and a "mother headache" is one that sends you to bed. The mother of all storms is fierce, and the motherland is the home we left and long for. Mother is the source of life[...]


Whether good or bad, whether redemptive or destructive, our relationships with our mothers affected us to the core of our beings, helping to shape us into the women we have become. As Dinah says in The Red Tent, "If you want to understand any woman you must first ask about her mother and then listen carefully."

We are not all mothers, but we all had one. Or longed for one. The relationship between a mother and daughter is a holy, tender, fierce thing fraught with land mines and umbilical cords that stretch and sometimes strangle. The desire in a daughter to please her mother is matched only by her desire to be separate from her[...]

Girls' hearts flourish in homes where they are seen and invited to become ever more themselves. Parents who enjoy their daughters are giving them and the world a great gift. Mothers in particular have the opportunity to offer encouragement to their daughters by inviting them into their feminine world and by treasuring their daughters' unique beauty.

~ excerpt from Captivating by Stasi Eldredge (which happens to be a huge inspiration for our studio and is available in Christian bookstores)

Friday

Mother/Daughter Promo April 19 to May 19




In celebration of the unique relationship between mothers and daughters, we invite you to bring in your mother or daughter(s) or both for a half-hour session in our studio to capture the special bond you share.










Cost is $50 plus GST
(complimentary for returning clients) and packages range from $100 to $500. After the session, you'll book a separate day for ordering your images unless you want to arrange for viewing a half hour after the session and make a stop at Gunn's bakery on Selkirk in between.

Celebrate Mother's Day (May 8th)
with a gift that celebrates your relationship!
(Gift Certificates also available for purchase)

Call Rodney at 221-8413 (Tues to Fri 11-5)
or use the contact form at
http://www.evestudios.ca/

Wednesday

Beauty

What is beauty? Why is it valuable?

I mean, why do we long for it so much?

We yearn for its presence in our homes. We look in the mirror to see if it resides in us. We search for ways to add it to our lives.

Why do we hunger for beauty?

I'm going to have to leave you with questions only for now as it's close to midnight. But I'd love to hear your comments and I look forward to exploring this further.

Tuesday

An Obsession with "Scantily Clad Women" or an Obsession with Capturing Beauty?

Last night, I wrote a press release/article addressing the question that some people ask when they see Rodney's work. I know many or most who read this blog know better, but I thought I'd include it here as it's a great background for any who don't know how Rodney got into doing what he does.
---
As the owner of a photography studio which specializes in beauty and art nude photography for women, and the creator of two art projects that feature the human form, Rodney S. Braun often finds himself labelled as "that guy who does naked photos."

It hasn't always been that way in his career. Rodney started out in traditional wedding and family portraiture when he began in Winnipeg over a decade ago. It wasn't until a Christian woman, pregnant with her first child, requested that he do a nude silhouette of her burgeoning belly (so very relieved that she had found a Christian photographer for this), that he even considered the possibility. That session, along with miraculous experience of becoming a father to his own son shortly after, set him on a path to becoming an expert in the field of maternity/newborn portraiture. Rodney eventually became highly sought after at Joel Ross Photography where, together, they added a successful portrait studio to Ross's wedding business.

But Rodney was not content. He was tiring of doing the same thing over and over again and began doing little art projects with friends as models. He also enrolled in a life-drawing class. Slowing down to see the way light hit the curves of the body captivated his attention and transformed his photography. Rodney's use of light and shadow has never been the same.

Eventually his wife, Sonya, noticed his new talent and the positive effect his portraiture was having on women. She felt his work needed a context, so she came up with the idea of a studio entirely focused on women--celebrating the unique qualities of women, bringing out their beauty, and helping them to build a positive self-esteem. Eve Studios was born.

The stories from clients affirm their choice to develop this niche. Sonya feels it is especially important in a time where beauty is given such a narrow definition. "We wanted to create a place where women could come and be totally comfortable being themselves and actually be able to see how beautiful they are--the way they are. It really doesn't matter to us what a client is wearing (or not wearing); it's about spending time with them and bringing out their true beauty."

Unfortunately this also is an age where the body has been so sexualized and women so objectified that many are unable to see the simple beauty of the body without associating it with what is obscene or lust-provoking. And that, for the Brauns, is very sad. "On the one hand are those who are addicted to seeing increasingly hard porn, and on the other hand are those who are fleeing everything to do with any nudity in an attempt to escape the harmful effects of lust on relationships. There's got to be a positive alternative."

Rodney and Sonya would love for people to consider a third view as a possibility--that of recognizing the beauty of how we are created--and learning to see with eyes that take in the whole person rather than focusing on parts, that see the body as an expression of personhood rather than a separate entity divorced from mind, heart, and spirit.

"The body is not inherently bad. It is how we see it that has been corrupted. We all have a choice."

Certainly some images out there do not encourage this choice. Certainly, the choice is not always easy--even when the art gives that opportunity. But given the media-saturated environment we live in and the easy acces to pornography the internet affords, we won't be escaping nudity any time soon. It's best we learn healthier ways of viewing the body and teach our kids the same. It can start with art.

To learn more about the Braun's latest project, H2Oohhh, visit www.rodneysbraun.com. It opens this week-end on Saturday, March 5th at 2:00 p.m. at Pixels 2.1 Gallery on 217 McDermot Ave.

Monday

The Last Day of February leads to...March!

Thanks for joining us on this month of blogs from all over Winnipeg. Since it's the last day of February, I feel I must introduce you to a new blog to follow at www.rodneysbraun.com/blog.

For the month of March in particular, we will be regularly updating you on our latest art project, "H2Oohhh" as well as bringing you valuable inspiration and information regarding our own local water sources and the global water issues facing so many in our world.

“H2Oohhh” is a collection of images unlike any you’ve encountered before. Rodney captures the fluidity and grace of the human form in water, as well as the playfulness of human interaction with water. Rodney’s skilled use of light and reflection will captivate you.

But “H2Oohhh” is much more than art. It’s about bringing people together. It’s about caring for our resources. It’s about sharing what we have to help others in need.

The mission of “H2Oohhh” is to gather people around breathtaking imagery, inspire changes that preserve our local fresh water sources, and create synergy for providing global access to clean water.

20% of all proceeds from this project will support two excellent non-profit agencies providing clean water solutions in developing nations:
- Samaritan’s Purse Canada (www.turnonthetap.ca)
- WaterCan (www.watercan.com)

Our goal is to raise $10,000.

Since we often take our own easy access to fresh water for granted, “H2Oohhh” is also partnering with Lake Winnipeg Foundation to raise awareness of the importance of our lakes, rivers, and wetlands and what we can do to help preserve them.

Exhibition and book launch of “H2Oohhh” take place March 4th to April 9th at Pixels 2.1 Gallery, 217 McDermot Ave., Winnipeg.

Opening Events:
  • Artist Talk – Friday, March 4th at 7:30 p.m.
  • Opening Reception – Saturday, March 5th at 2:00 p.m.
World Water Day Event:
  • McNally Robinson Book Launch, March 22nd, 8:00 p.m. in the Restaurant
I hope you will join us as the power of this project is in the synergy.

Visit the gallery. Visit us online. You can connect to Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Flickr and LinkedIn from there.

Sunday

bouncing around in my head

I thought it would be fun to include Rodney's first blog posts ever in our month of blogs. You'll catch a little bit of his philosophy, his passions, and his personality. Enjoy!

First things first, this is the first time I have ever blogged and as such I have really no idea what I'm doing. Secondly, my wife is out tonight and I have the kids in bed so I'm asking myself what the heck I'm doing blogging and not doing something useful like watching a movie or something especially because the only person likely to care enough about what I'm thinking is probably my wife and I could just save myself the time and tell her directly when she gets home, but here I go.

Just one more disclaimer before I go into my thoughts, if you came here to read perfect grammar and spelling than kindly head on over to my wife's blog. If you wish to correct any of my grammar or spelling, before doing so I will have you know that I really don't give a rat's smelly end so please save your time.

That being said I spent the day today working on my studio, the job really quite a sucky one, trying to chip the mortar off of the chimney that goes through my future lobby. You see when the building was built the brick chimney was plastered with about half to three quarters on an inch of mortar so that no one would ever see the beautiful job that the builders sometimes did. As I was standing there chipping the old mortar off of the chimney breathing in all of the mortar dust and being assaulted by the chips of mortar that came flying off the thing I was asking myself the question, "Why do we hunger for beauty?" really, why the heck is it really important to us how we look, or how the people or things around us look?? Why not just go with ugly, it's much easier!!

You see I capture beauty for a living, I photograph women in such a way as to capture the beauty within and without, or so I hope; but why really is beauty important to us, and why do we strive so hard to get it. Why did I spend the whole day chipping away at the chimney when I could have just slapped a coat of paint over the mortar and left it at that?

I have a theory, God created beauty, God Enjoys beauty and being made in God's image we too enjoy beauty and creating it. I know that is over simplifying it just a tad but it's the best I can come up with. You see first God created the world, he (I'm not implying that God is male, the English language just limits how we can communicate making us choose a gender) said that's pretty good. God then decides to make the animals and says, wow, that's really quite good. God then proceeds to create Man, he say's "holy camoly, I think I'm probably done!" Then as one last act God creates woman, she and the man are still there in the garden naked and what is God's response to his creation, probably something like this "Hot damn, it doesn't get any better than this, I'm done!!!"

Everything was beautiful and perfect. Fast forward however long it took to get to now and God has trumped me, I have a desire to create beauty, but the world is already created, the animals are also created, people are around, and I have a mere fraction of the power and creativity of God so what can I do?? Well after years of asking this question and a little dumb luck I have come to the conclusion that If I can't create Beauty, I will try to capture or restore it instead. Here enter two of the things I really enjoy doing, Renovating my new studio (an old building in the north end that was paid no attention for decades and was in need of a little (read huge) facelift. The other thing I really enjoy doing is Photographing. It seems I will photograph almost anything if I can make it look good, but when it comes right down to it my favorite has got to be photographing the last of God's creating, Women, the way God created them, that is nude.

That is a little of what I spend most of my life doing, and why, I'm not really sure why my passions end up offending so many people but when it comes right down to it, as I said at the beginning, I can't control the thoughts of others and we are all entitled to our own opinions. As for beauty, I'm amazed at how beauty can lift the spirits and warm the soul. When I'm in a bad mood there is very little that can turn it around as much as my beautiful little princess coming up and giving me a hug, just looking into her beautiful face, seeing her adorable smile, and touching her as she hugs me can make me so happy I just want to cry. By the same token, seeing an amazing sunset, a crop of sunflowers or the crisp beauty of a park with hoar frost on all of the trees speaks so much of beauty to me that it can just lift the soul to new heights.

So I ask again, why do we hunger for beauty?? Why do you hunger for beauty (if you are really out there??) I think if we all just spent a little more time thinking about the beautiful things in life and a little less time dwelling on the ugly, the world would probably be a better place.

So long all you blog readers, have a beautiful day or night, for beauty is not God but it is definitely from God.

Saturday

Cooking for the Soul

Does cooking always seem like a chore? Have you ever thought of it as art? I had never thought of it that way until I read "The Artist's Way" by Julia Cameron. That's when I started making soup from scratch and baking muffins...just for the joy of it (the baking part has kind of dropped off since having kids)! Rodney started being interested in gourmet cooking a few years later. Now, I'm not saying that all my cooking now has been transformed to some other-worldy level. But there is nothing like the satisfaction and savoury smell of soup simmering on the stove.

Interested? I have a recipe to share with you that has been passed on from my Grandmother and mixed with my mother-in-law's recipe. It is "Chicken Noodle Soup in the Mennonite Tradition" This is what you'll need to have on hand: a "spice ball" (or tea ball), extra fine egg noodles, whole black peppercorns, cinnamon sticks, and either star of anise or aniseed (whole or just seeds). Likely, if you're up for this experience, you'll need to do a bit of shopping. The last thing on the list may be the most challenging to find.

The next thing you'll need to do is buy a whole chicken. I like the frozen "Halal" ones and I pull it out a day or so ahead of time to thaw. Wash it (sometimes I forget...probably not a big deal), put it in a roaster or on a big casserole dish, sprinkle some Mrs. Dash on it or salt and pepper (or nothing...I usually don't eat the skin anyway) and pop it in the oven at 350 for 1 1/2 hours or so. The chicken should start to fall apart and the juices run clear. If you have a thermometer, it's helpful to use. Pull it out of the oven, put the lid on the roaster or make a foil roof for the chicken and let it rest for 5-7 minutes. If you're me, you'll sort of hack it apart. Basically, cut the wings/legs off at the joint, and cut the breast pieces off. It's helpful to put a plate in the oven after you turn it off, so the meat doesn't cool off as quickly. You can put small potatoes poked with holes in at the same time as the chicken or make rice to go with it, add a vegetable and/or salad and you have an easy meal.

Put the bones in a ziploc bag and throw in fridge or freezer. Use the leftover meat for wraps, sandwiches, or salads. Then comes the soup!

Give yourself two hours or more before you want to eat your soup. Throw the bones in a large pot and fill with as much water as is safe. Put about 10 peppercorns and one star of anise in (or a 1/2 teaspoon of the loose aniseed) into the spice ball. Throw in a cinnamon stick. Bring to a boil, then reduce to simmer (or 1 or 2) for at least an hour and a half. Scoop out the bones and meat with pasta claw or tongs or other such useful utensil into a container. Let cool before handling.

Prepare noodles as directed (use half package if you plan to freeze some of the soup...whole package if you want to serve the whole pot of soup immediately).

Then comes the most tedious part. If you just get into the zone, you'll find your mind is free to reflect on life and come up with new ideas. Alternatively, it could be a good time to use your iPod. Pick through the bones to retrieve the meat and cut into small pieces (use as much as you wish to deal with). It is time to add salt. Sea salt or Himalayan crystal salt is nice. Kosher salt might be good. I start with at least a teaspoon of salt and then add more to taste. If you over-salt, add water. Return the meat to the pot. If using only portion of broth, you may want to add the broth/meat to the noodle pot once it has been drained. The noodles don't freeze well, so you always want to freeze without and then cook a fresh batch when you reheat broth. You can also freeze a cup of broth without the meat, and use where chicken broth is called for.

Ladle into bowls and eat with a nice thick bread. Slice your own brown bread, use a dark, round pumpernickel, or even French bread with lots of butter!

Parts of the soup-making experience will seem like work, but there's nothing like the aroma of soup wafting through your home or greeting you after you've been outside in the cold. It's nice to make when you have a lazy Saturday/Sunday morning (or even while you're out). It's handy to pull out of the freezer when you're under the weather or when you want to cheer someone else up. And there will be this satisfaction that you have joined many women in the ancient art of soup-making. Enjoy!

Friday

Inner Beauty

Today, I thought I'd republish something I wrote back when Eve Studios was started.

Ever since we started Eve Studios, I've had these niggling doubts over whether it's really possible to capture/unveil/uncover a woman's inner beauty. Is it just a nice catch-phrase or is it something we can actually strive to do? Isn't photography limited to the outwardly visible?

And what is inner beauty? As I sit at the computer trying to compose my thoughts, I have my doubts of whether I can do these questions justice. I usually write best with pen and paper, rather than sitting uncomfortably in front of a somewhat blinding screen, pushing buttons and hitting the backspace key. But, that is where I find myself tonight, and so I will make an attempt without worrying about the results.

First of all, I believe inner beauty is something everyone can possess. It is hope in the darkest of circumstances, steady faith when the storms of life threaten to capsize, it is joy and contentment in apparent lack, it is love that gives its own life. It comes from a refusal to shrink back in fear, from standing up when knocked down, from believing that all people have worth, from learning how to step into another's shoes. It trusts enough not to control. It stands up for what is right. It allows others to rest and be themselves. It looks for ways to laugh and be thankful. It accepts failure and weakness with grace. It offers a helping hand.

Having said all that, have I just created some super-standard that none of us can hope to attain? It may appear that way. I think what I'm really trying to say, is that in each of our lives, we face challenges, disappointments, difficult relationships, pain and loss. Sometimes we become numb, sometimes we become bitter, sometimes we become angry. But the times when we open ourselves up again, let go of the hurt, express ourselves and learn to draw wise boundaries, something beautiful happens inside that radiates outwardly through our eyes, the way we carry ourselves, the way we speak, the way we live. And I believe more and more that it is possible to capture the true essence of a person through photography: their depth and range of emotion, their hopes and dreams, their story, their values...and it happens when trust is given and received.

This point was driven home to me recently, when one of our clients took the time to write us a wonderful, long letter describing her experience with us. She gave us permission to share this with you:

I don't know if I could ever thank you enough for pursuing your vision of opening up a studio dedicated so specifically to capturing the beauty of women. There tends to be a belief out there that we can only capture certain events in life such as marriage, birth or graduation. But what about the miracle of simply being a woman? A studio such as yours which gives women permission to both look and feel beautiful simply because they are is much needed. Who I am is enough reason to celebrate!

Every woman's story is unique and I thank you for taking the time to get to know me before my session. It wasn't just about capturing the outer beauty, but it was about exploring the many layers that make up my inner beauty as well. I love the fact that my session and the resulting images will look different from anyone else's! The atmosphere that you create is very relaxed which allowed me to just be myself and that really came through in the images. My photographs are incredible and this experience has given me the opportunity to see myself in a whole new light. Thank you!

I think she says it better than I could! This is what we hope for at Eve Studios. And if these words strike a chord in you, give Rodney a call at 221-8413 and set up a time to meet together. It could be the beginning of something beautiful.

Thursday

My Best Grocery $$$-Saving Tip

"A goal without a plan is just a wish." ~ Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

There are lots of ways to save money when buying groceries: coupons, shopping several stores to hit the sales, basing your menus on sale items, shopping only from a list, paying cash, not shopping while hungry, etc.

If you have an unlimited amount of money or you've decided that one place you want to have complete freedom to buy what you want is the area of food, then this post isn't for you. But if you have goals in your life that you're having trouble reaching because you tend to overspend on food, or if you have a very tight budget that you're trying to make work, then keep reading.

I think the one thing that has changed the way I shop and helped me make better decisions is this:

When I make my shopping list, I put a number in front of item--the estimated cost. And then I add up the numbers before I go. If I'm way off of where I want to be, I can back-track and put optional items in brackets or cross them off entirely. Then I make my new total. Once I'm happy with that figure, I leave for my shopping trip.

Once I'm at the store, I note the actual price of what I'm putting in the cart. I can go a couple of ways at this point: notice if it's over or under and keep a general idea of whether I'm staying on target, keep a rounded-off tally of the actual amount I'm over or under, or have a pen with me and write down either the prices or the difference so I can keep track.

This may sound really anal or like a lot of math. I tend to keep it as simple as possible for myself. I do find math fairly easy, so I'm not sure how it would work with someone more number-challenged, but the point is, you have an idea the whole time of how close you're going to keep to your plan, and I found that to be quite empowering actually.

So what happens if you see something that wasn't on your list? First of all, I always round up on my estimated costs, so there usually ends up being a natural buffer. Secondly, you may find items are significantly cheaper or unavailable or so jacked up in price, that you end up not getting them or they cost less. So you may run up a nice little surplus that allows you to pick up a couple of things you hadn't planned on. Another way to help out with this, is to create your own buffer before you go for unplanned items (whether they are something so cheap you want to buy extras or something you decide to splurge on).

As you can see, the principle behind the practice is not severe restrictions. It's a plan that allows you freedom while allowing you to keep track and make wise decisions.

The funnest part of the process is when you ring it through and you find out you spent almost exactly the amount you expected to spend. Or less! Some days, you may ignore your plan or be looser with it. That's up to you. But if it's important to you to stay on track so you can reach your goals, you now have a tool that can make that possible.

Wednesday

Getting Unstuck Emotionally

I have been re-visiting a technique that I've found to be helpful in moving out of an emotion that has me stuck. It's called "Emotional Freedom Technique". It uses principles of psychology and accupressure. What you end up doing is basically tapping on certain energy meridian points with your fingers while focusing on an emotion, belief, symptom, or event--describing what it's like and then moving to acceptance of yourself and choices you want to make surrounding that. The tapping begins to clear the energy disturbances that are associated and you are able to get relief, healing, peace, or change in that area. This is a free series of audios about tapping that started yesterday. You can still join at www.2011TappingWorldSummit.com.

EFT has application with pain relief, dispelling limiting beliefs, neutralizing everyday stress, disarming addictions, moving forward in weight loss, embracing change, releasing anxiety about the future, and more. There are practitioners in Winnipeg that specialize in facilitating the technique, which is especially helpful in more difficult areas like past trauma. But the majority of people can do this technique themselves...and what I love is it's free and it's natural. It's basically telling the truth about how you feel/think and helping your body move towards a different reality.

If you don't want to join the summit, I'm sure if you googled Meridian Tapping or Emotional Freedom Technique, you would also find good information. A slightly different version of EFT is available on this web-site: http://eft.mercola.com/

Have a great day!

Tuesday

Touch me!

In 1977 the Canadian songwriter Dan Hill wrote and performed the simple love song, “Sometimes When We Touch.” It quickly became a massive hit, rising to #3 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100, but was so overplayed it became a wearisome parody of itself, also nearing the top of many “worst songs” lists.

Nevertheless this little ballad topped the charts in the UK and in Australia, and has been recorded by some the biggest names, from Cleo Lane to Tina Turner, Engelbert Humperdinck and even Rod Stewart.

A few weeks ago I met with a young, attractive and engaging couple… who never touch. Except accidentally.

Same bed, but no sex or cuddling; tender and affectionate toward their children, but even here managing to avoid an accidental and careless brushing together. And civil, effective and amicable through all their daily and weekly routines and coming and going, but… no touching.

Why?

They didn’t really know, except… it made them feel awkward and uncomfortable, they had done it less and less, and in the end had got quite used to a life without it. Except, they weren’t doing too well, and they (sorta) wanted to try to have sex. They thought that as a young married couple, they really should. But they sounded reluctant.

This kind of “touchless marriage” may sound bizarre, but therapists working with couples know how very common is this kind of functional marriage.

To offer a kind touch challenges us to push resentment and cool indifference into the background. It challenges us to live with a forgiving heart toward each other, and to be much more thoughtful about the other. It demands honesty, and the naked transparency that this intimacy invites. No wonder many avoid this. So many marriages, not only “sexless” but “touchless.” And altogether common. And so, we go to work, or into other distractions.

In “Any Woman’s Blues” Erica Jong describes one modern couple… “They own things together rather than fuck. This is their form of sex.” And of course there are countless variations on this. “They work, they drive their kids hundreds of miles each week, they host parties, go on trips, fix their house up, decorate, and work-out… rather than touch each other.”

I thought of some of the words from Dan Hill’s old song while I met with my “touchless” couple. “Sometimes when we touch, the honesty’s too much, and I have to close my eyes and hide…”

The honesty’s too much!

And so we brush by each other, perhaps aching to be touched, caressed, held and even ravaged! But this is not who we are anymore. This is not who we have become.

In the apostle Paul’s 1st Century letter to the Church in Corinth, Greece, he warns couples; “don’t stop having frequent sex, except for special times of prayer.” I suspect that most of the sexless and touchless couples I work with aren’t suffering this poverty because they’re busy praying!

Interesting though, that in this little town 50 miles south of Athens, some 2000 years ago, couples were being warned to care for this touching, lest they begin to drift apart, not only in body but in their hearts. The physical part of who we are, and the physical part of our relationship is of paramount importance.

As the field of psychology developed and defined itself over the last century, countless studies (we needed “studies?”) demonstrated the need for touch. Without it animals died, infants failed to thrive, and couples slowly crept apart, first into separate beds and routines, and then to the lawyers.

How much do you and your spouse touch?

Have you been touching more or less this past year? Who generally initiates this touching? How, when, where and why do we touch? How have you touched each other today? These last few hours?

“Have you touched your spouse lately?” (bumper sticker, somewhere).

In the same way that a “kind word dissolves wrath,” a kind touch, in just a brief moment, soothes in a way the mere words simply can’t. I’m not talking about a quick grope in the kitchen while supper’s on the way, or the perfunctory hug and “kiss” which may be imbedded mindlessly into your daily “going out the door” routine; good as these habits may be. Rather, the kind of patient, unrushed and thoughtful touching which reminds us both that we are in this together, that we have each other, that we truly love and are grateful for each other, and that we want to help. In a simple gesture, and in a moment, we communicate that we are glad to be with them.

What is quite amazing about touching, is that any effort we make to just try to begin to touch each other more, without any explanation or fuss, begins to soothe and to bring warmth and peace and hope to sometimes quite shattered souls and bodies.

Try it! Just for one week.

It is risky business! It’s easier to pretend that the status quo is nothing too far out of the ordinary. That you are just (of course) very busy, and very tired. But this is of course fear and cowardice. So think about stepping out, without expert counselling intervention, without any explanation, and without “solving” any of the countless and unresolved issues which you may have together.

Just do it. One week.

Your relationship will gain strength and warmth, momentum and hopefulness, and more. It’s perhaps the easiest one thing you could do with the greatest return on investment. Or, you could pretend that “we’re ok,” etc., while you’re both so well aware that you’re losing altitude day after day after day.

Sometimes when we touch…

“Often the hands will solve a mystery that the intellect has struggled with in vain.” – Carl G. Jung (1875 – 1961)

Dr. Todd Sellick is a marriage and family therapist in Winnipeg. He and his wife developed a game for couples to promote intimacy, called "A Private Affair". You can read more of his blog posts or check out the game here.

Monday

Tax time is coming...advantages of a home-based business

Contemplating the independence that a small business on the side may give to you? Thinking about starting up a small business, then having it on the side when you retire? Don’t neglect to consider the advantages one enjoys when operating a bona-fide business from your home!

Tax laws about splitting income between spouses and even to children are designed to ensure that the taxes are paid by the original ‘gifter’ rather than the recipient (in most cases). When running a home based business, you can now employ your spouse and children and pay them a fair wage for the work they do. In this case, they earn income and you, as the business owner, have an expense. When your spouse or children are in a lower tax bracket or have unused, non-transferable tax credits you are transferring income to them for the best tax advantages and lowering the overall family tax burden.

Using space in your home to operate your business allows you to write off a percentage of your home’s overhead including property taxes, insurance, mortgage interest and utilities. You can also write off a percentage of the regular (non-capital) repair and maintenance you make to the home. Note that expenditures made in the business space for business purposes only (eg putting up shelves or painting, are written off as all business expense, not just a percentage). The space must be used for business purposes on a regular, ongoing basis (eg not the kitchen table). The percentage to use is determined by the business space square footage over the total square footage of the home or the number of rooms that are used by the business over the total rooms in the home (not including bathrooms, utility rooms or laundry rooms). Use whichever calculation gives you the bigger percentage. This percentage is applied to the expenses for the home and used to decrease your business income, thereby reducing the tax you pay. Home business expenses may only be used to reduce business income to zero and can not be used to increase a loss. In either of these situations the unused home business expenses maybe carried forward, creating a tax free zone for next year. It is beneficial to claim the home based business expenses each year, particularly during startup of the business, to build up that tax free zone for that year when your business really takes off!

During the startup years of your business, it is reasonable to expect that expenses will exceed income. This creates a loss for tax purposes. This loss reduces your taxable income from other sources such as employment or investments. The loss reduces tax payable at your highest marginal tax rate. If your marginal tax rate is at 35%, you will pay less taxes equal to your business loss x 35% in general. Not only is your taxable income reduced, but you may be increasing credits such as the GST credit or Child Tax Benefit which are both income based (as your income decreases, the benefit increases). In order for this benefit to be available to you, you must have and be able to prove a reasonable expectation of profit for this business.

Losses incurred running your business can be carried back three years or forward seven years. Therefore losses incurred during the startup or formative years of your business won’t be lost but can generate tax savings by going back in time to when you had taxable income, or carrying it forward to apply against those lovely gains in the future!

Running a vehicle these days is expensive. Just imagine, now you can write off a portion of the vehicle expenses! Even if your business involves you sitting at the computer most of the time, you still need to run out and purchase office supplies, pick up mail from your box office and deposit those cheques! You must keep track of all business trips made and have backup. Backup can be the receipt for that ream of paper or a note in your daytimer regarding meeting a client. You must keep a vehicle log showing the date, where/why you went and the number of kilometers. At the beginning of the year, record the odometer reading for the vehicle. Subtract this reading from last years ending odometer reading to give you the total kilometers you put on the vehicle. Adding up the business vehicle log kilometers gives the business kilometers. Divide the business kilometers by the total kilometers and you have a business use percentage. Apply this percentage to the total expenses for your vehicle and write that amount off against your business income. Expenses you can write off include gasoline, repairs and maintenance, car washes, insurance deductibles, insurance premiums, auto club membership fees (eg CAA), drivers licence and the interest expense or lease payments.

Rita Tully, CGA is an accountant who practices what she preaches (she runs an amazing home-based business!) For more articles related to tax-time, see her web-site.

Sunday

Beauty after the Storm


I went for one of my walks across the river Saturday. Just as I was turning the corner after the bridge, I came across some beautiful snow drifts which blocked the sidewalk. In the city, it is more rare to see a snowdrift, as the abundance of buildings, fences, and shrubs tend to slow down the wind.

Where I was, however, the wind had been allowed to swirl the snow into beautifully chiselled drifts.

The thought came to me: when the stormy winds blow and we don't resist them (hide from them, try to escape), change happens, things in our lives are rearranged, and something beautiful can emerge.

Have the cold winds been blowing in your life? Do you feel exposed to their harshness? You can trust that something beautiful is being formed in you. Self-pity, wishing you were somewhere else, or beating yourself up won't help you. Allow change to happen. Let some things go.

When the storm is over, others will notice character formed in you--a softening here, and a strengthening there. And your beauty will inspire the world around you.

Saturday

My Best Health Tip

Today, I thought I would share something that has probably impacted my health most profoundly. And it doesn't cost anything! When I have used this technique several times a day when I'm getting sick, it has helped my immune system. When I have done this when I feel dragged out, it has helped me regain energy for the day. And when I have done this before bed or when I wake up in the night, it has helped me sleep and sleep more deeply.

The trick is---doing it! And doing the whole thing (including the part after the breathing). If you have any questions in how to do it (some parts may be confusing), please contact me at sonya (at) evestudios.ca.

I also encourage you to check out this website (see bottom). It provides a fascinating perspective on the body's integrated functions and some really fresh and practical things you can incorporate in your life for great health.

Reverse Breathing Chi-Gong Exercise

  1. Find a quiet comfortable place to reach a tranquil state of mind. Prepare to embrace nature and mingle the energy of the Universe.
  2. Close your eyes and relax. For those who have a chronic disease, exhale deeply before inhaling. If you do not have a chronic disease, inhale deeply then exhale. Focus your awareness on your breath and enjoy your breathing in a comfortable, slow pace.
  3. As you inhale slowly, visualize water lifting coolness from your abdominal aorta region (3 inches below your navel) into your sternum. Repeat step 3 until you can not inhale anymore.
  4. Then exhale only 20% of your exhalation containing the fire from your heart region. As you exhale, press the fire down to the abdominal aorta with the aide of your lungs and diaphragm.
  5. Hold your breath and use your visualization to keep pressing down the fire coming from the heart for approximately 5 to 8 seconds. Visualize red light flowing down with the fire as you hold the breath. You will gradually feel a flow of warmth in your abdominal aorta region.
  6. Then, exhale the remaining 80% of your exhalation sending the warmth down to your perineum (anus) and reaching to your adrenals and two kidneys. You will gradually feel the warmth flow to your lumbar (lower back) region.
  7. The best time to practice reverse breathing is one hour before bedtime or whenever you feel tired. You may practice reverse breathing either laying face upward or seated with your palms resting on the thighs facing upward. When you practice in a seated position, be sure that you are sitting on the front part (1/3) of the chair with your neck, spine, and sacrum in a straight line. Do not lean on the chair.
  8. The duration of practice can be from 20 minutes to 3 days. It is a very effective technique in weight loss if you practice when fasting. It can also help induce sound sleep, re-charge energy, build up the immune system, and overcome hot flashes.
  9. Shortly after finishing the practice, you must shuffle your hands together for at least 20 seconds until your palms feel warm. Then, wash the face with the energy in your palms, comb the hair with the energy in your fingers, pat the neck, the chest, massage the umbilicus, hips, back, and lateral and medial sides of your feet.
  10. Do not shower/bathe or drink water shortly after the breathing exercise. You should wait 10 minutes because water will stop the energy you just gained.


Do not
practice this breathing technique while your stomach is full. If you have just finished drinking lots of water or just eaten a meal., you must wait for at least one hour before practicing this technique. The breathing meditation will help correct gastric problems such as belching, stomach pain, acid indigestion, stomach ulcers, colon problems, etc. It also can help enhance digestion and increase your energy.

http://www.vitalchi.com/breathing_techniques.htm


Friday

Stuck In A Rut

The next time you catch yourself or hear someone say that they are ‘stuck in a rut’ I have the grease that will get their gears moving again. Of course, before giving them this piece of advice, you will empathize with them and their situation. A sure way for anyone to get themselves out of this rut is to tell them to make different choices. There...done. Next problem!

I don’t mean to minimize those situations, but honestly we have the ability to change our routine every single day. It is estimated that on average a person will make approximately 2000 choices daily. When I first heard that statistic, I thought to myself, ‘no way!’ But then I thought about it more and perhaps they are right. Think of the choices we make before we even set foot outside of our home to head off to work. We choose when and if we get up, if we shower or bathe, if we wash our hair or not, how we are going to style it, do we wear a skirt with blouse or a suit, how much makeup should I put on, do I accessorize my outfit...I think you get the idea. All those choices within the first 30 minutes of our waking day and I probably missed some.

Can you imagine if you decided to do the opposite of what your ‘regular’ decisions have been everyday for the last few years? Completely different choices...hmmm...I would think you would find yourself ‘unstuck’ pretty darn fast. Would those different choices be the right ones? I don’t know but I can guarantee you this. Your day would definitely be very interesting.

Kim Malchuk is a motivational speaker and the author of "Tasting Rain".

Thursday

Oops!

Did anyone miss today's post? Sorry about that.
Here's a recipe that seems perfect for a week-end in.

"Not Meant to Share Mousse"

You will need:

2 squares semisweet baking chocolate
2 teaspoons unsalted butter (who has that on hand though?)
1 tablespoon prepared coffee
1 egg, separated
Pinch of salt

  1. In a small double boiler (small pot in a larger pot may work) over hot but not boiling water, melt the chocolate and butter, stiring with a whisk until smooth. Whisk in the coffee, and the egg yolk. Remove from heat.
  2. In a small bowl, beat the egg white until soft peaks form, sprinkle on the salt, and continue beating until stiff but not dry. Fold, a spoonful at a time, into the chocolate mixture.
  3. Evenly distribute the mousse between two teacups or wineglasses. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate.
Light some candles, start the music, and savour! At bedtime, write yourself a note to enjoy the 2nd portion in the morning!

This recipe was taken from "Romancing the Ordinary" (A Year of Simple Splendor) by Sarah Ban Breathnach. Let me know how it turns out!

Wednesday

What’s Eating You?

As a holistic health coach, I often have to explain what it is that I do. When I first meet prospective clients, they expect my approach to be the same as a dietitian or nutritionist. But that's not what a holistic approach is all about. I look at you as a whole person, not just as an eating and exercising machine.

I understand that it doesn't really matter what you're eating until you figure out what's eating you. You can eat all the broccoli in the world, but you won't be a healthy, happy, thriving individual until you are able to heal your relationships, surround yourself with supportive people, do fulfilling work that you love and take time to nurture your spirituality.

Holistic health coaching is not only for weight loss! While I can help people who want to lose weight, I can also help people looking to have more energy, sleep better, reduce stress, prevent disease and have more positive relationships.

Here are some of the things I work on with clients:

1) Primary foods
At the Institute for Integrative Nutrition where I earned my Holistic Health Coaching certification, we learned about the concept of primary foods: the foods you eat are secondary to all the other things that feed you—your relationships, career, spirituality, and exercise routine. Those are the things we call primary foods.

2) Nutrition
We will look at how you’re nourishing yourself and at your relationship with food. Are you eating for optimal energy and vitality? Rather than giving you a list of foods not to eat, I prefer to work with the “crowding out” method – we add more nutritious foods to your diet and reduce the less healthful ones.

3) Exercise
In addition to being a Certified Holistic Health Coach, I am also a Personal Training Specialist and Agatsu Kettlebell Coach. I will make workout recommendations that work with your lifestyle, whether you can give me 20 minutes a day, or an hour a day.

There are many other areas that I cover, depending on your needs. I always offer a free no-obligation one-hour health consultation to see if we are a right fit for each other.

Natalie Duhamel is a Winnipeg-based Certified Holistic Health Coach who works with
women and men to help them reduce stress, improve nutrition, lose weight, increase energy levels and live their BEST life!
www.natalieduhamel.com

Tuesday

Your body is like a Ferrari!

My body’s nobody’s body but my own!

I remember this from when I was a kid and learning about our bodies and what was a “good touch” and what was a “bad touch”.

As we grow we often forget to honour what is good and bad for our bodies. We take our body for granted and treat it poorly.

What if you looked at your body like an expensive car: you have bought it brand new, it’s shiny, runs like a dream and you love to show it off to your friends at the car shows (insert cat call here).

Now what if I told you, that car was going to eventually get old and no longer work and that the manufacturer that makes the parts has long since gone out of business! Wouldn’t you do everything you could to maintain your car’s well being!

I can’t imagine that you would drive like a maniac, let it stay covered in mud, drive with flat tires, put anything other than premium fuel in the tank or let anyone else drive it recklessly!!

So why do we treat our own bodies like that?

Your body is the ONLY one you’ve got! Sure you can replace certain parts, but like a fine car when you get body work done after an accident, it’s never quite the same as it was with its original parts.

So it’s time to start treating your body as it’s meant to be treated...like a well engineered, expensive, beautiful car!
Be gentle with your car, enjoy driving it, but stay safe, don’t let anyone else treat your car poorly!

Begin by...
Giving it a good wash: get rid of any gross mud you are carrying around: habits, past hurts, negative beliefs


Then...
Fill it up with Premium fuel: stop feeding your car diesel if it takes petroleum--eat healthy, drink loads of water, take vitamins


Finally...
Take it out for a drive: your engine needs to run to stay in good working order: exercise, laugh,
dance, walk, jog, play, get outside


You will not only maintain your car for a lot longer, but you will also find more joy in using that car! After all, there’s nothing like a Sunday drive in a beautiful car to feel like a million bucks!

Vroom, vroom...ENJOY!

Monday

A little love story

Some of you may wonder how a wife lets her husband do the job that Rodney does. Part of the reason is his character. Part of it is my implicit trust in him and his love.

Wanna hear our love story?!

We both attended the same Bible school in Saskatchewan where we're from. Over the three years, we became good friends. But we dated other people. I actually ended up engaged to someone else and moved to Winnipeg to go to college and be close to him. Rod headed the other direction to Vancouver Island to work with youth.

My relationship was rocky to say the least. I was in it for the wrong reasons (I could write a book on it someday...and hope to!) But I was a nice girl and it took a long time before I broke it off.

Shortly after, we saw each other at a mutual friends' wedding. Instant attraction...but I was there with the other guy. Needless to say, Rod was a little confused, but we worked it out by mail. A month later, he was asking me to visit him on the island (he paid for my ticket with money that he was going to use to buy his first good camera...awww!)

Let me tell you, if you are concerned about not falling in love soon after another relationship, don't go to Vancouver Island! I was a goner. Being with Rod was a complete contrast from the other guy. I felt so accepted, so comfortable, so loved...just the way I was. And he showered me with affection...lots of hugs.

Well, we went on two dates after that: a friend's wedding, and Christmas, and then we got engaged. In Winnipeg, on February 13th. Tons of letters, cards, and phone calls (I was the envy of every girl in college!) fleshed out our courtship. We got married June 15th. And now we're coming up on fifteen years together.

We've had a very interesting journey. Lots of moves and job changes. Winnipeg has become home over the last 11 years though. Through it all, we've been best friends.

What is the secret of our success? Well, there are three things we have tried to make a habit of:
  1. Going to bed at the same time - ensures that we don't "miss each other" on a busy day and we feel more connected at that important close of the day
  2. Sleeping naked - skin-to-skin contact isn't just for promoting attachment between babies and moms...it is a glorious way of feeling close and transparent (and comfortable) and when you have kids, you need all the help you can get to stay intimate
  3. Praying together before bed - these days one of us inevitably falls asleep while the other is praying (it's so soothing!), but what a great way to take your concerns and problems to Someone higher, to hear your spouse's heart, and to ask for help in keeping your marriage strong
And for those of you who are still looking for "the one", or are in a serious relationship, I think a vital ingredient for any long-lasting relationship is absolute acceptance of each other. If you are going into a relationship thinking that you can change or help the other, you're in trouble. If you feel you can't be yourself or are being controlled, you are in trouble. To make a marriage work, you need to see the other as a gift. Through all the ups and downs.

Passion may ebb and flow. Some seasons will be more difficult than others. But when we make the other a priority, when we commit ourselves to the highest good of the other, beautiful things can happen. Even miracles. Someone said something like this (sorry I can't remember the source exactly right now), "Commitment doesn't flow out of passion. Passion flows out of commitment."

Happy Valentine's Day! Thanks for listening to our love story!