The Ever-Growing MUST Read List

Hi my name is Cyn and I have a problem. And that problem is I cannot stop reading books! During university I didn’t have a lot of spare time to read, and now that I do, I’m pretty much reading everything under the sun. Below is a list of books that I want to read, have just finished, and are currently reading. This list will get updated over time, as I cannot stop finding books I want to read. Some are in my bookshelf already, so I’ll try and read those first! If you have any recommendations PLEASE post them below! I always love a great read!

Currently Reading

  • The Slight Edge – Jeff Olson
  • Unraveling Isobel – Eileen Cook

Personal Development

  • 21 Lessons for the 21st Century – Noah Harari[bookshelf]
  • You Are a Badass – Jen Sincero  [bookshelf]
  • Grace not Perfection – Emily Ley
  • The Compound Effect – Darren Hardy
  • Girl, Wash Your Face – Rachel Hollis
  • 7 Habits of Highly Effective People – Stephen R. Covey

Books I Probably Should Have Read by Now

  • Tuck Everlasting – Natalie Babbitt
  • Because of Winn Dixie – Kate DiCamillo
  • To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before – Jenny Han
  • Sisterhood Everlasting – Ann Brashares [bookshelf]
  • The Perks of Being a Wallflower – Stephen Chbosky [bookshelf]
  • Looking for Alaska – John Green [bookshelf]

All the Other Books I Want to Read

  • Beautiful Day – Elin Hilderbrand [bookshelf]
  • The Best Things in Life are Free – The Lonely Planet [bookshelf]
  • The Shift – Theresa Brown, RN [bookshelf]
  • On the Island – Tracey Garvis Graves [bookshelf]
  • The Wisdom of Sundays – Oprah Winfrey
  • This is Me – Chrissy Metz


Leave your book recommendations in the comments section!


Takeaways From The Slight Edge

I started reading this book out of recommendation from a friend who could not stop raving about this book. The Slight Edge is written by Jeff Olson and essentially walks you through the secret to success, beginning with “Mastering the Mundane” in order to create simple habits, that in turn, create success.

I have only reached chapter 9 so far (page 126), however I already feel the power behind this book. This book can be described as the tool you need to utilize every other personal development book you have already read/will read. Without discounting the power of other personal development books, I often find myself swimming in an overflowing pool of wisdom. When I read these books, I’m looking for a sign to point me in the right direction to be able to actually utilize all of the information I have gathered.

The Slight Edge offers you the power of teaching you how to harness all this knowledge and wisdom and turn it into something that can enhance your life each and every day. Below I will discuss a few takeaways from this book that have helped me and continue to shape me in making every day lifestyle changes

  1. Your Philosophy: The Slight Edge highlights this quite often, making it apparent that your philosophy dictates the actions you do to get you where you want to be. Having the proper philosophy allows you to manifest the lifestyle you want. The Slight Edge teaches you how to create said philosophy so that you are in the appropriate mindset
  2. “Mastering the Mundane”: In this book, there is a chapter dedicated to this. The gist behind this is that you create habits and recognize tasks that need to be completed pretty much every day. Although these tasks seem boring and minute, over time, they compound into large successful results. The Slight Edge goes over the importance of continuing these tasks, and also the importance of what happens when you don’t continue to do the tasks.
  3. There is no overnight success: Success does not happen overnight. Success must be cultivated through “Mastering the Mundane” and continually working at achieving your goals. Success is gained in the long-run, but the overnight instant success our society craves does not actually exist.

So far, since I’ve only completed about half of this book, these are three components that I have used in my every day life to create small changes and build habits that will lead me towards long-term success.

Me before The Slight Edge: I truly believed success was an overnight thing. It always seemed like everyone around me was creating the life they wanted overnight. I know this is truly not the case, as social media plays a hand in portraying the highlight reel we choose to show of ourselves. I expected to win the lottery and get the dream job and just move on with my life, skyrocketing myself into success, hanging out in an atmosphere sprinkled in star dust.

Me, being humbled by The Slight Edge: Success really is the collection of small, everyday habits and tasks compounded over time. Expecting instant success is not only detrimental to completing these tasks, but it clouds your judgement into believing that success is only achieved by luck and circumstance. Creating a successful life (whatever that means to you: financially, emotionally, physically, etc) is a series of repeated tasks. For example: financially. By storing away $50 of your weekly pay cheque may feel stupid and useless. However, you will have $2600 at the end of the year. In 5 years, you will have $13,000. All from repeating the same, mundane task of transferring $50 out of each pay cheque. This practice applies to any area of your life that you are trying to improve. By working towards a goal continuously and diligently, you will achieve a successful lifestyle.

I am barely halfway through this book and I have already incorporated changes into my lifestyle. The power this book possesses is truly limitless. Once I have completed the book, I will add a few more takeaways from the second half. I truly hope this was enough to spark your interest of this book, because I truly cannot rave enough about this book.

Have you also read this book? Are you thinking about reading it now? Let me know in the comments!

Currently Reading +Book Wishlist

Although being a university student is bitter sweet, when it comes to an end the sweetest thing by far is having the time to pleasure read. Out of sheer guilt (from not even being able to finish all the assigned readings) and lack of time, I didn’t have time to do one of my favourite activities – reading. This was also extremely annoying because I have TWO bookshelves in my room that are half full of books I haven’t read yet.

My love of reading definitely came from my mother, but it doesn’t end there. Although we differ on genres (she’s into murder mystery and crime, while I’m into romance, biographies and autobiographies, and personal development), we can both agree that it doesn’t take us much time to get through a great novel.

I plan on using the ‘Currently Reading’ tab on my blog as space where I can write about what I’m reading at the moment, how it’s affecting me, and what are the takeaways. I will also be posting a book list broken down by category (genre, purchased vs. not yet purchased, etc) so you can see what I’m reading and how I’m making my way through my current book list.

I’m very excited to finally be posting in this tab. If you know me personally, you would know that I can’t keep quiet about a good book. I get so excited and will chat about it to almost anyone that will listen. I truly love reading and sharing the knowledge that I gain from reading books, and I hope you use these small blurbs from the books I’m reading to be able to add books to your own ‘must read’ list.

Stay tuned for more to come in this tab!



What Happens to us When We Neglect Self-Care?

This past Sunday I wrote a blog post about becoming acquainted with self-care and why it is important to include it in your everyday life. In case you aren’t familiar with the term ‘self-care’, self-care is described by the Oxford Dictionary as ‘the practice of taking action to preserve or improve one’s own health’.

Self-care is a practice that should be included in each and every day, and can rage from a wide variety of activities. From stretching, to breathing, to showering to going to the gym to cleaning out a room in your house, self-care has a variety of different meanings for different people, as well as for different levels of functioning. Self-care is meant to preserve your well-being and add value to your health.

Just as easy as self care is to incorporate into your day, it’s also just as difficult to not do. Often from my own personal experiences, I have noticed that it’s easier to neglect self-care when I am tired, stressed or sick. Under those conditions, I may not want to go the extra mile for something as simple as some stretching, or I may not want to go to the gym if I’m overly stressed out.

Missing one day at the gym isn’t the end of the world, nor is pushing cleaning aside and letting it all pile up. The problem arises when it’s a compounded effect. Missing the gym for weeks on end, letting the laundry pile up, not using techniques for stress management and continually growing more stressed. The compound effects of not performing regular acts of self-care can be detrimental to your mental and physical well-being. Frankly, you are cheating yourself of the benefits achieved from performing these activities of self-care.

Really, the only person you’re cheating is yourself. This should be enough of a reason to sit back, assess your current lifestyle, and look for the holes and cracks you appear to be slipping through. Is it a time constraint? Is it a mental or emotional constraint? Are you even able to pin point what it is that’s holding you back from taking care of yourself?

Often we are diligent about completing tasks for other people and ensuring the people we love are cared about. You may find yourself going to work and putting in 8 or more hours, to come home to a family that needs you to be present with them up until it’s bedtime. Perhaps you are the sole caregiver for a loved one. Perhaps you have many commitments outside of your job that all require a high level of presentness. Whatever the case may be, you may find that you just don’t have the time or willpower to give yourself the care you desperately need to preserve your well-being.

This is where I want to change that mentality. You deserve the love you give so freely to other people. Yes, you heard me right. You deserve to love and care about yourself as much as you love and care about everyone else. In fact, you need to make yourself a priority because in order for people to rely on you, you need to be ‘you’. If we don’t take care of ourselves and set boundaries and limitations, we can’t be the best us we can be. If we don’t put our foot down and take time to improve our own well-being, we can’t fully be there for someone else.

It is so important to take time out of our daily lives to nourish ourselves and our well-being. This may include, but not be limited to food itself. We need to nourish ourselves with nutritious food. We need to nourish our souls by taking time to do things that set our souls on fire. We need to nourish our minds by challenging ourselves to make the time for ourselves, to make ourselves the priority. All of this can be achieved through sitting down and really looking at our own lives. Do you make time for yourself to complete tasks that make YOU feel good? Do you make time for yourself to do activities that PRESERVE your well-being, instead of overtaxing or straining it? Do you take the time to get in touch with yourself and find out what it is that you need to reset?

It may be as simple as going for a daily walk. For some it’s a hot shower, for some its half an hour alone with their thoughts. Some find solace in cleaning and organizing, others through sweating it out at the gym. What brings you peace of mind? What brings you closer to a calm state of mind, and are you incorporating it into your schedule? Are you making time to do the things YOU need to do to provide yourself with the self-care you NEED and DESERVE?

Through reading this I want to ignite a spark of inspiration. I want you to sit back and look at your current life. I want you to be honest with yourself and really determine whether you are incorporating self-care into your daily life. It’s not a test or a quiz, more of a challenge to yourself to see whether you are giving yourself the best care you truly deserve.


What techniques do you currently do for self-care? Do you need some ideas for self-care? Let me know in the comments!



Five SIMPLE Ways YOU Can Save Money Today

Until my 20’s, the thought had never even occurred to me to become financially responsible. I had built my bad spending habits throughout my teens when I had no bills and no commitments. There was no issue when it came to spending money on pricey clothes and coffees, not to mention concerts, movies and dinners out. If you could think of it, I probably did it – and didn’t think twice about it.

This lifestyle was all fine and dandy until I entered my twenties. Thankfully, my parents let me stay at home rent free throughout university, my only real expense being my phone bill. Unfortunately this did not help to improve my spending habits what-so-ever.

Frankly, the combination of never learning about finances in school, not listening to my parents, and getting used to spending all my income led me to develop impulse shopping habits, poor financial decision making skills, and no savings to speak of.

It wasn’t until I really looked at my finances and started becoming stressed right out. How could I have let myself go years without honing any real financial skills? How did I have virtually no expenses yet still have no money to show for myself? I was embarrassed and scared that I was nearly 25 with no real savings to speak of.

So, I did what any high-strung-stressed-out-millenial would do – I turned to the internet. I scoured website after website, blog-post after blog-post. Pinterest. Instagram. Any platform I could find that would allow me to type into a search bar. Lucky for both you and I, the internet is full of tips and tricks for how to cut your spending by re-thinking simple, everyday tasks. Below I have listed the top five tricks I use every day to cut my spending, and how much on average I save per month as a result.

1. Quit buying takeaway coffee everyday

Ugh if someone had only said this to me sooner. I was seriously spending anywhere from $2.50-6.00 a day on coffee (of course, living that latte life). It truly made no sense either because I had a coffee machine at home (that I literally used whenever I was at home)! So, I stopped buying coffee everyday. I now make my coffee at home and buy a flavoured almond milk ($5-7, lasts 2 weeks) and add it to my coffee.

Weekly savings: $25

Monthly Savings: $100

2. Call your phone company to discuss your rate

Have you been a loyal customer for months or years? Have you simply signed up but have a few questions? CALL YOUR PHONE COMPANY! I had been with my phone company for 6 years and always renewed my plan over the phone (I recommend this because when you actually call them they have more authority to make decisions and changes than people at the kiosks do). Somehow, I ended up entering a plan (with a phone) that was $85, plus a bonus pack (which I wasn’t using), and with tax it came to a whopping $103 per month. I never really paid too much attention to it but in hindsight it was absurd that I was paying that much when I entered the plan with the phone. So, I called my phone company and asked a few questions (always be polite, I can’t stress this enough. At the end of the day they are human), and got my rate reduced to $60 a month before tax ($68 with tax)!

Weekly savings: $8.75

Monthly savings: $35

3. Making your meals at home

Guys this one could make me cry. If I had just planned lunches and eaten less dinners at home I can’t even begin to count how much extra money I would have today. I would spend an average of $10 a day on lunch at least 4x per week. I also would spend close to $100 eating out for dinner (drinks included). This was insane to me once I started adding up how much I was spending! Now I no longer eat out for lunch, and I stick to 1 dinner out per week (if that, with a budget of under $50). The amount you end up saving will personally depend on how much you spend per week on groceries, but I guarantee you will save a serious amount of cash from eating at home. Make it fun! My friends and I have taken to doing dinners at home and trying out new recipes!

Weekly savings: $90 ($40 for lunches – just stopped buying, $50 for dinner – budget reduced)

Monthly savings: $360

4. Switch gyms/workout from home

As fitness is becoming more popular in this day and age, several gyms are opening up all over the place. This gives consumers options to choose which gym they would like to go to, often with a wide variety of price tags for memberships. I don’t particularly enjoy memberships however a gym membership is a must for me. I would eventually like to switch to a home gym, but for now this is the plan. I switched gyms and ended up cutting my gym budget in half. I was originally spending $48 a month (this was a youth discount too) and recently switched to a gym which charges me $26 a month. This gym currently fits my lifestyle perfectly and is in close proximity to my house. Of course there are usually more bells and whistles with the pricier gyms, but if they are not directly contributing to you reaching your goals, don’t hesitate to switch gyms! Even better: create yourself a home gym and skip the membership altogether!

Weekly savings: $5.50

Monthly Savings: $22

5. Watch where you park

Surprisingly, this is a big one for me. In Ottawa when you venture downtown and certain places, parking costs a pretty penny. Out of convenience, I used to just park anywhere and everywhere without really thinking of the financial implications. Parking would cost me anywhere from $10-15 depending on the week. Little did I know, if I often just parked farther away I would be able to snag a free parking spot (most have time limits so be careful to check this out). In the winter this one is a pain, but so is spending $10 a week on parking. Not only do I increase my step-count on my Fitbit, but I get a little extra exercise and save more cash.

Weekly savings: $10

Monthly savings: $40


These tips I used to save money did not require rocket science or a degree in astro-physics. What it did require was me sitting down, looking at my finances, looking at the weak areas I had, and acting on them. In order to save, I had to plan and stick to my budget. Actually sticking to your budget is what makes the difference. Also, so does sticking this money in savings. If you don’t put at least some of the money you’ve saved into savings, you haven’t actually saved it.

I’m challenging you to incorporate at least one of these five things into your weekly lifestyle! Are you new to saving? Is this not your first rodeo? Have any super easy tips you’d like to share? Let me know in the comments!

How YOU Can Easily Make Self-Care a Lifestyle

In this day and age, self-care has become a predominant phenomenon. With a shift in the way we see mental health and wellness as a society, the importance of self-care has grown and become a recurrent theme.

For those of you who haven’t heard too much about self-care and what it means, the Oxford Dictionary delivers the no-nonsense definition of ‘the practice of taking action to preserve or improve one’s own health.’

Self-care itself however is often defined by the individual in terms of what practices and activities do you participate in to maintain or improve your own mental health and well-being. This looks different for each individual, as everyone’s mental health needs vary.

Personally, I engage in several self-care activities each day. Although theoretically self-care is something meant to be incorporated daily, I support the idea of people being busy and cranking out work all day long. In that instance, we often neglect ourselves and self-care ends up coming in last.

Below I’ve compiled a list of 10 super simple ideas to start incorporating or to increase the amount of self-care you’re providing yourself. The list will go from least time consuming to most time consuming to help you determine how much commitment that requires you to make!

Stretch your body

This can be done before you even get out of bed or at any point throughout the day. Dedicate 5 minutes to stretching your body (head-to-toe) and enjoy the feeling of stretching each muscle.

Meditate/Deep Breathing

This can be done again before you even get out of bed or at any point throughout the day. Take 5 minutes to practice meditation or deep breathing exercises to increase mental awareness, bring yourself to the present moment and improve focus. I recommend guided meditation to start, there are several apps and free YouTube videos you can use to guide you through a meditation session (I personally still use guided meditation as I find my focus still wavers during meditation).

List the things your grateful for

Make a list of 3 things (because anyone can think of at least 3 things your grateful for). Jot it down or make a mental note of the things you are grateful for. Do this everyday.

Create an affirmation for yourself

Depending on where you’re at in your life or what your goals are, this could look different for everyone. An affirmation is something you can say to yourself to validate yourself and your feelings. It may go something like ‘I am worthy of love’ or ‘This is not a reflection of me as an entire person’. Say these affirmations throughout the day and whenever you feel as though you are approaching a challenging situation.

Clean out your email inbox

Depending on how many emails you have hoarded in there, this may be a more time consuming task. Really sit down and clear out the clutter. Unsubscribe to emails that do not serve you a purpose. Make a note to clean out email inboxes regularly so they don’t pile up.

Take a hot bath/shower

A hot bath or shower can be an instant mood enhancer. Use Epsom salts, bath bombs or bubble bath. Use luxurious smelling soaps and shampoos. Pamper yourself. Exfoliate. Stand under the hot stream of water and let go of all the tension in your shoulders. Sink back into a hot bubble bath. Feel the release and allow yourself to relax.

Go for a 30 minute walk

Clear your head, walk the dogs, just get outside. The fresh air will do wonders for you and exercise is never a bad thing. Get to know your neighbourhood and the nearby trails.

Go to the gym

Surprisingly enough, if you already incorporate this into your daily or weekly routine you’re participating in self care. This doesn’t have to be limited to the gym however. Workout at home, go for a run, go for a hike. Get your heart rate going and your blood pumping.

Turn off your phone for a few hours

If you can’t commit to turning off your phone for a few hours try putting it on do not disturb. Give yourself the time to distance yourself from constant notifications and social media.

Clean an area of your house

Spend half an hour picking one spot that really needs a good clean and just doing it. You’ll feel relieved once the clutter is gone. For me, the best spot to clean is the place I’m going to be sleeping so I can go to bed with the peace of mind that my room is clean. Pick an area that would improve your functioning the best and take the time to de clutter and organize.

Things to remember

The trend of self-care Sunday is a great way of getting on board with the whole philosophy of self-care! Remember that self-care is not a luxury but should be done every day to improve your well-being! Self-care is personalized and individually driven, and is well worth implementing.

How do you guys incorporate self care? What are some of the barriers to you implementing self care? Let me know in the comments!

Baby Steps YOU Can Take Right Now to Get Outside More this Winter

I wouldn’t say it’s a fear of winter. It’s more of a complete awareness of how bitterly cold and frigid the weather can be as soon as you leave the cozy four walls of your house. I have grown up in the Nation’s Capital (Ottawa) and have spent 24 years trying my very best to love winter (as it’s clearly not going anywhere).

From a picture point of view, winter is lovely. The way the snow falls in big, fluffy gobs or how the ice coats each tree branch after a bout of freezing rain. It does end up looking like a winter wonderland, which makes it all that much more tempting to want to venture outside.

Over the years I’ve noticed the desire to go outside during winter is there, it’s just over-ridden by the freezing temperatures and lack of sunlight. However, I’ve come to realize there is a vast difference between enjoying winter and merely scraping by to survive winter. Unfortunately, spending every day wishing winter was over does not, in fact, speed up the process.

So, as of last winter I decided to try my best to get outside more during the winter months. Now, I wouldn’t say I spent the entirety outside, but I did significantly increase the amount of time I spent outside, in addition to actually learning to enjoy myself. If you’re at all like me and are dreading the upcoming months, take a look at some of the tips posted below as to how I got my butt outside the house and started to finally embrace winter.

Dress appropriately

Seems like common sense but it can truly make or break an afternoon outside. I personally like to go for the stuffed sausage look when I step outdoors, meaning I deck myself out in layers upon layers, scarves, hats, mitts, winter boots. You name it and I’m probably wearing it.

Tricks to ensure compliance:

  • Buy a hat that you actually genuinely enjoy or feels comfortable. You’ll be more likely to wear it if you don’t look absolutely ridiculous in it. If you’re worried about hat hair, most drugstores sell mini hairbrushes that are easy to tuck into purses, backpacks or office drawers.
  • Invest in a pair of waterproof winter boots. Cannot stress this enough. It won’t matter how warm your boots keep you on dry surfaces, as soon as you hit slush it’s game over.
  • Always have a pair of gloves either on or tucked into your pockets/car. (This is actually advice from my mother, who told me I should always keep a pair of gloves handy to avoid absolutely freezing your hands in the situation that its not snowing when you leave for work, but starts snowing during the shift and then you have to clean off the car)

Watch the weather!

I’m going to be honest with you. I am no winter warrior. I am 100% a winter wimp. This being said, don’t pick the day it’s minus 40 with a 100% chance of Hell freezing over to go outside and try to truly enjoy winter for the first time. Look for an unusually mild day throughout the week with a little bit of sun if you can. Ideal days temperature wise are when it starts snowing (surprisingly). Take note of the temperature on days that it ends up snowing and you’ll notice its actually closer to 0 degrees than the latter. If you don’t think you can brave the new fallen snow yet by all means tough out the sunny winter day.

Furry friends

Believe it or not, your dog may actually enjoy the snow. This being said, I’ve often heard of the misconception around not having to walk small dogs as often. This mentality makes sense, as they would theoretically not need to go on as long of a walk. However, this doesn’t mean that you should skip the walk entirely. Understanding the walk is for the dogs benefit (and your own) may motivate you more to attempt to get outside.

I recently invested in some booties for my dogs (this is also important, if you walk on roads there is often a lot of salt which is not great for doggie paws. You may notice them lifting up their paw, this is not from cold but from salt exposure). Not only do they look absolutely hilarious the first time you put them on, they make walks a little more bearable from the dog’s point of view. Use the thought of entertaining your dog as an incentive to get out and love the winter even more. If your dog is one of those that enjoy the snow, you may fall in love all over again watching them frolic about.

Friends who enjoy winter

Makes sense right? Surround yourself with people who already do the thing, so then you sort of somehow end up doing the thing too. Whether you convince your friend to go out for a winter walk with you, or simply tag along to one of their winter activities (i.e. skiing, skating, hiking), you may find it easier to find yourself in situations that take place outside.

That being said, it’s also way more enjoyable to do activities with like-minded people. If you buddy up with someone who already enjoys winter outdoor activities, there’s less likely to be complaining about said activity. Surrounding yourself with a positive environment helps to play into the goal you’re trying to achieve (in this case, trying to enjoy skiing without becoming a human popsicle).

Festivals, seasonal activities and events

For this one you’ll need to check your local listings and news regarding what’s happening and where, but often there are seasonal festivals or events (winter included) where they showcase the highlights of the season. For example, in Ottawa there’s Winterlude that opens up along the canal (which is actually Canada’s longest skating rink!) where there are ice sculptures, Beaver Tails, and several different events for all ages.

There’s several similar events hosted throughout the city as the season goes on (personally any event where alcohol is an option should be visited). I recommend trying to go to at least one event this year! Bundle up, mentally prepare yourself, grab a few friends, and go! You may discover a newfound appreciation for winter if you are able to find a seasonal event you plan on returning to!

Photographer’s Eye

Have you ever seen the most picturesque scene directly outside your window? Seriously so picturesque that the amateur photographer in you scrambles to grab your phone to take a picture, only to realize you may actually have to leave the house to get a decent quality photo. To your disappointment you sulk back onto the couch, not ready to commit to putting on a pair of winter boots and trekking out to get that perfect shot.

Personally I love taking photos of nature, even though a lot of them do not end up leaving the confines of my phone. One of the best rewards for getting out in the winter (mostly through hikes) was being able to see the true beauty of the landscape and how winter was incorporated into that. In addition to seeking out breathtaking landscapes, there was the opportunity to capture some of these moments by photo.

If nature is something that inspires you or is aesthetically pleasing to you, I challenge yourself to go out for a walk. Use the weather in your favour here but seriously, just go! Get out and see how delicate each little snowflake looks on your mitten when you scoop up a handful, or how the snow genuinely sparkles in the sunlight. Enjoy the stark contrast between bright, blue sky and fresh-fallen clean snow. If not for the perfect photo, do it for your soul.


I’ll be honest, I still don’t love every single day of winter. But, I do love getting outside. I also would rather go on a hike than run on a treadmill, which the desire to do so doesn’t stop once the snow hits the ground. This is why I’ve chosen to slowly embrace winter instead of being miserable for four months of the year. Honestly, it wasn’t easy, but it’s the little things that count and I would say this is one small victory!


Have you let winter into your life? Still a diehard enemy of winter? Let me know in the comments!