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back2basicsliving

Gratitude Turns What We Have Into Enough

As I sit to breakfast every morning, Theresa asks me “what are you grateful for?” We each list three things, whether superficial or deep, we start our day with gratitude. Gratitude can be a way of life. It is more than saying thank you, though this is part of it. It is really soaking up what we have in our lives that we are thankful for.

Gratitude is feeling the air fill our lungs and being thankful for it. Gratitude is reaching our hand out to open the door and being thankful for the power of movement.

We can bring gratitude into our lives by becoming aware of everything we have. We can begin to notice these things by listing them every morning, but list them mindfully. Let it sink in even if it is as simple as being thankful for the food in front of you. Let that fact sink in before you taste it. Sit with the words.

It is true that life presents challenges, life gives and life takes away. Through these challenges it is still possible to be grateful. We cannot experience the highs of happiness without the lows of pain and sadness. It is part of life and part of what makes us who we are.

But wherever we are in life, whether it be the the troughs or the peaks, we can still find time to be grateful. Even the worst things that happen, Brother David Steindl Rast tells us in Oprah Winfreys podcast turn out to be life giving.

The hardest part of my life to date was the death of my mother. Having left Ireland for Canada (9 years ago now) I missed out on the last 5 years of her life. I saw her in that time but it was painfully short. I still found gratitude in her death. Acceptance and gratitude that I had a week with her at the end. There is light in everything. We just have to find it.

“Let us rise up and be thankful, for if we didn’t learn a lot today, at least we learned a little, and if we didn’t learn a little, at least we didn’t get sick, and if we got sick, at least we didn’t die; so, let us all be thankful.”

Buddha

Happy people are grateful. Or are they? Yes, I imagine they are but Brother David counters in his TEDtalk that is grateful people who are happy.

Gratitude is the gateway to happiness. Brother David recommends that we stop, look and go – just like crossing the road.

How often in life do we really stop and look? Ask yourself, when was the last time you stopped to take in your situation and surroundings? If it was recently, I applaud you and encourage you to do it again right now. When we stop and look, we can use this as an opportunity to find something to be grateful for. We can, according to Brother David, use this as an opportunity to take action towards something we can be grateful for.

“He is a wise man who does not grieve for the things which he has not, but rejoices for those which he has.”

Epictetus

We can appreciate what we have. Grateful living is so accessible. Today is not just another day. Stop reading for a second and look out the window. You will never, ever see that same cloud formation again. You will never see that sky again. You will never see the light hit the leaves or the concrete outside in that exact pattern ever again. Each moment and each day is something we can be grateful for and it can so easily sneak past us unnoticed.

I have written before about looking up. Too often our eyes are downcast and we cannot see what we really have.

“Gratitude is riches. Complaint is poverty.”

Doris Day

When we live a life of gratitude, we are rich. We often fear not having enough. This fear can create a longing, a craving, which ultimately leads to violence.

It takes time, effort and practise and it takes a lot more than listing three things every morning which we are grateful, but…..it’s a great place to start.

I still struggle with anger and negativity and may do so for the rest of my life but just like yoga, meditation and exercise, gratitude is a practise and a journey. A journey where we must stay on the path for the rest of our lives.

Each one of us may be just a drop, but together we make an ocean and together we can make an ocean of gratitude. Imagine what that would be like.

Gratitude can be our future. Brother David imagines a future, not with a top down pyramid power structure but as a flat network where we are willing to share. The grateful person will act out of a sense of enough.

“Gratitude for the present moment and the fullness of life now is the true prosperity.”

Eckhart Tolle

Thanks for reading. If you enjoyed this blog it would help us so much if you shared it,

Peace,

George

 

Links:

Gratitude | Louie Schwartzberg | TEDxSF

Want to be happy? Be grateful | David Steindl-Rast

Oprah – Super Soul

 

 

 

 

What We Bought for Our First Baby & Why

George & myself have been trying to live as mindfully as we can the last couple of years. We aim to only buy what we need & think about each purchase before going through with it. This avoids impulse spending and the over consumption of commercial items.

 

We wanted to apply our beliefs to the process of shopping for our first baby. There are so many options out there of “must haves” for having your first child that decision fatigue can happen very fast and mindless spending can occur very quickly. The fact that all baby stuff is super cute doesn’t help how hard it is to say no.

 

The process we went through to choose what we really needed was pretty easy. We started to look up bloggers who live the same lifestyle as us. We checked out their blogs to see if they wrote anything on what they got for their new born, what worked & what didn’t. Basically, we took their advice and made a list of essential items from what they suggested from their experience. Alison Mazurek in particular from  http://www.600sqft.com/about blog was huge help to us. She wrote a brilliant blog on what they needed and what she would recommend for a new born. (See post here)

 

We took that list and decided that’s what we will use. I believe doing your research is key to investing in any purchase. When someone who lives likes you & you respect has done the research and recommends something, I always take their opinions very seriously.

 

Alison’s list was so helpful as she has researched items for their design and for how well they would work in a small space. We live in a one-bedroom apartment and are not planning on moving to a larger place. With clever design & an open mind a one-bedroom apartment can work wonderfully with a baby.

 

Please see the list of items we bought below:

 

Item Bought Reason Second hand Price
Bugaboo Bee Stroller in Red Folds small, fits in hall closet & great for city $350
Maxi Cosi car seat in Red Great reviews & fits our stroller $75
Nuna Leaf baby chair Neutral Beige Nice design & fits in our closet $100
Monte Rockwell Bassinet Nice design, light for moving & doesn’t take up too much space in bedroom $200
Puj Tub in Grey Folds flat & can be used camping $15
Ergo Baby Carrier Grey Best rated baby carriers which we can face baby both front & back $165
Gathre Leather changing mats Great for on the go & replaces baby changing table $90

These are the major equipment items we bought. We sourced all from Facebook market place. Once we had the list of items we needed, we kept an eye out on Facebook market place for these items to pop up. We started sourcing the items from 6 months into the pregnancy. To be honest Vancouver is an excellent place to shop on Facebook market place for babies & children. There are so many new families here. The only item from the list we bought new were the Gathre Leather changing mats. These we bought online at www.gathre.com. The above list in total came to less the $1000, the stroller new alone would cost more than that.

 

We also created a little capsule wardrobe for our baby, only sourcing clothing which we need and not having too much of the one thing. We are planning on writing another blog on new born clothing essentials. Again, we researched online for what a new born needs and created an essential list from that. The majority of clothing was bought pre-used and were given to us by friends. Any pre-used clothes given to us we sorted through and kept only what we needed, the rest we donated.

 

The reason why we chose the above items came down to design & functionality. We love the look of all the items we bought and they work so well in a small space. The bugaboo stroller folds small and it fits into our hall closet. I really like to hide things away in closets and keep as much free space in our home as possible.

 

We didn’t believe a changing table was essential for our baby. Instead we purchased the Gathre leather changing mats (1 for the home & 1 for the travel bag). These mats can be placed on a bed, couch, floor, table, grass…. anywhere so a special table for changing didn’t make sense to us and it takes ups valuable space in our home.

 

The puj tub is super cute. As children we were washed in the kitchen sink, those photos are the best. The puj tub is like a foldable seat your child can sit in while being bathed in the sink. Our bathroom is old and the tub is really low. The idea of being able to wash our baby while standing at the sink is more appealing than bending down over a very low bath. The puj tub can then be unfolded into a flat surface and stored away very easily.

 

Shopping for all the above items on Facebook market place was so easy. Not only did we save so much money, we avoided having to go into shops & malls. Our weekends are precious to us and spending time shopping is at the bottom of our favourite things to do on our time off. In addition, avoiding stores also limits the commercial bombardment and the temptation of buying items which were not on our list. We searched for sellers around our area and scheduled to pick up items on our way home from work in the evenings. So simple & effective. Every person we bought from was great & had everything ready on time at pick-up.

 

Overall our experience of purchasing items for our baby has been so chill & easy. This method really worked for us. There was no stress involved, we had all the spare time we usually have on our weekends and we had no financial pressure as we bought the majority of our item pre-used.

 

We are hoping this will be helpful and if you have any questions or comments please feel free to leave them below.

 

Have a great week!

 

Chat soon,

 

Theresa xxxx

Responsibility – Passing The Torch To Future Generations

I am about to become a father. My life is about to change in less than three weeks and it will never be the same again. I will think and behave differently. I will be reborn a new person and my life’s purpose will have changed forever. Everything I do will be for my family.

What is our ultimate goal as a parent? Is it to give our children the best life we can possibly give them? To prepare them for the long road of life ahead? To be there for them and care for them all along the way? All of the above, and much more I believe, but how does that translate on a global scale as a race?

We must leave the next generation in a better position. That is not to say that we give them materialistic wealth, but it is our responsibility to pass on knowledge, kindness and responsibility through example.

I believe it is our purpose in life to wake up, not as individuals, but as a race. This may not happen for a long time but it is in progress and we must work together to guide both those around us and those who will come after us to find our strength and our kindness.

The individual must act as part of the collective and the collective must embody the individual.

We will never lose our individuality, but as individuals working together, we make a strong collective.

We have seen great leaders in the past who have shone like beacons to guide us and future generations – Jesus, the Buddha, Mohammad, more recently, Mahatma Ghandi, Mother Theresa and Nelson Mandela.

There are those who are in positions of power today who are using that power to move us in the right direction.

They may not necessarily be enlightened but they are in a position to guide others and inspire future generations through example and guidance.

I believe that we have passed from the collective childlike state as a species in the last few generations and that we are ready to follow a path of change, care and responsibility.

We have leaders everywhere. Look around you now and you will see people leading by example. The woman who picks up the trash she did not drop. The man who smiles and acknowledges the homeless person.

We need to look up and become aware of the example around us that can help us reach our goals as a race, and in turn we can become those leaders and role models we need to be by working together through kindness. We can spread our example throughout our peers and instil it in the next generation.

As a species we have gone through life in a slumber. We were too immature to notice our actions towards each other and towards our surroundings.

We were children but now we are growing up. An awakening has started and we are ready to take on the responsibility of care, which is ours by default due to our intelligence. If we do not act, then who will?

We must take up the mantle of responsibility and kindness and share it among ourselves until it spreads like a spark in dry brush. We must pass it onto the next generation.

George Bernard Shaw said that “Life is no brief candle for me. It is a sort of splendid torch which I have got hold of for the moment, and I want to make it burn as brightly as possible before handing it on to future generations.”

Reality is in our grasp. It is there for us to see, beyond this screen. It is in front of us, we just need to look up and see it.

That is the first step.

Look up and meet someone else’s eyes. They are the leaders of the new world and you are their teacher. And Vice Versa. Together we are wakening up, to spread kindness and integrity and wield it like a shield to protect all life.

This is our responsibility as we are the most intelligent form of life that we know of. We are the only ones that have the power to come together to make all the difference. We have the power and it is our responsibility to use it wisely for the sake of our home and as Shaw says, pass the splendid torch onto future generations.

Our Decision to Breastfeed Our Baby: Why & How Are We Preparing for It?

Firstly, George & myself have tried to keep an open mind about all our decisions throughout this pregnancy. We understand that what we have planned may not work out. This applies to breastfeeding also. Coming from Ireland at a young age our exposure to breast feeding has been limited. At the beginning of our pregnancy I said to George that I would like to give breastfeeding a go but if for some reason it doesn’t work out then we will bottle feed our baby. I believe if the process is causing too much stress and disappointment then mother & baby are both suffering. We would like to avoid this situation at all cost.

 

Generally, when we make a decision, we do our research and prepare ourselves as much as possible to succeed, then if it doesn’t work out, we have the comfort of knowing we did all we could. We applied the same attitude to breast feeding. With limited exposure to breastfeeding other than feedback from friends in Canada (not all feedback was great) I decided I needed to learn more. Friends advise is great but everyone’s experience with breastfeeding is so unique, I wanted to speak to a specialist so they could explain why, how and the method of breastfeeding.

Breastfeeding for me did not seem like a natural thing. The idea of producing milk & feeding my child from my own body honestly was completely alien to me. I needed help and guidance to change my mindset so I could see this process as a natural & special connection with our baby.

 

The first step to expanding my knowledge was to download a book called “Guide to Breastfeeding” by Ina May. I would recommend every woman who is planning on breastfeeding to read this book. Ina May is a huge advocate for breastfeeding and gave solutions to all problems & issues that may arise during the process. She is convinced that all women can and should breastfeed. After reading this book it built up my confidence that if I am having trouble at any stage of feeding there is always a solution, for me that is very comforting.

 

During my pregnancy I have been diagnosed with Gestational Diabetes & my haemoglobin levels are way below average but I am non symptomatic. Having low iron levels & diabetes could make breastfeeding a little more complicated at the beginning. If myself or the baby are not so great after the birth, it may occur that I am unable to breastfeed right away. Also, if there are complications during the birth it may create a situation that breast feeding right away may not happen.

 

For the above reasons I wanted to meet with a lactation consultant so she could answer my questions which were very specific to my pregnancy and to help paint a picture of when breastfeeding begins, how to breast feed and how we could prepare for any situation after birth.

I searched online for a lactation consultant and found Mommy’s Milk (www.mommysmilk.ca). I booked a private at home consultation with Shannon Joyce at about week 28.

 

In addition to learning how to breastfeed and how we can prepare for complications I really wanted to know how to use a breast pump and when I could pump. A friend of mine gave me her pump and said it was so useful. George really wants to be involved in feeding the baby and I am all for it;-) Its just that I don’t know how to do it and when he can start feeding!

 

Shannon arrived in the afternoon on a Saturday, George left us so we could have the space to ourselves. Shannon asked what my expectations were from our meeting and I told her what I wanted to know. She was such a pleasant person & put me at ease straight away. She listened to all my concerns and passed no judgement just offered her knowledge and wisdom.

 

Shannon went through her presentation on her laptop with me which covered the topics below:

 

  • Benefits of breast feeding for mom & baby
  • How breastmilk changes
  • How milk production works
  • What we should expect in the first 24 hours
  • How to hand express
  • What is colostrum
  • Best time for breastfeeding
  • How often to breastfeed
  • What are babies hunger cues?
  • How to establish a good milk supply
  • Steps to a good latch
  • How to tell if your baby is getting enough milk
  • Frequency and duration of feeds
  • Pumping and storing breastmilk
  • Partner involvement in breastfeeding
  • Breast related concerns
  • When to seek help

To say I learned a lot is an understatement. The majority of the topics above I didn’t even think of before our session. For me the most relevant topic to my situation was that you can self-express from 37 weeks and store your colostrum in vials or syringes in the freezer. Therefore, if anything happens after the birth that I cannot feed my baby I will have a supply of colostrum ready for George to feed the baby until I have my energy back up. It may not come to that but I would like to prepare for it. This is the first time I ever heard of this and I’m sure I am not the only one.

 

After the presentation Shannon demonstrated how to set up, use & clean my pump. During the presentation she used puppets and props to give me excellent visuals of how you know your baby is latched on well and where the baby’s head, chin & nose should be positioned to get a great latch.

 

She insisted breastfeeding should not be a painful process, it may be uncomfortable for the first few moments but then it gets to feel more natural. She insisted that no one should have sore nipples or suffer when feeding. Her advice is to stop feeding and reposition the baby until it does not hurt even if the baby starts crying.

To say I gained knowledge and confidence from this experience is an understatement. Knowledge truly is power. I highly recommend spending the money on seeing a lactation consultant before your baby arrives. This is where your money is well spent, forget about fancy cribs & strollers…. spend the money on services like the above which will make your life and the baby’s life a lot easier from day 1.

 

I now have the confidence that I can breastfeed even if complications occur & I am looking forward to it which I never thought I would. I’m hoping it will be a time for myself & my little girl to bond and be happy. After 6 weeks George can then have this experience with feeding the breastmilk from a bottle and doing skin on skin with the little person.

 

We are excited about the idea of breastfeeding and will definitely give it our best shot! Hoping all works out but you just never know. I will write a follow-up blog to this on how it all went.

 

Thanks so much for reading,

 

Have a great week,

 

Chat soon,

 

Theresa

Podcasting: It’s Free And Easy

I have been addicted to podcasts since I discovered them about 6 years ago. They are free and a wealth of information on almost any topic.

I listen to many subjects ranging from yoga (Kevin Boyle), reading (The Guardian Books Podcast), self improvement (Rich Roll), there is so much out there. Fiction, true crime, even podcasts on podcasting.

Some, you will love and some, you will hate, but I guarantee that you will find something that’s for you.

I think that they are so successful because we can take them with us anywhere. The first time I camped by myself I had my phone filled with podcasts because I was afraid I would hear a bear in the forest. In hindsight it may have been better to have been able to hear the bear but I slept well in my ignorant bliss.

For some reason I cant stand almost any radio DJ I have ever heard and I’m not big on music so I listen to podcasts when I’m, cycling to work or out on the road for the day. And they all fit on that tiny device I complain about so often.

Some of you may know that I am in the process of publishing my first novel (The Pagans Revenge).

I have written fiction for a few years now but struggled to find a publisher. I also have an inbox folder full of rejection emails for my short stories that would make anyone wonder why I keep trying.

That got me thinking, if I can’t get published, why don’t I just broadcast them online myself? Its free, and one youtube video later, I was ready to go. I probably shouldn’t have included a link to the video – now you don’t have to continue reading.

My first step was some free sound editing software, Audacity is great and easy to use. It can get rid of background noise easily and if you have a decent mic you will have great sound quality. I currently don’t use a mic and the sound quality isn’t bad but I plan to buy one before starting my Back2BasicsLiving Podcast (coming soon) where I will be interviewing local people (to Vancouver) who inspire me.

Youtube has a great selection of non copywrited music and sound effects you can include also.

The next step was to get the Podcast online, I used Spreaker as mentioned in the video I shared. It can connect to ITunes, Stitcher and Spotify and it is free for a certain amount of hours storage.

I am so grateful for my listeners (all three of them – including me). It has allowed me to share some of my short stories which were not accepted by publishers. You can find it here if you are interested.

If you have any questions or if you have any fictional short stories you would like read on my Podcast you can email me at getyourstoryoutthere@gmail.com.

Also watch out for our upcoming podcast from back2basicsliving.com where we will be interviewing world champion kick boxers, yogis, health experts and many more.

And remember, podcasting is a free and easy way to get your material out there.

Thanks for reading,

Peace,

George