A Born Again Morning Person

Anyone who knows me, up until recently that is, would never classify me as a morning person. Monday-Friday, I set my alarm so that I could get every last second out of my comfy bed which normally meant setting it for something like 6:52. I gave myself just enough time to get ready for work and eat my breakfast. I should mention that I have an internal clock, and don’t even require an alarm clock – it’s really a just-in-case kinda thing.

Sleeping in on the weekends was basically my reward for getting up early five days out of seven. I earned it, and I would take it no matter what. Because of my internal clock, I’d wake up at my regular time anyway, but would stay in bed…just because I could and because it was my reward for having to sacrifice my lovely sleeping-ins five days a week. On the weekends, I generally didn’t make my way out of bed until at least 9:00.

As with most of my life, all of that changed when I began meditating and reading The Tao. I learned the importance of taking time for myself, solitude and silence. I also discovered that the most logical part of the day for me to practice all of these things was in the morning. Yikes! It wasn’t always possible to squeeze in my “me time” after my evening routine – exercising, dinner, dishes, shower, doing stuff for work, and the list goes on. And to be honest, it didn’t really seem fair that I had to squeeze it in, in the first place. I deserved more. And that is the sole reason I became a Born Again Morning Person (remembering my love of Saturday morning cartoons and actually getting up early for them, leads me to assume that at some point in my early years, I was in fact, a morning person).

I, the queen of sleeping in and grabbing every last second I could possibly get out of my bed, now rise and shine at 5:3oish each morning (except for the weekends when I still relish a little bit of sleeping in time!). Technically, I usually wake up before 5:30, around 5:00 (always before my alarm goes off), but stay in bed until around 5:30. I should mention that I now go to bed a bit earlier than I used to. I used to be an 11:00 bedtime person, but now it’s usually 10:00. I also turn off my computer/any DVD I might be watching, etc., by 8:30/9:00. I spend at least half an hour reading a positive, inspiring, uplifting book (one that will put me in a good frame of mind for a pleasant sleep) before bed. Sidenote: I used to have a really hard time falling asleep – I tossed and turned, my mind wouldn’t shut off, I often didn’t fall asleep until 2:00/3:00 in the morning, and when I awoke, I felt like I hadn’t even slept. Since I’ve made all of these changes (meditating, Yoga, changing my bedtime and waking time), I’ve never slept better.

I’m still human though, and occasionally, I don’t really feel like getting up; but then I think, well I’m already awake so what’s the point? Lay in bed for an extra 5 minutes? Reset my alarm for a later time in case I fall asleep, and then feel robbed when it rudely wakes me up? Nah. Instead…

I immediately get out of bed, turn on my lamp with the soft lighting, brush my teeth, light my incense and do my morning Candlelight Energizer Yoga. What better way to start a brand new day than with the first 15 minutes dedicated to me and my peace of mind? Once I’m done my Yoga, I do my makeup, hair, etc., and the rest of the time, until I leave for work, is mine, which usually amounts to a good hour. One hour all to myself to do what I want – meditate, read, sometimes write. Uninterrupted time all to myself. My days have never gotten off to a better start, and I wouldn’t trade this time for anything.

~Carolyn

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A Simple “Thank You”

It’s no secret, at least in my world, that I haven’t been terribly happy in my job for a while.  It’s not really the job itself or the people who I work closely with, but more the company I work for.  I’m not much of a ranter anymore and aside from my cell phone post, I don’t do a lot of ranting on here.  But, this is a rant with a happy ending so here it goes.

Like most companies, a few years ago when the recession hit, it hit hard and the company I work at starting laying people off.  I was one of the lucky ones who remained.  Although I was grateful to still have a job, that job now demanded more out of me and everyone else left.  When I was first hired at the company six years ago, there were six people in our division; then, there were two.  You do the math.  The final person in our division to be laid off was the accounting girl – those duties were then placed (read: thrown) in my lap.  Let me stop here to let you know that I have ab-so-lute-ly no accounting background.  So on top of the other jobs I was doing, I also then had to learn an entirely new job, one I wasn’t entirely excited about.  That was almost three years ago, and I am happy to say that I have since made that job my own.  We finally hired a third person after a year of the two of us struggling to get the work of six people done.  Thank goodness.

Now, the problem with the company, is that they have absolutely no idea how to treat their staff or motivate them.  Every single month my division is told that we are not making money, that in fact, we’re losing money.  Now, we’re not stupid, we know full well that if we were losing money month after month after month like they say we are, we would have been closed down a long time ago.  We know this isn’t true, that it’s management’s way of “motivating” us to do better, work harder, make more money.  What they don’t seem to realize, obviously, is that every time they tell us this, we want to pack up our stuff and go home.  I mean, we’ve been working our behinds off and what is our thanks?  Being told we’re not doing a good enough job – every month.  To say the morale in our office is low is an understatement.

Another thing that really doesn’t help matters is the fact there was a wage/salary freeze a few years ago.  I still remember opening that email.  I get that there was a recession, I understand that things were going to change and that raises were going to be out of the question, for a while.  I’m not completely ignorant of the facts.  What does irk me is seeing managers and VP’s and the President rolling into the parking lot in their Audies, Porsches and Bentley – yes, our President thought it would be a good idea to show up to the office in his Bentley.

Oh, we did eventually get a raise.  It was last year.  I remember going into the VP’s office to get some things signed and he had me shut the door.  He then handed me an envelope and told me to fill “it” out, and get it back to him the next week.  It was a review.  I had to fill in a three page questionnaire about my work to date.  Actually, it was about my work since my last review which was funny considering I had never had a formal review up to that point.  Well, I took it home, filled it out as best as I could (I think they Googled “Performance Reviews” and printed out the first one they found – most of the questions pertained to managers, which I am not) and on the day of my review, handed it in to the VP, who did my review.  I found out during said review that we would be getting a raise of three percent.  Now I’m not one to spit in the face of this sort of thing, however, it had been three years since my last raise and the only thing that didn’t go up during those three years was my salary.  I hate to sound incredibly ungrateful, but when I got my next pay stub I had to pull out my previous one to see if I had actually gotten a raise.  That’s not good.  Again, I hate to sound like a spoiled brat but… did I mention our President and his Bentley?  Yeah.

Okay, on to the nice part!

Fast forward a year.  Last week, Monday to be exact, there was a staff meeting – attendance not mandatory (weird, yes).  Well, I was off sick that day so I clearly didn’t go.  When I got into work the next day, I opened an email outlining what the meeting had been about – it had been to recognize people who had been with the company for milestone years i.e. five, ten, fifteen etc., you get the idea.  I’ve been there for six years so there was my name.  I thought “Oh, that’s nice I guess,” I mean, I got my name on a list, in an email.  Maybe I missed a pizza and wing lunch – our VP’s go-to for potluck lunches.  I went on with my day.

The next day, while I was counting petty cash in my boss’s office, there was a knock on the door and on the other side was the VP, holding an orange gift bag, with my name on it.  He came in, shook my hand and thanked me for all of my work over the years.  I don’t like attention and was a bit embarrassed, but smiled like a goof anyway.  I said, You’re Welcome, and thanked him for whatever was in the bag.  Turns out it was a plaque, a $50.00 gift card and a handwritten card thanking me for my hard work.  I’m not sure who signed it – I think it’s the President since I know the VP’s signature and it’s not his – but it doesn’t matter.  That little token of appreciation lifted my spirits, it made me smile and it put me in a very good mood.  It wasn’t a huge raise, it wasn’t an enormous and expensive gift; it was a Thank You, letting me know I was appreciated.  To any managers/owners etc. out there reading this – your staff deserves to be shown respect and to be told that they are doing a good job – I mean, if they’re still working for you, they’re obviously doing a good job.  They need to hear you say Thank You every once in a while.  Trust me, it will make them smile.

~Trisha~

Working for the Weekend?

Dr. Dyer, in his book, 10 Secrets for Success and Inner Peace, states that whatever your passion is, “you can make a living doing it.” I have my fingers crossed that this is true. I am one of those people who is always working for the weekend, eyeing that prize starting on about…Monday. We often plan something to do on Fridays just to give us something to look forward to in order to “get through” the week. My passion no longer lies in my current job, and it’s getting harder and harder to do it by the day. Unfortunately, in my place of employment, there is some discrepancy between my morals and ideals and those of my employers which does not help the situation. What has helped is distancing myself. For so long, I was very emotionally involved in my job – I wanted to fix everything, to be a miracle worker, and it was a very stressful way of working. My whole world revolved around this job, not just my time at work, but my own time at home as well.

As sad as this might be, I now look at my job as just that, a  job, a means to an end, that end being my own business centred around my passion. Sure, I could try to find another job, but that is easier said than done, and in my profession, jobs are few and far between with fierce competition. Not to mention the fact, that my dreams and passion now lie elsewhere.  Because of this, I’m in the process of following my passion, and trusting it will turn out the way it’s supposed to. It already feels better. To know that, very soon, I’m going to be doing what I want, how I want, and it’s going to benefit not only myself but others as well, is very empowering. I am Woman, Hear Me Roar is exactly how I feel!

This week was a bit rougher than usual, and a lot of that may have to do with my heart just not being in it anymore, but I figured I’d write this post (even though it’s not all that cheery) because I’m sure I’m not the only person experiencing these kinds of feelings regarding a job. In the past, I would have complained, and made no effort to do anything about it simply because “doing something,” seemed too hard and the fear of the unknown was frightening. Regardless of how bad it was, it was “easier” to just stay there and suck it up. Well, those days are over. It may be easier, but as I mentioned in a previous post, I can no longer let someone else dictate what my song is. Life is too short to do something that does not make you feel good inside, to go through the motions day after day like a robot, no feelings, no joy, no passion.

In the meantime, to get through my workdays until my business takes off, I do a few things to help me cope and keep the positive vibes flowing:

  1. Bring my business journal to work. Just bringing it to work (many times I don’t even have the time to jot ideas in it), makes me feel connected to my passion and my goal.
  2. Listen to a Zen relaxation CD as soon as I get to work, and during my lunch. The sounds of birds chirping, waterfalls, chimes, gentle music slows down my mind, and really does help me to relax. It’s like an little escape from the hustle and bustle of my workday.
  3. Read a particularly inspiring chapter from one of my favourite books (which is always in my purse). This chapter is the one that jump started everything regarding following my passion.
  4. I haven’t implemented this one yet, but I’m hoping to soon, especially with the fresh fall air just around the corner – going for a walk during my lunch hour. A little dose of Mother Nature is medicine for the soul.
  5. Remind myself why I’m still there using the mantra, “a means to an end.” My sister has actually texted me this phrase after a particularly difficult day. Believe it or not, it helps me to refocus.
  6. This one may same weird, but it works for me. I sometimes peruse baking/cooking websites while on my lunch. There’s something comforting and homey about looking at recipes, and these kinds of websites tend to be very visually appealing.

On a sidenote, on one particularly stressful day, I got an instant stress headache after a very taxing episode. When I got home, I immediately put a hot beanbag type thing on my eyes, laid down with one of my meditations, and within maybe half an hour, my headache began to ease up which for me, was a mini miracle. I am the type of person who gets headaches that last, on average, at least two days, and when I get one, I’m unable to function. So let this be a testimonial to the benefits of meditation!

Back on track, I’m sure there are plenty of people out there who love their jobs, but for those of us with a less than amicable relationship with it, what do you do to help you get through your day?

~Carolyn

A Mini Makeover

This weekend I did something that I should have done a while ago – I moved the furniture in my living room around.  I did it on a whim after thinking (again) about how sick I was of looking at my living room the way it was.  It was 6pm, last night, and I figured I could get it done fairly quickly, and I was right.  By 7:15 I was standing and looking at the changes (it’s obviously not a very big living room).  What a difference moving a few things, or actually in my case everything, into a new location makes.  It feels bigger, yet cozier, somehow.  I know very little about Feng Shui, but I think I made some good moves.  I opened it up, and it now seems like a more grown up living room.  I also made this discovery: I’m pretty sure my cat, Puddin’, has more toys than most children!  Every time I moved something, I would find more of her toys – it was a bit crazy.  My floor is now covered in cat toys – I definitely have to do something about that.

My inspiration definitely came from reading one of my new favourite blogs Apartment Envy – I love this blog; she has great tips and great photos on there.  My apartment is much tinier and more generic compared to what she showcases, but I’m never looking to copy anything, I’m only ever looking to be inspired.  I live in an old (probably from the 70’s) high-rise where all of the apartments are cookie cutter copies of the next, with odd angles and wall placements, and even worse floors.  But I do what I can to make it my own; I have been for the six years that I’ve lived here.  Of course, it’s difficult given what I have to work with, both the space itself and the finances, but it’s definitely my space.  I would love to have a more cohesive look, with not necessarily matching anything, actually definitely NOT matching anything, but right now it’s still a mish mash of furniture and styles.

I used to be obsessed with white – everything in my apartment was white.  That is until the day my Mom walked through it and said it was nice, but “sterile” looking.  I don’t think she meant it as an insult, just as a guiding piece of advice.  Well, I took it, and have since added pops of colour throughout.  I traded my white living room curtains for red, my white area rug for a red shag carpet (yup, I have a shag carpet and I love it).  My bathroom no longer blinds people with the white walls, white shower curtain, white towels and white mat – I’ve gone orange in there (my favorite colour).  One thing I won’t do in this apartment, however, is paint.  In my last apartment, which was a 100-year-old fourth floor walk up, I painted every room almost as soon as I moved in.  Why?  Well because each room was a different Neon colour.  Yes, you read right – each room was either blue, yellow or green; make that super bright blue, yellow or green.  It was beyond hideous.  I painted the living room a very dark burgundy which might not sound very nice, but the room had crown molding which was white – it looked sharp.  The rest of the rooms were painted either a creamy white or sage green.  I even went so far as to paint the kitchen cupboards white.  They were all wood (and I know some people think it’s a sin to paint wood), but they were just too much so they got painted and I changed the pulls to brushed nickel.  That apartment was nice – although the storage was a nightmare, as in there was none!  For some reason though, and I’m really not sure why exactly, I just can’t bring myself to paint this apartment.  I’m sure it would look better and warmer if I did but no, I just won’t do it.  So white walls they will remain.

I was going to post a picture of what my living room looks like but when I uploaded it, it just didn’t look very good – turns out my living room is not very photogenic!  Either that or I’m not a very good photographer.  So instead, I’ll treat you to a pic of Puddin’!

Puddin’ on my red shag carpet!

Happy Monday!

~Trisha~

The Many Branches of an Old Family Tree

The Mighty Oak!

A couple of weeks ago, I was talking with my parents when the subject of our family history came up.  My father said he didn’t want to sound morbid or anything, but that documenting our family’s history before there is no one left to tell it would be a good idea.  Since my parents are fascinated with my ability to pull up information at the drop of a hat via Google (I am a master Googler), I opened up my laptop and thought I would delight them with my skills, and started searching for information and/or records of our family on an ancestry website.

Well, sadly, my skills fell flat because I wasn’t a paying customer and would need to register. I cut that exercise short and instead, started playing 20 Questions.  You see the thing about my family is that in its current state, it’s quite small.  Obviously, there are many, many family members from the past, but sadly I never met most of them.  Something as simple as my grandparents’ full names was not common knowledge in my head, I needed information.  A few names, birth dates and birth places turned out to be a good start.

Later that day, I registered on the family tree website, started my tree and began digging around.  It didn’t take very long before I got a couple of hits.  To say I was excited is an understatement.  The first document I found was the baptism registry for my maternal grandmother; the second document was the 1911 Census for my paternal grandfather (he was 2 ½ months old!).  I was so surprised and happy that I called my parents to tell them what I’d found.  I have to say, I think I was more excited than they were, but then again, these were their parents; they knew them and grew up with them, whereas I never knew them.

Over the past couple of weeks, I have come up with all sorts of information and documents such as my great-great-grandparents’ names which doesn’t sound like much, but I had no idea what they were until a week ago.  I even got to see the passenger registry from when my great-great-grandfather came over to Canada from Finland by way of England.  It was very surreal.

I never met most of these people that I’m researching and searching out.  I can’t put faces to the names, and I don’t have many, or any, stories to go with them, yet.  These names that are popping up on my computer screen are names of my family, family I never got the chance to meet.  They are my history.  I know that I’ve only just begun this project, but I’m happy with my progress so far and I don’t intend to stop.

My next step will be to start getting that history, the stories, from my parents and anyone else who is willing to share their memories with me.  It seems like the older I get, the more I want to know where and how our family began.  It’s a lot of work sifting through all the hints and documents, but it’s definitely worth it.

If you’re interested in starting your own family tree, I have few hints and tips that I’ve picked up from my, so-far, short stint as an amateur detective.

  1. First, write down all of the information that you already know such as your grandparents’ names, maiden names, dates of birth, etc.  It’ll give you an idea of what is missing and if you’re like me, you’ll see that a lot more information is still needed.
  2. Next, start asking questions, and write down everything that you’re told.  It might not seem important, but trust me on this, you will probably need it.  You’ll find when you’re searching through documents, that it’s the small details you’ve been told that will help you to determine whether the information you’ve found is about your family member or not.
  3. If you’re using a site dedicated to documenting your family history, put ALL the information that you have in the search engine because that’s how you get hints from them.  That’s not to say that all the hints or hits you get will be relevant.  In fact, 90 percent of the ones that I’ve received so far are duds, but following this tip helps to narrow the results from hundreds of results to maybe a page of results.
  4. Be patient.  Most of what you’re going to find, like I said in number 3, will not be relevant to your family.  Keep looking.  Patience will also be required when you do get hits on documents.  You see, by law most documents cannot be made public for a certain amount of time.  For instance, Censuses can’t be made public for 100 years.  Well, 100 years ago most everything was handwritten, and I’m telling you, it’s not easy to read!  Take your time, read and re-read the documents, and chances are, you’ll see what you’re hoping to see.
  5. My last tip is to go outside of the site to look for information.  I did just that and found out tons of details that were missing for a lot of the people on my tree so far, specifically dates of birth and dates of death.  After Googling a number of different things, namely obituaries, I came up with a great site listing all of the registered deaths of Finlanders in my hometown.  Bear in mind, I found this site on something like the fourth or fifth page – remember, Google always comes up with more than one page on a search!  So dig, dig, dig.

More than anything have fun with it, enjoy the process.  This isn’t going to be done in a day or a week or a month, this is going to take time.

What started out as a quick search has turned into a bit of a project for me, and I’m happy to do it.  I’m finding out about my family, my history, the story of how our family came to be our family.

~Trisha~

A Bridge of Inspiration

On December 30, 2011, while surfing the web, I came across a news article about a 16 year old boy, Jack Jablonski (a quick Google search will provide you with pages of stories on Jack), who was checked from behind while participating in a sport he loves, hockey.  The result of that check was devastating, paralysis. Jack was told he would never walk again, let alone skate, nor would he regain the use of his arms or hands. While reading about Jack that day, I imagined what it would feel like to hear such life changing news, how it would feel to be a parent and learn that your child, a child who was just beginning to blossom, was stopped cold in his tracks. Obviously, there are two ways to go with such devastating news, up or down. Jack and his family chose up.

I joined the Jack Jablonski Caring Bridge shortly after reading the story, and have been updated on his progress by his family (Mom does most of the updating) ever since. At times, I have cried out of sadness reading the journal entries. Other times, I have laughed. Mostly though, I have smiled from ear to ear reading of Jack’s progress, and yes, even with such a dire diagnosis, he has made progress, lots of it! His latest milestone? Rolling over. Other milestones have included moving his fingers, gaining some function in his arms (he can high five his friends!), and moving his left leg and ankle! Pretty freaking amazing. Some might say that some major miracles have been going on here, but not without the sheer determination and hard work of Jack himself.

The reason I am writing this post is to share with you someone who inspires me on a daily basis. A young man and his family who I have never met, but have managed to find a place in my heart. We all face what we think are massive obstacles in our daily lives, but in the grand scheme of things, they’re often not nearly as massive as we think they are. When I think of what Jack has gone through, and how he has remained so positive, so strong, so upbeat, so determined, I’m in complete awe. When I read of his progress, I cry tears of joy…for someone I have never met, but for someone who has touched my life.

Jack and his family have touched my life in a positive way since last December, and I’m attempting to share this wealth with others. They are a prime example that even when one might feel there is no way up, there always is. Jack’s leading the way (with a little help from his family, his friends, his hockey community, strangers), and he’s an inspiring person to follow…especially if, at this time in your life, you need a little support to help you along the way. Journal updates from Jack’s Caring Bridge  are sent directly to your inbox (generally, once every few weeks; just enter your email address, no fee to join), and if you like a dose of uplifting, powerful, inspiring news, that would be the place to get it. At the same time, you can add some words of support, share in Jack’s successes, and in some small way, provide inspiration to Jack his and family – full circle.

A few years ago, my father was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease. While at times, it’s easy to fall into negative thinking, worry about the future, think the pitying thoughts of Why my Dad?, Jack’s story has offered me a way to put things into perspective, to be grateful for what I have, and for what my Dad still has.  The Jablonski family has helped smack me back into reality, into appreciating all the good I have in my life.

What inspires you?

~Carolyn

I Love Mondays?

Monday, Monday!

It’s 7:30 Monday morning, I’ve up been awake since 5:30 and up since ten to six.  When I got into bed last night, I decided that I would wake up extra early to do my full hour of exercise in the morning, hence the 5:30 wake up call.  Well…5:30 came, my alarm went off and I hit snooze, only to be awoken 5 minutes later (my phone which I use for an alarm only snoozes for 5 minutes).  I continued this little game a few more times before I finally hauled my behind out of bed.  Yes, it seems kind of pointless that game, but I did learn one thing from it – 5:30 a.m. doesn’t work, it is too early!

I wasn’t sure what the body of this post would be, but I had the idea: the weekend goes so fast and I really don’t like Mondays (who does?!).  Then, I had a better idea while I was getting my shoes on – try and make this the best Monday I’ve had in a long time and write about it!  Write what I did and if it worked for me.  I can’t promise that this day will be the best, but I am certainly going to try.  For obvious reasons, although I’m starting the writing now, in the morning, I won’t be able to post this until tonight.  So, here it goes!

As I mentioned, I woke up early to work out which I did, for 30 minutes.  I felt/feel great about it.  I’m not dwelling on the fact that I didn’t complete the full hour like I had planned but hey, I did something and I am happy and grateful that I not only did it, but that I am healthy enough to be able to do it.

I showered and got ready in record time – another in the plus column.  Luckily, my hair and makeup routine is pretty minimal so lingering in the bathroom is not something that I do.  I’ve meditated and I’m now eating a healthy breakfast, plus and plus.  So far, so good.  I’ll be logging off in a few minutes to get dressed and pack up for my 11 hours away from here and then, I will be off to work.  That, my friends, will be when the real test begins!  Ciao ciao until tonight.

Well, I’m back home.  To keep this post from being too long, I’ll give you a quick run-down of how the rest of my day went.

The bus ride to work was uneventful which is always good.  I enjoy taking the bus since it’s my quiet reading time.  I decided to read Dr. Dyer’s book The Power of Intention instead of the other book I brought with me, 50 Shades of Grey.  I’m about to start Chapter 13 of that book and so I know what to expect – this is definitely a book to read at home! It is hot, hot, hot!!

The morning was also good, lots of driver traffic in and out of the office (I work at a transportation company), and I had quite a few pleasant conversations with them – always nice.

The rest of the day went very good and very quickly.

I logged onto Word Press on my lunch and checked out the Freshly Pressed blogs and read A Midsummer Night’s Cream at A French Frye in ParisI’m not much of a traveler, but after reading that, I am inspired to save up and head to La Belle Paris!  It’s a wonderful blog with beautiful photos and great writing – check it out!

So, as I said, I am back home and feeling relaxed and happy.  It was a very nice Monday, full of good conversation, lots of work and some very nice and inspiring reading.  Sure I had a couple of frustrating moments, but at work, who doesn’t? The difference today is that instead of letting things upset me like they tend to on Mondays, I just smiled and moved on with the rest of my day.

It just goes to show that everything I read is true about positive energy attracting positive energy and negative energy attracting negative energy.  I started this Monday with a positive attitude and look what happened – I had a great day.  It’s all about the power of positive thinking!

~Trisha~

Ta-Da! Dream a Little Dream

Judging from when I made my initial post about the Vision Boards, I guess one could say I’m a bit of a procrastinator. Anyway…Today I finally attempted my O Board. The template was very easy to work with, searchable pictures were available on the site (or you could add your own), and they could be moved wherever you wanted on the page as well as sized and turned. The hardest part for me was coming up with enough stuff to fill the board – which is a good thing because it encouraged me to really think about my “dreams,” what I really wanted out of life. What I realized is that my dreams are fairly simple, and have a lot more to do with feelings than with stuff. All in all, it was a good experience  (I even felt a little empowered afterwards), and it currently plays the role of my computer background. My next step? A tangible Vision Board that I can hang in my home.

~Carolyn

Variety Overload

More more more. Is there a point when we reach too much? I’m talking everything here – people, cars, technical gadgets, brands, and on and on and on. In my opinion, the answer is yes, and I’ve got  firsthand experience with what it feels like to live through Variety Overload. Here’s just one example of what I’m talking about…

A few months ago, I was on what I thought would be a simple enough mission at a shall-remain-nameless department store. My goal? Brace yourself here, to buy a new toothbrush. A little background info first…I’m fairly obsessed with my teeth, and have always been a sucker for the electric toothbrush and teeth-whitening products. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve never sought to have the Ross Geller sheen, just a nice, naturally looking, white smile. Needless to say, I was quite confident in my ability to pick dental care products. That day, I was shopping with my sister, and each of us had ventured off into separate aisles; my goal was to just quickly pick out a toothbrush, and then track down my sister so we could continue shopping together. Well, little did I know that about 50, 000 new brands of toothbrushes had been invented since the last time I purchased one (the previous year).

My eyes glazed over staring at the sea of toothbrushes. I started to feel antsy, my head swarming. I started thinking, “Ugh…This is going to take me forever. Trisha’s gonna get impatient waiting for me…Hurry up, you can do this, Carolyn…HURRY UP! Just pick one, and go!” I stood there, my eyes glancing along the aisle-long shelf of toothbrushes (OK, that might be exaggerating by a smidge, but it was at least half to 3/4 of the aisle). All I wanted was an electric toothbrush, one I could just plug in and recharge; heck, it didn’t even matter if it was electric, as long as the bristles moved with the push of a button (it may be a mind over matter thing here, but I feel it does a better job). Instead, I was bombarded with soft bristles, hard bristles, softish-hardish bristles, medium-soft bristles, all-in-ones, not all-in-ones, battery-power, manual, crisscross bristles, rounded bristles, tapered brush head…you see how you feel right now reading this? Multiply it by 100! I couldn’t do it. I. Just. Couldn’t. Do. It. I could not pick out a toothbrush. I left the aisle defeated, toothbrush-less, feeling like I had just been visually assaulted, and eventually, located my sister. I laid it all out on the line, my feelings of hopelessness and powerlessness. My sister, being the lifesaver she is, put on her brave face and led us back to that  aisle of doom with a take-no-prisoners kind of attitude; I meekly followed. On the way, I discussed with her my ordeal, and she clearly felt my pain. She whipped into that aisle like a Momma Bear on a mission, picked out the first battery operated toothbrush she laid her eyes on, and we were Outta There!

My experience attempting to buy a new toothpaste followed a similar path which leads me to my concern…when is enough, enough? Do we really need this much selection in everything/anything you can think of? Why not just a low/medium/high end version of the products? Why does there have to be a low-low/medium-low/high-low, low-medium/medium-medium (well, you get the picture) version of everything? Unfortunately, I don’t have the answer other than it’s just sheer greed or just because we can.

If you’ve read my story on this blog, you’ll know that I’m a huge fan of meditating. I’ve discovered that with meditation, I have a strong desire to limit the amount of “stuff” in my life. Perhaps that’s why I have such a meltdown when I feel like I’m being bombarded with brands, objects and selection. What have I done to attempt to overcome this? The solution for me has been to KIS (Keep It Simple – Yes, I left off the extra S. I’m not a huge fan of referring to myself as ‘stupid.’). How do I this? By finding my personal favourites of everything I need or use, and sticking to only those products and brands. That way, my eyes know exactly what they’re looking for, and I focus on finding that particular product, not looking at, or for, anything else. Another suggestion I have (but can’t really use myself because there really aren’t any in my neck of the woods), would be to frequent your local Mom and Pop shops. Although they may be a little more expensive (and perhaps, you can choose just a few products you’d like to buy there), you have the added benefit of helping out your local small businesses, probably meeting friendlier employees who value your business and will treat you like a person, and the pièce de résistance, the selection will not overwhelm you into a coma. If you have this option in your own neighbourhood, I’m jealous!

~Carolyn

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