Friday, 28 June 2013

Favorite Thing Friday: Natural Mosquito Repellent

Where I live, the mosquitoes are ruthless and hungry. Some people are bothered by them more than others, and unfortunately, I am one of those people.

It’s awful. Not only do they love me, but when they bite me I swell up – a lot. I am very allergic to them. If I don’t protect myself from them, the bites will irritate me so much that they will actually wake me up at night. That being said, I have always been one hundred per cent dedicated to Deep Woods Off, with DEET. But yes, sometimes it gets to be a bit much.

This week, I wanted to do some work in my garden before I went out for supper with some friends. I didn’t want t lather myself in bug spray though, so I started searching for ways to fight them off a little more naturally.

I mixed 2 tablespoons of witch hazel with 30 drops of eucalyptus oil and rubbed it on my pressure points, like I would perfume. I admit, I was skeptical, but wanted to give it a try.

Today, I am happy to share that it worked great and I would highly recommend trying this. It would be healthy to use on children, too.

You will probably have to re-apply it every half hour or so.

I also suggest eating citrus fruits throughout the summer, such as oranges, and adding lemon or limes to your water. Mosquitoes hate citrus fruit. But try to avoid bananas – they love bananas!

And wear light colured clothing. Mosquitoes are drawn to dark colors. Yuck.

Thanks for reading, and good luck fighting off the pests this long weekend!


What you need to stop doing to make your life better

I think there a lot things that some people may do, without even realizing it, on daily basis that are harmful to their overall health and wellness and I wanted to share some of the things that I think we should all try to stop doing.

Take a look at this list and see if any apply to you:

Criticizing the way you look
Would you let someone talk to your best friend, sister, brother or parent the way you talk to yourself? Probably not, so stop it. You are beautiful just the way you are. Listen to what your friends say about you, and believe them. You’re hair doesn’t have to look perfect and if you don’t want to wear a lot of makeup, then don’t. To help get you started on this train of thought, make a list of things that you love about yourself and write them down. Title it: I Am Beautiful. If you're having trouble getting started, ask a close friend or loved one for their help.

Expecting too much of yourself
I know you are probably a motivated, independent, successful person, but do you really think you can do everything? Expecting too much of yourself is setting yourself up for failure. Prioritize your to-do’s and make a list for the day. If you are setting big goals, don’t forget that it takes baby steps to get anywhere and be patient with yourself. Just do your best and know that it is good enough.

Putting energy into things that don't really matter
Does it matter that a certain person didn’t call you back right away, or – this is my favorite – that someone has un-friended you from Facebook? In the world we live in today, we often get caught up in a swarm of superficial issues and worry about things that ultimately don’t, and shouldn’t, have a big impact on your life and overall wellness.

I find the best way to cure this is to go and do something selfless. Do something for someone - anyone. Buy someone’s coffee or lunch or head down to your local food bank for a couple of hours. Sign up for a volunteer event for a few months down the road – this way you can work your schedule around it and have something to look forward to. Do something that will help you get some perspective on your life and the world we live in.

Comparing yourself to others
You will never be anyone else but you, so why waste your time wishing you were something or someone else? If you compare your life to other people’s lives, you will always find someone new who you think is above you, and your self-esteem will be constantly diminishing. You have to be happy with who you are and the life you live. Remember that you are here to live your life, not someone else’s, and know that you offer something to this world that no one else will ever be able to, and that is you.

Spending too much time connected
This is something almost our entire society does these days. We are always checking our email, social networking sites, and are committed to certain television programs that we arrange our lives around to make sure we are sitting down and watching them. Limit the amount of time you can spend plugged it. Take some apps off of your smart phone or cancel your cable. Read a book, go outside, or try cooking something new for dinner. We tend to forget that life happens outside of our smart phones, not within.

I’m not an expect, but I feel confident in saying that if we stopped doing these things, then the risk of developing anxiety, depression and physical problems (such as, maybe aches, pains and more) will decrease.

Pay attention to your daily routine. I’m curious to know if these are things that you catch yourself doing on a daily basis.

Thanks for reading!


Monday, 24 June 2013

Do you bring old wounds to a new relationship? Here's how you can love with a full heart:

I grew up in an abusive home, and looking back I can say that at more than one point every relationship in our household was toxic with the other. It wasn't even until up to two years ago (after my Dad's brain surgery) that I was convinced my parents liked each other.

I didn’t really know what love was. I didn't know what it looked like or sounded like. I didn't know how to express it or accept it. These weights I carried in my heart impacted every single one of my relationships, in one way or another (and they probably always will) but it has not been until recently that I have felt really open to love.

I want to share with you my journey and how I got to this place.

These are some important milestones that helped me learn how to love with a full heart:

Forgive Others
Forgive others for anything they’ve done to hurt you - including your parents, siblings, extended family, old friends and new. Try to remember that they are people too and they went through their own struggles that have made them who they are. This doesn’t mean its ok for people to hurt you, it just means you have to move on and remind yourself that at one point, they didn’t know any other way.

Stop Blaming Others for Your Behavior
No one “made” you act the way you do - not even your parents. You are the way you are, simply because you are YOU. And if you don’t like it, then change it. You have to take responsibility for who you are.

Be Willing to Change
I’m not suggesting you have to change your fundamental values or who you are as person, or pick up new hobbies and lie about what type of music you like to learn how to love. What I’m saying is that people grow and change and you have to be willing to accept that of yourself and in others. This doesn’t mean you’re a bad person or not good enough just the way you are, but you have to have personal goals, too. Be willing to challenge yourself. It’s likely that your partner will change in their own way, too. You can work towards being a better version of yourself if you are willing to embrace change.

Accept Someone for Who They Are - Not Who You Want Them To Be
No one is perfect, and everyone is going to bring learned behaviours or emotional road blocks to the table. You have to focus on the positives and appreciate everything a person has to offer. Any challenges you might face with another person is a learning opportunity for you. You just may not know at the time exactly what opportunity that is, but just be patient. Youèll figure it out.

Love Yourself First
I know, it sounds so cliché - but it’s true. Stop trying to get the perfect body, and aim to be perfectly healthy. Take care of yourself by being active, eating healthy and managing stress. Say nice things to yourself and know that you are worthy of love - real love. The ridiculous, inconvenient, consuming, can't-live-without-each-other love.

Love Unconditionally
Always. No matter what. This is something you will never regret. It’s harder than it sounds, but it’s just something you have to do.

Friday, 21 June 2013

Favorite Thing Friday: Rest, and why getting sick was the best thing that happened to me this week

Last Sunday, I found myself rocking back and forth with stomach pain during an entire 8 hour drive from Calgary to Grande Prairie, the day after a friend’s wedding. But as veteran partier I knew well enough that it was not a hangover. Within an hour of the drive I was projectile-vomiting outside visitor information centres off the highway. It was disgusting. I couldn’t keep anything down. Needless to say, it made for a long road trip.

Me having a rest between puke-stops during our Sunday afternoon road trip.

When I finally arrived home later that night, my situation had not improved. I was sick all night. I either had food poisoning or had caught some sort of 24 hour flu.

My amazing boyfriend took on the role of a caregiver like a champ. He put me to bed with some Gravol, soda crackers, flat gingerale and season three of Full House. Aside from the nauseating part, it was heavenly.

And for the rest of the week, that was that. I went into the office a little bit to help get myself out of bed and up and moving around, but aside from that, I said No to pretty much everything. I didn’t go to the gym, I didn’t visit any friends, and I didn’t even see my parents.

By day three, I looked over at Kody and said: “I think being sick is the best thing that could have happened to me, I feel so rested.”
I realize now that getting sick was my body’s way of shutting down and telling me to take a rest. I should have recognized the signs earlier, but the thing is, I love doing things with my friends and family, and always set a lot of goals for myself and have a lot things on the go, so it’s hard for me to make time for much-needed rest.

But this past week, I am so thankful my body forced me to rest. Not only did I get to spend some nice, quiet quality time with my boyfriend, but I caught up on some sleep, reading, and was able to decompress and re-focus my life a little bit.

From now on, I’m setting a day aside one day a week to do NOTHING.

“Sorry, I can’t do something tonight, I’m doing nothing.”

The people in my life are so amazing that I know not only will they be happy for me, but support me to do so. And I encourage you to do the same.

Thursday, 20 June 2013

Five Things I've Learned from my Dad

They always say you are going to wake up one day and realize that you are just like your parents – whether you like it or not. They also say that as you age, you realize that your parents know a little more than you ever thought they did.

I didn’t have the best relationship with my Dad growing up – it wasn’t until about a year ago, when he was diagnosed with an aggressive, non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma brain tumor that we were able to connect in healthy, loving, way. He was given three months to live. It is a year and half later, and he is living life to its fullest. By the grace of God, he was given a second chance at life.

I now appreciate more than ever who he is as a person.

These are just some of the things that I’ve learned from him (so far) throughout my life time:

1. Do not care what other people think of you.
It’s a waste of time. You will never make everyone happy, and someone is always going to judge you. All that matters is that you are happy with yourself. Let the social pressures go and Just Be.

2. Work hard for your money; spend it wisely, and save it.
Unlike me, my Dad has lived through some tight financial times, and because of this, he always made me work for every penny I earned. I appreciate everything I’ve worked for more than I think someone who hasn’t. I started a savings account when I was in college – just $50 a month at the time. I slowly increased that amount every chance I had. I graduated college at 25 years old, and paid off all of my student loans and bought my first house at 29. Moral of story: Every penny counts.

3. You can’t control life.
When my Dad decided not to take anymore chemotherapy or medication for his cancer, he told me: “I’ve lived a good life. I have a wonderful wife and two daughters that I am proud of. If it’s my time to go, it’s my time to go.” Like I said before, it’s now been over a year and he is probably the healthiest he has ever been - I’m not suggesting people don’t take any medicine, and I believe he is alive now because of a miracle – but I guess it just wasn’t his time to go, and I admired the acceptance he had of his fate. Life is not in our hands.

4. Don’t be afraid to ask.
Growing up, my Dad talked to everyone, and often, he embarrassed me. Sometimes, when we are out and about I still fear that he will. But one thing I admire is his ability to ask for what he wants. “You don’t know unless you ask” is something he would often say. I’m trying to get over my shyness and learn to speak up (when it’s appropriate, of course).

5. Enjoy the simple pleasures in life.
For better or worse, my Dad is a simple man. He likes being outside and spending time with people. Bike rides and drives in the countryside make his day.

Dad. Summer 2013.

Friday, 14 June 2013

Favorite Thing Friday: Baking Soda

Yes, here we are again. Another Favorite Thing Friday post, and as you can see, I've opted to feature another product that is cost efficient, found in the kitchen, and has multiple uses.

This week, I've used Baking Soda for so many fabulous things that I just had to share them.

1 - As a teeth whitener
Dip your toothbrush in a little bit of baking soda after you've added your regular toothpaste to the brush (I keep a little jar of baking soda it in my bathroom for this purpose). Brush the front teeth first, so that they get the most baking soda on them, and brush your teeth as you usually would. Only do this for about a week at a time though because it can be hard on your teeth. Within just a couple of days I was noticing results and my mouth felt refreshed!

2- To clear drains
My boyfriend is pretty messy in the kitchen and I often have to remind him that no, a full pan of leftover, expired lasagna cannot be washed down the drain and that it actually has to be thrown out into the garbage. I am also aware of the fact that having longer hair and being a regular self-groomer, that there is the potential for my hair to clog up drains - bathroom drains, specifically.

Simply pour 1/2 cup baking soda down the drain, followed by 1/2 cup of vinegar, let sit for 15 minutes with the drain stop in, and add then pour down about three cups of boiling hot water. I did this in all of my drains just the other day. I felt so useful knowing that I was proactively taking care of my house and protecting myself from potentially expensive plumbing bills!

3- As a facial scrub
I suffered from some serious skin problems just over a year ago. I didn't want to go on Acutance, so I settled for a few antibiotics from the doctor - which were very helpful - but I was still breaking out, especially when I was hormonal. Until I discovered baking soda as a face cleanse. It works SO WELL. I've hardly broke out at all since I've started using it and in fact is probably my most favorite non-conventional use of baking soda.

Mix some baking soda and water together (about three parts baking soda and one part water) and gently rub in a circular motion on your face. Let it sit for about 30 seconds to a minute (I let mine sit while I am brushing my teeth, with baking soda) and then rinse. To remove leftover dirt and makeup, wipe a 50/50 mix of Apple Cider Vinegar and water on a cotton ball and you will feel naturally beautified.

Since I've started doing this, my skin has never felt so soft or been so clear!

4- In your hair
I've tried this two ways - once with just baking soda and water, and another by adding baking soda to my  regular shampoo. I have to say that overall, I liked the latter better. Baking soda helps to thoroughly cleanse your hair and remove excess build up. It will also leave you hair feeling more voluminous, healthy and shiny. When I add baking soda to my shampoo, I feel more comfortable not washing it for about four days (read about how I trained my hair to get to that point in the first place, here).

There are of course so many other great ways to Baking Soda, but these are just some of the ways I’ve used it this week!

For more, read here

I hope you enjoyed this post, and thanks for reading!


Tuesday, 11 June 2013

Are you growing as a person? Here are some questions to ask yourself:

*Disclaimer: This is a new topic for me and I found it really hard to write about! I welcome all feedback.

Within the last month, I've found myself registered for Yoga Teacher Training, cutting out sugar and carbs from my diet, seeing a naturopath, making my own home green cleaner and face wash, and blogging.

Is it just me, or does that sound cliché? And what do I mean by that? I mean it sounds a little typical, almost trendy these days. The only thing missing is adding "foodie" to my resume, and by the way my diet is going, I just might be.

But I feel GOOD.

Sometimes, it's hard to believe that it's even ME doing all these things. I am no longer an 18 year old waitress working in a bar trying to pay for college. I'm no longer a 20 something year old social smoker renting an overpriced apartment.

There are days when I look in the mirror and hardly recognize myself.

Photo retrieved from

Reflecting back on my journey of change and growth, I think these are some of the questions that I asked myself to get me where I am today. I hope you find them helpful on your journey, too.

Is this really what you want?
Ask yourself why you are living the way you are. Is it for you, or because of societal pressures that you may be feeling? Are your friends influencing you? Are you worried what others may think? Let go of all external pressures and Just Be.

Do you know what you want?
People change, and maybe you’re already changing without even realizing it. Take time to figure out what you want and what really makes you happy. For me, sometimes it's creating something original, just for me - like a blog post, for example. I had to try it first though to figure that out. Don't be afraid to explore new waters and challenge yourself when searching for answers.

Do you know who you are?
Who you are is not always defined by what you do for living. It's what's important to you, what you value, and what is a priority to you. Can you identify those things?

Who do you want to be?
Always embrace the present moment - but it's healthy to have goals, too. Envision yourself living what you only dream of now. Know that you make your own experiences, and by making changes in your life you can be exactly where you want to be.

Through changes, be prepared for not only personal growth, but in relationships too. Friendships may change – some may not be as present in your life as they once were, and new ones may emerg – but don’t worry. It’s ok. This is what happens in life, to everyone.

And no matter what, trust your intuition.

Thanks for reading,


Tuesday, 4 June 2013

Tips on How to Cope With Social Anxiety

I can get up in front of an entire room of strangers and perform a fantastic speech or presentation. I can walk down a busy street in a foreign city and feel one hundred per cent confident

….but put me in direct contact with a couple of acquaintances, or at a busy, local, hometown event, and my anxiety rises as my confidence crumbles.

Photo retrieved from
Social Anxiety, like people, comes in all different shapes, sizes and extremes. I didn’t realize how common it was until I started doing a little bit of research about it.

Please know that I am by no means a physician, therapist, or counselor, but merely someone who wanted to share some techniques that I use to help me through moments of fear in a social setting:

Focus on your breath, like you would in a yoga class. Breath deep - in through your nose, out through your nose.

They often say in the middle of a pose to ‘breath through any pain or discomfort that you may be feeling’ – I try to remember this when I find myself feeling really unconformatble in a social setting. I become aware of my breath and my body. How am I reacting? Am I reacting physically (sweaty palms, heart rate increasing), mentally (mind racing, bad flashbacks)? Recognize what you are going through and just keep breathing, focusing on your breath, until you start to feel better.

Have you heard the saying ‘fake it ‘till you make it?’ As tough as it may be, force yourself to smile. Even if it’s a little one that just turns up the corners of your mouth. Before you know it, you’ll have yourself convinced that you are feeling better.

Find a social supporter
Who is someone you can share your fears and insecurities with?

Be sure that when you are expressing how you feel that you are not looking for validation, but just someone who will listen to you, support you, and love you no matter what. And yes, this could be your mom.

Be honest with yourself
Why are afraid? What is it exactly that’s bothering you? Until you are ready to acknowledge the truth within yourself, you will never be able to heal, let it go, and move forward with your life.

Remember what Dr. Seuss said
"Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don't matter and those who matter don't mind."

While you may be nervous in a particular social setting, there are many people in this world who love you no matter what, and soon the anxiety will pass and you can be with those who love you for all that you are. Count your blessings.

Say nice things to yourself
Change your thought process.

Convince yourself that you are all of those nice things that the people who love you say that you are. Repeat some of these compliments to yourself until to start to believe them. Reject any negative thoughts that come into your mind. These positive affirmations, along with the regulated breathing and a plastersed smile on your face, will you have you facing your fears and rocking any social situation you may find yourself in, in no time at all.

Don’t get me wrong –I know it may not be as easy as it sounds. But you know what they say – practice makes perfect.

Thanks for reading, and I wish you the best of days.