A Fork in the Road

At one point in everyone’s life we come to a fork in the road. Do we go left or right? Or is it not so simple? Not everything can be classified into black or white, some decisions are a lot harder, especially when it comes to career choices. Lately its been something I have been thinking of a lot more since we know we have a baby on the way. I really want the best for my child and a solid career will definitely help that and get us to where we want to be with buying our first home and financial security.

Originally the plan was to go back to school after my maternity leave and pursue Kitchen and Bath Design as I have already done 3 years of an Interior Design course, but after realizing that it would 4-5 years until I am certified and really making money I started to consider other options. Not to mention the field is so competitive and usually requires a big move to a big city like Toronto. Realistically me and hubby want to eventually buy our first home and 4-5 years of certification and exams just seemed way to long when it comes to where we want to be in life.

Now, I am the type of person where I need to know what I am working towards…If I don’t have an understanding of that and my future goals then I feel totally lost and stressed out. I didn’t want to just “give up” on design after putting years of effort and money into my education but I knew I wanted to be out and making money QUICK and still dedicating myself to something I enjoy (I guess that’s everyone’s dream career, right?). I actually came across Event Management, its appealing because its a 1 year program, requires no certification, and there are tons of different avenues to go with it. Concerts, conferences, exhibits, weddings, recreational events, meetings, etc. There is always a demand and essentially the opportunity to eventually work for yourself.

I have also been considering getting certified as a Interior Decorator and Home Stager. Both are still in the “design” field and something I can handle or do freelance on the side. I would like to think that I am molding myself into a triple threat that dapples in everything I enjoy. The dream would be to one day work for myself! It sounds silly but I made pros and cons lists for both options (merely because that’s just how I organize my thoughts) and after long talks with my husband and parents I realized now is the time to make changes and prepare for the future. Okay, maybe not RIGHT now because I still have to have my baby and be a mommy, but there’s no harm in knowing what you are working towards. In the end I know I don’t want to work a minimum wage job for the rest of my life.

Changing a career path can be scary and completely out of your comfort zone but in the end you need to make the best decisions for yourself and family. When I was considering this new path I had an overwhelming calmness come over me, it just felt right in my gutt. Maybe I am naive thinking I can have my cake and eat it too when it comes to a career but I’d like to think that you should wake up everyday and enjoy your job, not dread doing it. I want to work to live not live to work. It really comes down to grabbing life by the horns and making the change to better yourself. There is nothing wrong with dedicating time to your own happiness.

So a fork in the road is a good thing. Take it for what it is and move forward. Feel good about your decisions and do whats best for yourself and family.

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My Journey to a Mala

What is a mala? If you’re asking that then you are where I was a few weeks ago. I honestly had no idea up until a good friend shared a post of one she made herself. I was interested and started doing some digging and was overwhelmed with information. A mala is essentially a Buddhist meditation bead necklace or bracelet that has the same principle as a rosary. It allows you to count or keep track of your mantras while you are meditating. It can essentially be worn as well as its generally made with crystals, precious stones, wooden beads…all materials that have specific meanings and are associated with different things. These materials can be tailored to you and you can essentially harvest their properties and energies.

An article I found described it as ” a ‘heavenly garland’ used for reflection, yoga practice, cleansing of the chakras and crystal healing”. When I really thought about it, it just made so much sense. Meditation has always been an issue for me. I could never concentrate or clear my mind enough to sit down and focus on one thought, my mind always just races with 15 thoughts and stresses at once. I decided to make my own as well to help me concentrate and possibly enable me to get the full benefits of meditation. Something I have never really able to fully do.

I am making my mala specifically related to energies and spiritual properties I want to “harvest” or attract. I also did it a little differently and picked a specific mantra to recite relating to that specific bead type. Because there are so many variations of malas in all different religions and practices, they all vary in certain aspects. This means all malas are different and made with different intentions in mind. This is why I love the idea of making one myself, it will be 100% unique and catered to me.

 

Howlite (66 Beads – Crown Chakra): Peaceful and nurturing, relieves stress and anxiety. Calms an overactive mind and assists with meditation and spiritual connection. Eases sleep patterns. Increases understanding and patience. Boosts motivation and ambition. Assists goal realization

“I have a purpose in this life”

Moonstone (26 Beads – Crown Chakra): Uncovers parts of the self that we know least about. Personal growth. Encourages moving into the unknown with perception. Extremely protective stone, especially for travelers. Balances women’s hormones in line with the lunar cycle.

“I change my thoughts, I change my world”

Amazonite (12 Beads – Heart Chakra): Calms the soul. Facilitates personal growth and being true to ones self and others. Increases rationalism, and objectivity and balances the emotions.

“I am enough” or “Where I am right now is exactly where I need to be”

925 Sterling Silver (4 Beads – Counter Beads): Sacred metal of the moon, has a strong affinity for the tides of the ocean and water. Increases spirituality and intuition. Has powerful healing capabilities. Reflects light onto the soul.

“I am open to the abundance of the universe”

Grey Agate (1 Bead – Guru BeadCrown Chakra): Security, self-confidence and inner stability. Cleanses the aura. Stimulates creativity and intellect. Develops strength and resilience. Deepens spiritual connectivity, peace and calm.

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As I said there are many ways to make a mala, but I am sticking with the traditional 108 bead style. I’m also using larger silver beads for counter beads with a raised design so that its easier to feel them or take notice when I get to that point on the mala. Why 108? When I was doing research there were actually countless reasons all coming from different beliefs. I’m not going to sit here and name them all, but a few that I thought were interesting. There is said to be 108 Desires, Lies, and Delusions in humans. The chakra centers are where energy lines intersect, and there are said to be a 108 energy lines which meet to form the heart chakra. One of them, sushumna leads to the crown chakra, which is said to be the path to self-realization and enlightenment (This was part of the reason I used precious stones related to the heart and crown chakra in my own mala). If someone is able to reach a state of calmness & enlightenment during meditation they can have just 108 breaths in a day. There are 12 houses and 9 planets according to astrologers, 12 x 9 = 108. The average distance of the Earth from the Moon is 108 times the diameter of the Moon. The metal silver is said to represent the moon in astrology and silver has the atomic weight of 108. Honestly, there was tons more, creepy right?

When you use a mala in meditation, you aren’t supposed to pass over the guru bead. Once you finish your mantras then you simply just go back the way you came. The guru bead symbolizes a higher power beyond ourselves or your “teacher”. One does not skip over the guru bead when meditating as its seen as disrespectful or “stepping over” ones teacher. I figured with this principle that grey agate would be very suitable as a large guru stone because its said to deepen your spiritual connectivity.

I have ordered the beads and will make another blog post about how I made mine, the finished product and how its benefiting me! I love the idea of making one myself because its completely personalized to me and its something I put my own time and effort into doing. I will just have a better appreciation for it all around and a deeper emotional connection to something personal I have made for myself.

If you’re not setting goals, there’s nothing to work towards

I had a really bad week this week. I was out of my morning sickness medication and ended up being really sick and in bed for a few days. I had no energy therefore didn’t do any yoga. I also cheated on my clean eating and ate a big poutine (what can I say? pregnancy cravings!). Also after finally eating sushi after craving it for weeks I spent the night with my head in the toilet. Apparently baby isn’t fond of sushi yet (don’t worry it was fish-free). Lets just say I felt discouraged and like I was loosing all motivation, but feeling sick can really bring you down and make you not feel like your normal self.

In reality, it was just a bad week and I just went off course. I figured it was time to do a dream board. Listing goals and things I want to accomplish over a 5 year period. I’m a firm believer that if you don’t make goals for yourself then you aren’t going to work towards anything. This goes back to elementary school when teachers would sit you down and make you write out what you wanted to be when you grew up. Same idea. I feel like I just needed a kick in the butt and a reminder everyday as to what motivates me. I’m going to print my dream board and keep it posted in my room as a constant reminder of whats important and what I want to accomplish. Some of these are pretty big goals but I’m a very goal orientated person and I dream big. Even if I doesn’t happen over a 5 year period, it doesn’t matter. All good things comes with time and hard work.

dream-board

Now that my morning sickness medication is back in my system and I have my energy back, I feel like I can get back on track a bit. We are going grocery shopping again so we can stock up on fresh food. I also purchased cloth shopping bags and produce bags to help us continue to attempt to go zero-waste. Finally as a treat to myself I bought organic makeup (I went with elate cosmetics, see my other blog Switching to Natural Makeup Brands) for when I go back to work in a couple weeks. The goal is to also get our car on the road before I go back to work to make this pregnant lady’s life a lot easier!

Switching to Natural Makeup Brands

To completely dedicate myself to a natural and toxic-free lifestyle I knew I would have to eventually switch over to a more organic makeup brand. At first I was just jumping from different department brands trying to find that “perfect fit” with not luck. I actually slowly started switching everything over to Tarte after reading they get their pigments from natural sources like berries and flowers and they were easily accessible to me at Sephora. I was surprised to find out that they are actually not natural so I was on the hunt again. I found some fantastic resources online. This blog specifically gave a great overview on most natural and cruelty free brands; 18 Natural & Organic Makeup Brands.

Keep in mind brands like Arbonne, Kat Von D, Tarte, etc. while they are VEGAN and CRUELTY-FREE and do contain plant based materials and no animal by products still have a looooonnng list of ingredients, are NOT guaranteed GMO free, and are not using all certified organic ingredients. There is tons of loopholes in marketing and most of these come down to the term “Natural” or “Pure”. Do your research, ask for ingredient lists. The brands I have listed are actually proud to list their ingredients in their products and usually have a significant lesser amount.

The one downside to natural makeup is that its not so readily accessible. Most of these brands can only be bought online from US companies. Some are specifically from Australia and don’t ship to Canada. Also some brands are more focused towards skin & hair care rather than makeup. It took some digging and reading LOTS of reviews.

Out of the brands listed I found a few that seemed like they had the most potential as quality makeup brands. Variety, price, and shipping to Canada was also a big factor to me.

ILIA – Focus on Foundations and Lipsticks, Certified Organic Products, Fair Prices for decent sized products ($24-$44), Not much variety in skin tone variations and not a large spectrum of products. Amazing Reviews on the products.

RMS Beauty – Decent Variety from Face, Eyes, Lips, and Brushes but more expensive for smaller sized products ($25-$78). Certified Organic but not Vegan. Not many skin tone variations. Amazing Reviews on the products. (This brand contains a beauty oil)

Alima Pure – Better prices for full size products ($18-$42, with most products ranging around $24). Lots of variety in skin tone variations and a full spectrum of makeup products from Face, Eyes, Lips, Brushes, etc. Refillable Compacts. This brand offers a foundation sample kit for $24 to find your perfect colour.

Elate CosmeticsMade in Canada! Refillable Pallets and minimal plastics for the packaging. Good spectrum of products from Face, Eyes, and Lips. Good prices for full size products. So far the most inexpensive brand I’ve seen ($8-$28 with most products ranging around $20). Great Reviews and this brand also offers Face, Eye, and Lip sample kit for $8 to find your best match.

Vapour – Full size products but more expensive. ($25-$50) Decent spectrum of products from Face, Lips, & Skin Care (not much eye products). 100% natural. All products contain 70% organic ingredients and 30% mineral pigments and essential oils

So far Alima Pure and Elate are winning for me as they have the best prices, full size products, offer a cheap sample kit so I’m not shopping blind with my skin tone, and I’m even loving that elate is Canadian. I don’t wear a full face of makeup day to day as it is so I won’t need many products, mostly just a foundation (w/ contour/highlighter), blush, and mascara. When I get the products I’ll be a doing a full review on them! This is just what I’ve managed to find and my personal opinion when it comes to makeup (as we know everyone’s different) but switching over to an organic makeup brand is huge. You wear makeup day to day and it constantly get absorbed through your skin, mouth, and eyes. This is probably one of the best things you can do for yourself naturally.

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If you’re not enjoying your diet, you’re not doing it right

I have always heard that “If you’re not enjoying your diet you’re not doing it right” and I cant stress how true this is, especially now that I am committing myself more to eating healthy. If you don’t actually enjoy the foods you’re eating then you will slip right back into old comfy ways, easy as that. This is why you need to fine tune a diet to match you’re likes and dislikes.

I hate using the word diet because in reality its really just a lifestyle change. I am not restricting my foods and calories I am just making better decisions in what I choose to eat. Fruits and veggies are unlimited, there is no cap on those, I will eat as much as I want. I cringe watching people get sucked into those diets where you’re drinking or eating their own synthetic products that promise to make you loose weight fast. Shakes, TV dinner look-alikes, etc. Its sad people can’t just wrap their head around simply eating better and exercising. I think it really comes down to people not educating themselves on the food they eat. Also, I’m sure most people just don’t know where to start and want a jump in the process. Well, WAKE UP CALL, its a slow friggin’ process and its a complete lifestyle overhaul. There’s no short cuts, it really comes down to eating FRESH, PLANT BASED FOODS, minimizing your meat and grains intake, and eliminating processed foods. Not only that but shaping your diet to suit you.  

This week was our first go at meal planning, making a designated shopping list and eating whole fresh foods. Its also my first week back to food prepping. I find that if you keep food and snacks readily available it makes it way less easy to slip and binge or get something convenient. This week I’m pre-making spinach and tomato egg muffins for the mornings and grilling a bunch of veggies to store in the fridge. I have my veggies soaking in vinegar water (as I didn’t buy them organically). Remember to at least soak and disinfect items that are on the dirty dozen list if you can’t buy organically.

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  1. Strawberries
  2. Apples
  3. Nectarines
  4. Peaches
  5. Celery
  6. Grapes
  7. Cherries
  8. Spinach
  9. Tomatoes
  10. Sweet bell peppers
  11. Cherry tomatoes
  12. Cucumbers

We gave ourselves a $115 budget for grocery shopping because we were really out of a lot of things and knew we were almost buying everything. This week we chose to make:

Honey Garlic Baked Cauliflower
Stuffed Bell Peppers
Mexican Chopped Salad
Lemon Broccoli Pasta
Balsamic Turkey Burgers w/ Caramelized Onion
Breakfast Egg Muffins
Grilled Vegetable w/ Goat Cheese Sandwiches
Turkey Tacos – Opting for Lettuce Shells

We also equipped ourselves with food to make a bunch of sides and salads. I already have the fixings for overnight oats and those have been fantastic for me. I usually have them as an energy boost after my yoga in the morning and they’re delicious and filling. When it comes to snacking its mostly been fruit or fresh veggies, sometimes granola or dill pickle sunflower seeds when I feel like munching out or get a salty craving. Fruit has been amazing for my sugar cravings because they are so sweet themselves. Larabar’s have been a life saver for when I’m on the go and get hungry (which is often these days). They are vegan and literally have 6 ingredients in them. I’ve also got into a routine of drinking peppermint tea before bed to help with digestion. I’m going to be honest and say I am eating mostly vegetarian because I haven’t liked meats much while I’ve been pregnant. My husband has no problem with that though and will gladly eat my portion of meat. We still buy meat for him and I have no problem making meals with it. In the end I’ve really been enjoying the foods I’ve been eating and never feel like I’m starving.

I thought I would post our shopping list which came to $117, only $2 over our budget! (we also had gift cards from Christmas which meant groceries were essentially free for us, yay!). It was amazing feeling putting away our groceries and putting almost nothing in the pantry and everything in the fridge, all fresh foods and so much that we will be set for over a week. On top of that we get to eat kick ass meals everyday and not feel like we are compromising on yummy food.

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Prenatal yoga has been kicking my ass (in a good way) and I can tell I’m significantly strengthening my muscles in my pelvis, legs, and butt. I can tell because of the days of pain and soreness in-between. Epsom salt baths have been my best friend! I’ve been feeling great after yoga and I love when I actually see results. Prenatal yoga is nice cause its very laid back and easy buy still very effective. ALSO, no lower back pain and I feel like the work I’m doing on my pelvis is helping with my neck pain and migraines.

So far I’ve been feeling great, now if only I could get my morning sickness under control! Being pregnant has definitely given me the kick in the butt I needed to start eating better because I know what I eat my baby is getting too. What’s more motivation then that? In the end I really just want the best for my little gremlin.

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Vacation Goals; A 52 Week Savings Plan

Its a new year so its a perfect time to start a 52 week savings plan. Unfortunately Justin and I’s honeymoon to Cayo Coco fell through and we settled for a 4 day trip to Niagara Falls instead. Not that it wasn’t a great honeymoon we really did have an amazing time and did tons of things but, we feel like we really missed out on the opportunity to travel together. Niagara Falls was expensive and we spent a lot of money there keeping busy and eating out. At least with an all inclusive weeks vacation drinks and meals will be covered. I think its been over ten years since my last real vacation out of the country.

Obviously I wont be travelling pregnant and it will be almost impossible to go on vacation with a newborn but by this exact time next year the baby will be 6 months old and we would be finishing another busy year of Christmas dinners and visits. We are also currently working on paying off our debt so we wont have much extra money for crazy saving.

We found a really great 52 week savings plan to save $2500. That goal will actually give us the exact same vacation and resort we chose for our honeymoon (maybe without the ocean view room and first class flight). This savings plan is totally manageable with the weekly costs split between us, we both wont have to put in more than $25 a week. (Thank you Pinterest!)

af3be6a94e3f098fbcab2f7ced062793So this time next year we should be on a Cuban vacation, or at least that’s the saving goal. We’ve got a big jar and added our first $5 to it this week!

Think Minimalist!

As if I haven’t set enough goals for myself in 2017, here’s another huge one. We are giving our notice Feb and moving for April (two months before my due date). Moving can be one of the most stressful things in your life, period. Giving notice, finding a place in time, packing, moving trucks, pets, unpacking…god even thinking about it makes me stressed. My goal is to make it as stress free as possible for everyone.

So why move? Roaches…thanks to our lovely next door neighbors, no backyard for the dogs or kid, and now we’ve been here for 3 years and our rent has gone up to the point where its just not worth the money. Oh and did I mention we are tackling mold as well? With a newborn on the way I’m not raising my kid in an unhealthy environment where I would be nervous to even put them on the kitchen floor.

So to try to make this move painless (or somewhat) I’m taking the opportunity to PURGE and I mean PURGE. It helps that I am totally in the nesting stage of my pregnancy. Going through all drawers, compartments, closets, etc. I’m going to be seriously cutting down our furniture collection (many hand me downs from the years of living on my own) and moving is the perfect time to do it. I wont pack something to move unless it will have a purpose at the new place.

Even though we have three months to prepare I’ve already started purging and packing. Starting this long process now and working on it in small spurts will make it easier and more manageable in the long run. Pick one room at a time and tackle it, if one room is too much just tackle one closet or dresser at a time. Spring will be here in just a few months so why not get a jump on Spring cleaning?

I watched a fantastic documentary on minimalism. It gets into how we are living in a consumer based world where people feel like they need to buy things to fill this void in their life. People think that stuff will make them happy. We have a perfectly good working IPhone but when the next generation comes out, we want it! Have you ever realized when the next best thing comes out we are suddenly so unhappy or unsatisfied with what we have? Minimalism focuses on being happy with the things you have. Less is truly more when it comes to minimalism. Minimalists were stating that as they purged and limited their housely items they felt less stressed and free. Everything they use has a purpose and brings them joy and realistically they have everything they need in the end. This is the type of mentality I want to be in when it comes to stuff. I can appreciate decor and how something’s only purpose is to look pretty, but of course there’s a fine line between just right and too much.

One thing that really got to me was that they were living to work. Living paycheck to paycheck by filling their lives with things they thought they really truly needed. Becoming a slave to that pay check just to blow it on unnecessary things. Filling the void in their life with stuff to make them happy. Its coming to that understanding that yes, while some things you buy can bring you joy, it really is only temporary until you get bored and want the next best thing. When you have what you need, not filling your life up with stuff, and appreciating what you have you can finally work to live. Save more money, travel, have more spending money to go out and experience the world. Its about realizing that you don’t want to be a slave to stuff anymore and that you want to appreciate what you already have.

If you aren’t going to use it, throw it out or donate it

  • Every item I picked up I asked “have I used this in the last 30 days?” If it has just been sitting there, it was tossed
  • This also goes hand in hand with “If you aren’t going to use it, don’t buy it

Everything Should have a Place & Purpose

  • I’m a collector, even though some thing’s only purpose is to sit there and look good for my personal gain, it’s at least organized in a nice glass display case for all to see
  • Think of a creative spot for cluttery things like books and DVDs
  • If you have 3 sets of running shoes, do you really use all three? or do you have your favorite that you wear all the time?

Organization Overhaul

  • Consider buying helpful organization systems like drawer dividers, shoe organizers, makeup organizers
  • Filing System for important family papers, taxes, old bills, etc.
  • Don’t underestimate the power of wall shelves, I have a lot of pictures and little knick knacks that fit perfectly on shelves (out of the way and decorative)

DONATE, DONATE, DONATE

  • See if friends need doubles of kitchen utensils, flatware, or that sweater they’d always borrow.
  • Any furniture, clothes, and accessories that are in good shape can be dropped off at the thrift store so other people can benefit from them
  • Try to limit what ends up in the garbage

Simplify your Wardrobe

  • I managed to cut down my wardrobe by HALF by only selecting clothes I actually wear on a regular basis and keeping a few things like dresses, dress pants, for certain occasions.
  • Go through your dressers and closets and purge (old socks, underwear, etc.)
  • If clothes were in poor shape, they were thrown out (unfortunately)
  • If clothes were in decent shape they were put in a bag to donate
  • Look into Project 333, People are simplifying their outfits down to 33 outfits total and its working for them

If you are also interested in watching the documentary its here and on Netflix.
Minimalism: A Documentary about the Important Things