Thursday, 29 August 2013

If I can beat adult acne, so can you. Here's how:

Growing up, my skin was always soft and clear, and like my size 28 waist, it's one of those things I wish I had appreciated more at the time.

I was lucky. In High School, I could pile on the makeup, go out drinking all night, work up at sweat from dancing my heart out, eat McDonald's on my way home in a cab, pass out on my friends couch as-is, and wake up in the morning with not even the hint of a blemish.

If only life was still that easy.

After my 25th birthday, I noticed a lot about myself that started to change. It became harder for me to lose weight. I didn’t go out drinking all night or eat McDonald’s that often, but when I did, there is no way I felt good the next day.  

And my face started to break out - badly.

I am not exaggerating when I say it was awful. It got to the point where I didn't want to leave my house. I explained this to my friend one night when she wanted to meet up for a beer and I wasn't feeling confident enough to leave the house. She reassured me it would be OK if I did.

"I'm sure it’s not that bad, Lisa. Besides, it’s just me! Lets catch up, it has been too long."

I was doubtful, but wanted to stay optimistic. Besides, it was getting depressing staying indoors all the time, so I headed out to meet up with her.

This is one of those moments that I don't think I'll ever forget.

I still remember what restaurant I met her at (Original Joe's in Marda Loop), what table we sat at (a small two-person table against the font window) and what I was wearing (a black hoodie, jeans, and my Blue Jays ball cap). But it was the look of shock and pity that washed over my friend’s face as I sat down that rings most true to my mind.

"See," I said, "I told you it was bad."

"It's...it's not that bad...I've just never seen you with even one pimple before...so..."

"It's OK Charlotte, I know it’s bad."

My friend is lovely. She is very sweet and nice, and I know she would never want to hurt my feelings.

Still to this day, I appreciate her honesty.

My face really was awful.

I was so embarrassed.

Adult acne stressed me out, big time.

I never really had a zit before, so I didn't even know what to do with them! To pick or not to pick? Aren’t I supposed dab toothpaste all over my face every night something? How am I supposed to wear my makeup?

And oh the pain...my face hurt so much. These were deep welts under my skin, mainly around my chin and jaw line. I could hardly smile without grimacing in pain.

In a desperate attempt to fix this immediately, and because I didn't really know of any other option, I bought Proactive. Hallelujah, my face cleared up! ...For a while.

After using Proactive for almost two years straight (and bleaching half of my towels, staining my sheets and pillow cases, and burning off who knows how many layers of skin) I thought I would be ok to stop using Proactive all the time. But I wasn’t.

When I stopped using Proactive and tried something new, my skin would break out horrendously again, within a matter of days. WTF! So now my skin was dependent on this bleach-filled stuff? How was I ever going to get rid of it? What was going on with my face? Will I have use Proactive for the rest of my life?

I was stumped. So I kept using it.

Fast-track to three years later, I decided that I was going to get my skin problems under control for once and for all.

I saw my family physician and he referred me to dermatologist. The dermatologist told me I had to go on Accutane. She said it was the only thing that would cure my acne.

Accutane? Isn't that supposed to be some chemical that eats your body from the inside out?

Side effects of this drug include dry flaky skin, joint pain, depression, nosebleeds, sores and ulcers in the mouth, increased sensitivity to sunlight, trouble sleeping…and that’s just to name a few.

That’s not to say nobody should ever go on this drug, I’ve heard it works great for some people, I just didn’t know if it was for me.

I didn't like the sounds of it. It gave me anxiety just thinking about taking this stuff, but I felt I had no other choice.

Finally, at the last hour, I decided against it and opted for some temporary medical relief by taking anti-biotics instead. I took them for a month. They helped a bit, but I was still breaking out. 

At this point in my life, I decided that I was going change my approach and try to manage my acne on my own.

That was about a year ago now, and since then, I've done a lot of my own research and tried a lot of different things.

Miraculously, I’ve been able to maintain clear skin, for the most part, over the past year.

This is what I do, and I hope helps you too, to manage adult acne:

Watch for behaviours and patterns that make you break out

Unfortunately, I noticed that a lot of my breakouts would happen after having some red wine. One glass or four, it never failed: A new pimple would surface. So, no more red wine for me. OK maybe one, on special occasions, but otherwise I stick to white or none at all.

Maybe your trigger is sugar or gluten -  everyone is different, but in order to know, you have to consciously track what you are putting in your body and notice if you get new pimples or if the ones you have are getting worse after eating or drinking certain things.

This takes some time and patience, because you have to stick to monitoring how you react to one product at a time.

Always try to eat organic food that either come from the ground or has a mother. For example, cheese puffs are a no-go. But eggs come from a chicken and spinach comes from the ground, so they are ok to eat…do you get where I’m going with this?

And as always, drink a lot of water and get enough sleep! These are key to having not only good skin, but great health overall. 

I've also quit eating sugar (for other reasons), but I’ve noticed a difference in my skin since I cut back on my sugar intake, too.

Less is more

Remember that Full House episode where Aunt Becky teaches DJ how to put on makeup? Just in case you don’t, this is the moral of the story:

"The trick to wearing makeup is to make it look like you aren't wearing any at all."

It’s true!

I only wear powder now. It's a lose powder that I bought a couple of shades darker and wear it as bronzing powder. I brush it across my cheeks and my t-zone area.

Find something light that works for you. You still want to feel confident, but don't wear it all: concealer, foundation, powder, bronzer and blush. It's too much. It doesn't let your skin breath and it’s hard to wash it all off every day.

Try to save makeup for special occasions only. On a day-to-day basis, wear minimal makeup. As a touch up throughout the day, I'll blot my skin with Clean and Clear Oil Absorbing Sheets - I can’t live without these things. They leave you looking fresh without having to add on any additional layers of makeup to your skin.

I think you'll notice that once you start to wear less makeup, not only will the quality of your skin improve, but you'll really start to enjoy your new routine.

Always use fresh, clean face clothes

In addition to having a healthy skin routine (washing your face every morning and every night) replace the towels that you wash and dry your face with every night, or at least every other night. I used to replace mine once a week, but now I switch them out at least every other night. Since I started doing this, I have noticed that I break out less.

Make your own skin cleansing products

The most effective over-the-counter skin cleansers that you can buy for acne is Clearasil. It's available at most pharmacies. But this still isn't the best for your skin. It’s full of chemicals, and it can be a bit expensive. With a little bit of effort, you can make your very own, effective, skin cleansing products at home.

This is what I do:

Simply mix a cup and a half of coconut oil and with a cup of baking soda in a jar. Every night, I smooth some across my dry face - you don’t need to wet your face before putting this on. I let it sit for a couple of minutes as I floss and brush my teeth, and then rinse it off. It works as a face scrub and a moisturizer.

After washing it off and patting your face dry, it may feel like there is still some product on your face. Don’t worry: it’s the coconut oil soaking in.

My home-made face cleanser

I then apply some skin toner with a cotton ball. This is simply a mixture of half apple cider vinegar and half water.

The smell goes away quickly, and it leaves you feeling fresh and clean. This helps to remove any access dirt left on your face.

Trust me when I say the next morning, you skin will feel baby-smooth.

Practice hot yoga

Wash your face prior to and sweat it out at hot yoga. Hot yoga will leave you feeling cleansed from the inside out - sweating is so good for your skin. I try to do hot yoga at least twice a week.
Not only does it help you get in shape and de-stress, but it also detoxifies your skin.

Again, this is what worked for me. I found the coconut oil, baking soda, and apple cider vinegar combination to be the best way to care for my skin. I’ve shared it with a couple of my friends and they all love it.

I hope you have found this helpful, and best of luck!

Thanks for reading,

Lisa

Saturday, 24 August 2013

Favorite Thing Friday: My Legs

No, I don't think my legs are amazing (although I do like them better than my arms). I'm writing this because I am thankful for having some, and you should be too.

A picture of me standing in Times Square, showing some leg!
For your viewing pleasure :)
This is actually an old joke in college that my girlfriend used to say to me. I would be complaining about how hard working two jobs and going to school was, or how my boyfriend lied to me about being high on drugs. I would be feeling tired, frustrated or down and out about something, and finally my friend would tip back her glass of wine, look at me in the eyes and say sternly:

“Well, you still have your legs.” 

We would laugh, I would agree, smarten up and feel better about my life. It was a reminder that life could always be worse.

This little statement has stayed with me since. It hit home one day when I was feeling down, on my way to visit my Dad in the hospital last year. I was tired. I had been living out of a suitcase at my sisters house. My boyfriend of two years who I thought I was going to marry had just left me - unexpectedly, when I needed him the most, and my Dad was recovering from brain surgery. Uh, I remember thinking, why me? This sucks.

It was about 8:30 in the morning, so there was high traffic. Everyone was out and about, on their way to somewhere, when I approached the front doors of the hospital, only to walk in the same doors that a man in a wheelchair was coming out of. We almost bumped into each other but I managed to step aside, hold the door open, and let him pass. By looking at him, I would say he was about 40 years old. I hope I didn't stare much, but I couldn't help but notice the two stumps he had for thighs - and that's it. No shins or feet. Omg, I remember thinking. I lifted my chin and walked into the hospital.

“Well,” I thought, “I still have my legs.”

Last week, I was in NYC. We had just finished a tour of NBC Studios that morning at Rockefeller Plaza, and were going to start making my way to Yankee stadium to watch the ball game.

I asked the kind police officer standing in front of all the flags which subway would take us there.

“Go straight up that block and take a right. There's the subway station there that you need to go to, to get on the D train.”

Great, thank you sir.

And off we went. A few short seconds after we turned, making our way to the subway station, we heard a crash and a women screaming. We looked at each other in alarm and started running back across the street.

I'll never forget what I saw.

Some pedestrians had been struck by a cab, and one of them was laying face down in a flower bed, missing half of her leg.

“Omg.”

It was worse than what you see in the movies, and I had missed being a part of this accident by seconds.

This poor lady. It was a mess. But the police were there shortly, she was getting help, and the area was getting very crowded, so we left. We didn't want to get in the way of those helping.

We started walking back to our subway station. We turned right and headed down the stairs. That's when it hit me: I still have my legs.

I later heard that the women was a 23 year old tourist from Britain. It was her first day visiting the city, and the famous Dr. Oz was one of the first people on the scene to help. He and a bystander saved her life by making a tourniquet out of a belt and tying it around her leg where it had been cut off. I also learned later that her severed foot was not able to be re-attached.

I thought of this incident all day. I thought of how I walked down the stairs to the subway, and I was going to do yoga later. 

Something this person will not be able to do again, if ever, for a very long time.

It was sobering, and left me feeling sad and gracious at the same time.

 The flags at Rockerfeller Plaza, taken the day of the accident.
Health is often something that people take for granted on a daily basis.

Don't do that today. Be thankful.

You still have your legs.

Thanks for reading,

Lisa

Thursday, 22 August 2013

What happened when I combined my love for New York and my love for Yoga

I got off the train at Penn Station and exited on to the streets of New York for the first time about three years ago. It was everything I thought it would be and more. The skyscrapers were overwhelming, the people were creative, and I knew there were endless adventures and opportunities waiting to be had. It was one of those places that just felt right in my heart. I finally understood what the “I Heart New York T-shirts” were all about. It's pretty easy to fall in love with the place.

I know, I know: I'm looking at the city through the eyes of a tourist and only seeing the best of the best. I can hardly imagine how hard it could be to live there, let alone “make” it there. It's hot and cold, competitive, crowded and even a little smelly at times with soaking garbage lined up on the all the street curbs at night. But I can't help it, I love it there, and lucky for me I've been to NYC twice since my first time. Each time has been as surreal as the first. Most recently, I was there this past week from August 18 - 21.

A few months ago, I started to feel really connected to yoga in my day-to-day living. Now I am on the countdown to start my Teacher Training in less than a month, and am very much looking forward to it.

From sitting behind a computer and exploring all things related to yoga and NYC, I came across this little gem of a yoga studio called Laughing Lotus, located in the Flatiron District on 6th avenue.

The studio looked like fun, and different from what most of my experiences with yoga have been like so far, which have always been quite serious:

“Loooook inside youuurself...breeaaath deeeep...reflect on your daaay and eaaaaase into the pooose.” 

These are just some of the things that come to mind when I think about every yoga class I've been too so far. Don't get me wrong, I love those things and find it very relaxing, but yoga can be intimidating for newbies like myself, and sometimes I just want to be a total geek, have a blast and laugh! However, these are things that I haven't associated with yoga before, so I liked the sound of  Laughing Lotus. Having fun, goofing around, all the while enriching your body and soul? Yes please!

Never mind the fact that this studio was in NYC (have I mentioned that I love that place?)

I could hardly wait.

I called to about a week ahead of time to book a spot in the 5:30 p.m. Lotus Hour class. A girl answered the phone: “Thanks for calling Laughing Lotus, how may I make your day?”

Oh, I liked it already!

My vacation days went by quickly, as they always do in NYC. We did some touristy things and ate at restaurants that locals recommended. We would ask people, “Where do you go to eat?” It was great, and on top of other wonderful experiences, every day I looked forward to going to this Laughing Lotus yoga class in NYC. My two loves, combined! 

Finally, Tuesday came. It was our last day in NYC. We hung out at Rockerfeller Plaza in the morning, went to the Yankees vs. Blue Jays game in the afternoon, and then off I went to find my laughing lotus.

I was pretty successful at getting there, all things considered. Once I got off the train, that I took from the Bronx, I used my shyness-charm to find exactly where the studio was.

I was on the right street, but the studio was no-where to be found. There were no signs anywhere, and no distinctive yogis that I could discreetly follow and hopefully end up in the right place. 

Thankfully, I mustered up the nerve to graciously ask a helpful young lady working at Sports Authority if she knew of a near-by yoga studio. 

“Yes,” she said, “Around the corner. There is a glass over-hang and there should be a doorman working there.” 

Ah, perfect, thank you. It was now 5:15 and I was running out of time.

I found the right door and hustled up three flights of stairs. When I turned the corner, I saw this, and immediately knew I was in the right place:


I made it in time. Class was going to start right away.

Unfamiliar with the studio and the classroom set-up, I accidentally laid my mat right at the front of the class, next to the teacher. Yikes. As a newbie-yogi and in unfamiliar territory, it was not the spot I was going for. Not to mention the hot sun was beaming in through the window directly on my already-sweaty face, which was warm from running from the Bronx to and throughout the Flat Iron District to get to this class on time. But oh well, the class was already full, and besides, I was in NY. Who cares?

The class started with some chanting songs, accompanied by the teacher playing a mini-keyboard/organ type thing. I think it was similar to what Schroeder from the Peanuts cartoons would have played. OK, I thought, here we go.

Let's keep in mind that I live in Grande Prairie. The most exotic thing I have seen and heard at the local studio here includes chanting “Shanti” three times in a row and someone in class NOT wearing Lululemon. So I was loving this. I came to this class because I wanted something different, and to me, it was exactly that.

The walls were painted a bright lavender. The curtains were pink and purple. The routines were different, the teacher was attentive, and I did my best. It was challenging because it was new.

And it was hot. It was about +30 degrees that day in NYC. It was so hot in the city that Kody and I had to move back a few rows at the ball game to get out of the blazing sun. Whenever I chat with someone in NYC about where in Canada I'm from, I just say that where I live is not far from Alaska. That helps to put things into perceptive for them.

And then, somewhere near the end of the class, I started crying. I don't think anyone noticed though. My tears were mixing in with the sweat dripping down my face and the shoulder sobs could have easily been a part of my “deeeeep breeaathing.”

It had hit me. I was finally here, in NYC, doing yoga at a local studio. It had been all I've wanted for the last few months. I wish I could do this every day, but knew there was a chance I would never get to do it again. I had to talk myself down in the moment. Its OK, I thought, the class isn't over yet. This is amazing. Enjoy it.

I've only cried once before in a yoga class - it was in Calgary about four years ago, and a single tear rolled down my face. Still to this day I don't exactly know why that happened, but this time it was different. 

I cried, a lot. I cried because I was so happy. I cried because I was so sad I couldn't do it again tomorrow. I cried for the girl I saw earlier that day who lost her leg. I cried for my boyfriend who had stayed at Yankee stadium to watch the second game of the double hitter the Jays were playing that day. I don't know why I cried for him, I'm sure he was perfectly happy there, but I did anyway. And then I cried for me again, because I was so happy, and felt so in love with life that I never wanted that moment to end.

This is partly why I am writing about it, so I can remember it forever.


 
 
  

I now feel more courageous and confident in my practice. I also feel more confident with myself and where I'm at in life. I know that I really can have it all and do all things I want to. It just takes some hard work, planning, and dedication. Maybe, hopefully, some day I'll return to the Laughing Lotus. Or maybe I won't. But I did it and I loved it, and wouldn't change a thing. 

I think this is the best feeling a person can have, and something to strive for everyday. 

If there is something you really want to do, or something that you know somewhere deep down in your gut that you have to do, then do it. 
 
Follow your heart and enjoy every moment. This is your life, and you only get one. 
 
Thanks for reading.
 
Lisa

Friday, 16 August 2013

How to Kick a Sinus Infection in the Butt

If you've ever had a sinus infection, you know how awful they can be.

Sinus infections are painful, exhausting, and can be quite a serious health problem if not tended to.

Depending on the severity of it and for how long you've had it, you may or not may be able to treat it yourself.

If it lasts for longer than about a week, or is really painful, you need to speak with your doctor. But they key is to know the symptoms and treat it yourself as soon as you can.

For me, I know I am getting a sinus infection when I feel like I am getting the common cold. I feel really tired and congested. I'll rest, drink a lot of fluids, and take my vitamins. But then the next thing I know, my face is swollen, my eyes are puffy and my throat hurts. My cheeks are sore to the touch and I have a raging headache. Then I find myself sitting in outpatients looking for a prescription of antibiotics to help me out.

To avoid your sinus infection getting to that point, I recommend airing on the side of caution and taking these steps as soon as you feel the symptoms coming on:

Buy a saline nasal spray mist instantly
This is just a pure, salt water. It will help loosen your sinuses and keep them moist. You can get it at any drug store or pharmacy. Carry it around with you and use it as much as you want, but at least three times a day.

Steam your face
Boil a pot of water and add a few drops of eucalyptus oil to it. Drape a towel over your head and inhale the steam for a few minutes.

Take a break every now and then during the steam to massage your sinuses (around your check bones and lower-forehead, including in between your eyebrows) to help loosen up the mucus. Do this also after a hot shower.

Be sure to wash off all of your makeup before steaming your face (its also a great facial and will help clean your pores, but be sure to moisturise after because it can dry out your skin) and make sure you don't burn your face. It should be hot, but still comfortable.

Steam your face in total for about 10 minutes at a time.

The Neti Pot is your best friend
During the early symptoms of a sinus infection, use a neti as often as you can, at least twice a day: in the morning and before you go to bed.

Mix a teaspoon of baking soda with the contents of a pro-biotic capsule into purified, warm water and mix it into the neti pot. Use this on each nostril a couple of times.

Never used a Neti Pot before? You can pick them up almost anywhere, including at Shoppers Drug Mart, for only about $12. They are good to have around anyway, and I recommend using one about once a week, especially if you are prone to getting sinus infections.


Photo retrieved from: http://bit.ly/14nl5HW

Blow your nose
When your sinus start to loosen up, blow your nose whenever you can (although chances are, it wont be that often).

Spit out any gunk you feel in your throat - don't swallow it. Swallowing it will just keep in passing through your system. If your throat is sore, chances are its from swallowing the infected mucus (ew!).

Remember - I am not a doctor, so take this information merely as advice that I am giving based on my own personal experiences. Be sure to consult with your family physician if you have any concerns.

I hope this has been helpful!

Thanks for reading,

Lisa

Tuesday, 13 August 2013

How to Let Go of the Past and Cherish Your Memories

I don’t know very many people who have a healthy relationship with their past – they either can’t bear to think about it, shrug it off as if it has no significance to their life whatsoever, or day-dream endlessly about it, wishing it were still happening today, almost forgetting to live in the present.

I have to admit that I’ve probably been all of the above at some point or another.

Recently, I’ve come to realize that in order to have a healthy relationship with your past, you need to accept yourself for all that you are, have been, and will be.

Photo retrieved from
http://eloquentscience.com/2012/05/past-or-present-tense/


Acceptance

Accept what is done, and what is to be. Accept that life is not in your hands and that no matter how hard you try, you can’t control what other people do and what they think of you. This means you have to be OK with everything. Don’t dwell and don’t stress. Just Be.  

Learn from your past

We all make mistakes, and sometimes we make bad choices, so don’t be too hard on yourself but also remember that at one time, the choices you made were exactly what you wanted.

Let your past guide you into being the person that you are today and who you are going to be in the future. Whether that be a mother/father, a husband or wife, a grandparent, a business owner, an employee or a volunteer – just do your best and continue to be beautiful you.

Things can change, fast

Things don’t always turn out the way we think they should, and that’s OK.

No one knows what the future holds.

Life altering experiences happen when you least expect them to, and come in all different shapes and sizes. This goes for other people, too. People go through different life experiences and change over time. What’s true today is not necessarily true tomorrow.

No one really cares

No one – and I mean no one – re-plays and thinks about your life as much as you do. No one remembers it like you do, either. For the most part, you’ll find that people are pretty self-absorbed. They all have their own memories and their own truth about what did or didn’t happen.

We have to remember that we all live our lives through our own lenses – there is no one else who remembers things or sees the world exactly as you do. Our experiences and choices make our life journey whole, and what may seem like a big deal to you is probably not that big of a deal to anyone else.

Think of the positives

Be grateful for all of the good things that you’ve experienced. Don’t focus on the negative. Be thankful for all of the experiences that have brought you to where you are today.

Soon, this moment – today – is going to be your past. Don’t regret it or rush through it. Enjoy the simple things and every day that is given to you because someday you’re going to miss this, too. There is no better time than the present, right?

Stay positive and know that there is so much more to look forward to and so many more memories that are to be made. You will cherish those, also.

Friday, 9 August 2013

Favorite Thing Friday: Baby Animals & the Science of Cuteness

If you visit my Pinterest boards, you’ll see one titled Animals. I was looking through it the other day and noticed that almost all Pins are pictures of baby animals. Aside from the fact that they are so adorably melt-my-heart cute, I started thinking about why baby animals are so special.

I’m probably on this baby-animal-train because as part of Kody’s birthday present, I bought him a kitten. He’s wanted another farm cat for a while, so when I found that I thought he’d like, I claimed him as ours. The cat is a flame-point Siamese and Kody named him Robert. We hope that someday he will grow up to be like Kody’s other cat, Murphy, who is a 13 year old seal point Siamese and has more of a personality than a dog than a cat. He’s smart, cuddly and comes when you call him.

I’ve never had a kitten before. I grew up having dogs, and therefore was never much a cat person. But I think getting Robbie has changed that.

He is the cutest little thing. Unfortunately, I think the lady that we bought him from gave him to us a little too early, so he was very tiny and scared when we first got him. It made me want to snuggle with him even more (if that’s possible) and make sure his milk was always warm for him. That was about two weeks ago, and I’ve loved watching him become more comfortable in his home, feeling safe and confident, all the while learning and developing a bit of a personality. Now he’s a couple of weeks older, and he’s much more quiet and playful then he was when we first brought him home.
I absolutely adore him and worry that I am possibly becoming one of those crazy ladies. But I think it’s safe to say I swoon over Robbie the kitty probably as much as I would any other baby animal.

Why baby animals melt my heart:

They are so cute

I know, this one is a little obvious...but as far as I’m concerned, mini anything is cute, let alone little paws and ears.

Helpless

They need you! They don’t know how to make it quite on their own yet. I think baby animals, let alone pets, bring out the nurturing side in everyone.

Smart and instinctual

They are still their own being. All puppies will sniff or bark, and all kittens will play with strings and hunt after mice.

On top of all of these personal opinions I have about loving baby animals, here is a video that states we are scientifically more drawn and attracted to baby animals! I thought it was interesting.

Learn more about the Science of Cute here http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/11/26/science-of-cute_n_2171987.html

Robbie, the day we brought him home.
Don't forget: If you love one and are loved by an animal, consider yourself lucky.

They are bound to bring a smile to your face.

Thursday, 8 August 2013

What I Learned From Going on a Vacation with my Parents

Until last weekend, it had been over 20 years since my Dad has been on a vacation. I have several theories for this:

One: Because he is cheap. He has always been very careful with his money and enjoys squandering over it, not spending it.

Two: Traveling is uncomfortable for him. He’s 6’6 and a big guy. So airplanes are probably uncomfortable for him, I get that.

Three: He likes being at home. It’s as simple as that. Being at home is his favorite thing in the world.

About a year ago, when he is was in the hospital being treated for an aggressive brain tumor and diagnosed with three months to live, he made a list of things he wanted to do when he got out of the hospital. On the top of that list was to go on a vacation.

He came home from the hospital in April 2012 and has made a miraculous recovery - but he and my mother had still not gone on a holiday together since his return home.

At a family dinner this past Easter (in April 2013), Kody, my amazing boyfriend, announced that he had booked a trip for he and I to go to Seattle for his birthday and to watch a baseball game. To my dismay, my Dad asked if he and my mother could come with us.

I was a little shocked, to say the least.

I couldn’t believe my Dad was actually considering leaving Grande Prairie, Alberta, let alone the country.

And then I was the scared.

The selfish, 18 year old version of me was insulted that my parents would crash this vacation that Kody had planned for us. I had a lot of fear that they would be embarrassing, awkward, and miserable. Yes, these are words that I've used to describe my parents with the past, and no, I’m not that spoiled or unreasonable…they really have been awful. But that’s beside the point now. More importantly: How was I going to survive with my Dad and mother tagging along on this special getaway that Kody had planned?

I was skeptical, to say the least. And terrified. But because of the list my Dad had made in the hospital last year (and because I highly doubted the fact that they would even come) Kody and I said yes, they could join us.

The next thing I know, there are four flights booked to Seattle in August and off we go.

I learned to trust my parents

They were not embarrassing. They were not awkward. They were not miserable and they didn’t even argue. In fact, they were surprisingly normal. It was so special and such a relief. I guess there really is something about getting a brain tumor removed from one’s head that changes a person…

I fell even more in love with my boyfriend

He’s always friendly and smiley. I don’t know how he does it, but I swear this guy hardly ever has a bad day, and this holiday was no exception. He was very patient and kind to my parents. It was so nice to see and I really appreciated it.

My mother once said to me that she liked how accepting Kody was of them, and this is a true statement. It’s nice to date someone who not only accepts you for who you are, but everything that’s a part of you, too.

We made memories

The last time I went on a family vacation with both of my parents, or spent a lot of positive, quality time with them, I think I was about 13 years old. I’m 29 now. It’s nice to have made those memories. They are fresh and happy ones.

I was reminded of what’s important

Family. Whether it is your blood relatives or your chosen family, make happy memories with them. Life’s too short not to.

My parents, Kody and I
Seattle 2013

My Dad and I in Seattle
August 2013


Friday, 2 August 2013

Favorite Thing Friday: This Breakfast Smoothie

Smoothies are one of my favourite things to eat for breakfast. They are easy to whip up, convenient to eat on the go, healthy and filling.

I have to admit that I haven't really delved too much into the green-smoothie world, but I like this one so much that I havent had to try other recipes yet. I make this receipe almost every day and love it so much that I wanted to share it with you.

Who doesnt like a breakfast smoothie in a beer pint?

Yours should look greener than this if you follow the receipe below. I was running low on spinach this morning!


Add the following ingredients to a blender:

- About a handful of frozen strawberries

- One banana (frozen or not - although I have a friend who will only use frozen bananas in smoothies because of the added frothiness they provide)

- A big handful of spinach

- A tablespoon of flax seed

- Two tablespoons of oats

- Half a cup of organic, vanilla Greek yogurt

- About two - three cups of milk. I typically use coconut, soy or almond milk, but you can use dairy or whatever type you would prefer.

Blend it all together, pour into a cup, and voilĂ ! 

This is a delicious breakfast that will keep you full all morning.

Enjoy!

What To Do When You Don't Know What To Do

Have you ever felt stuck in a rut, knowing a change is needed in your life but can’t figure out just what or why?

Here are some tips I use when I’m feeling that way to try and identify what needs to change and how:
Photo retrieved from
http://bit.ly/LpfBFd
Acknowledge when and where you feel this way
Does a feeling of frustration, despair or sadness come over you at certain times of the day? Maybe it’s first thing in the morning, middle of the afternoon or after a day at the office? Or do your thoughts keep you up at night? Try to identify patterns of when these feelings are the strongest and try to understand what that means. It could be something as simple as needing a change in routine or diet.
Try writing about It
Journaling has a lot of positive health benefits and is recommended in a lot of different therapies. Putting thoughts on paper can help reduce stress, clarify thoughts and feelings, and let things go. Start by writing about how you’re feeling.

Make a list of life goals and realistic steps you can take to accomplish them, one at a time, or try making a list of the feelings and experiences you’ve had throughout the day.

Journaling will help you track patterns and growth over time. It’s also helpful to reflect on past entries and read about what you’ve overcome and accomplished.

Try something different or new
It can be as simple as changing the route you take to work every day or trying a new physical activity that you don’t usually do. For example, instead of going for a run, try going for a swim. Try making a new recipe, or paint your nails a different colour. Read a book. Volunteer somewhere, like at the local animal shelter.

Talk to a professional
Someone who is neutral and professionally trained can help you work through issues or struggles you are facing. If you don’t already have a therapist, try finding one. They can be very helpful and no, they are not for crazy people! You should be proud of taking that step to acknowledge you may need a professional’s opinion and seek it out.
Don’t dwell on it
Don’t get stuck on something that you’ve acknowledged is bothering you but you can’t seem to resolve. There is probably a reason your hesitating or don’t have the answer you are looking for right now.
Yes, you may need to make some changes or have some hard conversations to figure some things out in your life, but if you don’t feel ready then don’t force it. Life has a way of working itself out, and the resolution will come to you.
Most importantly, take your time and be open and listen to yourself. Chances are you probably already know the answer. You just need to listen, and it will come to you when you are ready.