Looking back on 2010

This past year has been an interesting one. Full of new knowledge, and new friends. Eye-opening things have happened, and I have been learning and adapting as best I can.

Accomplishments:
  1. Got married. August 31, 2010 was the first day of my married life, and despite having ups and downs things have been quite fantastic.
  2. Rediscovered my love of writing. As you can see by the fact that I have been writing regularly, and I’m writing longer and more in-depth pieces, this is very true. Not to mention that I have been dabbling slightly in creative and fictional writing.
  3. Began on the path of conscious living. Who knew that this would be a goal of mine? I guess you never know how unconsciously you’re living until your eyes are opened. No looking back now!
  4. Got a new job. Working at a desk has allowed me the financial freedom to relax about bills, and also to look deeper into what we’re paying for and why. It also provides me the time to do quite a bit of reading and writing, much to my benefit (and hopefully yours as well)
  5. Became vegetarian (again). Much to the majority of my family’s chagrin, I’ve gone back to eating vegetarian. Despite arguments that I don’t get enough protein (ha!) and that I have no energy, I feel fresh and energetic. I can also feel it immediately when I need to refuel with some real sources of energy.
  6. Discovered compassionate parenting and attachment parenting. If only I had found these sooner, perhaps some issues would not have escalated so much. Hindsight is 20/20, and I intend to look forward and make each day worth it for myself, my wife, and my daughter.
  7. Began forgiving those who have hurt me. It’s a hard path, but it’s worth it.
  8. Treat others, including my family, as real people who deserve to be treated as such. For many years, I treated most of the people around me how others were treating me, which usually wasn’t very well. I was mean to my mother, ignored my brother, was rude to my friends, the list goes on. Forgiveness goes both ways, and I have forgiven those who wronged me, as well as forgiven myself for acting like such a jerk. Moving forwards is the only way left.
  9. Gained more confidence in myself. I feel more empowered and that the words I say have real meaning. When I say no to someone, I really mean it. I am still occasionally bullied into doing things I don’t want to, but am becoming more aware of it each time.
  10. Relaxed. Life had been so stressful for so long and mostly because I let it be that way. I have learned to relax, and take things as they are. Learning that there are some things that I can not change has been helpful, as is learning that I don’t have to be in control of everything to enjoy life.

There have been a few things that did not go according to plan, but it turns out that they weren’t even that important. I look forward to the next year where I will be expanding on what I’ve learned and experienced, and becoming even more of an awakened person than this past year.

Peace and serenity,

Simply Me

5 tips for easy relaxation

With the holidays having just passed us, and a large many people feeling the effects of stress and frustration, it’s time to share a few tips on how to relax. Stress can easily take its toll on the body, causing a deterioration of both body and mind. Fight the effects of stress with these easy tips:
  1. Take a breath. A deep breath. Now exhale. Deep breathing is one of the easiest and most effective ways to convince your body to release any stress. When you breathe into you abdomen and allow the air to fill you up, you are maximizing oxygen. It is also possible to practice deep breathing anywhere and anytime.
  2. Give yourself five minutes to do whatever you want. Read a page in a book, wash your face, or take a quick walk around your house/neighbourhood to stretch your legs. Just as long as it’s something for yourself.
  3. Drink something warm and non-caffeinated and enjoy the flavour. Enjoy the warmth and relaxation of the steam as it wafts into your face as you take each sip. Drinking a warm, soothing drink forces you to take your time and enjoy what you are ingesting, and taking your time will allow you time to release your thoughts.
  4. Turn on your favourite song and just sit and listen to it. Remember why you like this song, and think about what memories it brings back to you. Music has the ability to impress its energy upon us, so if you are trying to relax try to choose a calmer more relaxing song instead of a more upbeat one.
  5. Do something physical, get your blood moving. It will release endorphins, which will relax you from the chemical side. This can be a way to release and let go of stress or anger without inflicting it onto anyone else. This works particularly well if you do it outside, as the fresh air has a rejuvenating sensation and the sunlight can assist in resetting priorities. 
By taking the time to accept that you are stressed, and taking the steps to soothe your mind, you are taking control of your own life. Try to do at least one relaxing thing per day, and you will notice the benefits.

What do you do to relax, either at the start, middle, or end of your day?

Peace and serenity,

Simply Me

Welcome back!

I trust you all had a great holiday, and a festive Christmas? I'm going back to work tomorrow after a wonderful four and a half day weekend. I've also been sleeping way too much, but it's kind of a nice change.

As of tomorrow we'll be back to our regularly scheduled program, and I look forward to hearing what everyone plans to do for January and in the New Year! I may not be the best for New Year's Resolutions, but I think I'm going to try anyways. General goals, of course, something simple to start off with.

I spent most of Christmas with my parents, opening gifts, and sharing laughs. My daughter got a lot of very useful and fun things that I'm sure she will enjoy for a long time. She got a new pair of fuzzy slippers, which is great because our apartment is still freezing this year! Turns out, we don't even get to control the heat! So while they claim we're sitting at 20 degrees Celsius, my thermometer is telling me it's at 18, and that's at waist height. The floor is even colder.

What fun Christmas stories do you have to share? I look forward to hearing and reading all about them.

Peace and serenity,

Simply Me

Random acts of kindness

What is the simplest way to brighten someone’s day, along with your own? Do something nice for a stranger. Or a friend. Or even the cashier at the grocery store or fast food restaurant that you frequent.

Complete a random act of kindness. These acts, contrary to popular belief, do not require the use of copious amounts of cash, if any. They can be as simple as helping someone carry their bag/books, opening the door for the person walking behind you, or sharing some homemade cookies/treats.

Nothing says ‘I think you’re important’ like a homemade cookie. Bring in an extra dozen and share them with your coworkers.

There isn’t much nicer to me when I’m walking through a building and someone who is going through the door stops and holds it open for me. They don’t know me, they have no real reason to do so, but they do it anyways. Random act of kindness.

To those who receive a random act of kindness, always always always say thank you! It is incredibly rude to not voice appreciation when someone does something nice for you. Whether you asked for it or not is irrelevant, spread the good cheer and thank them.

Maybe you’ll even pay it forward! Spread the joy from one person to the next by passing on good deeds to those around you.

Smile at strangers.

If someone drops something, on the sidewalk, bus, road, in a car, etc, tell them. You could even pick it up and hand it to them.

Let others know when they have dirt/food/newspaper smudges/lipstick on their face/teeth, because chances are they don’t know about it!

Think of things that you would like others to do for you, and start doing them for others! Positivity starts within, and so does kindness.

Guest Post: Greening Your Closet the Frugal Way

The following post is from a wonderful woman named Lisa Shoreland who offered to write this very detailed and in depth article about clothing. She is an experienced writer who recently had an epiphany on her consumer-based lifestyle and has begun looking at her life differently. Help me to support her in this, and share any other tips you may have regarding this subject.

Green is the new black on the runway, but most of us can’t afford what we see within ten miles of a fashion show. There are cheap ways you can make your closet more eco-conscious, however, and here’s why you should.

Cotton Is Deadly

Over 60% of the clothes we buy are made of it, but 150g of pesticides and fertilizers goes into cultivating enough cotton for just one adult-sized t-shirt. More than 8,000 chemicals bleach and dye the cotton after cultivation before it hits stores. By the way, just one drop of the pesticides used in making this t-shirt in your blood stream would kill you.

It ends up killing lots of people, in fact—and not the buyers. Over 75% of our cotton is cultivated in developing countries where workers can’t afford safety equipment, which means 20,000 workers die annually from pesticides used in cotton production alone.

Sweatshops Are No Secrets

After cultivation, 20 million people (most of them underprivileged women and children who earn as little as 8 cents USD an hour) work to manufacture the cotton into clothing, towels, underwear, and the like. They have no access to education, they have a family to send money to, and they work in unhealthy and horrendous environments that frequently cause complications leading to death.

Reports were leaked in 2008 that Victoria’s Secret subcontracts a sweatshop in Jordan whose Bangledeshi workers were “slapped and beaten, not paid their full overtime pay and labored from 7 a.m. to as late as 10 p.m., seven days a week with one day off every three of four months.”

Sadly, Victoria’s Secret isn’t alone; almost everything sold in stores today are made in sweatshops with little better conditions. The average short-sleeve t-shirt from American Apparel, a company which manufactures its products in downtown L.A. by fairly paid workers, will generally set you back anywhere between $10 and $20. You can get three t-shirts from WalMart for that price. Add “organic cotton” to that fair trade t-shirt and you’re looking at a price between $15 and $30 per shirt. Small wonder why: safety and dignity cost money.

Consuming, Polluting, Wasting

With all the suffering that goes into one t-shirt, you’d think we’d treat our closet like gold. Both in 2009 and 2010, however, the average American spent over $1,000 on clothing. The average American also throws away about 70 lbs of clothing and textiles away annually.

The question, then, is this: how much suffering is your money worth?

Alternatively, how much would you pay to destroy the ecosystem? By throwing away 70 lbs of non-organic fabric clothing in landfills annually, we are polluting the soil and our water systems with the very same toxins that go into them during the manufacturing process.

The Alternative

But enough with the drama. Many people simply don’t know about the chemical processes of the clothing industry and that children not much older than our own are working day and night so they can eat. Others don’t care.

I was such a person up until this year (really). I used to shrug and say, “If not them, then who? Somebody’s got to do it.”

That changed when I heard not long after New Year’s 2010 that my underwear and clothing godsend Victoria’s Secret was responsible for the abuse of hundreds of underprivileged workers. This was around the same time that I watched the BBC series “Blood, Sweat, and T-Shirts” on the Web. The two forces effectively K.O.-ed my spending habits. It dawned on me that my closet was full of biologically and ecologically harmful chemicals and the blood, sweat, and tears of disadvantaged people. I was a cog in the clothing industry’s machine, a useful tool in the perpetuation of profit and misery.

I was done. I am proud to say that I donated all clothes I would have otherwise thrown away and spent a total of $10 in 2010 on apparel (it was spent in a CVS of all places, when my two-year old pair of sandals finally broke and I was miles from home). Obviously, I can’t survive forever on the clothes I have now. I won’t be a size Small when I’m pregnant and I doubt I’ll be wearing sweater dresses and boots when I’m 80.
When I do get new clothes, however, I’ll be going down a different path this time.


  • Buy from secondhand stores like your local PTA Thrift Shop (but don’t support Salvation Army; see previous post for more). There’s no shame in going secondhand—it keeps old clothes in circulation, which means less chemicals in our earth. Plus, vintage is always in.
  • If you must buy new, buy organic and fair trade. Look for the fair trade logo, and don’t cheap out on organic cotton if you've got a newborn baby in the house. A baby’s skin is much more sensitive than ours.
  • Recycle old clothes or swap them with friends to add variety to your wardrobe. You can try your hand at DIY to remodel old clothes into new things, like a pair of underwear made out of your favorite old t-shirt , a cute bag made out of Dad’s old ties, or a reusable shopping bag made out of your hubby’s shirt. Remember, reuse, upcycle, and recycle are still keywords when it comes to your closet!

Where Does the Frugal Part Come In?

  • Remember that if you document the prices clothing you donate, you can write it off your taxes.
  • Buying vintage often means buying cheap.
  • Swapping, recycling, and upcycling are free! These combined will more than make up for the monetary cost of buying organic.


Bio: Lisa Shoreland is currently a resident blogger at Go college, where recently she's been researching Nursing Scholarships and blogging about student life. In her spare time, she enjoys creative writing and hogging her boyfriend’s PlayStation 3. To keep her sanity she enjoys practicing martial arts and bringing home abandon animals.

Did you like what you read here? Let me know, and I will pass it on to Lisa. If you have any other comments about clothing and it's effect on the world, please share them below. A huge thank you to Lisa for writing this very well-paced and well-informed piece.


Peace and serenity,

Simply Me

Passion and your job

What in your life is so precious that you wouldn’t change your lifestyle because of it? Is there something in your life that is holding you back from reaching for your passion?

Do you think there’s no point in finding a job you enjoy? Do you feel that it isn’t worth it to pursue your passion because, after all, a job is just a job? Do you believe that the majority of your waking time should be spent doing something that you don’t even enjoy and provides no satisfaction?

Can you honestly tell me that you are following your passion and living to your best by staying in a job that not only does not satisfy, but may even contradict your own morals and beliefs? Why does a purpose matter?

By being true to yourself, and being honest about how you think your time should be spent, you open up more doors than you could ever imagine. Physical belongings are not permanent. Where we live, what we eat, our d├ęcor and our entertainment, these things are all perceived needs.

Sure you need to eat, but do you need to eat the top quality, shipped from across the world food? Or can you look in your area and find local farmers and vendors who are selling food of equal (or greater) quality for a decent price? Or could you take part in a food-share or community supported agriculture (CSA)? This will provide you with fresher foods that are grown close to home and that don’t have miles of airplane or train gasoline attached to their history.

Of course you need somewhere to live, but do you need the five-bedroom, four-bathroom mansion, or the three-bedroom townhouse? Or could you just rent (or own) a small house or apartment that fits you (and whoever lives with you)? If leaving your residence now is not an option, there are plenty of people looking to rent a room. This would provide you with extra cash in pocket while keeping your residence.

Entertainment is what you make it. Having every cable channel is not going to make your life more satisfying (it may even be a huge detriment to your life and health). Adding on every possible unlimited plan on your phone because “you never know” if you’re going to talk for 2500 minutes in one month (highly doubt it!) just wastes money because you’re paying for benefits that you’ll never use. Subscribing to “On Demand” for every show you want to watch that isn’t on your regular channels is a waste of money; instead consider watching your shows on your computer (project-free-tv) for FREE! Or you could even sign up for NetFlix , where you can stream videos and TV shows onto your computer for somewhere around 9$ a month.
This is a classic situation where many self proclaimed ‘realists’ will be quick to jump on. They constantly cite it as an example to justify (to themselves or others) why they are staying on in a passionless job they do not feel strongly about. They keep lauding about earning money, having to pay bills, living up to responsibilities, etc without any seeming end point. They harp on how they are not pursuing their passion because it will lead to nowhere. They advocate staying on in their current path as the ‘safer’, ‘more practical’ route.” (source: http://celestinechua.com/blog/pursuing-your-passion-with-no-money/)
Are you allowing your fears to hold you back? Do you let what other people think you should be doing affect what you are doing? By allowing those around you to dictate your life, you release any and all control that you have over your life choices. It’s time to take it back. Your life is yours to live, not for others to live vicariously through you.

Simply because someone else succeeded at doing one thing does not mean that it is the right thing for you to be doing. Each person, no matter what they’re lot in life, has the potential to do something great. Something that means more to them than anyone else. All it takes is to look for what that something is, and go for it.
Maybe you can only pursue your passion for an hour or so a day right now, maybe more. Every single moment that you put towards your goal puts you that much closer to satisfaction. The 5 minutes, or 5 hours, that you put towards doing what makes you feel fulfilled will create more than just satisfaction, you will be sharing your love and your passion with the world. By sharing, you will also find others who share your passion, and it will only snowball from there.

Don’t know what your passion is? Try this exercise at Steve Pavlina’s site: How To Discover Your Life Purpose.It may take longer than 20 minutes, as he mentions. If you’re really stubborn it could take an hour or five. But stick to it, and you will not be disappointed. Let loose, free your mind, and discover what your subconscious has hidden away.

By discovering what it is that you truly want to do in life, and discovering a way to benefit from it financially as well as emotionally and psychologically, you will open your eyes and mind to the beauty of this world.
There is a point to enjoying your job. That point is happiness, satisfaction and contentment. How can you be content if you spend 8 hours a day doing things you don’t enjoy, which gives you no satisfaction to completing it? Simple answer, you probably can’t. So find your passion, find something that truly inspires you, and go for it.

Peace and serenity,

Simply Me

Compassionate Parenting: Needs Explained - Autonomy

Autonomy: Independence or freedom, as of the will or one’s actions. Freedom to determine one’s own actions, behaviour, etc.

Based on this definition, it is a fairly important emotional need that may not even be recognized as a need. The ability and willingness to have and exert personal actions or choices creates the feeling of independence.

A child who is not given any freedoms and is expected to fully conform will have no real understanding of their own ability to make decisions. As the child becomes a teenager, they will be thrust into a world where they must make their own decisions and are expected to be able to make educated choices. If this child has not learned through action how to make educated decisions, and then how to act upon them, how can that child be expected to succeed?

Assisted autonomy in other adults

Allow those around you to make their own decisions and choose their own methods for their actions and behaviours. Trust in them to make decisions, and if that doesn’t end well ensure that the issues that arose are discussed. That way they learn from the experience and will be more capable of making an informed choice the next time it comes up.

By discussing the issues that arise when complications with someone else’s, or your own, decision, you open the door for constructive assistance and avoid judgment. The other person will be more capable of trusting your judgment and will be less afraid to make mistakes knowing that someone will be there to help them.

Assisted autonomy in children

In a child, the ability to have a choice in a matter is of utmost importance. They relish in being able to choose between wearing the red or green shirt, in being able to decide if they want cheese or no cheese in their sandwich, in being able to decide to help mom with the laundry.

They may not make the choice you would have made. Maybe you would have chosen the red shirt, but they want to wear the green one. Regardless of whether or not it clashes with their pants, that shirt is the one they chose. If you take back your word now and tell them they must wear the red shirt, they will feel defeated and helpless. The child may feel that their choice was not good enough, or that they are unworthy of making their own decisions.

Once the child makes their choice, let them follow it through. If it doesn’t end well, don’t be there just to shake your finger and tell them “I told you so” because that will not help them. If it doesn’t end well, be there to tell them that it is okay to make mistakes, and that it is okay to try something different. Because it is okay to make mistakes and try something different. That is how we as humans learn.

Small victories lead to bigger goals

The faith in oneself to make a decision, see it through, and then assess the results will invariably lead to the faith to then make bigger decisions. Bigger decisions that can be goals, either short- or long-term, that are essential to testing ones own limits and deepening the sense of self-confidence and self-trust.

The capability to create realistic goals that bolster and solidify self-confidence comes in having the confidence to make decisions. If a person can not honestly believe in themselves to make smaller decisions that will not affect their current lifestyle or future, how can they be expected to have the confidence to make goals or have dreams that can affect their current lifestyle or future?

Creating goals and having dreams is also essential to developing strong and positive personal and ethical values. Sticking to values if you have no confidence in your own choices and decisions can be virtually impossible, and can destroy the feeling of integrity. It is a downward spiral that can easily be stopped in childhood, and challenging but possible to stop into adulthood.

Peace and serenity,

Simply Me

Enjoy the Compassionate Parenting series? Click the link for a full list from the series.

Compassionate Parenting: Time In

Feelings are messengers of met and unmet needs.


Next time you are feeling anxious or upset, take a Time In -- close your eyes and acknowledge the feelings that are arising in you. Identify them and listen quietly for the need behind them.


When you know what the need(s) is (are), don't rush to determine what to do about it. Be patient. A strategy is likely to come to mind without effort.

This quote doesn't even mention children or parenting, because it applies to everyone. Everyone feels emotions, and sometimes they can be overwhelming. When you take a Time In and assess the feelings and the needs behind them, you can acheive a small level of control and feel as though you are not just letting everything out.

I will be going over the individual emotional needs experienced and required for each and every person in the near future, but for a quick refresher you can find the chart on my previous Compassionate Parenting post about meeting needs.

Taking a time in

This can be incredibly challenging, regardless of your family situation because people are raised these days to think that taking any time for yourself is selfish. I am here to tell you that it is the opposite of selfish.

You may have heard the quote "Before you can truly love somebody, you must learn to love yourself." Or at least some paraphrasing or off-shoot of that. It's true. If you can not find it in yourself to care and love your own person, you will be very hard-pressed to find the capability to love someone else.

Take time to yourself, a time in as it were, to learn more about yourself. Use this time, even if it's only five minutes, to familiarize yourself with your feelings and your wants. Your needs. Make a list of things you want to accomplish for yourself and for each one write a little blurb on a few ways you can achieve it.

It is not selfish to take care of your own needs

If your needs are unmet, you can feel angry, embarrassed, frustrated, lonely, nervous, sad, and even puzzled. This is only the tip of the iceberg of then negative feelings you will get when your needs are not fulfilled.

Not only this, but because of the negative feelings that will begin to overwhelm your mind and body you will be less and less capable of taking care of the needs of those around you. It will be a constant downward spiral until you make it stop.

Methods

A few things you can do when life gets overwhelming are as follows:

• Listen to a favourite song
• Write a poem
• Punch pillows
• Take a bubble (or no-bubble) bath
• Have a shower
• Drink a cup of herbal tea
• Go for a walk in your neighbourhood
• Smell some flowers
• Read a page or two of a book

The list goes on. Whatever helps you or your child to calm down inside while acknowledging that there are overwhelming feelings there will work wonders.

Accept that there are some things you can not change. You can not stop the earth from turning, and you can not stop a child from being energetic. Use these unchangeable situations to create something positive and magical.

Wait for a strategy

Now that your mind has been put a little bit to ease, relax in a comfortable chair and let your thoughts wander. Focus on one need that is not being fulfilled, and consider the different possibilities of why it is being left behind.

Think of the little and big things that are affecting that need being met. Create and imagine a few steps to work towards eliminating the emotional and physical roadblocks of that need being met.

Let your mind wander and solutions will come. Don’t be afraid of them, or try to shoot them down as they come. Just write down each idea as it comes to you, no matter how strange or obtuse it seems. You can worry about filtering out unrealistic ones after. Just allow your mind to do its work and don’t try to restrain it.

Once your mind has thrown out all the ideas that it can come up with in that moment, it’s time to let the list sit for a moment. Go make a cup of coffee or tea, take a little walk, and just step away from the list for a minimum of two minutes.

When you come back, you will have cleared your mind again, and you can take up the task of rereading your list. Cross out the ideas that truly can not be completed and put asterisks beside the ones you aren’t sure about. The ones you are sure can be completed with minimal effort or strain should be done first, as they will be the easiest and will yield the quickest response on your needs.

Write out any additional information for the ideas that you plan on completing, any little notes to yourself that you want to emphasize, or particular people you’d like to speak with regarding this. Anything that will make it easier for you to take control of your personal needs should be added.

Then get up, go out, and complete one of those tasks. It will be worth it immediately, and it will prevent you from procrastinating. Get it done, and reap the benefits!


Peace and serenity,

Simply Me

Enjoy the Compassionate Parenting series? Click the link for a full list from the series.

Last night's Christmas concert

My daughter's Christmas concert at her daycare was last night. It was amazing. This is the third one she has been a part of, and the third one I have attended. She was so excited for this night to come for around two weeks!

First it opened up with all the kids (all 82 of them!) together and they sang Away in a Manger. It was well done, the kids had full arm movements, and they did a great job!

Next up was the toddlers, who didn't really seem overly interested in being there, most of them just stood there and stared. They ‘performed’ Jingle Bells, and by performed, I mean they were holding bells and shaking them while the daycare teachers sang the song. Much to be expected, it was probably all of those kids' first time being in front of all those people.

Preschoolers took the stage next, and they were a little bit more into it. They did a rewrite of The Wheels on the Bus that was attuned for Christmas time. There were a few who were really belting it out and grooving, and a couple that just stood there defiantly. Good on them all for getting up there and doing their thing.

Kindergarteners were up next, and pretty much all of them took part and participated. They did the Alvin and the Chipmunks Christmas Song (I’m sure you know it!) and there was one other song but it is slipping my mind right now. This is where E was last year and this is where the little boy we babysit, Z, was this year.

Finally, the school-aged kids! The grade one kids did a rendition/rewrite of Jingle Bells that related to school (Ring the bells). It was very cute, and very well done. They all stood up there (including E!) and just sang their little hearts out. Next all of the school-aged kids (I believe the oldest is around 9 or 10) sang a version of the 12 Days of Christmas. It was from a kid’s perspective, so none of this partridge in a pear tree junk. It was a 'brand new game for my Wii' etcetera.

All in all it was a great time. E had a blast, and played with a bunch of her friends. A lot of the children were running around screaming, recklessly. It made me kind of sad that their parents didn't really care that they were disturbing other people. But E sat and ate nicely with her friends K and M and the other two girls (K and M) were fun to be with. M also decided I was a jungle gym, and literally climbed up onto my shoulders. Luckily she's only 3, so she wasn't that heavy. I was pretty impressed at her climbing skills!

It was a fun night, an eventful night, and good food was shared.

What happy Christmas memories have you created so far?

Peace and serenity,
 
Simply Me

Merry Christmas or Happy Holidays?

Disclaimer: This is a rant, and it will be very opinionated. If you disagree, I respect that. But don't disrespect me by saying my opinion isn't valid, or I will be forced to delete your comment. If you agree, fantastic, I respect that too. Much love.

I will begin by saying it straight out: I am not Christian. I do not believe in Jesus. If you do, good for you and I hope that your faith will get you through the harder times in life. But I am not you. I consider myself a spiritual agnostic. Don't try to search it or look it up on Wikipedia. I made it up, and it covers my beliefs pretty well.

Note: apparently others have thought of it, though their concept of spiritual agnosticism is different than my own

However, I do celebrate Christmas. I love Christmas. It is, without contest, my favourite holiday. It's not the gifts, or the spending money, or the unwrapping of whatever interesting or unique knick-knacks I may receive. It's not even Santa Claus, elves, and all the other fairy tale stuff that makes it magical. It's the family time.

Every Christmas, I spend the day with my parents. Every year, even when I was not living with them, on December the 25th, I would go over to their house and spend the day there. Sometimes my paternal grandmother would be there, sometimes not. Sometimes my aunt on my dad's side would be there, sometimes not. But my parents were ALWAYS there.

Every Boxing Day, I spend the day with my extended family on my mom's side. All 23-or-so of us cram ourselves into whichever house is volunteered for it and spend the day together. We open gifts, we talk amongst each other, we eat. If I didn't go one year, I'm pretty sure my maternal grandmother would whoop my ass, and I would stand there and take it.

But lately, as many of you may have heard, it is no longer 'correct' to say Merry Christmas. Because god help us if we say Merry Christmas to someone of the Jewish, Islamic, Pagan, etc faith. It's an attack on their faith.

I'm sorry, but if I celebrate Christmas, I will be saying Merry Christmas. If I celebrated Hannukah, or Kwanzaa, or Yule, I would expect that people would not be offended by wishing them a joyous Hannukah, or Kwanzaa, or Yule. If you get offended by people who say Merry Christmas, you are insecure in your own faith.

Getting offended at someone wishing you a happy holiday that you do not celebrate is like getting offended when someone asks you if someone of the same gender (if you're straight) or different gender (if you're gay) is attractive. If you can't say that someone else is attractive without being uncomfortable and offended, then you are not secure in your sexuality. Just admit it.

I will say it again, I am not Christian. I celebrate Christmas for what it means to me. I am also gay, but I can tell others that I find men attractive, even if I would never attempt to bed or try to attract one. I am secure in my faith and spirituality as I am secure in my sexuality.

If you say Happy Hannukah to me, I will assume that it is your religion and your holiday that you are following, and I will say Happy Hannukah back to you. Because I respect your choice in religion and holiday.

If you say Happy Kwanzaa to me, I will assume that it is your religion and your holiday that you are following, and I will say Happy Kwanzaa back to you. Because I respect your choice in religion and holiday.

If I say Merry Christmas to you, just say it back. Or reply with the holiday of your personal choice. (example: I say "Merry Christmas" you reply "Happy Hannukah" back. It's not challenging.) I am wishing you well in the festive season and holiday of my choice, and trying to show a level of respect in myself. If you don't respect my choice, then don't say anything back. Don't be snarky, that's just disrespectful and rude.

Saying Happy Holidays, however 'all encompassing' is insulting to me.
  1. First of all, you are releasing your own conviction and system of beliefs for fear of insulting or offending people. No matter what you do in life, people will be offended at it. There's nothing you can do about it. Just be yourself and those who respect truth and honesty with come to you.
  2. Secondly, most people don't celebrate "holidays" they celebrate Christmas/Hannukah/Kwanzaa/Yule/etc. Generalizing is discrimination and prejudice. If you don't believe it, start generalizing about a group of people and see if they appreciate it.
  3. Thirdly, and finally, most of the 'holiday season' holidays do not overlap. Occasionally they do, but for the most part they are stand-alone. (example: Hannukah started on December 1 and ended December 9, Kwanzaa December 26 til January 1, Yule December 21 in the northern hemisphere and June 21 in the southern hemisphere.) Not even close!
Also, the song is "We wish you a Merry Christmas and a happy New Year." Do you want to change a Christmas carol to "We wish you a Happy Holidays and a happy New Year"? I'd be pretty peeved personally.

It is a holiday season, but my holiday is Christmas. If you want me to respect your choices and your beliefs, then show some to me. Because I have nothing against other religions or holidays. Just because they are not my choice does not make them invalid to me.

Open your heart and accept the love that people are trying to share with you.

Peace and serenity,

Simply Me

Inspiration

Finding your own inspiration is easier than you may think. for me, I can do one of the following for inspiration.

For inspiration to write non-fiction
I may read acticles or other informative sources on the subject of interest.
I may think of a topic to write about, and then just write out my opinion of the subject.

These two things give me a concrete starting point and open the door to add more information as it comes up.

For inspiration to write fiction
I may read a novel (or three) from the genre I want to write about
For the novel I started for NaNoWriMo, I was reading Robert Jordan's "Wheel of Time" series. It is a very different and unique perspective on the fantasy genre and it really piqued my interest
I may listen to upbeat music
A lot of people can listen to music with no lyrics to hype up ttheir creative energy. Personally, I can't focus on anything to 98% of wordless music. I'll just play anything upbeat. My playlist right now includes Glee, Adam Lambert, Lady Gaga, and many many others. It keeps my mind active and since I only listen to it passively the lyrics don't end up in my work.
This works with some non-fiction as well, but it depends more on the subject.
For other important things that involve action

Usually I really have to think of what I call a "consequence worksheet." This is rarely actually a 'worksheet' in that it is usually in my head and not written down or typed up. I will pick an action that I want to do, for example: yoga, and I work out the positive and negative repercussions of completing or not completing the action.
I have only begun doing this consciously recently and I am still experimenting with following through on optional consequences.

Other things I do to stay inspired

I will write out lists of thoughts and ideas, often giving each individual thought at least two full pages for full expression.
I am trying to meditate and expand my abilities of this skill. I am told it is learnable, so I try it. It does seem to help.
I also will talk to my wife. I will confess that many posts, musings, and rambles are based on conversations that her and I have had that cause the ideas and words to bubble around in my mind until I express them through the written word.

What do you do to inspire yourself? It can be for something as simple as getting up in the morning and eating breakfast. Or something as complex as bringing yourself to start programming a huge computer program. Or anything in between.

What keeps you going when you don't want to do anything?

Peace and serenity,

Simply Me

Things my kid says: Plastic is bad for the environment

Dressed up in hand-me-down clothes, so cute!
In asking my 6 year old daughter on Friday as we were getting ready to go to daycare what she wanted for Christmas, she replied, "I don't know." That in itself was adorable. So I continued and asked her if she wanted new books. "Yes." Was the simple answer I received. Then I asked her if she wanted some new dolls. "No mommy." Curious, as I know she loves dolls, I asked, "Why not? I thought you liked dolls."

To which she replied, as though it were the most obvious thing in the world,

"I do like dolls, but they're made of plastic and that's bad for the environment."





Powerful stuff, I'm very proud of her. I have never once told her that her dolls were cheap plastic from foreign countries, or that they were made of a material that takes tens of thousands of years to decompose.

She recently began learning about materials, and what things are made of. So we were talking about it at home about a week ago, and she asked what plastic was. I told her [paraphrased] that plastic was made of oil and is bad for the environment. I told her that it kills animals if they eat it and that it is taking over the ocean.

She thought on that for a few moments, somberly, and then looked at me and asked, "what is made of plastic?" I told her, many things are made of plastic, and M and I make the choice not to buy them as much as possible.

She seemed content with that.

She put together on her own that her dolls were made of plastic and that she didn't want any new ones.

I am so proud of her. She can form independant thought and deduct information from many sources. I have never lied to her about where things come from, and she understands as much as she can about where her food and clothing comes from. Each time she asks me a question, I provide her an honest, age-appropriate answer.

Some might think that my answers are not age-appropriate, but I think that I know my daughter and her level of understanding better than pretty much everyone else. I know I can be candid and honest with her, and I know that if I take my time to explain new things, she will understand them.

She knows that she can ask me just about anything and I will give her an answer.

That is something I am proud of, and will continue to be proud of.

Peace and serenity,

Simply Me

Monday Musing: Gifts

What does Christmas mean to you? That is what today's musing is all about. I confess, I do celebrate Christian holidays. It's the way I was raised, and my family is centred about them. I believe most of them are Christian, though I'm not sure that they actually go to church... anyways, I digress.

Christmas, to me, is about family. It's about spending time with loved ones and sharing a meal. Full of meaningful discussion, yes. Occasional personal attacks that were not intentioned to be hurtful, absolutely. That is only part of what makes my family so exceptional.

There is one thing that I don't agree with them on, at least as it relates to the Christmas-gift-giving-ness. That is, children under 18 get gifts no matter what. Teens/adults/etc above 18 get something if something happens to catch someone's eye.

Why do I not agree with this? Kids get enough crap. That's why. Children and tweens and teens almost always get more crap/stuff/junk/paraphernalia than they will ever have use for. Most of which is fad-based or advertisement-based.

I will let you in on a secret... I didn't buy any of my younger cousins any gifts this year. I bought a little something for each adult though. Why? Because they are just as important as their children, and yet they are left out year after year in lieu of garbage gifts for their children. (Disclaimer: if any of my family members reads this, not all of the gifts are garbage... but some of them are)

When kids get everything they ask for, and other assorted advertised big name junk... they expect it next time. They don't respect the meaning behind the gifts, or the thought that goes into them.

Now, I may be making my cousins sound like spoiled little brats. They aren't, at least not all the time. Every kid acts like a brat sometimes, and I was no exception. But feeding that attitude will only make it worse. So when you're buying for younger children, you don't have to skimp or give them gifts they won't enjoy just because they're 'eco-friendly'.

But buy something that they will enjoy, something that will force them to want to use their brain but keep them interested at the same time. If you're not sure what that is, talk to them. Ask them what they like. Then ask why they like it, or what kinds of games they can play with it. If it's a doll, ask them how they see that doll and what kinds of scenes can they imagine the doll in.

Dig deeper and you will provide more meaningful gifts.

Handmade cards with thoughtful words in them always help. Cards just get chucked the week after Christmas by most people anyways, put some thought into them and at least the thought will be remembered.

Peace and serenity

Simply Me

Enjoy the Monday Musing series? Here's the rest of the posts:
Gardens
Happy thoughts
Automatic negative reactions
Thanksgiving
Sustainable eating
Contentment
Crutch or reason?
Work

Anger management isn't only for aggressive anger

I have been listening to podcasts about anger management, and recently completed the Anger Survey from whatsgoodaboutanger.com, and it turns out that I have a serious anger problem.

You wouldn’t think it looking at me on a regular day. I don’t snap at people, and I rarely yell or raise my voice. Instead, I tend towards the covert and internal forms of processing anger. I take it out on myself, often, and I can also be (very) passive-aggressive. Sometimes I will do something passive-aggressive and not even realize it because it has become so second nature to me.

I tend to withdraw, pretty badly, when someone does or says something that upsets me. This, at least in part, is because I never learned how to properly process my negative and unproductive emotions and for many years just pushed them aside and pretended they didn’t exist. This is not effective, and now that I am becoming more self-confident the negativity is coming out more and more often.

The anger and negativity just comes up so slowly that I can rarely catch it, and often don’t realize that I am angry until I am almost fuming. In the podcasts I have been listening to, it seems that there are many types of anger.

There is righteous anger, in which an angry and assertive response is not only appropriate, it’s the best (or one of the best) way to resolve that issue. Anger is a natural response to unjust and unfair occurrences, and when it is kept under control can be very helpful. When someone does something wrong, it's very normal and natural to react with immediate feelings of anger. When this happens, you don't want to fly off the handle or make a cruel or hurtful remark, because that won't fix or help anything. Take a moment, maybe a few, to collect your thoughts to determine why you got angry. Then express your sentiments based on facts and personal opinion.

Example: I'm feel hurt that you forgot to meet me for lunch, it really made me feel unimportant. Do you think next time you could give me a call or text message to let me know you might be late?

This expresses your feelings of hurt, betrayal, resentment and insecurity in a calm and easy to understand manner. There are no ways to deny that what happened made you feel a certain way, so using statements based on feelings is a good way to express your hurt without attacking the other person.

I have such a hard time expressing my emotions because it does take me a while to fully process and understand them. Often I will just internalize any hurt feelings and pretend that nothing is wrong. All the while, a violent tempest swirls and grows inside my mind and my heart. I take it out on people who don't deserve it, while those who do deserve it get away with everything. It's frustrating for all involves, apart from those who ticked me off in the first place.

How do you handle your anger? Do you bottle it up, let it slowly leak out towards others, or do you tend to blow up? Or do you actually manage to control your anger to the point that it helps you resolve your issues?

Peace and serenity,

Simply Me

Sleep... or something like it

Sleep is hard to come by right now. I'm not sure why, but no matter how much sleep I get it just isn't satisfying enough. I'm constantly tired. It probably has something to do with the distinct increase in my coffee consumption, but it's just so darn tasty!

The strange thing is I fall asleep very quickly at night. Like, within 5-10 minutes. But I always wake up wanting more sleep. My body is used to waking up at 5am now, which is great because that's when I get up. Unfortunately my mind is still comatose at this point.

I'm trying to figure out how to make it easier to stay awake and coherent in the mornings, because I could be so much more productive in the morning. I could do more writing, do some yoga, make healthier lunches, the list goes on. I just can't think of anything that will help my mind wake up when my body does.

Does anyone else have this problem?

I actually can't sleep in past 8am, not even on weekends. Not even if I stay awake until past midnight. I am an anomaly, I think. I hope not.


The change in seasons seems to be what is exacerbating it, but I'm not sure on how to go about rectifying this. I don't have a dawn simulator (but I want one!) and I don't know any other ways to convince your mind it's time to wake up.

Chamomile tea is delicious, unfortunately it doesn't make me sleepy. So I look forward to hearing some insight and tips, because I am pretty much at a loss and getting more and more incoherent as the days go by.

What do you do when you find that your sleep just isn't cutting it? Care to share some tips? I've read countless "top five tips for better sleep" and "natural remedies for insomnia" articles, and I just can't seem to find anything that actually works.

Peace and serenity,

Simply Me

Guest Post: Seven Steps toward Greener Pets

In a first for Simply Green, we have a wonderful guest post from Jean Dion, a wonderful pet and animal lover who cares about the environment and compassion towards other living things. She loves animals and writing (much like me!) and has offered very sweetly to contribute this very insightful piece to those of you who enjoy reading my posts. So enjoy, let me know what you think, and if you love animals pop on over to her site and read her very helpful and insightful posts.

Having companion animals can be hard on the environment. Taking a few simple steps can help you reduce the impact of your pets.

  1. Reduce your passive energy consumption. Look around your home for items you keep plugged in for your animals. I have removed an automatic scooping litter box, a kitty water fountain and an automatic pet feeder from the grid at my house. This means I must wash the pet dishes and clean out the cat box every day, and remember to feed my pets at the same time each day, but I have also reduced my drain on the grid.
  2. Spay and neuter your pets. Consider the number of animals that are euthanized every day at animal shelters or given away on Craigslist, Kijiji or even local newspaper classifieds. Most of these animals are adults, thrown away when they were no longer cute and cuddly babies. You can reduce this waste and cut down on pet overpopulation by making sure your own pets do not reproduce.
  3. Purchase environmentally friendly cat litter. Many commercial cat litters are made with sodium bentonite, which is harvested in disastrous ways. You can read more here. I have recently switched my cats to World's Best Cat Litter, made of corn. My cats are still transitioning to this cat litter, and it is a bit of a struggle, but the benefits are well worth the work.
  4. Purchase biodegradable pickup bags for your dog. It's always bothered me to see people placing a biodegradable substance (poop) in a perfect, plastic coffin. Biodegradable bags solve that problem. You can buy them here.
  5. Put a bell on your cats, if they go outside. Cats left outside can decimate local bird populations, and cats will kill birds regardless of the food you leave out for them. If it is at all possible, leave your cats indoors. (I do not advocate a cat-inside-only existence only because doing so would be hypocritical. I have three feral outdoor-only cats.)
  6. Purchase durable dog toys. Most dogs, if given half the chance, will rip the heads and arms right off a toy in order to get to the poly filling. Many owners will then toss these toys right in the landfill. Before buying a toy, try to pull it apart yourself. If your dog is a power chewer, only allow him to play with the toy for a short period of time before you remove the toy. My pug, Liam, loves to destroy toys. I repair them. This explains why his toys all look like mutants.
  7. Research your pet food. Look for food produced locally, to help cut down on energy costs used in shipping food. If at all possible, make your own food using local, organic ingredients. Do your research and consult with your veterinarian before taking this course, naturally.

All of the topics above were covered in more detail on my blog: dionjean.blogspot.com

Please visit to learn more about how to green up your pets, and to read the day's musings.


A big thank you to Jean Dion for this post, and I hope that the pet owners out there find it helpful! I personally have two pets and they are very near and dear to my heart. I appreciate that each person's opinion and method of caring for their pets in a responsible manner is their own to make, and I hope that these tips are helpful to those who are looking for more information.

If you want more information on homemade pet food, check out Beth Terry's method of making her own cat food with barely any plastic waste.

Of course, reduction may be more important to you in the reference of poop bags. If this is the case, reuse the bags you have or that your family may have collected. You can be sure that people without pets tend to hoard produce bags, bread bags, etc simply because they feel bad throwing them out. If you ask for them for your dog, I would say at least 90% of them would give them to you without blinking.

If you are trying to cut down on your clay consumption (cat litter) and don't want to contribute to non-nutritious forms of corn consumption (corn based cat litter) you could always try potty training your cat, like Mark and Melanie of NoNewPlastic.com

Have any other tips, tricks or ideas on keeping the planet healthy while enjoying the company of pets? Feel free to share them here, or if you don't want your words made public send me an e-mail (or click the Contact Me tab).

Peace and serenity,

Simply Me

Memories

How do you qualify and quantify your memories? Are they in physical objects, such as photos, knick-knacks, old artwork or books?

Focusing on objects of memorabilia, do they bring back pleasant or happy memories? An object that you have in your home should remind you of happiness or at least bring a smile to your face. If it isn’t, it’s time to figure out why you’re still holding onto it.

Negative Memories

Is it guilt over a failed relationship? We’ve all been there, trying to hold onto a relationship, whether platonic or romantic, that just didn’t work despite everything. Don’t hold onto your pain, tell yourself that it’s alright, and let it go.

Do you feel obligated to hold onto it, because it’s from family or a friend, and you don’t want to (or are afraid to) tell them why it’s gone if they ask? If someone truly cares about you and your emotional wellbeing, they probably won’t notice (unless it’s something big) and if they do, they will surely understand. Take the time to talk to people, if you are getting rid of it, explain why or at least tell them that you are passing it on to the less fortunate by donating it. Very few people take offense to the thought that their gift will be enjoyed by more than one person.

No matter the reason that you hold onto these negative or neutral memories, any memory that you are keeping in the form of a physical object should be cherished and appreciated. The objects in your home should represent the love and happiness that you want to surround you.

If you want to rehash the past because you think it will ease your mind, do it! Don’t spend your time planning words that you won’t say. Start slow and use “I” statements. If you want to do this, start with something more recent and probably less painful. Something that was hurtful or negative that you want to resolve before it starts to fester.

Before you approach the source of the negativity, try to rationalize your thoughts and get them in order. Think through what you want to say and how you want to say it. Sort out your thoughts and emotions and write them down. When your words and thoughts are organized, it will be easier to think clearly and express yourself. Then open with an “I” statement:
  • I feel that your words were/are harsh and hurtful
  • I didn’t like how you spoke of
Don’t put bias or judgment in your words, that will only cause hostility and anger and that won’t help to ease your own personal painful memory. Just express the way that you felt/feel and how it affected you without putting any blame on them. It may have been their fault, but accusing them will not make anything better.

Positive Memories

Do you have photos and trinkets around that remind you of positive and happy memories? Sources of good memories can often make or break how you feel about yourself. If you have a lot of reminder of the good things in your life, then when a sadness or depression strikes you will have the power and the tools in your environment to fight it and bounce back easily.

Are there some pieces of memorabilia that you would like to showcase more? Go through what you have out right now and reassess how it makes you feel. Does any of it cause you to feel resentment or frustration? If you have a negative reaction to something you have presented, get rid of it! You don’t deserve to have something in open sight that causes you mental or psychological distress. Surround yourself with the most powerful memories possible and reap the psychological benefits.

Getting rid of weak or negative memories

When going through your possessions, you will likely come across an item that brings back a negative memory. Decide what you are going to do about it. Are you going to hold onto it, or get rid of it? Are you ready to release the memory and the accompanying emotions?
If you plan on keeping it, are you going to put it in the open so that visitors may see it and ask about it, or will you put it away so that you don’t have to look at it? Putting it away will only cause you to push the emotional response from that item down and may cause undue stress, so if you do that I would recommend making a note to yourself to revisit it when you have thought it through and may be in a better position to deal with the item and its accompanying memories.

Having memories surrounding you with good times and pleasant thoughts is always a good thing, but remember to live in the present and not to dwell too much on what has passed. Life is for the living, so remember to experience it while it’s here, and create new happy memories.

Peace and serenity,

Simply Me

Christmas tree is up!

Yes, we put up our Christmas tree. It is an artificial tree around 5 feet tall. It goes together easily and stashes away nicely the rest of the year. The cat thoroughly enjoys trying to climb it and attack us when hidden in the limbs. Unfortunately for her she is a large cat, and she's white. So she doesn't camouflage so well.

The lights are multicoloured and beautiful. Not to mention that they are LED's so on the off chance that they get left on, the hydro bill isn't going to skyrocket. For that I'm happy. Plus they are way less likely to burn out and leave half of the line of lights off. No stresss, no muss, no fuss.

Our decorations are primarily from the dollarstore, and made of plastic. The reason for this is, again the cat. Not to mention the dog (who likes to destroy things by accident) and the child who likes to touch things and tends to have slippery fingers. They will last a while, and that's important right now.

We also have some ornaments that the child made at daycare and school and she is very proud of those. They get placed front and centre on the tree every year, this year is no exception.

What does your Christmas look like?

Peace and serenity,

Simply Me

Adopting Simplicity: Simplify your holidays by adding depth

Holidays are stressful. The United States just had Thanksgiving, which gave way to Black Friday. The mad rush of shopping just to “save” money on great deals. I’ll let you in on a little secret. Your family would much rather spend time with you than get some impersonal gift that you got on sale. I would even wager that a hand-made card that promised an invite for dinner that month would make some of the hardiest of people happy.

Interpersonal relations with friends and family are strained over the holidays, primarily by the fear of giving (and receiving) unwanted and unneeded gifts. Follow this principle, and save yourself the pain and suffering of bad gifts:
Keep
It
Simple,
Stupid!
Now, don’t take this to mean I think you’re stupid. You aren’t. But by following the KISS principle, you have to take the time to think, about things that actually matter to the person you’re giving a gift to. How much money you spend has nothing to do with the actual quality of the gift. The thoughtfulness, however, can make or break a gift.
Personally, my family will mostly be receiving small gifts. If you’re in my family and reading this, just accept it. But know this: each gift is personal and has thought put into it. It may be small, but it’s something that I truly believe you will appreciate. If you appreciate the gift, I will be happy that I succeeded at fulfilling my portion of the holiday spirit. In return, all I want from my family and friends in terms of the holidays is the knowledge that they enjoy my company and think of me occasionally when I’m not around.
If you think that you can’t stop spending money, think about this:

Do you want your gifts to be in the garbage within six months? 90% of gifts purchased (more or less) are trashed within the first year, if not more. Wouldn’t you be happier knowing that the gifts you provide for someone important in your life has a more lasting impression on them and their households?
Take five or ten minutes and jot down the important names. People you really want to connect with this holiday season. Then make a quick one or two sentence blurb about something that the two of you would enjoy doing together.
Now, make it happen! Connections can be built and grown through simple conversation. Don’t be afraid of expressing yourself, but when and if you decide to bring up the fact that you’re trying to simplify your holidays, try to avoid making yourself seem that you’re cutting them off your list because you’re cheap. Instead, emphasize that you value your relationship with them more than any money you could spend and you want to really give them something with personal value. If they aren’t respectful of your opinion, reassess your relationship with them. If all they want from you is for you to spend your money on them, which may not be a valuable relationship to maintain.

Put some thought into your holiday, and make it one to remember.

Peace and serenity,

Simply Me

Enjoy my Adopting Simplicity series? Here is a list of the other posts from the series:
Step 1
Ask yourself this...
Be Here Now
I could never...
Three important things

Movie Day: Food Inc

So I'm definitely behind the in-crowd in finally watching Food Inc but everyone has to jump on the wagon at their own pace, right? Right. (see here? I'm at least a year behind the time.)

Since I finally watched this movie, thanks to Zip.ca, I have to say that it was a good watch. It was also a good source of conversation between my wife and I. We discussed the various subjects as they came up, and it was a good conversation. It was definitely interesting seeing how each of our own biases showed up in our opinions. My wife being a meat-loving meatatarian (as she calls herself) who avoids veggies and anything that tastes healthy (also her words), and me being a vegetarian who loves health foods and whole wheat and trying new things. It was definitely interesting.

Most of the things I saw on there, information-wise, were pretty old news. Especially since I read all the other health blogs, and Dr. Mercola's site. But it put pictures to the words, which really resonated with me and made me feel a little bit better about trying to eat real foods. It even struck a chord with my wife when she saw what went into meat fillers (i.e.: ammonia).

Despite the fact that the information for this movie came entirely from the United States, it was well rounded and gave a good insight into their food system. I'm not sure how much different Canada's food policy is, and I have yet to hear of a documentary that looks into it, but I'm sure it can't be that far off. I have to say that our meat in the grocery stores here in Ottawa definitely looks healthier and fresher than the meat they showed in the movie. I hope that means something.

It certainly is amazing to hear about all the different uses for corn, and just reinforces my feelings about eating real foods. Knowing that processed foods are full of corn and soy is really disenheartening. I felt myself feeling really bad and empathizing for the latino(looking) family who couldn't afford the real healthy food and went for the junk food instead because of the price. Buying junk because it's all you can afford is really a catch-22, because you pay for it later in life with your health.

You can tell from how the farmer's are talking about the situation that they are unimpressed. The meat farmers are getting screwed because they're subsidized by the big companies and can easily get their contracts cancelled for any little thing. The female chicken farmer that they featured had her contract cancelled because she believed in having an open chicken house that had windows so that her chickens could see the sun and the outside. She refused to switch to the dark, closed, ventilated chicken house, so she lost the contract with the meat company.

The seed cleaner's story was equally sad, if not worse, because he had been in the same business for years (probably more than fifteen) and he got sued. He tried to fight it, but he ran out of money to pay his legal bills so he was forced to settle with Monsanto. This segment of the movie made me really glad that I consciously avoid soy products, and now I will be even more observant and open to looking where hidden soy and corn might hide.

Paying higher prices to get good, healthy, real food is worth it. It's worth it in the medium term because you'll feel better and you'll have more energy. It's worth it especially in the long term because your body will be healthier and less prone to chronic diseases, not to mention that your immune system will be stronger from you putting real food that provides real energy.

In summary, it was a really good movie and puts everything in perspective. It brushes over a huge range of topics and gives you a taste of each one. The movie features Michael Pollan who wrote The Omnivore's Dilemma (which I look forward to reading soon) as well as the mother of the boy who sparked Kevin's Law Barbara Kowalcyk. Even if you've read The Omnivore's Dilemma, and Fast Food Nation, I recommend watching this movie. Because, as they say, a picture is worth a thousand words. So a movie must be a few million at least. Rent it, share it, borrow it, or buy it, it is a good watch and a sobering look at the food industry and how it has evolved.

Peace and serenity,

Simply Me


Please note that some of the links are to the Amazon.com site where you can purchase the titles. If you do, a small commission goes to helping to support Simply Green. I recommend that before buying, you check out your local library, or used book store. Keep the world a little greener and share the love. Thank you.

No more ads!

Upon a brief thought and realization that I'm not in this to make a few cents in ads click, I decided to get rid of the AdSense advertisements.

They're ugly and I don't get to choose with any great detail what's being shown. Not to mention that the links are always to sign up for or buy something that seems kind of scammish.

So the only ads you'll see here are for affiliate programs for products or services that I truly believe in.

Peace and serenity,

Simply Me

Monday Musing: Work

Having worked in a variety of fields, I can say with some meaning that having to work for a living doing something that is not fulfilling kind of sucks. It doesn't make you feel better, especially when you work in an industry that is knowingly poisoning the population, either by the food being served, or the ideas being portrayed. Where I currently work is a bit like that, it feels like every meeting and event I go to, I'm being told how wonderful this company is. But when I look around and see the corruption and the sadness that is all around, it really makes me think.

It makes me think about why money is so important. Who decided that the world was to revolve around money? All money is worth is what the corporations and the government leaders say it's worth. A piece of paper that is worth five dollars doesn't mean anything. Five dollars can't even get you a nutritious meal nowadays. Why not put value in something valuable, like commodities?

Make it worth your time to get the things you want. Barter and trade with family and friends. I have a system in my family where we share things. We exchange recipes and we exchange ideas. If anyone needs help putting something together, they call a sibling, aunt, uncle or cousin. There is no money exchange, only time and attention. That is what's worth the most.

Going to work, especially if it's a job you don't like, is ridiculous. How can we ever evolve as a society when all we do is what we're expected? Personally, I'm working towards pursuing my passions in my spare time. Maybe I will be able to make money off of it, and maybe not. I am willing to alter my lifestyle to fit into what I want my life to be. I can't just quit my job off the bat, but I can work towards getting out of it. Every day that I pursue my passions, I work towards finding my future. Not just a future, because the future will come whether I want it to or not. But my future, where I'm content in the work I put into the world.

Where do you want your future to be when the future comes? Do you want to be sitting in an office doing unfulfilling work just to go home and be miserable? Or do you want to do something with your life? Make the change, follow your passion. Live your life to the fullest. You are worth it.

Peace and serenity,

Simply Me

Enjoy the Monday Musing series? Here's the rest of the posts:
Gardens
Happy thoughts
Automatic negative reactions
Thanksgiving
Sustainable eating
Contentment
Crutch or reason?

Compassionate Parenting: Meeting needs - Part 2

When your needs are met it is easier to meet your child's needs, too.



What needs -- yours and your child's -- aren't currently being met as well as you would like?


Make a list of doable, inexpensive strategies that could fulfill each of these needs, and this week do at least one thing to meet each of them.
From my e-mail subscription to NonViolentCommunication.com

Having kids around you can be draining physically and emotionally. When you don't look after your own needs to ensure that you are prepared for your day, it can take a huge toll on you and, by proxy, your child.
 
When you are getting ready for your day, and you know you will be interacting with a variety of people, you need to ensure that your own personal needs are met. If they aren't, it can adversely affect your relationships and your mental health.
 
Personal needs, in summary, are the following:

Found on the NonViolentCommunication.com website
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
The negative repercussions of meeting your own needs are numerous, not to mention the effect it will have on those around you. Each day, work towards actively and consciously meeting at least one of those needs.
 
Examples can be endless.
 
For integrity, create something beautiful to you, be it artwork or a website or even a catch phrase. Anything that you create that means a lot to you. You don't have to share it with anyone else, this is for yourself.
 
For spiritual communion, if you aren't religious, could be going for a walk in the crisp beautiful autumn air and embracing the beautiful and pure state of nature.
 
The list could go on.
 
What are ways you could meet your needs? Come up with some unique ones, and please share them!
 
Peace and serenity,
 
Simply Me

Enjoy the Compassionate Parenting series? Click the link for a full list from the series.

Healthy Snacks e-book sale!

Healthy Snacks To Go e-book - The comprehensive and easy to use guide to easy and healthy snacks. These recipes are amazing, and incredibly forgiving. They are easy to follow and Katie stuffs these pages full of useful facts as well as links to other information that you may want to find.

This Friday, November the 26th, (also known as Black Friday) she is holding a sale on this fabulous buy. 50% off the first 50 copies sold using the code BLACKFRIDAY! But hurry, the code expires at noon MST.

If you don't manage to snag yourselves a copy of the Healthy Snacks To Go e-book on Black Friday, Katie is also holding another sale on Monday, November the 29th, (also known as Cyber Monday) which is the online trickle from Black Friday. The first 100 copies sold on Monday are going for an even 4$ using the code CYBERMONDAY which will expire at 6pm MST.

If you haven't had a chance to check out this woman's fantastic site, please take advantage of it now. She offers a wealth of information on a large variety of health related topics, and she is extremely friendly.

Her other e-book is also available through the attached link, but it will not be on sale for this weekend's shopping festivities.

Happy shopping, and if you're heading out to brave the crowds in any stores, be careful. Remember family first, and stay safe. There are things more important than buying gifts, so remember what is important to you and your family.

Peace and serenity,

Simply Me

Disclosure: Simply Green will earn a small commission for every copy of the Healthy Snacks To Go e-book purchased through this link as well as the Kitchen Stewardship in the Big Woods e-book so thank you in advance for helping to support this site.