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Category Archives: Opinion

2015 Clean Up: Week 1 is All Done!

As promised, I’m back to give an update on how the first week of my three week intensive cleanse went. I guess the first point is that I survived! Yay, me! Apart from 5 cherry tomatoes, I was 100% perfect! Not too shabby, if I do say so myself.

So, what did I notice in this first week…

1. My worst sugar cravings happened on the first day

The kind of crazy you feel when you are craving sugar, HARDCORE!

The kind of crazy you feel when you are craving sugar, HARDCORE!

Yes, I had them all week. Cravings for sugar, fried foods, dairy and pastries. I persevered with only minimal amounts of whining, but that first evening was the hardest part of all. Suddenly at around 8 p.m. it’s like my body woke up and was like, “Hey, uh, I didn’t get any sugar today…hello? HELLO!!!!! FEED ME SUGAR NOW!!!” Or, maybe it was my brain saying it, I’m not sure but I definitely knew it was being said! I even had dreams of gorging myself on cakes and cookies that night, the whole time racked with guilt over what I was eating.

2. Water, water and more water

I drink a lot of water, but after a few days it was like my body was reset from always hungry to always thirsty. I’ve often read that we get our signals crossed on this and I feel like this particular cleanse is uncrossing those wires because I can’t get enough water, my body is constantly telling me to drink more. Not too long ago I could go hours without a sip, now I need that water bottle next to me at all times and I regret when I go somewhere without one.

3. The first week is EXPENSIVE!

Yes, in the long run I will be saving loads of money because I won’t be going out to eat…at all, but I had to purchase many ingredients that aren’t a normal part of my pantry in order to have healthy options for the length of the cleanse. If anyone is thinking of doing the Alejandro Junger “Clean” cleanse and use his cookbook “Clean Eats”, I would say make sure that you have an extra $150 budgeted for that first shop, because you are going to need it! Of course, after that it is much less expensive and will cost you your usual budget, plus a wee bit more if you aren’t accustomed to buying organic.

4. Yawn!!!

I was pretty tired the first couple of days, but I’m gradually finding that I wake up more easily in the morning, provided I got a good night’s sleep. For a long time, I’ve been one of those people who can get that solid 8 hours of sleep and still wake up tired. This week, when I got a solid night’s sleep of 7 hours or more, I woke up more refreshed than usual. I won’t say I sprung out of bed like a bad Viagra commercial, but there was more alertness and dare I say…more pep, than I would usually have.

Those have been my biggest observations so far, though definitely not the changes I’m feeling. My moods have been fluctuating, as well as my bathroom habits, but we’ll get to those.

What are some of the biggest changes you’ve noticed in yourself the first week of a major dietary shift? Did they disappear after some time or did they stay with you the whole time ?

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MRKH and the vagina stigma

I came across this story today and it blew my mind. A girl in the UK, name Jacqui Beck,  spent 17 years of her life believing she was normal, only to find out that she didn’t have a vagina. If you’d like to read the original story, follow this link to the Daily Mail – online. The girl suffers from a fairly rare condition called MRKH or Mayer-Rokitansky-Küster-Hauser syndrome. The syndrome is characteristic of a woman who is missing her womb, cervix and vaginal opening. Although it is classified as rare, according to the Daily Mail, a case presents once in approximately 5,000 women.

MRKH diagram via neovaginasurgeons.com

MRKH diagram via neovaginasurgeons.com

So, you may be wondering why this story blew my mind. Although it has been said that it is hard to diagnose, which I agree can cause issues, I find it upsetting that she didn’t find out until she was seventeen. The typical age of diagnosis is 15-18 years old, and often these women find out for the first time when they try to have intercourse. The only reason Jacqui found out about her condition was a statement to her doctor in passing that she hadn’t started her period yet. I wonder if there was more educational material available to girls, if they would be more aware of their bodies? I know that while I was embarrassed to sit in sex ed class, hearing about my body, I also craved more information. Perhaps if more time was spent educating girls about their bodies, it would encourage exploration without judgement. This exploration could have led to an earlier diagnosis. Also, I ponder if there may be a higher incidence of this syndrome than reported. The 1 in 5,000 women statistic is based on diagnosis in newborns.

I was very pleased, to stumble across a Facebook page in support of women who suffer from this condition. Although surgery is an option to remedy this problem in most women, the psychological scarring must still remain. Especially for those girls who find out while trying to have intercourse for the first time. In a society where we strive for normalcy, the last thing these women want to feel is different. I also want to commend the young girl on who the story was written for coming out in public about her issue. I hope that it will inspire other girls to learn more about their bodies.

I really, truly believe that we as a society are failing to educate girls about their bodies. As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, there are aspects of my female functions that I did not fully understand until I was thirty. Those functions are normal functions and they were not presented to me, so I can imagine how hard it would have been for Jacqui to even remotely think something was off having such a rare condition. If I am blessed to have a girl, I want her to understand how marvelous her body is. When she is old enough to understand, I want her to be taught about her cycles and the inner workings of her reproductive organs. Now, I’m not so deluded as to think I will be the teacher for all these things, but I will be open with her. I will answer any questions she has without judgement and if I don’t know the answers, I will find them out. When she is ready, I will book a visit with a gynecologist so that if there is something she is too embarrassed to ask her mom, she can ask them.

In closing, I’d like to relay a story posted in my personal feed on Facebook. Someone I know has a daughter in kindergarten. While doing some arts and crafts, her and her friends were putting string in their laps and laughing. During this play, her daughter used the word vagina in front of her peers. The teacher was there to hear her daughter utter the word and called dear mommy to discuss it. Now, it’s not like she used the word out of context, or a slang like va-jay-jay, pussy or my personal favourite, bajingo. Her daughter used the word in context and without a derogatory nature. Why such a big reaction to the correct use of the word? Because it was ‘vagina’. How crazy is it that there was such drama! I can see perhaps, from the teacher’s perspective, that the other children going home to households that sugar-coat female body parts may have repeated it and upset their parents. I still think it is ridiculous. Let’s try and remove this stigma about female genitalia and its function. Let’s start by using the proper words with our children, right from the beginning.

7 things I learned in Nepal

If you regularly check in to YOTD, you may have noticed a long hiatus has just occurred. No, I’m not ignoring you! I promise! I just happened to have been on a life changing trip to Nepal. I left for three weeks, two of which I spent volunteering to build a school. I’d been fundraising for over a year and when it finally came time to go, I’ll admit I was nervous. I’d never been to a developing country before in any of my travels. I was bracing myself for some intense culture shock and while some did occur, I ended up spending most of my time just feeling so grateful to be there. I also made a conscious decision to gather lessons from my interactions and observations of the wonderful Nepalese people. Not everyone gets a chance to go to Nepal, so I thought I would share these experiences with you.

1. Be happy and greet people with a smile

If your first instinct as to why this is my first lesson is that I’m a North American saying we should be happy for who we are and where we live, you’re only half right. We are so blessed to live in countries with modern amenities and civil rights movements, that while many would argue are not perfect, EXIST. However, that is not why the lesson of happiness came to me. It came to me because every day, in every circumstance while in Nepal, I saw smiles. I saw warmth. I saw a willingness to help others with no other motivation than the deed itself. Greeted by smiles in a village that has not seen many white people. People of all ages holding their hands infront of them in the Namaste position and welcoming us everywhere we went. I saw fairly large families living all together in small, clay huts that projected nothing but a happiness to be together and to be sharing the day with us. While they don’t have everything, they are happy and grateful for what they do have. Isn’t that the key to happiness?

Upon my return to Canada, I watched a documentary called “Happy” which was narrated by an author I enjoy, Marci Shimoff. Research has found that the people of Kolkata, India are just as happy, if not more happy than many North Americans. I’ve seen it.  It amazes me that people who we would consider destitute have a level of happiness that some North Americans never achieve.

Smiling Nepali women

Smiling Nepali women

2. Always ask for more

Walking the streets of Thamel, the more touristy district of Kathmandu, you will know exactly what I am talking about. The vendors here are AWESOME at this concept. They always ask for more than what they are willing to take for a product. Who knows, maybe they will get more than what they will accept! This is a great thing to do in life, in general. Ask for more than you want, you never know, you just may get it.

3. Walk and bike everywhere

While walking down from the hilly home of the Kopan monastery, my friend Adele and I came across this young, local boy. He was fifteen years old and we asked him for directions to the Boudha Stupa. Instead of just pointing a vague direction, he actually walked with us over an hour to get us there. Not only that, he walked us right into the Stupa compound and began to tell us everything he knew about it. He was our own personal tourguide delivered to us by Karma! Everywhere you turn in Nepal, there are people walking or biking to their next destination. When you ask someone from Nepal how far something is, you need to specify if you mean by foot, bike or car. No wonder you’d be hard pressed to find obesity in this country!

This is Sanam, our Karmic tourguide!

This is Sanam, our Karmic tourguide!

4. Accidents happen, don’t take it personally

We live in a society so ready to place blame. We need insurance to mitigate every little accident that occurs. I’m not suggesting we abolish insurance, but since we have it, why do people get so bent out of shape over the little dings we get in life? While we were traveling in  Nepal, one of our drivers happened to be following a rickshaw a little too closely and when it stopped suddenly, the driver bumped it. Turned out the rickshaw had a little piece of metal sticking out further than most do, on its back. So what happened? The rickshaw driver got out, looked at it while a small crowd of Nepali men gathered around. He told the driver to back up and helped to navigate him around his rickshaw. No major damage was done, so the attitude was, “I’m alright, you’re alright, let’s move on with our day.” There was no yelling and screaming, no dramatic arm waving. Obviously the driver didn’t mean to hit his rickshaw and there was minimal damage so why get bent out of shape over it? I doubt this occurrence would have gone over so smoothly in Canada, where we are supposed to be polite beyond all reason. So the next time something is done by accident to you and you aren’t actually hurt, take a breath and deal with it calmly.

5. Take a nap

In the Dang province, where we spent most of our time volunteering, most of the people there lead simpler lives. They live in smallish houses with their families and many of them tend fields or animals to feed themselves. Often, they get up very early to get work done before the heat of the sun comes into play. While we were there, one thing I noticed was the amazing ability of Nepali people to sleep almost anywhere. Then there was me, who got all of three hours of sleep on a thirty hour flight path! According to research done in the past few years, the Nepali have it right! If you want to know more, visit information on napping and productivity via Inc.com. Sometimes, we could all use a nap.

Can you see my napping friend under the tree?

Can you see my napping friend under the tree?

6. Carpool, there’s always room for one more!

While I’m sure many would agree that the motor vehicle safety practices with regard to passenger numbers in Nepal can be less than desirable, they have the right idea. Nepali people will give everyone they know a ride if they can. Cars, trucks, rickshaws are all stuffed to capacity as they go from destination to destination. If you drive to work, is there someone that you could share a ride with? If you are going on a trip, is there someone headed that way that you could give a lift to? Friendly bit of advice though, Canadian police will definitely stop you if you have some friends hanging off the back of your vehicle. Please, don’t tell him that I put you up to it!

7. Give your children responsibilities and don’t hold on so tight

I have my masters degree in childhood education, I babysat for years and I know a lot of people with kids. Though I won’t generalize to everyone, many North Americans are a little over-protective of their children. They coddle them and some spoil them to within an inch of their lives. More and more, educators are seeing children coming through the system being so incredibly self-entitled that they are almost impossible to discipline. The blame gets passed around from teachers, to schools, to television, to diagnoses of disorders that must explain why the children are behaving the way they are. I saw many children in Nepal. They had chores to do, they were driving cattle, they were taking care of younger siblings. Things that the majority of our population would never dream of letting our children do. Children walking around by themselves with no adult supervision in sight. Sure, there aren’t a lot of gangs and guns running around rural Nepal (now that the civil war is over)…but there are rhinos and wild boar! While I think that we are privileged enough in our culture to have more of the notion of ‘childhood’ available to us, I also think that many of our children are over-coddled. I may be stepping on the toes of parents everywhere, and my sister-in-law’s favourite expression “You don’t know what it’s like to have children.” is ringing in my ears, but I’ve seen it! I’ve seen children with more responsibility to themselves and their families. They still find time to play, they still smile and have fun. So while I don’t expect even myself to make my children work nearly as hard the children of Nepal do in every day life, I will remind myself over and over of what I saw there. I will try to remember that my children are capable, little, human beings and hopefully, I won’t hold on so tight when it is my turn.

Myself and some very happy Tharu children!

Myself and some very happy Tharu children!

Tanning beds, vitamin D and Quebec

English: Woman uses a tanning bed.

English: Woman uses a tanning bed. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

About a year ago, I was driving in Montreal and I heard an ad on the radio. It was someone from a tanning salon, enumerating the virtues of using a tanning bed. They said something to the effect of, “Look great! Feel great! Help up your vitamin D during the winter months!” I couldn’t believe it! They were actually touting the ‘health’ benefits of using tanning beds.

The reason that I bring this up today is because I heard on the radio this morning that Quebec has legislated an age limit on the use of tanning beds within the province. I think that is fantastic. If I were less informed about the risks of using tanning beds in regards to cancer risks, I would have thought it was a great idea to get some extra vitamin D. While there is evidence that specific types of tanning beds can help us Canadians up our vitamin D levels, it is my opinion that the risks far outweigh the benefits. If you do decide to use tanning beds to get some vitamin D, make sure you do your research.

Make sure the tanning salon bed puts out UVB. That’s done with medium-pressure lamps. High-pressure lamps only put out UVA, which will not make any vitamin D. With UVB rays, you won’t get a burn, you won’t even get much of a tan, but you’ll get lots of vitamin D.” – Dr. Holick, (cbc.ca)

Considering that the tanning salon that was advertising on the radio was also talking about the wonderous glow you would have after the sessions, I doubt they were using UVB rays in their beds. It’s a tough time to be a consumer out there, reading between the lines when the lines are so skewed.

Quebec is putting a ban on use of the beds for anyone under the age of eighteen. This follows suit with many other provinces and countries who have already initiated similar age bans. Ontario (yay us!) and British Columbia are planning to do so as well. Studies have shown that the risk of getting skin cancer is significantly increased when people below the age of 25 use tanning beds, so we may be able to decrease the risks in many teens.

“…people who used tanning beds were 67% more likely to develop squamous cell carcinoma and 29% more likely to develop basal cell carcinoma than people who never used them. This risk was highest among people who started to tan before their 25th birthday.” (Webmd.com)

The good ole Nova Scotians are doing even better, their age ban starts at 19 years of age. Unfortunately, there is still the fact that most people have no idea that tanning beds can be bad for them, so many people will flock to the salons as soon as they are of age.

It is unfortunate for us Canadians, and many residents in the United States, that we suffer from a big loss of vitamin D in the winter time. Some people might think that going outside in the winter time with their faces exposed will help them produce some vitamin D. The amount of D your face produces is minute and a recent study shows that even if you were completely uncovered, it wouldn’t matter.

Above Atlanta Georgia [in latitude], you can’t make vitamin D in your skin in the winter time. We did a study involving Edmonton residents. For six months of the year, they were unable to make vitamin D in their skin. Stand naked outside from the time the sun rises until it sets, freeze every appendage on your body and you will not make vitamin D.” – Dr. Holick, (Cbc.ca)

Thank goodness we’ve disproved another health reason for winter nudists! Hee hee. My vitamin d source of choice is just to use a good supplement. For more information about how much you should be taking in oral form, see my Vitamin D blog entry.

Do you use tanning beds? Have you ever asked about UVA versus UVB bulbs on one of your visits?

Expensive knowledge, vegetarians and heart disease

Vegetarianism

Vegetarianism (Photo credit: Marius!!)

I’ve been doing more reading than writing lately, life has been all over the map. I’m sure I’m not the only one. Now that my detox is over, I admit, I’ve lost some momentum. Forgive me?

I was reading an article summarizing some findings of a study done in the UK about the health of vegetarians versus meat eaters. If you’re interested, the article is located at theatlantic.com , if you’d like to take a look. Basically it tells us that vegetarians have a lower risk of many health issues.

RESULTS: The self-proclaimed vegetarians had a 32 percent reduced risk of both fatal and non-fatal heart disease, accompanied by lower blood pressures and cholesterol levels, as compared to non-vegetarians. They consumed, on average, more cheese, fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, and less milk. ” – theatlantic.com

I tried to gain access to the study itself because I had a nagging question, however the journal in which it was published wanted me to pay $40 USD for temporary access. As much as I want to inform myself and all my readers…$40 USD? Ya, I don’t think so.

My question was this, did the authors of the study take into account that part of this correlation may simply be due to the fact that vegetarians tend to be more conscious of their health overall? Think about it. The vegetarians that I know, most of them anyway, are much more concerned with having a balanced diet. They actually need to make sure they are getting the proteins that they require for their bodies to survive. It’s not like McDonald’s is serving lentils with fries, so if they eat fast food, they’ve often lost the opportunity to feed their need for non-meat proteins.

I completely agree that for the most part, especially in North America, we eat a LOT more meat than we need to. Absolutely. I’m sure the UK also has their fair share of over indulgent carnivores.  However, I wonder if they re-did the study with more attention to the type of meat eaters they selected and the type vegetarians they selected, if they would find the same results. For example, what if they screened participants to find meat eaters that ate lots of vegetables and had similar physical activity habits to the vegetarians. Wouldn’t that be more informative? Their group participation size is impressive, certainly, but often I find the quality of study participants more impressive than the quantity.

Just a little food for thought.

Having said all this, I do believe that a diet rich in vegetables and non-animal protein is very healthy. Vegetarian or not, you can reduce your risks of many ailments by upping these enzyme-rich parts of your diet. If you choose your meat from places that don’t use antibiotics or hormones and you don’t overdo it, it’s my opinion that the health disparity shown in this study would shrink dramatically.

12 steps towards a healthier 2013

Sunrise on Phu Chi Fa

The sun is rising on a New Year!

Wow!  A whole year of detox, completed! I couldn’t even fathom this moment when I started last year. Twelve months seemed like an eternity, yet here we are. I will be updating the blog with the quantitative measures of my success once I get results back from my doctor. However, as we head in to 2013, I wanted to share what I believe to be the top 12 steps you can take in bettering yourself and your health this coming year. Now that all the Christmas cookies have been eaten and you’ve had your fill of libations for awhile, let’s get back on track. Twelve months of detox has taught me many things, but here are what I feel are the twelve most important things, in no particular order.

1. Drink more water

Sure, sure. Everyone always says to me, I drink so much water. I thought I did, too. Until I kept better track of it and found out I was embellishing a tiny bit. Apart from the air we breathe, there is nothing more important to our survival than water. The more, the better! Most of us are walking around dehydrated like crazy! Dehydration can cause some scary things…trust me. If you make only one change in your life this year, let drinking more water be it.

2. Move your body

I am, by nature, a very sedentary person. I find no issues sitting and watching movies all day. After making movement more important in my life, I found it became something I craved. I no longer wanted to sit all day. Even now when I have a ‘veg’ day, I get up and stretch every hour or so. Your body was made to move, especially since you need movement for your lymphatic system to function. Even if it’s walking to the corner store a few times a week, or some yoga for ten minutes in the morning. Every little bit helps!

3. Eat more raw food

I find this especially hard to do in a Canadian winter. My body wants foods that will warm me from the inside out. Now that I’ve incorporated more raw foods into my diet as a whole, I really feel a difference when I go more than a day or two without having any. Your body needs enzymes that are found mostly in raw foods because it can only produce some of them itself. Do yourself a favour and have a salad before your hearty beef stew, even if it’s a cold night.

4. Find out what your vitamin/mineral deficiencies are and take supplements

The reason I don’t blanket statement this suggestion by telling you to take a multivitamin is because, depending on your personal factors, you may only be lacking a few things from your diet. Go, see your doctor and ask them to run some blood tests to see where you are low in or high in for that matter. Once you have a clearer picture of your health, then you can start taking the right supplements. You may be suffering from a deficiency that you aren’t even aware of. Catch it now and turn your health around!

5. Learn the different names for ‘sugar’ and read those labels

Sounds so simple, so hard to do! As I discovered during my detox, sugar is lurking in many different places under many different names. If you learn them and check your labels, you have won half the battle. The other half is your will power and only you can choose victory. Educate yourself about the products you are buying and you will be a smarter, healthier consumer!

6. Buy organic…REAL organic

Yes, it is more expensive but it is so worth it. This past summer, we bought organic berries and the taste alone was worth the extra bit of money. Just watch out for ‘greenwashing’. As buying organic becomes more and more popular, companies are finding ways to dupe consumers into spending more money on products that appear more natural. Using the colour green or having the word ‘organic’ in the name are just some of the ways that shoppers are being tricked. Check the labels, find out if they are truly living up to their image.

7. Clean with vinegar

Yes, there are hundreds of different cleaners out there. Many make claims of being environmentally friendly, but I have yet to find a single product as environmentally friendly and versatile as good, ol’ vinegar. Not only that, but it is incredibly cheap as well! Save your cleaning product money and buy more organic foods!

8. Chew your food MORE

Yes, we all chew our food to some degree but many of us hoover down our meals without enough breakdown. Your mouth is a vital part of your digestive process. Give your saliva time to help with the breakdown and your whole gastrointestinal tract will thank you for it!

9. Take an omega supplement

I know I said to get tested for what supplements you are lacking in before setting up your vitamin regime, but this is one of the ‘gimmies’. Omegas are powerful anti-inflammatory supplements and rather than tell you all the foods you should be avoiding in order to cut down your inflammation, I would rather you add this to your regime. Especially if you don’t eat a lot of fish!

10. Stay away from products with added ‘fragrance’ or ‘perfumes’

I could write hundreds of tips for what to avoid when putting things on your body, but if I tell you just one, stay away from scented products. Unless the label clearly states that they’ve used no added fragrance or only fragrances from essential oils, there could be many different chemicals lurking under that name.

11. Try juicing

Juicing isn’t for everyone and it is hard to do in the colder months, but there is no better way to get those nutrients in such a bio-available format. If juicing seems like a huge effort, at least try to buy your juices from the refrigerated section of the store. They are less likely to have added sugars and preservatives. Also, the enzyme content will be higher.

12. Write affirmations

Affirmations are a great way to attract the things you want into your life. Whether it’s a state of being or a physical thing, affirmations are a very effective way to reach those goals.

As you head into a new year, turn over to a new chapter in your life. One in which you are healthy and happy. Not only will you be benefiting yourself, but all those around you.

Do you have any suggestions for 2013 that will help people better there lives? Have you tried them? Are you planning on trying them this year?

Happy New Year everyone!

7 tips on how to write effective affirmations

Affirmations are a way to attract something that you want in your life, a manifestation if you will. This manifestation doesn’t have to be of something concrete, it can be for an emotional state, an encounter, anything that you desire. Several years ago, I went through a depression. My life wasn’t where I thought it should be at that time, I was overstressed and overworked. We’ve all been there, but this time was different. I had a little ‘break’. During this time, I was living at home and my mom gave me a set of CDs by Bill Nasby called ‘ The Path to Deliberate Creation‘. At first, I didn’t want to listen to it. Eventually, I gave in because I didn’t want to fight about it either.  Bill’s voice and years of experience chipped away at the shell of depression I was encased in. I began to realize that my inaction and marination in a low vibration wasn’t going to do me any good. Crawling out of there was the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do in my entire life. Anyone who has ever suffered from a depression knows what I am talking about. I don’t care how long it was, the feeling of crawling out into the light is fantastic.

One of the things I used to deliberately create my new reality, as suggested by Bill Nasby, was to write affirmations. Now, as I understand it and from my experience, it is extremely important to actually write your affirmations. You see, there’s this little part of your brain that lives solely to smack down new ideas. Some call it ‘ego’, others liken it to a little demon in the brain that squashes anything that your internalized habits say is wrong. For example, if you are overweight and have been for some time, your ego has created that identity for you. When you are trying to lose weight and you simply say aloud, “I am skinny.”, your little ego demon replies, “No, you’re fat.” Simple as that. By writing your affirmations, you bypass the home of that little, dream-squasher and enter the information you want to internalize through a different, cerebral route. Some people might disagree with me on this, but my experience has been that written affirmations are much more powerful than spoken ones.

Now that you know that you need to write your affirmations, what are you going to put down on paper? Here are some tips to help you write more powerful affirmations.

1. Always write in the positive state.

So, if your health is something that bothers you and you’d like to affirm yourself into a better state of health, you will not write “I am never sick.” Saying that focuses on the state of being sick. You would instead say, “I am always in perfect health.”

2. Always write in the present.

Do not affirm that you “will be” or “will have” something. That is affirming a state of not having what you desire yet. You wish to affirm in the present so that you live like you already have what you want. Never “I will be rich”, but rather, “I am rich.” The more you write it, the more you will believe it and draw wealth to yourself. This is not to say that you should go out and live a lifestyle you cannot afford so that you ‘believe’ you are wealthy, but eventually you may see a turnaround in your financial state, or whatever else you were affirming.

3. If you can, attach an emotion to your affirmation.

For example, if one of your goals or intentions in the upcoming year is to tone up your body, do not simply write, “I have a toned body.” Put a little OOMPH into it! ” I absolutely love my toned body and everything contributes to this perfect result.” Doesn’t that sound much more inspiring!?! Writing with an emotional or joyful intention is much more powerful.

4. Write your affirmations in a comfortable language for you.

If flowery words with lots of syllables has never been your style, then don’t use them! If you’re more like me and crave fantastically constructed sentences that coat your mind with their honeyed sweetness, then use them! Remember, these affirmations are for you and you alone. No one else ever has to read them, so don’t write to impress. If you are always searching for words to make more impressive affirmations then it becomes a chore. One you are unlikely to continue.

5. Write your affirmations every day for at least 30 days.

There’s no hard and fast rule about when you write your affirmations. Some suggest that your mind is most receptive to them upon waking up and right before bed, but you will have to play around with this and find what works best for you. However, you definitely need longevity to the process. Writing affirmations for a few days and then stopping will not help you to manifest anything. Make your affirmations a part of your daily routine. I like to write my affirmations at night, right before bed, repeating each one three times. If you are just starting to write affirmations, I would limit the number to about three affirmations per day with no more than twelve words a piece. If you feel comfortable upping the number of affirmations or words, do so at your own pace.

6. Print your affirmations rather than using cursive.

A lot of people find that their writing style is not legible. Printing however, is another story. It may take you longer to do, but think about how you first learned to write. You printed! You learned to print in a time when your little, ‘ego demon’ probably didn’t exist. I find printing to be a much more effective means of internalizing affirmations.

7. Speak your affirmations aloud as you print them.

I’ve never seen this suggestion in any of the ‘self-help’ books, but I really find it amps up the power of the affirmations. My mind tends to wander when left to its own devices. Anyone who has played an instrument knows, that when you are rehashing the tune that you have played over and over, your fingers just take over. Your mind can wander and most importantly, your little ‘ego demon’ has a chance to get his idea-squashing racket out for a game. Say your affirmation aloud as you write, this will help you focus all your attention onto it and not on what you are going to wear tomorrow to work. Even you just say it under your breath, you will hep to hone your mind.

Writing affirmations is a fantastic way to help you manifest your goals and desires. It helped me crawl out of a depression and, by the end of that year, I met my future husband. That’s quite a turnaround, if I do say so myself. So, if you want to give your New Year’s resolutions some added spark, start working on your affirmations. I’d love to see some affirmations you are thinking of using in the comment box below. Please share!

Scrooge or Cratchit: It’s your choice everyday

As part of my emotional and stress detox, I’ve been ending my days by writing in my journal five things that happened that day that I am grateful for. It is by no means a new concept, but I actually wonder why more people don’t do it. My husband and I have been expressing gratitude for having each other in our lives, every night for over four years now. It is a great way to reconnect at the end of the day and remind ourselves that, no matter what, our relationship is the most important thing in the world to us.  Now, I extend that outlook on my entire day. Ya, crap happens. Ya, it will happen almost every day. But if you go to bed thinking about that, it will just surround your whole mind and energy in that blackness. How can you expect to have a sound sleep and wake up the next day with a good feeling? You really can’t.

I know, it’s hard. We get so caught up in the drama of our lives! It’s so easy to focus on the crap. But does that mean that it is okay to focus on it? Absolutely not. Since I’ve been doing the gratefulness exercise, I notice a lot more of the resistance the people around me are having to it. Even when my day isn’t going so well, if someone asks me how I am, I’ve chosen to answer, ‘Great!’. A lot of people start answering my statement with myriads of their own problems. Almost as if they are trying to douse the light of my happiness. I’m not perfect either, I still give in to those lower vibrations occasionally, but I feel it happening less and less.

I’ll tell you a story, that happened to me only a few days ago. I’ve had to take a part time position in retail at the mall this Christmas season. The moods of people vary greatly during this time of year. From the overjoyed and bubbly, to the overwhelmed and snippy. An older man came up to our cart and when the other woman working approached him, asking if she could help him.

“I don’t want nothing!” He scowled. Obvious grammatical error aside, the waves of negativity were just rolling off of him.  I don’t know what possessed me, but I turned to him and replied,

“Oh, just here for the free smiles, eh?” and flashed him the biggest smile he’d probably seen in years.

“No, no. I don’t even want those neither. I don’t want anything from anybody. I’ve seen real people and they aren’t worth it. When you get to be my age, you won’t be smiling anymore! I guarantee you!” Though I was completely taken aback by the negativity, my years of improvisational skills didn’t fail me now.

“Well, my grandmother smiled right up until the day she died and I will be, too.” I said, matter of factly.

My Nana - team Cratchit member.

My Nana – team Cratchit member.

“Oh ya.” He said, sensing the challenge. “Did your grandmother live through a war?”

“Yes sir, she actually went to work in an artillery factory.” I replied.

“Well, I had those things come at me in the war!” By this point, he was much less belligerent but still trying to make his point.

“Well, it’s because of my grandmother that you had something to fight back with.” I smiled. Then, the oddest thing happened. The old man just started laughing and smiling, with the sound of genuine amusement at the edges. He tipped his cane to me, turned and left. The woman I was working with was amazed. She couldn’t believe I got him to leave with a smile, after such a rocky beginning. As many of us do, she started making excuses for the man. Like, how some people have just seen things in their lives that they just can’t get over. Honestly, I don’t fully buy that. Yes, atrocities such as war, rape and abuse are things that can heavily affect someone. Yes, you are allowed to be upset, have rage towards it and be haunted by it. I hope never to be visited by war in my lifetime and I am beyond grateful to all the men and women who stood up for our country and our allies in their time of need. But does that mean you take one experience and allow it to jade your entire outlook on life, for the rest of your days? Really, it’s your choice.

I am reminded of Viktor Frankl. He was a psychologist who was imprisoned in a concentration camp during the war. He wrote about the state of the prisoners in the camp, his observations and the like. His ultimate conclusion was that even in times of great suffering, life still has meaning and even the suffering itself has meaning.

“A thought transfixed me: for the first time in my life I saw the truth as it is set into song by so many poets, proclaimed as the final wisdom by so many thinkers. The truth – that love is the ultimate and the highest goal to which man can aspire. Then I grasped the meaning of the greatest secret that human poetry and human thought and belief have to impart: The salvation of man is through love and in love. I understood how a man who has nothing left in this world still may know bliss, be it only for a brief moment, in the contemplation of his beloved. In a position of utter desolation, when man cannot express himself in positive action, when his only achievement may consist in enduring his sufferings in the right way—an honorable way—in such a position man can, through loving contemplation of the image he carries of his beloved, achieve fulfillment. For the first time in my life I was able to understand the meaning of the words, “The angels are lost in perpetual contemplation of an infinite glory.” – Viktor Frankl

So, Viktor Frankl took this dehumanizing experience and found the good in it, inspiring all those around him. In my opinion, good choice. Cratchit-grade, in fact! Meanwhile, the random old veteran that I’ve met has chosen to focus on the worst part of his life and transpose it onto the entire population. He goes around looking for people to bring down to his level and quash the light around him. In my opinion, a very bad, Scrooge-rated choice.

At the end of my day, one of my gratitudes was: The chance to make an old, war veteran smile and maybe have a better day because of me.

Coming into the Christmas season and the new year, take a real look at where your head is at the end of the day. Do you need to make a shift? I say, join team Cratchit!

My Birthday Wish

Yesterday, it happened. I turned thirty years old. It is the start of a new decade and I hope to continue on my path to better my health. My husband took me out for some AYCE sushi, so delicious. Obviously I ate too much. Hmm…I’m going to have to work on that. After that we just spent a relaxed evening at Chapters, surrounded by so many gorgeous books and I may have spent some money. But I held back, I REALLY did!

A few things have happened in the past few days, all leading up to an observation my husband made while we waited in line at the checkout. We turned to see the face of bullying‘s latest victim, Amanda Todd, on a magazine in the stands. He pointed her out and we both talked about the story of the man who was fired after posting some negative comments on the Internet about her. As someone who was bullied myself in high school, I can only imagine and cringe at what it must be like now that bullies have access to social media sites. People hide themselves in anonymity and the worst part of them is ‘type-vomited’ out on to the page without a second thought. They aren’t opinions, they are judgements that people who are insecure hand-out without thinking about who they may hurt. Although some people do verbally or physically call out others and publicly bully them, social media allows the numbers of bullies to grow. It’s easy to make fun of people you don’t even know while you are sitting at home in front of your computer.

Our conversation extended to people doing the same things to celebrities. Apparently, there are people posting online about how fat they think the singer Adele is. Some have even gone as far as commenting on how stupid and ugly they think her child is as well. Really people? Whose business is it to tell someone else that they are fat and what kind of monstrous human being says a baby is stupid and ugly!?! Those are not constructive criticisms, they aren’t even opinions, they are judgements. Worse, they are the judgements of small minded people who would rather pick out perceived flaws in others than to take a serious look at themselves.

My birthday wish? Maybe my wish is that the people who posted negative comments about Amanda Todd, hiding in anonymity on the Internet, would have to sit down with her mother and say those comments to her face while being broadcast in their community. Look someone’s mother in the eye and tell them you’re glad their fifteen year-old child is dead and leave still feeling good about yourself. I dare you. Along with that, I might wish that we could track down one of the people who called Adele’s baby ugly and stupid. Let’s call a press conference at their home and talk to them about how ‘fantastic’ it was that someone pointed this out to us. Obviously, the people making these comments are experts of child psychology and pleasing facial aesthetics. Right?  Then let’s have some psychologists come and give that person an IQ test. Even better, let’s have Tyra Banks whip in there and tell them how they rate as far as looks go. That girl has sass that would put most cyber bullies to shame!

So, are those truly my birthday wishes? A part of me does agree with them, wholeheartedly. Unfortunately, that part of me lives dangerously close to where my own potential, cyber bully might reside. ‘Why not?’, you might ask. Here’s why. A few days ago I was appearing on Rogers Daytime Ottawa, not for the Year of the Detox, but for a fundraising event I’ve put together. One of the other segments on the show was a father and son author team. They’ve written a book called, “Empowered Youth“, published by Hay House, which may have been where I spent some of my book money last night. Hee hee. During the segment, the son, Michael Eisen, was talking about how he was bullied when he was younger. I am a firm believer that bullies are suffering themselves and that is why they bully in the first place. What he said next though, was something I had never thought of before. He said that if we all worked on our self-esteem, then bullying would not be as rampant. If we all loved ourselves, we wouldn’t feel the need to lash out at others. To judge them. To belittle them. If we were bullied, our strong sense of self love would carry us through the experience. I’m not saying that we would come out completely unscathed, but if our self esteem and self love were strong, the damage would be minor. My lower self aches to call out all the people shrouded in anonymity on the Internet, as they judge people from afar, but that does not serve to help them better themselves or to better ourselves either.

After their appearance, I had the chance to talk to the father, Jeffrey Eisen. For a long time, he and his son did not have a good relationship. He was always telling him what to do, trying to tell him how to be better. Then, as the father started his own journey towards betterment and spiritual awakening, his son took notice. Eventually they were on the path together and look what they’ve accomplished so far! Don’t work on others, work on yourself, the people who come along on the journey are the ones you want to be with anyways.

My true wish is that we could all find a way to love ourselves enough not to feel the need to judge and hurt others.

One of the suggestions Michael Eisen had was to find three things we like about ourselves and write them on a piece of paper, every day for seven days.

Well, here it goes.

1. I like my sneezes. They are cute and make other people smile.

Happy Birthday to me!

2. I like my hands. My fingers are long and for some reason, my pinky sticks out when I’m holding a drink.

3. I like the colour of my eyes. Sometimes green, sometimes blue, with little yellow flecks in them.

How about you? Will you help my make my birthday wish come true? Write down in the comment box three things you like about yourself, for the world to see.

The trials and tribulations of edible shampoo

English: Potato flour. Français : Farine de po...

English: Potato flour. Français : Farine de pomme de terre. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

As you know, I’ve committed to only use products that are edible to cleanse my body, with the exception of good ole fashion soap. My first attempt at a shampoo was an utter failure. I tried to make a potato shampoo from a recipe in “Natural Beauty for All Seasons” by Cox. I bought this book from a book club when I was fourteen. For some reason I thought being in a book club would be cool, it just ended up being expensive. At least it was for fourteen year old Jenn. Over the years I’ve tried a few recipes from it, my fave being chocolate lip gloss. I made some for my husband’s family the first Christmas I spent with them. Apparently, the boys thought the lip gloss was delicious. Unfortunately, them licking it off resulted in chapped lips worse than when they started! But I digress…

The potato shampoo was basically made with potato flour and apple cider vinegar. It took over an hour to make and looked like lard in a jar. Not uber appetizing, but still technically edible. Needless to say, it didn’t work too well and smelled even worse. Also, it grew a healthy dose of mold within days of its making. I don’t want to have to remember to take my shampoo out of the fridge every time I hop into the shower. If my towel wasn’t hung right next to the shower curtain, I’d be wandering around my house dripping and naked on a daily basis. Not that my husband would complain, but it’s getting chilly out people! The same day I made my potato shampoo, I ventured into facial cleansers. From the same book I found a recipe for a lettuce facial cleanser. It was easy to make, apart from the fact that I couldn’t find one of the ingredients at any store in my end of Ottawa. Tincture of benzoin. I’m sure it would have made it better, although, it did work gently for the first few days. Now my laziness has fully taken over and I’m just using soap. I know there are women out there who swear by just using soap, but I am not one of them. I really find that it dries my face out and actually leaves me with more acne. So, basically I’m still looking for a facial cleansing solution for dry skin…any suggestions? My favourite recipe from the book involves lilacs. Sadly, those are out of season.

Right now, from a reader’s suggestion (thanks towardshealthylife !), I am ‘washing’ my hair with baking soda. I use the term washing loosely. It may just be my lifetime dependence on bottle shampoos talking here, but it just doesn’t feel as clean. However, if you are looking for safe to use and chemical free hair wash, this is the way to go. Comes right out of the box, ready to use. I then rinse with water and then rinse my hair with apple cider vinegar. Yet another attack on the sense of smell as it does not smell good. It is bearable, but only just. It also takes an hour or two to dissipate. If you were planning on going out on a date or to a fancy function, this is not the best way to end your hair care routine.

If I’m going to blow dry my hair, I put a little dab of Moroccan argon oil. It has a bit of a musky smell but works wonders on the hair. You may have heard of Moroccan oil before. It is being marketed heavily right now. Don’t be fooled, it is not the same thing. The “Moroccan Oil” that they have in stores right now is chalked full of yucky chemicals. They’ve done a great job of making it seem like it is a traditional, Moroccan secret come to light in North America, but it totally isn’t. All in all, a very simplistic routine for my hair.

Have you come across some great, all natural recipes you’d like to share? Something easy and gentle on the nose? I’d love to hear your favourites!