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Health & Wellbeing

Health and Wellness — lifestyle

How important is the space you live in to your health & happiness?

We absolutely love our apartment. It’s our little haven from the outside world. To many it would not seem like much, it’s small, old, the floorboards creak, the bathroom is 1970’s pink, the kitchen is the size of a wardrobe & we can hear our neighbours’ conversations through the paper-thin walls. Lol!!

So how could we possibly love a place where there seem to be so many faults? Easy, we have made it our own, keep it tidy & have worked darn hard to get it. When we arrived in Vancouver 9 years ago, we had nothing, only the bags we brought on our backs. A true immigrant story. All the clothing we had was inappropriate for a Vancouver winter which was unusually cold that year, it took us between 8 weeks & 3 months to find work in our fields. We had very little money left by the time we got work. We lived on a shoestring budget for years. We quickly learned the value of our money & how hard we had to work to get the money we needed for rent, food, transport & life.

Going through the above experience was very difficult at times & extremely frustrating as we moved to Canada for a better standard of living than at home and we didn’t see it. Now 9 years later we are finally getting there. My Aunt Kathleen, who lives in California once told me that it takes 10 years at least to set established in a new country. At the time I thought she was mad but now I agree.

We went through career changes, we got married, we had a baby, we lost family members, we went back to school, we took on new courses…. all of these events affected us financially which meant we had to sacrifice in other areas. Where we saved money was rent on our home. We live in a one-bedroom apartment in Kitsilano, a seaside area in Vancouver, which has the feeling of a small town.

Location was an important factor when it came to deciding where we were going to live. We are 2 blocks from the most beautiful seaside with mountain views. We can walk to the beach every day for fresh air, this is what we wanted, nature & beauty on our doorstep.

We absolutely love the location of our home & truly believe it has a massive positive effect on our health. Last night was a restless night with the baby, a nice cold fresh walk down by the beach for an hour really helps with lack of sleep & puts everything in perspective very quickly.

Besides the location of our apartment, I believe the interior of the home can have a huge impact on your health & wellbeing. For us, a clean & tidy home is essential for clarity and relaxation. Recently we have sold furniture we simply didn’t need so we could create more space. We love our less cluttered apartment now. We also have cleared out everything we don’t need or want; we are surrounded by the things we love & need. There are no “junk” drawers or cupboards. Honestly having organised cupboards, wardrobes, closets, drawers & files is so rewarding. In addition, everything remains tidy because we have a place for everything & at the end of the day things are placed where they should be, nothing can get lost this way which avoids time spent looking for things!

We find our home to have a calming effect when we walk in the front door. We have decorated it to our taste & style which works for us. Knowing how hard we had to work to get our apartment & have the luxury to live where we do, its easy to focus on all the positives of our place and ignore the items listed in the first paragraph.

Nowhere will ever be perfect but by keeping your home clean & tidy and surrounding yourself with what you love will definitely have a positive effect on your mental health.

Take a look around each room and see what you love and don’t love. Take your time to remove/replace the unloved items to create space, we need space for creativity & a focused, calm mind.

Create your own little oasis which doesn’t have to cost much, maybe a good clean & purge is all you need to do……it worked for us;-) Oh and brilliant white walls did wonders for our small space. So bright & uplifting.

In Summary, the space where you live doesn’t have to be a mansion or penthouse suite, it can be a 1970’s one-bedroom apartment which you adore by having only what you need & love. Surrounding yourself with love, space & the essentials creates clarity, calmness and relaxation. Therefore, I truly believe your space has a massive effect on your mental health & happiness.

Wishing you all the best.

Chat soon,

Theresa xxx

Reactivity – Don’t Let Your Automatic Actions Control You

In this world of over-stimulation, my nature is reactive. It always has been, even before we had so much visual input and interruptions in our lives my first instinct was always to lash out before I stopped to consider. It begins inside, like a spark which triggers an instant movement, thought or feeling which is usually, immediately followed by an action with no thought. There is no space between the trigger and the reaction.

This space is important. There is great power in this space. Imagine the great tragedies which could have been prevented if people stopped to think instead of reacting immediately?

Quick action does indeed have a place in the world but so does thought and deliberateness.

How do we go from trigger-feeling-reaction to trigger-feeling-pause / think-reaction? We need to create and cultivate space to allow it to expand, grow and develop.

It’s just like decluttering your desk or tidying your home. It can be achieved in different ways but the end goal is to give your mind space to sit down and think about what to do next.

And just like decluttering your home or your desk, take the time to notice the work that needs to be done. Where is the clutter?

Let everything settle and listen to yourself. You will soon see where the issues are, where the cleanup work needs to start. It is like taking all the obsolete information off your computer’s hard drive. What burdens do you need to carry and what can you put to one side or drop completely?

I sometimes find it useful to just sit with my thoughts, almost like the opposite of meditation, I set a timer and sit. I do not allow myself to move or interact with anything but let my mind wander. I let it go where it goes and interact with the thoughts as much as I wish. It helps me see where my worries are and where the internal housekeeping is needed. This can show up in the form of unfinished tasks, worries which have been weighing on my mind or someone I need to contact. The best way to clear them away is to act on them, immediately. If that’s not possible, then schedule a time. This will help create the space.

I will not go into meditation on this blog as we have both written on it before but I cannot recommend it enough. It has changed my life and helped create the space I need for calm, consideration and right action. Have a look at the bottom of the post for some blogs we have written on meditation.

Just like the unfinished tasks I mentioned, unhealthy habits will fill space also. Too much screen time, too much artificial stimulation, bad diet. When I talk about filling the space, I do not mean taking up your time, your time is important but what I mean is bad habits taking up space in your mind. Filling your quiet space with additional unimportant information or data which cannot be cleared out without deliberate action.

It is when we reach a point of no capacity that we no longer have the objectivity to stop and analyze.

We all have bad thoughts (at least I hope I’m not the only one) whether it be anger towards a stranger, judgement towards someone we know nothing about based on their appearance, impatience, selfishness or whatever arises at the time.

These thoughts do not define who we are. It is what we do with these thoughts that defines us. It is how we react and act on our thoughts and impulses that shows who we are as people. We can only be judged by our actions. Someone cuts me off in traffic and I have an urge to honk and pull up alongside them to extend the all useful middle finger and wave it in their direction.

The impulse is there, but so is the choice. I have the choice of whether to act on that impulse or not. If I do not have that space or use that space, I will not make that choice, I will simply keep going and do what automatically happens. I will become a slave to my automatic self.

I am still a victim of my own reactivity, I recently tore one of my favourite hoodies apart just because I did not pause and consider. Incidents like this happen much, much less now but what this shows me is that I still have to work on creating, maintaining, seeing and using that space. You can read my blog on my anger issues if you are interested.

Working on creating this space allows me to take the time and pause before I react. The reaction can be intentional rather than automatic. The feeling, impulse or thought will pass quickly, within a couple of minutes then it will be forgotten but if I act on it I will carry it with me.

Here are a few simple tips to cultivate, maintain and use that space. I hope it helps.

  • Spend time with your thoughts. Search for what needs to be cleared out.
  • Meditate daily to cultivate and maintain the space.
  • Use the space: Stop and examine the feeling or impulse. Think.

Let me know if you have any feedback or if you find yourself in a similar situation to me.

Peace,

George

 

Links:

How can we put down the burdens we carry?

meditation-challenge-40-day-sadhana-your-habits-define-you

a-daily-meditation-practice-make-it-work-for-you

meditation-it-takes-two-minutes

how-i-overcame-my-anger-issues

 

 

 

 

Cover photo by Javardh on Unsplash

Photo by Jez Timms on Unsplash

Photo by Samantha Gades on Unsplash

Photo by Simon Migaj on Unsplash

Photo by Keegan Houser on Unsplash

Why Do People Eat Meat? Examine The Why And It Will Effect The How

Can you imagine the shift in perspective you would feel if very human in existence fit in the palm of your hand?

That is what the Apollo moon mission astronauts experienced when they saw the entire world in their field of vision. Earth rise from the moon, every man, woman and child in existence was on the horizon. They could literally see it all.

Few people have had this perspective. I have to wonder if those who gazed on the Earth in it’s entirety realized that the planet was sick? Potentially dying. Before you read on, take a look at this short video from Carl Sagan to put things into perspective.

We are nearing the point of no return. Temperatures will rise to irreversible levels, forest fires will ravage the planet, indeed we have already seen record fires in the last two years in Canada and the US. Water levels will rise, some towns are already underwater. I listened to a podcast about an island off the US which is slowly submerging. The hungry sea is rising around the edges to swallow it.

This “Pale Blue Dot” as Carl Sagan calls it is being consumed by a cancer as its own inhabitants attack it from the inside.

We have nowhere else to go. Once this planet dies the human race dies with it. It may be argued that we are not deserving of salvation from a death of our own short sighted creation but we have a duty to our planet and our home to step up and take responsibility for our actions and reverse the damage we have done.

I have not eaten meat for a few years now. I do not eat meat for my own reasons but I am not naive enough to think that this action is saving the planet. It is not a sacrifice for me, the choice is simple but for some people it is a huge sacrifice. It is a tough ask.

For me there is no choice. Why would I eat meat?

That is the question we should all ask. I have been asked many times why I don’t eat meat but I would like to turn that around because the question is just as valid in the opposite direction.

Why do you eat meat?

There is no judgement in this question, but it is important to ask. To eat meat is healthy and natural. The Earth cannot survive without a food chain.

I do feel, however, that it is important that we all take responsibility for our actions. Why eat meat? If we know the why, it will effect the how. What I mean by this is that if we examine our carnivorous habits it will help us all to be aware of the over consumption of meat in our society.

If we are eating a burger for a quick snack, a chicken nugget from McDonalds or a sausage from 7/11 we need to stop and think about it. It is our responsibility to ask why am I eating this. Many of us are are poisoning our bodies with bad quality, processed, carcinogenic meat. The cancer that is killing our planet will grow in our bodies as we consume this shit.

We must choose….

By this I mean we must choose to eat meat or not to eat meat. Whatever we do we must do it consciously because it matters. We cannot afford to put these products into your bodies without thinking about the consequences. We cannot feed the overconsumption which is strangling everything.

Choose.

Think about the why and chose deliberately.

Please do not eat meat without thinking about it. Really make the choice, and think about the choice. There are many of us out there who simply love the taste of meat. If this is you, then please eat meat for that reason. I encourage you to stay away from the poor quality meat which is unethical and unhealthy. Let us all stand by our principles and chose taste and quality.

The beef industry is killing our “Pale Blue Dot“. Animal agriculture is one of the largest causes of deforestation, we are literally choking on cows farts as the mass produced methane gas poisons our planet, the amount of grain required to drive the beef industry could put an end to world hunger but we over indulge.

I want to treat this blog as an open letter to society in general – I am not naive enough to believe that the human race will give up meat (yet) nor am I in a position where I can tell anyone what they should do, we are all our own masters and we all have the maturity and strength in us to come to our own decisions and life choices.

What I ask is that meat lovers commit to quality and stand against over consumption.

I was inspired by a podcast I listened to recently. The guest, who spent his life working with primates, suggested cutting our meat consumption in half. This is so achievable and the results would change the course of our planets down fall.

We are at a tipping point, on the edge of a precipice, our fragile planet is in the balance.

I would like to encourage you all to join the 50% movement and commit to cutting your meat consumption in half and making an effort to be aware of the meat choices you make. Chose for you. Healthy, organic and ethical.

And remember to ask, why do I eat meat? There is no wrong answer here but by reducing your meat consumption and choosing ethical meat we are making a huge difference to our “Pale Blue Dot” because once it expires, we have nowhere else to go.

Thank you for reading and it would mean so much to me if you joined the movement to reduce meat consumption on a global scale.

Peace,

George

 

Please like the The 50% Movement on Facebook if you are interested in taking part.

 

Having Less: Why & How It Has Changed Us

The decision to live our lives with less gradually occurred over years. Realising that buying things only lead to buying more got exhausting, expensive and stressful. The constant need to keep up with friends & family, comparing what we had with others would make anyone feel inadequate.

Constantly going around the same loop of needing-wanting-getting-feeling bad, I came to a realisation that buying things was not making me happy but creating stress, worry, sadness and loneliness. I hate shopping malls and really didn’t like spending time in them. So why was I going there to buy stuff, it didn’t make sense.

Wakening up to the fact that buying things did not make me happy or having lots of clutter in our home did not make me happy. I decided to make a change. This decision came about from certain events but I think the one real eye opener was being around people who had so much money and things. Soon I realised they were no happier than we were. In fact, all their stuff caused them so much stress. People were even hired to take care of their stuff; houses, cars, animals, bags, jewelry. Stuff needs taking care of, maintenance, up keep, constant surveillance. Owing more than one home creates so much stress, especially when they are not lived in all the time leaks, electrical issues, surveillance, security alarms, all of these extra stresses which start to control the lives of the people.

I saw first-hand how people who seem to have it all, were controlled by it all. Spending months working on their houses, renovating, painting, adding on thinking it would all end in a few months but then the upkeep of the homes began to take over weekends. The time spent having to clean the house, do jobs around the house, or paying people to do all that just didn’t appeal to me.

Living in a rented 1-bedroom apartment might not seem like a lot to most people but what it is freedom. Freedom from upkeeping a massive house, freedom from huge mortgage bills, freedom from having to hire staff to clean, freedom to live more simply. Is this going to be reality for the rest of our lives, no, we want to live in our own small place on our own land someday but for now this is perfect.

Living in a small space doesn’t mean that we are living simply, you can over complicate life very easily with extreme shopping habits. This is what we wanted to change. We wanted to eradicate the need to want things, we wanted to sit and relax in our home and not want or need. Be happy with what we had because everything we had was chosen with care & love and thought.

We want to live in a home with less noise, more space and beauty. That meant going through every room, drawer, cupboard, box, shelf, basket and storage area to get rid of all the things that did not spark joy or happiness. Marie Kondo book “The Life Changing Magic of Tidying” was the road map we used to help declutter our home. For me this process of getting rid of stuff is fun, I have no issue with giving unused, unwanted and no longer needed items away. In fact, when they find a great home it makes me feel so happy! We gave away and sold lots of stuff, no dumping required except we recycled a lot of bank statements, notes from courses we took, old notebooks and lots of other paper that was stored throughout the years. Now we just have 1 folder for our important paperwork and avoid bringing paperwork back to our home.

I like to look through each area of our place on a monthly basis to see if there are any other items we could donate or give away. We have come very close to a place now that we truly have just what we use & need.

I cannot explain how relaxing this is and how happy I am when I walk through our home door every evening after work and look around to a place where I want to relax, destress and be comfortable in. Not having a need to clean, improve or change anything. Its home. I swear I smile everything I come home, maybe because we worked so hard for it and spent a lot of time deciding how we want our place to look & feel. The constant need to buy is no longer there. We would rather spend time working on projects we want to complete, be out in nature & socializing with friends.

Having less is not easy in fact it is so much easier to have more, more stuff, more debt, more stress, more money, more drink, more credit cards, more cars, shoes……. it’s harder to limit, to say no and to realise that having more does not make you happy. Having been around people who have lots of money……. but still want more money & more stuff….it made me realise that the wanting never stops even when you become hugely successful.

Spending life taking care of your stuff is a horrid waste of time when you could be doing things that spark joy & happiness…don’t waste life accumulating things instead accumulate memoires, experiences, friends, love & relationships. Focus on what really matters, connection, community, health, wellbeing, friendships, family…. stuff will never make you happy…. It may make life easier sometimes but never happier.

Having less is the best decision we ever made. We Know having less is better for our environment, relationships, health and bank accounts. We choose having less clutter and more time to enjoy life. Yes, this lifestyle will not make sense to a lot of people but we are free to life exactly how we choose…. we choose less. Our possessions do not control our lives.

As always, we would love to hear your feedback and comments.

Have a great week,

Chat soon,

Theresa xx

The First Trimester: A Personal Experience

For the past couple of years, I have been tracking my period on a monthly basis. Logging in my bullet journal the date my period started and the date it ended. The reason why I started doing this was to understand my body and my emotions better. The week before my period I would crave sweets, be moody as hell and generally not be myself. By logging my period, I prepared myself for the changes and understood why I was craving certain foods and feeling a bit sad. It was so better knowing it was my hormones and not me who was the crazy one.

To make a long story short my cycle was exactly 26 days each month. It’s crazy how like clockwork my period would arrive. When myself & George were in Cuba on holidays and my period did not show I knew there was something up. We wanted to get pregnant but just couldn’t believe that it happened so soon! Believe me I am not complaining and I know how lucky I am, still I felt a little un prepared.

Before leaving for our month trip to Cuba and Argentina I went to see our Doctor to explain to him that we were planning on having children in the near future. I was looking for his advice on how should I prepare my mind & body before getting pregnant. He mentioned 2 things, to take folic acid and to avoid getting pregnant in Cuba (something about catching the Ezekiel Virus there).  I purchased the folic acid and was actually pregnant already so I didn’t really break any of his rules. Lol!

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Taking a snooze in the middle of the day in Mendoza, this was one of those emotional, I want to go home days…So unlike me!

After the first week in Cuba we knew I was pregnant, no period and my boobs were sore and swollen. We decided not to take a pregnancy test until we got back to Vancouver a few weeks later, as we wanted to confirm the news in our own home.

During the first month on holidays I experience a few moments of slight queasiness particularly after eating eggs. I stopped eating eggs and the queasiness occurred less. To say I have a sweet tooth is an understatement, at any other time in my life Buenos Aires would have been a dream come true, cakes and sweets on every corner. My body obviously was not having any of it as cake made me queasy. (let’s hope it continues after pregnancy…best diet ever!)

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In my PJ’s at 6:00pm reading a great book, fell asleep sitting up! So funny how I had no control over how tired I felt in the evenings. Out like a light. George always ready to take snaps of his sleeping wife!

Foods I craved in the first Trimester were hummus, beans, lentils (We are vegetarian), any plant-based protein really and lots of vegetables. Honestly my diet improved in the first trimester. My appetite increased and I was gaining weight. In the first trimester I gained 7 lbs.

Emotionally I definitely was not myself. On holidays I occasionally felt anxious to get back to Canada and would have little moments of panic to go back home to Ireland or Vancouver. This is extremely strange for me as I am not one to panic, I couldn’t really explain it. My personality was off, George would ask “are you a bit out of sorts?” I couldn’t explain it better myself, I would have moments or periods of feeling a bit out of sorts, not sad, mad, happy or anything in specific just a bit bland. Again, not like me.

My energy levels changed too. I was tired so early in the evenings. I would want to go to bed at 7:00pm. However, in the morning & during the day I had my normal high energy levels. I really don’t have much to complain about as I didn’t have morning sickness and I could go to work as normal after returning from a month holiday. I really did feel good.

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Normally I would do my exercise in the evenings, usually a Vinyasa or kundalini yoga class where I could build strength and sweat, this changed and has remained so since I got pregnant. In the first trimester I was so tired in the evening that I couldn’t think of exercise. The only exercise I got in was my 1 hours walk on my lunch break every day. It’s something.

Usually I would take photos for my Instagram account, work on my blog during free time in the evenings and at weekends but I lost all drive to work on these areas of my life. Its only now in my second trimester that I want to go back working on my blog and Instagram. Honestly, I just lost all interest in those projects I cannot explain why but I did.

The above are all the changes I personally went through and cannot be compared to any other experience as we are all so different. With the above changes there were some really cool moments in the first trimester too.

Highlights of the first trimester:

  • Deciding to call our baby Pebble until its born
  • Seeing the positive result on the pregnancy test
  • Seeing our baby for the first time at our first scan at 11 weeks
  • Hearing the babies heart beat at 11 weeks
  • Telling our parents, the happy news
  • Telling our brothers & sisters the happy news
  • Telling our friends, neighbours and relatives the happy news
  • Receiving so much love and well wishes from everyone who we told
  • Meeting my midwife for the first time (I was on a waiting list so I was relived & happy to meet Clare)
  • Hearing our babies heart beat at 13 weeks
  • Thankful I could still fit into most of my clothes at the end of the trimester (delaying buying maternity clothes for as long as I can)
  • Both of us deciding we want to find out the sex at the next scan
  • Seeing how excited George is throughout the whole process & how much he loves Pebble already

 

We would love to hear about your experience or any great advise you would have for new parents!

 

Have a great week,

 

Chat soon,

 

Theresa xx