Merry Christmas and all that junk

It is that time of year (not that you can tell where I am, as I write this it is December 14th and the weather forecast is calling for temperatures of 10 degrees Celcius and -rain-... seriously?). The time where the tree is up, decorations are spread copiously around the house, and gifts are being wrapped.

Here's a compilation of all my Christmas/holiday season posts from the past... two or three years. I think it was mostly last year, but who's counting?

My daughter's Christmas concert with her daycare last year - A summary of my daughter's daycare Christmas concert from 2010. Great fun had by all (at least by me and mine).

Merry Christmas or Happy Holidays - Wherein I rant about political correctness and tell it like it is (from my perspective).

The Christmas Tree Is Up! - December 4th and the tree is up (2010) woo hoo, we love Christmas!

Simplify Your Holiday! - A post on adopting simplicity to lower stress during the holidays.

Monday Musing: Gifts - Thoughts on gifts and meanings and all that junk

And of course, my personal favourite:

Why I Will Not Support The Salvation Army - Wherein I vent about homophobia in charities (regardless of whether it is church-based or not) and where to find more accepting charities to share your money with.

That being said, I still love Christmas (regardless of the whole Jesus aspect), and I still believe in the spirit of Christmas. The joy of sharing and giving, and the pleasure of spending time with family, bonding over egg nog (or your preferred drink... mine being coffee), and making a mess in the front hall with all the slush and dirty snow from outside.

It's interesting to note that last year, not one of the four end of December holidays touched one another in terms of timing. This year, however, Hannukah touches all three of the others (Yule/Winter Solstice, Christmas, Kwanzaa). Go figure!

That being said, I did a terrible job of creating beautiful handmade gifts for anyone this year. As in... it just didn't happen. I'm a pro for procrastinating, that is for sure! On the other side, I did create handmade gift tags. They're super low-tech, but they get the job done! Maybe next year I'll get fancy... I suppose that would involve starting... now.

Any big plans for this winter? Whether you celebrate Christmas, Hannukah, or anything else, I hope it's a great one. Also, pray for snow. At least some... come on, this *IS* winter after all!

Much Christmas-y love,


Adventures in Saving Money - Part 2

Here's my first post on Adventures in Saving Money. It is not necessary to read the posts in order to understand the points being mentioned. Thank you.

As a follow up to Part 1 of this non-regular series, I'm going to mention the next best thing that saves me a huge chunk of money on my regular, variable spending.

That single tip is:

Watch The Cash Register As Your Items Are Scanned!

Seriously, it's that simple (again!). I'm a big fan of simple. This simple tip is great for two reasons.

First off, many stores have items that scan in at the wrong price. Even if it's off by 10c, that's YOUR 10c. You worked hard for it, you should have your say as to where it goes. Period. Which means that if an item scans in at the wrong price, worst case scenario, they'll adjust it to the correct price.

Second important (more important) reason is a simple code of practice that almost all retailers in Ontario (possibly all of Canada, and I'm not sure about the States) follow. It's called the Scanning Code of Practice (also referred to as SCOP).

Basically summed up as:

On a claim being presented by the customer, where the scanned price of a product at
checkout is higher than the price displayed in the store or than advertised by the store,
the lower price will be honoured; and
(a) if the correct price of the product is $10 or less, the retailer will give the product to
the customer free of charge; or
(b) if the correct price of the product is higher than $10, the retailer will give the customer
a discount of $10 off the corrected price. (source:$FILE/ct02381e.pdf)
 So any retailer that follows this voluntary code is obligated to give you the first item scanned at the wrong price for free, up to 10$ (or 10$ off if it's over that). Keep in mind that it is up to 10$ off the correct price. So if the object in question is regularly 25$ and it's on sale for 9$, you will get it for free. Alternatively, if the regular price is 25$ and it's on sale for 11$, you will get it for 1$.

Then, if you are purchasing multiple items of the same type, the subsequent items will be price adjusted to the correct price.

Some cashiers/supervisors/managers will roll their eyes and scoff. But seriously, let them. Remember that they are there to provide customer service, and on top of that, they are paid by the hour. *I've been an hourly paid employee, and honestly, I welcomed interruptions like this!* So don't feel ashamed or embarassed, because you've done NOTHING wrong.

So that's it! My second favourite way to save money. It takes a little bit more initiative and less shy-ness. But it definitely pays off! All you have to do is mention it to the cashier as soon as you notice it, and ask if they follow the "Scanning Code of Practice". A lot of cashiers might not know what it is, so you might have to ask to speak to a supervisor. But it is completely worth the time it takes.

Good luck, and happy savings!


Happiness isn't a size

Movies have a pervasive and influential role on the world. Despite the knowledge that a large portion of mainstream movies are fictional, it is hard not to realize parallels and find ideals within their carefully crafted storylines. Romantic comedies make romance and true love seem one funny conversation away, they give you the feeling and impression that carefully crafted lines and slinky dresses will find you the love of your life.
Let me tell you first hand that this is not true. When I found my other half, the one person who completes me, I wasn't even looking. I was with someone else at the time, unhappily that is for certain, and did not even admit the possibility that there were feelings between us. Regardless of this, my future wife made it her mission to make me feel better, to make me smile, laugh, and chat. She was the light part of my days, and even though I didn't know what I was feeling I enjoyed spending time with her. She fell in love with me even though I was unkept, dirty, depressed, and unhappy in life. I didn't wear any fancy clothes or drop any special lines to make her swoon, our personalities just clicked together. I wasn't looking for anyone, and yet I found the most wonderful person of my life.

There is no trick to finding love, it really is as simple as being okay with yourself and just talking to people. You never know who you will find a connection with. If you are a big book nerd (guilty!) or enjoy dissecting insects or really enjoy playing video games or anything else that isn't "mainstream", don't ever think that you can't find someone who is just right for you. Don't ever dream of changing either, because you will never be happy with yourself that way. If you can't be happy with yourself, how could you possibly be happy with someone else?

Mainstream is just what the corporations are paid to sell to us. No one fits into that mould, and no one is supposed to. Why else would they alter and distort photos to emphasize impossible sizes and unrealistic shapes? Because all they want you to do is feel miserable about yourself so that you will spend your money to try and acheive their concept of 'perfect'.

I'm not perfect. My wife isn't perfect. My mom and dad aren't perfect, and M's family isn't perfect either. So what? I'm happy. M is happy. My parents are happy, and so are M's. None of us fit into the carefully sculpted mould of unattainable perfection. And we shouldn't try to either. Why? Because perfection is no fun. If you were perfect, all your energy would be focused on staying perfect. You would be miserable just trying to keep up with all the upkeep and maintenance and dieting, exercise, drugs, makeup, etc and you would never have any time to do anything that you actually enjoy.

Shun mainstream and embrace individuality. You don't have to be a non-conformist to be individual. Don't like thinking you have to fit into a size 3-5 to be healthy? Don't! A healthy weight is different for each person. I've been that size 3-5 girl, and it sucked. I am now happily a size 10 and I feel no shame about that. My body feels great, and yours can to. Give it what it needs, and you will find your perfect weight, size and shape.

When you begin to trust yourself to take care of your own body, you start feeling a great level of confidence. Confidence to just be yourself. That aspect alone will draw people to you, and you will have a great influence on those people. Confidence is an attractive aspect simply because so few people actually possess it. So be true to you, love yourself, and you will find levels of happiness that you never thought possible.

Happiness for all shapes and sizes,


Using Coupons To Save Money - The Eco-Friendly Way

I love using coupons. I never thought I would, because of that horrible stereotype that I believed for the longest time:

"Coupons are always for junk food and stuff no one actually buys, especially not healthy/eco-friendly people"

What a lie! Sure, it takes a bit of digging, and maybe you won't get the same amount of savings that you see on Extreme Couponing (then again, those people are a little bit... ridiculous. More on that later if anyone's interested). But every bit counts when you have to stretch your budget just a little bit farther.

For example, Maple Leaf and Schneider's (both Canadian based countries, correct me if I'm wrong) have a "Naturals" line. This includes deli meat with NO NITRITES and no other nasty preservatives. This is obviously not as good as going to the butcher and getting them to put your deli meats in a reusable container, but not all butchers (especially not in grocery stores) will do that for you anyways. Not to mention, there's no ingredients list on those deli meats... I have found save 1$ coupons on both brands of Naturals products, which I have put to good use.

There are also often cereal box coupons, this past summer there was one for a free bunch of bananas up to 2 pounds. Saved me over 2$ for bananas. There have also been some distributed for strawberries and other fresh foods. For me, I don't always buy cereal boxes, but there have been friends and family of mine that give me theirs. Works great for me, and for them.

The same concept goes for paper products. I have found coupons for save 1$ on Cascades Enviro line, which is the Cascades brand line of post consumer recycled products including paper towels and toilet paper. It's even soft like regular Cascades, so no loss there!

Depending on what your regular products are, it is almost always possible to find coupons for them, and save yourself a little bit of cash. Honestly, if all you do is look, it really doesn't cost you anything anyways!

Anyways, that's my spiel. I use some products that have coupons, and some that don't. I prefer to buy things on sale anyways, and if I have a coupon for that product, all the better! But I don't cry if there's none in my stash for it. I might be a little dejected if I've seen coupons for that product but don't have any... but that's just me!

Happy savings!


A Week Into NaNo and less than 2k words to show for it

National Novel Writing Month. Heard of it? It's a month of insanity, creating a first draft of a (minimum) 50,000 word novel in 30 days. Whaaaaat???

I tried it last year, made it to about 25,000 words before I burned out.

So I'm trying again this year. The get-go has been significantly slower than last year. This time last year, I was sitting around 10,000 words. But today, my total is around 1,500.

Why? It's not that I don't have a good story idea, and I have a pretty good idea of how it's going to pan out.

I don't know. Probably something to do with my chronic procrastination. I really need to get 'er done. I have no excuse.

Anyone else doing NaNo? Tips or tricks to kicking the procrastination demon? Always appreciated!

Yours procrastinatedly,


Finding Inspiration in Uninspiration

Creating goals and reaching for them has always been easy for me. Attaining them, not so much. For the most part, it seems like anytime I start something, whether it's a craft, a routine, an activity, I get super gung-ho about starting it... and then it dwindles.

For example, I've been working on a crocheted hat made of bright, verrugated, crinkly yarn for almost a year now. It's not that it is a challenging task, I just don't feel inspired to work on it. Or I decide that other things are more important.

But are they? Are the small goals as important as the big ones? I should think so, seeing as you need to acheive multiple small goals before you can fully acheive any big ones. Yet here I am, staring at this headband of bright colours that should have been a hat months ago, uninspired.

A lot of things happen in a day, and I know I can't control them all. I wouldn't want to, I think my head would explode. But sometimes it just gets to me, how out of control I am about everything. Creating beautiful things is a goal, a passion, of mine, but I spend more time worrying about how to do it than actually just doing it. Ridiculous.

Starting today, I'm making a vow to myself to spend at least 15 minutes doing something instead of thinking about it. I'm going to finish that damn hat before it snows, and I'm going to wear it like a freaking crown.

Take that, inertia!

Much love,


Adventures in Saving Money - Part 1

Following up with my last post, I'm going to share some of the ways that I save money every month. Some of them will be damn obvious, others maybe not so much. Either way, I invite anyone who reads these tips, tricks, and stories, to share their personal feelings and opinions about it. I love learning new things from different people, and saving money is something that we all have to do in life.

I was reading in the newspaper on the weekend that Canada's debt-to-income ratio is sitting around 150%. That means that people who are making 50,000$ a year owe (or add to their debt) approximately 75,000$ per year. (Correct me if my concept is wrong, please!). How on earth can we as a population be expected to contribute effectively to the economy if we owe more than we make? Ridiculous numbers, if you ask me.

Saving money and saving the environment absolutely go hand-in-hand. Buying less new both saves money and puts less strain on limited resources. Using homemade cleaners, same concept.

Today, I'm going to start with a task that takes me (on average) about an hour each week, and saves me close to 200-400$ per month. That is some sweet return for my investment if you ask me. It's like making 50-100$ per hour for those hours.

What could be so easy a way to save money for so little time?

Read Your Flyers!

Seriously. That's it! Check out your flyers, make a list of whats on sale, and buy from that list. For non-perishables, buy extra to last (ideally) at least until the next sale.

Doing this will also give you a good idea of what a "good sale" price is. For example, some people will go out and buy a brick of cheese whenever they need it. The going rate for a 500g brick of cheese right now is 8-10$. That's ridiculous. Cheese is something we eat A LOT of at my house. So when it goes on sale for less than $4.50 per brick, we buy at least 8 and freeze them. Currently, we have about 20-25 bricks of cheese in our freezer, none of which did we pay over $4.50 for.

Almond milk (since I don't make my own due to time/space constraints) is purchased in bulk when it's on for less than 2$ a carton (regular price is $3.99).

Small changes create big effects, and reading your sales flyers is just one small change that can really open your eyes into how much money and time you are wasting.

If you don't get the flyers delivered to you (like us), you can use websites that post them online (which saves paper too!) such as

Do you read flyers for your shopping (if you even shop at grocery stores)? How do you prepare your grocery/food list for the week? Share, share, share!

Much love,


Digging Upwards Out Of The Debt Ditch

Just like many people in my country, and every other one, we are in debt. I am not ashamed of this fact, I say it with conviction as much as I would say that I have long hair, and my favourite thing to wear in the summer is tank tops. Money is a taboo subject within our society, and I disagree with it.

Last year, around this time, M and I were saddled with a 10,000$ debt thanks to the waste of air known as my daughter's sperm donor. This was approximately a month after we had just purchased our first car together for somewhere around 14,000$ (financed, of course). Holy balls, that is a lot of debt for a 23 year old who never went to college/university!

I am happy to say that as of right now, we are down from owing somewhere around 24,000$ to more like 15,900$. Which is still a lot, but considering that we managed to (mostly) maintain our lifestyle while also eliminating 8,000$ in debt is a bit of a pride to me.

On the other hand, since I just got a pay increase at work, and one of the debts should be gone by March or so, that will make it much easier to pay off the 2nd debt. I'm using something similar to Dave Ramsay's Snowball Method of debt repayment, and it's working wonderfully so far. I'd like to be out of debt by December of next year, I think that's a realistic goal. Once that happens, the only other debt I'll be willing to saddle is a mortgage.

One thing that made a HUGE difference in being able to save that kind of money to pay towards debt is shopping sales. Sure, it doesn't necessarily seem logical to buy your winter clothes in the spring, but why not? You can get a jacket for less than 50% what you normally would have paid for it. Maybe the closest grocery store to you is the most expensive, but there's nothing saying you have to go there. Switching grocery stores alone saves us at least 200$ per month on groceries. That is NOT counting the sales.

Small goals have helped immensely as well. I never just make the minimum payment on the debt that I am focusing on paying off. If the minimum payment is 100$ I aim for at least 200$. I never buy laundry detergent for regular price, I wait for the sale and buy a few to last us til next time.

Expect me to talk more about money in the time to come, because it needs to be talked about. Money is an integral part of life and society these days, and yet conversations about it are virtually blacklisted. Not for me, not in my world. I will fully disclose just about every penny to whoever I feel like. If you don't want to reciprocate, then don't. But don't be ashamed of it, because the money you earn and spend is YOURS, so decisions about it should be yours. Stand strong and be willing to talk about difficult things. That's how we move forward in life.

Much love,


Talk About A Hiatus!

So it's been something like 5 or 6 months since I last posted anything up here. I could make up some wishy-washy bullsh*t excuses that anyone who reads this would think "yeah right, like I'd ever believe that junk".

Or I could just be straight up and admit that I decided to focus on life for a bit. Things have been a bit up and down for the past while, and so I decided to take some time away and focus on that.

Sure, I could have posted some sort of "I'm not here right now, leave a message" but I wasn't sure when (or even if) I would come back, so I wanted to leave it on a positive note for the time being. And I firmly believe that my last post (A Letter To My Daughter On Her 7th Birthday) was a great place to leave off.

Now that I'm back, I am going to say that I have a new direction (or a few...) and I'll try to post at least once per week.

As always, if there's anything you want to share with me, or ask me, just get ahold of me and I'll get back to you ASAP!

Until next post: remember that every moment is worth exactly what you put into it.

Much love,


Product Review: Tom's of Maine toothpaste

So I decided to go ahead today and buy a tube of fluoride-free toothpaste. Yes, I know, finally. The information about the negative effects of fluoride on teeth are all over, and aside from that, there are less ingredients in Tom's of Maine. Less ingredients is a good thing, at least to me.

Options and availability

The first thing I did was look at the different options available at the store. There were 4 different types of ToM's toothpaste, and 4 of them contained fluoride. This was news to me, as I thought all of ToM's toothpaste was fluoride free, but alrighty then! The fluoride free option is fennel flavoured. Which I know I had heard of before, but didn't know what exactly it was. So in terms of fluoride-free options, my experience was 1/4 (25%) which isn't a great ratio.


To be honest, I love my minty toothpaste. There is just something classic and timeless about mint toothpaste. That being said, the only mint option of ToM's toothpaste was fluoridated, so I opted for a no on that one. Instead it came in fennel flavour. It honestly reminded me of black licorice and anise flavouring. Not a very strong or overwhelming taste, just average, but not what I expected. It also made my tongue go numb. I'd give it a 50% or so.

Clean feeling after brushing

The best part of this toothpaste was how clean my mouth felt afterwards. I go to the dentist regularly, and I brush and floss my teeth at home, but I have never felt like my mouth was so completely refreshed. Despite not having that minty after taste, it was as though my cheeks, gums, and tongue had just been created and never seen bacteria or food before. 100% on that aspect, for sure!

What about packaging?

As is often the case, the type of packaging of a product significantly impacts my overall opinion of the product. In this case, I was fairly impressed. The tube is made of metal which I believe is recyclable (based on Beth's assessment) as long as you remove the plastic cap and plastic threading that the cap screws onto. That sounds like a pain in the ass, but we'll see. The tube also came in a cardboard box, which was tossed in the recycling after I read the information. 75% on packaging, points gained for minimal plastic, points lost for extra packaging in the form of the box and the inconvenient recyclability.

Overall impression

Based on the percentages given, the average grade of this product is 62.5%. Which is better than a fail, but there is certainly room for improvement. This is true in terms of a few things. Specifically, there should be more flavour options in the fluoride-free category. Not everyone will appreciate fennel (myself included) and those who don't like it may not decide to suck it up in the face of a healthier toothpaste option. The second would be to remove the sodium lauryl sulfate from their product, as this chemical is "highly irritating and dangerous" according to the ACT report. SLS can cause serious irritation, skin erosion as well as being able to mimic estrogen.

That being said, it is a very cleansing toothpaste and I can say that the only other time my mouth feels as clean as it does with Tom's of Maine is right after I leave the dentists. I would recommend this to someone looking to improve their oral health without having to make their own toothpaste. It is a step towards healthier personal care without taking too huge a jump, and feels very much like mainstream toothpaste.

Have you ever used Tom's of Maine oral care products, or any other "natural" toothpastes? Share your oral care regime or your favourite products below.

Simple Steps To Following Your Dreams

A small trickle of water can wear away at a rock until there is a huge crevice becoming deeper by the day. It is for this reason that you should always do what you feel is right. Following your dreams and doing what you believe is right will be difficult in the beginning and will become easier the more you stay true. No matter what your goals or dreams are in life, it is always possible to move towards reaching them. It may seem completely out of reach, but by making conscious decision each and every day to move you in the right direction you bring those goals closer to your grasp with each decision and action you accomplish.

A few ways to keep your head on straight when heading towards your goals are:

- Pick one important action regarding your goal that you will accomplish today. No matter how big or small this action is, as long as it moves you towards your goal it is a good choice. This way you will know that each day when the moon is at its peak that you have done something to stay true to your goals and beliefs that day.

- Reassess your priorities regularly. By this I don't just mean write a list of things that are important to you, I want you to go a step further. Write out or think out why these things are important to you. If you have productivity as a priority, why is it important to you to become more productive? Is it simply because you might be able to make more money or look better to your supervisors, or is it deeper than that? Consider all the aspects, and be sure to follow your heart.

- Find a buddy. Another person who has a similar goal to you, who is working towards the same thing as you, or possibly someone who has attained what it is that you are reaching for. Stay honest with this person and hold them to the same standard. By having someone who is on the same path as you, or who has walked that path previously, you open the lines of communication. You make it easier to follow the path because you won't be walking it alone.

Your dreams can be as big as you can imagine them, and you can still attain them. It takes some work, some patience, and the knowledge that this dream will move you one step closer to self-satisfaction. Every single action you accomplish is an action towards personal success. Only you can measure your personal success, so take the leap and start working towards that dream.

Go one step backwards in that if you aren't ready to take and make big actions. Using just your words and thought, start thinking as if you were following your dream. If your dream is to be a doctor, start learning everything you can about health and related topics. Become an expert, and be able to talk freely and openly about the knowledge you have. If your dream is to become a construction worker, start thinking like one and getting little bits of experience in it by doing your own home repairs and offering to help those you know with their minor repairs.

By thinking positively as though you are following your dream, you are mentally setting yourself up for success. Positive thinking is one important part of being able to feel confident in making life changes, no matter how minor or drastic. Keep the level of optimism above the average no matter who you talk to, they will catch your positivity and carry it with them as well.

Love what you do, and do what you love. At least part of your time in each day should be spent doing something that has real value to you. Find what that is, and follow it. You will never regret it.
Every dream has a reality, have you started making yours?

Movie Day: Yogi Bear

E received the movie Yogi Bear from M's parents as an Easter gift. My initial thoughts were 'great! a kids movie that isn't based on looks, shape, and can focus on nature and a funny (yet stupid) bear'. Yogi Bear is a classic kids character, along with Boo-Boo. A pair of brown bears that can talk, Yogi is *obsessed* with stealing picnic baskets. I used to watch the cartoon on the television back in my kid days, and I remember thoroughly enjoying that show.

I have now watched the movie twice, and have formulated a few thoughts about this movie that I think are important to list for various reasons.

1. There is only one female character. This bothered me at first, and to tell the truth it still kind of grates. On the flip side though, it is entirely thanks to her that the conflict was resolved. If Rachel (female character) had not been there videotaping for a documentary, they never would have been able to knock the mayor down and show the people of that city what a corrupt leader he was. So although there was only one female, she was super important.

2. Lots of nature focus. There is a clear depiction of the importance of nature in the world today, including and especially in big cities. It's easy to lose focus on nature when you don't see it around you, but having a huge national park nearby can keep people grounded and appreciative of the real world as well as the industrialized world.

3. It's okay to be different and be yourself. Yogi Bear is known as a different sort of bear. He can talk and think, and plan. His plans might not always work, but he keeps trying anyways. Perseverance is one of his main qualities no matter how many failures he experiences. Ranger Smith is also a different sort, very nature based and eco-nerdy. And he's okay with that! He is attracted to Rachel because she is much like him, and they have many things in common that are different from the norm. Ranger Jones is different as well, and while he tries to fit in and fast-track his way to success, he ends up seeing the error in his ways and follows his heart to do what is best in the end.

This movie is a lot of fun, a few silly laughs, and some horribly over-acted characterizations. But it stands out as a true nature film where they showcase the importance of honesty, nature, and friendship. I recommend this movie to anyone who enjoys children's movies, especially those cartoons from 20 odd years ago made into live-action movies. Important lessons in movies are hard to find in this day and age, and Yogi Bear definitely nails a few of them.

This review was completely of my own opinion. The links in this review are affiliate links, so if you decide to purchase this movie, a portion of the proceeds will go to keeping SimplyGreen afloat. I recommend searching second hand stores and used movie shops first though. Thank you for your support!

Weight Does Not Equal Perfection

I’m finding myself getting very irritable of late. Like I’m stuck stationary when I want to be moving forward. I stopped writing for almost an entire week, and have been feeling kind of stuck. This is very hard to break through, and despite being able to talk at length with people about the things that are on my mind, I haven’t been able to put it into writing. I’m not really sure why exactly; maybe I was piling too much freelancing on my plate. I have regained some semblance of control over that and allowed myself to take a break over the weekend. I’m feeling much better now about writing and the flow of words, and I plan on making sure that this lesson stays forefront in my mind.
There was a whole different source of frustration for me fairly recently, and I did know that it would happen. Being around people who are so vastly different from me in almost every way is very challenging and emotionally draining. It takes a lot of effort not to snap or freak out about things that I cannot control. It’s not that these people are bad people, they are just different from myself and I am pretty firmly set in my ways and my thoughts.
There was also the rampant focus on weight in terms of how it impacts physical appearance. There is so much more to a person’s appearance than just their weight. Every compliment that was shared during the weekend had relevance to that person’s weight and/or how much weight they had lost. Sure, some people need to lose weight, but it’s not a matter of numbers or girth, it’s a matter of health. The focus being on just size is frustrating and aggravating.
I once believed that to be considered a healthy weight, you had to be a size 6 or less. Now I’m sitting comfortably in a size 10 (or so) and I’ve never felt healthier. Sure I have a little bit of weight on my hips, legs, and stomach, whatever. I eat pretty much whatever I want and don’t fluctuate in weight. I eat healthy foods, and I try to get in a little bit of activity every day. Some days are better than others, but I don’t beat myself up over it. If I’m feeling particularly ‘bleh’ then I know it’s either time to eat some food, or time to get my body moving.
I don’t beat myself up about having any extra weight either. It’s healthy to have a little bit of flub. It helps keep me warm (that was certainly a huge challenge when I was size 3-6) and if I get sick I don’t worry about eating, I can focus on relaxing and healing. Even after I got my wisdom teeth removed, I had lost about 10-15 pounds. Once my mouth felt better and I could eat properly again, I ate whatever I wanted and my weight went right back up to where it was. No muss, no fuss. This is where my body wants to be, so why should I fight it? Just to fit within someone’s ideal of what a perfect woman looks like? No thanks. I’m perfect the way I am, because I am perfectly Laura. Why would I want to be anyone else?
Fighting with self-image is a huge challenge that many girls, women, and even boys and men go through. For what? So that companies make money trying to tell you that you will feel better about yourself if you lost 5 more pounds, if you fit into that lower size, if you buy this, buy that. F*ck it! Eleanor Roosevelt once said: “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent” and I stand by that. Take the focus off of appearances, and worry more about actions and words. Take the focus off of being “beautiful” and “pretty” and focus more on being “confident” and “comfortable” with yourself, your children, your family and your friends.
When E comes to me in the mornings after she’s gotten herself dressed, she asks me: “Mommy, do I look beautiful?” and I always reply “You look very comfortable and ready for your day.” She smiles and gives me a hug. Because being comfortable and ready for your day is more important that being fancy, stylish and pretty. Being dressed to be able to take on your day and show it that you’re the boss is both essential and freeing. When you don’t have to worry about how you look beyond being appropriately clothed, you have more time to focus on what really matters, like play, work, fun, and learning.
In the morning when I get dressed, I choose clothes that are comfortable. Always. If I’m not going to be comfortable in my clothing, I won’t be able to focus on my daughter, my wife, my job or my friends. I will be too busy worrying about if there are wrinkles in my clothing, or how much I have that this shirt chafes, or how much I’m going to need to soak my feet at night after wearing a horrid pair of shoes all day. Why bother? There are so many more important things in life to experience, so many positive things, to worry about focusing on something as silly as looking perfect. Because perfect is different to everyone, and just because the magazine or advertisements say that you’ll be perfect in a size 0 doesn’t mean you will be.
Feel confident in your own body, because it is perfect for you. What else can you ask for?

Wasting food makes me angry

It really does. There is not much that is more aggravating to me than wasting food. It is a huge waste of money, time, and resources. When M makes something for dinner (or breakfast or lunch for that matter) she makes enough to feed everyone, almost exactly. If not, we have leftovers and they are eaten the next day. It is great, and we almost never throw any food away. Except for in some circumstances, but I’m just not going to get into those since they aren’t really about me or either of my girls. Anyways!
Every now and then it pops up either in the news or on a blog that I read a large number of pounds of food being thrown out despite still being perfectly edible. Why? Because they are ‘day old’ or their ‘serve by’ date has passed, just as one example. Other times, it’s just because someone made too much food and has no concept of eating leftovers. It seems to me, and this is just my opinion and how I see things, that the more affluent people tend to think they are above eating leftovers.
What’s wrong with leftovers? If it was good enough to eat once, it’s good enough to eat again. Especially if it’s homemade.
Am I wrong? Is there something inherently ‘poor’ or ‘desperate’ about eating leftovers? Personally, I think they are the greatest thing when it comes to making my lunch in the mornings.
Oh, wait. Maybe that’s the issue? Affluent people don’t bring lunches? I work in the downtown core of my city, and there are A LOT of people who eat out for lunch everyday. Is that simply because they’re lazy, or they think that it’s a good thing to spend their money on? Sure, I like to eat lunch at a restaurant sometimes. Not everyday. It’s a treat, it’s something to brighten me up on a boring or lousy day. If I’m too lazy to find something in my fridge to eat… well, that doesn’t happen because there’s always something to eat.
Sometimes it’s just a bag of crackers, a few fruit and a container of vegetables. I’ll throw some hummus in there too. It’s just a mish-mash of stuff to eat, but it tastes good and gets me through the day.
At restaurants, I know from personal experience from working in one, there is a lot of food that gets thrown in the garbage. Whether it’s because it goes bad, the ‘quality timer’ expires, someone clumsy drops it, etc. That’s part of the reason I don’t really like to eat out very often. There’s also the fact that you have no real idea where the food comes from in a lot of cases, but that’s a whole separate concept.
If I want to eat something fancy, I just tell M that I have an idea for a dinner/lunch/breakfast/snack and work with her to find a recipe and help her make it. That way, it’s made with ingredients I know I’ll like in realistic quantities. And the leftovers taste delicious, no matter what.
Wasting food just makes me really angry. There’s the fact that there are starving children and adults across the world, including in our own cities, who can’t afford to eat. There’s the fact that the carbon emissions from growing, harvesting and processing that food are just thrown into the trash, literally. There’s also the fact that it is a horrid waste of money.
In a world where everything is about earning more money to buy more crap, you would think that people would be less likely to throw it in the trash. You may as well be throwing your money into the garbage directly for all it’s worth. I just don’t understand why there are so many people who just throw their food into the garbage (or compost, which at least fertilizes the ground, but still) and then wonder why they have no money at the end of the month.
Anyone have any tips, or are you as confused about this as I am?

Guest Post: How to Make Eco-Friendly Pest Repellents

Today we have a special treat to help prepare us all for spring. Insects are pesky creatures, but if you're like me you don't really want to go around squishing them and killing them all day. Insects do serve a purpose on this earth, so repeling them naturally with earth-friendly materials is healthy for both your body and the earth. Here are a few different ways to repels pests using environmentally friendly items, thanks to a guest post from Bailey Harris who typically writes for car insurance, but also cares about the earth and it's health. Take it away, Bailey!

Commercial pest repellants can work very well when it comes to keeping pests away. But if you would rather not spray toxins on your skin or release chemicals into the air, there are more eco-friendly ways of getting rid of pests inside and outside your home. With a few simple and inexpensive ingredients, you can create your own natural pest repellants.
Mosquito Repellants
One inexpensive way to keep mosquitoes away is to put vodka in a spray bottle and spritz your skin with it. If you don’t want to walk around smelling like alcohol--it will leave a slightly stale odor--you can cut the scent by adding a little essence of basil or some other scent you enjoy. The basil will enhance the repellent quality while improving the odor. You can also make a non-alcohol spray solution by steeping three teaspoons of dried feverfew in one cup of hot water. Allow the mixture to cool and spray it on your skin.
Burning a citronella candle also works well if you're outside. The pests will avoid the area as long as the candle continues to burn. Unfortunately, if you’re moving in and out of the area you won’t be protected, and applying citronella directly to the skin won’t keep mosquitoes away for long. You’ll have to reapply often. Some people consider citronella to be toxic. The EPA considers citronella safe, but if you have concerns you may opt for a citronella-free essential oil candle made from soy wax.
Moth Repellants
If moths are your concern, there are eco-friendly alternatives to chemical moth balls. The most common substitute is probably cedar chips. Cedar chests are used to store woolen clothing for a reason--cedar repels moths. Placing your cloths in a cedar chest or sprinkling cedar chips in the closet will keep moths at bay.
Rosemary, cinnamon, cloves, peppercorn, and thyme are herbs that not only add flavor to your meals but can do double duty as a control for pests. They can be combined and placed in a sachet, and then hung in the closet to keep pests away while making the room smell good
Lavender and mint are other eco-friendly ways to enhance the odor of a room while repelling moths. As with the cloves, cinnamon, peppercorn, rosemary, and thyme, lavender and mint are attractive odors and can be placed in a bag and hung in your closet to provide protection from moths.
General Pest Repellant
Basil is a natural repellent for bugs. If you sprinkle basil leaves around the bottom of the cupboard or put them in an open container inside the cupboard the scent will keep the pests like ants and roaches away. Basil also works to keep pests from entering a home. Try sprinkling basil leaves around the house and in cracks in the cement or wood. Fresh basil plants can have a similar effect if plants strategically around the house.
Guest post from Bailey Harris. Bailey writes on many topics, including car insurance for

Stressed? Here are 4 quick and easy ways to lower your stress and feel better

Stress wreaks havoc on the body, we all know that. It can emulate the effects of a heart attack on the body, making the sufferer go through the motions of having a heart attack. It can disrupt sleep and destroy energy levels. Stress is one thing that can cause more damage than anyone could possibly foresee.

The longer that you allow stress to sit in your body and wrestle with your mind, the worse the effects become. A little bit of stress can be a motivator, absolutely. But when the stress starts causing negative feelings and emotions, it’s time to consider that you need to release some of it.

Here are four easy ways to kill your stress level, and feel better now:
  1. First and foremost, the quickest, easiest and most effective way to release stress is to take some ‘me time’ and do something for yourself. You work hard, you do your best, and you deserve a reward. So take a nice warm bath, toss in some Epsom salts, and light a candle. Or maybe you’d rather sit in your backyard/nearby park with a nice drink (tea, beer, lemonade… whatever floats your boat!) and enjoy the scenery. Anything you want to do that takes you away from the stresses in life, just do it!
  2. If you can’t walk away from your life for longer than 10 minutes right now, consider breathing deeply with your eyes closed. This simple and quick technique has immediate calming effects. All you have to do is close your eyes, inhale deeply and exhale slowly. Take your time. Enjoy a moment of silence and take in a good punch of refreshing oxygen.
  3. Eat some fresh fruit. Whichever type of fruit you’d like, it doesn’t matter. But some fresh and vibrant fruit. First off, the bright colour will lighten your mood and lift your spirits. Secondly, the fruit will be chock full of natural sugars and vitamins that will give you an extra burst of energy and top up your energy stores. So grab a quick and fresh bite from your fridge, and enjoy the flavours and the colours.
  4. Laugh! Read a funny joke, talk to someone that you find amusing, or watch a funny video. Anything that will make you giggle or full-out roar with laughter will almost immediately drop your stress level. Laughing both causes your body to move, simulating physical activity (which is also great for reducing stress, especially long-term) as well as causing your serotonin levels to rise and improving your outlook and stress levels very quickly.
On top of these four tips, consider the following few ideas to keep your stress levels down to a dull roar even at the worst of times.
  1. Exercise regularly.
  2. Eat healthy, fresh, raw foods such as fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, and whole grains as often as possible.
  3. Take time for yourself regularly!
Prepare yourself for the attack of stress, and you will be able to fend it off with much better results.

Remember that you are worth the effort, and you deserve to feel how wonderful it is to have little to no stress.

Do at least one thing for yourself everyday, even if it’s just five minutes. Take your time brushing your hair or in the shower and really enjoy what you’re doing. Slow down when you’re walking to or from the bus stop and look around at the beauty that surrounds you. Play with your kids or friends, boardgames, sports, or just horsing around! Just get out there and do something!

Now, if you don’t mind, I’m going to go have a snack! Gotta keep my energy up and my stress down for my family, my health, and my work.

Compassionate Parenting - Receiving gifts as a most high honour

Hope you all enjoyed Earth Hour! I spent it relaxing on the couch with my better half. How did you spend yours?

On to today's regularly scheduled piece on compassionate parenting and how it relates to the real world. Today, we revisit the concept on gifts, and how the receiver holds a key part in successful gift giving of any type.

Contributing to the well-being of others is a fundamental need, for children as much as for you.

When parents recognize and receive the gifts children have to offer, they inspire children's natural desire to give.

Having an appropriate response to gifts is a very important habit and reaction tot each by example to both children and other adults in your life. If they see you respond positively and honestly to gifts and offerings, they are significantly more likely to try to emulate that reaction themselves. This is because experiencing the full extent of gift-giving lies not only in the ability to give a gift, but also in the reaction of the receiver.

When you are super excited about a gift that you either purchased or made for someone, that excitement can be severely dampened by their reaction. If they react negatively or neutrally, you may feel that you have done something wrong, or possibly even insulted them. This will affect your confidence when it comes to thinking of and giving gifts, as you may start to feel that your gifts are not good enough or that they are unwanted. Not a good feeling at all!

While we’re on the subject of gifts, keep in mind that not all gifts are tangible items that you can hold in your hands. The greatest gift that I received this Christmas was having a happy and positive experience with my family at our dinner on Boxing Day. This was provided by each and every one of my family members in attendance (and that amounts to over twenty people!) but it was a great experience, lots of fond memories, and good feelings all around. Children can gift non-tangible gifts every day, such as inviting you to help them, or telling you a story (either about their day or that they made up.)

My daughter LOVES to tell me stories about all sorts of things. Sometimes it’s about dreams that she has, and sometimes it’s about something fun that happened at school. When she is telling me a story, I do my best to listen in and involve myself into her story by asking questions about details and being fascinated by the imagination that her little 6-year-old brain showcases. I make sure that she understands and sees that I am very interested in what she is saying, and she enjoys telling me stories because of this. This is an example of a great gift that my child brings to my life, and I recognize and receive it by using actions to show her that I am thankful and happy to receive this gift.

It is all too easy to half-listen and not really take any interest in the small gifts that are given to you each and every day. But these gifts are essential to our emotional well-being as well as the well-being of those who are giving us these gifts. When we acknowledge and receive these gifts positively, they are more likely to continue to come in. This will not only make you as the receiver feel good, for being the honoured receiver of these gifts, but they will make the giver of the gifts feel both appreciated and listened to. And that is a feeling that does not erase itself easily.

Rearranging your space to clear the air and feel better

This weekend, M and I finally got around to rearranging the bedroom. Our bedroom is an odd shape, so trying to maximize on that space with a queen-sized bed is rather challenging. Space was cramped, and I couldn’t open the closet door fully on either side. The dresser drawers were partially blocked, and the cat decided that instead of trying to find its scratching post it would use one of our pillows as a resting place.

I finally got fed up with it, and we decided to start fresh. We emptied the room of everything except the bed (it’s too big to move around, but at least it rolls!) and moved the bed to the other side of the room. Arranged everything around that, bookshelf on the other side, kitty litter closer to the door (less litter tracks to walk through now!) and the closet doors open fully! What a relief!

This made me realize how important it is to rearrange your furniture and belongings periodically. It’s refreshing, like a new haircut. You get to take a fresh look at your space and where you want your belongings to go. Arrange it in a way that it esthetically pleasing as well as functional, and embraces your personal flair in your surroundings.

Feeling the need to constantly rearrange your surroundings and your furniture can be indicative of subconscious issues that you may not be addressing, but that doesn’t mean that you can move around the couches every few months when the seasons change, or when you get a new item.

Plan out your big furniture items first as they will be the hardest to place if you place the smaller items first. The big items will also shape the formation of your completed room. If you want to maximize on space, consider keeping your shelves all on one side of the room, and ensure that you have an open space in the middle of your room. If you are looking more for comfort, set it up to emphasize that. No matter what you want your room to look like, you can make it happen and without professional help.

Rearranging a room in your home also opens the door for some decluttering and cleaning that you may have been putting off for a while. It’s a lot easier to go through your belongings and decide what to keep and what to purge when you have to take it all out and put it back in. This sounds like a cumbersome task, but it isn’t so bad if you can be honest with yourself.

If you are doing your bedroom, go through your clothes and decide which ones you really don’t wear anymore and donate them. If you are rearranging your living room, go through your movies shelf and pick out which movies you don’t watch anymore and donate them. Things that are just taking up space in your home will only create mental clutter, so the sooner you get the monkey off your back, the better!

Cleaning hard to reach places also becomes easier when the shelves are emptied and the floor uncovered. What normally would have been a time-consuming task involving shifting furniture and moving small trinkets around will now take less than fifteen minutes (or less) because the area will already be cleared! Take those few minutes and get rid of those hidden dust bunnies. The air in your home will thank you.

Everybody goes through periods where their tastes change, and their preferences adjust. By rearranging parts of your home periodically, you are allowing your personal energy to flow positively as you feel more comfortable in your surroundings. You can clean and purge your areas with limited effort, and you will feel better knowing that it is as you want it to be. Be the master of your own domain, and allow yourself to feel at ease and at peace with your own surroundings. It can make all the difference in the world.

Compassionate Parenting: Needs Explained - Integrity

Integrity: adherence to moral and ethical principles; soundness of moral character; honesty

When an individual can stay true to their own moral code in actions and words is something that will affect whether or not they can feel satisfied in life. It will affect their self-worth and damage the opinion that others may have in them.

When how a person acts is not parallel and congruent with how they feel or a moral or ethical level, the feelings of guilt, unhappiness, or resentfulness towards those whose actions are congruent with their morals and ethics can be overwhelming. The individual may feel that their life has little to no meaning, based on the fact that their actions are not portraying anything close to how they may feel on a given subject.

By being true to their own values and principles, an individual will find that it becomes easier to reach for and attain new goals that are based on their morals. The sense of honesty and belief in their own thoughts and emotions will be validated and strengthened by the fact that they know they live their life acting based on their thoughts and morals.

When a person is able to follow their own beliefs, by they moral, ethical or spiritual, through their actions as well as their words, they will have a very distinct feeling of trust and faith in themselves. It can be incredibly satisfying and fulfilling to know that words reflect actions, and vice versa. Integrity provides the individual with a distinct feeling of authenticity which will show outwardly in their behaviours and self-satisfaction.

The individual’s moral character will be more easily seen and accepted when their actions reflect their principles. Others will see their honesty and truthfulness and they will react positively to it or at least know that they will be able to trust that individual’s words and morality.

Compassionate Parenting - Specific Statements over Vague Vents

It is important to be specific about what you want from your child.

"Would you please pick up the game you left in the living room?" is specific and doable.

"Stop being such a slob" lets your child know what label you give his/her behavior. However, it doesn't give the information s/he can use to specifically meet your needs for order.

Giving children general statements and requests give them nothing to improve on. They won’t know what it is they’ve done wrong, or what they’ve done right. Blanket statements made in frustration or under duress can make the situation worse. They won’t understand what the problem is, or how to fix it. Children, like adults, don’t like to be a source of disappointment and generally want to see those around them in positive spirits. This is difficult if they don’t know what is causing the stress or frustration, or how to improve the situation.

Consider you are at work and your supervisor tells you that you do sloppy work. How do you feel? Do you know what needs to be improved on, or do you feel personally attacked by the words? When you use non-specific criticism, the receiver will often take it as a personal attack, and that can lead to lowered self-confidence and feelings of insufficiency. Consider instead that your supervisor tells you that your filing system is difficult to understand and he or she has a hard time finding files that you have put away. Now you know what the problem is and how it’s affecting those you are working with. You have something specific that needs improvement, and you will be able to take specific steps to improve the situation.

Open and honest communication is an essential part of having a productive and beneficial relationship with those around you, and using non-specific attacks to vent your frustration will only lead to further negativity. Opt instead to speak positively and specifically about things that bother you or that you think need adjustment.

If your child is constantly leaving their toys out where you step on them or kick them accidentally, sit them down and inform them that their toys are going to get broken and end up in the garbage if they continue to leave them out. Explain that leaving toys out leads to them getting kicked under couches, or stepped on, which leads to them being lost or broken. This will let them know that there is a direct natural consequence to leaving their belongings out on the floor, as well as informing them that it is dangerous for those who use the area.

Taking the time to be specific about your complaints instead of tossing out broad, general, and sometimes harsh complaints will lead to improved communication in your daily interactions and more open relationships with those around you. People will feel more able to talk to you without worrying about being bombarded with harsh personal attacks or non-specific venting that they may take personally. They will be able to take you at your word, and be able to understand what you are trying to tell them. They will also be more likely to improve their own communication skills as they will mimic that which affects them positively.

You are the master of your own words, so make each and every one of them count towards improving your situation, and by default the situation of those around you. Positive, effective communication is possible, one conversation at a time.

4 easy ways your child can be eco-friendly too

Today's post is a guest post by Tara Miller, a fellow writer who enjoys writing on a variety of subjects, particularly on the subject of psychology. This post is about helping your kids to learn how to become earth-friendly in an age-appropriate way. If you enjoy what you read here, send her an email using her email address below or feel free to leave a comment! Thanks for reading, I hope you enjoy!

Small children can't purchase organic foods or energy efficient appliances. They can't swap out the furnace filter or take a quick trip over to the recycling mill on their own. But they can do other simple eco-friendly tasks around the house and community that can help them sustain the environment. Instilling these following green practices at a very young age will undoubtedly help them on their way to becoming environmentally-conscious and energy conserving young adults.

Switch the Lights Off. As a parent, it's important that the first thing you teach your child is the importance of conserving electricity. Explain to them that leaving on a light when they are not in the room will not only drain your wallet, but it will also encourage the depletion of the earth's resources as well. It's equally important that you explain to your child that leaving appliances or cords plugged in an electrical outlet when it is not in use is also draining power—so unplugging video gaming systems, the computer and cell phone chargers when they are not using them is a must. To help get started them and to make this a habitual thing, why not turning it into some kind of game? Challenge your child to unplug all the appliances that are not being used and reward them with something small if they do a good job—just make sure you warn them to steer clear of the refrigerator and other appliances that need to be on at all times.

Conserving Water. Small children can also do wonders for the environment simply by decreasing their water usages. One of the more common things that children (and adults) do is let the water run while brushing their teeth or lather up soap to wash their face. Instead, encourage your child to only use the water to wet his or her tooth brush and then when he or she needs to rinse out his or her mouth.

To stress the importance, you could always explain that by letting the water run non-stop, an innocent fish or turtle may be drained of the water supply it needs to survive. Or, you can let them watch this short video named "Don't leave the water running". Equally important, you want to try and encourage your child to take showers rather than baths since showers use less water. But you might also want to tell them that singing in the shower and doing other activities in the shower while the water is running (playing with toys for example) is also wasting water.

Walk, Bike, Take the Bus or Carpool. How your child gets to school is usually up to the discretion of the parent, but if the school is close enough why don't you encourage your child to walk or take a bicycle to school? If your child is too young, you can make it a family ordeal and walk or ride your bike to school all together. Using this mode of transportation will heavily decrease the levels of carbon released into the atmosphere—even if your child walks to school only a few days out of the week. Taking the school bus or organizing a carpool can be equally as effective at reducing smog—it'll save you a bundle on gas money too.

Recycle Together. Lastly, if you recycle allow your child to participate. Small children love being included in everything from cooking, washing the car to yes, even recycling. Allow them to help by sorting the different materials and explaining why we recycle in the first place. This one should be a breeze since even someone as young as 5 years-old knows how to identify a can made for plastic bottles from the one made for paper.

This guest contribution was submitted by Tara Miller, who particularly enjoys writing about psychology degrees. She welcomes your comments and can be reached at:

Compassionate Parenting: Listen and understand

Children, like all of us, need to be heard and understood.
Next time you hear yourself telling your child how s/he should be feeling or what s/he should be thinking or doing, stop and listen to what your child has to say.

When you go through life and come across something challenging or emotionally provoking, do you find it helpful when those around you try to tell you how to get through it? Say you just had a child, and people come up to you while you’re out for a walk with your baby and start telling you to breastfeed/not to breastfeed, to swaddle them/not to swaddle them, to feed on demand/to feed on a schedule. How do you react?
Each person will experience their lives in a different way. The way that I decide to solve a problem, or grieve loss, will be different from the way my neighbour, mother, aunt, coworker deal with that same situation. There is no one right way to deal with a situation, whether positive or negative.
What there is in each situation is the opportunity to learn more about yourself. Take any situation, a promotion or a layoff, child birth or miscarriage, good meal or gross meal, and there is something that you can learn in how to deal with similar situations in the future.
So telling a child that they ‘shouldn’t be upset’ because they fell and hurt their feelings/bum/knees will not help them learn how to deal with the next fall they experience. Saying that your son/daughter ‘should be happy’ that daycare is over because they get to come home will not make it easier for them to cope with that separation.
Telling people how to think repeatedly, especially as they are just developing problem-solving skills and analytical thinking, will be more of a detriment to them, because they will not learn that they can have faith in their own emotions. They will depend on others to tell them how to feel about every little thing.
Instead of telling other how to feel, or how you would feel in that situation, start asking them how they feel. Listen to what they say, and try to see things from their perspective. Forcing your thoughts and opinions onto them when they're going through a time of change, be it positive or negative, is a surefire way to alienate them when what they need is someone close.
When you go through a hard time, or a big change, or just a disappointment, you don't want to hear from others who will tell you how you should be feeling. You will likely want someone to listen to you and to hear what you're saying. To provide beneficial input that incorporates what you feel as well as how they would deal with it in your situation. But your feelings and emotions and fears need to be validated.
Each and every one of us as humans have an inate need and want to be heard and understood. To be able to talk and have others actually listen to what we have to say. Children are no exception, and neither is the cranky woman next door (or grumpy uncle, or crabby cashier). They all want to have their worries, thoughts, emotions, and happinesses heard and understood.
What you send out will come back to you, so when you're waiting in line at the grocery store, or you run into your cranky neighbour, or your child is having a fit, stop and listen to what they actually have to say. You may be amazed at what they say, you may even be able to do something right then and there to help them out.
All it takes is for you to stop and listen. The rest will come naturally.

Celebrate small victories

Celebration is one of the key parts of life that lead to having met personal needs. To celebrate, to feel joy or emotion towards a specific instance, creates a level of specialness in that instance. When your child learns to walk, you celebrate it and you talk about it often. When you graduate from high school, college, university, there’s normally a pretty big celebration!

So what about small victories? What about your first successful week of eating healthy, or your first earning through a new medium?

I experienced this today. I began writing for Helium in January of 2011, and am working towards adding to my published material weekly. I earned my first amount there, 0.01$ as of this afternoon of February 15, 2011. It may not seem like much, but it is a start. It is a beginning, and I am excited.

It opens the door to my mind to realize, accept, and encompass that I can actually make money through this medium. It may not be much, but it is something. It is validating. It is empowering. It fills the body and soul with a power of knowing that the work I put into this medium pays off.

Any small success, no matter how small, impacts everything around you. By celebrating it, you pull it out of the shadows and bring it into the limelight for all to see. You show that you are proud of something that you have accomplished, no matter how small. You should be proud because accomplishments are accomplishments, regardless of their size. Impact is not affected by how big of an accomplishment is, but by how big the follow through is on that accomplishment.

If I looked at this 0.01$ that I earned through this medium and said “oh, geez, wow, a whole penny, whoopee” then I would be downplaying, and even insulting, my ability to write and earn through Helium. This could lead to frustration, and giving up, because I would be setting my expectations too high for this time in the game.

Instead, I celebrate, and I cheer for myself. Because I know that I can, and I know I will keep doing better. Small victories lead to bigger victories. Celebrate the baby steps, and the tiptoeing because that is what will lead you to feel more capable of taking on bigger steps.

Don’t let small successes laugh at you because they’re small. Laugh at them, because they will lead you to larger successes and better self-confidence. When you accept and celebrate your small victories, you are accepting that you have done something right. You did good, you’ve done well, you succeeded. Then you are more able to look forward and make more changes and achieve more victories.

So what small victory have you achieved today?

How much value is your money worth? You decide.

A friend and I were discussing shopping, and how easy it is to spend money in certain stores. Wal-Mart was one such store that came up, and my friend mentioned that because the food they sell is so cheap, it’s easy to buy a lot of it. I agree in theory, but not in practice. It made me think of why I don’t buy at Big Box Stores if I can avoid it.

The brand of food and product they provide at Wal-Mart (or any other department/Big Box store) may be the same with cheaper prices, but what goes into making that price lower? Where do the corporations make their money if they are lowering the prices of products that are normally more expensive?

Consider this: your money is a handful of voting ballots. Every time you purchase something, you are voting with that money. When you buy at a local store, you are voting that is it in that store that you place your faith, your trust, your loyalty. You support them silently by purchasing their products.

At the same time, when you purchase an item at a Wal-Mart or other Big Box Store, you are voting. Only you are voting for poor working conditions, poorly treated employees, and cheap products. The price of the product is knocked down because the large store is willing to sacrifice quality of working environment to pad their bottom line. The appeal is in the small price, especially when the small print is hidden.

Photo courtesy of Flickr user striatic
So the argument that the brand name may be the same becomes relatively irrelevant. It becomes a new argument of what kind of service industry and quality in environment do you want to support?

It becomes making sure that you know where that money is going. It comes down to where you would put your money if you weren’t getting anything out of it. Would you donate money to a Big Box corporation that spits out poorly made toxic toys? Or would you rather donate money to a small industry or store that makes sturdy, dependable toys made of real natural materials?

How much is your money worth to you? If the answer is still the same, there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. But remember that if your personal values are opposed to donating money to the store you just bought your last shirt from, why would you want to support them? If you feel that their working practices aren’t up to your level of value, or their accommodations aren’t up to snuff, take your money elsewhere.

It’s kind of like when you go for a vacation, and you stay at a hotel. If the service you received at the hotel was sub-par, or the accommodations left much to be desired, you probably wouldn’t go back! So when you’re at the mall and you’re trying to decide where to spend your money on things that you want or need, consider which store aligns its values closely with your own.

Your money is worth as much as you decide it is. If you want to get more bang for your buck, consider being willing to spend a little bit of extra to get a higher quality that will last you longer. If you want to support fair working environments, consider being willing to spend more at the cash register so that the employees will be provided better benefits, salary, compensation. Consider buying fairly traded products when possible to help not only those in your community, but across the globe as well.

We are all humans, and we all deserve a chance to live a fulfilling life. By voting with your dollar, you show the corporations and the government and the small business industry what you think is important, what you think of as quality, and what you think is worth spending your hard-earned money on.

Whoever you do choose to spend your money on, and whichever store or industry you support, just be confident and sure that it aligns with what you see as right. Integrity above all else, so be what you are and act based on your own values. Make conscious decisions, and informed decisions. Spend and act in ways that coincide with your beliefs instead of oppose them.

You may not think that you can make a difference. But you can. One person is all it takes to start a change. Talk about what is important to you. Discuss with family and friends what values you want to see in the food industry, service industry, everywhere. Expect quality, and don’t settle for less than you’re worth. It may be hard at first to find places that meet your expectations, but as demand rises so will supply.

Patience and integrity will carry you through. Decide and stand strong on what is important to you and what values you want to support. Then do it, one purchase at a time.

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Fresh new design

So I decided that my old template and design looked a little drab and childish. It was nice, but it didn't really fit. So I changed it. I changed it one element at a time. I'm still going to be tweaking it here and there, so it's not completely done. Then again, it probably never will be.

Anyone out there have a better eye for design than me? Care to share your insight? I want to look smooth and efficient, but not too serious (because lets face it, too serious is no fun!)

Anyways, this weekend is a blast so far, and I do apologize for my lack of posts, but I needed a little break. I hope to be back on track starting tomorrow, with fresh new information and opinions for all!

As always, if ever you have any questions, comments, ideas or suggestions, feel free to contact me and let me know!

Peace and serenity,


Saturday Morning Fun!

So this morning we're babysitting Z, as we do every other Saturday. After breakfast, we decided it would be fun to finally get outside and play on those huge hills the snowplows created around the parking lot. It was a blast!

I actually threw on a pair of snowpants and got right in there, got a sweet workout and felt the burn let me tell you! Climbing to the top of the hill proved harder than I had originally thought, but it made it even more satisfying when the two kids would climb up and I would roll them back down the hill. They laughed so hard!

The two of them kept trying to knock me over to no avail, so M decided that it would be her job to take me down. She tied the dog to a tree, and then climbed up and tried to knock me over. I saw her coming though, so I braced myself and grabbed her as the got to the top, and brought her down with me! Success!

All in all, what a blast! It was so much fun, and man am I tired! We're planning on going out again after lunchtime, to toboggan this time, and I can't wait.

Have you done anything outside yet this weekend?  What are you waiting for?

Peace and serenity,


Update on coconut oil

So I wrote a review of coconut oil a while back, this great product that I got for decently cheap in a beautiful glass container. It is still working wonders for me, and I would love to share the ways how.

Firstly, it is a fantastic moisturizer for my lips. I still use lip balm, but only because I have a few sticks that M doesn't like. When my lips are actually irritated, I reach for the coconut oil and slather it on. It feels way more natural on my lips, and it's almost invisible that I have anything on my lips at all!

Second, great skin moisturizer. The winter has been wreaking havoc on my normally nice and smooth skin. Havoc I tell you! This year has been the worst for it so far, oddly enough, possibly due to me taking out so many unnatural products from my beauty regime. So instead of using those, when I'm in the shower I grab a small dab of coconut oil and rub it all over wherever has been the dryest (most itchy) and the surrounding areas. Typically it's my legs and my arms, and sometimes my face and neck. I keep rubbing it in while the shower is running, the heat helps it absorb into my skin more efficiently. Then, voila! Soft silky skin right out of the shower. When I do this, I also try not to rub my skin with the towel so I don't rub off any of the oil or anything.

Finally, because of how great it is at moisturizing skin, it is a great injury cream. I rub it on my feet when they have blisters or irritation. I rub it on the edge of my scalp (by the hairline) when my dry scalp irritates me. I put it on my eyebrows if they're irritated after plucking. The list goes on. As long as it's not a heat injury (because oil will cause your skin to retain the heat, worsening the injury) I slather on some coconut oil and rub it in good. Even burns, once the actual heat has gone away (usually the next day) I will start putting coconut oil on it. I will confess, I don't know the science of why it works, but if I had to guess it would go something like this: The skin is kept soft and moist using a natural product that does not irritate the cells, speeding up the healing process and laying the groundwork for effective white blood cell movement.

Like I said, this stuff is amazing. Not to mention that a little goes a long long way. When this jar runs out, you better believe that I will be buying a new one!

Anyone use a simple natural product in their health or beauty regime? Let me know!

Peace and serenity,


Enjoy my updated review on coconut oil? Digg it or share it on your favourite social networking site!