My Ode to Cycling

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I have the joy of biking to work. 

Though I stand by calling it a joy, I have to do a shoutout to all the bike lane dwellers.  We earn our (reflective) stripes through biking in the dark, the wet, and the windy. To the cyclists who frequent the bike cage all year round, my helmet off to you! For those who fall into the fairweather biking category, listen up.

Winter does not smile on the cyclists. The surprisingly vulnerable part of the body when biking? The ears. Those in the car crank the heat. Those at the bus stop pull their lapels higher. The cyclists? They bike on valiantly, cursing themselves for forgetting their buffs, yet again, and swearing tomorrow will be different.

Read no further before you are reminded of the curse of the wet socks. The days at work when fate would have it that I squelch around with wet feet because my rain booties, rain pants, and fenders just didn’t cut it. Did I mention that I never thought I would be THAT cyclists who justified rain booties. You don’t make the decisions, they make you.

I could go on about looking like a flashing christmas tree on wheels, the cars that own the middle of the road oblivious to the meaning of a bike route, or the awkwardness of paniers, but I digress

My commute is my process time. Some people have yoga mats, others their meditation pillows, I have the motion of my legs, and the time to let the day fall away. Something about spinning those wheels in a productive way that really soothes the brain. The patient that yelled at me, the lack of resources or my weary feet, become less poignant, and by the time I’m dismounting, laughing with my coworkers and the beauty of the ocean have replaced it all. 

Nothing is Precious

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There is a fine line between using our stuff, abusing our stuff, and avoiding our stuff. We hide behind the idea that we do not want to abuse our stuff, and our answer is to tuck it away. 

Why do we hide things away and create rules, label things as precious and then never use them? Why do I have clothes I have owned for years that I have only worn a handful of times?

I can remember wearing a new cardigan to dinner. After a stubborn fight getting a shrimp out of its shell I was wearing oily, sticky scampi sauce all over my new cardigan. After multiple fruitless attempts, nothing could remove the oil stain. That day I lost my new cardigan and with it, the freedom to use and enjoy my things. 

What if you went into every room in your house and asked “What, in here is precious?” Think about which items are protected, saved, enjoyed infrequently used under special circumstances (guests, holidays, special occasions).

For me it is my expensive Blazer

My charcuterie cutting board

My nice white shirt 

My serving dishes

My travel keepsakes

My chunky jewelry

My eyebrow pencil

What if every item you owned had two numbers on it. The date you bought it, and the number of times you’ve used it. Would that help us to remember to use our things? Maybe that would help us to combat the made up rules we have. Such as “I will only wear that shirt on a day I won’t sweat, spill, spit or stain.” That day isn’t coming, wear the damn shirt.

What if we swapped out precious, for put to use? 

Instead of protecting that white shirt so it never gets stained, I wear it proudly and prepare myself for the inevitable day it gets a spill. In the meantime, it will be enjoyed, treasured, needed, used, lived in, and loved. I bought it 3 years ago, how many times have I worn it? Here’s to increasing that number! 

Nothing is precious, has become my battle cry!

When I pass over a shirt I pause. When I reach for the cardigan instead of the blazer, I pause. When I reach for the simple studs instead of the delicate dangly earrings, I pause. When I reach for the tea bag instead of the loose leaf, I pause. When I save the serving dishes for guests, I pause.

Nothing is precious! 

I would rather be looking my best covered in scampi sauce than stain free and stuck in fear. 

Light the candle, wear the blazer, put out the china and wear the damn clothes. Nothing is precious! 

How I got off my phone and on with my life

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I wanted to stop mindlessly using my phone to entertain me, and learned from author Cal Newport that I shouldn’t expect to simply stop using my phone, I had to replace it with other things.

Enter, permission to do ALL the things

I picked up my crochet hooks for the first time in years. I was rusty at first, but now have toques for my niece and husband.

I went to the library and got a stack of books. I now read before bed and never leave the house without a book

I started listening to an audiobook and made a rule I could only listen when moving- on went the runners and I started looking forward to enjoying the Fall changes alongside plot changes. 

I started blogging again- seriously I stopped consuming media and instead make my own!

If you limited your phone time what could you do/make/accomplish/experience/love? What did you use to love to do before you learned to swipe? Think about it. 

10 steps to declutter your closet

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Clear the bed, open the windows, and get excited because it’s decluttering day! (said with the same enthusiasm as Anna on coronation day)!

I have decluttered my own closet and helped many others declutter theirs. I’m excited to help you in your process by sharing my tried and true method. This will not only help you keep the items you cherish, it will also help you reflect and learn about your past decisions.

Before you begin make sure you are well fed and watered. Light a candle, open the blinds, put on a pump up playlist and get ready to conquer your closet!

  1. Pick a small category
  • Clothes are not a category. Think shirts, pants, shoes, bags, make up. The smaller, the better!
  1. Take a picture of these items in their current home. The messier the better!

  2. Pull out EVERYTHING from that category
  • If it doesn’t make it in the pile and you find it later, it automatically goes in the goodbye bin – this isn’t meant to scare you, but to show you the importance of having EVERYTHING out
  • Remember those scattered items by thinking of out of season, travel, storage spaces and pull it out!
  1. Pull out your favourite item in the pile
  • Stuck? Think of someone asking you to put on the item in the pile that makes you feel your best- this is the item you start with
  • This does not need to be what you use most often, it actually might be what you never allow yourself to use
  • Ask yourself what about this item you love. Take note of your answer
  1. Continue to work through the pile, pulling out your favourites, the ones you love and enjoy
  • Ask yourself what the items you have chosen so far have in common. Is there a theme? A style? Do they all contain memories? How did you come to own them? Look for themes.
  1. When you have about 25% left, pause and start asking yourself what the remaining items have in common
  • Why did you not pick them up? Why are you not drawn to them? Look for themes, are they from the same store/clothing line? Are they poor quality? Have you worn them out? Did you choose them or were they given to you?
  • Decide if you want to keep any of these remaining items. Otherwise you are looking at your goodbye pile
  1. Pick up each item in your goodbye pile and thank it. 
  • Whether you used this item or not, it has taught you something, thank it for the memories and the lessons learned
  • This may seem strange, but this is a way of honouring the item, and helps with the letting go process
  1. Put the goodbye pile in an easy to get out of the house method
  • Plastic shopping bags
  • Large brown gardening bags work well, and are recyclable
  • Cardboard boxes
  • Garbage bags should be your last resort because they are not recyclable
  1. Re-evaluate your keep pile
  • Are there any you want to reconsider?
  • Are there any items that need repairs? Put them in a separate pile
  • You should be looking at a pile of your favourite things!
  1. Give your items a new home
  • I believe thoroughly in every belonging having a home. As you declutter you may be surprised in how things fit better, or a new method of storing them
  1. Pick another category and do the same process until you have completed that area
  • See the image below for categories
  1. Take an “after” picture to celebrate all that you’ve done!
  • This is a big accomplishment. Not only have you curated your space, you have learned a lot about your choices and belongings. 

Congratulations! This is no small thing, you have taken one step closer to the life you want. Now is the time to relax and enjoy your newly curated space!

This checklist is from makinglemonadeblog.com

10 decluttering myths debunked

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There has been a big focus on tidying up and decluttering in the last few years and with that can come some misconceptions. Read on to have those misconceptions moved out! 

  1. It is a focus on what you’re keeping. It is not a focus on all that you’re getting rid of. 

Think of this like looking at your music library and you want to make a kickass playlist of head bumping, foot tapping melodies. Just like a playlist you don’t focus on the songs you’re leaving behind, but by focusing on how nice it will be to listen to all your favs without Celine Dion bursting in to remind you your heart will go on. Decluttering is a focus on keeping those items you want to cherish, not a determination to downsize.

  1. It is removing belongings from your life. It is not spring cleaning

Marie Kondo, the magic master herself, says “Tidying is the act of confronting yourself – cleaning is the act of confronting dirt.” As you prepare to conquer your stuff, don’t be surprised if you confront your past, present and future self while you’re doing it!

  1. It is getting curious about who you are. It is not judging who you were or who you have not yet become

Tidying up is the act of going through your belongings and discovering what you love and cherish right now. Not who you were 17 months ago, not who you hope to be next September, who are you, and what do you love, right here, right now. 

Often decluttering can bring up emotions of guilt, shame, judgement and fear. Instead, just like making the playlist, it doesn’t matter if you used to be obsessed with Celine and now no longer care for her ballads. Allow your past self to stand for itself, and embrace who you are, and what you enjoy today.

  1. It is putting your priorities and your past in order. It is not about who can have the least amount of items at the end

Tidying up is not about the number of bags that get donated, or having fewer hangers left hanging in your closet. Decluttering is all about surrounding yourself with things that reflect who you are right now, and that you enjoy in your present circumstances. Changing your mindset from “what do I want to get rid of” to “what do I love and reflect who I am” is integral to this process.

  1. It is a time to reflect and process your belongings as a reflection of your choices. It is not an excuse to keep everything

Remember what made you want to start this process. Something about the way you are currently living and the belongings you are surrounded with is bothering you. Otherwise you would not be interested in decluttering, you would be satisfied. Get curious about how your belongings are not serving you. Remind yourself of this often throughout this process

  1. It is about pursuing a home that reflects you. It is not about copying and pasting someone else’s lifestyle 

Think about spaces you enjoy being. It could be a park, a campground, your favourite restaurant or coffee shop, a hotel lobby. Reflect on what you enjoy about those spaces. Is it natural light, simplicity, vibrant colours, relaxing environment, good smells, or greenery? What about those elements is missing in your current home? How can you make your current home more like your favourite space?

  1. It is about figuring out how you’d like to live in your home. It is not about downsizing

There’s no need to force yourself to let go of items! If you want to keep your entire encyclopedia collection, go for it! There is no minimum or maximum requirement. The only goal is to cherish the items you choose to keep. 

  1. It is about honouring and being grateful for your belongings. It is not about carelessly discarding mountains of things

As you discover items that no longer serve you, instead of tossing them into the pile, you reflect on how much this item served you in your time together. Think about when it first came into your life, how much it meant to you, the lessons it taught you, and wish it well as you donate it to make someone else happy. This is a crucial part of this process, 

  1. It is about making space for what you love. It is not about organizing

Clutter obscures what’s most important. Discarding that which doesn’t support your ideal lifestyle creates space for treasured possessions to be used more often and enjoyed. As a bonus, it leaves room for future joy-sparking additions.

  10. It is a clarifying process, it is not exhausting and overwhelming

Yes, looking at a pile of your clothes can seem overwhelming, but the new found space, the clarity of your values, and the appreciation for your belongings is a worthy goal to push on!

6 ways curating your closet is like a Spotify playlist

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If you can make a playlist (and I know you can), you can curate your closet!

1. Focus on the songs you love

When you create a playlist from your music library, you don’t focus on all the songs you are avoiding. Instead, you choose the songs that make you want to dance, remind you of a special time in your life and make you want to sing along. You don’t even pause for the ones that get stuck in your head until Wednesday at noon.

This should be the same when we are decluttering. Instead of focusing on all that you wish to remove, focus on the items that sing to you (pun intended). The items you adore. The ones that light your face up when you see it, use it and wear it.

Decluttering is a focus on what you cherish, not a determination to downsize.

2. Focus on how you want to feel

When you create a playlist, you choose songs based on how it will make you feel.

Want to feel adrenaline, pumped up and excited to workout? Put on upbeat songs with a great beat! 
Want to feel reflective and focused? Put on slow, soulful songs. 
Want to feel romantic and loving? Put on love songs with soothing lyrics. 
When we choose a playlist, we prioritize how we want to feel when listening.

What if we treated our belongings in the same way? Asking ourselves how we want to feel and then deciding accordingly. 

Do you want a house that is vibrant, makes you feel full of life and inspired? Surround yourself with belongings that make you feel that way. 
Do you want to feel grounded, mindful and calm? Create an environment that supports and encourages those feelings.

Focus on how you want to feel and then ask yourself if your belongings are helping you feel that way.

3. You do not save songs for later

When I am into a song, I am IN to it! I will play it on repeat (much to my roommate’s chagrin). I will play it in the car, on a run, in the shower, when getting ready. When I love a song, I allow myself to love it fully. I am never afraid of wearing it out, wasting it, or saving it for the perfect day. 

What if we did this with our clothes? 
Imagine being obsessed with your new blazer! You wear it on a date, you wear it to visit with a friend, you wear it to work. You want the world to know you love this blazer!

We could love our clothes and use our belongings as much as we play our favourite song.

4. You skip songs and you skip clothes

When you’re listening to your playlist and you skip the same song, every time, it’s a sign. This song no longer fits with how you want this playlist to make you feel. Instead of questioning what that says about you, you simply remove the song

When you are constantly skipping over items in your closet (such as that dress who hasn’t seen the light of day since September 2017) we don’t question it, we accept it. Suddenly we have a confusing closet. We aren’t sure how it’s meant to make us feel. Upbeat, excited, downcast, grounded, sad? What is the mood of this closet? No one knows, least of all the closet curator.

5. No one has to tell you that you love a song

No one approves of your playlist. It makes you feel powerful and strong when you run, so you listen to it. Full stop. You love the beat and you can’t stop yourself from singing along, so you listen to it.

Why do we let other people inform our style? We bring friend’s shopping to weigh in on decisions, we ask people how we look before leaving the house, we look for affirmation from others to affirm our choices. 

What if instead of asking other people, you asked yourself “how does this make me feel?” And just see what comes to the surface.

Flabby, uncomfortable and put together, are not words we are aiming for.

We want strong, brave, confident, loveable, kind, brilliant. If you aren’t feeling that way, why are you putting it on your body? 

6. Your taste in music is allowed to change

You do not judge yourself for your favourite music genre changing and no longer loving a song you were obsessed with last summer. 

The other day I realized I didn’t have the song “Closer” by The Chainsmokers on any of my Spotify playlists. I couldn’t believe it! The summer of 2016 I was obsessed with that song, listened to it everyday, and knew all the words by heart. Realizing I didn’t have it downloaded on my playlists four years later did not make me judge myself, but made me grateful that for all the songs I’ve fallen in love with since. 

Just like it’s OK to let your lyrical world be rocked in a new way, by a new song, it’s OK to love new clothes and styles. Let go of those items that no longer sing and have faith you will find items that make you feel how you want

We do not have to keep every item we have ever loved, instead when we declutter we make room for new favourites.

Quick Recap: 

  1. Focus on the clothes you love 
  2. Focus on how you want your clothes to make you feel
  3. Do not save clothing for later
  4. Notice when you skip clothes
  5. No one has to approve of your style choices
  6. Your style choices are allowed to change

If your closet was a playlists, how would it make you feel?

A tip for how to get started

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Do you find yourself sitting at home knowing you have a lot to do with no motivation to do it? Of course, you do! Read on for a trick to make it easier to get started!

I know once I get going I’ll find a rhythm and momentum, but it’s as though I just can’t muster the momentum to start. This is where I try to change my space to change my mentality. 

Put on an upbeat song- even better if it can be played over speakers

Start the dishwasher

Start the laundry

Open the blinds

Clear a counter

Make your bed

Charge a device

Turn on the lights

Fold blankets and put them away

I’m not saying you start folding the five laundry baskets that have somehow piled up and are staring you in the face. Maybe you fold one? Or you distribute them to the rooms they belong in. Do not let perfection be the opposite of good. Maybe it’s not washing all the dishes, but putting all the dirty dishes together and wiping the counter.

Do something easy that has major visual returns. A clear counter, made bed and light shining through help you get the momentum you want.

What do you do to kickstart your momentum? Do you have any tips or tricks to share?

Movement, versus exercise

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How is your relationship with exercise? Do you have a hard time finding time and motivation to squeeze it into your week?  Do you feel negatively about your bodies capabilities?

I read a book a couple years ago called “No Sweat: How the Simple Science of Motivation Can Bring You a Lifetime of Fitness” by Michelle Segar, that transformed how I see exercise and my body.

The author described the difference between movement and exercise. We have prerequisites for exercise such as:

It must be 30 minutes

It must take our heart above 100

It must make us sweat

It must require exercise clothing

Because of these requirements we often avoid exercise, thinking if it doesn’t fit into that category it doesn’t count. She argues, everything counts! What if instead of exercise we pursue movement? When you move it can be for five minutes or fifty. It requires no equipment other than your body. It’s about feeling strong, capable and good in your body. It looks different than you might think. It could be:

Parking far away from the store. 

Taking two flights of stairs and then taking the elevator up the other two

Walking your groceries home on your back

Going to the washroom on another floor at work

Going to the washroom on another floor at home

Meeting a friend for a walking coffee instead of a sitting coffee

Walking around the dog park as you throw the ball

A five minute dance break (youtube video dance tutorial optional)

As I read this book I was mentally arguing with the author. I kept thinking “if I decrease the requirements for exercise I’ll definitely never do it! I’ll give myself permission to sit on the couch and eat potato chips.”

Not true. 

It gave me permission to walk around my neighborhood and enjoy it as movement

It gave me permission to enjoy walking to the grocery to store to get my groceries

It gave me permission to bike to work even though it’s only a twenty minute bike ride

Movement encourages you in whatever you’re capable of. It doesn’t require anything other than embracing it. 

What’s your mindset about exercise versus movement? How do you squeeze in little bits of movement in your day?

Signs you have not found the Beautiful One Part IV

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The more I focus on the idea of The Beautiful One, the more I see it being applied in my everyday life. The more awareness I have in going through my day, shopping and zeroing in on what brings me joy, the better I am at figuring out what my Beautiful One will be. Signs you have not found it:

If you are still searching

Lets say you need a new rain jacket and you purchase one based on price, practicality, other people’s opinions. Perhaps those are all reasons you choose a rain jacket, however if after the purchase you find yourself making excuses to go to MEC or outdoor stores to try on rain jackets, or you are noticing other people’s jackets when you are out and about, or perhaps you continue to look at online blogs/pinterest for ideas. This is a clue that you have missed something important in your choice. If you are still looking/comparing your new purchase to others, you have not found your Beautiful One

You thought it was the Beautiful One in the store

After six years of having the same bed spread I decided it was time for a change. I went to Ikea, stood in the overwhelming duvet section and let my heart choose. I was so proud of myself, I didn’t look at the price first, I didn’t ask the opinion of my sister, I let my heart choose a yellow and white bedspread. I brought it home, and for the first few weeks really liked it, but I did not feel ready to get rid of my six year old bed spread- a red flag that I had an inkling this new one was not the Beautiful One. After a few weeks I found I was once again looking at bedroom pictures online, and taking note of other people’s bed spread. I fought this for a while, reminding myself how much I loved it in the store. 

Then a clue came along, I was in the “as is” section of Ikea and bought a pillow case that was grey on one side and striped on the other. It didn’t match either of my current bed spreads, but I really liked it and took it home. I would hide it under my other pillows during the day and then use it to sleep on- dailly it would bring me joy. After a year of fighting it, and having two bed spreads that neither left me fully satisfied I decided to once again go back to Ikea. 

This time I was apprehensive, I had listened to my heart last time, but it had not led me to the Beautiful One. Instead of viewing it as a mistake I viewed it as a lesson. What had I learned? I learned that I don’t like cheerful, or bright bedding. I looked at the aspects of the bedding I had had for six years and realized grey and dull tones were what appealed to me. I also looked at the random pillow I had bought and asked myself what I liked about it. Once again, I stood in the overwhelming duvet section and let my heart choose. It chose the duvet set that matched my random pillow. I knew it was the right decision when I made my bed with my new set and immediately put both old bed sets into my donation bin. The Beautiful One had been found!

Have you bought something you thought was The Beautiful One only to discover it wasn’t? What did you do to correct this situation?

Does every category need a Beautiful One? Part III

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Some people when hearing about the Beautiful One feel overwhelmed. Imagining only having one perfect item for every category in your house does sound exhausting! I’m here to tell you not every category needs a Beautiful One, but you need to figure out what those categories are!

In some areas I like to have variety, options and change. For instance, sunglasses are something I will never invest in. I find I lose them, break them or the styles change too often for me to invest in one specific pair. I find that after one to two summers I’m itching to play around with the styles available and want something new. Since I buy cheap sunglasses I’m ok with letting them go and buying a new pair. 

For me, I wear a watch everyday and I like the consistency of having just one to choose from. I could see this being an area people prefer having a variety. I only ever wear two rings, they are both high quality and both have a story to them. However, I know lots of people who buy cheap rings, wear them for a season and then find new ones. 

What is a category you enjoy having a variety of? What is one category you enjoy having a Beautiful One?