The 5 ways I practice SELF-CARE….

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I remember literally cringing when my therapist first told me that I have to practice “self -care”.  For one thing, I have never heard of that term and it didn’t sound like a medical term to me.  Somehow it didn’t have the same razzle-dazzle as other medical terms I had recently come across like “cognitive behavior therapy”.

“What is self care, anyway” I remember asking.

“It is really just taking the time out to take care of yourself.  Debbie, give yourself permission to relax, to play, to watch grass grow….whatever you want.”

Well, fast forward to present day…I must admit it is the best prescription I have ever received.  In fact, I will share my 5 favourite ways I practice self-care.

 1. Wear comfortable clothes

Gone are my days of high heels and tight shirts/skirts for work, as well as those skinny bootie jeans that always made me rethink whenever I want to sit down.  Of course, this required a cold and heartless examination of my wardrobe.  Items that I know I haven’t worn in the past year (ok, 2 years–I’m not exactly made of money) or those that makes me itch after 5 minutes go on the donation pile.  I am also ruthless when deciding on new clothes.  I have to very honest with myself that I will be comfortable in them and that I am going to end up wearing it for a long time.  A classic and elegant look never goes out of style.

Try it.  You’d be surprised how good you feel afterwards–both mentally and physically!

2. Outsource

Not all of us are made of money, but sometimes, just sometimes, it is nice to actually have someone else do the cleaning.  I’m talking about having a cleaning person come once in a while to actually clean your house from top to bottom.  I still have to do most of the cleaning but once a month or once every two months is just enough for me to have a break and it doesn’t break the bank.

The feeling of walking into a clean house after the cleaners have left is ….indescribable.

3.  Take a “mental health” day off

Most companies nowadays offer personal days off as part of their compensation package–two or three days to deal with personal obligations, dentist appointments, or waiting for that errant cable guy to finally come.  I know that I used to just take them when I needed to do something during normal business hours like taking my car in for an appointment or renewing my passport. Then, forget about using the remaining days.

No longer.

I have learned that taking a day off for no apparent reason other than for “just chillin” (as my daughter always says), really helps me refocus and rebalance…again, both mentally and physically!  Don’t let those personal obligation days go to waste!

4.  Buy something small and inexpensive.

Remember when I said that I was going to learn how to play the ukulele ? (see my previous post here A New Year’s Resolution…?).  Well, I got past “You Are My Sunshine, My Only Sunshine” and now I am learning “Riptide” by Vince Joy.  I bring this up since I’ve been mulling that perhaps something like a guitar pick could help improve my strumming abilities ( check it out! ).  I am by no means ready for “Canada’s Got Talent” (in fact, I don’t think I can call myself a musician anytime soon!) but my point is, if you have something you are interested in, buying yourself something small and inexpensive (and hopefully, useful!) to help in your quest for greatness, may be just the ticket to bringing that little smile to your face.

5. Play tourist

Did you know that I have lived in Toronto, Canada for almost all of my life but have never gone up the CN Tower?  I pass the CN Tower almost everyday while riding on the train to Union Station, but have never gone up it.

There was once a time when my family decided to have a “staycation” and we played tourist in Toronto.  We stayed overnight at a downtown hotel and did the normal touristy route (ok, except for the CN Tower!).  It was so much fun!  I decided then and there that I would do it again. So, to that end,  I have visited the Royal Ontario Museum,  the Art Gallery of Ontario, and the Ontario Science Centre…all on my own and at my own pace.  I do relish the fact that I can stand in front of a painting for 5 minutes and not care….

So, there you have it, some of my favourite ways of taking care of myself.  How about you?  Do you have any other tips for practicing self-care?

Have a good weekend, everyone!

Debbie.

 

 

 

 

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4 Money Saving Tips That Blows My Mind…Every time!

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I must have read “The Automatic Millionaire” by David Bach at least two times. He has some pretty good money saving tips like foregoing that “Grande, Non-fat Cinnamon Latte with Soy Milk and a Caramel Drizzle” from Starbucks or having an automatic withdrawal from your bank account directly to your retirement savings plan so you pay yourself first. If you haven’t read it, pick up a copy.  It is worth your while to read it.

Once my family started on the road of saving money, it was hard to stop.  We became mindful of our spending habits and it made us realize that we can save money and in some circumstances, help in our global fight to save the environment.

Here are just 4 money saving tips that just blows me away.

1.  My “Latte” Factor

I love reading.  That is my “latte” factor….books made with real pages, made with real paper that makes a sound when you turn the page, and pages you can write on or highlight with a pen when you come across a “eureka moment”.

Unfortunately, brand new books are expensive.  So, to save money, I got myself a library card.  It’s FREE.  I am lucky that my local library carries books from a whole array of disciplines and new books are ordered regularly.

Unfortunately, you cannot write on the pages.  So, to further save money, I go to the local goodwill store.  In Canada, we have a local non-for profit thrift store called “Value Village”.  They accept donations including gently used clothing, furniture, electronics and previously enjoyed books.  A portion of the sales is donated to a local charity.

A book that is $30 brand new at the bookstore only generally costs me $7.  That is almost 75% off the cover price and it is almost always in mint condition! It also helps that these books are diverted from the landfill and helps our local charity.  Win-win, don’t you agree?

2.  My love affair with credit

Wait, what?  Yeah, you read right.  If you use credit the right way, it actually pays off for you…and not for the bank.

I got my first credit card when I was in university. That was almost 20 years ago. I was given $500 as my spending limit and I thought that was a lot!  Of course, I did not know how to use it properly (perhaps a Credit Card 101 course would have helped). I blew the limit almost immediately and incurred hefty interest charges. For an accounting student, very disappointing indeed. But, on the other hand, having a credit card also allowed me to rent my very own place close to campus.  Fast forward to today–you really cannot live without some form of credit in this day and age but you have to be mindful of what and how you use it.

First of all, make sure you pay the FULL balance on your credit card.  If you miss the payment date even for one day, you have to pay interest for the whole month.  Banks love it when people just pay the minimum $10 and carry the balance forward…you pay more interest which translates to more profits for them.  Feeling cheated, yet?

If you don’t have the money to pay off your credit card , use a line of credit to pay it off. Generally, lines of credit (whether secured or unsecured) would have interest way below the average 20-25% interest rate that credit card companies charge.

It does bring a good question to mind “ARE YOU SPENDING MONEY YOU DO NOT HAVE?”. I’ll give you a moment to think about that.

Another way of using credit to your advantage is if you have a mortgage (which is a good type of credit!) that has an interest rate that is higher than your line of credit rate.  Talk to your banker for options and perhaps you can save a little bit of interest by prepaying your mortgage through your credit line.  While you’re at it, ask your banker to waive any credit card fees, you might get lucky and save $100 annually.

Last but not least, always ask yourself before you whip out your credit card to make that next purchase–“do I have the money to buy this right now?” If not, I would return that pretty little top back in the rack and come back when you can actually afford it.

Yeah, tough love.

3.  Grocery shopping–there’s an app for that!

It is a well known fact that when going to the grocery store, always shop in the outside aisles which are the produce, meat, eggs and dairy sections. Wholesome food, as my husband calls it.  There will always be sales going on for those perishable items.  But of course, sometimes, you do have to venture into the middle aisles for items that are not so perishable.  For example, we have to have detergent, toilet paper, or shampoo.

Most of the grocery stores I go to have a “price match” policy and this is where an app called “Flipp” is awesome at saving money.  Search for what you are looking for, say, Pampers diapers, and it will check all the big stores that have Pampers diapers that are on sale. From there you can compare prices and save! No more clipping coupons–I just show my phone.  It is as simple as that.  As an added bonus, you also help the environment since you wouldn’t need to jump in your car to go to the other store!

4.  My love affair with wine

I must admit, I love winding down with a good glass of wine at the end of the day.  In Canada, a good bottle of wine is not cheap.  A good bottle of Italian wine, say an Amarone, a lovely Italian red wine, would fetch about an average of $40-$50 per bottle.  That is a pretty steep price to pay for something that will be gone in an hour if paired with a good friend and a bowlful of chips on a Friday night.

So, this tip is going to be a shocker.  You can get a good bottle of Amarone wine for $8.  The drawback is that you have to buy a batch (30 bottles–although, it makes for great Christmas presents!) and you have to wait to age it.  It’s called “craft winemaking”.  I found a great winemaking place close to my house and is run by two ladies who definitely know their wine.  So, with a little patience, I am supporting a local business while enjoying inexpensive but very good wine. I also get to reuse old wine bottles when bottling! Win-win!

Oh, and for an Amarone, I would suggest you age it for six months at the very least before you pop it open…

Do you have other tips that save you money and good for the environment?  If so, let me know!

Debbie.

 

 

 

 

5 uses of Coconut Oil that I can vouch for….

I have been around coconut trees ever since I could remember. In fact, when I was growing up in one of the seaside towns in the Philippines, we had coconut trees in our backyard, and my father used to tell me that he planted the trees to remind him of the coconut trees in his backyard when he was growing up. I also remember visiting a Filipino folk healer or “albolario” as my mother used to call her, when my brother fell out of a guava tree and broke his wrist. The Albolario smelled of coconut oil and herbs and I recall my mother telling me that the witch doctor was over a hundred years old. It was only when my family moved to Canada 30 years ago, that I lost sight of the sea, coconut trees, and mystic healers who lived in tree houses….

However, with my re-evaluation of what healthy living means for me, I have gone back to basics…to a basic ingredient that I had taken for granted all those years in the Philippines. In my research, I have been pleasantly surprised how coconut oil is now considered a miracle cure for almost everything! So, in the past few months, I have slowly started to integrate coconut oil into my diet and health. I am still experimenting on some seemingly outlandish claims (including those that say that coconut oil helps in weight loss!) but for now, there are 5 things about coconut oil that I can totally vouch for!

1. Creamer in your morning java

I normally take my coffee black but recently, I started adding a little bit of coconut oil for an added energy boost in the morning. It contains medium chain tryglicerides (MCT) which are fatty acids that are metabolized differently and it goes directly from the digestive track to the liver for a quick source of energy. I know what you must be thinking…who really wants to see a floating oil slick in your morning coffee?  But don’t give up on it too easily. I found that just a little bit (say, 1/8th of a teaspoon or even less to begin with…not the teaspoon that most websites seem to say!) is enough to give me that extra boost in the morning.

2. Popping popcorn

Olivia and I just started staying in and watching movies on Netflix instead of going out to the movie theatre. It is way cheaper for one, and we can pause the movie whenever we want. So what is a movie without popcorn? We have been trying to move away from microwave popcorn (Sorry, Mr. Orville Redenbacher! ) and just pop our own popcorn the old fashioned way.

To pop popcorn over the stovetop, put coconut oil and popcorn in a pot.  Again, don’t go overboard…1/4 teaspoon or less for 1/3 cup of popcorn always seemed to work for us.  Put the lid on, turn the stove to medium and give the pot a little shake to coat the popcorn as the oil melts. Leave a little sliver to let the steam escape. Wait for the popping extravaganza and give the pot a few more shakes. Once you hear the popping slow down, turn the stove off. The last few kernels may still pop so give it a minute.

Enjoy.

3.  Acne

Who could ever forget the teenage years when out of the blue, you get that really annoying zit that never seems to go away!  Well, now, when I see one coming up, I put a dab of coconut oil on it and in a day or two, it’s gone. That’s likely because coconut oil has anti-inflammatory properties that helps the healing process and it contains lauric acid that helps to kill bacteria that causes acne. Try it and see if it works for you as well.

4.  Oil pulling

I’m going to be honest with you, this one is going to take a while to get used to. Oil pulling has been around for thousands of years in Ayurvedic medicine and just involves swishing a tablespoon of coconut oil in your mouth for 10 to 20 minutes. This has to be done first thing in the morning before you do anything.  Take a tablespoon of coconut oil, put it on the side of your mouth to let it melt, and once melted, start swishing around your mouth. It you think you are going to start gagging, pause and then start again. If you need to, spit it out and get a new tablespoon of coconut oil. Once you are done swishing, spit it out in the garbage, not down the drain. It will clog your drains over time.

I have been doing this for a month now and while I don’t see a difference with how white my teeth are (apparently, coconut oil whitens your teeth too…but I can’t vouch for that. I can’t see a difference with my teeth), I do feel the difference in terms of my sensitivity to hot or cold liquids.

I still plan to go to the dentist though for normal cleaning and checkups but I’m definitely continuing to do oil pulling everyday. Who knows, maybe my teeth will get whiter over time…

5.  Hair care and dandruff

Have you ever seen those commercials of pretty Tahitian women with long flowing dark hair?  Well, I’m thinking they use coconut oil in their hair!  I can totally vouch for putting coconut oil on my hair, leave it for an hour and then wash it off with my normal shampoo and conditioner. Sometimes, I would put peppermint oil and tea tree oils with it and it smells wonderful. I find that when I do that at least once a week, my hair is soft and silky and I don’t ever  have dandruff.

Also, when I colour my hair to cover my grays and the whole house smells like chemicals (I know, I have to find a better way to cover my gray), I use a blend of coconut oil and rosemary after I wash the colour off and leave it for half an hour. By doing so, I never get that itchy allergic reaction and my hair smells wonderful.

I have read that if you use coconut oil with lemon and put it on your hair, it helps with blending your grays….hmmm, maybe I will try that next time.

The coconut oil I use is the organic virgin coconut oil kind. The less refined, the better.

So there you have it, 5 uses of coconut oil that I can totally vouch for.

Try it out and let me know if you agree!

Debbie.