700 Followers: A New Milestone!

(っ◔◡◔)っ700 Followers! Like my toddler always says, Whaattt?!?! ♥

I try to publish a new blog post every Monday during the summer break. It’s not Monday yet, but I wanted to share some exciting news with you and this announcement cannot wait any longer. As you have already guessed from reading the title, this blog has reached 700 followers! If all of you were to attend a lecture at the University of Guelph, the biggest lecture hall has 606 seats. Sorry, I guess some of you will have to stand. Feet off the tables, please.

Honestly, I did not expect to gain 700 wonderful followers, and yet, here we are. I believe that this blog has a lot of potential and I am already envisioning it reaching 1,000 followers this year. I want to thank all of you from the bottom of my heart, for spreading the love and helping to keep this blog alive! ❤

Stay hungry, Stay Focused!

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What are you focusing on?

I believe that bloggers, especially those who are new to the WP community, are eager to gain followers which is a great goal. I mean, who doesn’t want followers, handfuls of comments, and daily traffic? When I first started blogging, I felt like I was talking to a wall. I rarely got comments, and if I did, it was usually spam. Lots of things have changed within a year, but most of these changes resulted from observing others, learning what not to do, and taking notes. Even though this blog is already 4 years, it sat dormant until April 2019. In other words, this blog gained approx. 680 followers in 15 months!

There is one blogger in particular who helped jump-start my blog. Even though Ilona was a fairly new blogger, the WP community seemed to naturally gravitate towards her blog because she had friendly, non-judgmental vibes. At one point, Ilona and I became international pen pals! 💌 Sadly, I haven’t heard back from her since November 2019 and I miss her terribly. It was recently brought to my attention that she permanently deleted her [second] blog which is really unfortunate. I hope she knows that she is deeply missed by the blogging community.🌹🥀

“You’re only here for a short visit. Don’t hurry, don’t worry. And be sure to smell the flowers along the way.” —Walter Hagen

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You Win Some, You Lose Some

Regardless of what happens throughout my blogging journey, I remind myself that I will gain some followers and lose some followers along the way. I consider myself to be a creative person but I am terrible at networking as well as collaborating with people. Also, I am the perfect candidate for transient ischemic attacks (TIAs) which are triggered by stressful events, and I have already had 2 major TIAs in my lifetime. Statistics state that 1/3 of people who experience TIAs will also experience a stroke in their lifetime. This is not a sob story; this is simply why I try to avoid taking on extra commitments. Just breathe, mes amis. 🧘‍♀️🌱

At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter how you achieve your goals as long as you are constantly working on becoming a better version of yourself. I believe that nobody is entitled to success, but everyone has the potential to succeed with hard work, grit, and perseverance. Stay calm, and never give up on your dreams! ❤

Thanks for stopping by!

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One Day, Death

I wrote a parody of the song, “thank u, next” by Ariana Grande, which is the last installment of the Ariana parody series. I saved this parody for last because the topics I wrote about relate to terminal cancer and death, as the title suggests. I think that this parody is the saddest one of the bunch, so it’s OK to skip over this blog post if these topics bother you. In the meantime, feel free to check out my other poetry musings here.

Even though I haven’t been blogging on a regular basis, you can still find me leaving comments and interacting with this wonderful WP community. Life is up in the air right now since I am forced to self-isolate until further notice. All we can do is take it one day at a time and try to make the best of this #quarantine-life. Thanks for reading! ❤

[Verse 1]
I met a fellow from England
And he was a nice lad
But he carries a secret
Terminal cancer, it’s sad
Even though he has cancer
This may not make him unique
But what makes him so different
Is that he’s willing to speak

[Pre-Chorus]
I learned he’s dying
And he’s not afraid
To go to heaven
So he filled out the MAID
He lost his brother
To cancer last summer
He grieves for his loss
Says life has no meaning
And for that, he says

[Chorus]
On day, death (death)
One day, death (death)
One day, death (death)
I am ready to take my last breath
One day, death (death)
One day, death (death)
One day, death (death)
I am ready…

[Verse 2]
As he lays in his bed
Thinking about his mistakes
He reflects on his life
It’s a little too late
He knows he had neglected his health
And health is wealth
So practice what we preach
We should all know that well

[Pre-Chorus]
He taught me strength (strength)
He taught me weakness (weakness)
How he handles pain (pain)
And learned to surrender
Can’t learn this in college
At least that’s what I think
I have a whole new perspective
Now that death has got meaning
And for that, he says

[Chorus]
On day, death (death)
One day, death (death)
One day, death (death)
I am ready to take my last breath
One day, death (death)
One day, death (death)
One day, death (death)
I am ready…

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No Breaths Left to Take

I wrote a parody of the song, “No Tears Left to Cry” by Ariana Grande. Sorry for picking on you Ariana, but I also plan on uploading a future parody of “Thank U, Next.” If you enjoyed reading this parody, feel free to check out my other poetry musings here.

Even though I haven’t been blogging on a regular basis, you can still find me leaving comments and interacting with this wonderful WP community. Life is up in the air right now since I am forced to self-isolate for the rest of the winter semester. All we can do is take it one day at a time and try to make the best of this coronavirus craziness. Thanks for reading! ❤

[Intro]
Right now, my patient is SOB
He lives with end stage COPD
Ain’t got no breaths left to take
So he’s coughing it up, coughing it up
He’s wheezin’, he’s wheezin’, he’s coughing it up
He’s coughing it up, coughing it up
He’s wheezin’, he’s wheezin’, he’s coughing it up (Oh yeah)

[Refrain]
He’s coughing it up (yeah), coughing it up (Yeah)
Hacking, he’s trying to cough it all up
Yeah, he’s coughing it up

[Verse 1]
Ain’t got oxygen in my lungs
I ran out, but boy, it’s hard, it’s hard, to breathe
Don’t matter how, what, where, who’s tried it
I quit my smokin’, my smokin’, my smokin’

[Pre-Chorus]
I need help, my lungs are shutting down
Can’t breathe now, can’t breathe or catch my breath
Catch my breath, and then my lungs are clear
Then now you know it, dear
Know it, dear, yeah

[Chorus]
Right now, my patient is SOB
He lives with end stage COPD
Ain’t got no breaths left to take
So he’s coughing it up, coughing it up (Oh yeah)
He’s wheezin’, he’s wheezin’, he’s coughing it up
Oh, I’ve got meds for him to take
And it will help him for goodness sake
Ain’t got no breaths left to take (To take)
So he’s coughing it up, coughing it up (Oh yeah)
He’s wheezin’, he’s wheezin’, he’s coughing it up

[Refrain]
Coughing it up (yeah), Coughing it up (Yeah)
Hacking, he’s trying to cough it all up (He coughin’ it up)
Yeah, he coughin’ it up

[Verse 2]
Whenever I lose my breath, I start to wheeze
And boy, it’s hard, it’s hard, to breathe
Cigs did this to me, emphysema you see
I quit my smokin’, my smokin’, my smokin’

[Pre-Chorus]
I need help, my lungs are shutting down
Can’t breathe now, can’t breathe or catch my breath
Catch my breath, and then my lungs are clear
Then now you know it, dear
Know it, dear, yeah

[Chorus]
Right now, my patient is SOB
He lives with end stage COPD
Ain’t got no breaths left to take
So he’s coughing it up, coughing it up (Oh yeah)
He’s wheezin’, he’s wheezin’, he’s coughing it up
Oh, I’ve got meds for him to take
And it will help him for goodness sake
Ain’t got no breaths left to take (To take)
So he’s coughing it up, coughing it up (Oh yeah)
He’s wheezin’, he’s wheezin’, he’s coughing it up

[Pre-Chorus]
I need help, my lungs are shutting down
Can’t breathe now (Hmm, oh)
Catch my breath
Ain’t got no breaths left to take
Oh yeah, oh yeah

[Chorus]
Oh, I’ve got meds for him to take
And it will help him for goodness sake
Ain’t got no breaths left to take (Take)
So he’s coughing it up, coughing it up (Oh yeah)
He’s wheezin’, he’s wheezin’, he’s coughing it up

[Refrain]
Coughing it up (yeah), Coughing it up (Yeah)
Hacking, he’s trying to cough it all up
Yeah, he’s coughin’ it up

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Forgetful Woman

I wrote a parody of the song, “Dangerous Woman” by Ariana Grande. If you like this parody, feel free to check out my other poetry musings here. Thanks for reading! ❤

[Verse 1]
Oh yeah
Her daughter called her
But there was no answer from her mother
‘Cause it’s her business, she grew suspicious
And sent mom to the ER
Don’t need to hang up
Taking control of this situation
Mom can’t remember
Completely focused, her mind is scattered

[Pre-Chorus]
All that she got
Is her name, so she claims?
Not time or place

[Chorus]
Somethin’ ’bout her makes her feel like a forgetful woman
Somethin’ ’bout, somethin’ ’bout, somethin’ ’bout her
Made her wanna say things but she couldn’t
Somethin’ ’bout, somethin’ ’bout, somethin’ ’bout

[Verse 2]
Nothing to say, she can’t remember and
Feels under the weather
Every day I see her
It’s like she’s meeting
Me for the first time
She lives in the moment, lives for today
Her love remains strong, can’t take that away
Life should be savored, it’s only nature
Odds not in her favor

[Pre-Chorus]
All that she got
Is her name, so she claims?
Not time or place

[Chorus]
Somethin’ ’bout her makes her feel like a forgetful woman
Somethin’ ’bout, somethin’ ’bout, somethin’ ’bout her
Made her wanna say things but she couldn’t
Somethin’ ’bout, somethin’ ’bout, somethin’ ’bout her

[Refrain]
She don’t wanna be like that
Memories that fade like that
Dunno how she’s feeling inside
Somethin’ ‘bout, somethin’ ‘bout
She don’t wanna be like that
Memories that fade like that
Dunno how she’s feeling inside
Somethin’ ‘bout, somethin’ ‘bout

[Instrumental Bridge]

[Chorus]
Somethin’ bout her makes her feel like a forgetful woman
Somethin’ bout, somethin’ bout, somethin’ bout her
Made her wanna say things but she couldn’t
Somethin’ bout, somethin’ ‘bout, somethin’ ‘bout her

[Refrain]
She don’t wanna be like that
Memories that fade like that
Dunno how she’s feeling inside
Somethin’ ‘bout, somethin’ ‘bout
She don’t wanna be like that
Memories that fade like that
Dunno how she’s feeling inside
Somethin’ ‘bout, somethin’ ‘bout

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500 Followers: A New Milestone!

(っ◔◡◔)っHappy 2020! I wish you all a beautiful, magical New Year!

I know that this blog post is [very] late so I’m going to keep the belated New Year wishes short and sweet. We are well on our way into the month of January and it’s hard to believe that we’re living in the year 2020! If you made New Year’s resolutions this year, are you still sticking to them? Keep in mind that January 12 is the day that most people ditch their resolutions. 🙊

I had initially made a New Year’s resolution to write something everyday for 365 days, whether that is blogging, journaling, or note-taking. Even if I force myself to write 200 crappy words each day, it’s enough to build some kind of momentum, especially when I’m feeling uninspired or lack the motivation to get started.

Just Do It ✔

I am notorious for writing long-ass text-messages, long-ass emails, and leaving comments the size of Mt. Everest on my friends’ blogs, and yet, I rarely invest the same amount of time and energy needed to write blog posts on a consistent basis. Throughout my blogging journey, I learned that I much prefer writing for an audience than I do writing for myself. Another key factor that demotivates me from getting started on writing blog posts is based on an idea called paralysis by analysis. I haven’t previously heard of paralysis by analysis until recently, while I was listening to The Mindset Mentor podcast by Rob Dial. If you want to learn more about the crippling effects of paralysis by analysis and how you can overcome it, I highly recommend checking out his podcast on iTunes.

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A New Year, A New Direction

What is this blog’s outlook for 2020? Honestly, I wish I could tell you that overcoming paralysis by analysis will make me a more productive and active blogger. I wish I could tell you that I will publish weekly blog posts like I did last year, and that I won’t become another blogger who suddenly drops off the face of the blogging planet. I don’t want to feed you empty promises because I was too ambitious at the time, and then fail to deliver on these promises. This year, I have a bunch of shit stuff that I need to deal with and unfortunately, blogging is not my top priority right now. At this time, I am working on an even bigger project that will hopefully pave the way for a better future. This year, I’ve decided to return to university to finish what I started. 👩‍🎓

“Accept responsibility for your life. Know that it is you who will get you where you want to go and no one else.” —Les Brown

In the beginning, I created this blog so I would have a place to share my poetry with people who actually enjoy reading poetry. A few years ago, I didn’t even know that I could write, let alone poetry. And as time went on, I discovered that I have more to write, more to create, and more to give back to the universe. These realizations were only discovered through the hardships that I have faced over the last decade, and for that I am grateful. I also discovered that writing helps me process complex emotions as well as make sense of my tangled web of thoughts. By pruning the proverbial shrubs, writing allows me to better understand not only myself but also the people around me. This blog is like a baby to me which I would feel terrible for abandoning. Similar to human babies, blogging takes long-term commitment and a great deal of time and energy.

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During my quarter-life crisis back in April 2019, my blog really started to blossom. Honestly, I did not expect to gain 500 wonderful followers, and yet, here we are. I want to thank all of you from the bottom of my heart, for spreading the love and helping to keep this blog alive! ❤

Thanks for stopping by!

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I Attended An Anxiety Workshop | Part 3

This blog post is the final installment of the I Attended An Anxiety Workshop series. Please check out Part 1 and Part 2 if you haven’t previously done so, which give detailed descriptions leading up to this point. Thank you! ❤

During the month of November, I attended an anxiety workshop on campus called “Confront the Discomfort.I previously shared some techniques that were addressed in Session 1 and Session 2, and I was overwhelmed by the amount of positive comments and feedback I received from all of you. You guys are the reason why I continue to pour my heart and soul into blogging. Blogging is more than just a hobby for me. Blogging is an essential part of my recovery. 

be-still-be-present-be-mindful-quoteDuring Session 3 on November 19, 2019, we talked about positive coping statements for dealing with anxiety. I want to give you some examples of coping statements that I use in my daily life. Next time you are feeling anxious, I challenge you to try applying some positive coping statements similar to the ones I am going to share with you today.

Did you know that these coping statements can be used to manage stress, as well as phobias? Oh boy, so my fear of balloons can be overcome by repeatedly using positive affirmations? Even I am a bit skeptical about this one. Skepticism aside, let’s explore some coping statements, shall we?

♥ Let’s talk about coping statements ♥

(っ◔◡◔)っ ♥ Before we dig deeper into some examples of positive coping statements, what the heck are coping statements to begin with?! ♥

The best definition I found is directly sourced from www.choosehelp.com, which defines coping statements as “truthful positive statements used to replace the negative and untrue thoughts that take over when you feel anxious, stressed, angry and/or when facing overwhelming situations [such as phobias].”

I really love lists. I love lists so much that I had originally intended to write listicles for this week’s blog post. As I started writing these lists, it dawned on me that the material this week is quite dry and does not really spark excitement. If my own writing is gonna bore me to death, then chances are you’ll probably be bored out of your minds too. And nobody would want that. Not me. Not you. Not anyone. 🙇‍♀️

A Simpler Way to Remember Things: Draw a Picture

Disclaimer: Since I do not have the resources to draw and upload my own images for you, I am using images directly sourced online. All images shown below belong to the rightful owner, Rebekah, from @journey_to_wellness_. The images that I am displaying here are strictly for educational purposes ONLY.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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Rebekah from @journey_to_wellness_ does an excellent job at illustrating effective coping statements for dealing with anxiety.

♥ My New & Improved Listicles ♥

I’ve decided to take it upon myself to improve my otherwise boring lists by making them more visually appealing. This is literally the extent of my artistic abilities, and I know that these lists are not nearly as exciting as the previous illustrations. However, I hope that this information helps you find relief whenever you are feeling stressed out or overwhelmed.

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Coping Statements for Stress.pngWell, I hope you enjoyed reading the I Attended An Anxiety Workshop series as much as I enjoyed writing it! Any feedback would be greatly appreciated since I am trying to improve my blogging and writing skills. Have you used similar positive coping statements in the past when you had to deal with a stressful situation? Please leave a comment by joining the conversation below↓

Thanks for stopping by!

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I Attended An Anxiety Workshop | Part 2

This week is a continuation of last week’s blog post, titled I Attended an Anxiety Workshop. Please check it out if you haven’t read it yet. Thank you! ❤

On November 19, 2019, I attended the last session of “Confront the Discomfort, which is an anxiety workshop offered to students at my university. I’m technically a student but at the same time, I am not a student. I am registered as a student, but I haven’t taken classes since being forced to withdraw in April 2019. I will be starting school again in January 2020. A part of me dreads 2020 because I used to think that 2020 was in the distant future. Well future, here I am so watch out! 🙊

peace-social-text-square-templateDuring the summer, I stopped taking my antidepressant medication. Please do not abruptly stop any kind of medication without speaking with your doctor first. After quitting my medications and significantly reducing my caffeine consumption, I am feeling mentally stronger these days. Hopefully, the progress I have made will be enough once I return to school in the new year. Ultimately, I figured that I had nothing left to lose and everything to gain by attending this anxiety workshop.

“Stop being afraid of what could go wrong, and start being excited of what could go right.” —Tony Robbins

Shine Bright Like A Diamond

As mentioned in my previous blog post, I was unable to attend Session 2. Luckily, they were happy to fill me in on the details. Only I showed up for Session 3 (final week) so I got to word vomit all over ’em. Like diamonds, private counselling sessions like this one are incredibly rare, so I interpreted this opportunity as a blessing in disguise.

Here is what I’m having a hard time fathoming: One student in particular made a lame excuse as to why he couldn’t attend the last two sessions. Dude, here are 2 professionals who are willing to help you for FREE and instead, you rather turn down this opportunity? SMH. 🤦‍♀️

Tip of the Iceberg

Using the summary sheet from Session 2, we talked about The Anxiety Iceberg. If you have studied psychology, you’re probably familiar with this diagram. I don’t have an exact diagram to show you since the one they gave me is barren. Basically, the behaviors that we outwardly express on the surface are attached to underlying subconscious thoughts such as fears. What fears are holding you back in life? Why do you suffer from anxiety and what factors may have caused this? Most often, the root causes stem from negative childhood experiences. Our behaviors are a type of coping mechanism we have adapted in order to survive in the real world. In other words, your fears are meant to protect you.  

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What fears are you hiding under the surface?

As I dug a little deeper into my past, I learned that I have a fear of both success and failure. And balloons. I am afraid of succeeding at something that seems overambitious, like nursing school. In elementary school, I learned that peers will dislike you if you are the smartest kid in the class. In high school, I leaned that nobody will notice you if you are extremely introverted. Loneliness followed me throughout my childhood and adolescent years, which added to my depression and social anxiety.

In university, I was an average student. I took a mainstream degree so I could please my parents and win their approval. Unsurprisingly, a mainstream B.Sc. degree got me mainstream results. I stopped trying to stand out or achieve big dreams. I thought that I wanted to be like everyone else, but trying to fit into mainstream society DID NOT lead to a happier, more fulfilling life.

“Find light in the beautiful sea, I choose to be happy.” —Rihanna, Shine Bright Like a Diamond 💎


Emotional Activators: What is Really Going On?

Instructions:

  • Think of one emotional activator that triggers you.
  • Write it down on the tip of the iceberg.
  • Think of the memories, experiences, thoughts, and beliefs that contribute to this emotional activator in particular.
  • Then write these memories, experiences, thoughts, and beliefs under the water of the iceberg → This is what’s really happening.
  • What can you do to better manage/respond to this activator? Write down 3-5 strategies.
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Drowning to be reborn again as her true self. Source: https://wall.alphacoders.com 

Thank you so much for joining the conversation last week, and leaving such lovely and insightful comments. This week, I plan to finish replying to the rest of your comments. I apologize for taking my sweet-ass time, as I unintentionally got swept away into the addictive world of video gaming. 105+ hours later, I finally beat the game and awoke to the realities of life. As of today, this blog has gained 400 amazing followers which is a HUGE milestone for me. I want to thank all of you from the bottom of my heart, for spreading the love and helping to keep this blog alive.

𝕊𝕥𝕒𝕪 𝕒𝕨𝕖𝕤𝕠𝕞𝕖, 𝕞𝕪 𝕡𝕠𝕤𝕤𝕦𝕞𝕤.

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I Attended an Anxiety Workshop

I recently joined an anxiety workshop on campus because my cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) therapist suggested that I should see what workshops are available to students. Then she told me that she is happy with the progress I’ve made so far, and that I don’t need to book another appointment until the end of the year. Um, okay.

I have some mixed feelings here: Will I be mentally prepared to handle school in January? What if I have another major depressive episode like last time? Will the progress I made this year be enough to overcome failure? 

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“Confront the Discomfort” is the workshop I accidentally stumbled upon two weeks ago. When I signed up that day, I was innocently checking emails instead of studying, and thus, procrastinating like it was nobody’s business. This workshop takes place every Tuesday on campus and runs for a total of 3 weeks. I was unable to attend the second workshop since my toddler was with me that day, and I highly doubt that they would have wanted her running around and screaming the place down.

Fight or Flight

I admit that I was hesitant to join this anxiety workshop, since I often dismiss the possibility that anyone can help me with my problems. However, earlier this year I surrendered to defeat and accepted the fact that I do not have the answers to my problems. Shocking, right? I have some of the answers, but not all of them. Also, I am usually reluctant to join social gatherings since my natural instinct is to isolate myself from people. Social anxiety is real man, but I know that social anxiety is not an uncommon disorder. To make matters worse, [social] anxiety sufferers are the ones who are likely to refuse help, and thus, unlikely to attend these workshops in the first place. And yet, anxiety sufferers are the ones who are most likely to benefit by attending these workshops.

So far, I have only attended Session 1, and I plan to attend the Session 3 next week. I was unable to attend the Session 2 so I am missing that worksheet. Using the summary sheet from Session 1, I want to show you how to do the 5-4-3-2-1 Grounding Technique and the 3-7-8 Breathing Exercise. Both of these techniques are effective at calming your nerves so that you can focus to the present moment. I’ve been using the 3-7-8 Breathing Exercise for months now and can confirm that it works quickly and effectively.

5-4-3-2-1 Grounding Technique 

Preparation:

  • Place both of your feet flat on the floor.
  • Lean back into your chair, and make a mental note of the feeling of the chair under you and against your back.
  • Cross your arms over your chest.
  • Gently tap your shoulders, alternating one side at a time OR place your hands on your thighs and tap one leg at a time.

Directions:

  • Find 5 things that you SEE in the room.
  • Notice 4 things that you can FEEL in the room (feet on the floor, itchy sweater you’re wearing etc.)
  • HEAR 3 things in the room right now (traffic, clock ticking etc.)
  • What are 2 things that you can SMELL OR 2 smells that you like?
  • Get 1 thing that you can taste (mint, gum etc.) OR 1 taste that you like OR think of 1 thing that you like about yourself.

3-7-8 Breathing Exercise 

  • Breathe in quietly through your nose for 3 seconds.
  • Hold your breath for a count of 7 seconds.
  • With pursed lips, exhale slowly through your mouth for 8 seconds.
  • Repeat the cycle as needed until you feel a sense of calmness.
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It is all about finding the clam in the chaos.

I am curious to know if you have attended workshops related to mental health, especially workshops focused on dealing with anxiety. When you were a college or high school student, were similar workshops available to you? If not, is this something that you would be interested in? Please join the conversation and leave a comment below ↓

Thanks for stopping by!

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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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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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