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let her sleep

6 Ways to Simplify to Get a Good Night’s Sleep

By taking 10-15 minutes a night to complete just a few tasks you can clear the clutter thus clearing your mind for a restful sleep. Ahhhhhh bliss, right? Here’s a simple little routine that will help you sleep like a baby. (I may be biased but I think that this baby is adorable!)

Baby Sleeping

 

1) Make sure that your sink is sparkly. Shawna learned this tip from Fly Lady years ago and has stuck with it. By shining your sink you not only have a sense of accomplishment by having to have all of your dishes clean but you also get to wake up to a sparkly sink in the morning. What a nice feeling! Starting with a clean pallete so to speak and not having to wake up to do this task will bring you joy. As Fly Lady says: ” When you get up the next morning, your sink will greet you, and a smile will come across your lovely face.”

Tip- Getting your dishes done right after a meal is a time saver. Little bits of food won’t be stuck on and you won’t have to soak and scrape later. 

2) Do a quick tidy. Take a couple of minutes every night to quickly return items to their proper rooms. Just a simple pick up can eliminate the clutter that can soon get out of hand.

Tip- Have your family pick up their belongings before bed as part of their routine. It is a great habit for kids to form. Then pat yourself on the back for being a great parent. 

3) Pick out the next day’s clothes. By taking a minute to choose your clothes the next day you will eliminate that task from the early morning chaos. You won’t have to go searching. Also, if any of you have a teen that MUST have that certain thing to wear you can search it out and not have an early morning battle!

Tip – Make sure that clothing is returned to it’s proper closet when you are finished. It is so easy to do the dump n’ run but makes it difficult when it comes time to find those shoes, coats etc. Take 2 minutes as soon as the kiddos get home from school or activities to sort and hang outerwear. (They can help too. Get them in the habit!)

4) Make a list before you settle down for the night. Lists are a great way to organize tasks and thoughts so that you don’t have to worry about remembering everything. Make a short list of what you want to accomplish. Prioritize those things. Put your list away and forget about it til morning!

Tip – I <Krystal> like paper lists. There is nothing quite like crossing off those accomplishments and watching the list get smaller and smaller. Shawna enjoys the techie apps for her I-phone and computer. Some of her faves are Remember the Milk, Evernote, and Trello

5) Take out the trash! It is the same idea as clearing your sink. Get rid of all of the trash and start clean and fresh for the next day. Besides when you think about it, it is kind of gross having smelly trash fermenting in there all night. (Ok maybe that’s a little exaggeration…) 😉

Tip – Find ways to decrease your trash and help out the environment. Make a goal as simple as gradually getting rid of plastic containers/baggies for food and replacing them with stainless steel and or glass. 

6) Relax. Yes you need to have some down time before you jump into bed. Take time for you because you deserve it. Have a bath, read, meditate, do yoga or whatever it is that relaxes you. Clearing your mind can help you fall asleep to get the rest that you NEED.

Tip – I have never slept so good as I do when I do a meditation before bed. Here is a free healing meditation from the lovely Leonie Dawson! 8 Minute Healing Meditation.

let her sleep

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sushi

Why I Ate Sushi (and I hate fish)

It lay there, beautiful displayed. The setting was perfection. I had been having a wonderful, just-the-two-of-us-vacation. It was our 15th Anniversary. We were alone, at the back of the restaurant, in a traditional Japanese private room. I like sushi…vegetarian sushi…I don’t like fish. Hate it. I’ve tried and tried again, but I still hate it. I knew what was in it – BBQ eel. Yep…I said eel. And raw salmon and banana of all things…

sushi

Why did I do it?

I am 43 years old. I have been married for 15 years. Not all good years. In fact, some were really shitty, my heart broken beyond repair. I have been “Mom of the Year” and yet close to strangling my own off-spring. I have changed careers (not jobs – careers) 4 times and gone back to school twice. Some days were easy and on some I thought of pulling the plug – literally, on those darkest days. I have been afraid. Heart pounding, gut wrenching afraid. And I have stood still, paralyzed and unable to move.

I have lived to tell the tale. I have grown stronger with each jagged heartbreak. I have chosen to love anyway because it’s what I do best. I have yelled and screamed and crumpled in a heap in despair. My tears have filled an ocean and my knees are bruised from falling down so often. Each time, I get back up and clear the rubble once again.

There’s been help. Shoulders to lean on, tearful wits-end conversations with people who still love me for some crazy reason. Banks renegotiate loans, parents give support and windfalls come in the nick of time. Someone comes to the rescue before I commit a crime on my own kids. Yes, there has been help and I am so grateful.

Through it all though, one thing was constant. One thing.

There were many, many times I could have let the darkness take me. Times when I could have just said, fuck it. I came so close. But one person would not let me. She was there, she knew that just one more step would move me forward. She pushed me and I took the step, sometimes unwillingly, but I did.

And that is why I ate the damn sushi. I was in the moment. In the perfect spot on a perfect day with the man I love with every part of my soul who actually loves me back.

Really, what other choice was there? Sitting there, wondering what it would be like? How gross it could be? Wishing we had chosen a different restaurant? Resenting him for all the mistakes he’s made? Beating myself up for all the times I’ve been less than awesome? Thinking of the what-if-I’d-done-that-instead-of-this scenarios? Oh, there were a lot of choices I could have made. But…I chose the fish…the raw freaking fish

I smiled, I chop-stick-handled, I dipped and I stuffed it in my mouth. But…I savored the moment. I chewed and tasted the flavors and the textures. I gave it the “old college try”…

…And I absolutely loved it. LOVED it! I couldn’t believe it. I had more, I ate it without the sauce, I ate it with the banana. Another plate came and it was better than the last. Delicious. I was ecstatic! And I am alive and I am blessed and I am grateful. I wanted to shout from the roof tops, “Sushi rules!” We laughed, we enjoyed, we loved every precious, perfect moment.

…but there will also be many, more days of glorious Sushi and I will savor each and every bite.

….

I would love to hear your sushi story. We are the same, you and I. Let’s chat! Email Shawna: shawna@simplelifecelebrations.com

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Love this man.

Why I Won’t Sacrifice Date Day For Anything

I dedicate this post to the man that not only does dishes but wraps his arms around me when I am doing them.

Photo from One Extraordinary Marriage Facebook
Photo from One Extraordinary Marriage Facebook

I have been married to my husband for almost 16 years. We were 19 when we met. I was from a teeny tiny town that I had lived in throughout all of my school years. He was a British soldier that was an army brat and he had lived in cities all over the world. We were literally from two different worlds. I had no idea about what the army life involved. I am chicken of many things. He drove a tank, jumped out of planes and had done many things that I could not fathom. We had many obstacles during our first year; to be expected I guess with the logistics of it all. Not to mention that from the day we met to the day we got married it was 6 months. Yes you read that right SIX months. That’s it. But we just knew. We were engaged three months after we met. He was training out on the prairies for weeks at a time but we were together every chance that we got. He was only in Canada for the year and as luck would have it, I met him in the last 3 months of his station here. I just knew that he was different; he was special. My heart would leap every time the phone would ring. We could talk for hours. After a days work we would make the hour and a half drive to see each other. There was no keeping away except when we had to. My heart ached whenever we had to say goodbye. 

Let me back up. The first time we met, he walked though my doors and I thought he was absolutely gorgeous. His eyes are a stunning steel blue and next to his golden sun-kissed skin and thick dark hair I couldn’t help but stare. On top of that he was pretty darn buff. He worked out a lot. And his eyes…did I mention his eyes? OK, where was I? That evening there were a group of us that hung out, laughed, probably drank too much. Him and I started talking. He made a few cracks and told jokes that I didn’t appreciate. Something like…”Why do women have small feet?” “So that they are closer to the sink when they do dishes.” Seriously. Did he really just say that? I should have known then that this guy would always wind me up. Anyways at that time I decided that I didn’t really like him. Except…. the weekend continued and I found him dancing with my little guy. It was pretty adorable and my son adored him. Wait a minute maybe he wasn’t too bad. After that weekend I didn’t think that I would see him again. Never say never… A couple weeks later I had a bad day. A REALLY crappy day. I drove down to the army base to talk to a friend. He was there. He was concerned about me (weird right) and asked if I wanted to go into the city and hang out. I didn’t really feel like it but I went.The universe decided that I needed to go. Something pulled me in his direction. We sat talking and dancing and goofing around. We planned to meet again and that time we ended up talking all night until the sun came up. We were so different but had a lot of the same ideas; we hit it off. That was it. And they say, “The rest is history.” 

“A successful marriage requires falling in love many times, always with the same person.”
-Mignon McLaughlin

Like I said, we have had many challenges. When it comes down to it though, I trust this man one hundred and ten percent. He has never given me reason not to. He is faithful, loyal, strong, and thoughtful. (I mostly get to see that side of him). He makes me laugh and is playful – I love this, it keeps us young. He helps out much more than I give him credit for and is a very handy guy. I love that he will attempt anything. He is a good father and has even coached the kids sports off and on over the years. I give him a hard time about gaming because time often gets away and he gets lost in the fun. These days though he games and then wants to hang out with me. The thing is that we have always made dating a priority. Why would you date someone that you are married to? Well let’s just say that it is great to get comfortable in your lives but it is imperative that you remember who you were when you met and remember all of those reasons why you fell in love in the first place. Some say that it is too difficult now that they have children or they don’t have time. That’s bull. It just is. We lived across the world from each other and we still managed to keep the flame burning so to speak. There have been times where he was away for weeks. We didn’t have endless family members around to watch the kiddos (though my parents have been awesome!). We just found a way to make time almost every week to spend time together as a couple because it is important. Very important.  Many of our dates when we didn’t have a sitter were at home after the kiddos were in bed. It didn’t matter what we did as long as it was just me and him time. Nowadays we get a few hours every second Tuesday to be together just him and I. It is a non negotiable thing. Some may say it’s selfish but we do not book anything else on these days that would mean not hanging out together. It is fantabulous. I encourage you. NO I challenge you to talk to your loved one about regular date nights. 

How can I plan date nights? What will we do?

1. Sit down with your hunny and talk about date nights. What do you both enjoy? Are there any compromises that you can make so that you can both enjoy your time?

2. Schedule regular date nights in. It can be weekly, bi-weekly, monthly; whatever works for you as long as you do it!

3. Sign up for an event. This is a great way to do something fun together while staying active. 

Color Me Rad 2013
Color Me Rad 2013

4. Make a list of 10 things that you would enjoy doing for a date night and 10 things that your spouse would enjoy. Draw from the date idea jar. Every time you choose one put it aside so that you have a new date each time. This way it is also fair.

5. Budget. Make sure you set aside some money for your dates or plan dates that don’t cost anything if you just don’t have room in your budget for it.

6. To spice things up do something new that neither one of you has done before. 

7. Listen and laugh. Here is your chance to listen to your loved one without the everyday interruptions. Laugh like you don’t have a care in the world. Let loose and forget about the day to day worries and stresses. 

If you are needing creative ideas for implementing date nights, Shawna and I have created this amazing resource that may be up your alley. It is called Simply Sexy Date Night Package and the ideas have been tried and tested by us!

couple-on-beach-2-300x225

Here are more fun date night ideas from The Nest.

 The best thing about me is you

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Light_Painted_Acoustic_Guitar

The Blister

He’s a quiet one, my youngest. So much the opposite of his sister. He’s easily ignored, well, maybe that’s not the right word…overlooked. It’s not that we mean to. It just happens. We get so involved in what she is doing that we miss what he is doing. I’ve noticed that it happens all too often.

My feelings of guilt then take over. I immediately think about compensating with money – we spend a lot on her activities and he gets nothing or very little as far as dollars spent goes. I try to think of ways that I can spend money on him. Money that we don’t really have as “extra”. He doesn’t ask, he doesn’t complain. It’s not something I want to teach him either. I don’t want him to think that he’s less “worthy” or that he’s missing out just because I don’t spend the money on him. It’s not a message I want to send. Their “value” to me is not related in any way to how much I spend on them. I don’t ever want them to feel that.

So…then what do I do? How do I stop overlooking him? He doesn’t speak up, so I need to see it without him saying so. Or, maybe he doesn’t need it as much as I think he does. Here I am, again, projecting how my feelings work onto someone else. Not everyone feels like me! Sheesh! Not everyone needs constant feedback to feel connected. Maybe he’s content! Have I asked? Yes, I have and he says he’s fine. He says he’s happy. He certainly acts happy. So why don’t I believe him? It’s my usual way. I keep thinking that there must be something wrong, even when there isn’t. Always trying to fix things that aren’t broken. 🙂 I’m working on that. A lot…

Last night, I listened. I left the phone in the truck and I stayed in the moment. And I listened to him play.

I ask again. “Do you want me to sit in on your lesson?” He says yes. And so I listen,. I catch myself tearing up as he plays. I had thought he hadn’t been practicing because I never hear it (because I’m always with her). But he has – on his own, in the quiet house. It’s only his third lesson and I can see his concentration. I can hear his practice. I can feel his love for that little guitar I got when I was his age and never learned to play. Now he learns instead. I hear music already. The quiet gentle tones of an acoustic guitar. So much like him. Quiet and gentle. The tear sits in the corner of my eye. This, I can do. I can be here, right here where he wants me to be. Listening to him play.

He doesn’t ask for much. He doesn’t want an electric guitar or a new acoustic – he is content with what he has. And yet I worry. For no reason. He is good; he is great. He is not the same as her and that’s OK. He is himself and I am so blessed to have him.

He proudly shows me his blister from playing and asks me about blisters. I give him medical mumbo jumbo and I offer to help him put something on it. He thinks about it and then declines. He asks about when his Dad will be home and I let him stay up; knowing that this is the moment he wants to share with his father. The pride of an earned blister. My boy is growing up in his own way, at his own speed. A tear again as I realize this and vow to let him be him. Blisters and all. I love you my little guitar man.

Light_Painted_Acoustic_Guitar

Doing what I can, when I can, the only way I know how.

That’s all they ask of you. Isn’t it time you allowed it for yourself?

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raspberry ice cream-edit

Lunch Lunacy

I have been ranting a lot with my husband about this topic. My kids are pretty much teens and have begun to flex their independence muscles. This is a good thing, but at times I have been getting extremely frustrated. I know that they are frustrated with me too because I’m constantly throwing it out there at them and I get the eye roll and ignored.

It’s hard not to make a big deal about it. My only excuse is that I’m so passionate about this.

What is it?

It’s eating a decent lunch…

Not a bunch of crackers.

Not just an apple.

Good grief, certainly not the cafeteria food she now has access to and he sometimes does in the “canteen” or whatever they call it.

Not NOTHING for Pete’s sake!

I admit, it’s been quite the journey for them the past couple years. An about face from where we were (eating tons of pre-made meals & take out) to eating raw as much as we can and a lot more healthy homemade foods. We did discuss it – I started it for my own personal journey and they wanted to join me. They were younger and much more eager. They have learned so much about labels and ingredients. They have been teased and bugged about their healthier food options in their lunches. They’ve been in arguments with cousins about what labels mean. They’ve been missing many of the foods we used to eat often and now only have as a “treat”.

There is the answer to why it is difficult lately.

It now becomes a battle of denying them foods they think they want instead of encouraging them to eat the foods that are healthier choices. I help people in the store all the time with that. I share that my personal journey with food turned completely around when I stopped thinking of it as denial and started thinking about all the great, yummy foods I do get to eat! Why have I stopped doing that with my children?

It’s partly because they do contradict me more to flex their muscles, as I mentioned above. But, I also think it stems from a lot of my guilt around feeling like a “less cool” mom when I don’t serve the foods their friends eat. I then do my usual over-compensation for my guilt and let them have the “treats”. And when I tell them it’s a treat, I imply that the other food is not. DUH!  Of course they want the treats more. They are still people! We all want things that we think are “special” (and even a little bit taboo).

It’s also because of their environment/peers. I now get to work in an environment where my “granola” lifestyle is part of my work! They have to go to school everyday and be faced with less than satisfactory choices. They have the knowledge now to know that these foods are not healthy, but I’m sure they must get sick of constantly knowing it’s not as good for them yet it’s everywhere and everyone else eats it. On top of that, they have been actually teased about the weird foods they’ve eaten. Let’s face it, as teens, they are much more influenced by their peers. I would be sick of the constant battle too if I were in that environment, especially as a teen trying to be “accepted”.

I have struggled with the answers for this since the start of the school year. My daughter in particular seems to be eating less healthy food and more “junk” food. She’s got so many more options at her new high school. She’s got a busier schedule. She has her own money to spend from her job. I’m sure she’s under a lot of pressure to “fit in”. Plus, the poor girl has a sweet tooth like her mother. My husband and I have talked about this a lot lately. What should we do, how can we help them? I’ve been buying way too many “compromise” type foods that I’m not happy feeding my children just to get them to take something for lunches. It makes me squirm and have a split personality: the mom who knows what her children need to be eating and the mom who is trying to keep the peace and have things “easier” rather than causing upheaval. I’ve not been true to myself in trying to please the kids and keep things on an even keel.

We had a chance to talk some more when the kids were gone yesterday. It was partly spurred on by our budget chat.

It is waaaayyyy cheaper for us to eat healthier. I’ve proven this several times. Those foods cost more money and do very little to actually fuel their bodies & minds. I’m so done with this “compromise” that really doesn’t work for me. It’s going against my beliefs.

However, I need to approach this in a positive way.

There are a lot of healthier options that I know they love to eat. An example: fruit salad (homemade). It takes a little planning and preparation that I simply just haven’t done lately. I haven’t recruited help in this either like I have done. Again, because it’s easier to just do it myself. But….it’s not really easier because this whole thing has been bothering me so much, plus, I have other things to do than do all the work myself.

raspberry ice cream-edit

SO, the ACTION plan:

  1. Meal planning on Sunday will again include the iPod-lazing-on-the-couch-teens. They actually don’t complain about this when I ask them what they want.
  2. Grocery shopping will include shopping for only those items on the above list.
  3. The word “treat” will be used to describe awesome healthy goodies that we discover. Again, when I empower them to find these, they have fun and come up with some great stuff! Raspberry “ice cream” is a prime example!
  4. I will have some understanding of the pressures that they are under eating around their friends. They know what’s healthy and what’s not, they’ve learned what I’ve learned. I will let them make the decisions at school/among thier friends without giving them a hard time about it. My snarky comments on these choices does not help them make the choices, it only makes them feel worse. And as I say to customers – whatever food you choose to eat, ENJOY it with all your heart. Your body will use it accordingly. I’m nicer to my customers than I am to my kids.
  5. Learn more about ways to encourage teens to eat healthier. Yeah, it was easier when they just did what I told them too. But…on the bright side, now that they’re older, we can have even more awesome conversations and foods that they make!

I know I’m not alone in this struggle. I talk to moms every day about this. I learn a lot from other moms. I know you can too. We are putting on an event where we can all learn more about making healthier lunches for our kids (and ourselves!)

Grab your tickets right now to Healthy Lunch, Happier Bunch (here in Olds at Health Street Tuesday, October 8th 6:30 to 8:30):

 

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The current, cozy lil home of Kristin and her fiance.

Interview With Kristin Allan (Heart to heart about life in the moHo, minimalism, and technology).

Thanks Kristin for being our guest over here at the Simple Life Celebration Blog! For those that don’t know, your blog Along the Heart Trail: Tales From a Tiny Home on Wheels was started after you purchased a motor home and moved up North. I was ecstatic to be delving into your mind and hearing all about your story, reasons behind your adventure and minimalism!  

The current, cozy lil home of Kristin and her fiance.
The current, cozy lil home of Kristin and her fiance.
  • What prompted you to start your blog?
Hi ladies! I’m so flattered that you have asked me to be a guest.  I first got the idea to start a blog from a colleague who thought that I had a lot of knowledge to share with the world. That was about a year and a half ago.  I kind of laughed at him and said thanks, but my life isn’t that interesting. Who would read my rants and ramblings anyway? It took me a year and a half to get the nerve up to create a blog domain and write the first post. My biggest fear was that I might scare off some friends and acquaintances with my bold opinions on the state of our world. I decided that speaking my truth was more important than what others think of me.
  •  How would you describe yourself?
This is a broad question.  I would say that I’m a black sheep. I feel like I see the world a bit differently, even since a very young age.  I have always been observant of my surroundings and of other people and have a strong curiosity for human psychology and what makes people tick. More importantly, what makes people happy? A year and a half ago, I would have called myself a “people pleaser”.  Now, I have reformed myself to be a “ME pleaser” first, and when I have left over time and energy, I still love to help others to find their own happiness and purpose.
  •     Can you tell our readers how you came to the decision of leaving the town that you were in and your business to live in the MoHo?
In a nutshell, I was an owner/operator of a successful consignment clothing store in a small town.  My business partner, who was also my life partner, and I parted ways and it just didn’t make sense for us to co-own the business…after an additional year of trying to tell myself that it would work out to continue to run the business together. So I sold my shares in the business and was looking for a new life path. Enter my fiancé. He and I were both searching for more meaning in our lives. We didn’t know what we were looking for until we found each other. He’s a black sheep too. In a really good way. Last Christmas, a family member re-gifted us a book about minimalist living that we thoroughly enjoyed. It prompted us to downsize our lives and buy a 1982 26’ motorhome. We wanted to experience living with as little as possible in a tiny space to see if people really need all of the STUFF that we seem to covet in our society.  A bonus of living in a motor home is that it’s 100% portable and allows us to be adventurous.
  •       Was it difficult to minimize your belongings even further to fit in your cozy home on wheels? Have you always considered yourself to be a minimalist?
To be honest, it was pretty simple for both of us to get rid of our extra stuff.  We were both pretty minimalist when we met so it wasn’t a huge leap.  I certainly wasn’t raised with a minimalist mindset.  As a child, I had all of the material STUFF that I could have ever asked for.  But, strangely enough, our family was still not happy most of the time. I grew up on the east coast of the US and when the opportunity arose for me to move to Alberta in 2004, I left everything I owned behind, except a carry-on size suitcase with a few articles of clothing and some toiletries. I would say that was pretty minimalist, I just didn’t know it at the time.  After a few years, my mom asked if I wanted her to send any of my STUFF to Alberta.  I said “I have no idea what I left behind, so probably not. Thanks for asking. Please donate what you can to a charity.” The things that I thought were so important had become irrelevant.  Fast forward to 2011, when my ex and I separated. I left with my clothing, a few books, a yoga mat, a bed and my trusty ol’ VW Jetta. Literally, that was IT.  Having so little feels SO freeing.
  •   Do you miss any of your belongings?
Nope.  I couldn’t even tell you what I parted with, other than a bed.  I really enjoyed re-gifting some items that I knew others would appreciate having. Living in our tiny home has been like a chastity belt for purchasing or accepting any new STUFF. It’s awesome.
  •     What advice would you give for anyone else considering pairing down their ‘stuff’?
Open your closets and storage spaces. Start small. Don’t overwhelm yourself by tackling everything at once.  If you find yourself thinking “WOW! I forgot I had this thing”, ditch it.  If it something has an inch of dust on it, ditch it. If you haven’t used it or worn it in at least a year, ditch it.  Even the stuff that you feel a sentimental attachment to, or feel an obligation to keep just because you are worried that the person who gave it to you might be offended if they discover you no longer have that THING…ditch it.  Then do a happy dance. Tell everyone that you are on a mission to live a simpler life.  How can they be upset when they see how happy and light you are?!
  •     Is there anything that you were not anticipating when you made this move?
Hmmmm. We have had to rely on the kindness of friends and family for showering. The shower in our motor home is VERY teenie. So we use it to house our drinking water bottle and some extra items that didn’t fit in the small cupboards.  Also, the oven is so small that you could only bake 6 muffins, so I do baking in real ovens.  Oh, also, the motor home guzzles fuel.  So we find ourselves being very calculated about how far and how often we move her around.
  •     How do you think technology has changed the world? Is it necessary? How do you think it has affected our relationships?
Haha. I will try to keep this answer brief, because I could write a novel about this. Technology is good. In some ways. I think there have been a lot of amazing breakthroughs that are saving lives and helping raise the bar for our quality of life on earth.  On the flip side, my personal view is that a lot of the gadgets that are being pushed on us as modern conveniences are actually degrading our quality of life and the human connections that we all need to thrive. The next time you’re in a public place, like a mall or restaurant, take a few minutes to sit quietly and observe others.  Chances are that you will see people ignoring those they are with to attend to their texts and Facebook messages.  Everyone is distracted by the beeps and buzzing of their phones and other devices. I think people are forgetting what really matters in life. The people. I think smart phones and the like give us all a false sense of connection.  I am a huge advocate for TECHNOLOGY-FREE days.  Make an agreement with yourself and family members to turn off all phones, beepers, buzzers, computers and the TV and go outside. Do something together that will create memories. When you go out for coffee with a friend, turn your phone off and hide it so it won’t be tempting. Life is too short to miss the special moments.
  •  If you could encourage people to read one book what would it be and why?
I have read a lot of awesome books in the last few years, but I think the one that I am re-reading right now is amazing.  It’s one of the books that first inspired me to start my blog. It’s called Turning to One Another by Margaret Wheatley.  She brilliantly explores the idea of human connection and why it’s SO important in today’s frantically fast-paced world. I’m actually writing a new blog post about it coming up!
  • Do you have a favorite blog?
This may be ironic, but I don’t really read other blogs. I try not to spend much time online. I find it distracts me from living in the moment and enjoying what’s right in front of me. I am a recovering Facebook addict.  Like many (or most?), there was a period of time when I was consumed by clicking on Facebook a dozen times a day.  Now, my blog posts even go to Facebook automatically so I don’t even have to log on there.  It’s pretty awesome.
  • What do you think are necessities in life?
It’s pretty simple to me. Obviously, food, water and shelter are givens. Above and beyond those, I think we all need meaningful relationships and loving connections with other humans. We need to do what we love every day. Even just doing little things can make a huge difference.  That’s it. The rest is just static, distracting us from living an innately beautiful existence.
  • If you could have one wish granted for the world what would it be?
This feels like a Miss Universe question, so I will try not to stumble and sound silly. I think what I would like to see is for people to start taking responsibility for their own thoughts and actions. We all need to stop making excuses, and start helping ourselves. Mind our own business and stop gossiping. Resolve our own conflicts, treat our minds and bodies with love, and start giving more and taking less. Be the change. It all starts with you.
  • Anymore adventures for you and the moHo?
Oh yes!  The adventure has just begun.  We have lived in our moHo for 6 months now. We have enjoyed it SO much that we are going to continue to live in there for as long as it’s feasible. Winter is just around the corner in Northern Alberta, so we have decided to head to the West Coast for the chilly months.  We have some really exciting ideas up our sleeves.  Human social experiments, if you will.  It’s going to be amazing and I’m super excited to blog about it all.  If you are curious: www.alongthehearttrail.blogspot.com
Thanks again Kristin. I am looking forward to following up with you next year to see where your adventures have led you! 

Kristin Allan is a Pennsylvania native who migrated north to Alberta 9 years ago. She strives to live simply by minimizing the stuff and stress, while maximizing the love in her life.
For several years she operated a women’s consignment clothing store which she founded in central Alberta.  “Buy it used” is her motto.

She and her man half recently sold most of their belongings and purchased a 30 year old motorhome to live in for the warm season, until the bitter northern Alberta winter chases them into a warmer space.

Kristin loves to share her knowledge of minimalism, growing food, healthy communication and veggie cooking with curious folks.

kristin
Open post
applesauce

Practice Makes Perfect

applesauceI love spending time learning to cook traditional foods with my Mom. This weekend, we spent a warm Sunday afternoon making applesauce with apples from her two apple trees. It was just Mom & I because my kids & hubby had other things to do and Dad was doing stuff outside. We experimented with the applesauce last year and loved it so much, we decided to do it again.

One of the reasons I love spending time with her is the stories we share. We talk a lot about different things from when I was growing up. We talk about the way things are today. We talk about healthy and frugal living. Mom comes from a long line of women who could make something from nothing and know what hard work means. She also comes from a long line of women who are always sacrificing themselves for the sake of others. It’s hard for my mom to relax; to do something that is just for pleasure. There’s always more work to be done.

My Mom’s house is beautiful. It’s perfectly clean and organized. Always has been. I can’t remember it ever being messy. If you needed something, there was always an exact place to find it. She still finds teaching moments for me to learn how to clean properly. I caught her doing it several times as we did the applesauce (it’s a messy job!) It made me smile every time – I’m 43 years old and my mom is still teaching me how to clean a stove!

Just a few years ago, I would have resented the teaching. I would have felt like a failure, thinking she assumed that I don’t know what I’m doing. I would have felt small and childish. I would have drummed up that old attitude of thinking I’m never good enough for her. I would have been hurt and upset that she thought so little of me. I would have put all kinds of thoughts in my head about what she was thinking as she showed me these things.

I’m older and wiser now. I’ve come to terms with that kind of thinking. My Mom does not tell me these things because she thinks I’m not good enough. It’s not about me at all. In fact, I know my Mom thinks I’m pretty damn awesome. She may not say so, but the fact that she wants to do these things with me is the best indicator I know that she cares. She does these things because it’s what makes her feel good. She feels important and respected when she is able to teach me something new or show me something she is good at. And she is great at taking care of her family and her house. No one can clean like she can.

She was teasing me about how I talk about organization here on Simple Life Celebrations and she knows just how disorganized I can be. Oh yeah, she’s seen some pretty messy days at my house. She’s seen me forget things, burn muffins, indulge my kids, change careers, cry about my relationships, and have a lot of dirt on my window sills. She doesn’t understand any of these things. It’s not her way at all (and certainly not the way she taught me).

Oh yeah, she’s called me out on these things. She’s my Mom, it’s her job. Yep, I’m 43 years old and my Mom is still telling me I need to wash my walls. If she didn’t, I’d wonder what was wrong.

My Mom has also seen me get, not one, but two diplomas from SAIT (with honors) while being a single mom. She’s seen me raise thousands of dollars for causes I believe in. She’s seen me fall in love with someone who is my best friend. She’s seen my kid still hug me even when he’s 22 years old. She’s seen the wonderful people my children are becoming. She’s seen me write the stories of our lives. She’s seen me try and try again.

Mom is perfect. She is able to do things I never will. I’ll never have a house that clean or everything perfectly placed. She will always be teaching me how to make a bed or organize a pantry, hopefully when I’m 86 years old. To me, she’ll always be perfect. Teaching equals helping others. She comes from a long line of women who teach the next generation. Who accept that times change and that’s OK. There are new ways of doing things and they are open to learn too. My Gramma learned how to use a computer and how to make the BEST pizza you’ve ever had. These were not skills she grew up with. My Mom can install a printer for my Aunt and can drive a tractor as good as my Dad. Again, she didn’t grow up with this. She learned. They practiced until they got it right. Practice Makes Perfect.

To my Mom, I am perfect. I may forget to call or forget about so-and-so’s wedding shower. I may have a dusty bookshelf. I may have laundry piled in the kids’ rooms. I may not know where my stapler is. I may have given away my mother-in-law’s china. But to her, I am trying, I am learning and I am teaching others as I go. That is all she’s ever asked for. That is her most important lesson: Practice Makes Perfect. Sharing what I’ve learned here with you makes her proud to say, “That’s my daughter. She learned that from me.”

What lessons are you learning? What ways can you teach others? Share in the comments or over on our Facebook page: Simple Life Gals

Firsts

It was a day of firsts yesterday for the Cevraini’s.

  • First day of high school for my girl
  • First day of flying solo at the middle school for my boy
  • First time the 3 of them went to the grocery store to pickup our groceries
  • First email for our biz sent with our new tool

A day of firsts to be proud of, that’s for sure. But I have to admit that I have also had so many worries along with these firsts:

  • She is so excited for high school, but I worry about the pressures she will have there. I still have a lot of reservations surrounding that high school and it’s location, it’s methods and whether it’s the right “fit” for someone as special as my daughter. I picked her up from an after school volleyball meeting and she was standing alone. I worry about her “fitting in”; yet at the same time, I don’t want her to be part of the “in” crowd. I know what it was like being on the outside looking in when I was in high school. Yet I am so glad that I wasn’t. Besides, she’s much stronger than me at that age.
  • She has another group meeting that she wants to attend this morning. And volleyball after school tonight, and work on Thursday and a hike on Saturday…it goes on…already. She wants to be involved in so many things – this is why high school is so exciting for her. She is not yet 14, and I worry about her becoming overwhelmed with doing too many things. I fear for how much she is like me in that. How it’s so hard to say no when you want to experience everything. I’ve done that so many times. I fear for her. What if she has to learn the hard way that she can’t do it all? What if she can? What will that mean?
  • My youngest is a quiet one and content to just be. I worry about him not getting involved enough! And then he spoke up yesterday and told me he wants to go into the boxing club. What did I do? My initial reaction was that it would interfere with Cadets – which he’s half-heartedly into. I know what Cadets did for my oldest son, I want the same for my youngest. But I worry that I’m not letting him be HIM. He is not his brother. I worry that I shelter him too much because he is they youngest and we all protect him. We forget that he doesn’t need protecting. He may be quiet, but he is determined and quite capable of anything – mostly because he watches and learns and doesn’t make the same mistakes that everyone else does. He pays attention to the details. Yet, I still worry and I still cast him in the same mold as his brother.
  • It was a big deal sending them for groceries. I had to release control that I cannot do it all. I had to release responsibility onto them to make good choices and follow the list that we came up with. I had to allow them to make mistakes. That’s really hard for the Martyr Mom who I can often be. If I don’t do it, then it won’t be done right. I had to trust my 23 year old with my credit card. That was really weird. I worried about that, though he’s never shown ANY sort of issue with handling money from me before. He’s never given me cause to worry or distrust. It was still very strange and made me a little anxious. But I had work to get done and I needed their help. Then I beat myself up that I should have enabled them to be more helpful in that past. Why had I waited so long to trust them to help me?
  • He’s moving out today, and that has made me worry all the more. It has been great to have him here – most days, but I’m torn between wanting him here and wanting him to move out. He doesn’t cause trouble here, but at the same time, I know that I have been an over-protective mom and he needs to fly the coop. I have not taught him much of anything for how to look after himself. Last night was the first time he’d gone grocery shopping by himself! Not good. I should have let him do that a long time ago. How will he manage on his own? Will he know what to do? I feel so often like I’ve failed him. Especially on days like this when I realize what I haven’t taught him yet. I feel like I’ve left him unprepared for the ways of the world. What if the world is tough on him? What if he fails? What if he doesn’t?
  • I’ve invested a lot of money in the new tool we’re using for our business. I want so much to take it to the next level. I want to help thousands of people. I made the decision without really talking to Krystal or to my husband (both of whom the money affects directly) and I have a tremendous amount of guilt feelings surrounding that. I am trying so hard to make it work so that they won’t be disappointed in me. Mostly to justify what I’ve done. Like it’s some horrible thing to be ashamed of. Yet those feelings keep popping up for me. Both of them say it’s OK, but I am my own worst critic. I am so scared sometimes of what success will mean for me. What if I am suddenly helping thousands of people? What if I can’t handle it all? What if I don’t – what if I’ve got nothing to offer? What if I’m just full of crap and I help no one? It goes around and around sometimes.

I have had a lot of questions these past few weeks. I get like that sometimes. I am so grateful that I have my husband, my BFF and my family for support. Good God! I could never do this alone! My poor hubby has held me as I’ve cried soooo many times. He’s reassured and contradicted my negativity as I try to sabotage myself. K has spent hours texting or talking to me to bring me back down from my anxious flights of insanity.

Why do we do this to ourselves? Why do we constantly critique and belittle the beautiful people we are? Everyone else has the same firsts. The same worries. The same fears.

I guess if we didn’t do that, we wouldn’t be human. To be human is to strive for – not perfection – but for contentment. For happiness. To truly matter to someone else. We fear that we won’t matter or that we’ll make too many mistakes so that they will turn their backs on us and we won’t be important in their lives. I, for one, have given them plenty of reasons to leave me. Yet, here they still remain. Not in spite of my mistakes, but because of them. It makes them feel like it is ok to make them and that it is so important to be afraid because it is in overcoming those fears that makes us grow. I am an example to them, in all my imperfections, that it is possible to rise above, fall down, and then rise again. Each time a little higher.

double rainbow

And so, I will continue to strive for Firsts. I will continue to fail. I will continue to worry about those failures. But I will also find that sometimes I won’t fail. I will celebrate both.

 

 

You are the woman we love…regardless of the firsts or the lasts. Just for the way you show up today.

Twas the Night Before School

This is a poem I wrote three years ago on the eve before the first day of school. I was feeling especially nostalgic as my youngest was starting preschool and oldest was going to high school. This year I have kids in three different schools. I always get a little teary thinking of them all growing up. 

Written September 1, 2010 
 

Precious Moments
Precious Moments

Twas the Night Before School

Twas the night before school and all through our house,

ALL the creatures were stirring – even my spouse.

The backpacks we lined up by the front door with care, 

in hopes that we would be organized and not in despair!

 

The children were all clean and tucked in their beds,

coughing and sniffling with colds in their heads.

And me in my apron making homemade snacks;

and Hubs on the computer shooting ‘things’ to the max!

 

When out from their rooms I hear all this chatter,

I checked from the kitchen to see what was the matter.

When what to my tired eyes should appear,

my youngest all wide eyed; sneaking if the coast is clear.

 

The dark falls upon us early it seems,

I miss the summer already but back to regimes!

From school, to work, football, gymnastics and such…

Big bills for the month – it is a bit much!

 

Excited for school but sad another year’s gone.

Thinking back to my babies and stifling a yawn.

The oldsest going to High School; the youngest in Preschool

And one in grade two who will follow the rules.

 

Now Noah, now Megan, now Drew listen here;

I only want the best so let’s make that clear.

I may be mean and shout and go crazy at times;

but it’s all out of love, let’s stay away from the crime!

 

In hopes of a good year we will see,

I pray every night for my sanity.

I hope their lives are happy in all that they do;

and to themselves I hope they stay true. 

 

I must get back to my cooking – I don’t like it I admit!

I am no Martha, or Betty or Julia but I’m trying a bit.

One more peek on the children; they are soundly sleeping

our blessings for now…  for safekeeping.

 

 ~Krystal Worth

My handsome big man and little man.
My handsome big man and little man.
Where does the time go?
Where does the time go?

 

 

 

The Hug

calvin-hobbes hug

I was never much of a “hugger” – it just wasn’t something we did growing up. We showed affection in other ways, and I was OK with that. I always felt loved.

Then there was a blind date… We both belonged to a dating service – which, back then, was done for you by interviewers, pages of questions and some big computer in the back somewhere that sent a letter (in the MAIL) to you to invite you to call each other. He called me. I was ready to give up on this dating service thing and I was his first “letter”. After I heard his voice, I had to meet him.

We agreed to meet in a local pub we both knew. He was surprised to find me drinking a beer because he’d never met a woman who drank beer before. That city boy had never met a farm girl before ;P We talked like we were old friends. About everything. All too soon, the evening wore on and I had to leave (I was a single mom and I had to work in the morning!) He walked me to my car…and then it happened….

He HUGGED me.

His height made it perfect for me to “fit” into his chest. His leather jacket smelled so good, with just a hint of cologne somewhere in there. I completely melted into his embrace.

I went to work the next day, exclaiming to all my friends; “He hugged me! He hugged me!” Eyes rolled, especially when they heard that the hug was the only physical contact we had. My nurse friends had been hoping for much more for me! LOL! The older & wiser office manager smiled, knowing that there was much more to the hug than the physical. And she was right….I married that man who became my friend who hugged me first before anything else.

I hug a lot more these days. I hug him all the time. My kids, as many times as I can get them to let me.

These are some hugs I wish for:

  1. My Gramma – I was always in too much of a rush to get going to pause at the door of her welcoming home and give her a hug. She would have let me.  I will see you again
  2. My sisters – because I just don’t see them often enough. Our time together in Mexico was so awesome. Like when we were kids.
  3. My friend Kristi – she needed one yesterday, and I missed it
  4. My best friend Krystal – we are so comfortable with each other, but it’s not something we do. Maybe we should.
  5. My brother-in-law – to show him that he was loved and that there IS hope.
  6. My friend Lindsay – around her big pregnant belly to wish her well as she journeys toward motherhood for the first time
  7. Another friend Stacy – as she struggles to let go of her oldest son as he flies off away from the nest so far away across the country
  8. My aunt – as she bravely faces cancer treatments and a new reality
  9. My friends Lori and Kristen – just because I miss them
  10. My friend Shauna – I got to hug her the other day, but today, especially, I would like to hug her again
  11. That stranger I forgot to smile at – as she wondered if anyone loved her. I should have shown her that I do

What hugs are you wishing for? What’s stopping you?
We all know someone who needs a hug. Love them through it.
.

This post was inspired by the people in my list above and prompted by This Week’s Writing Prompts

Mama’s Losin’ It

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