pile of wellness, design, and technology books to read in 2016

2016 Goal Setting

Holidays, Personal, Wellbeing

Happy New Year, my lovelies! I hope your 2016 is off to a wonderful start. To kick off a new year of blogging, sharing, and community, here is a breakdown of some goals and projects that I want to tackle in the upcoming year.

Declutter

My intention around decluttering is to minimize the distractions in my life that come from feeling disorganized and messy. I already try to do this regularly, whether it’s donating books that I’m no longer interested in, or culling ill-fitting dress pants from my closet. But there have been some things that are harder to get rid of than others. For example, I have a pretty extensive t-shirt collection. Many of these t-shirts have a special meaning connected to them because I picked them up at a really great concert, or they were given to me by somebody I love. The truth about me and t-shirts though is that I have way too many of them. And worse, they don’t usually make me feel like my most confident self; the ones that I have don’t fit quite how I’d like them to, and don’t feel like quite my style any more. But all of the memories! I have other plans for them though, and I won’t let them die in vain.

Blog regularly

I’ve totally mentioned this before — blogging came a lot more easily to me when my sweet world travelling bestie, Saar, was still in Ontario. I could bounce ideas off of her, and we would go on cool healthy outings to restaurants and festivals. In her absence, I’ve kind of been slacking off a bit. Okay, a lot.

The odd thing is that I have a backlog of blogs that just need to be edited and photographed, so I really have no excuses. Nose to the grindstone, Anne. Nose to the grindstone.

Practice positive self-talk

Self-confidence has been a big issue for me my whole life. I’ve had a weird relationship with myself for as long as I can remember, which tends to make itself seen in many other areas of my life. My sense of humour, for instance: Self-deprecating AF. Thus, a very important goal for me this year is to practice self-love, self-care, and self-kindness, and to tackle life with these three principles in mind.

One exciting thing that has happened over the last year to help change this is that I started teaching yoga classes. This has been a huge life change for me. You can read a bit about my first class here. But to summaraize, teaching has really helped me become more comfortable with myself. I’m learning to be more okay with my mistakes; sure I’ll feel horribly embarrassed for a moment, but it passes and I’m able to move on with teaching the rest of my class.

I also want to try to take more pictures of people, whether or not I’m in them. Erik and I went to a concert together last month, and he pointed out that the bulk of the photos I take are of food, with very few photos of us in between. When we look back on them, I’m sure I’ll remember the yummy food I ate, but what about the people eating the food? This, I feel, is also confidence related. I’ve trained myself to focus on inanimate objects, and I want to start connecting more with life. To people.

Reset my sleep schedule

Ever since I left my day job, I’m annoyed to report that I’ve become a total night owl. And I definitely experience a massive dip in energy during the winter months, which isn’t helped by being wide awake at odd hours of the night. I’m slowly developing a bedtime routine for myself that I hope will help me feel more restful at night, leaving me more energized during the day! 

Curate my media

This goes along with the first goal I listed, to declutter, but rather than decluttering my physical space, I want to declutter (my digital one) the media I consume. Going over the books that I’ve read in the last year, and the movies or shows that I’ve watched, I found that a lot of the media I was consuming felt meaningless and empty. They hadn’t made me a better person, or improved my quality of life.

For 2016, I put together a list of books that I want to prioritize reading. A lot of it is non-fiction. I want to focus on learning and growing. And while fiction is a hugely important part of my life, I think it’s time to branch out a bit more.

That’s all for now. Wish me luck!

What are some of your goals for the upcoming year? Please share in the comments below! If you missed it the first time around, here is a link to more New Year’s inspiration!

Q and A a Day, Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell, Ham on Rye, Catch-22, The Best of Roald Dahl, Norwegian Wood

Why I Always Carry A Book Around

Personal, Wellbeing

A friend of mine recently asked me this question: “Why do you think we should always keep a book with ourselves? I personally feel that it a good way of staying in isolation and leading life with someone’s else’s experience. I love books and respect the fact that it gives lots of knowledge but I also feel we slowly become book worms and speak very bookish language and forget ourselves. What do you think?”

For as long as I can remember, books have been a hugely important part of my life. Throughout my whole career as a student, I always brought a book to school with me. I kept it on the corner of my desk to read whenever I finished a test early or to read during recess. I always have one in my purse, whether I’m going to a quiet social gathering with my friends or to some bigger function. Books are an essential and enormous part of me, and maybe because of this, I can’t fathom spending life as a non-reader.

Are Books Isolating?

I think that whether carrying a book around at all times depends on whether or not you think isolation is a bad thing or not. As an introvert, it’s always a comfort for me to have a book on hand so that if I’m feeling exhausted in a social situation, I can retreat into a book and find some privacy there. I don’t even necessarily need to read the book for it to be a comfort for me. Just having it around is nice. Furthermore, it’s usually the people that I’m closest to who I’m comfortable sitting and reading, enjoying companionable silence with.

I also don’t think that having a book on hand has to be isolating. In fact, I often find that it can be a topic for conversation when I’m out and about. I’ll get questions from strangers asking what I’m reading or if I see somebody reading something that looks interesting to me I’ll ask them about it. Books can actually serve as a way for me to connect with the people around me who I would normally be too shy to talk to!

Stories Make Us More Empathetic

Reading stories exposes us to the life stories, experiences, and emotions of the people we read about. There are many lives I’ve read about that I wouldn’t necessarily want to live for myself, but that I am grateful for having read about. By reading books written by different people and from their different perspectives, I feel like I’ve gotten a glimpse into so many lives and am better able to imagine things from their points-of-view. If you want a little more info, check out this video

Books are one of my greatest joys, and reading is a very meditative experience for me. I don’t think there’s any thing wrong with being a bookworm or connecting with others over a story. Many of my friendships have been built through a mutual love for books!

Craigslist Joe Review

Product Review, Wellbeing

So, I saw this documentary not too long ago. Craigslist Joe is about the eponymous Joe, a man who decides to live completely off of Craigslist for a whole month. Everything, from food to shelter to entertainment, must come from Craigslist. And so, starting out in California, he makes this journey across America (twice!) living off of the kindness and generosity of his fellow human beings. As you can probably imagine, this journey is not an easy one. The troubles that come up during Joe’s travels are very real, like not knowing where you are going to spend the night or not having food to eat. 

Joe offers to do odd jobs around the house in exchange for a place to stay, and indiscriminately gets involved in new experiences like partaking in a crystal healing session, and visiting a tutoring centre for impoverished children. Some of these experiences are incredibly touching. For example, one of the tutors at the tutoring centre is a young Iraqi man. He invites Joe to his home to have dinner with his family, and they have this really cool conversation comparing the family’s relationship with America to their relationship with their home country, and how their lives have changed since 9-11.

There is so much fodder for inspiration in this documentary, whether it be from how genuinely kind and compassionate your fellow human beings can be (like how there are people who will invite a complete stranger into their home to feed and shelter them, tell them their stories, and give them the gift of their time), or how if you are itching for adventure and new experiences, all you need to do is put yourself out there and the adventure will come.

He meets all sorts of interesting people including fellow travellers, a guy trying to start his own fitness biz, a super sweet dominatrix, a cancer survivor and hoarder. I loved seeing how Joe’s adventure had affected him: how moved he was by all the people he met, “the stories they shared, and the connections they made” and the gaining the knowledge “that we can take care of each other”.

I’m definitely not a risk taker by any stretch of the imagination but it was lovely to see situations in which, when you do put yourself out there, you don’t have to experience those situations from a place of fear, but from a place of hope and trust. I definitely recommend you giving this doc a shot if you’re looking for something uplifting and sweet to brighten up your day.

Joyous Health: A Cookbook Review

Joyous Health Review

Product Review, Wellbeing

I’ve mentioned before that I’m a bit of a bibliophile and thus, I can never be found without a book in hand. For a while now, that book has been my go-to cookbook, Joyous Health: Eat and Live Well without Dieting by Joy McCarthy. I just can’t seem to keep my nose out of it. Whenever I’m feeling like I need some recipe inspiration, or even a little cheering up, it has definitely proven helpful to look through this vibrant and beautifully designed book.

Fun fact: Joy was one of my instructors at the Institute of Holistic Nutrition where she taught one of our social media classes. She was so energetic and awesome as a result of which, I’ve been following her blog ever since. 

“Joyous health is more than the absence of disease or the avoidance of the occasional cold or flu. It is an optimal state of wellness not just physically but mentally and socially, characterized by: a positive mindset, feeling and looking fabulous, good digestion and elimination, restorative sleep, healthy relationships, having energy for exercise and sex, [and] feeling joyous!”

As much as I love a good cookbook, I like a good lifestyle guide even more. Over half of “Joyous Health” is a lifestyle and wellness directory. It’s the perfect book for individuals who are just beginning their wellness journey, and aren’t sure where to start. In the lifestyle guide section of the book, Joy provides her 6-week program to “Joyous Health”, including tips for improving your digestion, improving your emotional health, and a 10-day meal plan complete with easy-to-follow recipes and simple ingredients. It was quite a struggle to keep myself from highlighting the whole book. 

It's not always about food. It's also about choosing to have a joyous attitude.

The book is all-encompassing and approaches health from a truly holistic perspective, featuring everything from food elimination for optimal digestion; how to clean up your beauty regimen; a list of her favourite superfoods; how to give your kitchen a makeover; and how to improve your mental health though activities like yoga, meditation and pursing healthy and positive relationships. 

You always have the power of choice and the power to heal your body. You have choice over your thoughts, actions, words and every morsel you eat.

 The photography and design of the book is stunning. It is bright and colourful, and truly puts you in an atmosphere of joy, hopefulness, and positivity while reading it. I also tend to have a bit of a thing for lists, which there is no shortage of in these pages. 

I made quite a few of the recipes in the book, but one of my favourites was the Curry Lentil Loaf on page 234. It is so filling and delicious, and it makes a huge batch of the stuff. I ended up recently finding a few squares that I froze a couple of months ago and I am so happy to be re-enjoying this recipe. It’s fabulous on its own, or crumbled over a salad (and is especially tasty saturated in balsamic vinaigrette with some goat cheese and sundried tomato). 

“Joyous Health” is definitely a must-have on my health and wellness shelf. Though it actually doesn’t spend very much time on said shelf since I’m so often riffling through it! 

The newest addition to my holistic toolbox: colloidal silver

How To: Treat Eye Infections Naturally

Product Review, Wellbeing

I am currently recovering from a pretty nasty eye infection. I woke up one morning, about a month and a half ago, to a big, puffy, painful, red, and itchy masterpiece of a right eye. After a few days of swabbing it with coconut oil (I use coconut oil for a wide variety of physical ailments; it is antibacterial, after all), it kept getting bigger, puffier, redder, and more painful; it was at the point where I could barely open it. At this point, I began to feel a bit panicky. This is my eye, after all. I only have two of them; you don’t want to eff around with eye health. I visited my local walk-in clinic, and was promptly put on 10 days of apo-cephalex, an antibiotic.

Now, I don’t want to alarm you guys, but I have to say, after everything that I learned at the Institute of Holistic Nutrition, antibiotics scare the shit out of me. Not only do they wipe out whatever debilitating harmful bacteria you are dealing with, they also decimate your beneficial gut flora. The same gut flora that is responsible for some extremely important functions in your body including healthy digestion, synthesizing B vitamins, immunity, and keeping the body’s population of harmful bacteria under control. I also believe that there is a time and place for antibiotics, in particularly desperate situations. I can understand how if you’re scared and panicky, as I was when I feared that my eyeball would have to be surgically removed if it it didn’t fall out of my face, you might feel forced to turn antibiotics lest you lose a body part or your life or something like that. Desperate times call for desperate measures, and so, I took my apo-cephalex, and polished off the whole pill bottle, as prescribed by the doctor at the walk-in clinic. Within 72 hours, the swelling had gone down significantly. But while I was on vacation last week, the bump appeared to be coming back with a vengeance, becoming puffy and sore again.

Enter, colloidal silver, a healing elixir of epic proportions.

Luckily, Erik’s dad and stepmom, who we were travelling with, always come prepared with a whole holistic pharmacy of natural remedies. Lauri, Erik’s stepmom, had an eye infection a few months ago, and her eye specialist secretly steered her away from the antibiotic route, and recommended that she give colloidal silver a try.

What is colloidal silver?

Colloidal silver is a suspension of silver particles in purified water. But the cool thing about it is that it has long been used for its awesome antibacterial, antifungal, and antiviral properties. Colloidal silver has been used to boost immunity (so it’s great for cold and flu season!), and to treat skin and tissue damage (burns, cuts, rashes, acne, insect bites, etc).

How To & Results

I wasn’t sure what to expect when I first tried it. Erik put one drop in my eye, and one on top of my eyelid, and I carefully rubbed it in with a tissue. The next morning, I was like a changed woman. The swelling was almost gone. I wish I had a picture to show you the before and after, because it truly was like magic. I’ve been applying it about 3 times a day for the past couple days and it definitely appears to be on it’s way away. To counter the effects of antibiotic use, I’ve also been taking theraputic quantities of probiotics. Gotta get that beneficial bacteria back up to snuff! 

I can’t speak for it’s uses as long-term immune support from personal experience, but if you are in need of a quick short-term fix for an eye infection, irritation, or a stye, I definitely recommend colloidal silver. You can find it at your local health food store, and I believe it’s on sale on National Nutrition’s site at the moment.

Anywho, I think I’ll bundle up and go for a walk. I know it isn’t quite autumn yet, but it certainly feels like it. It feels like excitement and possibility. xx