🌞Sunshine Blogger Award 7.0🌞

Whoever is reading this post, thank you for taking time out of your busy day to connect with me! I’m currently out of creative ideas so one of the best ways to kick-start my writing is to work on these Sunshine Blogger Awards. There always seem to be an abundance of them in my drafts because I am slow getting around to completing them. In case you missed my last post, here is a link to my similar yet different blog post titled 🌞Sunshine Blogger Award 6.0🌞

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The Sunshine Blogger Award is per recognition award for bloggers who inspire readers by promoting positivity and bringing joy. Thank you, Geneva, for nominating me for the award on August 14, 2019. Geneva runs a parenting blog called cerratomom.com, where she writes about “all things relating to baby, mom, and parenting” from personal experiences.

If these topics interest you, I highly suggest that you check out Geneva’s blog. My first impression of Geneva is that she cares about her readers. She goes out of her way to give encouragement and support to those who seek it. That being said, from a parenting perspective, she has a lot of advice and wisdom focused around dealing with anxiety and depression. 


🌞Sunshine Blogger Award Rules🌞

The Sunshine Blogger Award has rules (surprise, surprise!). These rules ensure the success of this award, providing exposure to all the award winners. The rules are quite simple and straightforward.

Rules for Award:

  • Thank the person who nominated you and provide a link back to their blog so others can find them.
  • Answer the 11 questions asked by the blogger who nominated you.
  • Nominate 11 other bloggers and ask them 11 new questions.
  • Notify the nominees about it by commenting on one of their blog posts.
  • List the rules and display a Sunshine Blogger Award logo on your post and/or your blog site.

Questions I was asked:

1. What is your favorite kind of weather? Sunny with a chance of rain 🌦️

2. Would you rather read or write? Both! I need to read in order to improve my writing and communication skills.

3. When it comes to food, do you prefer salty or sweet? Honestly, I wouldn’t be surprised if I was born with a rattle in one hand and a lollipop in the other. This girl has a terrible sweet tooth and still struggles with a sugar addiction to this day. 🍭🍭

4. Have you ever been to Disneyland? Nope.

5. What made you want to start a blog? Mostly boredom and the need to vent about things that were bothering me. Even though my blog is available for anyone to read, I feel like I am not annoying people with my venting and ranting, unlike other social media platforms which feel a bit too pushy and invasive. I appreciate each and every one of you who read my content and leave comments. The fact that you actually want to read my blog means so much to me! ❤

6. Which country would you love to visit? I previously answered this question in 🌞The Sunshine Blogger Award🌞 and to cut to the chase, I would love to visit Japan. I was fortunate to visit Asia in summer 2018 where I spent two weeks in Singapore.

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Luckily, Canada carries Japanese goodies. Image: Ramune soda fizzy candy, pretty origami paper, and a Miku Hatsune key chain.

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Featured here is my Miku Hatsune mug ◡‿◡✿

7. If you could have one superpower, what would it be and why? I wish I could teleport into fictional worlds, such as books or movies. Admit it! At one point, you probably wished you lived in a fictional world too. Day to day life is often too boring and repetitive for me, and and many people rely on escapism for a breath of fresh air. Being able to physically teleport into fictional worlds would be like escapism on steroids, and a step up from virtual reality. 😅

Escapism – the tendency to seek distraction and relief from unpleasant realities, especially by seeking entertainment or engaging in fantasy.

8. Who is your favorite fictional character? I recently had this discussion with Ilona from https://ciccophoto.com, and I told her that my favorite fictional character is Miku Hatsune, a voice bank from the Japanese synthesizing software known as VOCALOID. Even though the software has expanded over the years to include dozens of characters and their corresponding voice banks, Miku will always be my favourite! 

If you’re curious to know what she sounds like, here is a peaceful/sad songs playlist with hundreds of songs to keep you entertained for hours. You’re welcome. ◡‿◡✿

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9. What is your favourite show to watch? I prefer watching documentaries related to health and wellness. The majority of the documentaries that I watch happen to be British, which I usually stream on YouTube. I do not watch a lot of TV so I couldn’t tell you what the latest TV shows are on Netflix. Any TV shows that I watch on a regular basis are shows that Nick introduced me to, such as Big Bang Theory and Young Sheldon.

10. What are you afraid of? I have Globophobia, which is the fear of balloons, especially the anticipation that they will pop. Surprisingly, this fear is not as unusual as you might think. A psychology professor who taught at my previous university has a fear of balloons, as well as my mom’s friend. According to Wikipedia, here is the definition of balloon phobia:

Balloon phobia or globophobia is a fear of balloons. The source of fear may be the sound of balloons popping. Generally, globophobics will refuse to touch, feel, or go near a balloon for fear it will pop.

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The phobia has control over you, which is anxiety-provoking at social events. Image sourced from https://pixabay.com

11. What is something you want people to know about you? I don’t have my life together, despite what people think. People assume that I have an easy life and that I get everything I want, but life is not all sunshine and rainbows. As someone who has always struggled with anxiety, depression, and loneliness, I’m slowly coming to terms with my demons.


🌞SUNSHINE BLOGGER AWARD NOMINEES🌞

https://saltedcaramel670.wordpress.com/

https://midnightwander.wordpress.com/

https://theblackprincessdiaries.com/

https://middleme.net/

https://hunidasblog.com/

https://untipsyteacher.com/

https://kathleens-blog.com/

https://seaofwordsx.wordpress.com/

https://journeythroughlife591163021.wordpress.com/

https://mentalhealthathome.org/

https://mochalatteandconversation.wordpress.com/

QUESTIONS FOR THE NOMINEES:

1. What year did you start blogging?
2. What is the most valuable thing you’ve learned from blogging?
3. What time of day do you blog most often?
4. Are you a morning lark or a night owl?
5. What is the first thing you do after waking up?
6. Is breakfast the most important meal of the day? Why or why not?
7. What is your favorite social media platform and why?
8. Do you drive a car?
9. What does luxury mean to you?
10. Who is your role model?
11. What is your job/career/profession?

And….GO!! There is no pressure to respond to this nomination, as I know you have very busy lives outside of the blogging world. I look forward to reading your answers if you do decide to participate in the Sunshine Blogger Award. I am curious to know what your answers are! BTW, I am reusing the same questions I asked last time because I haven’t previously nominated these bloggers.

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🌞Sunshine Blogger Award 6.0🌞

Whoever is reading this post, thank you for taking time out of your busy day to connect with me! I hope you are all doing well, especially since flu season is back and students are in the midst of stressful midterms yet again. In case you missed my last post, here is a link to my last blog post titled 31-Day Motivational Journal Review.

screen-shot-2018-03-23-at-8-2116615623 (1)The Sunshine Blogger Award is per recognition award for bloggers who inspire readers by promoting positivity and bringing joy. Thank you, Tatterhood, for nominating me on August 12, 2019 for the award. Your blog gives me daily inspiration and reminds of reading a diary. I like the personal touch that you have added to your daily musings. If you haven’t heard of Tatterhood yet, please go give her blog some love! ❤

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🌞Sunshine Blogger Award Rules🌞

The Sunshine Blogger Award has rules (surprise, surprise!). These rules ensure the success of this award, providing exposure to all the award winners. The rules are quite simple and straightforward.

Rules for Award:

  • Thank the person who nominated you and provide a link back to their blog so others can find them.
  • Answer the 11 questions asked by the blogger who nominated you.
  • Nominate 11 other bloggers and ask them 11 new questions.
  • Notify the nominees about it by commenting on one of their blog posts.
  • List the rules and display a Sunshine Blogger Award logo on your post and/or your blog site.

Questions I was asked:

1. Have you ever been hypnotized (stage hypnosis)? No, I have not been hypnotized on stage or through self-directed hypnotic therapy. I’ve always been a little skeptical of hypnotism and feel like it wouldn’t work on me. I know that in order for hypnosis to work, one has to keep an open mind and I am already closed minded. 😂

2. Do you believe in aliens? Sure, why not? It is likely that aliens probably exist, considering how HUGE outer space is. There is probably intelligent life on a distant planet in a distant universe somewhere far, far away.

3. What would your Circus Act be? Well, I cannot juggle and my balance is horrible so that eliminates a lot of options. I took a quiz because I couldn’t answer this question, and my result is a sideshow performer!

You are a rarity indeed! A little off the beaten path, your pride is in your individuality. No bed of nails or floor of broken glass can scare you. You take it all with a smile. Some may call you a “freak”, but you should consider that a compliment. Remember, uniqueness is what gets you noticed!

4. If you were invisible for a day, what would be the first thing you would do? The first thing I would do is take advantage of free travel, find someone that I dislike, and follow this person home. Then I would haunt their house for the day and follow them around town just for fun. Specifically, this needs to be someone I don’t like because I would figure out their social media passwords, hoping that they still use Facebook and whatnot, and I would hack into their Facebook account to permanently change their passwords and emails. Facebook wouldn’t suspect anything since I would be doing this in real time and location. It would be fun to read their private messages, mess up their relationships, and maybe add a few status updates of my own. Karma’s a bitchAt the end of the day, maybe I will ghost slap them on my way out the door. Too bad the ghosting life is short-lived. 🤷‍♀️

5. Hogwarts House? I am not a Harry Potter fangirl, so I will let another quiz determine my fate. My results from the quiz indicate that I am 30% Ravenclaw, 27% Gryffindor, 26% Hufflepuff, and 17% Slytherin!

You believe above all in the importance of wisdom, which is why you undoubtedly belong in Ravenclaw, but your sense of adventure means you may also have an affinity for Gryffindor house. You are a thrill-seeker – you love to travel and there’s nothing more exciting to you than new experiences – and believe that adventure is essential in the pursuit of knowledge. You are brave, but would never intentionally put yourself in danger, placing you firmly in Ravenclaw.

Your slight compatibility with Hufflepuff house suggests a deep love and appreciation for those close to you, which you may keep hidden for fear of being hurt.

 6. A smell you hate? Gasoline.

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Corner Gas… well, what’s left of it. We were lucky to get these photos before it got torn down. 😥

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The fictional Dog River grain elevator lives on. My camera has a mind of its own since the ground is actually really flat.

7. A flower you love? Sunflowers 🌻

8. Who is the strongest Avenger? I know nothing about the Avengers except that it involves Superheroes. Based on this knowledge or lack thereof, I will conclude that the strongest Avenger is the Incredible Hulk.

9. Star Wars or Star Trek? Ugh, I do not like either of them. However, Star Trek is much worse in my opinion since it’s SO outdated. I choose Star Wars but please don’t make me watch a Star Wars movie with you.

10. Ever been on Stage? Does the stage in the school gym at my elementary school count? I played my violin in a school talent show back in Grade 6.

11. Do you have a pet? – Insert Photo & show your love ❤

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Cozy mornings with my therapy cat ❤

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Rebecca and Timon the Cat 💕


🌞Sunshine Blogger Award Nominees🌞

https://puddlesidemusings.wordpress.com

https://sippingcupsofinspiration.wordpress.com

https://acupofwonderland.com

https://noloveforfatties.com

https://priyankaspen.com

https://ciccophoto.com

https://justhannahhere.blog

https://chocoviv.home.blog

https://giannaandgemini.wordpress.com

https://inhisserviceandlovingit.wordpress.com

https://crystalbyers.com

Questions for the nominees:

1. What year did you start blogging?
2. What is the most valuable thing you’ve learned from blogging?
3. What time of day do you blog most often?
4. Are you a morning lark or a night owl?
5. What is the first thing you do after waking up?
6. Is breakfast the most important meal of the day? Why or why not?
7. What is your favorite social media platform and why?
8. Do you drive a car?
9. What does luxury mean to you?
10. Who is your role model?
11. What is your job/career/profession?

And….GO!! There is no pressure to respond to this nomination, as I know you have very busy lives outside of the blogging world. I look forward to reading your answers if you do decide to participate in the Sunshine Blogger Award. I am curious to know what your answers are!

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31-Day Motivational Journal Review

I was hoping to publish a new blog post on Monday, but I found out that my grandmother passed away yesterday evening. I needed some space and time to myself to grieve. Nana, may you rest in peace, as memories of you live on. No matter what I do, I will always remember you. You always loved butterflies and even had a collection of beautiful butterfly figurines in your cabinet. Whenever I see a butterfly, I’ll know that you are saying Hi from up above. RIP Nana 🦋

“Butterflies are not only a symbol of transformation. They are heaven’s messengers, letting you know that your loved ones are by your side, always.” –Unknown

Speaking of transformations, I thought I would update you on my fitness journey. An interesting fact about my Nana is that she did yoga when she was my age. I did not know this until a couple months ago after I told her that I wanted to get fit. In memory of my grandmother, I will continue being healthy and live life to the fullest. She would have been 96 this year on November 5, 2019. Nana always seemed at peace and content with life. ♥️


31-Day Motivational Journal Review

As I begin to pick up the pieces from last night, I admit that I did not work out yesterday evening, but I plan to work out the rest of the week. Prior to working out, every day I ask myself the following questions: Why do I want to be fit and healthy? What is the point of working out 5-6 days per week? Is fitness simply for weight loss or am I doing this to keep depression at bay?

In August 2019, I met a kind soul named Benjamin Lee who runs a blog called I CAN DO. If you haven’t stumbled upon his blog yet, please go check out his blog! His blog is full of inspirational, relatable content about getting physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually healthy. Not only does he take the time to reply to his followers, but he also gave his readers a FREE copy of his 31-Day Motivational Journal. Thank you, Benjamin, for your kindness and generosity!

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Photo credit: Benjamin Lee, author of Faith, Family, Fitness, and Food 31-Motivational Journal 

During the month of August, I printed off the journal, completed the pages, and worked out even when I was travelling. Because I was 100% honest with myself, I was able to see where I made poor food choices or ate one too many slices of cake. I admit I am a grazer by nature. Instead of eating 3 meals a day, I prefer to graze on whatever is easily available in my kitchen. Now that I am wearing Invisalign, which is an alternative to braces for adults, I do not have the luxury to graze as I please. As of last Friday, I now eat 2 large meals a day (no snacks) and stopped drinking caffeinated beverages. I was told that coffee and tea will stain my aligners so I quit coffee cold turkey. Over the past week, I experienced some wicked headaches due to caffeine withdrawal so sleeping gave me some relief.

Sadly, I didn’t end up losing any weight during the month of August or September. However, I am gaining muscle and my physique is slowly improving. My body transformation has been slow so far, but I also think it is time to switch up my fitness routine again. Starting out, I did high-intensity interval training (HIIT) in the comfort of my home. All I bought was a $12.99 yoga mat and searched for free videos on YouTube. Ultimately, YOU choose how much $$$ you want to spend on health and fitness. Working out at a gym is optional. Lululemon is optional. So is that expensive Swell bottle you purchased from Costco. But exercise is FREE.

Let’s be real with ourselves for a minute. If you claim that you don’t have enough time to exercise because of x, y, and z excuses, you are wrong. You have plenty of time to work out. You simply choose not to work out because it takes effort and long-term commitment. You’re too comfortable being a lounge lizard and change is scary. It’s OK if you feel this way; we are human after all. Benjamin addresses the common struggles we face when we are first starting out and he challenges our limiting beliefs. I like that he gives a little pep talk each morning as if he’s standing right in front of me saying,

Yeah, I’m talking to you!!! Get up!!! –Benjamin Lee

No subscriptions. No fancy supplements. No BS.

Benjamin’s motivational mantras are very effective in my opinion, especially when you are first starting out. By Day 8 I wanted to quit but he kept telling me to push through the pain. Best of all, he gave me a rationale each day as to why quitting was not an option. I noticed I had more energy after a workout and wanted to share my progress with the world so I posted daily Instagram stories regarding my progress. IG stories helped keep me accountable and I helped motivate others along the way. IG gave me a sense of connection.

I like listening to Britney Spears when I work out! #Stronger

As much as I want to continue posting IG stories after completing the 31-Day Motivational Journal, I decided to take another hiatus from IG because my mental health is still delicate. At this time, I need to focus on my top priorities if I hope to crush my bigger goals. These days, I still work out 5-6 days a week but I don’t share my progress online. Instead, I keep track of my progress on a giant fridge calendar and reward myself with stickers. Because why not? It’s not nearly as fun as sharing IG stories but at the same time, I don’t need the distractions or the emotionally triggering content. 🙅‍♀️

Lemme tell you that my fridge calendar is not nearly as motivating as Benjamin’s daily words of wisdom. In the end, you’ll have to find a method that works for you. Remember, getting and staying fit is now part of your identity. Eventually, you’ll need to spread your wings and fly on your own. Even if that means rewarding yourself with stickers.

Remember, physical and mental health are interconnected, and one cannot function very well without the other. What good is it if you have an attractive body but your mind is a mental mess? You need to feed your body AND your mind with diet and exercise. His journal will help you do just that. 🧘‍♀️🌱

I am curious to know if you work out on a daily basis. If you do, what is your favorite type of physical activity? Please leave a comment by joining the conversation below ↓

Thanks for stopping by!

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Snail Mail, Anyone?

Whenever I am having a bad day like today, I have a habit to self-soothe (don’t we all?) by indulging in some shopping therapy. Not just any kind of shopping therapy though. Preferably, stationary-related shopping therapy. I don’t know why I gravitate towards glittery cards, stickers, notebooks, coloring books, etc. Now that Halloween-themed merchandise has taken over the store shelves, guess what I bought today? Halloween-themed cards and stickers! These items are flat enough to fit into an envelope which I can send via snail mail. Sometimes, I like to include photos, but this year I did not feel like taking photos that are worth sending. What can I say? Depression deprived me of the joy I once had for photography. 🙅‍♀️

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When I lived next door to the neighbors with young kids, I would make treat bags for them! 🎃

Seeing the kids’ faces light up made my heart happy.

Luckily, sending handwritten cards still brings me joy these days, and my CBT therapist encouraged me to continue sending mail because it gives me a sense of connection. One of my favorite hobbies includes pen-palling with both online and IRL friends who live across the country (Canada) and across the border (United States). This is my way of telling faraway friends that I am thinking about them. Some of them I’ve met in person, and others I have yet to meet. Perhaps I am childish for believing that snail mail is still a cool thing when there is email and instant messaging available at our fingertips, or maybe I am too old fashioned. After all, I am an old soul who feels like an old lady trapped inside a younger person’s body. Not only that, but I also find that text messaging lacks authenticity. Given the option, I much rather receive a birthday card with a hand-written message than a generic text message on my phone that says, “Happy Birthday!” 👉Copy. Paste. Send.

Cute birthday card I received in the mail from a friend back at home. Inside was a lovely handwritten note. 💌

Right now, I am only sending mail to people who live in Canada and the US. In the future, I would love to expand my pen-pal mailing list to include international pen pals as well. Luckily, I still have a few international stamps leftover from my wedding. If you are interested in exchanging mail with me, feel free to contact me here, or you can email me at hilary_harm_7@hotmail.com

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Like what you see? I try to send things that I think the other person will like. In this case, it happened to be rainbow unicorns and pink skulls #random

Disclaimer: I won’t be sending snail mail in 2020 because I will be a full-time student and part-time mommy again. If everything goes as planned, I want to take the accelerated route during the summer months so that I will [hopefully] finish school in December 2020. Will I be publishing new blog posts in 2020? Tbh, I am not a psychic so I don’t have the answer yet. Thank you for understanding that not all of us were gifted with the ability to foresee the future.

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I went a little overboard in 2016 and mailed 50+ Christmas cards to friends and family! 🙊

What are your thoughts about snail mail? Do you think that instant messaging is good enough or is mailing physical letters a lost art? Have you ever sent mail to online friends who live far, far away? Please leave a comment by joining the conversation below ↓

Thanks for stopping by!

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Improving Sleep Hygiene

As somebody with a history of depression and the tendency to stay in bed all day if only my toddler would let me, I struggle with sleep hygiene. During my second cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) session last month, my therapist gave me a list of ways to help improve my sleep hygiene. I want to share these helpful tips with you, especially if you deal with frequent bouts of insomnia or have mild to moderate depression.

Improving Sleep Through Behaviour Change

Stimulus Control Procedures

  1. Go to sleep when you are sleepy.
    The longer you stay in bed, the more the bed is associated with a place to be awake instead of asleep. If you need to, delay going to bed until you are sleepy. No, this does not mean watching TV or using your smart phone. Screens emit a blue light which messes with your circadian rhythm.
  2. Get out of bed when you cannot fall asleep or go back to sleep in 15 minutes. 
    Get out of bed if you cannot fall asleep after giving it your best effort. It is better to get out of bed than it is to keep laying in bed with your ruminating thoughts. Once you are out of bed, return to bed when you are feeling sleepy again. The goal is to associate your bed with sleepiness.
  3. Only Use the bed for sleep and sex.
    Avoid other activities that do not involve sleeping or lovemaking. Activities to avoid include watching TV, listening to the radio, eating, or reading in your bed.

Sleep Hygiene Guidelines

  • Caffeine Avoid consuming caffeine 6-8 hours before bedtime. Caffeine disturbs your natural sleep rhythm. I would suggest cutting off caffeine consumption around 1700 (5:00 PM) so you will feel sleepier prior to bedtime.
  • Nicotine Avoid nicotine before bedtime because nicotine is a stimulant which keeps you awake. Avoid tobacco before bedtime and during the night as well.
  • Alcohol I don’t know about you, but alcohol makes me drowsy. Even though alcohol promotes the onset of sleep which makes you feel sleepy, alcohol also interrupts your natural sleep pattern. Avoid consuming alcohol less than 4 hours before going to sleep.
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Because we don’t get this drink in Canada. If it’s fruity and sweet, I’m probably going to drink it.

  • Sleeping Pills Sleep medications are an effective short-term treatment for people who struggle with falling asleep at night. However, sleep medications lose their effectiveness in approx. 2-4 weeks when they are taken regularly. Over time, sleeping pills may actually make sleep problems worse due to dependency; withdrawal from the medication can cause insomnia. Use sleep medications only if you need them and avoid relying on them long-term.
  • Regular Exercise Do not exercise within 2 hours of bedtime since exercise excites the nervous system and interferes with your ability to sleep. I am guilty for exercising right before bedtime…
  • Bedroom Environment Your bedroom should have a moderate temperature and it should be quiet and dark. Personally, I leave the window open at night and close the blinds. Also, I sleep with earplugs and an eye-mask which helps a lot.
  • Eating A light bedtime snack, such as a glass of warm milk, a banana, or a piece of cheese can promote sleep. Avoid eating snacks in the middle of the night because awakening may become associated with hunger.
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Eat all the yummy things; my mom really knows how to host a party! 🥳

  • Avoid Naps OK, I am totally guilty of this one! I love afternoon naps and will occasionally take an afternoon nap, typically lasting at least 1 hour in length. Now that my toddler lives with me 24/7, she doesn’t let me take naps. The sleep you get during the day will essentially take away from the amount of sleep you need that night. If you must take an afternoon nap, schedule it before 1500 (3:00 PM). Do not seep more than 15 to 30 minutes, according to doctors’ recommendations.
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Now that is the biggest yawn I’ve ever seen! 😂

  • Unwind Before Bedtime Allow yourself at least 1 hour before bedtime to unwind. Find what works for you to wind down, and give yourself an hour to do so. Consider reading a book or writing in a journal before you fall asleep.
  • Regular Sleep Schedule Keep a regular time each day (7 days a week) to get out of bed each morning. Keeping a regular waking time helps set your circadian rhythm so that your body learns to sleep at the desired time each night.
  • Stick to the Plan Set a reasonable bedtime and rising time, and then follow through with the plan long-term. Set the alarm clock and get out of bed at the same time each morning, regardless of your bedtime or the amount of sleep you got the previous night. This guideline is designed to regulate your internal biological clock as well as reset your sleep-wake cycle.

Monkey Business by Rebecca Tan 🐵

I would greatly appreciate any feedback or tips that you have for fighting insomnia. Let me know if anything on the list has helped you achieve a good night’s sleep by joining the conversation and leaving a comment below ↓

Thanks for stopping by!

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C’est La Vie

English translation? That’s life.

Oh, and I added a pun too. That’s Vee, the blogger who runs a site called milleniallifecrisis.org. In case you haven’t seen her blog yet, please do me a favor and check out her blog. This blog post will make more sense if you read her blog post first (see image below for a preview). Thank you, Vee, for your lovely shout-out! ❤

 Meeting Vee

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We both happened to be in the right place at the right time. The other day, Vee and I agreed to meet each other and chat over coffee at a local Starbucks. There is something quite relaxing about the smooth jazz usually playing in coffee shops, muffled chatter, and the smell of fresh brewed coffee. Vee is the first blogger who I had the privilege to meet in person from this wonderful WordPress community, so I am feeling very #blessed right now. Did I seriously just use the word #blessed in a sentence? Yes, yes I did.

I believe that every friendship needs to be built on a foundation of trust and respect. Meeting Vee made me feel at peace, and my social anxiety quickly subsided. In a way, I feel like we have been friends for a long time even though we had just met. Also, I felt a strange sense of familiarity as if we crossed paths before.

Fortunately, I learned that socializing with new people does not have to be scary. I often let social anxiety dictate my life so last week, I was really impressed by myself for stepping outside of my comfort zone. Because I am an introvert and a bit of a recluse, I prefer to hide in my house all day, everyday. However, I know that hiding is not a healthy coping mechanism. Not only that, but I recently learned that I actually prefer talking to people in person rather than video chatting or calling them on the phone. There is a stereotype that Millennials dislike making phone calls, so I guess I fit that stereotype! 🤷‍♀️

Finally, we should all celebrate our victories in life, no matter how big or small. As someone who deals with social anxiety and shyness myself, I understand how liberating it can be to push boundaries and face fears. In fact, I was initially drawn towards nursing school because I wanted to see if I could get comfortable with social anxiety.

“Every worthwhile accomplishment, big or little, has its stages of drudgery and triumph: a beginning, a struggle, and a victory.” ―Mahatma Gandhi

I am grateful that I had the rare opportunity to meet Vee in real life, and I hope that we will see each other again in the future. I am wondering if YOU ever met someone from the WordPress community. Who did you meet? Where you excited or nervous prior to meeting them? Please join the conversation and leave a comment below ↓

Thanks for stopping by!

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28 Life Lessons Learned

I had good intentions to publish this blog post on August 4 which was my 28th birthday. Fast forward two weeks, only to realize that I had forgotten to edit it. Now I am finally getting around to publishing the damn thing. 5+ hours later, my back aches, my feet hurt, and I am surprised that nobody has kicked me out of the food court where I am mooching off of A&W’s WiFi. My husband is meeting clients today so I really have no excuses while I wait for him downtown.

It’s the Thought that Counts!

Overall, my birthday was OK. Nothing too eventful happened unless travelling 7+ hours counts as an exciting trip. Even tough I only flew across Canada, there were many stops along the way which extended the trip. Since moving out west, flying has become the norm for me so my birthday was just an ordinary day. To celebrate my very belated birthday, I wanted to share with you 28 things that I learned in 28 years. This list is in no particular order since I wrote the outline while waiting in the airport, but each item on the list has shaped me into the person I am today.

28 Life Lessons Learned in 28 Years

1. Life is unfair. Get used to it. #tough-love  

2. Insomnia is real and can be really debilitating if you let it rule your life. 

3. Cats and dogs make fantastic friends. Lizards….not so much. You can’t cuddle with a lizard but they make great conversation starters when forced to awkwardly engage with people.

4. And you fall, and you crawl, and you break many times over. Avril Lavigne got it right. #complicated

5. Life isn’t static. It’s constantly changing, so it’s better to change along with it than to resist change.

6. Being uncomfortable is a GOOD THING. You need to step outside of your comfort zone in order for real growth to happen. And you’ll be one step closer towards reaching your goals.

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All credit goes to Sarah Andersen → Sarah’s Scribbles

7. Quality over quantity. The number of likes and followers does not matter in the grand scheme of things. Social media is also quite meaningless unless you’re trying to brand yourself or provide value to people. Blogging provides tons of value IMO and it took me several years to discover that I really enjoy writing for an audience.

8. Minimalism is a great concept and we can all benefit by learning how to live with less stuff. If you would like to learn more about how minimalism has positively impacted my life, you can read about it here.

“The secret to happiness, you see, is not found in seeking more, but in developing the capacity to enjoy less.” —Socrates

9. Don’t treat your body like a dumpster. Respect yourself by being kind to your body. 

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10. Learn to accept and make peace with yourself because nobody else can do that for you.

11. You don’t need friends to be happy and being extremely introverted is not a flaw in your character. 

12. Most people will lie to you or let you down, including family. Be prepared for friends to disappoint you as well. If anything, lower your expectations to live a happier life.

13. There is truth to meditation. We should learn to embrace this ancient practice. 

14. I am scared of aging and looking my age. I really don’t want to live to be 90+ years old. Genetics suggest that I will live well into my 90’s. A vivid dream I had when I was a little kid suggests that I will live to be 64 years old.

15. Failing at something does not make YOU a failure. I still haven’t made peace with my failures yet, since my recent experience with failure is still raw and painful.

16. Not everyone is going to like you no matter how hard you try to please them.

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17. There is truth to mindfulness and finding greater consciousness. Make it your ultimate goal to aim for self-actualization by referring to Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. At one point, Maslow’s Pyramid was the background image on my desktop. Can you tell that I like psychology? 🙊

18. After all these years, The Amazing Race is STILL my favourite reality TV show. I watch the Canadian version as well even though it’s not as good as the original series. I don’t keep up with the latest TV shows on Netflix because TV is a HUGE time waster, but I will make a scene if I miss out on watching “The Great Race.”

19. Strong negative emotions are meant to protect you, that is, if you are still living in the stone age. 

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You can find my latest Instagram stories @serene_hilz

20. There is no need for cookbooks as long as you have an internet connection. You can find everything you need online for FREE! I enjoy learning how to make delicious recipes that are kinder to my body, since I am intolerant to white flour, dairy, and refined sugar.

21. Sugar is highly addictive and should be considered a drug. It’s impossible to quit. I even published a post about how to give up sugar, and even I cannot follow my own advice. Hypocritical of me, eh?

22. You can grow bean sprouts in a jar. Bean sprouts are not only cheap, but they’re also nutritious. You can find affordable jars at your local dollar store. You don’t need a special lid or anything fancy to grow bean sprouts. I used a tutorial from YouTube to grow beansprouts. The whole process is very easy and straight-forward.

23. If you don’t have dental insurance in Canada or the US, do yourself a favor and get dental insurance. Since the problem wasn’t resolved years ago, I’ll have to spend thousands of dollars to pay for orthodontic treatment and jaw surgery. I have no choice but to go back to nursing school and face that beast. These “luxuries” in life cost $$$.

24. I don’t drink alcohol and I don’t smoke. Marijuana recently became legal in Canada but I still have no desire to smoke weed. The cannabis culture does not appeal to me and actually disgusts me. NO THANKS. 👎

25. It is OK to spend money on things that bring you joy. Cats, unicorns, steeped tea etc. Cats bring me joy so we adopted a kitty in April 2019. Steeped Tea from Tim Horton’s also brings me joy. I stopped buying steeped tea in April 2019 to save some pocket change but later decided that the benefits of saving money did not outweigh the enjoyment I get from drinking my favourite beverage.

26. Have a growth mentality instead of a shrinking mentality. Do not settle for less than you deserve in life. Always look for opportunities for growth, whether that means aiming for financial security or finding a career that will sustain you. My husband deserves credit for teaching me this life lesson.

27. I believe that there is a soulmate for every person on this planet. Ladies, if you are still single, consider this as a plausible reason:

“Someday my Prince Charming will come. Mine just took a wrong, got lost, and is too stubborn to ask for directions.” —Unknown

28. It is OK to be yourself even if people don’t always get you. For example, I am hypersensitive to noise and a little neurotic at times. My automatic response to loud noise is to cover my ears and cry. I have cried at a loud football game, I have cried at a loud pub full of drunk people when I was 3 years old and when I was 23 years old. Oh there ain’t no other way because baby, I was born this way!

img_2937_19727604261_o.jpgWell, there you have it. I could keep going but I am feeling 28 right now. Which life lesson(s) did you relate to the most? Please join the conversation and leave a comment below ↓

Thanks for stopping by!

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Breaking Trust

1:00 AM: My heart is pounding through my chest and anger rages through my veins like a forest fire. I’m not angry – I’m furious. I feel like the carpet has been pulled out from under my feet by some prankster. Right now, I’m sobbing like a 2-year old who desperately longs for a comforting hug and a popsicle to soothe the pain. In reality, I am an adult and I won’t be eating any popsicles tonight to help me self-soothe the pain away. The pain I feel is emotional and I’m not the type to eat my feelings anyways.

I apologize for wasting your time with another depressing post. If you would prefer to read something more uplifting and positive, feel free to click away. Because this is the internet and everyone can read my blog posts, I cannot openly express who hurt me or share the juicy details with you. That being said, this post isn’t directed towards you or anyone else in the blogging community. I am writing this blog post because it’s incredibly painful for me to fathom what happened last night and I just want to be understood.

As some of you already know, 2019 has been a bad year for me. I try my best to stay positive but it’s difficult when I’m dealing with $hit that is VERY triggering to my mental health and well-being. Tomorrow, I have my first cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) session on campus so I plan to discuss my anxiety and trust issues with the therapist. I have been on a 3-month waiting list so I am grateful that I am finally getting some professional help.

What the hell is happening to the world?

Everyone handles anger differently. My anger accumulates in the pit of my stomach which makes it difficult for me to eat after experiencing hurt or betrayal. My negative emotions feel like a tangled ball of anger, envy, jealousy, and frustration towards everything that’s wrong in my life right now. It is like I am drowning in my own sea of negative emotions and I have lost the ability to breathe.

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This elegant image of Miku Hatsune illustrates depression in an artistic way. Source: https://weheartit.com/entry/253679447

As Sheldon states from The Big Bang Theory, “Everything is changing and it’s simply too much!” After being mislead and lied to by my loved ones this week, I don’t know who I can trust anymore. I have been lied to by friends in the past which seriously sucks, but loved ones… really? Am I destined to be lied to by everyone I encounter in my life? What other secrets have they been keeping from me?

10:00 AM: In my book, lying is NOT okay. From the moment I met you, I made it very clear that lying is unacceptable and that I won’t tolerate it. However, you made the choice to keep me in the dark by making me oblivious and ignorant to the world around me. Like they say, ignorance is bliss…. but is it really bliss? Even though you felt like it was best to protect me during my most vulnerable moments, you still lied to my face and broke the foundation that we worked so hard to build. You probably felt like I was too emotionally unstable to handle the truth, but you also kept me in the dark. Right now, I’m having a hard time trusting anyone including you.

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Trust is a fragile thing – difficult to build and easy to break.

How does it feel when you realize that you’ve been lied to? Do you believe that it is ever OK to lie to someone? Please join the conversation and leave a comment below ↓ I really enjoy reading your comments! ❤️

Thanks for stopping by!

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🌞The Sunshine Blogger Award 5.0🌞

Whoever is reading this post, thank you for taking time out of your day to connect with me! I hope you are all doing well. In case you missed my last post, here is a link to my last blog post titled 3.2.1 Quote Me! – love. 

screen-shot-2018-03-23-at-8-2116615623 (1)The Sunshine Blogger Award is per recognition award for bloggers who inspire readers by promoting positivity and bringing joy. Thank you, Steve, from Steve’s Country, for nominating me or the award. Your blog really does make me smile “as wide as a country sunrise.”   

I highly recommend that you follow Steve if you haven’t done so already. His collection of beautiful flora and fauna photography, as well as vivid imagery he creates through poetry and personal experiences is sure to take you on an adventure while you sip your morning coffee. We also live in the same country which is pretty cool! Oh Canada! 🇨🇦

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🌞Sunshine Blogger Award Rules🌞

The Sunshine Blogger Award has rules (surprise, surprise!). These rules ensure the success of this award, providing exposure to all the award winners. The rules are quite simple and straightforward.

Rules for Award:

  • Thank the person who nominated you and provide a link back to their blog so others can find them.
  • Answer the 11 questions asked by the blogger who nominated you.
  • Nominate 11 other bloggers and ask them 11 new questions.
  • Notify the nominees about it by commenting on one of their blog posts.
  • List the rules and display a Sunshine Blogger Award logo on your post and/or your blog site.

Questions I was asked:

1. What is your favourite fruit? Personally, I love them all so it’s hard for me to narrow it down to just one. I can narrow it down to my top 3 favourite fruits: peaches 🍑 mangoes 🥭 and raspberries😍

2. What one place in the world would you like to visit, outside your own country? The cherry blossom festival in Japan!

3. Do you like pets? As a matter of fact, I like cats and dogs. At one point, I wanted to be a veterinarian but I feel like this is every girl’s dream. I co-oped at a veterinary clinic and got to adopt a pug from a litter of pug puppies after witnessing a disturbing euthanasia that left me in tears. I named my pug after the pug that was euthanized in memory of that dog. My pug is now 9 years old and she lives with my parents in Ontario. Recently, my husband and I adopted a cat from a local animal shelter to help me deal with my depression. I love this cat so much and he puts up with a lot of toddler shenanigans….

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Zoë is a 9 year old fawn pug who lives with my parents. She enjoys spending time at my dad’s boat on weekends.

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My boy, Timon, chilling in his cat tree.

4. Do you like beetles? I don’t mind The Beatles as in the band, but I am terrified of creepy crawlies. I get itchy just thinking about beetles.

5. Do you enjoy flower gardening? Honestly, I’ve never tried to tend to a garden. Considering how terrible I am at keeping house plants alive, I rather not chance it. A few potted plants is all I need to be happy.

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I wouldn’t mind having potted plants like these! Courtney S. is the owner of this photo (we were neighbors a very long time ago) but I don’t have a link to give her credit.

6. Do you enjoy yard work? My mom complains about the weeds, so I probably wouldn’t enjoy yard work. I didn’t mind mowing the lawn as a kid because my dad paid me to mow it. Now that I’m an adult, I would prefer to own a property that requires little to no yard maintenance.

7. Do you like winter? If yes, you obviously don’t live around here. By winter I mean at least 5 months with snow on the ground and temps getting as cold as -30°C. NOPE! 👎 I dislike climates that are too hot or too cold. Canada is way too cold for me and our winters/cold temperatures typically last 8+ months of the year with approx. 2 months of scorching hot summers. When it’s -30°C outside and I’m with you, I literally cannot feel my face. Seriously, who thought that living in Canada was a good idea?

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Summer vs. winter in Canada. Don’t let the pretty snow fool you.

8. Do you enjoy traveling? Yes and no. Travelling is a bit stressful and I usually don’t find it relaxing. I haven’t done a lot of travelling so my views might change once I start exploring more countries. This summer, we will be flying across the country to visit our families and honestly, even these “mini vacations” are mentally draining and physically exhausting.

9. Do you enjoy moving? My husband and I move around A LOT. Honestly, I don’t know what home is anymore. Within the last 5 years, we have moved house a handful of times. We will be moving again in a couple of years, hopefully to our forever home. My husband wants to leave Canada for several reasons but I am not thrilled about moving to a foreign country.

10. Do you prefer sunrise or sunset? Notice the word prefer, means pick only one. I prefer sunset because most evenings, I get to watch the sun set. Usually I am still asleep when the sun rises.

11. How many hours of sleep do you prefer to have? Ideally, 8-9 hours of sleep. I can easily sleep 13+ hours on any given day, so I have to force myself to wake up at a reasonable hour. I don’t know why I’m always tired but it’s probably a result of food allergies or intolerance.


🌞Sunshine Blogger Award Nominees🌞

https://thelawofattractionandmylife.com

https://gcerrato.home.blog

https://huguetteantoun.com

https://easydiet.blog

https://mynamaste365online.blog

http://jennylouise.blog/category/healthy-mind

https://vihani.home.blog

https://ashokwahi.wordpress.com

https://sensiblyfrugalliving.home.blog

https://discoveringyourhappiness.com

https://miscellaneousmichelleca.wordpress.com

Questions for the nominees:

1. What country do you live in?
2. What year did you publish your first blog post?
3. What is your favorite blog post you’ve written and why?
4. What is the most valuable thing you’ve learned from blogging?
5. What book has influenced you greatly?
6. What is the meaning of life?
7. If you could eliminate one thing from your daily routine, what would it be and why?
8. What is the scariest thing you have ever done for fun?
9. Are you a listener or a talker?
10. Would you rather have more time or more money?
11. What song best describes your life right now?

And….GO!! There is no pressure to respond to this nomination, as I know you have very busy lives outside of the blogging world. I look forward to reading your answers if you do decide to participate in the Sunshine Blogger Award. I am curious to know what your answers are!

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3.2.1 Quote Me! – Love

I was nominated by the lovely Ilona Madam, who is one of my favourite bloggers in the WordPress community. I love the casual, French vibe she brings to her blog and I feel like we share a lot in common. For example, we are the same age, we are only children, and we are cat moms. She’s also an aspiring model and I’m like, totally not a model.🤷‍♀️

Mes amis, we can all learn from Ilona Madam to dream big in life and persue our passions. If you haven’t already done so, please take a moment to check out her blog. Merci beaucoup! 

Rules: 3.2.1 Quote Me!

“3.2.1 Quote Me” was created by a guy called Rory https://aguycalledbloke.blog/

⭐ Please note that Rory will be re-blogging your responses unless you wish for him to NOT do so 

“Once a week, I will pick a random topic, post two quotes on that topic and nominate 3 bloggers, who in turn will post 2 quotes on the topic and nominate 3 bloggers of their own.” – Rory 

  1. Thank the person who tagged you.
  2. Post two quotes for the dedicated Topic of the Day. → Topic is LOVE ❤️
  3. Select three bloggers to take part in “3.2.1 Quote Me!” → I’m keeping the same topic: LOVE ❤️

➡️ My 2 quotes for the dedicated topic Love:

“Love is like the wind, you can’t see it but you can feel it.”
– Nicholas Sparks, A Walk to Remember

“There are two basic motivating forces: fear and love. When we are afraid, we pull back from life. When we are in love, we open to all that life has to offer with passion, excitement, and acceptance. We need to learn to love ourselves first, in all our glory and our imperfections. If we cannot love ourselves, we cannot fully open to our ability to love others or our potential to create. Evolution and all hopes for a better world rest in the fearlessness and open-hearted vision of people who embrace life.”
 John Lennon

➡️ My nominees:

Huguette

PoojaG

Michelle

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Meeting you 6 1/2 years ago was the best thing that ever happened to me ❤️

♥ HILARY TAN ♥

Manifesting Money Using LoA

Disclaimer: I haven’t read the book, “The Secret,” so I don’t know what I’m doing regarding manifestation. I’ve read a few articles in which I am basing my general knowledge plus guidance I’ve received from bloggers who are more experienced with the Law of Attraction. Thank you, Nova’s Namaste 365 Online, for reassuring me that I really did manifest something on Friday! ♥️

To be completely honest with you, I feel like I am not knowledgeable enough to be writing a post about how to manifest anything using the Law of Attraction (LoA). However, yesterday evening I had a very real and freaky experience where I manifested money within 24 hours after having a dry spell of zero Kijiji sales this past week. I even considered deleting my current ads or significantly lowering my prices to hopefully increase leads.

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#positive-vibes

A couple days ago, I noticed that I was low on cash and down to my last $5 bill. It’s a personal choice of mine, but I try to pay using cash as much as possible to encourage more mindful spending. Later that day using silent prayer, I asked the universe for some money and I specified exactly how I would obtain this money, down to the minute details such as $amount and type of bills. Usually, I will focus on what I want and try to channel my energy so that I have a clear vision of what I’m trying to manifest.

This step is VERY important. You need to create a clear image in your head and believe that what you’re trying to manifest is abundant and available to you. 

I have experienced these little “miracles” on multiple occasions, but I did not connect the dots until now. Most of these miracles involved money manifestations since money makes the world go round, so I am starting to understand why so many people believe in the Law of Attraction. I celebrated my little victory by treating myself to a delicious Jasmine Green Milk Tea [bubble tea] from Chatime at a local bubble tea shop in the heart of downtown Calgary, AB.

img_3305_19712725211_oIf you are feeling adventurous and would like to learn how to make bubble tea at home, I posted a Mango Coconut Bubble Tea recipe listed under the “Smoothies” tab. If you are currently using the WordPress Reader, you will need to open a new window in order to access the page.

I am curious to know what awesome things you have manifested using the Law of Attraction. Please join the conversation and leave a comment below ↓

Thanks for stopping by!

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Practicing Gratitude 🙏🏻

I used to think that keeping a gratitude journal was silly and a waste of time. However, I’ve learned that practicing gratitude can positively influence one’s mental health and well-being. Since having a major depressive episode on April 4, 2019, I started being more mindful of my negative thought patterns as well as making mental notes of the good things that are happening in my daily life. Now, I really wish that I had written these good experiences down. As I continue to gain control over my mental health and work on managing my depression, I plan to eventually quit my antidepressant medication for good. I have a doctor’s appointment scheduled this Thursday to discuss options.

Previously, I haven’t been keeping a physical list of the things that I’m grateful for in my life. Rather than thinking of obvious things that most people are grateful for like food, shelter, family etc., I’m trying to dig a little deeper by appreciating some of the mundane things that many people take for granted. Remember Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs that I previously talked about? Let’s assume that my physiological needs (food, water, sleep, sex etc.) as well as safety needs (roof over my head, resources, property etc.) have already been met.

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My Gratitude List:

1. I tried meditating outside in the courtyard for the first time. The view is quite pretty, especially in the evening. Will I be meditating in the courtyard tomorrow? Probably not. I prefer to meditate from the comfort of my balcony.

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Beautiful view from my balcony this evening. I walked barefoot in the grass today which felt rejuvenating.

2. My husband strongly encourages me to go back to nursing school in January 2020 even though I am afraid of failing again. He suggested that I follow a study schedule by studying for 2 hours a day. So far, this is day 3 and I like to take my sweet time reading this textbook. If I follow this schedule, I calculated that I will have the entire textbook read in three months. A lot of students use this textbook to help them study for the NCLEX-RN exam but I plan on using this textbook to brush up on the fundamentals of nursing and re-learn concepts that I may have missed in school.

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This is the textbook I am using. Right now, I am reading a really boring section about ethics. I have to study ethics each semester which is a requirement by the University.

3. My husband and I walked to the mall this afternoon (and back home again). It takes half an hour to walk there and I was initially reluctant to go. I told him that he owed me a Starbucks beverage if I dragged my ass there. On the bright side, I survived the heat wave and also got my 10,000 steps for the day.

4. When we finally arrived at the mall, I tried the Strawberry Pink Drink from Starbucks and it was really yummy. 😋 Since I’m frugal AF and rather not blow all of my money on Starbucks drinks, I’m going to try and replicate this delicious beverage on the weekend. The DIY recipe that I found comes from www.nutmegnanny.com and their photos are mouthwatering! 😍

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DIY strawberry-coconut refresher recipe and photo credit sourced from nutmegnanny.com

5. I scored some good deals today at Bath and Body Works. Even though I really cut down on my spending over the years, I still buy things from time to time as long as these items are on sale. Today I saved $19.51 because both items were discounted at 75% off which makes me happy. Also, I broke even on some lottery scratch tickets and yet, I still got enjoyment from scratching the lottery tickets without taking a loss. For some reason, today I felt like treating myself!

What are some things that you are grateful for today? I am also curious to know whether or not you keep a gratitude journal. Please join the conversation and leave a comment below ↓

Thanks for stopping by!

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