Plastic detox: 5 easy ways to start

I stared at this picture for a long time. Trying to understand all the emotions that went through me…horror, disbelief, anger…and lastly, shame.

I use Q-tips all the time and once I am done with it, it goes into the garbage can, never to be spared a thought ever again…until I saw this picture.

There are so many more images in the internet about how plastic impacts the lives of so many animals and it brings to the fore the reality that we are all interconnected.   However, its not a fair exchange…animals pay a huge toll for our negligence and mindless actions.

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So, these past few months, Olivia and I have been mindfully paying attention to our buying habits and doing our part in reducing our plastic consumption.

These are 5 easy ways to start:

1. Bring your own travel mug

Did you know that those takeout coffee/tea cups are not recyclable?

Well, I didn’t.  All these years, I just thought…meh, it’s paper!

Wrong.  In order to hold hot liquids safely, these coffee cups are lined with 100% oil based polyethylene plastic which makes it impossible to recycle since it clogs the recycled paper mill’s machinery.

So, next time you stop by your favourite Starbucks for your caffeine fix, bring your own travel mug…you are protecting our environment…one coffee cup at a time.

2. No straw please…

I love bubble tea.  Who doesn’t?  I mean, it comes in so many flavours (taro is my favourite!), it’s colourful, and those tapioca pearls are a must have!

…..and it always comes with a straw–one of those big holed ones so that the tapioca can pass through.

Think about it for a minute, it is only used for a few minutes and then discarded.  Straws also pose a hazard to sea life like the picture above with the sea turtle…yes, folks, that is a straw being taken out of its nostrils. Imagine a straw being taken out of YOUR nose…yep, not a good picture, right?

So, while I am not going to ditch my bubble tea, I will ditch the straw.  There are actually glass straws that you can buy.  However, if you are a cheapskate like me,  I actually just reuse the bubble tea straws that I bought a long time ago when I didn’t know any better….

3. Buy in bulk and bring those glass containers

We have a Bulk Barn close to our house.  I really wasn’t paying it too much attention until one day I was following a recipe that required 1 tsp of allspice.  I went to the closest grocery store and lo and behold, I have to buy a huge container of allspice just so I can complete my apple crumble!  I actually thought that I should just skip this ingredient…but what if it is a key ingredient?

And as I was standing there, torn and undecided, an old lady who was passing by said …”If you just need a pinch, just go to the Bulk Barn across the street.”

True story.

The rest is history.  Now, Olivia and I frequent our neighbourhood Bulk Barn and to save on plastic bags, we bring our own glass jars.  They weigh the jar and put a sticker on the lid which shows the weight of the empty container.  We scoop what we need into it and when we pay, they deduct the weight of the jar.

So don’t throw those pasta sauce glass jars…they still come in handy!

4. No gum

Did you know that gum is made of plastic?  Enough said.

5. Bring your own reusable bag

With more and more grocery stores charging for plastic bags, bringing your own reusable grocery bags is a no brainer. Besides, reusable bags have become more fashionable, so why not?! Although, I must admit, if you are forgetful like me,  it is sometimes a pain to trudge back to the car as I always seem to remember it when I am already inside the grocery store.

So there you have it, little things that Olivia and I have done to reduce our plastic consumption.

How about you? What do YOU do to reduce your plastic footprint?

Have a good weekend, everyone…and remember to bring your own reusable bags for your Christmas shopping!

Debbie.

“Rage, rage against the dying of the light…”

Elderly-Hands

She is almost 100 years old.

Everyone just assumed she would live forever so it gave everyone quite a scare when she was rushed to the hospital due to a collapsed lung and the doctor said they she doesn’t have long to live.  The priest was immediately called to give her her last rights and there was even a heated discussion about what she was going to wear in her own funeral.

That was a week ago.

As I visited her in the hospital, I came face to face on how old she had become since I last saw her, which was few years ago.  I would have wanted to visit her sooner but her children and I had a falling out after harsh words were uttered. As you may recall, I take grudges to a whole new level. (See my previous blog about my relationship with grudges Holding on…). But, I digress.

She seemed so fragile and so very frail…yet somehow, she had the energy to watch one of the Batman movies “The Dark Knight” on her grandson’s iPad.  She was sitting up and other than a nose breathing tube on her nose, she looked to be in good spirits.  Definitely a far cry from the pictures I received a week ago.

She reminded me of a poem “Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night” by Dylan Thomas:

Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light

She also made me rethink about what I should be doing NOW so that in the event that it is my turn, no one will put me in a pink froufrou frilly frock from the 1960’s.

So, this is what I came up with:

  1.  Have a plan:

    ..and no, I am not just talking about a will.  Honestly, what good is a will if no one really follows it?  I’ve heard of stories where the will stipulated that the family home be sold.  Yet, somehow, it took years of bickering among siblings to finally follow through and honestly, I really didn’t think all the bad blood was worth it.  People just had to grow up and face reality that you can’t live in the basement of your parent’s house all your life, that’s all.

    What I am talking about is actually having a plan and having someone you can trust who will carry out your last wishes.  It may be a family member or a close family friend.  I remember when my father died, I was about 10 years old.  I don’t recall that he had a will.  What he did get was our trusted neighbour to video tape him so that there was no confusion on what he wanted when he passed away.  In his own words, he outlined what he wanted.  And he entrusted loyal friends to make sure that our family was taken care of.  Of course, you have to bear in mind that this happened in the Philippines in the early 1980’s when the country was in turmoil under the dictatorship of Ferdinand Marcos and papers (especially wills!) and lawyers tend to disappear conveniently.  But, again, I digress–but you get the gist.

    2.  Take care of yourself

…and no, I am not really talking about getting a massage and a manicure while you are at it.  Well, on second thought, maybe a massage once in a while.  What I am alluding to is to actually take care of your body inside and out.  I read about this 105 year old from Norwich, England who does yoga and drives a Mini.  Perhaps she has good genetics but the fact that she keeps fit, eats reasonably sensibly, and drinks a glass of wine (or two) a day, but I would certainly want to try to look as good as her when I reach my nineties!  Google her…her name is Eileen Ash.

3.  Be there for your loved ones

I think this is the easiest one to do.  I recently heard about a young mother who had a brain aneurysm and never woke up.  She left two young children and a grieving husband who just could not accept such a tragedy.  So, kiss and hug your loved ones everyday–you never know what can happen in an instant.

4.  Finally, just put things in perspective

This is one lesson that my daughter Olivia has taught me.  There would be times when I would be stressed out at work or juggling several things at one time.  Of course, I would not be the nicest person to be around. She always seemed to have a knack of figuring out what is bothering me.  And one day, she asked “Mom, if you died tomorrow, would this issue even matter?”

Silence. I’m speechless.

So, really, put things into perspective when things don’t go your way.  In the grand scheme of things, what was bothering you may not really be that important.  All this would result to less stress, better outlook, and longer life…win-win.

So, there you have it, my plans to live a longer and you bet I will “rage, rage, against the dying of the light…”

How about you?

Have a good rest of the week, everyone!

Debbie

P.S. If you’re reading this, thank you so much for supporting my blog! Much love.

Birthday wishes

It was my birthday a few days ago.

Another year older.

One year closer to retirement.

I didn’t get a lot of birthday well wishes and even my mother forgot. She’s 86 so I couldn’t really blame her.

My sister almost forgot and she admitted it on a text at 8:30 that night while I was getting ready for bed. She asked me what I did for my birthday and I replied, “Nothing. Just went to work. Had dinner at home. Cheaper.” I had a smiley face somewhere in those sentences for added effect.

My brother forgot and tried to cover it up by sending me a text the next afternoon asking nonchalantly “What did you do for your birthday?”

My reply was the same.

Then we talked about one year closer to retirement and what I need to do to make it a reality. We are both accountants after all and investment strategies are infinitely more important than whether I had a birthday cake and whether it was chocolate or vanilla…

If I sound a little disappointed that my birthday was really nothing special, not really. It’s just that I seem to have come to a point in my life where birthdays have become just another mundane day of the week. I don’t expect any special treatment or presents or even a day off….

Is that sad?

Actually, I don’t think so. I quite enjoyed not having to dress up and think about where to go or even consider what to eat since a birthday dinner must somehow be more special than any other meal.

Too much effort.

Have I become lazy in my old age?

Actually, I don’t think so either. I think I have just realized how much more I enjoy a glass of wine at home than going out to a bar and having decide whether one glass of wine is enough or should I get the bottle instead…and who will be the designated driver.

Too much effort.

At any rate, I quite enjoyed my birthday–I had a quiet dinner at home with two glasses of my favourite wine and had combination of chocolate and vanilla ice cream cake with little icing flowers.

I got a hugs and a kisses from my daughter and hubby…and that is the greatest birthday gifts I could have!

So, for all September birthday celebrants out there…happy birthday!

Hope you had a fabulous birthday too!

Debbie

Additions to my bucket list…

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I spent Canada Day with my sister-in-law and over a cold beer and some sour and not-nearly-so-ripe cherries from their cherry tree, I told her that one of my pipe dreams is to rent a villa in Tuscany, complete with a pool and a housekeeper who will come once or twice a week to make me an authentic Italian dinner and who won’t laugh when I practice my Italian.

It made me think that I should add this Tuscan dream to my growing bucket list….

To date, my bucket list looks like this:

1.  Learn to tread water

person-treading-in-water-clipart-13I can swim…well, okay, maybe I should put a caveat on that one.  I can swim for 2 minutes and then I get tired and I stand up.  So, I’d better be able to touch the bottom and stand or else I’m in trouble!

My daughter, Olivia, swims like a fish.  I think it’s because of the fact that I am not a swimmer that I put her in private swimming lessons the minute she turned 2!  She can tread water like it is no big deal.

Well, I think it is a big deal….

So, now that I think of it, perhaps I should take proper swimming lessons and work myself up to treading water…?

2.  Go on a week long silent retreat

Imagine not speaking for a week.

Enough said.

3.  Go to Fiji or Tahiti 6f97f9d2b3a8028c3e1a8f6ed2e2ff13

I’ve always loved to be around water.

Dang.  I really need to get going on those swimming lessons ….

I wonder how many years it would take to say “That’s me in the picture”….?

4.  Learn Tai Chi

Actually, I was so close to signing up for tai chi lessons a few years back….then work got in the way.

If you haven’t heard of Tai Chi, it can be best described as a moving form of yoga and meditation. It is actually quite fascinating, especially for someone like me who tends to rush around…Tai Chi forces you to slow your movements down.

I should start looking at this again….maybe I can strike this off my list sooner rather than later!

5.  Go on a road trip

images  I once asked Olivia if someday she would want to drive across Canada with me and along the way, stop and learn what our wonderful country is all about…from Halifax to Vancouver Island and perhaps see the Northern Lights in the Yukon.

She said NO.  “It costs a lot of gas and is bad for the environment”. Who knows, maybe one day I’ll be able to convince her if we get an electric car…?

Be that as it may, I will keep this on my bucket list…

What is on your bucket list?

Have a good weekend, everyone!

musiciansfriend.com blue yeti microphone

Debbie

 

 

 

Yes, I Remember….

I remember when my family was still living in the Philippines, I used to run and dance in the rain…with not a care in the world. The kids in our street always came out and played tag when it was pouring out. Running around with squishy shoes added just the right balance of chuckles and moans of disgust! I also remember when I used to just stand outside under one of the banana trees that my father planted around our house and listen to the raindrops as it hit the leaves and fell to the ground.

Nowadays, my days are so filled with hurrying around, catching the train, getting in and out of cars, sitting behind glass walls…that I haven’t really thought about how it feels to be outside in the rain. I think the last time I was outside in the rain was when I was training for a marathon and I got caught in the rain during a Sunday long run. That was 10 years ago. I remember thinking “I hope it doesn’t stop raining…”

Yes, I remember that I used to be just like that girl in the picture…and yes, she is still somewhere inside…

Let it rain.

 

Debbie.

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.

 

 

 

 

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.