Friday, 27 September 2013

A letter to my 25-year-old self

I see these types of letters all the time. People share their new-found wisdom with the person they once were. I thought I’d give it a try:
Dear 25-year-old Lisa,
You’re really good at drinking a lot and doing productive things the next day. Keep it up! These days are numbered. They won’t last forever. Soon you’ll be stuck having to choose between a bottle of wine the night before or getting out of bed and leaving the house the next day. When you have a mortgage and a muffin top, the bottle of wine isn’t so much fun anymore.
Enjoy the partying days while they last. You won’t regret it. Ok, you’ll regret some things – actually, you’ll regret a lot of things – but that’s ok. Make stupid mistakes now and learn from them (or learn how to live with them), so that years down the road when your choices affect other people in a strong way, you’ll know how to make the better one.
He’s not going to call.
And if he does call, you probably don’t want him to. Chances are, if you met at a bar, got really drunk, maybe smoked some weed together and walked down the block for 2 a.m. street-pizza, he’s not going to be that great of a catch. You’ll be fine without him, I promise. Maybe next-weekend you’ll upgrade to someone who will take you out for 2 a.m. Chinese food.
High school is over – thank god! Maybe you thought you were cool in high school and wore a size or two smaller jeans, but you were actually a total loser. You’re not the same person and you never will be again, and that’s a good thing. You’re meeting new friends each and every day. Cherish these people. They will be some of the most real, honest, hilarious alcoholics you’ll ever meet in your life. They’ll love you no matter what and will put in equal amounts of effort to ensure you stay friends.
Your high school friends are great, too. Stay in touch with them. They are people that have known you your entire life and you don’t want to lose them. Just because they are going in a different direction than you doesn’t mean you can’t respect, admire and love each other. Be happy for them and let them be happy for you. Everyone has their own journey to live.
Omg. Dump that guy! He’s a total loser and there is no potential of you two having a bright, happy, forever-after future together. Just cut the cord already.
Good for you for getting scholarships and being on the Dean’s Honour Roll! You probably won’t win very many other awards in your life, so frame the ones you’ve got now.
When you go home for the holidays, hang out with your parents a little bit more, even if they drive you nuts. Your parents miss you every day and worry about their baby girl working in a bar in the big city to put herself through school and pay for the full-time smoking habit she’s picked up. When you go home, pack some Nicorette, some nice clothes, and rent a movie with them. Stay awake and off of your phone. Show interest in what they do on their spare time – and by spare time I mean when they are not virtually stalking you and booking flights to come see your new, rented, ghetto, basement apartment that you are paying way too much for.
Try to save a little bit of money. I know you’re in college, living on your own, working two jobs and going to school, but you really don’t need to buy that fake Coach purse, do you? Just stick with the one you have. Rip-off designer stuff isn’t cool anyway. Put that $80 right back into the bank where it belongs.
You how how they say the older you get the harder it becomes to lose weight? This is true. It sucks. Enjoy being able to drop 10 pounds in a month before you go to Jamaica with all your friends! Either of those things are probably never going to happen again.
Take more pictures. There will be a lot of nights you won’t remember – and sometimes you may want to keep it that way – but this is a time of your life that one day you’re going to reflect on and miss.
Overall, you’re doing a lot of great things. You’re getting yourself an education and life experiences that will benefit you immensely in the years to come. Don’t worry, someday you’ll have everything you’ve ever wanted: a lot of bills coming in your name to the first permanent address that you’ve had since you were 18; a nice, good looking, down-to-earth man that is going to have goals in life, treats you like a queen, and doesn’t party like a rock star at the age of 30; a great career that you’ve worked hard for; your health, your family, and a community of eclectic friends that bring a smile to your face every day.
You’re doing everything that your 25-year-old self is supposed to do, and it’s ok. Stop being so hard on yourself and enjoy the ride.
Love,
Yourself, a few years older and maybe wiser…
Lisa
Some of my friends and I in college at one of our favorite watering holes. I'm on the far right.

Tuesday, 24 September 2013

Five ways to have a healthier relationship with your Smartphone

If you're like most people, you probably use your Smartphone too often. Maybe you're even addicted to it.

Do you feel it vibrating in your pocket when it's not actually there? Do you have anxiety when it's not with you? When you have it, are you checking it impulsively? Has your phone usage ever caused problems in an important relationship? If you answered yes to any of the above, you're not alone.

I have a love/hate relationship with my Smartphone, and recently I've had to put effort into changing  the way I use it so I can have, what I consider to be, a better quality of life.

Here are five, simple, effective and realistic tips to help you have a healthier relationship with your Smartphone:



Ditch the data plan
I used to be checking web updates and Apps all the time, even while walking from the parking lot to my office building first thing in the morning. My data usage was going up, and my phone bills were getting more expensive. People kept telling me to change my phone plan and increase my available data, but I just couldn't bring myself to do it.

I turn off my data (on an iphone, go to Settings, General, Cellular, and hit Off on the Cellular Data option). So when I want to use the Internet or check out my Apps, I do it when I have access to Wi-Fi Internet. Wi-Fi kicks in automatically as soon as I walk in the door of my house and the Internet is free to use on my phone, so if I wish to use, it’s there. If I need to use the Internet while I'm out and about, it's only three easy steps to turn my data on for a minute, and three easy steps to turn it off again when I'm done.

I've found myself reaching for my phone to look for something on the Internet when I'm, for example, in a car with someone, and when the Internet doesn't work automatically it's a nice reminder that I probably shouldn't be using it at that time.

Don't carry your phone around with you everywhere, all the time
I know you probably like to have it with you when you leave the house. But around the house? Really?

Leave your phone in another other room. It doesn't need to watch TV or have dinner with you. If you're waiting for a call or want to get back to someone if they text you, leave the ringer and the notification alarms on so you'll hear it.

Carrying it around the house will lead to unhealthy habits, and you'll be on it non-stop.

Make it useful
I was checking Facebook often - reading so much of people's crap and creeping on random pictures, that I was annoying myself. I deactivated my account for a while and it was glorious - for the time-being. But I need to use Facebook for work (I manage social media at my office so I need to be on Facebook and up-to-date with things) so instead of deactiving my account altogether, I changed the way I use it.

I 'like' more companies and organizations that interest me, including news channels and different yoga pages. This has helped fill my news feed with interesting information and updates, including blogs, and I enjoy it much more. While it's probably just curbed my Facebook addiction and not completely cured it, I don't have as much anxiety or jealously that I used to when I spend time on Facebook, because I hardly look at other people's information anymore.

Have a purpose
Only pick your phone up to do something specific. Don't just pick it up and start browsing or playing with your Apps. Before you know it, 45 minutes will have passed and you will have probably accomplished nothing. You're time is worth more than that! Know you're value, and only spend time on your phone when you have to. When you’ve done what you needed to do, put it down and walk away.

Increase its font size and put it on speaker phone
I’ve read that more and more people these days are needing glasses because of the amount of time people spend in front of a screen. I’ve also heard we are more prone to wrinkles (gasp!) from all the squinting that’s done from using a phone all the time. Increase the font size of the text on your phone for the sake of your eyes, and your skin!

When possible, put it on speaker phone or use headphones. There's all this talk about increasing our risk of developing cancer because of the radiation from cell phones, and the increasing amount of time we hold them to our heads. Some people may believe it and some may not, but let’s not take the risk. Hold it away from your head as often as you can by putting it on speakerphone or using headphones with a microphone in them, and don't keep it in bed with you.

I hope these tips are helpful for you – I know they’ve been helpful for me. Just beware though: Once you cut back and start to manage your time with your phone, you may realize how often everyone else uses theirs! This can be somewhat disheartening and discouraging at first. But you'll get used to it, and who knows, you may even have a positive influence on their life and their relationship with their phone!

Thanks for reading,

Lisa

Friday, 20 September 2013

Do you know you are wonderful? Read this:

I think most of us struggle or have struggled with self-confidence at some point in our lives.

It always breaks my heart to hear people that I love put themselves down. Some have told me they have a hard time even looking in the mirror they feel so down about themselves.

Whether it be mental or physical, we are too hard on ourselves.

If you've ever been in this position, I wrote this letter to help remind you how wonderful you are. I hope it helps you learn to love yourself, and to find peace and acceptance in all that you are.

I  also hope it reminds you that your not alone in feeling this way, and that it doesn't have to be like this.

Take a deep breath and read this letter to yourself:

You're wonderful.

You are great, and everything about you is perfect. You are an amazing human being, and you are just the way you’re supposed to be.

You have great features, an amazing personality, and a heart that shines.

You bring joy into people's lives without even realizing it. You've changed people's lives for the better.

You have a great laugh, and a beautiful smile. Be sure to use it every day.

You give great advice and are insightful. You are wise, and offer things to this world that no one else can.

I know you've been hurt, I know you have scars, and I know you feel pain. This is all a part of what makes you beautiful.

You've fought battles - some you have won, some you may feel like you have lost, some are not over yet. But they all serve you a purpose, as you serve a purpose to this world and the people in it.

Trust me when I say: You are perfect. All of you.

Now, the key is to believe me.

And because you are here, reading this, being you, and taking the time to reflect on how wonderful you are, you are the highlight of my week!

Thank you for being you!

Monday, 16 September 2013

A Tribute to my Friends

I attended a funeral earlier this past weekend. It wasn’t anyone’s I knew personally; I was there to provide support to someone who was attending.

This funeral was huge. A lot of people attended. It was beautiful too, with soft, touching, live music and never ending arrangements of beautiful flowers. But this isn't what I remember about the funeral. What struck me the most about this funeral was that so many of the honorary speakers were friends of the deceased.

They spoke about their friend with a broken heart, mourning her absence, sharing memories, and praising her person. Even without knowing this person personally, it was all very powerful to me. I don’t think I’ll ever forget it.

It reminded me that friends really can be your family, that they can love you with all of their heart, and would do anything for you. Most importantly, it reminded me that I am lucky to have so many friends in my life, and because of this, I feel truly feel rich.

My friends are people who I can be myself with, share my secrets with, and improve my quality of life with. People who I can count on, and vice-versa.

I’m blessed that I’ve had some friends for years – some of my closet friends I’ve known since I was five years old. This means they've been in my life for over 20 years. Some of my other friends have come into my life more recently. I have some that I don’t keep in touch with as much as I used to, some that have really hurt me, and some that I’ve hurt, too. Some live in different cities, provinces or countries. But all of them inspire me, and bring significant value to my life.

I would not be who I am today if it wasn’t for my friends. These are the people in my life who have stuck by me literally through thick and think, through my best and my worst times, and who continue to do so.

I’d like to think that my friends and I ­all flatter each other in different ways, and hopefully I enrich their lives, too.

Friends: Thank you for loving me for who I am. For answering the phone when I call. For asking questions about my life, and caring about me and those who I love. Thank you for your honestly, your patience, your humour and your insight. Thank you for being a part of my life, but most importantly, letting me be a part of yours.

Love,

Lisa
Photo retrieved from http://bit.ly/197PMyR

Friday, 6 September 2013

Favorite thing Friday: Dirty Hair and Dry Shampoo: Why you need to stopsoaping your scalp

As of today, I haven’t washed my hair in five days.
It’s not gross! I promise. It’s awesome.
Let me tell you why you need to stop washing your hair every day:
You’ll have stronger, healthier hair
I almost never use a blow dryer anymore. On the days that I do wash my hair, I sleep with it in a wet braid so it dries over night.
It makes such a difference using a hairdryer only once a week compared to every day! My hair is shinier, stronger, and grows significantly faster now that I don’t use so much heat on it every day.
It’s a time saver
I can cut back on about 45 minutes of my daily morning routine when I don’t wash and dry my hair.
Showers only take about 10 minutes now, as opposed to 20 - and we know that every second counts in the morning, especially on a Monday. Not washing your hair is a huge time saver. 
It's a money saver 
I hardly ever have to buy shampoo and conditioner anymore. It literally lasts me three times longer than it ever did, so I don't feel so bad when I splurge every now and then on nice expensive stuff!
Your hair is easier to style when it’s dirty
Teasing, braiding and twisting are all easier to do when your hair is dirty.
When your hair is dirty, you can get really creative with all sorts of styles – half up, half back, messy/romantic…the possibilities are endless.
Check out a couple of my favourites that I put together in literally under 10 minutes:



Now, don’t just wake up tomorrow and stop washing your hair for a week. Living with dirty hair is a little trick that takes some training and patience.

Here's how to do it:

Buy dry shampoo

There's lots of good kinds out there, but Alterna is my favourite. I buy it at Peppermint Twist but you can also get it at Shephora.


It’s about $25 a bottle, but it’s well worth it. It lasts for months.

It’s similar to baby powder, so you have to be careful with putting it on dark hair. I’ve been using this product for about two years now and used it even when I had the darkest of brown hair (it was almost black), so don’t worry, if I can do it, so can you. Just be sure to rub it all in. If you have blond hair and are on a budget, you can try using baby powder instead. I’ve tried this on my lighter-coloured hair, but I still prefer to use dry shampoo.

You’ll want to sprinkle a little bit in the roots of your hair where it gets oily. I need to use it mostly on my hairline, by the sides of my face and neck. This will help lift the grease and add volume to your hair.

Take it a day at a time

Depending on how often you currently wash your hair, try skipping a day. Either wash it every-other day or every-third day. Just don’t wash it every day.

At first, it might be hard to get used to, and you’re hair will be screaming: “Wash me!”

It's at this time that (after you use dry shampoo on it), you’ll need to invest in cute, stylish headbands to help dress up simple ponytails. Just keep your hair off your face. Two weeks later, try skipping another day of washing it.

Your hair will get use to this new routine in no time. Just be sure to apply dry shampoo as needed.

You have to keep working at it. Within a few months, you should be able to go about 4 days without washing your hair.

Now, I know what you’re thinking: How can I go to a hot yoga class, sweat my ass off, and then not wash my hair?

Well, it’s harder when you’re really active and sweat a lot. Sometimes, you just have to wash your hair. But if you go for a bike ride and only sweat a little bit, there are ways around it:

Steam it

When you have a hot shower, put a towel under the door and let the steam rise. This will help freshen up your hair without giving it a full wash.

Spritz It

Chances are, you already use hairspray on a daily basis. If you don’t, be sure to use some on that you like and smells nice.

Dry Shampoo it

(See above!)

Find other creative hairstyles to play with

Get your hair off your face. Braid it, wear headbands, do whatever you have to do. Look for new, creative styles on YouTube.

If you get to this point, I promise you you’ll never go back!


Dirty hair don't care


For more hair tips, read one of my Favourite Thing Friday posts:

How Flaxseed helped my hair - along with the other major benefits this little seed gives you.

Thanks for reading,

Lisa 

Thursday, 5 September 2013

Why you don’t need to step on a scale to manage your weight

Ugh, the scale. It seems to always be associated with a negative connotation of failure, discouragement, insecurity and anxiety…at least it for me was, anyway. That’s why I threw mine out years ago, and haven’t looked back.
After living without one, I encourage everyone to do the same.

It’s not what size you wear, its how you fit in your clothes.
These are words of advice that still ring true to me since I first heard them in High School, over 10 years ago.
One of my friend’s mothers who was (and still is) smart, successful and beautiful said these words to a group of us girls one day when we were sitting around obsessing over our bodies and comparing ourselves to “perfect” celebrities.
This women would always come home a bit late because she would go to the gym after work, and I remember she always took a lot of vitamins with her dinner. She valued a healthy lifestyle, and lived a great example of it.
I think this is why I took her advice so seriously, and still apply her words to my life today.
When I’m shopping for clothes, I try not to obsess over what size fits me, but what size I look and feel comfortable in.
I also try remember that most sizes are different at each store. At The Gap, I wear a size 28 or 29, and at Aritzia, it’s a size 32. So why should I let what size I wear bother me?
I could buy a size 28 at all the stores I shop in if I wanted to, but I wouldn’t look or feel good in them if they didn’t fit properly.
So instead of weighing yourself and focusing on what size you buy off the rack, why not measure your size by how you fit in the clothes you wear? Are they feeling a bit more lose? Tight? The same?
Weight isn’t everything, and neither is the size that fits you.
Your weight fluctuates all the time
You’re happy you lost three pounds? Weigh yourself in a few hours and read what the scale says. 
The number on the scale can fluctuate based on your hormones, how much water you’ve drank or if you’ve just ate a big meal.

True weight gain or loss occurs over a longer period of time. Don’t be a slave to the scale. If you are going to weigh yourself, try doing it only about once a month.
Muscle weighs more than fat
You probably already know this, but it’s hard to remember when you’ve been watching your calorie intake and working your butt off (literally) for weeks at the gym, only to see that you’ve gained weight on the scale. 
Then what happens?
Personally, I used to get discouraged and binge eat.
“Whatever,” I would think. “It’s not working anyway. I’m never going to lose weight.”
And a pan of lasagna later, I’m right back to square one.
Numbers don't mean everything. 
To help put this into perspective, I trained for and ran a half marathon about seven months ago. During my training, I ran a minimum of four times a week. I incorporated strength training, too. I felt great. I was confident, my legs were toned, and I was so proud of myself…until I stepped on the scale and read that I had gained 20 pounds.
I was devastated. I was so discouraged that I actually quit running.
But why? Why couldn’t I be happy with the fact that I was healthy and had gained muscle, not fat?
I let the scale ruin it for me. Don’t let it do this for you.
Focus on how you are feeling, not what the scale says.
It’s really about being healthy, from the inside out.
A year before I ran my half marathon, I was celebrating being newly single in the only way I knew how – by drinking, a lot. With that, came the occasional cigarette too, along with lack of sleep, routine, and healthy meals. Looking back at photos, I can see how much thinner I was then than I am today. But I have to remind myself that’s not a good thing. Just because someone is thin, doesn’t mean they are healthy.
Focus on now you feel from the inside out. Don't be a slave to the scale.

Wednesday, 4 September 2013

How to Get Inspired

Ever feel stuck in a rut, board, or just plain lazy? It happens to the best of us.

And what about the days when you feel like you go, go, go, but when you have a moment to yourself you either don’t know what to do with it, feel guilty about it, or make something up for myself to do to occupy it?

When I do this, I often feel busy, yet unproductive, and I’m left looking back on my day thinking: “Did I really do anything that I wanted to do?”

I’m not thinking this to be selfish. I’m thinking this because I want to enjoy every day that I am given and make the most of life.

Its days like these that I need to put in some effort and seek out some inspiration.

If you’re anything like me, here’s how to do it:

Identify what your favorite part of your day was

This is a little game my boyfriend and I play at the end of the day. We’ll ask each other what our favorite part of the day was. Sometimes, the answer is “Right now” or “When I saw my nephews” or “Having lunch with my Mom.” Every day is different. This is a simple way to reflect on your day, count your blessings, and remind yourself of what truly makes you happy.

If you don’t have someone to talk about this with, right it down. Or just identify it, think about it for a moment, and give thanks.

Read

Get some new information into your head. This can be from a newspaper, a blog, or a book. I prefer to do most of my reading away from a computer screen, but do whatever is best for you. Read something. You will stimulate your brain all the while taking some time for yourself and enjoying something just for you. It can be mindless or intense, but make sure you enjoy it.

Research

Seek it out. What do you like? Where do you see yourself in five years? Who is someone that you admire?

Learn something new.

Don’t know where to start? Anywhere. Literally, start anywhere. Look on your phone or pick up a small publication you don’t typically read. Ask questions. Learn something new about a person you admire. Make notes. Listen to music and reflect on what you are enjoying about it.

We are fortunate that in today’s world that there are hardly any limits to seeking out new information about something we are interested in. Take advantage of this.

Get moving

Get outside! Do some jumping jacks! Do anything - just don’t sit there.

Go for a walk. Stand up if you’re sitting on the couch watching TV. Better yet, go to a yoga class.

Exercise releases what they call “happy hormones” and you will be guaranteed to feel better than you did before. It will also help you clear your mind and leave you feeling refreshed.

Get rid of the negativity

Life is hard. Each person faces their own struggles and has their own ways of coping with things. If you are having a hard time getting out of a rut, cut the cord from people who are bringing you down (or at least take a break from them!). I know this is easier said than done – sometimes, it can be a parent, best friend or main confident who is bringing too much negativity into your life - but this has to be done.

Always be gentle and respective of others, but the bottom line is, if you don’t feel BETTER about your life after spending time with someone, then forget about it! You deserve more than that. It’s better to be alone than with people who bring you down. A lot of the time, they are not doing this intentionally, but it’s still happening. The power is in your hands.

Bring something positive to the table

Make sure you are not one of those people I just mentioned above (ahem…negative)!

Be positive! Smile.

Ask questions. Turn a conversation around and make it about the other person. Ask a friend how they are doing, and listen. Talk about their day and their plans for the next. Ask about their family. Do something for someone else.

Spend a week focusing on these tasks, and let me know if they’ve helped you! They always do for me :)

Thanks for reading,

Lisa