Why I shouldn’t be your #bodygoals

As a health and fitness blogger I try and keep to a rounded selection of content from food, to supplements, to training, to recipes, to my body…. At the moment it has been VERY competition prep based. Why? Well that’s my life right now I am 5 weeks out from my next competition, surrounded by others on prep and if I don’t make it my life and throw everything into it, there’s no real point in doing it. I’m very all or nothing and if I get relaxed about my prep, well it’s self explanatory, the results won’t come!

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So why shouldn’t you want your body to look like mine?

My body is sitting at around 10% body fat and I’m 55kg- that means that of my entire body only about 5.5kg of that is fat. It is recommended that women shouldn’t have a body fat percentage lower than 10% as that is the lowest necessary level for normal body function. But let’s take a moment to remember that I am in prep for a purely aesthetics based competition and to be a serious contender I need those lower levels of body fat. A normal healthy woman shouldn’t really be striving for this level of body fat.

It can happen at different levels of body fat for different girls BUT I have now stopped having my period. This is just one example of how my body is dealing with what is being thrown at it. At first when it happened for a couple of months I started taking pregnancy tests because of the paranoid person that I am even though I knew it was impossible for that to be the answer, given where my romantic status is right now… (You catch my drift- oh hey immaculate conception…)

After this competition I am looking to take a year until I compete again for a couple of reasons:

• my body needs a break and to work its way back to a healthy state of internal homeostasis

• I want to build more muscle and if I’m constantly cutting and in a calorie deficit then that cannot happen

So while I LOVE competing and competition prep, if I want to keep doing it for quite some time I need to be sensible and strategic about it.

I post progress pictures and flexed six pack pictures because I’m proud of myself. I am proud of what I am achieving, the progress I’m making and how I’m getting on in my competition prep. Whilst I am super proud of myself this doesn’t mean you should want my abs, or my new found back muscles and pecs.

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So if I don’t want to inspire you with my body, how do I want to be inspiring you?

I would love you to be inspired by my positive outlook on life, my attitude towards goal setting and smashing those goals, my ideals of uplifting people and supporting each other even if they are your competition and if I can have this attitude in life, you can too!

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After my competition I will be progressively gaining some more body fat to a healthy and maintainable level and maybe once I’m there, my body could inspire you to get that butt in the gym. But for now I shouldn’t be your body inspiration.

If I can inspire you to make healthy changes and life choices, encourage some more body confidence and self love then I will be one happy bunny.

Please just remember I am prepping for a bodybuilding bikini competition that is purely aesthetics based and only maintainable for a short period of time.

Big love Char xxx

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But you’re a PT, why do you need a coach?

Sorry for being a bit here and there lately but competition prep has well and truly begun again.

I have a new coach, Tom Ford and I am LOVING prep so far! It is already so different to last time, it works better for me for sure but by no means is that slating my prep last time at all. They’re just two very different experiences.

So, as you know I qualified as a level 2 fitness instructor and level 3 PT in June this year. Honestly the best course ever! BUT that’s not the point of this post, let’s not meander now. As I was saying I qualified as a PT, I often now get asked why I then choose to take on a competition prep coach for my competition. I have a couple of answers here for you!

I thought about doing it myself, I really did! I thought about it a lot and my tutor on my course told me that my case study for a competitor was good enough to implement on someone, so I have the capacity to atleast physically train someone to compete. I just didn’t like the idea of not having anyone else to check in with or was an outside eye.

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I decided that if I prepped myself I wouldn’t be able to view the experience subjectively so I went on the hunt for a coach!

I had been training bits in a big bodybuilding gym in North London and started my search in there. Here’s how it went:

(After some small talk and pleasantries)

Me: so yeah, I’m looking to compete in October and need a coach

Them: okay cool so tell me more about you and your training now, have you ever competed before?

Me: yep, I competed in April for the first time, loved it and want to do it again…. And I’m vegan….
(Awkward pause)

Them: okayyyyyyyy…..

Me: (talks about being a non ethical vegan blah blah blah)

Them: oh so if you’re a non ethical vegan, you won’t be on prep right?…

Me: erm no it doesn’t quite work like that I’ll be staying vegan …

Them: erm okay I’m going to have to think….

So that’s how one story went. I left feeling like as a vegan I wouldn’t be taken seriously in competing. I messaged friends and family asking for advice, do I go against everything I’ve done for the last two years and leave veganism behind whilst on prep? The messages I got back were so supportive and I decided that somewhere out there was a coach that would take me on confidently as a vegan and I wouldn’t compromise this part of my life.

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So I put out a call for a coach who would take on a vegan and the response was overwhelming. SO many people got back to me with recommendations and from there I contacted some coaches and made my decision.

Oh hey #TeamTomFord ! So far, two weeks in I am LOVING prep and honestly very happy with my decision. Pure Elite October I am coming for you. This girl is committed and determined and passionate, there’s no stopping me now!

Head over and follow my other channels to keep up more regularly with how prep is going and what I’m up to:

Insta- @charlotteclarkeuk

Twitter- @charljclarke

YouTube- search charlclarke

Snapchat- charclarke91

Love Char xx

OSHUN white

Last month OSHUNwhite sent me a 14day teeth whitening oil pulling kit and a copper tongue cleaner. What with always being in front of the camera, I am always wanting whiter teeth. In January 2015 I took part in a study with the BBC to test the effectiveness of over the counter teeth whitening kits. The results came in and no one’s teeth had been whitened to a degree where it was noticeable to the human eye. This is because the active ingredient in teeth whitening kits isn’t strong enough and can’t be strong enough due to EU regulations. Many people get teeth whitening products sent over from the US because their rules and regulations are different. I have never used anything stronger than can be bought in the UK because I always get nervous about them damaging my teeth and only having myself to blame for being so silly. This was the reason why Oil Pulling has intrigued me for some time now.

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Oil pulling has been practiced for thousands of years as part of the ancient Indian practice of Ayurveda. The practice involves swishing a small amount of oil around your mouth for 5 to 15 minutes each day. Traditionally, unflavoured coconut or sesame oil would be used.

Oil pulling works to reduce the levels of harmful bacteria in the mouth, which are pulled out with the oil. This delivers a powerful, natural oral detox, resulting in reduced plaque, long-lasting fresh breath and a beautiful white smile.

~ OSHUNwhite

OSHUNwhite offer a 14 day kit, one sachet each day first thing in the morning before eating breakfast. This is really handy because if you’re staying at friends let’s say, you don’t have to carry around your great huge jar of coconut oil, you can just pop a sachet in your bag. They offer 4 flavours, Crushed Lime, Wild Cherry, Spearmint and Peppermint. The flavours really help to distract you from the fact you have coconut oil filled with toxins in your mouth…

I tried the Crushed Lime flavour. The guidelines say to swill it around your mouth for 5-15minutes, on my first time I lasted 5! I was SO disappointed in myself but its such a new and surreal sensation that I just couldn’t keep going any longer. Luckily like with most things practice made it better and more tolerable, however, even after the full course I still only managed 10minutes max! (what a wimp!)  I think for me it was the oily texture, yes I know it’s coconut oil before you say anything, it just didn’t feel like something I should be holding in my mouth for that long. Although I must say, the Lime flavour definitely helped!

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As much as I hate to admit it (because I was rubbish at it) it actually did work! I’ve heard mixed reviews about Oil Pulling so it was nice to be able to experience my own results. My teeth felt cleaners and glossier and they looked whiter so it’s definitely something I want to be able to learn to love. So thank you OSHUNwhite for introducing me to oil pulling and making it a nicer experience with such great flavours and convenient kits!

To get your hands on an OSHUNwhite 14 day kit head to their website here.

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Here’s to naturally healthier, whiter smiles!

Char x

The Urban Tri

Last Sunday I was invited to head down and take part in the Urban Tri with Boom Cycle. The Urban Tri has been names London’s Hottest Fitness Challenge of 2016 and deemed to be the modern triathlon. You start with 45 mins Yoga at Lululemon in Chelsea, jump into your trainers for around an 10k run to Holborn, slip on a pair of cleated shoes and take on 45mins spinning at Boomcycle. Then it’s food and goody bags galore!

I love a challenge so said I’d do it but I have to admit that I was quite nervous! Anyone who’s known me for quite some time would know I used to run quite a lot, a 10k would be nothing, something I would do for fun but I haven’t ran 10k in about three years now. If i’m doing cardio it’ll be interval sprints on the treadmill now, so the thought of having to run constantly for around an hour from Chelsea to Holborn was quite daunting…

I arrived at Lululemon on The King’s Road in Chelsea at 9.15 on Sunday morning and the only thing I knew for certain was that I’d be joined by Naomi White- Queen of Health and Fitness PR and Emily and Hannah from Twice the Health so I was looking forward to seeing them. We indulged in 45minutes of yoga focusing mainly on opening up our hips and preparing our legs ready for the run that followed. It felt really good to be led through sequences, for the most part my yoga practice is self taught and I just fit it in where I can rather than going to class, so this felt good to be instructed on how to move. Unfortunately it was over in a flash and the daunting run crept up very quickly…

  

I jumped into my trainers and it was time to decide which group I was going to run with. There were three pace makers a fast, intermediate and a slower one. I chose the intermediate group with Emily from Twice the Health. I figured I used to run a 50minute 10k and this group were aiming for around a 55min time so worst case scenario I dropped back and could still see them, or the slower group would catch up with me and all would still be fine. So i’m running along, inhaler in one hand, phone in the other just incase i get lost… lucky for me, I didn’t need either of them! Hurray for Charlotte! The run felt good! I finished in around 54mins, turns out it was more like 11k than 10k and I ran alongside Emily just about the whole time and were chatting, so the pace was comfortable.

  

Arriving at Boom Cycle I felt fantastic, really proud of myself for making it through the run in a good time, I ran down the stairs jumped into some cleated shoes and hopped on my bike (with a little help, I just cant get the hang of attaching myself to the bike?!) I had to turn on my display and stay on the bike for 45mins and then my Tri was done! I knew I was going to get through this last leg smoothly because Boom Cycle is a Party on a bike and while my legs felt the heaviest they perhaps ever had, the time went so quick because I was just having the best time!

  

I came out third- hooray for Charlotte! I was greeted by Naomi, goody bags and foods from Bol Foods, Propercorn and Vitacoco coconut water. No better way to finish if you ask me.

  

I honestly felt so good afterwards, the week leading up I’d been a bit down and sassy in training and I’d been texting Artur after every session apologising because I just hadn’t been very inspiring to train at all. This was EXACTLY what I needed.

Thank you Naomi for inviting me down and Thank you Emily and Hannah for being totally fabulous and for running alongside me Emily.

The Urban Tri happens once a month and I urge anyone who is into fitness to get themselves down to one and give it a go! I won’t be able to do the April one because of my competition prep but I’ll be back in May for sure!

Head over to the Boom Cycle website and have a look what its all about for yourselves http://www.boomcycle.co.uk/urban-tri

Bring on May!

Char x

One Life Personal Training Pt.1

This post is in collaboration with One Life Personal Training

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A few weeks ago I was contacted by Will Fletcher from One Life with an invitation to come by the studio for a session and sports massage with him. I took Will up on his offer and here is my first instalment of my time with Will at One Life Personal Training so far:

The studio is based in Stoke Newington and is a lovely independent studio with MANY services to offer, from Personal Training, to Yoga, to massage and Pilates. They also have a little area outside to give a tyre a good battering!

So what did I get up to?

Picture this, while you were all in bed at 7am on a frosty Sunday morning I was in the studio with Will giving it all that I’ve got. I know I’m crazy but the session was crazy good!

We started on the rower- a piece of equipment I never use! I’m not very good on the rower so I never use it unless I’m on it for my abs! We moved through a series of exercises including interval sprints, treadmill crawls, treadmill bunny hops, chin ups, burpees with a shoulder press and battle ropes. It was a mega session and Will really put me through my paces! I love training with battle ropes but hadn’t done it in quite some time so it annihilated me! Shoulder in pieces! (In a good way!)

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We finished with a sports massage on my upper back. Due to being here there and everywhere during the day, I tend to carry a rather heavy bag so my traps are always super tight and riddled with knots so this was where Will worked his magic for me. I also have bad posture, rolling my shoulders forward giving myself a bit of a hunchback- not good! So we’re going to work on that too.

I left the studio that Sunday feeling energised and relaxed all at the same time. It was a wonderful feeling and a great way to start the day. You still think I’m crazy I know!

If you’re North London based and looking for personal training or classes without the commitment of a gym membership also, then One Life Personal Training is the place to go! You know you need to start training but It can be quite intimidating walking into a gym when you don’t really know what to do. You just end up doing cardio or floor based ab work watching what everyone else does. I’ve been there I know that! So skip that and get stuck in with some sessions or classes and One Life. Whatever your goal, there’s something for you!

Have a look at their website here!

You can also follow them and Will on Instagram:

@onelife_personaltraining

@willfletchpt

Keep an eye out for Pt.2 where I’ll be giving you a tour of the studio and going at a tyre with a massive hammer!

Char x

The Importance of Setting Goals

In Summer 2015 someone sent me this picture:

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Instagram: @elle_fit

At the point that I received a screenshot of this image, I was teaching dance at summer camp. On my breaks/afternoons off/ days off you would have generally caught me either working out on the monkey bars near by or practicing yoga on the grass outside. I had managed to nail forearm stands, chin/chest stands and various handstands and was feeling pretty proud. Then I think it was my sister who sent this to me with what I can only assume to have been accompanied by a message of amazement. Me and my friend Abi, who was with me at camp when I got the message, just looked at the photo in amazement, rotating my phone 360 degrees trying to workout how this position was even possible. Then I gave it a go and couldn’t even get up there; I suddenly had so much admiration for Elle and anybody able to even get into this position- it requires a lot of core strength and well, all over strength to get into it never mind hold it. It was then that I decided that this was something I would work my way towards.

I took a step away from it and started my training for fitness modelling just doing bits of yoga to supplement this training but nothing too advanced. I then came back to this pose with a stronger mind and body and nailed it. I am not at all trying to say that yoga is about just creating shapes because it is so much more than that, but this for me was a goal to achieve and I am proud to have achieved it. Now I can work on moving in and out of it and relaxing in my time up there working through my breathing. That is the next stage for this position for me. I’d also like to be able to lift my straight leg a little higher to a more horizontal line.

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So why is it important to set goals:

  1. They are something to work towards
  2. They will keep you focused and motivated- Long term vision, Short term motivation
  3. It can be easier to track progress
  4. They can turn mountains into mole hills
  5. They tell you what you really want

 

What sort of goals should you be setting?

Sure, make big goals something you really want to achieve but know its going to be a journey to get there. They will keep you motivated long term, but you should also set smaller goals along the way too, trackable goals to mark your progress and spur you on further. These goals help our self confidence, focus, and motivation to stay on track for the bigger goals.

Here’s a personal example for you.

My BIG Goal

To compete as a fitness model in April 2016

My Smaller Goals

  • To improve my posture and stop hunching/rolling my shoulders forward
  • Write for my blog more often, improving my writing skills and furthermore increasing engagement with my blog
  • To be able to sprint at level 19 on the treadmill for all 10 sprints in  my hit training.

That is just an example of what I am working for and focusing on daily. I have other goals I am working on that are and aren’t geared towards my competition prep. I am just happy right now that I have achieved one of 2016’s big goals in that headstand at the top of this post.

Have you got any goals you are working towards? Large or Small, they’re all important. Let me know!

 

Char x

Happiness > Perfection

As most of you know I’m very big on being at one with my body physically and mentally. I try to live each day mindfully taking those small moments for myself.


For a lot of people, especially people like me growing up in the dance and performing industry there is a word that is used a lot to try and get results that people want- perfection/perfect. Perfection is a nasty little devil that is sent to chase us and destroy little pieces of happiness bit by bit.

For a long time it was this a little demon that stuck with me. You have to be perfect, everything has to be like so, you need to look perfect, your dancing needs to be perfect, your body needs to be perfect. Nobody can get this out of your head but you. (And really, no one planted the demon there but you…)
It wasn’t until recently that I came to accept that perfect does not exist. Perfection is subjective. Your view of perfect will be completely different to somebody else’s view of perfect.  Everyone has their flaws and nothing natural will be completely flawless. Once I realised this and accepted it I became a much happier person entirely. This doesn’t mean that you aren’t beautiful inside or out, it means that you are, because of these differences.

 

Choose Happiness!

I will pick happiness over perfection any day of the week. You should feel confident in your own skin whether you’re wearing make up or not, in your best clothes or your best sweatpants! I feel my best in yoga pants and a sports bra with my favourite Nikes on, so what!

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So long as I’m making progress in whatever I am working towards then I’m happy. If for any reason I hit a plateau, I take some time out to work out why and where I can go next to keep progressing however small the progress may be.
Moral of the story?

Always choose happiness

Does it make you happy? No- stop doing it!

Does is make you happy? Yes- go at it full force and enjoy that happiness!

 Photo credits:

Image 1: Move your Frame/ Frame Studios

Image 2: own image

Image 3: Malcolm SK Fitt Photography

Image 4: own image

Festival Studio 2.0

In July I headed back once again to shoot with Festival Studio Photography. You may or may not know that Jessica and I shot with them in October 2014 too. This time I was shooting alone with around eight photographers. Like before it was a very fun shoot, very relaxed (hard work) but a great environment to work in.

We worked through a few looks and themes. Contemporary dance, Aerial Silks, Aerial Hoop, Acro on a mirror and the Grand Finalé- a shoot using flour to capture an image that carried motion. As you can see we had a lot to fit into the day, each of the photographers had one on one time with me in each of the themes. I’ll include for you at least one image from each of the themes.

Some of the photographers came with specific ideas of what they wanted to capture and some with reference picture to try and recreate. Others, were happy to let me move through sequences and positions for them to capture.

Festival Studio always know how to look after me and is always the most inviting atmosphere to work in.

I am also delighted to tell you that I have been invited back once again to shoot with Festival Studio in October. There was a great reaction to the flour shots and people have requested a second shoot date- great news! So in light of this coming up have a look below at what we achieved in the July shoot.

We had Charlotte as our subject model fir an aerials, contemporary dance, modelling and powder shoot at the studio recently. Her performance was flawless, giving great energy and fun to whoever photographed her. A lovely girl who brought confidence and great humour. Thoroughly recommended.

~ Chris Sharp,  Festival Studio Photography

What Next…..?

So today marks the end of a very busy, fun-filled summer working for Exsportise Ltd. My previous posts will give you an insight into life in orange, let me say just this I either love it a lot or I’m a little crazy as it was my fifth summer working for this summer camp. Thank you Exsportise it’s been a pleasure. That is all over now after seven great weeks, so what will I be getting up to next?

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Tomorrow I have a shoot with Frame Studios shooting new content for their website and social media accounts. This is a pretty exciting shoot for me especially since I will be shooting with one of my good friends Laura too. We’ll be shooting some solo content each and then some shots together, it will be super fun. Website address: http://www.moveyourframe.com Have a look at their classes, they’re pretty badass!

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After that I am hoping to get some shoots in in the week before heading off to Spain for a week with my sister Jessica. We’ll be chasing sunsets and doing some partner acro-yoga on the beach. For those of you who know me, this is literally perfect! (of course there will be plenty of photographs too!)

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In October I have also lined up another shoot with Festival Studio Photography. I haven’t yet shared with you the images from my most recent shoot with them but I already have another shoot on the way! It will be similar to the image below involving lots of flour to capture images with motion. I was invited to model for them again as lots of photographers contacted the studio requesting a shoot like this as they missed the previous one. This is exciting for me, having people requesting I model for them and that they are genuinely upset that they missed the last shoot. The last shoot was SO fun that I actually can’t wait for this October shoot! Have a look at the image below for an idea of what’s to come.

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My aims and goals for the next year:

  • Branch more into Fitness Modelling
  • Shoot for a yoga/activewear clothing brand
  • Live each day mindfully

Now not all of these have an explicitly obviously result, but they are three things I will have at the forefront of my mind working towards over the next 10 months. Why 10 months? Because hopefully I will be returning to spend a sixth summer dressed in Orange with Exsportise!

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All Good Things are Wild and Free…

As you know, for the past five weeks (and for two more) I am dance coaching at a summer camp. My previous blog post that i was asked to write for Exsportise gives you an insight into how full on just one day can be here. So then times that by six for one week and then imagine all of that seven times over. It is really intense. That’s not a bad thing. it can just be quite overwhelming at times so I have really learned the importance of utilising my time off to spend some time purely for myself.


Photo Credit: Sophie Emms
Photo Credit: Sophie Emms

Until quite recently I was never one for yoga. Just the thought of it bored me to tears, but I think that’s because I didn’t want to enjoy it and didn’t necessarily understand the idea behind it. Now however, consider me a convert! I am very much self taught and take the time to indulge in my own practice rather than attending classes taught by someone else. Nowadays I am much more in tune with my body as a whole, physically and mentally and connecting my breath with my body. In this I’ve learned just how important it is to be in a good place mentally regardless of how you think you might feel. For me, yoga really helps to connect the mental and physical and free my mind of any stresses (even if the moves themselves are hard) Allowing myself this time means I don’t get completely swept up in a busy atmosphere and can look forward to this time alone knowing I’ll feel great after. Now, I’m not saying yoga is for everyone this isn’t me preaching, it just works for me. But your ‘me time’ might be different to mine. All I can say is that it is important that you find out what works for you to settle and free your mind. It could be five minutes with your favourite cup of tea or a walk outside in the fresh air, or simply sat in your room listening to your favourite music. Just find what works for you and make sure set aside some ‘me time’ to look forward to each week at least.


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I’ve also found as I’ve gotten older just how important it is to surround yourself with good, positive people. The sort of people who naturally give off an amazing energy that you just cannot get enough of. It is very easy to get trodden down with or by negative people and negative energy, but if you remove it from your life as much as possible and focus on leading a life where you are happier, you are going to feel so much better for it! In terms of friends, it is definitely quality over quantity. At school, sure, everyone wants to be popular and liked by everyone but as you get older it becomes so much more important to have fewer REALLY good friends. These will be the people who will lift you up if ever you need it regardless of whether you speak every day or not, they’ll be there. You simply cannot please everybody and be friends with everyone and the more time you spend trying to always please other people, the less time you have to make sure you are happy~ and everybody deserves to be happy.

~Moral of the story… surround yourself with positive people and find out who your true friends are. (people who will be weird with you and love your weird too!)


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With this in mind, these are the things that I’ve tried to implement into my lifestyle here at camp. On my days off you will either find me down at a play park area that has monkey bars to train at or relaxing by the pool on a sunny day. This park area is slightly secluded and I get to spend time alone down there doing some strength and flexibility training as well as yoga and handstand practice. If the sun is shining also, it means that i get to spend time outside and in the fresh air. During the week I am in the dance studio for up to six hours a day so to get outside in the sun and grab myself some vitamin D is very much a welcomed part of my weekend.


My three things I try to live by:

Inhale the good, exhale the bad. Surround yourself with good people. Try to live each day mindfully.

Namaste.


Here are some of my ‘me time’ in pictures below: