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A Successful Day Starts the Night Before

I am a firm believer in night and morning routines. I do not stick to my routines consistently but I am trying to build towards that.

This blog speaks only about what works for me personally; it is a work in progress. Each to their own.

Getting enough rest the night before is key to how my morning starts.

It sets me up for a productive day and in the case of Sunday evenings it sets me up to start the week the way I want to.

My morning routines have evolved and changed over time as my life-situation, job and location change. For me personally it is unrealistic to have a morning routine that stays the same indefinitely. For example I wanted to add a yoga practice to my routine every morning, so something had to be moved around to accommodate that, but it was a conscious decision and I deliberately thought about what changes I needed to put in place to make it happen.

Also I have a lot of things on my list to achieve over the next couple of months (a deadline for my novel among them) and to be honest I’m feeling the pressure. There is only so much time in the evening, especially if I want to keep a consistent bed time. That is very important to me.

Some additional items may have to be incorporated into my morning routine which may force me to drop some other items. That’s just the way it is.

The point I am making is that it’s ok for routines to change and evolve with your lifestyle.

Yuval Noah Harari stated that consistency is the playground of dull minds.

This is a statement that holds true in life and I think it is important to consider. Spontaneity is the spice of life, but I don’t think this applies to morning and evening routines. At least not in my case. I need the discipline and consistency at the start and end of the each day.

Routine, in my opinion, is the key to discipline. Discipline is the key to achievement. Achievement is a stepping stone towards happiness.

I like to start my day early. The ideal morning (weekdays) starts at 4:45. This ties directly back to the point of this blog. There is no way I would get up at 4:45 if I am not winding down by 9pm the night before.

That doesn’t necessarily mean going to sleep at 9. Winding down means no screens, low level soft lights only and reading until I’m tired enough to go to sleep. I also like to meditate for 5 minutes to get into a relaxed mindset. I usually lie down in the ground with a bolster between my shoulders.

Also in summer I found it really nice to leave the lights off and just read until it was dark enough that I could read no more. I didn’t do this very often but it was great for a break.

The lack of screen time before bed is the most important thing for me. Screens are a curse and I spend far too much time on them, but not after 9 (earlier when I can) and they do not come into the bedroom with me.

Going back to the mornings, as I said I like to get up at 4:45.

I leave my phone in the living room so it forces me to get out of bed to turn off the alarm. Getting out of bed is half the battle. Also I don’t use regular alarm bells or chimes, I like natural sounds like bird songs.

Alarm clocks are available that gradually light up the room, simulating sunlight. I would like to try them out but haven’t yet. If I do I’ll make a post on it. My phone is in flight mode from the night before so I am not distracted by or tempted to check incoming alerts.

I start with fifty min to an hour of yoga followed by breakfast (outside on the rooftop in summer – click here for Theresa’s recent blog). This is followed by a few small tasks (wash dishes, shower, journal etc) then 20 min meditation.

When I’m stretched to my limits and my routine isn’t working for me I’ll cut the meditation to ten minutes but I get the best out of meditation after the ten minute mark.

This takes me the guts of two to two and a half hours, but I like to take my time and not rush with anything. Years ago I used to get up at eight o’clock and leave the house at 8:20. I was just setting myself up for a stressful day by rushing around in the morning. Now, my aim is to start slow, like a cold blooded lizard, and warm myself up to the day. Ease into it.

So at the moment my schedule is all over the place and I have not been sticking to my routines. It has shown clearly in my state of mind as I’m highly stressed.

It’s very important for me to stick to a routine when things get tough. To keep consistent items in place, especially meditation. Beginning today, I intend to get back to my routine. Yes, it may change and evolve over the weeks, but if it does it will be thought out and deliberate.

I will write a follow up blog in one month to let you know how it goes and let you know if it has helped my stress levels and state of mind.

Peace

George

Using Things Up: Declutter Your Life

Over the past 3 years our purchasing of consumable goods has decreased dramatically. In the past I loved buying skincare, make-up & haircare products. I was attracted to the next shiny “must have” cream, spray, lotion….. The old items would be pushed to the back of the cupboard, out of sight & would sit there for months/years. Resulting in a bathroom cabinet full of stuff, 90% of which were not being used.

Since we started reducing our waste & simplifying our lifestyle we ensure we use up every last bit of product we buy. We don’t want items sitting in our cupboards for months or even years. As you know we live in a small 1-bedroom apartment so space is limited. In addition, we don’t want all the space filled with things, empty space is so calming.

We are finally getting to a stage that we have used up most items in our bathroom cupboard & are left with the items we use regularly. We have given some of the lotions to neighbours & have used up the other products ourselves. It feels so satisfying to completely use up a lotion. We cut the bottle in half to scrape out every last bit. No wasters in our home;-)

The idea of buying something to use for a special occasion no longer is an option. I would buy an expensive lipstick or candle and only use for a special night! Life is too short for that! No more red lipsticks though….1 is enough;-)

My make-up and skincare routine have been simplified. I know the products I love & I use every last bit before I repurchase. Simplifying these areas of my life has been great, I have less decisions to make every morning as nothing changes, I’m ok with that. Too many options for me is a bad thing. Keep it simple. Id rather save my brain cells for other more important areas in my life.

Decluttering our life has made a huge impact on how much space we have in our home & has saved us lots of money. We purchase what we need. Often we purchase items which are multipurpose like castile soap & bread soda, the only cleaning agents you need. I should also mention coconut oil as we use it for cooking & for skincare.

One area that I need to address next is the box of travel size lotions & potions I have collected over the years from hotels & travelling. These need a new home & we need to start using them up. That is one of my new habits is not to take the travel size toiletries from the hotel! I never use them and they are super wasteful.

Have a look in your cupboards & see if there are items which have the same function, try using the old one up first & promise not to impulse buy again. It takes time but the money & space you will save will be worth it. Put the money towards a holiday or dinner with friends instead. The best of luck with the decluttering.

Chat soon,

 

Theresa xxx

 

 

Immigration And What It Means To Become A Canadian Citizen

Irish people have been leaving our island for hundreds of years, with millions having fled, starving from the famine in the 1800s.

Some, myself included, credit Saint Brendan the Navigator with discovering the New World a few hundred years before the vikings landed in Canada in the 11th century.

In the mid 2000s Ireland was booming and the Celtic Tiger was alive and well, devouring the housing market and everything else it could get its hands on. The city-scape of Dublin boasted tower cranes everywhere reaching to the sky like the nation itself reaching for heights it had never seen before.

Then sadly, it all fell apart. Leaving the country was necessary for me, as there was no work to be found in construction at the time. Many stayed and found jobs but many like me left.

On October 31, 2010 Theresa and I said goodbye to my cousin Wilim at Dublin airport and boarded a flight to Vancouver, Canada, not realizing that it would be two years before we saw family again.

The change was though, Vancouver is an expensive City and with no jobs we were running out of money fast but we both managed to find work and eventually, after literally years, began to establish ourselves.

Little did we know when we set foot in that first short term rental apartment on Victoria Drive that nine years later we would still be here, Canadian citizens with a Canadian baby.

Naoise is every bit as Irish as myself or Theresa, there is no changing blood and the blood that runs in her veins is Irish but I am also very proud of the fact that as much as she is Irish, she is equally Canadian, being born in British Columbia. She is a symbol of a new life and of new beginnings for many Irish families who are now raising young children in Vancouver. I know of at least three other young Irish parents in Kitsilano alone who are settled here and starting to raise a family.

It goes without saying that the most difficult part of living in a different country is not seeing your family. Naoise was lucky enough to meet her Granny (Theresa’s mother) when she visited and she will meet her Grandads, Uncles, Aunts and cousins when we visit home at Christmas but she never met my mother, which makes me sad. That is not a factor of immigration, simply timing.

I remember the only Christmas I visited home, at the end of the holiday, Theresa and I left my house to travel back. My mother could not get out of bed to say good bye. We did not know she was dying but we both felt something, a deep sense of loss as we walked out the door. She died within three weeks and we were lucky enough to make it back for the last week.

We have, as Irish people been immigrating for centuries and I was humbled during the swearing in ceremony to be among 76 people from 28 different countries. It was an emotional day for us but we cannot understand the hardship some people have had to endure to come to a moment like this and we must be forever grateful for the rewards this great nation has given us.

Having visited Ireland Park in Toronto and seen the haunted faced of the statues representing the people who stepped off the coffin ships it truly hits home how lucky we are to be here and to have had such an easy journey to this point.

For a long time I wrestled with the notion of swearing an oath of allegiance to the English Monarch. Please do not be offended, I simply want to state that it was something I had to deeply consider. It went against my history and heritage but I decided that Citizenship was more important that past transgressions.

On further consideration I realized the importance of committing to the oath I would swear and taking it with meaning and intention. It would be an insult to the Monarch, the country, the ceremony and to the other people who were there that day not to give my full commitment.

I affirmed my allegiance and meant every word. From that day on I will respect and love the Monarch I am sworn to and if that makes me any less Irish than so be it but I do not believe so. We live in different times now and we must embrace one-another as friends or we cannot move forward as a nation, English, Irish or Canadian or as a race for that matter.

Becoming a Canadian Citizen is among the four most important milestones of my life. I am humbled by the friends both Canadian and fellow immigrants that we have made here and that have strengthened us over the years through difficult times.

I am proud that my family can stand with two great nations, Ireland and Canada.

Thank you for reading.

George

How to Care for Your Clothes & Extend the Life of your Wardrobe

For the past few years George & myself have been reducing the amount of clothing we purchase. We are consciously making an effort to take care of our current wardrobe so it last for years. There are several steps we are taking to help extend the life of our clothes.

  1. Read the care instructions on clothing labels

Become familiar with the fabrics your clothes are made from & how to take care of these fabrics. Look at the tags on the inside of each garment. Wash & iron accordingly. Use gentle laundry detergent, avoid all chemicals by making your own. Simply mix castile soap, borax & water. We use this for our clothes & it works perfectly.

  1. Do not put your clothes in the drier, air dry instead

We rarely use the drier to dry our clothes. The drier is harsh on clothing, it can misshape & shrink your clothes too. To extend the life of your garments avoid the drier. We like to hang our clothes on a clothes horse which we place in our bedroom. Our clothes dry within 24 hours.

  1. Iron, fold & hang your clothes

Ironing your garments according to the care label or material will keep the shape & style of your clothes. Compare a ironed shirt to an non-ironed shirt, it’s a much more polished & put together look. You will want to wear your clothes when you go to the effort of ironing them as they look brand new. After ironing make sure to hang or fold your clothes properly. Get hangers to fit your clothes & fold all knits so they wont loose their shape. Create enough of space in your wardrobe so your clothes can breathe. Donate or sell clothes you do not wear to create space. Have your closet looking like a boutique rather than a jammed packed thrift store. Not only is space good for the clothes, you will be able to see what’s in your closet too.

  1. Remove stains, mend & repair clothes & shoes

Don’t let stains sit on your clothes for days. Spot clean the stain immediately by using soap & water. If laundry day is not for a couple of days ensure to clean the stain well and maybe leave soaking overnight in soap & water. For tougher stains apply a more heavy-duty stain remover. Mend any missing buttons & tears in your clothing. Learn how to sew & repair tears. Practice is all it takes & maybe a few YouTube videos if you are like me 😉 Bring your shoes & boots to the cobbler for repair. The cobbler will extend the life of your favourite shoes & boots. Ensure to check all clothing & shoes at the end of each season before storing clothes away for any repairs that need to be done. Complete all repairs before putting your garments into storage.

  1. Wash your clothing less

We tend to wash our clothes too much. Items like jeans and knits don’t need to be washed after each time you wear them. Freshen them up by hanging them outside in the fresh air or in the bathroom after a hot bath or shower. You will see that the jeans & knits will last so much longer.

  1. Store your seasonal clothes away at the end of each season

Find yourself some large vacuum zip lock bags or under the bed storage boxes from Ikea to store seasonal clothes away. Fold all the clothes nicely, ensure they are all clean & repairs mended before storing. Wipe down all shoes and store them in shoe bags with your seasonal garments. Before I store away large knits that I wore for a couple of seasons I will bring them to the dry cleaners so they are fresh for the following year. For large coats I will also dry clean but leave hanging in the coat closet with a protector cover over them. Removing seasonal clothes from your closet will create space & keep your closet current with fresh new styles. #shopyourcloset.

  1. Buy quality garments made from natural fibres

When purchasing clothes pre-loved or new ensure the quality is there before buying. Ask yourself if this garment will look good after 3 washes? What material is it made from? Does it have to be dry cleaned? (personally, I stay away from these) The materials we like to buy are cotton, wool, silk, hemp & leather. We find these materials last the best and are easiest to take care of.

These are our top tips for extending the life of your wardrobe. Remember quality over quantity, look for pre-loved clothing made from natural fibres & avoid trends so that we will have a timeless wardrobe that will last a life time. For more insights into clothing care & the capsule wardrobe check out uselessdk.com, Signe has loads of great tips;-)

Thanks so much for reading,

Chat soon,

Theresa xxxx

 

 

 

Becoming a Father: Seven Weeks In

Seven weeks ago today a purple-grey blob which vaguely resembled a micro human was plopped onto Theresa’s belly as I watched in wonder.

I’ve come to the realization that I’m the sort of person who can only shed a tear for life changing events, this was one of those. I laughed at the ridiculousness of this squawking creature and cried from the pride, triumph and exhaustion of what Theresa had just gone through.

I can honestly say the night and morning of Naoise’s (pronounced Nee-sha) birth was the hardest thing I have ever gone through. Women may laugh at that and the contrast to what they go through, and I agree, I can not imagine how it felt, physically and mentally, but the fact remains that, yes it was the hardest thing I have ever gone trough. It was even a relatively straight forward birth.

We are lucky, we have been told by the mid-wife, we have it easier than a lot of new parents and I tend to agree, though I don’t have a frame of reference. Our baby is generally happy and easy to deal with. Everything has gone relatively straight forward. I am almost steeling my self for when the time comes when all hell breaks loose.

I also believe in mindset. I have been meditating consistently for the last four years, since the other most difficult moment in my life, the departure of my mother. She did not have the chance to meet either of her grand daughters, though she knew that my niece was on the way before she checked out.

I believe that constant meditation prepares one for any difficult moment in life, it helped me keep calm through the whole process and helps me remain calm now when my little girl accidentally projectile shits all over me. It is all part of the process I suppose.

Theresa, too is a constant meditator and I believe that the calmness and peace of mind generated was passed down. She meditates every day and meditated every day while pregnant. A stressed mind or a calm mind will have an effect on the development of a baby. Bearing in mind I am no expert in this but emotions, stress, calmness are contagious. You will see this all the time in the work place and the home.

It s funny how my own stress physically manifested itself throughout the pregnancy as I dealt with sometimes unbearable tension in my jaw. Meditation offered temporary relief but nothing else really worked. I did not feel very stressed out at the time, but now with the arrival of the micro human it has significantly lessened in intensity.

As parents, though I am new to the club, I think we make our own rules. Advise is largely useless as all situations and families are different so I don’t have much to offer, apart from the meditation. Make time for it. Encourage your partner to make time for it, even if it is only five minutes, it should be as automatic as brushing our teeth because it is just as important.

I will wrap up by saying that the last seven weeks have been the happiest of my life. I wish my family could be here to meet her, we were lucky enough to have Theresa’s mother here to help for two weeks. We must not take family for granted, it is the times you are apart that you realize how important they are. Nine years now, Theresa and I have been apart from ours and as we start our own little Canadian family we must endeavour to stick close to our roots and keep our baby close to her cousins, aunts, uncles and grand parents.

Many of my friends have recently become or are about to become parents. Good luck and enjoy.

Peace,

George