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

Takeaways

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.

Takeaways

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!

Ten Things You Can do to Change YOUR Life Right NOW

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We’ve all been there before. That feeling of not quite being where we want to be in our lives. We could be so close to something great, but we have that nagging feeling as though something is missing.

When I noticed this, I decided to take a look at my life and what areas were lacking. What wasn’t I doing that I could be doing? Why did I continually have this feeling even though I had no real problems in my life?

Over the past few months, I have started incorporating several new habits in my day-to-day life. Habits that have forced me to slow down and really assess what it is that I need in a given time. Habits that allow me to do some soul-searching and find what it is that I am passionate about. Habits that protect me from overworking myself in a direction I do not want to go.

These daily habits have allowed me to feel more grounded and confident in my own life. I feel as though my free-time belongs to me, and I am comfortable exploring ways to make myself feel good on a day-to-day basis. I also have gained the practice of setting boundaries in my own life, to be able to protect my energy and spare time. My friends and family have noticed changes in how I structure my time, in addition to how I carry myself.

Below is a list of things I started incorporating into my daily life. If anything I’ve said so far has resonated with you, I suggest trying at least one of the things on the list. You don’t have to incorporate them all at once, actually, it’s probably better if you try one or two at a time. Then, once you notice your life slowly changing from incorporating those one or two things you can add another one, and another one.

1. Practicing daily gratitude

I do this every morning before getting out of bed. I name 3 things that I am truly grateful for in my life (different things every day). Some examples are my loving, supporting family, having a roof over my head, the ability to breathe clean fresh air.

Really practice appreciating these things, as they add value to your life. Expressing gratitude increases the positive emotions we experience. If you are still unsure of how to express gratitude or the benefits you will reap, I suggest a five-minute internet search to immerse yourself into the culture of displaying daily gratitude and why you should!

2. Read for 15 minutes every day

When I was a student, I often didn’t have time for ‘pleasure reading’, that is, reading books outside of the assigned readings. Often, the assigned readings would take up way too much time, and I set aside reading for holidays and time off school.

Now that I have graduated, I have incorporated 15 minutes of reading into each day and I don’t see myself stopping anytime soon. Theres something so satisfying about being lost in a good book. I allot 15 minutes per day, but sometimes easily exceed 15 minutes and that’s okay! Use the 15 minutes as a starting point, and if your schedule allows, by all means read for longer!

Some of my favourite types of books to read are romance, poetry, autobiographies and biographies and personal development!

3. Drink more water

I know, this is the most mundane suggestion you’ve ever heard, but I seriously cannot stress enough how drinking water is vital. I will not bore you on the statistics of why drinking water is beneficial to your body, nor will I recommend a set amount as everyone’s individual needs differ (depending on body height, weight, activity level etc). However, I will tell you that you are missing out on being hydrated.

Increased mental alertness was the biggest change I noticed. I no longer needed several coffees throughout the day. Hydrating my skin from the inside (as opposed to slathering it with products and hoping they would seep deep enough) is the absolute best feeling on dry winter days.

I started carrying around a water bottle with me everywhere I went so that I always had access to water (I have several all measuring different volumes – size only determines how many times I will refill that bottle throughout the day). My best advice is to pick a size that’s convenient for you and set it right in front of you or directly beside you as an incentive to drink more.

4. Making yourself a nice breakfast at least once a week

In all fairness, on days I have to be up early for work I really don’t feel the motivation to make myself a full on drool-worthy breakfast. However, on days that I don’t work, I make it a point to make myself a delicious breakfast.

Whether you’re a toast and eggs kind of person or an artisanal oatmeal creator, make it a point of making yourself a delicious, jump-out-of-bed-for breakfast at least once a week. More often if you can. Not only does eating breakfast come with a slew of health benefits, but I find that making yourself a delicious breakfast makes you want to get out of bed. Planning for it the night before provides that extra incentive to get up and make it once your alarm goes off. Love your body and nourish it through a hearty first meal of the day.

5. Try grounding at least once a day

Full disclosure: I am an over-thinker. My brain is hardwired to over-think every possible aspect. Sometimes, when I let my mind get away from me, it’s hard to pull myself back into the moment. This can be particularly difficult when you are doing a task that requires you to be present and in the moment.

There are several different techniques for grounding oneself,  but I personally use the 54321 technique (not my own, available on the internet if you are curious for more information).

5 things you can see, 4 things you can feel, 3 things you can hear, 2 things you can smell, and one thing you can taste.

I use this technique at least once a day, usually more, to ground myself and bring myself back into the present moment. We need to remember we do not reside in the past or the future, but in the present moment.

6. Compliment yourself

Do you like your outfit today? How your hair is styled? A meal you made? How you handled a situation well at work or school?

Complimenting yourself on something about yourself or a task you completed is recognizing for something you did well. It builds your self-esteem and allows positive emotions about your work habits and daily tasks to flow. Building a better relationship with yourself sets yourself up for success.

We often have days where we feel like we can’t get anything done in time or done right for that matter. I encourage you to stop at least once throughout the day and compliment yourself on one aspect. Maybe you helped someone else, or did something no one else noticed. Compliment yourself! Because I guarantee if you feel like you did nothing right all day, you can look deeper and find one thing to compliment yourself on!

7. Tidy your sleeping space daily

There is nothing more satisfying than having a tidy bedroom before going to sleep. Free of clutter and debris. We know this already because we often sleep better once our sleeping spaces are tidy, well, at least I do.

So we know this, but we often don’t practice it! Make a habit to tidy your sleeping space (a.k.a. the bedroom) once a day, preferably in the few hours prior to bedtime. Small bonus of daily tidying your bedroom usually means you have to minimal if any cleaning if it is constantly maintained!

8. Unplug before bed

Half an hour to one hour before bed I started unplugging from my computer, TV and phone. I plug in my phone across the room to avoid temptation (the only thing I’m getting out of my cozy bed for is to use the bathroom).

Spend five minutes on the internet and the consensus will be that you should ditch your electronics before bed. This is when I usually sneak in my 15(+) minutes of reading. Reading actually helps transition me into a more natural state of fatigue, that way, when it’s time to put the book down and turn the lights out I actually feel tired and relaxed.

9. Say no to things you aren’t interested in doing, nor have the time for

Okay, this one is HARD. I am a natural-born people pleaser and this one I still practice at every day. We’ve all been in the situation where we’ve been offered an invite to something or other (go over and see a friend, go out to do xyz, etc.). Now, honestly, how many times have you said yes to something just because you didn’t want to be rude or because it would just be easier if you tagged along?

I can count thousands of times I didn’t really want to attend some event or other, but said yes out of guilt or pestering from a friend (will address this in an upcoming blog post). And I didn’t really want to go! Then, usually, the event or evening just turns into a downward spiral of wishing you were already in bed, or wishing you hadn’t spent money on this event you didn’t even want to go to in the first place.

If an invite, event or activity does not serve your interest, nor does it fit into your financial budget or time scheduling, say no. Seriously, you will thank yourself later. The times I’ve said no and actually sat the event out due to simply not wanting to, or other reasons (financial/time constraints), I felt so much better! There is nothing fun about attending an event you don’t have the time or money for, nor the desire to go. This particular practice (I say practice as opposed to habit, because I am still learning this one myself) has improved my mental well-being in ways I cannot even describe. Doing more of the things you love really does change your outlook, and having the courage to say no to things that do not serve you is the stepping stone to doing so.

10. Sleep early

If you are a natural night owl or are able to function on small amounts of sleep and feel this in no way applies to you, feel free to skip past. Personally, I was a night owl, but mostly because I hated going to sleep for fear I would be wasting the day or missing something (fear of missing out at it’s finest). But realistically, regardless of how much time I thought I was wasting or whatever I thought I was missing out on, that didn’t change my wakeup time.

Going to bed early most nights (we’re only human) has not only increased the number of hours I’m clocking on the pillow, but how I feel when I wake up. I absolutely feel it with every fibre of my being when I haven’t had enough sleep. Setting my bedtime back to 9-10 on nights before work, or when I know I’m feeling run down have significantly impacted my mental alertness throughout the day. Allowing myself those extra hours of sleep has made me realize that the only thing I was missing out on was a decent sleep!

 

I encourage you to challenge yourself to incorporating at least one of these habits into your daily life! Only positive things have come from me incorporating these habits, and I plan to master many more.

If you have tried to incorporate any of these habits in your day-to-day life, or have already incorporated these habits before reaching this article, let me know in the comments! If you have any other daily habits that have changed your life for the better, let me know in the comments! Thanks for reading!

cyn

Sun-dried Tomato & Artichoke Pasta

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When I was learning to cook I tried to look for an easy way to combine ingredients I loved (tomatoes!!, artichokes and pasta – of course) into one dish. This particular dish has been a staple in my diet for the past five years and is relatively easy to make. Several ingredients can be found simply by looking around your kitchen. It can also be a versatile dish in the sense you can add vegetables as you see fit/what is left over in the fridge. I hope you enjoy this pasta as much as I do!

Great for: last minute dinners, meal prep, craving pasta!

Extra note: I usually make this dish with spinach however I forgot to pick some up beforehand!

Ingredients:

  • 4 tablespoons oil of your choosing – I used avocado oil
  • 3 large cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped (approximately 1 cup/250 mL)
  • ½ cup (125 mL) sun-dried tomatoes (I used the bagged version but you can use sun-dried tomatoes in oil if you have that!)
  • 1 (28 ounce/796 mL) can diced tomatoes, with juices
  • 1 (14 ounce/398mL) can artichoke hearts, drained and quartered (use marinated artichokes if you prefer)
  • 1 teaspoon (5  mL) garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon (5 mL) red pepper flakes – or to taste
  • 1 teaspoon (5 mL) onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon (5 mL) dried coriander leaves
  • Salt & pepper to taste
  • 1 package (375 g) linguine noodles

Add ins: 1 package (5 ounce/142 g) spinach, protein of your choosing, additional seasoning

Substitutions: pasta can be substituted for gluten free option

Instructions:

  1. In a large saucepan, heat oil over medium heat. Add in finely chopped onions and cook until soft (3-5 mins). Once onion is soft, add in garlic and sun-dried tomatoes. Leave to simmer for 3-5 minutes.
  2. While this is simmering, in a separate pot boil water. This is for the pasta (cook according to package directions).
  3. Once mixture has simmered for 3-5 minutes, add can of diced tomatoes with juices into the saucepan. Add artichokes, garlic powder, red pepper flakes, dried coriander leaves and salt & pepper to taste.
  4. Cover and simmer mixture on low heat until pasta is done cooking (or longer if you can, this is where the flavour comes from).
  5. Once pasta is cooked, strained and add into sauce pan. Stir to coat the pasta noodles. If you are adding spinach, add in and allow to wilt before adding the pasta.
  6. Allow noodles to marinate for about ten minutes, then serve.

Serves: 4-6

The Start of Something Great

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Hi there!

If you happen to be reading this, not only are you reading the first post of this blog, but you happen to be reading the first blog post I’ve ever written. For the last year I have been dreaming of making this blog come to life, but have been putting it off simply because I was too scared to finally make the leap.

Writing is always something I have enjoyed yet never seriously pursued until now. In addition to my passion for writing, I have started to explore health and wellness in relation to lifestyle.

What does it really mean to be healthy? Health is no longer defined simply by the absence of disease. To me, health is multi-faceted and is linked many things including, but not limited to, daily activities involving what we eat and drink, how much sleep we get, how often we exercise, and how we manage our mental health and wellbeing. However, in combination with these daily activities, healthy social relationships, self-care, financial stability, developing a connection with nature and stress management must also be considered.

In the twenty-four years I have spent on this planet, I have only recently begun to uncover a holistic approach to health. No longer do I see health as black and white, but as multiple shades of grey. I see health as a journey, and not a destination. Day by day I am trying to make small changes to inherently improve my health and overall well-being.

Perhaps if you stumble upon this blog, you may find inspiration to make a small changes in your own life. You may find a new recipe to try. You may find a new book recommendation. You may find none of these things appeal to you at all, or you just may find exactly what you’re looking for. In the mean time, I’ll be pursuing the journey towards a healthy, fulfilling lifestyle and would love if you would join me!

Here’s to the start of something great!

Cheers!

cyn