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Author: Corrie Alexander

Going from beaches to snow walls

How to Return to the Daily Grind after an Amazing Vacation

The Working Girl’s Beach Vacation Survival Guide, Part 2

In the last post we talked about how to avoid self-sabotage and enjoy your vacation. But all fabulous vacations must come to an end. Inevitably, you’ll return to the daily grind of waking up early for work and other unglamourous day-to-day responsibilities.

But don’t let the restorative effects of vacationing vaporize into the cold winter air the moment you get home to a snow-covered driveway. Like so many things, returning to work with grace is mostly a matter of perspective.

Here are the dos and don’ts I find most effective for extending the revitalizing glow from your vacation after you return to reality:

Do give yourself something to look forward to when you get home

There’s got to be at least one thing about home you miss while you’re on vacation, right? This could be something small, like looking forward to sleeping in your own bed again, or some fun plans you made ahead of time with friends  or family. For me, it was my cat. That fluffy little Muppet is basically my fur-child, so leaving her with my parents for two weeks was hard for me! 

Don’t freak out about weight gain

Yes, you are likely to have gained a couple pounds after a week or two of decadent desserts and margaritas, but it’s not as bad as you think. A lot of it is just water retention caused by the spike in salt and sugar. It will come off within a few days of your eating normally again.

In fact, don’t be surprised if you find yourself in even better shape in the days following your vacay; the body responds well to being well-rested!

But do get back to the gym. Like, now

Don’t get me wrong, it has nothing to do with any weight gain from your vacation. For me, it’s a momentum thing, like ripping off the proverbial band-aid. I would strongly recommend jumping right back into your exercise regime within 48 hours of the plane’s wheels touching the pavement. Put it off a day or two and the next thing you know you’ll forget where the gym is because you haven’t been there in so long.

Don’t wait to unpack your bag

I failed this one after my last trip so learn from my mistakes. There’s nothing worse than tackling a carry-on bursting with wrinkled, dirty clothes in the middle of the workweek. Unpack your bags as soon as you get home and get those clothes in the laundry. Otherwise it just becomes another cumbersome thing added to your to-do list, which trust me, you don’t need.

Do Start Some New Good Habits

Now that you’ve returned from a week of recharging your batteries, consider your return to reality as a chance to reboot your day-to-day actions. This is a good time to initiate something you’ve always wanted to do but feel like you never have time for. Maybe that’s writing more, or starting a side hustle, or trying a new recipe or type of exercise.

Do Keep a Sense of Humor

If you open the front door on your first day back to work only to discover that the snow plow has left a wall of snow at the end of your driveway high enough to keep out the White Walkers, then laugh, don’t cry. Because if you cry while trying to shovel your car to freedom, the tears are just going to freeze on your face.

The lesson being, you can’t change the fact that you’re back in the cold weather at your stressful job, you can only change your outlook on it. “Staying positive” is corny and frankly not feasible for many people. But everyone likes to laugh and even if your sense of humour towards the situation is decidedly sardonic, that’s still better than not having any humour at all.

What are your best tips for a smooth transition from vacation to work?

Actually Enjoy your relaxing vacation!

How to Not Self-Sabotage Your Caribbean Vacation

The Working Girl’s Beach Vacation Survival Guide, Part 1 

This is part one of a two part series about the how the average busy career-gal can navigate her way through the beach vacation experience.

You’d think that planning the trip would be the hard part. But I would argue that it’s the easiest. Besides, there’s already a plethora of travel tips out there detailing whether you should roll or fold your clothes, so I’m going to get right down to what I consider the important part.

The vacation itself.

Some people naturally already know how to flip the switch to vacation mode, and I applaud those people and kindly invite them to exit to this article. Because some of us – many of us – are so stressed out and wound up by the time we get off the plane to our tropical destination, we’ve forgotten how to actually chill out and enjoy ourselves.

Since entering the full-time office life a decade ago, I have been lucky enough to take a winter getaway to the Caribbean three times, the most recent of which was at the beginning of February to Turks & Caicos Islands. And man, I had the time of my life! In fact, I couldn’t remember the last time I’d been that happy.

Although I’d enjoyed the two vacations prior to that, they didn’t leave me as rejuvenated and blissed-out as this one did.

All three trips were beautiful destinations with great accommodations. So why did I enjoy this most recent one the most?

I think I’ve gotten better at vacationing. 

That is, to totally unplug from the daily grind and just allow myself to actually relax and have fun. So now that I’ve deigned myself to be the mighty wise-woman on the mountain when it comes to vacationing, I’ve put together a few Dos and Don’ts to keep in mind for the next time you get on a plane to head for your own island paradise.

Don’t over-schedule yourself

I think for many of us, when we visit a new place, we desperately want to make the most of it and see and do everything that’s billed as a tourist attraction. Trying to “do it all” can overburden your schedule, and you might end out more stressed out and exhausted than before you arrived, hence the cringe-worthy adage, “I need a vacation from my vacation!”

Take a look at all the attractions and be honest about which ones you should probably take a pass on. Do you really need to go visit the Island’s largest Conch Farm? Probably not. I mean, you if you’ve seen one Conch, you’ve seen ’em all, right?

Or maybe you’re really into Conch farms, in which case this isn’t a great example.

The point is, pick and choose just a few “sightseeing” activities and leave the rest open for whatever you feel like at that moment – which might be absolutely nothing. And when you’re on vacation, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with doing absolutely nothing!

Do Relax!

Further to my last point,  if you’re travelling to the Caribbean, chances are the main reasons are to enjoy the warm weather and get some much needed R&R, right? So slather on the sunscreen (because sunburns are not relaxing) and park yourself on the beach.

Or take a nap.

Or go to the spa.

Or read a book.

Heck, read two books.

Don’t count calories. Like, at all.

Just eat them and be happy

I get it… If you’re forced to be sedentary a lot – like when you have a full-time desk job –  it’s not a bad idea to keep an eye on what and how much is going down the hatch. I also get that you might be the kind of person where once you’re “on the wagon” you’re terrified of falling off.

I too thrive on routine, and if said routine gets derailed, it can be tricky to get back into it. But part of the vacation experience is to enjoy the good food. So give yourself a break for these few odd days and eat what you like without feeling guilty or worrying about what it’s doing to your waistline. Because even if it takes you a week or two after your vacation to get back into a balanced routine, it’s not the end of the world!

I ate a generous helping of pastries every day while in Turks & Caicos, and I don’t regret a single flaky morsel. 

Do take it easy on the Mojitos

Try as I might, I have never been able to replicate a Mojito as good as the ones they make in the Caribbean. It is my beach drink of choice, and they are so tasty it’s easy to forget they can have quite an effect on the ol’ equilibrium.

Alcohol can also cause dehydration, which is not ideal in any situation, especially so when you’re on a hot island. Whatever your alcoholic beverage of choice, be mindful to pace yourself and drink lots of H2O in between drinks. Don’t waste a precious vacation day on a beautiful island cowering in a darkened room under a blanket, gripping your head in agony and swearing off Pina Coladas forever.

DON’T check in with work.

Don’t even think about it

Don’t even bring your work phone with you. This seems like a no-brainer, but sadly for many of us, it’s not. I know I’m not the only one out there who still somehow manages to feel the pull of responsibility when you’re supposed to be relaxing. I’m ashamed to admit that on past vacations I have succumbed once or twice to the temptation of checking my emails, and I’m always 100% sorry I did. Because guess what? If things are going wrong at work there’s probably not much you can do about it while 2500 km away from home. So all you’re going accomplish is unnecessarily immerse yourself in a stressful situation that you aren’t even going to be a part of resolving.

In short, get over yourself. You’re gone for 1 week, maybe 2 weeks. In all likelihood, the company was humming along just fine for a long time before you started working there, and they’ll get by without you again for the 5-10 days that you’re away on vacation. 

Do meditate, even just a little

It’s all too true that time flies when you’re having fun. It flies, really, really fast. So it’s worth taking a minute or two – each day if you can – to just breathe and pay attention to everything that’s happening in that moment. Take in the sound of the waves, the warmth of the sun, and the way the leaves on the palm trees are rustling in the breeze. You get the idea. I know it sounds super corny but you’ll thank yourself later for being present in your vacation and creating a stronger memory of it.

Do reap the benefits

It can be hard for some of us to just forget about all our responsibilities back home, even just for a while.  But if you’re fortunate enough to spend a relaxing week on a hot beach somewhere, do your body and mind a favour and really soak it in. It’s why you’re there!

With any luck, you’ll come back feeling rejuvenated and stress-free. Warning: some side-effects to achieving vacay nirvana may result in increased creativity, better mental health, and lingering feelings of inspiration and motivation.

What’s your favourite way to make the most of a Caribbean vacation? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments!

Up Next:

The next trick is holding on to all the benefits of your vacation when you return to work. Stay tuned on part two of my vacation survival guide series.

How having a hobby you suck at is essential for work-life balance

Suck at Your Hobby? 4 Reasons Why That’s Awesome

I have a talented friend who crafts with clay, and a few weeks ago she brought out her materials and showed me how she made things. Taking a few small pieces of clay, I spent several minutes crafting an animal that was supposed to be an owl, but came out resembling a dejected penguin that would have been cut from the cast of Pingu. (Don’t know who Pingu is? Get off my lawn!)

I knew my creation was terrible, but I didn’t care that his ear broke off, or that he looked more like a melting gummy bear than a bird; I created him and had fun doing it.

It got me to thinking that I need to do this kind of thing more often. In fact, I think having a hobby you suck at is essential to achieving work-life balance and maintaining your mental health.  

If you have a hobby you enjoy but lack any skill, I’ve found four empowering reasons why you should keep on sucking at it!:

You Enjoy Your Achievements More

After trying and failing so many times, when you finally get something right, the elation that follows is worth the struggle.

Another hobby of mine is knitting, and let me tell you, I sucked at that for a long, long time. I remember I wasted a whole skein of yarn trying to knit just one sock without a hole in it. When I finally finished a sock that actually resembled a garment that could don a human foot, it was a great feeling.

I never did knit the matching sock, but that’s beside the point. It was the journey and the overcoming of the challenge that mattered.

You’re Defying the Fallacy of Perfectionism

Especially if you have a lot of high-pressure responsibilities in your life, allowing yourself to be imperfect from time to time is really important to your mental health. The quest for perfectionism is an illusion that can cause a lot of mental distress. Allowing yourself to suck at something is a way to acknowledge to yourself that it’s perfectly okay to be imperfect.

You Laugh

When there’s no pressure to succeed, you can take a lighthearted approach to your hobby and give yourself permission to laugh at yourself when you fail. When I knit my first stuffed elephant, he ended up with a decidedly inappropriate bum crack due to my shoddy seaming job. Visualize that for a minute and tell me it isn’t funny. 

Life is serious enough as it is, and giving yourself an opportunity to laugh is perhaps one of the most important reasons you could have for doing something you suck at.

Bonus points if you’re with a friend and they laugh along with you. 🙂

You Allow Yourself to Live in the Moment

For me, this is what it’s really all about. So many of us get caught up in the day to day hustle and end up totally preoccupied by our responsibilities and worried about the future. Days, weeks, even months can slip by without us ever slowing down to savour things. Because your hobby’s only purpose is to bring you joy, you can fully focus on the fun you’re having without giving any thought to the outcome or consequences. 

Let the hobby you suck at be your conduit to reflection and gratitude.


Do you have a hobby you suck at? What do you love most about it? Share in the comments!

The fitbit at work

Desk Job? Meet Fitbit, Your New Best Friend

I didn’t give much thought to my health when I was younger.  I was a healthy weight for my height but had more than a few unhealthy habits, such as staying up late, drinking copious amounts of cherry coke, and consuming foods from 7/11 which I’m positive were about 90% plastic.

But after college when I entered the workforce, it was like flipping a switch. Suddenly those extra calories were registering on the bathroom scale. My weight crept up slowly over the years, and my energy levels flagged.

Losing that twenty-year-old metabolism and getting a sedentary desk job was like a one-two punch to my health and overall well-being. Over the past decade, I managed to implement some healthy habits like running and yoga which helped a ton, but at times it was difficult to stay motivated or know just how effective my endeavors were.

Enter the Fitbit Charge 2.

This handy device was gifted to me by my spouse last Christmas, and it’s been a total game changer. I managed to lose more than 10 pounds in just a few months! 

What Fitbit Taught Me

Yes, Walking IS Real Exercise!

I used to think that if it wasn’t hard, then it wasn’t really exercise. Walking seemed like way too lightweight an activity for me to invest my time in. Fitbit finally showed me the light! My daily calorie burn from a sedentary day at the office would be around 1600-1700, but add in a 40 minute power walk, it easily bumps it up to 2000-2100.

Not only is it great exercise, but it’s much gentler on the body than running is. I still love running, but walking is something I can commit to daily without worrying about hurting myself. (And you may remember how prone I am to that!)

Key Action: In addition to whatever other exercises you enjoy, walk, walk, walk!

Quality Sleep is Important

These days it’s common knowledge that sleep is critical to maintaining your health. Getting less than 6 hours can lead to increased stress hormones and food cravings, neither of which are good for the waistline. Although late nights had long since been a thing of the past for me, I still wasn’t getting enough quality sleep. The Charge 2 monitors your heart rate while you sleep and compiles the data into neat graph when you sync the next morning. Not only does it show you how long you slept, it shows you how long you spent in deep sleep, light sleep, and REM sleep. This data helps to identify patterns in your day to day that may have an effect on your sleep.

For example, if I had two extra large coffees in the morning instead of one (Yeah I know, I never said I kicked all my unhealthy habits) I would get much less deep sleep than on days when I had a more reasonable amount of caffeine.

Key Action: Aim for a minimum of 7 hours of uninterrupted sleep each night. Study your sleep cycles and see where you can tweak your routine to get better ZZZs.

There’s Always Time for Exercise

Sometimes I have a “go big or go home” type attitude towards things. I used to think if I wasn’t logging a 5k run then there was no point in exercising at all. I’m not sure where this all-or-nothing attitude came from but I was dead wrong. Even a few minutes of walking can make a difference, and it all adds up! Fitbit makes it even easier for you to sneak steps in during the day by gently zapping your wrist once an hour, signalling you to get off your duff and go for a jaunt to the water cooler.

Key Action: Whether it’s 10 minutes of walking logged before work, at lunch, or after dinner, get in short spurts of activity to boost your daily calorie burn!

Calories Add Up Super Fast

For the first few weeks I used the food logging function religiously. The app has a daily suggested allowance for calories that fluctuates throughout the day depending on how many calories you’ve burned. Calorie consumption is prorated to discourage you from eating all your day’s worth of calories at breakfast.

At first I was discouraged at how often I was going over my daily budget, but it helped me identify what the big “calorie bombs” were. For me, the main culprits were the calories I clocked at happy hour. Even just one or two drinks a day can add hundreds of empty calories. So, I cut out the 5 pm martini and it made staying within the calorie budget infinitely easier. 

After a couple months, I stopped using the calorie logger because I got a lot better at gauging how many calories I was taking in every day and I didn’t really need it anymore.

Key Action: Don’t worry about every single morsel you’re eating. Instead, identify your “calorie bomb” and either remove or mitigate it.

Competition is a Strong Motivator

Early morning runs, lunch hour power-walks, and lengthy, post-dinner scuffles around the living room became commonplace whenever I was engaged in a Fitbit challenge instigated by fellow fitbit friends. Every time I checked the current standings, I’d exclaim things like “There’s no way I’m losing by 200 steps!” or “Gah, they passed me again!”, and I’d get off the couch and walk some more. It’s surprisingly fun no matter who ends up taking first place, and since in a close game everyone typically ends up hitting their step goal, everyone’s a winner in the end.

Key Action: Never back down from a challenge! Compete in a step-off with your friends as often as possible.

Knowledge is Power

There have been some studies that show the Fitbit isn’t 100% accurate, and I agree that this is completely true. The technology has come a long way in the past couple years but there are still times when it thinks I’ve logged 100 steps when I was simply blow-drying my hair. That being said, I would estimate that it’s still anywhere from 70-80% accurate. That is more than enough to gauge your habits and activity level to see where you can make improvements!

Key Action: Use the data as a guideline to help you make healthier decisions during your day-to-day.

It’s All About Balance, Balance, Balance

The biggest thing the Fitbit taught me is that being healthy doesn’t have to be hard. You don’t have to walk ten thousand steps every day or never eat cake again to be healthy. You don’t have to be perfect.

You just need a little bit of knowledge, motivation, and moderation.


PS –  If you’d like to pick up a Fitbit or learn more about them, you can check it out at the link below. (Affiliate link – rest assured I only promote products that I really love!)

Fitbit Charge 2 Heart Rate Plus Fitness Wristband, Black, Large

Why I stopped blogging

Why I Stopped Blogging: 3 Excuses and a Game Plan

I woke up from my proverbial nap today and was astounded to find that 2017 is already half over. Then followed the horrible realization that I haven’t updated my blog in nearly a year. I can’t have that. You can’t have that. The fate of the world hangs in the delicate balance of my blogging, after all. I can only imagine how lost you’ve all been without my random musings on cardigans and bees

So, where have I been for the past 11 months?

To be blunt, there is no real good reason for my hiatus, only a handful of excuses ranging from poor to semi-acceptable. Here they are, make of them what you will:

Life & Work

I brought home a kitten in August of last year and she’s pretty much become a permanent source of distraction. It would seem that having a cat constantly hanging off your laptop is not conducive to productivity. When she’s not claiming the computer as her own, she’s demanding attention, food, and cuddles – and who am I to deny her any of those things?

Meanwhile, my day job keeps me on my toes. Weeknights are usually a write-off because after a long day at the office, my brain starts to melt and takes on a consistency similar to scrambled eggs.

Therefore in the evenings, writing quickly gets trumped by wine, Netflix, and sleep. I would say that about 75-80% of any writing I do happens on the weekend, which ties into the next two excuses.

Ghost Writing

I’ve still been doing a lot of writing outside of this website, but the vast majority of it has been ghost writing. One of the reasons why I started this blog was to create a writing portfolio to show potential clients. Thanks to this website and the course I took on HorkeyHandbook, (<- yes, this is an affiliate link) I succeeded in finding paid writing jobs! But once I had clients to write for, I found it difficult to keep up with both the blog and assignments, so I prioritized the writing that paid. 

Unsustainable Goals

If I’m honest with myself, I had unrealistic expectations for myself and this blog. My original goal was to post once a week, but in the end that proved too much to handle on top of my other obligations. I’ve always kind of been an “all or nothing” person in that regard, so when I missed a couple posts, I let it slide even more. A few weeks turned into a few months, and here we are.

The New Blogging Plan

I’ve really missed blogging so I’m officially ending my hiatus here and now. Strategies to resume posting on a semi-regular basis include but are not limited to:

  • Redefining my blogging goals: I will now aim for 1-2 new posts a month, which is definitely more attainable than my original goal of 1 per week.
  • Designating days/times to focus on certain projects: I need to consciously schedule in advance when I will work on ghostwriting or blogging.
  • Striking a balance: Work-life balance applies to writing too, as it turns out. I need to cut myself some slack now and then instead of getting discouraged when I don’t finish everything I set out to do. In order to enjoy the journey of a writer, I need to find balance. That means not taking on more ghost writing assignments than I can reasonably handle, and allowing myself some weekends off from writing all together.
  • Get another kitten to keep my cat distracted. (Fool proof plan, right?)

What do you do to stay on track with your long term goals? Share your tips in the comments!

Unexpected and awesome things that happened when I started writing

6 Unexpected but Awesome Things that Happened When I Began Freelance Writing

I always liked writing, but as I discussed in my last post, it was something that I mostly kept under wraps for a long time. Then one day, I stumbled across HorkeyHandbook which offers an online writing course called 30 Days or Less to Freelance Writing Success. (Affiliate link – details at the end of the post)

I was definitely skeptical at first. Getting paid real money to write about topics you like sounded too good to be true. But I took the plunge and did the course this past April, and I haven’t looked back since!

That’s not to say it hasn’t been a lot of work getting started – and I’ve only just scratched the surface of the freelance writing industry. But I have been surprised by the way things have developed in just four short months. The most notable of which have been the following:   

I Started Seeing Success Sooner Than I Expected

I was pretty lenient on myself when I started setting goals for freelance writing. After all, my main focus is on my full-time job.

But here’s a secret: There’s actually a demand for freelance writers out there! Who would have thought!

There are so many opportunities online, it’s just a matter of understanding your niche, knowing where to look, and pitching as much as possible. There was definitely a learning curve to pitching ideas to publications, but I managed to score my first paid submission less than two months after I started!

My Niche Started as One Thing, then Grew into Something Else

And it’s still growing! At the beginning, I really enjoyed writing lifestyle type topics that centered around work-life balance, wellness, and yoga. (and still do!) After a while, my niche evolved to contain more of a career-development focus, and I have had a great time with it!

I Converted to Google Docs

I used to be a total Word snob, and I hadn’t even heard of Google Drive before a few months ago. I was resistant to start using it because I have been using Word since I was a teenager and I am stuck in my ways. But I finally sucked it up and switched over and I haven’t looked back since. Shared folders? Access from anywhere? Group editing capabilities? Yes, please!

Google Sheets ain’t bad either 🙂

Writing Actually Became Fun and Exciting

I thought getting started would be more of a grind, but for the first month, it was all I wanted to work on. Sending out pitches actually became fun once I got comfortable doing them.

And now there’s always this lingering excitement that the next time I log into my email there could be a submission acceptance waiting in the inbox!

Plus I’ve enjoyed sharing blog posts with others, and reading and commenting on other writers’ work as well!

That’s not to say I haven’t already rolled into a rut or two. There are some weeks when I’m about to plaster the neighbourhood with “lost” flyers and start stopping people on the street to ask if they’ve seen my motivation. Its times like those when I look for a dose of inspiration, which brings me to my next point…

The Online Writing Community Became a Huge Source of Inspiration

A perk from taking the 30DOL course is gaining access to the course’s FB group. They are such a group of inspiring, helpful, awesome people! There is this misconception – one that I admit I had before getting started – that other freelance writers are competition for work.

But the reality couldn’t be further from the truth. Who better to share your writing struggles, questions, and successes with than other writers? Not to mention it’s a great hub for sharing writing opportunities and support. Sometimes I just pop by the group to read other people’s posts for a boost of inspiration.

I Wanted Other People to Try Freelance Writing

Sometimes I come across job posting and I think, “Ohh, _____ (friend/family/etc) knows all about that topic, they should get into freelance writing!” There are so many niches, topics, and opportunities out there that it’s hard not to wonder why more people aren’t doing it!


If you are interested in freelance writing but not sure where to start, check out Gina’s free 200+ writing niches for ideas how to get started. Yes, this is an affiliate link which I proudly endorse as I would have never embarked on this journey had I not taken it.

In the kickstart course, there are 5 lessons which are very useful and give you a good idea of what to expect from the full version.

You certainly don’t need to take the course to begin a freelance writing business, but for me, it took a lot of the guesswork out of getting started. It broke everything down in such a way that suddenly I was like, “Hey… I can DO this!”

So there you have it. I’ve still barely begun this journey and yet it already feels like so much has happened!

What do you think about freelance writing? Let me know in the comments!

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.