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Currently Reading: Kate Morton

The books by Kate Morton are everything I have ever wanted to read - Seriously. They are adventurous, full of life lessons and love. They are usually focused around a family secret which pertains to the main character, and throughout the book you learn about the secret and all about the family. I rarely find books that I "can't put down," but with Kate Mortons' books I find my self unable to put them down! I read several of them last summer - "The House at Riverton" and "The Forgotten Garden," I have re-read them a few times and am currently reading "The Lake House."

I plan on reading "The Secret Keeper" next, and look forward to learning more about the book she is currently writing! I think what I love so much about these books, is that when reading them, you truly feel like you are there. I love the incredibly vivid imagery I get when reading, even now, I can look back and see a perfect image of what I read. I find that so appealing, and thoroughly enjoy using my imagination in this way.

If you are on the hunt for a wonderful adventure to read cuddled under the covers or quietly at the beach, I highly recommend any of the Kate Morton novels! Happy Reading!

Self Portrait: Month One

I have been absent for the past few months. My presence has been lost online, in relationships, and within. I feel as though I am no longer deeply intentional and thoughtful in my everyday or in my relationships, and that is something that has troubled me greatly. I fondly remember the time when I would sit and plan out my days, think intentionally about my time, my impact on the world and on others. I used to be so thoughtful in relationships and in friendships. I would invest so much of my heart and soul into others, as well as myself. Lately, all of that passion has been lost.

I don't know if it has to do with a lack of inspiration, a lack of human connection, or simply seasonal depression; all I know is that something is off, and it is hindering my happiness. Only a few short weeks ago I was feeling so inspired, ambitious, and excited. Jason and I designed a gorgeous office, a creative space for me to work in. I spent hours designing it on paper, and then days on end bringing it to life. It is such a beautiful space, but now that it is finished, I feel like I am not using it the way I should be.

On a more personal note, I feel as I am no longer intentional. I hardly ever do my skincare routine anymore - even though it is one of my favorite things, I no longer carve out time to take baths or read books, and maybe the worst loss of all is that I have stopped writing. I don't write how I am feeling anymore, thus this post is an explosion of the literary expression that I have been cooping up inside of me for so long.

What I have come to realize is that up until recently, I have been somewhat forced to write. I had to write stories in school, essays in high school, and research papers in University. I kept a personal journal for several years, and I used to write detailed letters to pen-pals. When Jason and I were living in different cities, I would take the time to write out massive text messages or emails about anything and everything so that we could still feel connected despite the distance. We didn't talk that often, so when we did, our words were so crafted and full of so much intention. I used to write so much and so often. Whether it was about what I ate for lunch, or a carefully crafted research proposal, I was writing. I was diving deep into my thought process and developing words to correspond with my thoughts and feelings. A few months ago I stopped expressing though words, and since then I have felt so low, empty and confused. Everything in my life was going so well, but I was feeling so down. I couldn't understand how that could be, until I realized that I had abandoned one of my prominent outlets. Now, I don't believe that writing will solve all of my current woes, but I do think that it will help me process everything that I am experiencing and going through.

Body image has been something that I have struggled with for quite some time now. In recent months, it has been especially negative - which I am ashamed of. I yearn to be proud of my looks, excited to be in this body, and happy with the way that it moves. I am working towards living a body positive life, free from self criticism and shame. I am not there yet, but through intentional words and creativity, I hope to get there. As of now - February 2018 - I am going to start a project which documents my body, thoughts, and emotions, in a monthly post.

For the first time in my adult life, I took self-portraits. I was feeling uninspired for an upcoming photoshoot, so I thought it could be fun to do a little bit of practicing on myself. It ended up turning into this incredibly inspiring and empowering self experiment/project - I haven't felt this happy in weeks. I set up my camera at the end of my bed, and started shooting with the self timer. I played around with the aperture and focus until it was perfect, and went from there! You will notice that quite a few of the photos are out of focus - especially the ones in the hallway. This is something I hope to improve upon next month, though I think blur and all, the photos are great!

I spent probably around 2 hours shooting - there was a ton of back and forth looking at the shots and posing for the images. I am by no means a model and have zero idea how to pose, I mostly stuck to incorporating movement and choosing positions that I thought felt the most natural to me. The most surprising part of this whole process was how I reacted to seeing my body in the camera screen. I am so used to photographing others, it was challenging to see my own body in the camera. My body has changed a lot over the years, and it is no where near as strong as it used to be. Seeing areas of my body that do not have the muscle that they used to was hard for me. I am used to glancing at my body in the mirror and then carrying on - I haven't forced myself to look at my body like this in a very long time. At first I felt extremely vulnerable and kind of silly. However, those feelings quickly turned to confidence once I stopped worrying about how the pictures were turning out and just started to have fun. I think everyone should try and take a self portrait sometime (no, selfies don't count 😋), as I found it to be a very empowering and enlightening experience.

I am excited to carry this on as a monthly project, documenting my body, my confidence, and my many feelings and emotions. Below is a selection of the edited photos, I plan to share a few on Instagram in the future (@madisonjoue).


I was a little hesitant to share these photos, as they showcase some of the very things that I am weary about - body wise. There are so many things that I could point out about my body that I am unhappy with, but I am making a conscious effort to ignore them, and get excited about the things that I love. I think that these photos are beautiful, flaws and all. Here's to a journey towards self acceptance and body love!

Thanks for being here and taking the time to read about my most personal struggles. I appreciate you.

Madison xx

3 Household Ethical Alternatives

As some of you may know, sustainability, slow living, and ethical industries are significantly important to me. As a relatively young human, I have been exposed to plastic all of my life. Plastic is everywhere, and I never gave it a second thought because I never had to, or so I thought. Everyday things like sandwich bags, tupperware, toothbrushes, etc, all are made of plastic, and while I knew this, I didnt automatically think 'PLASTIC' with red flashing warning lights... I simply continued to use plastic products into my adult life as I had been raised. Though there are certainly plastic products which we cannot yet avoid easily, there are definitely some good alternatives available nowadays which are both ethical and sustainable. I have recently integrated 3 of these alternatives into my daily routine and household.

The first change I have made in my household is using jars for storage. I have always had jars around, but I have slowly integrated them into my pantry storage. Jason and I purchase most of our 'dry food' from bulk barn where they have plastic bags and plastic containers to hold and contain the items. We have began to take jars to bulk barn and put our dry items in them rather than in plastic bags! Most of our spices, grains, beans, nuts, and things of that sort are now kept in jars. I used to buy items at bulk barn using the plastic bags they provided and then would transfer the items in to jars once home, but I realized that it was such a waste of plastic and quite unnecessary in the first place! Most bulk barn locations are familiar with using jars in store, so there has never been an issue for us.

I grew up using dryer sheets in the laundry, I love the smell of freshly dried laundry and I thought dryer sheets were the only way to get that fresh scent. A few months ago I heard about dryer balls made out of wool and I thought it was genius. I began to read up about them online and learned that they never deteriorate, meaning that they will last for many many years. Not only are they made of a natural material, but they are intended to last a lifetime. I purchased mine at Pure Earth Organics in Red Deer. In order to maintain that fresh scent that dryer sheets give, I have put a drop or two of essential oils onto the dryer balls and that has created a similar, if not better effect than dryer sheets! Lately I have been using eucalyptus oil, but citrus, and lavender oils have also created a wonderful fresh scent. I have been loving using the dyer balls and I am so happy to have integrated them into my household.
You can also find dryer balls on Etsy, or Amazon, though I prefer to support the smaller businesses on Etsy : wool dryer balls.

Lastly, Jason and I have transitioned into using bamboo toothbrushes. I had seen them online several times, but I always found that shipping them was so much more expensive than we would have liked - that deterred us from making the switch earlier than we have. Recently I was in Pure Earth Organics and found these gorgeous toothbrushes. Not only are the toothbrushes completely ethical, but the packaging is as well. I have found that they feel completely normal, and brush as well as any other plastic toothbrush that I have used. We will definitely continue to purchase and use these!
You can learn more about these ethical brushes here.

I am always looking for new ways to integrate ethical practices into my life so if you have any suggestions, please let me know!
Thanks so much for reading, 
Madison xx