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Life with No Television: Our Reasons Why & What has Changed

Over the past couple of years, the amount of time we spend each evening watching TV has reduced. We both love watching TV, George loves a good TV series & movie, I love any reality TV show that exposes talent like American Idol, Britain’s got Talent, Dancing with the Stars & The Voice. TV can be a great distraction after a stressful day, it can fill in time when you are bored & can be used to switch off the mind and just veg out. However, watching it every day and using it as a form of procrastination and avoidance is where it turns into a health issue.

There were days we would both come home from work, eat dinner and put on a good show and watch about 3 episodes and go to bed. Our evenings were spent watching TV. We were both with each other but not really connecting. There was very little conversation and we were falling into a routine of our evenings been taken over by the TV screen.

When I look back now, I cannot believe we were like that because we are the total opposite now. How did this change come about? I don’t believe it was one incident but many different things happening over a period of about 2-3 years.

A couple of years ago we watched a really cool documentary called “No Impact Man” about a couple in New York who made major live changes for 1 year to drastically reduce the amount of waste they produced & energy they consumed. This show had such a huge effect on us & is definitely one of the major reasons we decided to reduce our waste.

They recommended that we all should have at least 1 night a week with no electricity which would have a drastic effect on the amount of energy we would waste, they called it Eco night. We adopted Eco night and every Wednesday we do not use any power for the evening. We light candles, read books, play boardgames, have long baths and go to bed super early (Winter). We love them. As a result, no TV watching can happen on this night and this routine of not watching TV gradually extended over time.

Eco night in action

The above couple were very inspiring but we needed to figure out why we wanted to reduce the amount of TV we were watching. We had a conversation regarding where we wanted our lives to go over the next 5-10 years and it was pretty obvious; we needed all the time we could get to work on the areas that needed work.

I decided to go back to school & complete a project management course with UBC part-time in the evenings and weekends for 3 months, George wanted to write a book. Studying and writing need a lot of time & both of us had full time jobs. We got up earlier in the mornings to work on our projects but we also needed all the time we had in the evenings too. This was the first real eye opener for us as to how much time we were wasting in the evenings watching TV. We got so much accomplished with our projects because we had no time for television. We wanted to carry this insight forward and apply it to other personal projects that we always wanted to do but couldn’t find the time to do them.

For example, I started a cooking blog and challenged myself for 1 year to see if I could keep it up, could I commit to something for that long and would I be consistent. The blog itself was very basic and I had 2 followers (my sisters), I don’t even think I made it public it was a personal challenge to see if I could do it. Anyone who writes or blogs knows that a lot of time and effort needs to go into keeping a blog going. This is what I started doing in the evenings instead of watching TV. Of course, there were times I was not in the mood at all for any of my projects and I watched TV but I always felt bad after it.

We both started reading more books on productivity, both for work & personal use. Basically, all of these books advised against watching TV and outlined how much time is wasted watching TV when you could be using your time much more wisely to achieve something you always wanted to achieve.  We started listing the important daily activities that made us feel good. Examples we listed were; exercise, getting outdoors, cooking, reading, writing & self-care. We incorporated these feel good activities into our days and gradually overtime the TV melted into the background.

We basically banned watching TV from Monday to Thursday. Eventually we really didn’t see the point to having a 36” flat screen smart TV in our small apartment. It was the focal point of our living area but it no longer was the focal point of our lives. We set a date for when we would put the TV up for sale, after the last episode of Game of Thrones in June 2019. We posted the sale that evening on Facebook and the TV was picked up the next day.

What our dresser looks like now without the TV

I have to say I panicked a little bit when I came back up to the apartment and there was a huge empty gap on the TV stand. Doubts went through my head if we had made the right decision. We have a baby on the way, would we not need a TV to relax after a hard day or will the child miss out with not having a TV? By the next day I was over my fears and was determined more than ever that this was the best decision for our family. In truth we don’t want to go back to our old ways of mindlessly watching TV…. especially when we have a child. We don’t want to be watching TV when we should be in bed resting and catching up on lost sleep. If we want to see a movie, we will go to the theatre to see it. If we want to see a TV really badly, we have a Netflix account that we can use on our laptop. We don’t need a HUGE TV taking up space and tempting us to turn it on.

We have no TV for almost 2 months now, it’s been great. The best thing for me is that the huge black screen is not facing me when I sit on our couch, instead it has been replaced with plants which are so much nicer. I feel the atmosphere has changed in our living space, it seems brighter and more spacious.

In addition, when we watch a TV show (Ozark) or movie at the weekend it’s a treat & we really enjoy it. We don’t feel bad or guilty about it because we have worked on all our other projects during the week and this is like a reward for getting our shit done.

We would not be able to write blogs, write books, read, cook, exercise, draw, paint, connect with friends if we still were the TV watchers we once were. We are so much happier without the TV. I believe the root to why we got rid of the TV was the fact we decided we wanted more with our lives. We wanted to achieve more in our personal time, we wanted to work on dreams & goals of our own. With the advice & guidance from productivity books it was clear if we wanted to achieve our goals while working in full time jobs, we needed our free time after work & the weekends.

Sit and think about what you want to achieve in your life, how can you break that down into daily tasks. How many hours would you need to spend on those tasks? Where in your life can you make up that time? Look at your TV and ask yourself how much time I spend watching it…….is it time to make the change?

Thanks for reading everyone,

I hope you found this helpful.

As always, we would love to hear any comments or suggestions you may have.

Have a great week,

Theresa xxx

Humility Can Be The Path To A Meaningful Life

As a yoga teacher, humility is one of my core values, indeed it is a value that can guide us through life.

A lack of humility can lead to a wanting and yearning for more, more money, more power, more style, more cars, more food. This craving comes from our survival instinct, the desire for self preservation and the need to protect and provide for those we love. There does however, come a time when we have enough and any yearning is for more than we need (see here for recent gratitude blog on having enough).

It is ok to want more, to want to be comfortable and to indulge ourselves, I am not speaking of abstinence or a life of stoicism but we must understand why we want something. Is it for the right reasons? Are we seeking treasures to adorn ourselves with from a standpoint of competitive behaviour, to take someone else down a level?

This is where we need to check ourselves and get in touch with humility.

“Work for a cause, not for applause.”

Think on the violent history of our race, the most recent wars in history. Where did they stem from? Did Hitler invade Europe for the betterment of his people? Yes, but from a self serving point of view.

Compare leaders of the world and famous figures – Donald Trump, Barack Obama, Mahatma Ghandi, Conor McGregor. What are their qualities and how do they serve themselves, and in turn serve the world? Do you see humility in them?

Who do you root for? The underdog or the one who talks himself up all the time?

A lack of humility leads to violence. Take the caste system in India, the civil rights movement in the US, slavery, the expansion of the British Empire. All of the above has lead to strife, pain and hardship in the name of one group being perceived as being better than the other. Perception is the key word here and that is where humility comes into play. The most humble of us will not, by definition, think herself greater than others nor will she strive to be greater.

“Never look down on somebody unless you’re helping him up.”

Putting ourselves first is important, indeed I have written about it before (link here) but when we put ourselves first and surpass others by wanting what is beyond our needs, that is where the ego and greed come into play. Humility can teach us the value of both having enough and being enough. There is plenty to go around, we do not need all of the accessories to place ourselves above others in the pecking order.

That does not mean a humble person will not strive for greatness, do not mistake humility for a lack of ambition. It means that the humble person will not look down on others, will not seek to oppress others and will not seek to take from others for their own betterment.

Nor am I saying that competition is not good. It is part of our nature and without it we would roll over and die, never defending ourselves and never standing up for what is right. We can keep our competitive streak and remain humble, the two are not exclusive.

Humility can cure the wanting and craving in our hearts and in turn quash the over indulgence that is suffocating our planet and tame the aggressive nature of the beast that resides within us as we mature as a race.

Let us look inside our selves and search for that humility. Can we give everybody a chance and not judge. Question our motives. Why do we want something, is it for the right reasons? When we strive to better ourselves, is it at the expense of others and to what end? Do we push to get ahead or to contribute to a greater good? What path are we on?

If we stop and think and really consider our motives and our state of mind we can start looking at things from a more humble perspective.

“Be like the bamboo, the higher you grow, the deeper you bow.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Our Less Waste Journey: What Will Change with New Baby?

The decision to consciously live a simpler life has resulted in an awareness to reduce our waste. When we noticed how much waste we were creating from mindless shopping we soon began looking for ways to prevent waste. Reading blogs, watching documentaries & following zero waste folks on Instagram really inspired us. We have made some awesome changes in our lifestyle which has reduced our waste dramatically. Check out a previous blog we wrote about this here.

 

With a new baby on the horizon we really wanted to keep our waste low and make environmentally sound decisions around all purchases for our baby. In an earlier blog we spoke about what we bought for our baby & why (see blog here). We wanted to source as much pre-used items as possible that had great design & function for our small space. With a little research and planning we got everything we needed pre-used. We avoided all the packaging that usually comes with new items and we are reusing products that are still in perfect working condition.

 

We are super happy with the above and really surprised how easy it was to source all the items we wanted (Facebook market place) and what amazing value we got on each item. Now that all the major items are bought it’s the day to day purchases for the baby that we wanted to focus on.

 

Since we have no mini-human yet this Teddy Bear kindly volunteered to model the diapers & cloth wipes. Please note we bought 4 waterproof covers to cover the outside of the diapers to prevent leaks.

 

Diapers are a major source of garbage that ends up in landfills. Babies pop & pee a lot! None of these diapers can be recycled or used for any other source of energy. They take forever to decompose and often end up in places where they don’t belong like our oceans.

 

We made the decision to use reusable cloth diapers for our baby. We are lucky as we have a cool service in our city which drops off clean cloth diapers to your home on a weekly basis & collects all dirty diapers. They will bring the diapers away and wash them for you. All dirty diapers are placed in a bin which is lined with a bag supplied by Baby Cheeks, this is what they will pick up each week.

 

We do not have in-house laundry so washing our babies’ diapers in a washing machine other people have to use doesn’t seem very neighbourly to us! We would rather spend the money on the diaper service and keep everyone happy, and we avoid having to do all that extra laundry.

 

Living more simply has allowed us the privilege to afford a service like the above. We saved so much money on baby products that we wanted to put our money to a service like this which truly makes a huge change.

 

In addition to re-usable diapers we are also using reusable wipes. Again, we are using the above service to supply and clean the wipes. We will create a cleaning solution for the wipes to soak in (baby castile soap & water) and use these at home & on the go.

 

Another great way we plan on reducing our waste is by using baby castile soap which we bought in The Soap Dispensary on Main Street, Vancouver. We used a previous bought castile soap bottle and refiled with baby soap. Castille soap will have many functions for our baby; bath time, baby wipe solution & toy cleaner. It’s such a multipurpose soap & we have been using a scented one for the last year and love it. We use it in our baths, cleaning sprays & laundry detergent.

 

As much as we try to reduce our waste there are times, we don’t have control over what comes into our space, this is especially true with a new baby. People are so kind & generous with gifts of diapers, wipes, detergent, clothes, baby equipment etc. Even though we say we don’t need anything our neighbours & friends still want to contribute. I understand it but it just means we end up with all the above even though we tried to avoid it! Lol! In fairness most of friends listened to us when we said please do not buy anything for baby, we actually suggested to get us gift cards to our favourite reflexology place, Footwork’s or for the diaper service we wanted to use. It worked out really well;-)

 

Currently we do have a supply of non-reusable baby wipes & diapers. I’m sure these items will come in handy when we travel and are out & about. I’m so grateful for people’s generosity & will use these products when needed. We just have to accept that we cannot always control everything & to keep on doing what we are doing to reduce our waste.

 

Making the commitment to living simply has so many benefits like having more space, more time, more money, more freedom, less stress, less anxiety, less stuff…………. however, it isn’t always easy. What we have to remember how far we have come and look forward to all the other possible areas we can improve…. that’s what makes this journey fun. If it was not enjoyable, we would not care about it as much. It really is small changes every day & an awareness of our habits that make the process of reducing our waste easier than you may think.

 

If you have any suggestions on how we can avoid waste with our new baby please let us know. Please let us know things that have worked or have not worked for you and your sweetie.

 

Thanks so much for reading,

 

Chat soon,

 

Theresa Burns xxx

Hindsight – Sometimes The Past Comes Back Unexpectedly

I like to think of myself as a good person. I try to be mindful of other people’s feelings and I try, both professionally and personally to always do the right thing. I have intervened when I have seen drug addicts harassing old men, I have stopped to check if people lying on the ground by the side of the road were ok when everybody else passed by.

Why is it then that this same person, is hit out of nowhere by hindsight? Years after I realize that I had been hurtful, immature and selfish in certain situations. Back then I was foolish and everything was a joke, even if it was at another person’s expense. I had a mean streak and never even knew it until ten years after.

Why did it come back to me and why did it come back to me at that time?

Where was this insight when I needed it? Where was the foresight or even the present sight when I needed it? I was a different person back then and I was not open to this insight. My hindsight changed over time as my personality changed.

What use is it to us if we can’t change what we have done? What use is it to us if it comes years after?

It is a teacher. Sometimes we are not ready for the lesson, sometimes we are not ready to listen or we cannot even hear. Then one day our eyes are open. The lesson was always there. I just couldn’t see it. Maybe in some cases we never will.

We change gradually in most cases as we are shaped and sculpted through the process of life. I am not the person I was ten years ago. That was a different time and that was a different George, shaped since then by so many things; immigration, marriage, death, loss, separation.

I have not grown wiser; I have just changed. I like to think that this change is for the better but that remains to be seen.

As I go through the next chapter of life I will continue to change and my perspective will adjust with me and with that hindsight may creep up on me again unexpectedly.

Taking a look at the opposite perspective, nostalgia is a form of hindsight.

These are the good old times, right now. Wherever you are, reading this, who are you with? What are your plans for the rest of the day and who will you spend that time with?

Don’t spoil it.

Be there and live it because hindsight will come back to you in years to come and question you. It will bring a longing or regret that you can catch, right here, right now.

You can be here now and stay here. Be present and be with whoever it is you are with, giving them your full undivided attention.

The past will always resurface over time but hopefully, by being present and thoughtful we can let it come back to us with good feelings.

 

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