Its beginning to SMELL a lot like Christmas

The delicious smells that come with the Christmas season are enough to lighten anyones mood.   Its so hard not to love the smell of a Christmas tree and of course those other holiday scents like cinnamon, peppermint and Candy Cane. Yum! All of those beautiful smells around the holiday season brings back so many memories of Christmas as a child. doTERRA’S holiday blend just arrived at my doorstep a couple of weeks ago and I don’t know if there has been a day go by that I don’t have this pumping in a diffuser in atleast one room of the house. It’s fresh, spicy and calming and makes me feel like the Christmas season is a lot longer then it is.

Holiday Joy is a beautiful blend of Siberian Fir, Wild Orange (a favourite in itself), Cinnamon Bark, Cassia, Douglas Fir, Nutmeg and Vanilla Absolute. When people ask me to describe how it smells, all I can think to say is “it smells like Christmas.” The best part about this oil, aside from it’s delicious, warm aroma, is that it is a certified pure therapeutic grade essential oil- meaning that its 100% natural and free of synthetics and fillers. Not only that, but it also helps to purify the air, keep you energized and leaving guests feeling happy and relaxed in your home.

To get your own 15 ml bottle of holiday joy, you can visit my website and click shop at : or to find out how you can get 25% all of your doTERRA orders, please send me an email at and I’ll fill you in.




What’s Your Stim?

Having a child with autism is always interesting around the Holidays. Along with all the excitement of Christmas coming, we also see increased anxiety, stress and more situations where everyone is expected to be on – looking fabulous and being present. These social pressures are difficult enough for most typical people and even more stressful for people like my daughter, Victoria, who has Autism Spectrum Disorder. When I get nervous or anxiety ridden (especially flying) I start counting as that helps me to focus on something else besides what I am doing. My husband twiddles his hair and my son chews on his shirt. We all have our little stims to help us cope but for Victoria her stimming behaviours increase in consistency and become much more noticeable to everyone around her during these exciting times.

(Self-stimulatory behavior, also known as stimming[1] and self-stimulation,[2] is the repetition of physical movements, sounds, or repetitive movement of objects common in individuals with developmental disabilities, but most prevalent in people with autism spectrum disorders.[2][3] It is considered a way in which people with autism and others calm and stimulate themselves.[2] Therapists view this behavior as a protective response to being overly sensitive to stimuli, with which the individual blocks less predictable environmental stimuli.[4] Sensory processing disorder is also given as a reason by some therapists for the condition.[4] Another theory is that stimming is a way to relieve anxiety, and other emotions.[5]Stimming exists on a Spectrum. Autism, Aspergers and SPD (Sensory Processing Disorder) become diagnosable when symptoms impair one or more domains of function.)

Most of my daughter’s stimming behaviours are in her hands, she is constantly cracking her knuckles, and holding her hands in a clenched position for hours. Her hands are often swollen and you can feel the knots in her joints. To alleviate some of this stress we do hand massages and she seems to love them and find them relaxing. 🙂 I use Beautycounter ( product, of course, because I know that they have been screened for 1500 toxic ingredients  – anything that is a known allergen, that is linked to cancer or that is a hormone disrupter. My 3 favourite products for a quick massage is the nourishing cream exfoliator, then I wash it off with the nourishing cream cleanser and finally I use the beautiful, citrus mimosa hand cream.

Nourishing Cream Exfoliator – This gentle yet super-effective exfoliating cleanser sweeps away impurities to uncover fresh, radiant skin. Non-abrasive jojoba beads help slough off dry skin, while organic coconut oil and aloe soothe and hydrate. Price: $41

Nourishing Cream Cleanser – Sooth and nourish skin as you wash away makeup and other impurities with this ultra-gentle daily cleanser. Lightweight yet deeply moisturizing, the creamy formula contains witch hazel to tone skin, and coconut oil and aloe to help hydrate. Price:$32

Hand Cream in Citrus Mimosa (Pump) –  A lightweight moisturizing cream that hydrates and softens skin. Formulated with shea butter, vitamin E, aloe and chamomile, it absorbs quickly and leaves a subtle, refreshing citrus scent. Hand Cream in Citrus Mimosa does not contain synthetic fragrance ingredients, many of which are linked to health issues like allergies, asthma, and hormone disruption. Price:$38

Our Ingredient Selection Process ensures safer and cleaner products that work beautifully. This rigorous process handpicks the best ingredients, such as coconut—a tropical fruit with powerful moisturizing properties. What’s not included? Approximately 1,500 questionable or harmful chemicals on our “Never List” that we never use to formulate our products.

Here is a great article on Stimming BY KAREN WANG


The Cause of Stimming: What’s your stim?

Everyone has a stim

I play with my hair while chatting with a friend.

Maybe you bite your nails when you’re nervous or bored.

You may tap your fingers or pencil on a desk while you’re thinking.

I once knew someone who chewed on sticks of cinnamon bark, and I’ve noticed some who move their eyes in an unusual way.

I can recognize certain people from far away just by their distinctive movements.  We all know someone who has an annoying stim like cracking their knuckles every 5 minutes or repeating a phrase over and over; or a socially unacceptable stim such as nose-picking or biting oneself.

The Definition of Stim

The word stim is short for self-stimulation.  It is associated with several conditions such as deafblindness and intellectual disability, but most commonly with autism.  My son’s neurologist calls it “autistic stereopathy.”  It is also sometimes called “stereotypy.”

The DSM-5 includes stimming as part of the diagnostic criteria for Autism Spectrum Disorder: “Stereotyped or repetitive speech, motor movements, or use of objects…symptoms together limit and impair everyday functioning.”  That right there is the difference between autistic stimming and typical stimming: when the stimming interferes with everyday activities and prevents learning, it is often a symptom of autism.

The Wrong Question

The right question to ask for stimming“How do I stop the stim?”  That’s usually the first question parents ask when a young child discovers stimming.  But it’s the wrong question.

First of all, no one can stop self-stimulatory behavior completely, because everyone does it anyway!  Secondly, even if one stim can be removed, it will be replaced by another — and the next stim may be less preferable that the current one.

The most important reason not to eradicate stimming is that you may cause your loved one to withdraw more and more, and lose your opportunity to encourage healthy interactions.

The Right Question

“Why does my child engage in this behavior?”  Seeking to understand the motivation for a behavior is always a great place to start.  There are several hypotheses and known causes for stimming:

1. Overstimulation
stimming can help block out excess sensory input.

2. Understimulation
stimming helps provide extra sensory input when needed.

3. Pain reduction
repeated banging of the head or body actually reduces the overall sensation of pain.  One hypothesis is that stimming causes the release of beta-endorphins in the body, which then causes a feeling of anesthesia or pleasure.

4. Management of emotions
both positive and negative emotions may trigger a burst of stimming.  We’ve all seen physical reactions to joy or excitement, such as jumping or hand-flapping.  Frustration or anger may intensify a stim to the point that it becomes destructive.

5. Self-regulation
Some stims serve the purpose of soothing or comforting.  Many infants learn to suck their thumbs to relax themselves.

I recently read a blog in which a parent asked why her son covered his ears in his sleep.  He had learned to cover his ears when his environment was too noisy, and that was soothing to him.  So he started covering his ears whenever he needed to comfort himself, especially when falling asleep.

Reasons To Reduce Stimming

Self-stimulation can interfere with learning, interpersonal relationships and social situations.  Some types of self-stimulation are self-harming and may lead to infections or require surgical repair.

Self-stimulation may also be a symptom of an ongoing medical problem such as migraines which a person with a disability may be unable to verbalize.

How To Reduce Stimming

Here are some ideas for increasing relationship skills while reducing time spent stimming:

1.  Get a medical exam to eliminate the possibility of physical causes for stims, such as ear infections, chronic pain, migraines and retinal detachment.

2. Manage the sensory environment and emotional environment to maximize personal comfort.

3. Vigorous exercise reduces the need to stim, probably because exercise is associated with beta-endorphins just like stimming.

4. Continue interacting while stimming occurs.  In his book Communicating Partners, author James MacDonald suggests that individuals with autism tend to perceive the world through sensation and action, while most neurotypicals perceive through thought and language.

Once this difference is understood, self-stimulatory behaviors make sense. MacDonald recommends turn-taking activities to engage a child without trying to stop stimming during the activity; the activity will gradually become increasingly comfortable and attractive, naturally reducing the stim.

5. Create a positive association between stimming and relationship-building.  One way to use stimming as a productive part of the learning process is to allow stimming as a reinforcer or reward after a period of playful interaction or work.

Julia Moor writes in her book Playing, Laughing and Learning With Children On The Autism Spectrum that making time for stimming will allow the child the comfort of being himself, encourage more interactions and actually reduce the total number of hours per day spent stimming.

6. Join the stim!  Some treatment programs, including Son-Rise and Floortime, propose joining in the self-stimulatory behaviors as a way to initiate interaction.  If a person is spinning plates, then start spinning plates.  If a person is rocking back and forth, then rock back and forth right next to the person.

My son’s preferred stim is to hold up his hand and talk to it, as if looking in a mirror. He thinks it’s hilarious when I do that with him!

Stanley Greenspan, author of Engaging Autism and developer of the Floortime method, explains, “Some children become intrigued – they now have a partner in crime, so to speak – and we get some shared attention and relating. join in the child’s activity to create a relationship, and then begin to use gestures so the child, in order to get what she wants, has to gesture purposefully back to you and maybe begin using some words…

the overall principle is to offer the child experiences that produce the same sort of sensations as the self-stimulatory activity but lead up the developmental ladder of regulation, engagement, and interaction.

To work on regulation, start off with basic sensory experiences.  In this first stage, begin with the sensation but try to vary it, to expand the child’s world of sensory input.”  In other words, to reduce the stimming, offer a replacement that is more alluring than the stim!

Real Estate & Technology

Real Estate and Technology

To my children, I am a luddite: I still read books (not e-books), shop in real stores and text in full sentences with proper punctuation. To my parents, I am someone who can’t put her phone down, stopped getting the newspaper delivered and sends e-mail invitations instead of mailed ones.  I am not always the first to embrace technology, but I do recognize that keeping up with automation and technical knowledge is essential. The reality is that technology is constantly changing and improving everyone’s lives – even the life of a city.  Modern technology allows us to share all sorts of information, so I thought I would share this information on the Living Hollis Style Blog.

 The smart city: how technology is changing real estate (Engel & Völkers blog 2017)

‘Smart’ is becoming the new normal. The word itself has changed slightly in meaning over the past 10 years, as new technologies emerge boasting even more features that help us manage and maintain our lives on a daily basis. Now it’s more common to meet someone with a smart phone than not, while watches, TVs, washing machines and lighting systems in our homes are all becoming increasingly connected and attuned to our needs. Now, these real estate trends are taking on a bigger target, and we’re starting to see a new modern phenomenon emerge: the smart city.

What is a smart city?

The United Nations has predicted that the global population will hit 9.7 billion in 2050, with 66% of people projected to live in cities. The smart city is part of this vision: our metropolises will become increasingly urbanised and more tech-heavy, with drones, autonomous vehicles and robots already being introduced into our modern service structures today.

These future cities will leverage data and technology to make life more comfortable for residents. Frost & Sullivan define the term as “cities built on ‘Smart’ […] solutions and technology that will lead to the adoption of at least five of the eight […] smart parameters”.

These parameters include smart energy – which we’ve already seen beginning, with heating systems controlled from your phone – as well as smart buildings, transport, healthcare, infrastructure, technology, governance, education and finally, the rather mysterious smart citizen. In terms of real estate trends, the ‘smart buildings’ parameter will have, and is having, the greatest implications and opportunities for the industry.

What is already happening?

Smart cities – or rather, the first incarnations of them – exist already. Barcelona and Singapore both have a base level of connectivity and integrated municipal services. Among other things, Barcelona has one of the cleanest surface public transport fleets in Europe, a bike sharing network and impressive green energy credentials. Its pneumatic waste management system automates rubbish collection in some districts, while underground delivery chutes decrease truck and noise pollution.

In the USA, Denver and Panasonic have worked together to designate a mixed-use development centre, Pena Station Next, as a hyper-connected community: a ‘smart city’ of sorts. Pena Station Next already has smart city solutions such as street lights mounted with security cameras and sensors, along with smart bus stops and parking meters. Here, Road X, an ‘intelligent’ Interstate 70, is already underway.

What does this mean for real estate trends?

Connected, smart buildings have the potential to reduce energy use, trigger preventative maintenance, and decrease operating costs. Utilising sensor technologies to track information such as motion, light, temperature and water flow, then automatically analysing the data to detect inefficiencies, and responding in a non-intrusive manner could all become part of how buildings function around us. According to JLL, smart buildings could improve general efficiency levels by 15-20% in the first year. In-depth building and occupant data would mean greater transparency in real estate transactions, allowing potential renters and buyers to better understand assets and commercial investors to better analyse the likely footfall.

The real estate industry has plenty of opportunities here to embrace smart city solutions and shape the evolution of these areas. The most obvious initial benefit for the property industry will be the enthusiasm and clamour of eco-conscious tenants, buyers and businesses to purchase a part of these efficient structures with lower running costs. Equally, however, the industry will need to move with the times and keep up with these changes as they come, to remain knowledgeable and up-to-date with these increasingly common futuristic properties.


Christmas Calm

I love Christmas decorating but I always think it is going to be stress-free and take me 5 minutes. However, reality is, 1 string of lights, 2 boughs and 2 bows and I am already 1.5 hours in and starting to stress. Ugh! So…after searching for some easy holiday decorating ideas, I came across these stress free holiday tips from Cynthia Ewer. Great ideas to give me more time to ENJOY and less time to stress. It is worth the quick read.  

Christmas Calm: Ten Tips for a Stress-Free Holiday Season

November 16, 2017 by Cynthia Ewer

Sure, you love the holiday season–but just not so much of it! This year, you’re hoping to cut the crazy out of Christmas: to trim the celebration back to one that is sustainable and calm.

Question is, just how do you do less–and enjoy it more–during the Christmas holiday season?

If you’re aiming to simplify Christmas, take time to ponder ways to cut stress, save money and tame over-the-top traditions. Setting simplicity strategies in place early will keep you from being swept up in holiday madness.

Get armed! Try these ten simple strategies to calm holiday chaos and rein in the seasonal overkill this year.

10 Simplicity Strategies

Prune the to-do list. Ask, “If I don’t do this, what will happen?” Aim to knock down the list of chores to the rock-bottom necessity.

Cut the gift list. Rein in gift exchanges that have been outgrown or lost their meaning. Limit gifts to children only, draw names, or organize a gift exchange.

Wrap as you go. Who needs to spend Christmas Eve catching up on wrapping chores? Sticky notes will help you keep track of gift contents.

Buy, don’t bake. Turn your back on the oven this year. Supermarkets, bakeries and the freezer department of the discount warehouse are a great source for delicious, pre-baked holiday treats.

Call, don’t send cards. Reach out and touch someone … the easy way. Online greeting cards are easy, inexpensive and fun to send. No more lines at the post office!

Scale back décor. Substitute a simple door wreath for outdoor lighting, a tabletop tree for the over-the-top tannenbaum. Focusing holiday decor on the Big Three–front door, tree and focal point–can bring a festive feel to the house without day-long decorating sessions.

Cut the clean-a-thon. Focus cleaning attention on kitchen and public rooms; private areas can slide til season’s end. Better to schedule deep-cleaning chores like carpet cleaning until after the wear-and-tear of the holiday season.

Downsize dishwashing. Hand-washing fine china is nobody’s idea of a good time, so move to everyday stoneware. Simpler still: paper plates!

Finger food, not feast. A smorgasboard of tasty tidbits is easier on the cook and kinder to the waistline than a sit-down dinner. Share the work by hosting pot-luck events.

Stay home! Cuddling down close to the hearth beats holiday travel any day. A holiday “stay-cation” allows for evening drives to see the lights, family camp-outs in front of the Christmas tree, and evenings spent with carols and popcorn. Fun!

As long as I’m living, Pilates it will be

I have been practicing pilates for about 15 years and have been a certified STOTT instructor for over 10.   I first started trying classes when I was training for an IRONMAN triathlon after I graduated from university, mainly for injury prevention. I knew with the rigourous training schedule I would have to be extra diligent if I did not want to get injured so I committed to Pilates three times a week during my 10 months of tri training. I have to say I was very diligent with this and I did end up completing the race injury free, which I still credit in large part to this Pilates practice. I’ll be honest, outside of these classes, I never stretched and these classes held me to it.

After the triathlon I fell off the Pilates wagon for a couple of years but then found I became plagued with chronic back pain. I remember being 26 and thinking I was going to have to give up running because it was just becoming too painful. This was devastating to me because running was such a huge part of my life and my go to for fitness and stress release. As a last resort, I thought I would try Pilates again to see if it would help, and I was amazed at the difference. Not only did it help elevate my back pain but it actually improved my running performance. I even reduced the amount of runs I did per week and found I still got stronger and faster. I remember distinctly running my first half marathon after consistently practicing Pilates for over a year and feeling amazed during the last few km’s at my ability to maintain my posture. In the past as my body tired near the end, I had always finished a long run slumped forward having long lost my proper running form. I had never had that strong powerhouse (core) before that and it felt incredibly different to run tired, and still be able to stand up straight.  All Pilates.

The following year I decided to pursue my STOTT certification and become a Pilates instructor.  Now fast forward 11 years and I have taught hundreds of classes AND bonus- I’m still running. Pilates has become the greatest compliment to some of the more rigorous forms of exercise that I love to do. It has improved my balance and mobility incredibly, improved my posture, increased my body awareness and helped my body rebound after delivering four babies in 6 years. As long as my body is able to move, I will continue to practice Pilates and I’m confident I will move better and longer because of it.



To compliment and enhance my breathing and relaxation during my Pilates sesisons, I often diffuse doTERRA essential oils during my class. My absolute favorite is wild orange and peppermint. This combination helps to open your airways to allow for deeper breathing and is also uplifting and calming. I also love the new yoga collection, which is a trio of three different oils- Align, Anchor and Arise.   To find out more about this trio you can visit here.

My Favourite Mornings

Setting goals are so important when we want to start making (or maintain) healthy habits in our lives. When we don’t have something to work towards it can be much more difficult to get where we want to be if we haven’t even really figured out where that is.

In September before I started reset:breathe and I had publicly committed to getting up Monday – Friday and streaming live workouts at 5:30 am, I was a bit terrified. I used to think any number that started with a 5 and came with “am” at the end was ungodly and torturous and I had zero understanding how people would get up then by choice. I have 4 kids who don’t sleep well and have kept me up most hours of the night for a number of years, so actually choosing to get up in that five time zone was just crazy to me. I guess you could say I had no idea what I was in for.

Almost three months later, and 56 workouts in to reset:breathe (still can’t believe that) I have to say I’m in awe how this routine has become one of the absolute best parts of my day. I set my alarm for 5:00 am and go and nurse my youngest in hopes he will stay sleeping a little longer. Then I get dressed and head downstairs to the kitchen where I check to make sure my coffee is ready to brew, I fill up my water bottle, add two drop of doTERRA lemon and drink most or all of it in a few minutes. I add a swipe of peppermint to my temples and head downstairs for the workout.

When I turn the lights on in my studio, I start to feel alive. Okay maybe “alive” is a stretch but you could say I start to feel human. I add two drops of peppermint and wild orange to my diffuser and let that fill the air as I set up the camera, write the workout on my white board and lace up my sneakers (or set up my mat).

I press “live” at 5:30 am and then we are off. It takes about 30 seconds for the morning team to join but when I see those numbers pop up on the camera screen, my motivation sores (for real). The thirty minutes flies by, I say that with full sincerity and when we are finished, the perspective, positivity and pride I feel is indescribable. Then, my favorite part, it going upstairs and making my bulletproof, butter coffee and sipping it while I read the comments back from those who were on with me live. Sometimes I get a few minutes of quiet before my kids wake up and other days I drink coffee over their warm little bodies and have a good morning cuddle on the couch. I never thought I would say this, but I love my mornings more then I ever thought a person could. I get asked all the time if I’ll always do the workouts myself at 5:30 am and all I can say to that right now is, I hope so. As long as I can, I hope so.


To find out more about doTERRA essential oils and where you can purchase my morning staples, you can visit here: