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Health & Wellbeing

Health and Wellness — lifestyle

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

 

Meal Planning: How it Saves You Time & Money

For the past couple of years, we have planned our meals (lunch & dinner’s) a week in advance. We do not include breakfast in this process as we usually eat the same thing every morning (Granola & fresh fruit) except for the weekend which is either pancakes, avocado toasts or scrambled eggs.

Usually on a Sunday (Occasionally on a Saturday) we will sit down to plan out what we will eat for the following week.

We like to make the process as enjoyable as possible. We carve out 30 to 50min in the morning on a Sunday to dedicate the time to the planning. By dedicating this time, we can just focus on the one task and not get distracted by other activities. We like to make a pot of tea and have a nice snack during this process.

Generally, we use 2 methods:

  1. Look through our cookbooks for ideas for lunch and dinner or
  2. Look up our favorite vegetarian YouTube channels and bloggers

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We like to eat a balanced diet full of vegetables and plant-based protein. For each meal we want to ensure we have enough of whole grains, protein and vegetables to keep us nourished and full of energy throughout the day.

If we choose a larger meal for lunch, we will have a lighter evening meal, or if our lunch is lighter, we will have a larger evening meal.

We usually choose 2 lunch options and 2 dinner options for one week (Monday to Friday), weekends are open to whatever we feel like on the day or if we want to treat ourselves out to lunch or dinner. 😉

After we have chosen our meals, we will create a list of all the ingredients we need. Once the list is created, we ensure we have none of the ingredients in our cupboards or fridge (usually we have salt, pepper, spices, herbs, olive oil and condiments in stock) If there are any items on the list, we have we will cross them out before going shopping.

On our fridge we have a white board which we list any items we ran out of or are low on for that week e.g. toilet roll, soap, apples, deodorant etc. All of these are now added to our list.

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Before going to the grocery store, we will ensure to bring our reusable shopping bags and smaller produce bags. We will pop our list and a pen into the bags also.

At the grocery store we will buy only what is on our list which is basically a week’s worth of groceries. Any items we can buy in bulk we prefer and we try and steer away from packaging as much as we can. This time of year, though it is really hard to find berries without packaging.

The list prevents us from picking up unnecessary items and spending money on items we do not need. By making our own breakfast, lunch & dinner we don’t have to spend money every day eating out, which can add up very quickly. We bring our own tea mugs to work so we do not have to buy take-out tea’s during the week.

Once we have the groceries bought, we will bring them home and put them away. Later that Sunday we will prepare the first option for lunch on Monday, sometimes we might do this on a Monday morning before work if Sunday gets too busy. Monday evening, we will prepare the dinner for the next couple of nights. We never spend more than an hour preparing and cooking each meal.

We usually prepare the other options for lunch & dinner on a Wednesday evening or a Thursday morning.

We love food, having healthy delicious options for our meals is important to us. However, the idea of cooking every day is too much and besides we want to have spare time in our evenings to do other activities.

In total we will spend 4 hours max cooking each week (Mon-Sun) with 30-50min planning our meals.

The pro’s to meal planning are:

  • Creating time & space in the evenings to do other activities
  • Avoiding decision fatigue every evening to decide on what to eat
  • Keeping your shopping within budget
  • Saving money from not eating out for lunch & dinner
  • Having a balanced diet
  • Reducing food waste
  • Prevents impulse shopping
  • Avoiding eating unhealthy fast options to curb hunger as food is always prepped & stored in fridge

We highly recommend planning your meals in advance. Especially for those evenings when you come home from work exhausted, the idea of just heating up a yummy meal is so comforting. The temptation to order take-out is eliminated saving you from all the unnecessary calories and keeps your money in your pocket😉

Please leave your comments below & any suggestions you have on meal planning.

Have a great week.

Chat soon,

Theresa

 

Patience: There Are People Who Stand And There Are People Who Sit

You may have recently read my blog on our trip to Argentina. Nobody likes airports. At least I don’t anyway. It is the same thing every time. We check in, go through security and then wait at the gate while watching a bit of Netflix or reading (Or in Theresa’s case, almost having a heart seizure watching Extras).

Then, the same thing happens, no matter what part of the world we are in or what time of the year it is. 90% of the passengers line up and spend around 40 minutes waiting in line to get onto the flight. The seats are always reserved, we have a specific seat number which nobody can take and yet we line up regardless. The plane will not leave any sooner nor will we get a more comfortable seat by lining up.

Is it FOMO. Do we have a fear of missing out on the optimum seat or baggage spaces?

Is this because of impatience?

Columbia University Professor David Maister argues that “occupied time feels shorter than unoccupied time.” In other words, people like to feel they are being productive when they are waiting in line for something. It would be far more productive to take a seat and actually get some work done rather than standing in line. I believe the subconscious thinking is that we are advancing our immediate goal of getting on the plane.

We are also influenced by other people. This is called the herd mentality where we follow the majority or in some cases not even the majority, just the first ones to make the move. Studies have shown that as little as five people can influence a crowd of 100 to follow suit.

Waiting is frustrating and demoralizing. So why do it? Why wait in line when we can have a comfortable (as comfortable as airport chairs get) seat and board at our leisure?

Maybe the answer is a simple as boredom. A watched pot never boils. Those of us waiting in line at the gate feel like we are watching the pot and that standing in line is moving things along somewhat. Occupying the time, so to speak.

This seems like a lack of patience on our part. I wonder was this always the case? Did we line up for planes in the 1950’s even if we were guaranteed one particular seat on the plane, or is this a knock on effect of today’s society in which instant gratification is the norm so we subconsciously expect instant boarding?

Modern cultural norms like text messaging, Amazon delivery, the afore mentioned Netflix have changed the way we think. We want everything now, but the more we are made to wait, the better we become at it. Or at least that is what one would believe. But the truth is we never willingly wait for anything. Everything is instant, so we expect everything now. Our objective must come to us in a hurry and if that is not going to happen then we will go to our objective in a hurry.

In this case, the aeroplane is there, we must get on.

We cannot wait for anything anymore. It is all about short term success. But in my opinion we need to slow down…..and……… s … t … o … p ….

We need to listen to ourselves. We need to listen to our bodies, our sub consciousness, our needs and our troubles.

The aeroplane is simply an analogy for how we hurry through life these days. We need to take stock of where we are and actually stay in the present moment, rather than letting our minds race ahead to the plane when boarding has not even begun.

It is this quick, immediate, instant mentality that pulls us to the line up. It is not our desire to board the plane, rather it is the fact that our mind is already ahead of us to a completely different destination.

Do not confuse this with thinking ahead. Planning is one thing but letting our minds wander so far ahead that we try to (metaphorically) push through doors that are not even open is another thing.

We have our best ideas when we stop. Have you ever allowed yourself to get bored? That is when things really start to happen in the mind. That is when the mind starts to find some breathing space and work out the kinks that we have buried so deep in our efforts to be somewhere else that they have been forgotten.

Impatience not only takes us away from the present moment, it also takes us away from ourselves and from each other. Impatience kills relationships.

Would life permit us to count to ten before we made every decision? Things would slow down that’s for sure but is that so bad? Is it so bad to have to actually sit at home on the couch and let the mind wander rather than having Ricky Gervais at the touch of a button to make us piss ourselves with laughter?

I watch my fair share of Netflix, but maybe we should think about pressing the pause button a little more and allow the mind to take a breather. I can’t remember the last time I sat in silence (apart from meditation) with no book, no TV, no phone, no stimulation. Maybe I should practise what I preach.

I watched a TED Talk today from a man named Albert “Key Lay” Keys. Albert is paralysed, in a wheel chair. The chair thought him patience and wisdom it seems. He tells us that “patience is the thin line between an argument and an intelligent debate. If we can be patient with ourselves, it is only then that we can be patient with others.”

So, maybe since it’s Christmas time, let’s see if we can actually slow down, rather than speed up like we usually do at this time of the year. Let’s take the time to sit in silence and ignore the honking horns, the frantic shopping needs and the jam packed parking lots.

Let’s stop and just soak it in. Feel what’s happening. Feel the goodwill, and if we can’t feel it we can create it.

Let’s start by stopping.

Peace,

George

PS – If you like this blog please share it. Thanks.

 

We’ve Got Class

You’re at a party and someone asks “what do you do?” This question will always come up as a conversation starter, but why, and what do they mean?

I think people genuinely ask to make conversation. The question they are looking for an answer to is “what you do for a living?”

Even when the question is posed innocently, the answer can bring judgment. I prefer to be vague about my day job simply because it is the last thing I want to talk about when I’m not in work.

It is a question I personally try to avoid asking. Yes, it is an easy fall back when you are feeling awkward or you are not sure what to talk about. But it’s also easy to ask “what do you do for fun?” or “what do you do in your spare time?”

I love people and I love talking to people, but I really want to know about the person, rather than how they earn a living. That is not what defines a person. There is so much more to us than how we earn our keep but that can define us from other people’s perspectives as they draw conclusions on our interests, earnings, class, etc.

Class. What is class anyway?

It depends on how you look at it.

Class as a noun can be defined as:

“The system of ordering a society in which people are divided into sets based on perceived social or economic status.”

Do we judge people based on their class? Do we decide to be friends with people based on their class? Yes, I think we do.

I have had people from backgrounds of great wealth and status accept me and welcome me with open arms and I have had people look down on me and keep their distance due to what, I assume, they perceived as a difference in status.

On the other spectrum, I have shared meals with people who make less than a dollar a day and they treated me like they would treat any other person.

Why is that?

We often hear the terms upper, lower and middle class.

What is lower class? Lower suggests inferior but we must be careful with the words we use as there is great power in words. Right speech is an important thing. When we use the term lower class we infer inferiority but this is not correct. Lower class or working class does not mean inferior class.

There is nothing inferior about someone who does not have opportunities like education, for example. This doesn’t make them inferior. It means they have a tougher life because it will be more difficult to support themselves and get a job that pays enough to support their family. They may not be able to afford to send their children to college or  even afford the food to keep their family healthy.

It doesn’t mean they are inferior but means their opportunities will be fewer and their lives will be tougher. Because of grit and strength this is something that people can overcome but it will be a more difficult path than that of somebody from “higher class.”

In my opinion, the terms; upper, lower and middle are outdated. These classes are simply different. There is no higher or lower, better or worse. Higher and lower opportunity maybe.

As I mentioned, there is power in words and the above terms are outdated to me. Maybe phrases like the following would be more acceptable:

  • Limited social / economic opportunity
  • Intermediary social / economic opportunity
  • Established social / economic opportunity

Another definition I found for class was:

“Stylishness in appearance or behavior” or “showing stylish excellence”

I would like to think that people with Limited social and economic opportunities are folks that show their “stylish excellence,” in a different way. A stronger way, with more grit and determination than any of the rest of have been given the opportunity to dig deep enough to find.

Peace,

George