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Bringing Back Your Inner child

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What were you like when you were a child? 

Were you shy? Were you quiet? Were you hyper? Were you happy? Were you sad? Were you playful?

What did you enjoy doing when you were a child?

Did you enjoy building cities out of lego? Playing with Hot Wheels cars? Writing books? Drawing pictures? Acting in a play? Building playhouses? Playing with animals? Creating science projects? Climbing trees? Reading books? Taking your bike out for adventures?

I just came back from a nostalgia filled weekend in Portland, Oregon, and it was amazing. I’ve heard that the city was like going back to the 90s, and is actually kind of was. In the best way. It wasn’t pretentious, people wore what was comfortable. Grunge was still a thing. I didn’t see a lot of big corporate shops, as most of the shops were locally owned businesses. Everyone was friendly. There were tons of shops that were nostalgia themed too, such as stores dedicated to toys front he 60s/70s/80s and so on. We had dinner at McMenamins Kennedy School, which is an old school built in 1916 which was converted into a really magical and incredible space with themed bars and cigar rooms, restaurants, and hotel rooms. Also, when I visited Powell’s Books, the world’s largest independent new and used book store, I somehow ended up in the section on journals made for grandparents to record their memories as a keepsake for their grandchildren.

I ended up buying a book called, “A First for Everything Journal”, which is a journal filled with all sorts of questions about your first everythings that you fill out. It’s a major trip down memory lane. It really got me thinking about who I was as a child. Check it out.

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I was always a creative kid. I was always writing books, books and more books, mostly activity books about science, space, ghosts, and the earth/nature. But it really got me thinking that somewhere along the way, I lost who this little girl was. The little girl who didn’t care what people thought, who just created things because she loved to. I came across this video, which talks about when we were children, we functioned from the inside-out (our creativity came from within and was expressed outwardly), but as we grew up and needed to fit in and got caught up in consumerism, we became more outside-in oriented, and lost who we were.

I want to get back to who I was. 

Today I visited my old elementary school, and sat in the field on the baseball bench. I took in the familiar scene that was lost so long ago, smelled the old smells, and remembered the old memories. This is my mission, and time to delve back into who I was long ago. I already have goals of writing books, but this really hit home. I do want to write books. And not necessarily novels, or anything big, but simple books to inspire people of all ages.

What were you like when you were a child?

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More Minimalism YouTube Channels

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It’s 2:41 in the afternoon, and the air is moist. There is a raging windstorm going on outside, which has decided to blow over one side of my balcony railing onto the street below, and tear our patio gazebo apart into a tangled mess of canvas canopy and broken metal. Even with all of this going on, I am very comfy and cozy snuggled up on the sofa with my love, my laptop, and a hot cup of english breakfast tea.

Today has been a great day so far. We spent the morning wandering around the Museum of Vancouver to see the Happiness exhibition and a really neat exhibition on the history of living in Vancouver from the 1900’s to 1970s. Of course my favourite was the hippie display. A good day to slow down indeed.

Anyway, I just wanted to update my list of Minimalism YouTube Channels because it seems to be getting some popular attention, as I’ve found a few (more than a few) more since last time.

Melissa Alexandria – Probably my favourite channel right now. Melissa covers  so many different areas in our lives with regards to minimalism and what that means. It’s very inspiring to watch someone go through their journey and follow along.

Samantha Lindsey – Samantha shares her inspiring story on how minimalism helped her deal with anxiety.

Brittany Taylor – Brittany takes a more nomadic approach to minimalism, but it is so cool to watch someone with such a free and spiritual lifestyle. She’s really into acro yoga too.

Carrie LeighAnna – I like Carrie’s simple and sweet approach to minimalism. She also has a really great capsule wardrobe.

High Carb Hannah – Hannah’s channel is more vegan based than minimalist, but she does live a minimalist lifestyle, and I love watching her and her fiancé, at Unconventional Living, build their intentional lives.

My Minimalist Baby – For those of you who have little ones!

Noelia Lewis – A beauty inspired minimalism channel.

The More We Explore – Watch this couple on their journey to living out of an RV.

This week…

I took a bit of a break on my workouts because I was on the 3 day juice cleanse. So I’ve made a commitment to start up with Blogilates again on September 1st to start the new calendar month!

I’m practicing my intuitive eating. Trying not to stuff myself. It’s helping. We bought a scale, and my body actually fluctuates between 4 pounds over an entire day. That weirded me out a little.

Every night I’ve been reading a bit of my Astrology book, but I’ve not been as focused on my goals.

Giving back is great, I’m excited to the Annual Walk for the Kitties event for VOKRA.

I’ve been more honest with the relationships in my life as well as career. I find that when you put the truth out there, a weight is lifted, and things are more likely to turn for the better 🙂

That’s all folks. Some things I could improve on, is focus on eating even better, and smaller meals more often throughout the day. I think my spending could be a bit better too. I don’t really buy a lot of stuff, but I know I could be more aware. I’ll aim for that this week. Less spending and eating better.

Anyone else trying to live more intentionally?

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I’m Raising Money for Kitties!

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Just a quick one guys, I wanted to let you know that my partner and I will be raising money for the Vancouver Orphan Kitten Rescue (VOKRA)

VOKRA’s mission is to end cat overpopulation and homelessness. They rescue, heal, then place cats –  first in their network of foster homes, then in carefully matched, loving, forever homes. They are a passionate, volunteer-driven charity with extensive cat care experience. They believe that no-kill is the only responsible approach, that TNR works, and that cats are AWESOME!

We will be walking in VOKRA’s 6th Annual Walk for the Kitties on September 13th, and we are trying to raise money for this cause. Cats have always had a special place our hearts. I, Pia, have grown up with them, and I’ve been trying to save animals who can’t fend for themselves since I was a child. I believe that all creatures should be given a chance to live and be loved. Tony has been an animal lover since he was a child as well, and believes they should all have a safe place to call home.

If this resonates with you at all and cats have a special place in your heart, please donate to this cause and help make a difference.

  • $15 will provide a vaccine
  • $30 will buy a flat of food
  • $50 will provide care for one cat for a month
  • $60 will buy a trap for use in our trap-neuter-return programmes
  • $100 will spay/neuter a cat

Every bit helps!

We’ll be walking for Tuffy. (pictured above)

The donation link is here and you will get a charity tax receipt with your donation.

Thank you so much, it means a lot!

This week…

What is going on with my eating habits? Again, I can’t seem to stay clear of the unhealthier stuff. Well, it all changes tomorrow, as I start the juice cleanse by The Juice Box. Mmm, I’ve done a few juice cleanses, and actually love them, and the taste. So I am hoping this will mentally and physically reset myself.

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I am loving Astrology. Reading my book on Astrology and trying to learn about it. The Cancer description is scarily me.

That is all for now. Let’s chat soon.

<3 Pia

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Our Microwave Culture

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I was thinking about our microwave culture lately, which is defined as the “mindset of wanting (and nearly getting) everything “RIGHT NOW”. Technology has made gathering or sending information extremely fast and we’ve begun to think that everything in life should be available on demand.”

Where in your life have you seen life speed up? For instance, cameras were once very manual, large, and clumsy. Then they became smaller and pocket sized. We’d develop the film and wait a week before we could see the final results. Several photos would be of nothing really special. Then we had digital cameras, which were great for seeing and storing your photos instantly. But that wasn’t enough, because then we had cell phones. They had to have cameras too. And the crappy quality wasn’t good enough. They had to get better. Do you ever wonder what the next phase will be?

Or what about the short time over the past few years of posting things online. People used to take time to reply to comments, or status updates, and read blogs or articles word for word and patiently. And while sometimes we still do, our attention span is speeding up. Now we’re skimming everything. And if it’s not interesting enough, it hardly gets a glance. We’re simplifying instant gratification even more by using the “Like” button. Quick and instant validation. With the new release of Periscope, we get even MORE instant gratification. Instant likes, live comments, etc. What is next?

What about…dating! Dating used to be a slower process of meeting people in real life. Someone had to be brave enough to make a move or signal. I can’t speak for what the dating scene was like 50 or 100 years ago, but even back before the internet age we would take the time to get to know someone. We would value each and every precious encounter with the person we were interested in, waiting forever for the next one. We’d write handwritten love notes. And yes, of course this still happens, but I’m more comparing the old dating model to the new one. Then there was the whole video dating thing in the 80s and 90s, okay that was alright, it was entertaining if anything, but it was still a slower process.

Then came online dating and it started to speed the whole process up. But even in the early days, we would spend more time writing to each other, getting to know each other. But as time went on and the people pool grew, potential dating partners became more disposable. We didn’t want to waste time writing too much in case it wasn’t a match. Today we have sites like Tinder and it’s literally, swipe yes, swipe no. Quick quick quick. And even once you meet in real life, it’s all very fast paced for us to move onto someone else because there are so many options. No time wasted here. It’s all very shallow.

Anyway, what do you think about the speeding up of our need for information. While yes, it’s convenient to have things right away, (online banking, packaged ready made food, etc) we lose a sense of how things used to be, and the beauty of being creative, and enjoying the process, instead of the result.

And this week…

I think that me and food need to have a serious conversation. Sure, just because I’m exercising doesn’t mean it’s an excuse to have that cookie, or ice cream cone. This week, I am trying to make more of an effort to eat healthy. This is a common pattern with myself.

Exercise has been successful. I’m still sticking to my daily Blogilates. Today was rough, but I pushed through.

Something I want to be more mindful of is how much time I’m spending on YouTube and surfing the internet.

I did overcome a fear of water, as we did a team building event at my work. It was pretty amazing actually.

I tried to always be a good friend. To be kind, and to listen.

I did buy a couple vintage clothing items (hello mom jeans and sheer white button up) and a new pair of black booties. Granted I have to get rid of my old ones because they are about 3 years old and falling apart so that was a guilt free purchase. I get into these modes where I’m really inspired by something. Like right now I really want to incorporate vintage clothes, because a) I love vintage fashion and b) it’s more ethical than buying new and c) gives back to the local shop.

Anyway. I could do better. Writing this blog is a helpful reminder to keep on track to being the person I want to be.

 

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Why We Need To Slow The F*** Down

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Pardon the language in my title. But seriously. I’ve just finished a book (I read a lot of books sometimes) written by my partner’s aunt, called Have You Ever Had A Hunch?

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It’s a book about the importance of creative thinking and being in tune to your inner creative intuition. It looks at all of the ways that we repress ourselves and how society blocks our creativity. But there were a couple points in this book that really stood out that I must share.

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We have become overstimulated and overwhelmed by all of the choices available to us and there are way too many options that stand in the way of deep examination.

“Political “experts” sell their pre-packaged thinking, financial analysts, theirs. Into whose interpretation of political events or economic eventualities should we buy? What commodity will reflect well on us? Which new fashions will enhance us? What cereal displayed in the rows and rows of cereals in the ultra-super-megastore should we choose? Which of the latest technological applications is best? How long will it take for it to become outdated? How do you keep up with the ever-changing future? How much more time will we spend trying to make choices? Will there fever be enough time to explore our individual creative desires?” ~ Have You Ever Had A Hunch?

It’s incredible! Because we are being bombarded with information, we rarely have a moment to sit and contemplate everything thrown at us, and we don’t take any time to listen to what our own souls are crying for us to do.

People who are removed from their own instincts about things become more and more confused by the multiple perspectives they are constantly being offered and become incapable of defining their own world view. And thus, we suffer from a loss of authenticity. This is something I can really relate to sadly.

Our poor kids today are growing up in a busy culture as well, and not having time to themselves to create and be imaginative.

“In the United States today, it is the age of the microwave child, many of whom have never kneaded dough, never watched a meal being cooked from scratch. The ingredients are not of importance; it’s the finished product that counts…a goal is achieved without the creative process, without the stimulation and sacrifice of work. Instead, there exists a need for instant gratification.” ~ Have You Ever Had A Hunch?

Our Lack of Solitude

“There might be a place inside your head where ideas dwell, but nowhere to bring these to fruition is a cruncher.” ~ Have You Ever Had A Hunch?

Creative people need a space for solitude in order to reach those depths within. But many people are afraid to be alone with themselves. But being alone allows us to really think, it’s required if we want to get to know ourselves, and not get distracted by the constant information out there.

But anyway, enough about that. I just wanted to share those nuggets of information should you be inclined to check out the book!

 

This week…

I didn’t end up biking to work at least 3 days a week (oops). I blamed it on not making enough time to ride to work. However, I have ran 5km twice this week to make up for it and I’m noticing a huge difference. I’ve done well with intuitive eating, BUT have not always made 100% healthy choices. There was chocolate birthday cake, and a wine and cheese girls night in there somewhere. This week I must do better.

I’ve been setting a few minutes everyday practicing feeling blissful and not suffering. I tend to whine and complain, so I’m trying to get over that.

I didn’t make any unnecessary purchases. Yay to that!

Last weekend I donated a cat tree to Katie’s Place. And almost took a cat home.

I tried to squeeze in important family/loved ones time but I could have done better here. I was having an emotional and hormonal week contemplating my life and career, so I think my attention was more towards myself. I saw my family on the weekend and had brunch, and did a road trip with my partner to Harrison Hot Springs though.

I asked my boss to work part time. The company is still my baby, but we aren’t as busy currently so it was a good time to see if I could focus on all my projects on the go. I’m torn between growing the role full-time, vs time on my projects. There’s a great opportunity there that I need to sort out.

And that is all folks! Nothing very exciting. I’d love to hear how your week went! Is anyone else trying to live intentionally?

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A Fresh Start to Living with Intention!

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Hey everyone! Long time no chat. I’ve been a bit MIA these days because, well, basically life just sort of took over, but I am back and I want to give this thing the love and attention it needs. I’ve also been fighting a fear between just being myself vs trying to be objective and informational, if that makes sense. But a good friend helped me realize that, what is the worst that could happen if people I knew in real life knew me as personally as I shared myself on this blog? So I’m going to be more real, as I definitely enjoy reading those blogs more than pure informational ones (i.e. 10 Ways to Get Over a Cold!) Be warned, this is a long post, but it’s an intro to a new start, so if you have the patience to read it, then cool!

A lot of things have changed and I must admit that I got distracted from the Minimalism thing because I had moved into a new house with my SO and had a promotion a few months back so I was very busy and overwhelmed. The result was a house full of things (combining my things with his things) and being too mentally exhausted to focus on anything else with all the work stuff going on.

After having gone through some intense personal development workshops and seeing the person I want to be wasn’t exactly who I was currently, I am committing to live a more intentional life starting today, August 1st, 2015! I plan on checking in weekly to see how I am doing, and I am happy for you to point out of I miss any updates (eek!). One thing I need to work on is committing to tasks that are somewhat ‘repetitive’. I seem to have a difficult time with this. But my coach said something brilliant.

Building Character means doing the things that uphold your values and who you want to be, despite you not feeling like it or wanting to do it.

Amen to that. But first.

I kicked off my “Fresh Start” by reading this book, “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up” by Marie Kondo. It’s absolutely incredible! Talk about a unique, quirky perspective on minimalism. Basically, Marie talks about the Japanese KonMari method of decluttering, where you hold every item in your hand, and only keep it if it “sparks joy”.  She anthropomorphises objects, teaching you to show them love and appreciation, and thank them for their purpose. For example, if there are gifts or cards you don’t want to keep but feel guilty about getting rid of, know that the purpose of a gift/card is to convey someone’s emotions about you. Once that purpose has been served, you have no other obligation to keep the item.

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I finished this book in a few hours and was well on my way to decluttering what I had accumulated since my last purge. I got rid of 4 giant garbage bags of clothes/linens, a bunch of books, dishes, and random knickknacks that had no meaning. I also went through useless documents that I thought I had to keep for record keeping sake. Granted, I don’t have a ton of things because I did do a huge purge last year, and I am not the biggest shopper. But I did well! I am so lucky to have a partner who was super supportive of it all.

“Go ahead! I like my office but the rest of the house is yours!”

Yay!

Anyway, pick up this book. It’s very cute, but extremely practical and claims to make you a tidy person for once and for all.

Let’s take a moment to talk about Minimalism for a second. I’ve been watching a lot of YouTube videos lately on minimalism,

Here are a couple I absolutely love:

but most of the Minimalists I am running into, whether on YouTube or on the Blogosphere, focus on extreme minimalism. Like, literally living with only, probably, one item of everything you need. Their decor is very neutral, simple, and clean. Which is really cool, and I wish I could do it, but I can’t ignore who I really am.

You know what brings me joy? Anything antique/vintage/retro and bohemian looking. Think eccentric grandma! Ornate designs carved into wood, colourful eccentric patterns against a neutral background, and textures. I do like to keep the bedroom fairly neutral and relaxing though as a space to clear my mind. Also, my wardrobe is pretty minimalist and neutral. My home just has to be eye candy. Here are some photos below. 

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So while my tastes don’t match what the norm seems to be out there in the Minimalism world, I adore every piece I own and they all spark joy. This is what it means to me.  It means many things to different people. For instance, the world traveler minimalist who lives from their backpack, or a van converted into a home. I think it’s important not to confuse minimalism as one way of being because the purpose is ultimately the same – to get rid of the things we don’t need, to make room for the things we want.

And now, I must move onto to my Intentional Living! I’m not going to lie, I’m a bit nervous to start this. But the blog, Blonde on a Budget (another one you need to check out) really inspired me. Not only is she living more intentionally, but she has been on a Year Long Shopping Ban and onto her second! Amazing work Cait!

Below is a list of things that I intend to focus on so that I can live more intentionally, simply, and meaningfully. I’ve already been doing these things, but the goal is to STICK to them and remember the higher purpose. 

Health and Fitness: 

  • Daily Pilates: Currently I’m doing Blogilates daily. (Guys it’s so much fun!)
  • Bike to work at least 3x/week.
  • Intuitive eating which is creating a good relationship with food, mind and body. Learning not to eat for emotional reasons, just eating when you’re hungry and stopping when you’re full.
  • Vegan/Vegetarian diet. I love animals way too much to eat them. Also not eating processed foods, too much sugar/alcohol/caffeine/crap. Currently I’m open to eating seafood, but most of my diet is primarily vegetarian. Let’s see if I can get to vegan. Any advice?
  • Cook more! Less eating out. Save money. I’ve been doing pretty well here.

Spiritual/Emotional:

  • Everytime I have the impulse to eat something bad because of emotional reasons (boredom/sadness etc), sit in the feeling, recognize it’s a misguided opportunity to connect with ourselves. Being ok with just feeling the emotions.
  • Be more present.
  • Astrology!: I must admit, whether it’s true or not, I find it so fascinating because the things I read seem to be extremely accurate. Been reading a bit of this book everyday. The Only Astrology Book You’ll Ever Need.
  • Be more aware and ethical in my lifestyle choices, whether it’s cleaning products, food, clothing etc.
  • Practice my daily Bliss feeling and no suffering so I can learn to push through uncomfortable feelings when I don’t want to do something.
  • The minimalist lifestyle, living simply, enjoying the little things and open up space for what is important.

Finance:

  • Currently live on half of my paycheque, and save the other half. Only buy things I need such as food and toiletries. Spending a minimal amount on ‘going out’ and other miscellaneous things.

Giving Back:

  • This Blog: Writing consistently, and personally, to hopefully inspire others. And I will be honest when I fail on any of these things in my weekly updates.
  • Animals: Donating money or supplies to Katie’s Place, a local animal shelter in my hometown, Maple Ridge.

Relationships: I think I can sum all of these into really honouring the time I spend with those that I care about. Being truly present with them, instead of being distracted by the next thing I need to do.

  • Friends: Make an effort to see how people are doing, being more supportive of people’s dreams and aspirations.
  • Family: Being present with my family, recognizing they won’t be around forever, spending more time with them.
  • Partner: Also being more present, giving my full attention, appreciating how much I love this man and how amazing he is.

Career/Personal:

  • Grow my Virtual Assistant business here at Less of the Excess, the ultimate goal for me is to become location independent and self sufficient. Through living a minimalist lifestyle and not buying into consumerism, we need much less money to survive on!
  • Less time surfing the internet, more time on goals…this one is difficult. Less distractions!

Phew! That was a long one…

I’d love to hear some of things you guys are all doing in order to live more intentionally.

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Hammond Forever House!

 

Oh hello there, beautiful heritage home.

A few weeks ago I had the pleasure of touring this gorgeous heritage beauty. It is located in Port Hammond, British Columbia, which is the town where I spent most of my childhood years growing up so I was immediately drawn to checking it out. I always love a little summer nostalgia 😉

The story caught my eye when I saw the ad in the local newspaper.  The owners were doing a public tour to showcase the history of the home, as well as talk about how they were going to “renovate and retrofit this 1923 Craftsman-style cottage into Hammond Forever House – a house that heats and cools itself, conserves both energy and water, and keeps their family healthy and happy – on a budget.”

I was inspired to share their story and blog with you, because it is amazing to see people pour this much love into their home, as well as care for the environment and the future of their family. It’s not everyday you come across people with a progressive view of both caring about the history of a building, and wanting to think about its impact in the future.

If you have some time, please check out their story, and the progress of turning their dreams into reality. We can learn a lot from James and Leanne!

www.hammondfh.ca

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Social Media or No Media? Which Would You Choose?

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“Whoever controls the media, controls the mind.” ~ Jim Morrison

Let’s talk about social media, or the media in general and what it does to our emotional and mental wellbeing.

I have a friend whose family is from Africa and her grandfather lived until he was 127 years old. They say it was because the family moved him out of the city, and into the countryside, cut him off from all media, so that he could live blissfully and stress free with his family and the beautiful nature.

I have another friend from Vietnam. They did the same thing. When their elders got old, they chose to protect their family members from the media and moved them to a beautiful location to live media free so they could live longer and healthier lives.

It is well known that the Media (social media, news media, etc.) can cause us stress. Especially the television news. The stories that are told to us are generally negative and frightening. I personally try to limit my exposure to negative news topics because I am a very sensitive person, and I can get very depressed about the state of the world. And while isolating oneself from the media can make us potentially live healthier stress free lives, what are the costs?

Social Media is a topic on it’s own which can cause stress because of:

  • Trying to keep up with the Joneses with what is popular or what others have
  • Keeping up with ourselves and the need to portray our ideal image
  • Being addicted to technology
  • Losing our privacy
  • Prying people
  • Identity fraud
  • Relationship/Friendship drama

If you had to choose to either be media and stress free (ignorance is bliss), or informed but stressed out and miserable? Which would you prefer? Can you have both? Do you care?

I think the happy medium is to be able to choose what content we are exposed to. Essentialism, coined by Greg McKeown, would say we should choose to expose ourselves to information that brings us value, and disregard the rest. A dear friend of mine says it’s always important to be learning (which requires learning about what is going on in the world), but we should have a choice on what kind of information we get and go to trusted, unbiased (ideally) sources. We should also explore all angles of a story or issue, and not blindly accept what is being told. For example, read the comments sections and discover other intelligent interpretations.

What do you think? I’d love to hear your thoughts!

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Mad for Matcha!

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Mmm…there’s something so calming about a warm cup of Matcha Tea. The rich and creamy flavour paired with its relaxing properties is perfect for any morning wake-up or afternoon pick-me-up. I’ve always had Matcha Lattes from a coffee shop, but making it at home is a ritual in and of itself.

I will try to keep this post short as there is endless information on Matcha Tea so I will focus on what Matcha Tea is, the benefits, supplies you need and how to prepare it.

What is Matcha Tea?

Drinking Matcha Tea is part of a Japanese tradition and has been consumed for thousands of years. It is made from high quality green tea powder which is rich in nutrients and made from the tips of shade-grown Camellia sinensis plants. There are so many health benefits of Matcha Tea that it is known as one of the world’s most powerful super foods.

What are the benefits?

There are too many to list, but below is a quick run down. Source

High in Antioxidants – 5x the amount of as any other food
Loaded with Catechin, EGCg – it fights cancer
Has Calming Effects – Amino Acid L-Theanine promotes relaxation, without drowsiness
Increases Energy Levels and Endurance – Contains caffeine, but doesn’t give you the jitters
Burns Calories – increases metabolism
Detoxifies the Body
Fortifies the Immune System
Improves Cholesterol
Delicious Flavor!

Matcha Tea Supplies!

The essentials to a Matcha Tea making kit are:

1. Bamboo Whisk (Chasen) which creates a frothy beverage and is gentle on your tea and bowl.
2. Bamboo Tea Scoop (Chashaku) for scooping and measuring out the your powder.
3. Matcha Bowl (Chawan), an artisan style bowl for drinking your tea.

How to Prepare Matcha Tea

Ah the wonders of the internet, here is a diagram below. Source
Drinking Matcha tea is not just about pouring it into a bowl/cup and drinking it, it’s ritual as well. For a more detailed ceremonial way of drinking matcha tea, check out this video.

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Don’t like matcha as a tea? Add it to any smoothie, make a latte, or even make a Matcha Tea shot!

Let me know if you drink Matcha Tea at all, or if you want to give it a try!

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Why Introverts Struggle to Speak

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I can’t take credit for the below article, but it was so good I had to share it. It’s something I deeply relate to; some of you may too. The original post is here. What do you think?

A co-worker appears out of the blue and asks me a question. Her eyes and tone of voice say she wants an answer now. Her request is easy, but my mind is momentarily paralyzed.

I start sentences then stop them. I hesitate. I say words that are close to what I mean, but not exactly. I backtrack.

My co-worker — an extrovert who always seems to express herself effortlessly — looks at me like, come on, spit it out. I think, if only my brain would cooperate.

Why introverts struggle with word retrieval

When we’re speaking out loud, we introverts often have trouble finding the word we want. We may come off sounding like we don’t know what we’re talking about, even though we probably do. In social situations, we may have trouble keeping up with fast-talking extroverts.

Our brains use many different areas for speaking and writing, writes Dr. Marti Olsen Laney in her book, The Introvert Advantage: Making the Most of Your Inner Strengths. Information needs to flow between the separate areas, and as introverts, we process information deeply, which means it flows slowly.

Word retrieval is a problem for some introverts because, along with deeper processing, we rely on long-term memory more than short-term memory. It takes longer to access long-term memory, and we need the right association (something that reminds us of the word) to reach into our long-term memory and pull out the exact word we want, writes Laney.

If we’re anxious — which may happen when we’re with people we don’t know well, or when we’re in a high-pressure situation like a first date — it may be even more difficult to locate and articulate a word.

Why it’s easier to express ourselves in writing

Introverts “often feel as if they express themselves better in writing than in conversation,” writes Susan Cain in her book Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking.

Introverts often prefer text messages and emails to phone calls. Many of us keep journals or compose lyrics, poems, or stories, and some of us make careers out of writing.

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The reason for this preference once again has to do with how our brains are wired: written words use different pathways in the brain, which seem to flow fluently for many introverts, writes Laney.

What to do when your mind goes blank

Memory is complex, and it uses many different areas of the brain. Our brains store memories in several locations and create links between them, called associations.

To yank something out of long-term memory, we need to locate an association. The good thing is, most pieces of information in long-term memory were stored with several associations or keys for unlocking them.

“If we find just one key, we can retrieve the whole memory,” writes Laney.

When you struggle to remember a word, a piece of information, or even what you did over the weekend (because that question often comes up in small talk!), try these things:

  • Be still and relax.
  • Give yourself permission to be quiet for a few moments. Don’t let the other person rush you.
  • Buy yourself time to process things by saying something like, “Let me think about that,” or “Hmm, let me see…” Or, give a nonverbal signal that shows you’re thinking, like looking away and furrowing your brow slightly.
  • Let your mind wander for a moment and go where it wants. One thought may lead to another, and one of those thoughts may hold the “key” to unlocking the words you want from your long-term memory.

If all else fails, and words escape you, don’t feel embarrassed — your brain is doing what comes naturally to it, and that is to pause and reflect. If you’re being quiet, you’re in good company with other deep-thinking introverts: Stephen Hawking once said, “Quiet people have the loudest minds.”

Then, try breezing over any awkwardness in the conversation by using humor to make light of your tongue-tied state, or say you’re a little distracted right now, and you’ll get back to the other person later — by sending an email or text.

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