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Month: July 2016

Caring about what others thing doesn't have to affect your confidence.

Why it’s Okay to Care What Other People Think

“Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind.”— Dr. Seuss

I will be the first to admit that I have a tendency to take things personally. Being judged by others has always been one of my worst fears and something I avoided at all costs.

It affected several aspects of my life, but I was particularly insecure about my writing.

Although I’ve loved writing for as long as I can remember, nothing made me feel more exposed than letting someone read something I wrote. 

The above quote from Dr. Seuss is a very wise one, and a theme many of my friends and family have been preaching for years, the message simply being: Stop caring about what other people think!

It’s not as though I didn’t understand the concept of this wisdom. The problem was execution. No matter how much I reminded myself that other people’s opinions shouldn’t matter, I still cared. It still stung when someone criticized me, or my work, or my choices.

So what’s changed? How is it I am suddenly posting my words and thoughts all over the internet?

It was partly the realization that fearing other people’s judgment is, in part, a symptom of low self-confidence. And if there is one thing I learned about confidence over the years, it’s that you won’t feel confident until you start acting confident. If I waited until I truly stopped caring what everyone thought before sharing my work, it would absolutely never happen.

So, I decided to act first, regardless of how I felt, and deal with the “consequences” of people’s reactions later. That was when my first blog – a knitting blog – was born. 

It’s been a couple years since then, and I’m still standing! That being said, I also still care what other people think. A lot. It still gets me down when a writing pitch gets rejected, or criticized, or someone passes judgment on something I said or did. 

But I also get over it. Better still, I can usually learn something from it. Sometimes listening to what others are saying can lend a new perspective or help refine my skills. 

The times I can’t learn from another person’s opinion is usually when it has nothing to do with me. The world is overflowing with the insecurities of others, and in some people, it manifests as an irrational criticism that is solely designed to try and take you down a peg.

Once you’re able to differentiate between constructive criticism and hot air, it becomes a lot easier to take things less personally.

But at the end of the day, I still care what other people’s opinions, and that’s okay. The problem wasn’t that I cared about the opinions of others, the problem was that I feared them and let it affect my confidence. 

Caring about what others think is pretty normal, and it can help us grow and learn. 

Just don’t let it stop you from being who you are and saying what you feel!

Dusters, Cardigans, and Sweaters, oh my!

Office Fashion: Why Cardigans are the Better than High Heels

I don’t know if it’s the fact that I’ve had to dress business casual for the past decade or if it’s because I subconsciously long to be a librarian, but it dawned on me recently that I’ve become completely obsessed with cardigans. Or really, any kind of duster, throw-over, or sweater that is open in the front.

Prior to entering into the corporate world, my biggest fashion obsession was shoes, particularly the high-heeled variety. The more outrageous the heel, the more I loved them. While not the most comfortable or practical obsession, it was one I knew to be a common side-effect of the female condition.

It’s not that I don’t love shoes anymore but these days nothing excites me like a new knee-length duster. And honestly, I think I’m better for it. Here’s why:

They’re Always Comfortable

High Heels are con artists. They seduce you into trying them on because they look fantastic and the next thing you know they’ve convinced you to put comfort on the back-burner. Even if comfort is something you’re rational about, you won’t be able to tell from the five minutes you spent wearing them in the store that they will be making your feet cry for mercy within two hours of wearing them to the office.

Maybe its just because I’m the ripe old cranky age of 32, but I don’t have patience for shoes that torture me anymore, no matter how cute they are.

Okay, maybe if they’re really cute. The point is, I have lower tolerance for painful shoes.

Cardigans never lie to you. If it’s comfortable in the store, it will be comfortable anywhere else, no matter how long you wear it. They are in it with you for the long haul. I even wear mine around the house over my pajamas some mornings like a house coat.

They Keep you Warm

For whatever reason, every office I’ve ever worked in has basically been an icebox, no matter what time of year it is. Either my co-workers are secretly penguins or the AC has no spectrum between on or off.  I’m leaning towards the penguin theory. But since becoming addicted to cardigans, chilly days at the office are bearable.

In contrast, my heels don’t keep my feet warm at all. Then again my cardigan doesn’t keep my feet warm either. They need to make feet cardigans to go over your socks. Multi-million dollar idea right there.  

They Make You Look Smart

Pair a cardigan with some thick glasses and you will show up to your next meeting looking like you have the answers. Or like you got lost on the way to the library.

I’ve also been compared to a jedi master while wearing my cream-coloured duster. Think about it, when was the last time your shoes made you look like you could kick a storm-trooper’s butt?

I mean, you could wear a suit jacket and some people say that looks smart. But they’re not as comfortable and if you work in a business casual office then it just makes you look like a jerk.

They’re Practical

Today when I was heading out for lunch, someone coming in from outside said to me, “you’re not going to need that sweater, it’s a million degrees outside.”

I smiled and nodded, but my internal dialogue was more along the lines of, “challenge accepted.” I walked out into the blistering heat and proceeded to drive home in my stifling car without ever taking my sweater off. 

Okay, so I guess that wasn’t the best anecdote for this point.  Don’t blame the sweater, though.

Just because I’m not practical doesn’t mean the sweater isn’t.

House-hunting tactics

Tactics for Finding a House in a Competitive Market

My spouse and I have moved twice in the past nine months, and four times total since 2012. It’s been a stressful time but we feel we are making the right choice and have learned a lot about the state of today’s real estate market.

Searching for a place to live in a seller’s market, like the GTA, can be a grueling and heartbreaking experience. Everything seems out of your budget and the places that aren’t get snapped up before you even have a chance to go look at them. When you finally are able to put an offer on the house, you find yourself being outbid by five other competitors.

What gives? While in no way do I consider myself to be an authority on real estate, I have been through several moves in a challenging buyer’s market which has introduced me to a few tactics.

Before you give up and contemplate moving into a cardboard box until the situation improves, consider the following options:

Rank Your “Must-Haves”

You can’t have everything. There, I said it. Now that that’s out of the way, make a list of the things that are important to you in a house and rank them from most to least important. It’s not going to be easy. Inevitably you will have to ask yourself some hard questions.

Private backyard or en suite washroom? Bigger house or shorter commute?

Acknowledging the tradeoffs and being firm on what’s most important can help keep you from waffling when you find a potential but not-quite-perfect house. This is critical in today’s market because you don’t have time for soul searching when deciding to buy a property.

If you aren’t willing to sign on the dotted line within hours of seeing the place, you’re going to have a bad time.

Consider Reserving a New Build

The obvious con to this option is the timeframe involved. Buy a house that isn’t built yet, and you’ll be waiting a couple years for it to get done, and then spend the first several months living in a virtual mud pit/construction zone. But if you look at the big picture, there are some major advantages to this.

First, there’s less competition. Get in the presentation centre the day they release the floor plans and you’ll have your pick.

Second, new builds can be a little bit cheaper than buying a resale, at least in this market. Just don’t get suckered into buying the outrageously expensive upgrades. Be patient and hire a contractor to put in upgrades after the fact.  

Look at Leases

There are a couple good reasons to look at leases. It works well as a temporary measure if you’re planning on buying a new build.

As well, with the housing market the way it is, it may not be the best time to buy right now. For years now, economists have been speculating on the GTA’s “housing bubble” which will inevitably burst.

There’s a ton of conflicting opinions on this, and it may never happen, but how much would it suck if you just took on an enormous mortgage only to have the market crash the next year? You could be stuck with a debt that’s larger than your house’s value. The last time this happened in the 80s, it took a decade for the market to recover.

Or, what if interest rates finally rise within the next five to seven years and you can no longer afford your monthly mortgage payment because of the interest?

The other thing about leases is that there’s always a chance the owner of the house might be willing to sell instead. Investigating this avenue could be advantageous because you’re less likely to get into a bidding war if the house isn’t listed for sale online.

 

As I said, I’m not an expert by any means, but these are just a few strategies we’ve found helpful the past few years.

Do you have any great house-hunting tips? Share in the comments!

Advil becomes you buddy when yoga hurts!

Y-ow!-ga: When Yoga Hurts Instead of Heals

As I type this, my neck really hurts. I am laying on the couch with a heating pad on my neck and a bottle of Advil within arm’s reach. Why?

I pulled a muscle doing yoga.

Wait, what? Yoga is the panacea for all that ails you, isn’t it? Many yoga enthusiasts, including myself, are quick to tout an endless list of the health benefits yoga offers. In fact, the internet is chock full of personal stories about how yoga transforms people for the better.

But what happens when your yoga practice has the opposite effect?

The notion that an exercise like yoga can cause injury is far less appealing, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t true. I’m living proof. Yoga isn’t considered a high impact activity which is why I think many people don’t take the risk of injury seriously. I know I didn’t. But the grim reality is the risk of injury is present no matter what kind of exercise you engage in.

So this week I’ve been reading up on injury and prevention and thought I would share my findings. Maybe it will spare some poor soul out there a week of pain-killers and neck braces.  

Take it Slowly to Start

This is the one that got me last weekend, and to be totally honest, it’s not the first time. Whenever I have a new surge of motivation to exercise, I always jump in and give it 110% intensity and the next day I’m inevitably nursing some sort of injury. In this case, it had been a couple months since I’d been to a vigorous vinyasa class, and I hit the mat as though I’d been going every day for weeks. It’s a recipe for disaster – or a least a strained tendon.

If you’re just starting yoga or coming back from a hiatus, take it slow and skip more advanced variations of the poses if you haven’t done them in a long time.

“No Pain No Gain” is the Worst Motto Ever

I get that the concept behind this saying is that you won’t grow if you don’t push yourself. But the phrase needs a refresh because it sounds more like the goal of exercise should be agony, which is just wrong.

Especially where yoga is concerned, if it hurts, don’t do it! No pose should ever be rushed; the transition into and out of the pose is more important than the pose itself. Ease very carefully into stretches and back off the moment anything feels too intense.

You Don’t have to do Everything the Teacher Instructs

When your teacher tells you it’s time for scorpion pose, it’s an invitation, not a challenge. At no time during yoga class should you feel the need to do every pose the teacher instructs in it’s most advanced variation. This can be a difficult lesson for some people with a competitive nature. (I should know!)

You may look around in envy at your classmates who effortlessly pop into difficult postures, but it’s not worth risking your health if it hurts or your body is telling you no!

I stopped attempting headstand a couple years ago because every time I tried it, it just felt completely wrong. If this pose comes up in class, I always substitute it with a posture I’m comfortable with.

Funnily enough, a lot of the pitfalls that can lead to yoga injury are the same things you’re supposed to check at the door to a yoga class anyway; impatience, ego, and competitiveness are a one-way ticket to Ow-Town.

Once I’m all healed up I look forward to hitting the mat once again – this time with 110% mindfulness.