Spring – Great Time to Declutter

geniusawakenings.com

geniusawakenings.com

The weather is finally starting to improve. It has been one COLD, long winter. While it is still too cool to do outdoor work, I am inspired to declutter the house. Here is my method.

1) I have discovered the virtual garage sale site Varagesale. I don’t really love having to meet people for the exchange, but it is worth the effort to know my clutter will be loved in someone else’s home (and I may even make a bit of money)

Time to get rid of DVDs,  we only watch digital now.

Time to get rid of DVDs, we only watch digital now.

2) Every garbage day and recycle day, I promise to discard at least one thing beyond the regular weekly waste. Surprisingly, I get “on a roll” and often fill the bin, yay me!!

3) I started a pile of stuff that will go to the local Eco Centre in Spring

4) My starting point is the storage room and when it’s clean, I will have an organized room where I can make a “home’ for things from the rest of the house.

How about you? How do you tackle the task of decluttering?

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Celebrate the Women in Your Life

March 8th is International Women’s Day. I have many wishes for women the world over, happiness, safety, equal opportunity, and education. Beyond global wishes, we also need to remember the special women in our day-to-day life.

The special women is my life are my mom and my two daughters. My mother formed who I am, my deep seeded values and ability to love and nurture. She was my role model for most of my life.

Until I gained two new role models, my daughters, who challenged the values I held, pushed me to be more tolerant and open-minded. They are smart, kind, beautiful, tough and ambitious. They taught and continue to teach me every day.

All three of these women made me who I am today. I love them to the moon and back.

The Hour-Glass

Lately , my mind has been reflecting on time.  The hour-glass of life is emptying way too fast.

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“What have I done with my life?”  “What should I do with the time left?” It is easy to get depressed looking around at successful people and feel inadequate. “Do I contribute enough?”

I don’t have all the answers, but perhaps success is overrated. There
are many “successful” people who are ruthless and mean.  I don’t want that for myself.  I don’t have all the meaning of life answers, but I do know what is right for me. In the time I have left, as my hourglass empties, I will……

1) Embrace and spend time with the people I love and who love me

2) Limit time with people who are negative or bring me down

3) Accept others for who they are and their choices, make no judgements

4) Find the good in all people and situations

5) Play and Laugh, have as much fun as possible

6) Share my talents, time and resources with others – practice kindness whenever I can

7) Keep learning!  Explore, question, investigate, travel, try new things – never stop learning

8) Practice Daily Gratitude for all I have, big and small, so much wonderful things in my life

9) Acknowledge and validate, not enough people give others complements or simply say “You are important to me, thanks for being you”

 

So there it is, none of us knows when their hourglass will be empty but I have a plan for the time that is left.  No great inventions, books or businesses, just an open mind, open heart, fun and authenticity.

 

 

You Teach Kindness with Your Life, not Your Words

Ripple Effect

As parents, we all want our children to be kind. There are many articles advising parents to “tell them this” or “tell them that”. As with most skills you want your children to learn, kindness is best modeled.

I grew up with the best models going. That is because my parents are kind people, plain and simple. My dad always put the items on a check out belt, price tag up to facilitate the cashier (in the days before barcodes). They always held doors for people, helped a mom struggling with a stroller, dropped money in the Salvation Army giant ball. I was in toe when my mom helped make Christmas packages for families who hit hard times. My mom did her part organizing church fundraisers and always took time to visit sick or lonely friends. As they are aging, they host their widow friends for monthly luncheons and drive…

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I’m Not Prejudiced – Or Am I??

Prejudice defined in dictionary.com

  • an unfavorable opinion or feeling formed beforehand or without knowledge, thought or reason.
  • Any preconceived opinion or feeling, either favorable or unfavorable

I am sure many readers,  (including me) think the word is talking about other people.  I embrace all races, religions, sexual lifestyles and the economically disadvantaged. I am not prejudiced.

But really, think about it!  Think about people you meet, well… not really meet, at a dinner party, don’t you make snap judgments from across the room??

Walking through the mall, don’t you think negative or positive things about the people you pass, judgments about their lifestyle, based solely on a two second view of them in transit?

True confession time, I make am prejudiced.  I do hold (undoubtedly unfounded) stereotypes to be fact. I am not proud of them, but I think you have to face it, to combat it !

Ageism – I often make generalizations about the current young generation.  I also make generalizations about their parents and parenting styles (both ridiculous since those groups include my children and my parenting style)

Size – I don’t have a reaction to the regular size 12 or 14 females or the guy who is an XL, but I do make snap judgments about obese people. Not fair, I don’t know their story or genetics.

Money – But not how you think, I make judgments about people with great wealth.  Different thoughts – misuse, didn’t deserve it , blah blah blah, all stemming from jealousy, no doubt.

Education – I think people with higher education are superior, not sure, I suppose that was drilled in my head my whole life from every direction. Truth is, some very educated people are asses and some very uneducated people are incredibly wise and kind.

 

So there it is, my list.  I am sure I have forgotten some, but the point is admission is half the battle.

There is no denying it, we life in a world that judges.  Although we can’t stamp out prejudice, we can be accountable for our own actions and reactions. The next time I make a generalization or an uninformed snap judgement, I will stop myself and reconsider.  No group is “all”. People are individuals behind their exterior.

Gotta Love Business Trips – Staycation Heaven

A business trip is a wonderful thing. I don’t mean me taking a business trip, I mean me staying home alone while my hubby goes on a business trip. Every time my husband has to leave for a few days,  I get that Risky Business, home alone, yippee, kind of feeling.  It may sound terrible, but I do rather like it when my husband leaves town for a few days.  Really, I love him to pieces but there is something liberating about two or three days alone.  I live it up, in my own silly ways.

 

My list of guilty pleasures.

lucky charms

1) Eat garbage (Lucky Charms, toast and Kraft dinner…. and lots of chocolate).  I don’t bother making any actual meals in those few days.

2) Sleep In guilt free

3) Read until I am too tired to keep my eyes open any longer. This is usually four or five hours after my “normal” bedtime.

4) Spa “sort of” treatments.  Long hot baths, painting of fingernails, facial and a proper leg shaving

5) Watching subtitled movies. My husband and I have pretty much the same taste in movies, except he is not a big fan of subtitles. So this is my chance to enjoy them un-apologetically.

6) Waste time. Somehow I feel this is my free time, no accountability (not that I ever have to account for how I spend my time, that is an obligation I put on myself) But when hubby is out of town I feel I have a “free  pass” to research trips, read blogs for hours, take naps or do whatever my heart desires.

 

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This would definitely not be the way to live for an extended period of time. But for a few days it really is a revuvinating staycation, without leaving home. How about you, what do you do (or would you do)  when you get the house to yourself, away from your family for a few days?

 

 

Scratching Our Head – Killings in Canada

In the past two weeks, in two separate incidents,  a soldier was shot at the War Memorial in Ottawa and a man intentionally ran over two soldiers in Quebec.

What causes a person to commit such acts? The murders in Quebec and on Parliament hill have everyone scratching their heads.  There are many, including the government. who blame terrorism and radical conversion of the perpetrators. This may be, but what would make these young men vulnerable to conversion. You don’t cheat on your wife if everything is great at home.  So what is going on at home (Canada)?

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30, 000 people are homeless on any given night (The State of Homelessness in Canada in 2013).  I could go on and on with stats like, “over 200,000 Canadians are homeless in any given year” , but I will get to the stat of most interest to me.

20 percent of the homeless are young people between the ages of 16 and 24.  The age where people discover who they want to be. The world is your oyster and all that jazz. But a large number of youth are seriously down and out. They find themselves in this situation due to the inability to find employment, addiction, mental health issues or family violence.  These are issues they didn’t bring on themselves.  And who is taking care of them? Certainly not the government.  All the future holds for them is inefficient programs that have not changed the homeless rates in years, no job prospects, inadequate  free mental health interventions.  They can’t help but feel abandoned by a government that should look after them.  A government that spends billions on foreign aid and foreign military intervention, but appears to neglect the needy in their own country.

Those conditions in the vulnerable youth are perfect for falling prey to outside influences. They are eager to have hope for the future, to belong, to do something that matters, and hate on those who neglected them.

Security is great, but perhaps the real solution lies in taking care of things at home, giving the youth help and hope.

Daily Post – Photography

Daily Post Up Turned Noses

Less is More

 

I am not a snob about many things at all. I will drink any wine, wear clothing my grown children have left in the closet and I’ve stayed in some questionable hotels, however, I am a photography snob.

I am not pretentious about the equipment, I think great photos can be taken with any equipment. Nor, am I a great photographer, really. But I do not understand why people don’t take a moment to look at the scene they are shooting. Is there clutter that should be removed? Would turning the camera angle 20 degrees give you a significantly better backdrop? Are the subjects of the picture blurry?

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Taking the bad photos is not the real offense. It is  posting them on facebook, twitter, youtube and blogs. Why post blurry photos or redundant photos. If there is one bad photo of you and your cousin in front of an out-of-focus statue (snore), bad enough, but posting 4 versions is painful.

I feel bad ranting, but I must confess I do have an up turned nose about photography.

What about you, does it drive you crazy when people post blurry, redundant, crooked or cluttered photographs?

For the Love of Christmas Cards Sent By Snail Mail

I am, undoubtedly, in the minority, but I just love Christmas cards (the old-fashioned, send-in-the-mail kind). In my 27 years of marriage, I have always sent cards via Canada Post. For some of those years, in my keen, scrapbooking days, my girls and I made our cards. Those memories will stay with me forever.

But even in my, less creative years, everything about Christmas cards are a beautiful tradition. In my house, cards are the official kick-off to the holiday season. The first holiday baking launches the event, with carols playing in the background (often Johnny Mathis).

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The ritual involves hand-written notes in each card. I begin in November, and only do a few each day (especially important when doing the Dutch ones). I reflect upon the past year and devote some quality time writing to friends and family that I really care about. I refuse to let this tradition fall by the way-side. For most recipients, this is the one time in the whole year, I take the time to connect.

The Christmas card ritual continues over the following weeks, as I anxiously check the post box. I love receiving an envelope that is not an account statement or a marketing flyer. It is a throwback to former times and I must confess that pure mail, from a real person, brings a certain excitement. The cards are carried home, unopened. I make a fresh cup of coffee and settle in for opening and reading the treasures Canada Post just delivered. I love them all, the mass-produced bragging letters, the family photos and of course, the hand-written notes.

People say, cards are outdated, but somehow, the genuine letters I get from my friends around the globe are better than the singing Santa e-card that arrives in 250 mailboxes simultaneously. I genuinely care about what your family has been up to. I want to see the photos and know what career little Johnny is pursuing. I am thrilled to know that my children’s childhood friends are now getting married and having children of their own. I just love the annual up-dates.

The cards stay on our kitchen island, until my husband has read them, after which, they are displayed for the remainder of the holidays. The messages will be reread one final time, before I take them down in January. It is a routine that continues, year after glorious year.

I fear that the tradition of sending Christmas cards is becoming obsolete. But that would be unfortunate, because this old tradition makes us pause for a moment, in this world full of busy people and new technology. It is a conscious decision to connect with friends and family. After all, in the end, all we have left is the relationships! As I age, I realize the importance of stopping in for a coffee or taking the time to write some sincere sentiments to friends and family.

How about you? Do you send cards at Christmas? Or is there another way you connect with family and friends during the holidays?

Daily Prompt – Imagine All the People – Best Game Ever!!

Daily Prompt- The next time you’re in a public place — a coffeehouse, a park, a store — observe the people around you. Pick a person, a couple, or a group, and imagine what their lives might be like.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

I was excited when I read the daily prompt today. It reminded me of one of our favourite family games. We taught our children at a very young age to play this game. Spot a person, family or couple and guess/speculate their story. Occasionally, stories were a little crazy, but generally, they were well scripted, based on various clues in the person’s clothing or demeanor. There are so many advantages to this family game.

1) Location – this can be played anywhere; a mall, a park, a restaurant or in the car
2) Time – this game can occupy a few minutes but it can also last hours
3) Entertaining – this game never gets old, and always makes us think and laugh
4) Anyone can play – the younger children are not disadvantaged, like they are in intellectual games
5) Teaches observation skills – they notice details that may someday make them good witnesses to a crime
6) Teaches empathy – imagining stories about where people came from and where they are going, makes one reflect on people’s different hardships and situations
7) Makes boring times pass quickly – many a car ride has seemed shorter just by guessing where the other car passengers were going
8) No equipment required – no game boards, electronics or cards

I think every parent should teach their children to “Imagine All the People”