"Once we have completely eradicated our delusions it will be utterly impossible for us to experience unpeaceful states of mind." Geshe Kelsang Gyatso

Thursday, December 12, 2013

"Do one thing every day that scares you." -- Eleanor Roosevelt

What is the last risk you recall taking?

What does courage mean to you? Do you exude bravery on a daily basis? Would you consider yourself a bona-fide risk-taker? 

Lately, I’ve been reflecting a lot about courageously taking risks; actively partaking in activities where the potentially harmful outcome, is unknown. Not about extreme risky activities, such as sky-diving and cliff-jumping, per se, rather about life risks; applying to random job advertisements and then, hopefully going to interviews, signing up for community college interest courses, like Spanish or Photography all alone just because I can, and even smaller everyday type of risks like trying a new type of specialty coffee at Starbucks, taking a new route to an everyday destination, and striking up conversations with strangers…

I've been thinking about the difference between being a "trier and a failure", opposed to being a "never trier"… making someone a winner? Or are they also a failure? Or, if you are a trier, yet do not succeed, with your newfound wisdom, does that actually deem you a winner? Hm.

I was at a job interview several years ago, when the interviewer asked me to tell them about a time that I had tried at something and failed, and how I dealt with that failure. I drew a blank; when had I failed? Initially, I thought that it should work in my favour that I could not come up with an answer to this bizarre interview question; I had never failed at anything before in my life -- I was such a gem and they should hire me right away! Then, reality hit and I thought "okay, maybe I have failed before but since I'm such an eternal optimist,  I have simply chosen to not dwell on the past and have pushed those not so fortunate incidences right out of my memory". 

The interviewer was disappointed that I couldn't come up with anything and even though we moved on to the next question, in my mind I was still stuck on my lack of failures. 

Had I really never failed at anything? It was seemingly great until I really deliberated about what that meant: If you never fall down, how will you know how to get back up? If you've never failed, you obviously haven't taken very many risks and therefore how fulfilled can your life possibly be? 

In a favourite TEDTalk of mine, Aimee Mullins talks about the opportunities of adversity. To watch, click here! As I listened to her talk, I thought about the parenting notions and how many parents shield their children from pain or disappointments, thinking that they are protecting them, but really, are they just taking away an opportunity for their children to grow? I think about how fortunate I was to be on team sports as a child, because I think that they teach about failure and supporting one another in trying times, and also about resilience, which is something that is so vital in all aspects of life whether at work or in relationships. 

Ultimately, taking risks adds so much value to a life, and yet so many people shy away from everyday opportunities disguised as risks simply because they are usually a bit unnerving. 

Here's a list about why taking risks is a good idea: 

~ Risk gives you an opportunity to open up to your talents, interests, abilities and dreams.
~ Risk teaches you to set clear goals and follow through.
~ Risk allows you to feel powerful and proactive, making things happen rather than waiting for them to happen *to* you.
~ Risk opens you up to new ideas, skills, opportunities and experiences.
~ Risk allows you to grow and discover new things about yourself and the world, to develop your strengths and talents.
~ Risk allows you to conquer your fears.
~ Risk is exhilarating. It makes you come alive.


What have been wanting to do for so long, and yet are having difficulties mustering up the courage?? 

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Opportunities, being sexy and living life.

Build a life. Don't live one, build one.

Are you just living your life? Or are you building it?

3 INSIDER SECRETS by Ashton (Chris) Kutcher:

1. Opportunity looks a lot like hard work.
What do you think about luck? Is there even such a thing? When I hear someone say, "oh, I was just very lucky" I always think that they're just being very modest. Even if luck appears to have a hand in someone's fortune, what did that person do in order to get there? Every time you leave your house and something positive happens to you, instead of brushing it off as pure luck, give yourself some credit for leaving the house in the first place. By the same token, if you are hesitant to get involved or to put yourself out there, those "lucky" moments that seem to happen to all of your friends, are a lot less likely to happen to you. I'm really working on this one, but damn, it can be a challenge. 

2. The sexiest thing in the entire world - is being really smart. And being thoughtful. And being generous. Everything else is crap. 
Yessss! Many people express how they just swoon over teachers, profs, scientists etc. that otherwise they wouldn't have blinked an eye over. Can you relate? I certainly can, as I have pined over too many professors over the years to count! When I discovered this definition for sapiosexual, I definitely felt like I had found an identifier. I am sapiosexual. 
sapiosexual: (adj) A form of sexual orientation characterized by a strong attraction to intelligence in others, often regardless of gender and/or conventional attractiveness. 
Who agrees that stimulating, in-depth, philosophical conversations act as the best foreplay? Call me. 

3. Everything around us that we call life was made up by people around us that are no smarter than you. You can build your own thing and your own life that other people can live in. 
This final piece of Kutcher wisdom takes me back to my link to the article about the typical work week (click here). Who says we need to work 40 hours a week? Who says a bigger house is better? Where did societal norms come from? According to Kutcher, someone no smarter than you decided upon them. So, if we don't agree with something, why not change it? If you didn't catch Russell Brand's interview on BBC's Newsnight, I'd recommend you click here!  Unfortunately, I think people carry on with their life, despite seriously questioning any of it. How often do you take time out of your day to ask yourself, not  necessarily about what it is you do with your time, but about why it is you do it? What motivates you to continue living? What are you passionate about? Have you become complacent with all aspects of your life, just because it seems to be working out?

Monday, December 2, 2013

From the inside to the outside, and vice versa?

Personal style is undoubtedly influenced by how you feel on the inside, but is it possible for the way you look on the outside to influence how you feel on the inside?

Four days ago, I cut my hair. It went from being reddish brown and half way down my back, to being a neutral deep dark brown pixie cut. (For the background story, click here!) Immediately after the change, I felt like I had become into my own; I felt more like my true self, if that makes sense. It's like I took a step towards aligning how I feel on the inside, with how I present myself to the world. I have often thought that for many, many women, their hair acts as a security blanket. On occasion, I was probably one of them and enjoyed being gazed upon for my long locks. When they walk into the room, the first thing people notice is their long, bright blonde, voluminous, cascading, curly…  mop, followed by a body and perhaps, if they're lucky, a brain. This may be a slight dramatization, but my point, is that instead of acting as a prop or an accessory, some women present their hair as the 'mane act' (pun intended)!

I want to share a super inspirational TEDTalk that I watched the other day. I have to admit that at first glance, I did not take this woman very seriously at all, most likely due to the fact that she has long, blonde, curly hair that reminded me of Barbie! I know what you're thinking, hell, I'm kind of thinking it too in that I kind of sound like a snob and since I cut my hair, I keep knocking on long hair! Getting to the root of this, because it's definitely true and I apologize for being offensive, but it's likely because the majority of women that I have talked to in the last four days have said that what I did took courage, and that they have always wanted to cut their hair off, but are too afraid. Well, I want you to know that there is nothing to be afraid of! You are so much more than your hair and you do not need to hide from underneath it! I hope you enjoy this and let me know what you think! (It's definitely one of my favourites! And if you haven't seen a TEDTalk before, you're in for a treat:)

Ok, moving on from hair, what about someone's general taste of style? I think that you can get a pretty decent sense of a persons values, interests and hobbies simply by noticing what they are wearing. I always seem to notice when people have a very specific sense of style, whether or not I personally can relate or enjoy it, if it is of a distinct taste, I assume that the person is very true to themselves and has a strong sense of self. Sometimes, though, people have a difficult time connecting who they are on the inside with what they are wearing. Is that because they just couldn't care less about clothes? Or is it something more than that -- perhaps that they are at a loss for knowing who they are to the core?

Some people think that the superficiality of a person is disconnected with who they are on the inside, and to be so concerned, is shallow. What do you think? I personally, disagree and would like to argue that indeed, the way you present yourself on the outside CAN affect how you feel on the inside. A quick example is using the television show, What Not To Wear. When the contestants get a hair, makeup and wardrobe makeover and the stylists help them with their style only to discover a more confident person at the end of the episode. The way they end up dressing at the end of the show, helps them change as a person on the inside. So do you think wearing glasses or a tailored blazer will make you feel more confident with your intelligence level? Or a personal favourite, wearing athletic gear will make you feel like an athlete? Personally, I can attest to the fact that when I wear yoga pants and a sports bra, I definitely feel like the athlete in me comes out so much more and I want to focus on health and eating better and stretching etc. opposed to when I wear something like a skirt and high heels. What about you?

Taking this concept from not just clothes, but to facial expressions. What about the adage that when you smile on the outside, it makes you happier on the inside? This proven fact makes me think of the expression "fake it until you make it". Some people would frown (haha) upon this, because they don't want to "fake" anything. I watched another really great TEDTalk on something called 'power posing', whereas test subjects took up a power pose for a period of two minutes, only to feel more confident as an end result. Even if you didn't feel confident going into the pose, it would be awfully nice to feel it coming out, don't you think? Something as easy as taking up space, stretching out whilst sitting down and putting your hands over your head can give you more confidence overall? Check it out to see what I mean:

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Surf the web.

I suppose you could say, I'm a bit of an internet freak. I really like it. Some people watch hours of television or play video games until dawn, but for me, there's no place like the 'net. I became aware of my involvement, if you will, when I was given a limit on the amount of my data consumption, living in Australia last year. For those of us living in North America, unlimited internet has become the norm, therefore I had never even thought anything of it! But for reasons unbeknownst to me, these limitations exist.

Sometimes people ask me how I "find" certain things online, because I do have a knack for discovering some great websites. The inquiries make me realize that not everyone uses the internet in the same way I do. The phrase "surf the web" originated in the 90's, and basically means browsing online, which was a huge phenomenon when the internet was first introduced. When I think about people's internet habits now, I am under the impression that the majority of people stick to browsing the same websites they always visit, and unless they're "Googling" something specific, they rarely go off-roading. What do you think? Has the concept of "surfing" become less popular? Perhaps people just forget the massive capacity of our beloved internet and therefore do not take advantage of all of the amazing resources, educational materials and general information that is completely at our disposal. Unlike while watching television, when you go online, you have complete control of the content that you consume! So why is watching television still so prevalent? Is it because surfing online requires effort and constant engagement, whereas television requires none at all?

I have been a big fan of blogs for quite some time now and love the fact that everyday people can become so impactful, by reaching such masses with the internet as their platform. With all of the inspirational, intelligent and hilarious bloggers out there, I am always quite surprised when I ask people if they have heard of so-and-so's blog and they respond by saying that they don't really know of any blogs at all! Wherever your interests lie, whether it's fitness, food, fashion or politics, there are blogs dedicated for pretty much anything and everything! When I discovered the website Bloglovin', let's just say, my weekly internet usage may have skyrocketed. Basically, it's a hub for blogs, which individuals can search based on their interests for blogs that might appeal to them, and then click through all of the new posts for specific blogs that strike their fancy. Somewhat difficult to explain, I highly recommend you check it out for yourself, by clicking here. Let me know if you find a site you love! Some of my favourite blogs are Oh She Glows, This Rawsome Vegan Life, Healthy Happy Life (all vegan cooking), Gala Darling, The Blonde Salad, The Daybook and Man Repeller. Additionally, if you're into vegan blogs, there is an amazing vegan bloggers hub called Finding Vegan, that I highly recommend you checking out! Food gawker is another, but is not limited to vegan dishes. Have a look!

Getting back to finding really great stuff online, there are such things as discovery engines which make maneuvering through material online, that much easier. A site that I use quite frequently is called Stumble Upon, which is one of the most popular of its type. To check it out, click here! Another is Pinterest, focusing more on pictures than on specific websites, which is always aesthetically pleasing!

Do you have any specific sites you use to get lost online? Or do you prefer to stick to sites you know and that pretty much sums up your online usage?

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

I don't like Christmas.

Please don't assume I'm sour, when I tell you that I don't particularly like Christmas. Please instead, just ask me, why?

When you ask me why, I will respond by asking you: "when you think of Christmas, what comes to mind?" Chances are, you will think of presents, excessive spending, plenty of sugar, crowded malls…. see where I'm going here? 

When I was growing up, my siblings and I were all encouraged to make lists of presents that we wished for from Santa. As a list lover by nature, I was thrilled with this task and wrote out detailed pages and pages worth of items that I wanted to find wrapped up under my Christmas tree, for my opening pleasure come Christmas day. I am certainly embarrassed as I think about this next sentence… I always felt slightly dissappointed when 'present unwrapping time' was finished, and I didn't receive absolutely everything on my list. Wow, I sound like a spoiled brat and for that I feel sick to my stomach. I am so grateful that I have grown up and out of this craze; however I do want to think about the bigger picture here. Consumerism certainly got the best of my little mind and for that I also feel sorry for the children everywhere, because the majority don't know any better but to assume that Christmas day joy is heavily dependent on receiving all of these items on their wish list for Santa. Do most children get so caught up in the present aspect of Christmas, that they generally overlook all of the other factors involved? Is putting such a heavy emphasis on the jolly man in red, the reason to blame? 

As I got older, I began to think about not only receiving, but also about purchasing gifts for others, which led me to think about the chaotic haze people speak of feeling this time of year and the financial burden of this gift giving madness. How many people go into debt simply to buy gifts for others? I know that a lot of parents do. In fact, "Consumer counselling agencies see a 25 percent increase in the number of people seeking help in January and February, and most of that traffic is propelled to their doors by holiday bills that haunt consumers like the ghost of Christmas past". 
Yikes, is it really worth it? I would assume (because I cannot relate) that parents feel an obligation to buy presents for their children, as they do not want their children feeling like they missed out, especially compared to their peers. Is it really worth going into debt over? Some parents focus on buying practical items for their children, justifying the purchase by thinking that the gifts are items that their children really need. But do they really, really NEED these items? Again, thinking about "stuff", how much is just too much? As someone who is fascinated by the marketing industry in general, and is in "the business" of promoting business, I like to be the "devil's advocate" on occasion and ask consumers to question "why" they shop, and whether or not they realize that they cast a vote with every dollar spent. So who are you voting for?

This year, I wrote the following quick email to my family outlining my view on wish lists and what I would like to receive for Christmas. 
Hello, my darling siblings and their significant others! I hope this email finds you well. I had initially simply deleted this email, with no intention of replying, as I believe that wish lists are nonsense, which mom is quite aware of (hence the reference to "some of you"… that would be me), however I've decided that I DO actually want to have my "wishes" known: I wish… for us to focus more on giving gifts that are either crafted, made or assembled on our own and/or for gifts to be purchased from small to medium sized businesses in our local communities. I believe that each one of you have amazing talents and are so creative, that anything made by you, is what I am wishing for! In my opinion, there is no such thing as the right gift, and the notion of "need" is disconcerting, for if there was something that you truly needed, I would hope that you would already have it, read: clothing, shelter, food.  
As a family, for the last two years we have opted to do a secret santa. This means that you randomly choose one person to buy for, which takes all of the awkwardness out of deciphering which specific people you are and are not going to buy for. We also set a price point, which also reduces some decision-making properties. I like this concept, as you are still receiving a present to open on Christmas day (or eve, depending on family traditions) however, it's not overboard for the purchaser and not another wasted gift, just for the sake of buying. I think that the secret santa game is a great stepping stone, into perhaps "ixnay-ing" gift giving at Christmas altogether. I think that generosity throughout the year would be ideal; if you see something that someone would get joy out of -- give it to them then and there! Why wait for Christmas? I think gifts should be given because someone has inspired you and/or you would like to give them something as a way of saying thank-you, or if you are in a position to help someone when you notice they need something, then do it as a gift, just because you can. 

Okay, to be truthful, I may have only said that I don't like Christmas for shock value. I like the fact that Christmas usually brings out the very best in people with regards to community spirit and kindness, values that I appreciate very much. I do like being reminded of thinking of others when I am shopping, and not only about myself. I love the smells of cinnamon, apple spice, gingerbread and pine trees that are abundant during the holiday season. I like that Christmas is usually the only time of year that my whole family gets together. On that note, this year will only be the second time in my life, that my three siblings and I will not be together at Christmas time, which is disheartening and definitely takes away from my joy for the season. I certainly like that the holiday usually allows for allotted time off work, focusing more on playing, and less on working. The holiday season brings plenty of social events, which is again, great for community spirit. 

So, of course there are plenty of Christmas pros to oppose the cons, however I think that more often than not, the cons that I speak of, trump the pros, which in my opinion is just too bad. If you have food, shelter and clothes, and are simply buying presents for people just to have lumps under your Christmas tree (in which you probably spent over $100 worth of decorations this year), ask yourself why? If you do not truly need anything, have you thought of asking your loved ones to make a donation to someone who does, on your behalf? If you are giving gifts, have you thought about making them with your own two hands? What else could you do this Christmas season to boost the pros and negate the cons?

Here is a list of activities to consider doing this holiday season, taking the focus away from the shopping components and putting it more on the social side!

- Make your own Christmas cards to mail or hand deliver to your friends and family. Maybe even have a few friends over and make it a group activity!

- Gather up any toys, warm clothes and household items that you do not use and donate them to a local shelter

- Make time for crafts! Have a whole day of crafting; paper snowflakes, a gingerbread house, handmade tree ornaments, festive wreaths, an "ugly" christmas sweater etc. Get on Pinterest, and get INSPIRED!

- Bake sugar cookies, gingerbread cookies, candy cane cookies, hot chocolate spice cookies…

- Go ice skating, skiing and tobogganing

- Make homemade hot chocolate, wear some festive pyjamas and watch a christmas movie

- Carry around chocolate coins, Hershey's hugs and kisses, and give them out to people you see on the street!

- Take a family portrait

- Organize a group of carollers and ACTUALLY go door to door singing! I have to admit, I think this would be pretty rad but I'm not sure if I'd have enough confidence to pull it off… although, if someone showed up at my door with intentions of singing their heart out, I'd be quite pleased to listen! Have you ever gone door to door carolling? Would you like to??