Wednesday, March 27, 2013

The Importance of Common Sense when Shopping Online

This post brought to you by Insurance Hunter. All opinions are 100% mine.

Your best opportunity for getting a decent car for a reasonable price is simple: buy a used car. Insurance Hunter recaps all the essential information for making a car purchase through online means.

But sometimes, life will throw you a curveball, especially if you don't know exacrtly what to look for.

Not sure where to start? Want to shop online but don't want to get hosed? Looking to buy a used car? Use common sense when shopping online. That is the number one way to keep yourself out of trouble, and into the best car for you.

Finding cars online, just like any other product, comes with the risk that the advertisement isn't what it seems. For that reason, look at every car in person before you pledge and if possible, get it looked over by a mechanic before you put any money down.

You might get cheaper auto insurance if you get an older model car, but good insurance won't save you if your car falls apart due to lack of maintenance by the previous owner. Cover your own bases, don't automatically trust anyone.

I've bought used cars before, and they are always in a rush to get their money and get you off the lot. This is especially true online, where the seller just wants the product out of their hands. But you are the one buying, so make sure that you ask the questions that need to be asked, and if you don't feel comfortable doing so then be sure to bring along a friend who will.

Insurance Hunter has great tips with further detail about how to properly protect your finances and assets when considering buying a car online. If you decide that a used car is your next vehicle purchase, be sure to check out all the information so that you can make the best decision possible.

Stay safe, stay secure, and watch out for yourself. Nobody else will.

Peace, love, and vroom vroom!

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I HAVE A NEW WEBSITE!

I have a new website that I will be updating on regularly instead of here, so please go there if you want to see my random thoughts and blah blah blahs.

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Monday, March 11, 2013

The Shadow of Wrath by L.W. Patricks

Hey everyone! I am pleased to introduce my very first promotion of a new book by author L.W. Patricks.

He has just released a new book, the first of seven, and I am absolutely pleased to help him out, and help you all, by introducing him and his amazing novel to you all.





 Without further ado, here is the official synopsis for the book The Shadow of Wrath:

**********
In the Arena, you’re either a killer or a victim.
If survival meant murdering an innocent person in cold blood every week, could you do it? Are you able to stick the knife into your opponent’s heart while they look at you with fear in their eyes? Life in the Arena turns everyone into sinners.
A homeless boy is kidnapped from the streets and finds himself imprisoned in a far more horrifying place: the Arena, a place where teenage boys fight to the death for the pleasure of various lowlifes in a modern gladiator pit.
The Arena is the brainchild of Ryker, an ex-convict addicted to alcohol, gladiatorial-esque combats, and money. When not devising new ways for boys to kill each other, he’s ruling his small empire with a ruthless fist, rewarding his guards with sex slaves and punishing those who oppose him with barbaric executions.
Renamed Dog, the boy from the streets must turn himself into a killing machine if he is to continue surviving, but as he leaves a trail of bodies in his wake, the ghosts of slain boys haunts him and the violence threatens to wake a beast inside him.
Allegra, a slave girl in the Arena and a victim of Ryker’s constant abuse, is his only key to salvation. She has lost everything already -- her family, her innocence, and her dignity -- while her will to live hangs on by a thin thread. Can she save Dog’s humanity before she too succumbs to the horrors of the Arena?
Seeking to defy Ryker as Dog rises to power as his champion, the stage is set for something to give in this murderous world of young gladiators.
A tale about survival, tragedy, and human perseverance, the complete Shadow of Wrath is the first book in the Sins of the 7 series.
Fans of edgy and controversial dystopian books will love Shadow of Wrath.
**********

If you're as excited to read this novel as I am, here are the links to purchase the ebook. Either on Amazon or on Smashwords.
Thank you in advance for any support you show to this great author. I hope that if you do purchase this book because you read it here, that you will share your experience with it.
Peace, love, and read on!

Saturday, March 9, 2013

My brain is turning to mush

Writing on a whim is relatively easy. You throw your thoughts out there, whether on paper or on the computer, and you give it a once over to make sure you make sense.

Academic writing is mind-numbingly hard. It is damn hard. I have been working on two paragraphs. TWO PARAGRAPHS. for almost 3 weeks now.

This is crazy to me. I normally just write something, like this post for example, as I think of it. Then I post it. Maybe I'll save it for later, if I know I want to add something. But this has been a fairly constant effort towards these two paragraphs for THREE WEEKS.

Crazy.

I'm not complaining, not really, I know I signed up for this when I started working on my B.A.

But I was definitely surprised at how... informal my normal writing style is.

I hope that you, loyal readers, will benefit from the improvement in my overall writing skills.

Once my assignments have been marked, I will be sharing them with you, so that you can see the results of my painstaking effort. Then at least it won't be just my professor who gets to read the blood, sweat, tears, and sanity that went into all of this writing.

Until next time,

Peace, love, and mmmmmush!

Friday, March 1, 2013

February 2013 Resolution Update! (a day late)

Two months ago, I posted my 2013 goals and resolutions. If you don't want to click through and read the whole post again, here is what I posted as my goals:

1. Fit back into a size 8 and be healthy about it.
          a. Work out at least two hours each week
          b. Stop eating so much junk food. Eat fruits and vegetables instead.
2. Pay off the car loan.
          a. Find my cheques
          b. Stay within budget
          c. Track spending and budget
3. Write more
          a. Edit my NaNoWriMo2012 novel to readability and have people read it.
          b. Continue working on the first draft of my other novel
          c. Add new content to this blog and to my Helium.com profile every week.
4. Finish 3 of my university courses
          a. one at a time, starting with Introductory Composition


So, for the update, continue reading:

1. Fit back into a size 8 and be healthy about it.
          a. Work out at least two hours each week

Still haven't lost a pound, but I started getting more active in that at least once a week I go for a ten minute walk, and separately I walk up and down the stairs at work for 5 minutes every now and then. Work in progress.
          b. Stop eating so much junk food. Eat fruits and vegetables instead.
February was a bad month for this, for some reason. I started off well, but as the month continued... donuts and delicious junk food everywhere. March is here now, so it's time to restart.

2. Pay off the car loan.
          a. Find my cheques

Done last month.
          c. Track spending and budget


Did okay for this, but we stayed on track and ended up spending less than usual, so that's nice!
3. Write more

          a. Edit my NaNoWriMo2012 novel to readability and have people read it.

Just don't look at this one...
          b. Continue working on the first draft of my other novel


Ehmmmmm....
          c. Add new content to this blog and to my Helium.com profile every week.


Added one thing to Helium, and a few things to my blog, so at least that's something!
4. Finish 3 of my university courses

          a. one at a time, starting with Introductory Composition
Almost halfway through Introductory Composition. I'm about a full unit behind, but I've been plugging away at it most of the month, and I am hoping to have completed Unit 4 (of 6) by the end of March.

So that's it for now! As I mentioned last month, I have been making bi-weekly videos, so if you want to check out my Youtube channel, click here.

If you have any questions, tips, suggestions, or anything else, share it below! Thanks for your continuing support!

Peace, love, and March on!

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Quick update: School and lost phone

So it turns out that univerisity courses are harder than I had originally thought! I am currently about a full unit behind on my coursework, and that includes writing a full 1000-1200 word essay on something.

Good lord.

So you may not hear much from me for the next little while, except occasional blips when I think of something witty. I will also be continually transferring posts from my old blog on an ad-hoc basis. I have been doing this here and there over the past while, but I foresee a lot more tranferral over the next few weeks, just to keep things fresh here.

I appreciate your patience, and hope that you will comment on the posts that are of interest to you!

Also, I lost my phone, so that's upsetting. I get a new one tomorrow, but it won't have any of my settings, documents, photos, or anything on it so... F$#*K!

Stay classy.

Peace, love and STUDY!

Money Stress: Part 2 - Use what you have

Yeah, remember this whole thing? Money stress? Right now, I may not be overly stressed about money personally, but there are always things that I want that I need to save up for. You too?

Maybe you are living paycheck to paycheck, and maybe you aren't. Maybe you are trying to save up for a house, or a vacation, or even just a new computer/music player/phone. If there is ever something that you are trying to accumulate more money for, there is always a way to save up that money.

Not only are there always ways, but there are also almost always ways to change so slightly that you don't sacrifice much in terms of your day-to-day life. Which is really what we're all after, right?

The main things that people, like you and me, tend to hear about when it comes to saving money are the clich├ęs. Bring your coffee, don't buy your coffee. Bring your lunch, don't buy your lunch. And yeah, these tips are effective... but they don't apply to everyone. Each person has their own priorities and preferences for how they live their lives. I love coffee, and am lucky enough to have access to coffee at work, as much as I want, for only 10$ a month. Not everyone has this luxury. Not everyone drinks coffee.

My second big tip (my first can be found here) is to use up what you already have. If you have, like many people, extra food sitting in your freezer that you bought while it was on sale, but it isn't what you usually use... try it! Try something new, find a new recipe, and use it up. Not only do you now have more space for the usual stuff in your freezer, but you also got to try something new, and the food that you used up will not go to waste.

If you already have mascara (that isn't clumpy), why buy a new one just because it's on sale? Use up what you have first, so that less (or ideally, nothing) goes to waste. I don't know about you guys, but I HATE throwing out things I have purchased. Whether it's food, cosmetics, clothing, etc... I just hate throwing it out. Drives me crazy. Because that is, effectively, throwing your hard-earned money in the garbage.

Ew.

Use up what you already have. If you need to organize a bit, do that! It's a great way to spend your time without buying anything (I don't know about you, but I spend money when I'm bored). Then you will be able to see your things more easily, which makes it easier to use them up!

Do you have any tips or tricks for finding ways to stretch your cash? Please share them! I am always looking for new ideas and things to try!

Peace, love, and save your nickels! (Pennies are gone!)

Friday, February 1, 2013

Book Review: Neutrino by Frank Close

The first non-fiction book I've read willingly in quite some time, I went to the library in search of knowledge and specifically knowledge of science. I came across this nice little book, which was short, and was recently published (therefore has more updated information, theoretically).

The book was Neutrino, by Frank Close. A nice little book on a particle so small, it is barely bigger than a photon (light), and very difficult to detect.

Here's what the book cover looks like

Through each chapter, the explanation of where the discovery began and each of the participatory scientists was touched on and explained. The language was presented so well, so eloquently, that despite not having done any real learning in the science department in around eight years, I was able to keep up and understand the termiology and science behind the words.

It was a quick read, pulling you in through each stage of near-discovery, near-capture of the particle, and each step around the globe that this pesky little particle evaded just barely. Eighty years of research and experiments and theory was put into this particle, and it was summarized so beautifully in this book that I recommend that anyone who is interested in particles, chemistry, physics, and the discovery of new sciency things, should read the heck out of this book.

Have you read a non-fiction book willingly? Which book was it, and what did you think of it?

Share your thoughts below!

Peace, love, and neutrino!

Thursday, January 31, 2013

January 2013 Resolution Update!

About a month ago, I posted my 2013 goals and resolutions. If you don't want to click through and read the whole post again, here is what I posted as my goals:

1. Fit back into a size 8 and be healthy about it.
          a. Work out at least two hours each week
          b. Stop eating so much junk food. Eat fruits and vegetables instead.
2. Pay off the car loan.
          a. Find my cheques
          b. Stay within budget
          c. Track spending and budget
3. Write more
          a. Edit my NaNoWriMo2012 novel to readability and have people read it.
          b. Continue working on the first draft of my other novel
          c. Add new content to this blog and to my Helium.com profile every week.
4. Finish 3 of my university courses
          a. one at a time, starting with Introductory Composition

Sidenote: I was asked to update also on a drawing commitment I had made (to my mom). The update is: I can't find the drawing I had made so far, but when I do I will continue with working on it. I have been practicing the tribal part, and may end up just starting over with the outline that I still have. If you want to see what I've done so far, let me know!

So, to update, continue reading:

1. Fit back into a size 8 and be healthy about it.
          a. Work out at least two hours each week
Realistically I've probably only done about an hour each week of real working out. There was a lot going on this month, and I just didn't prioritize it. Now I'm paying for it, as I haven't shrunk at all and I have a wedding to attend this Saturday with nothing to wear.
          b. Stop eating so much junk food. Eat fruits and vegetables instead.
I've done pretty good with this task overall, I feel like I've been eating less junky crap and making a real concerted effort to snack on fresh fruit. I've also increased how much vegetables go on my dinner plate. Now to find a way to add F&V to breakfast...
2. Pay off the car loan.
          a. Find my cheques
Did this! Had to order more, but after I ordered them, I found my old ones. So now I have enough cheques to last me about 20 years...
          b. Stay within budget
Despite January being pretty tight at the beginning (curse you, Christmas!), since both WW and I got 3 paycheques this month, we're WAY ahead. Huzzah!
          c. Track spending and budget
Did this for all of January!
3. Write more
          a. Edit my NaNoWriMo2012 novel to readability and have people read it.
Didn't even touch it. Yes I am shame...
          b. Continue working on the first draft of my other novel
Again, didn't even touch it. I told you it was a rough month!
          c. Add new content to this blog and to my Helium.com profile every week.
Did half of this, I've been updating this blog fairly frequently, so that's exciting! Helium has been neglected this month aside from today, better luck next month! (However, despite barely touching my Helium account [and writing nothing until the last day of the month], I made 1$ in revenue! Woo!)
4. Finish 3 of my university courses
          a. one at a time, starting with Introductory Composition
Working on it, finished Unit 1 and am halfway through the reading for Unit 2. The first assignment for Unit 2 is due Feb 19, so I am on track!

So there you have it! I also made a goal to myself to start making Youtube videos, which I kept secret because I didn't think I'd actually do it, but I have two posted now! If you haven't already, and you want to look at my face click HERE for the first, and HERE for the second!

How has your January gone? Productive? Non-productive? New changes or old habits? Share them here!

Peace, love, and ACHEIVEMENT UNLOCKED!

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Guest Post: Fighting Depression While Raising Troubled Teens

Today, I have the great honour of sharing with you a guest post by Agnes Jiminez. This subject is dear to me, particularly as I know what it is like to be the troubled teen, as well as knowing that in a few short years, I will be in this situation myself, raising a teen while fighting my own mental illness.

These tips and reminders are great, and deeply true, and it is important to be honest with yourself about your own limitations when sorting through your own personal issues.

With no furhter ado, please read this insightful and well-written piece. Share your thoughts below, join the conversation, make mental illness a subject that is no longer taboo. Thanks. Peace, love, and fight for your self.

Parents suffering from depression are likely to experience difficulty -- especially once the children are able to understand the disorder and witness the changes in moods in their parent. Despite the fact that a parent is suffering from depression, guidance and discipline still must take place.

What are some of the coping techniques that parents suffering from depression can use when it comes to parenting teenagers?

Level with the Teen
Communicating with the teen and explaining to them the illness and symptoms that come along with depression can help the teen to understand what the parent is going through and hopefully increasing the empathy the teen has for the parent. Allowing the teen to ask questions and explaining how the disease can affect the lifestyle of the parent, the relationship between the parent and teen and how the parent is feeling is likely to give the teen a sense of relief. Make sure the teen understands that the depression is not their fault -- and is not exacerbated by the teen.

Cut Yourself some Slack
Parents often try to do too much. Parents suffering from depression are likely to feel overwhelmed -- more than parents not suffering from the disease. It's important to understand that there are going to be times when you aren't going to be able to get everything you want to accomplished -- and that's okay. Cut yourself some slack.

Get the Help You Need
It's okay for parents to suffer from depression. What's not okay is parents suffering from depression without getting the treatment options that are available to them. Whether you decide to go through talk therapy and learn the coping skills that can be used to avert the depression or choose medication that can help to balance the hormones and lessen the symptoms of depression, it's important to take the time for you and get the help that is needed to overcome the disease.

Take Time Away
Sometimes, part of the treatment plan requires the parent to step away. Stepping away from the situation and taking time for yourself to heal from the depression and learn the skills to overcome the
disease isn't easy but with the help from family members and friends and lifestyle changes like alternative school options, you can take the time that is needed.

Making short term changes to the lifestyle and understanding that depression is something that can occur quickly and leave you requiring a bit of extra help can help families suffering from depression to heal faster, and heal together.


Agnes Jimenez is a professional blogger and writer. She writes for many online establishments and currently partners with HelpYourTeenNow.com in spreading awareness about troubled and depressed teenagers (and how to deal with them).  Help Your Teen Now aims to increase awareness on the current psychological and societal stresses of today's teens and how these factors affect the future of our society.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Changes lead to stress

Hey guys, nice to see you here! Just thought I would drop a quick note about what is going on with my world lately, which is challenging but not necessarily negative.

As of February 1st, we are going to have roommates again. WonderWife's uncle and his parter will be living with us until further notice. I haven't received info on when they plan to get out on their own again, but I know that this arrangement is to help us all financially.

I have a lot of mixed feelings about this, most of which I have already discussed with everyone and their dog, but they are still there. Our house is pretty big for the three of us who already live there (me, WW, and the Munchkin) but to add two fully grown guys to that living sitruation, I am definitely concerned that it is going to be squishy. Maybe I'm overexaggerating, but the concern remains. We have taken steps to avoid this as much as possible by having the guys take over half of the basement as their bedroom/living area, which will help keep us separated more, and ensure that we have our own separate "personal spaces" which I think will help a lot.

Our fridge is tiny. When I say tiny, I mean that we can't fit all of the produce that we eat in a week into the produce drawers in our fridge because they are TINY. Which means that we will likely need to buy a second fridge, which further contributes to the space concern. I'm sure we will find a good spot for it, but until we do, these thoughts plague me.

A lot of the concerns and anxieties I have about this huge change will probably resolve themselves after they move in and we figure out our routine and how we all fit together. I know this, and I am trying to relax and accept that things are going to change, but that it doesn't necessarily mean that they will change for the worse.

If you're anyone in my family reading this, especially if you are one of the people involved, don't take this as a "I don't want you to live with us" post. Because that isn't what it is. It's just a ramble about my insecurities and my anxieties relating to the fact that I don't like change, I don't like things changing, and I don't like losing space that is mine (even if it's just in my head). These are my own personal issues, and they shouldn't affect you because I do love you and I do enjoy spending time with you. I know we will figure everything out, I just worry in the interim.

Anyone else out there, do you have ideas for how to make coexistance with your family easier for someone with my magnitude of issue? I would appreciate any insight.

As always,

Peace, love, and love life.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Musings: The illusion of sanity

Illusions exist all around us. Creating images and giving impressions of normalcy and control.

These illusions tell us when someone is weird, or different, somehow unworthy of our attentions.

Everyone comes with illusions, and defeating them to move forward is something that many will never accomplish.

Sanity, just like insanity, is an illusion. Whether you are diagnosed with a mental illness or not, some people will think you sane, others will think you insane. In the grand scheme of the world, though, it doesn't matter.

By many circles, both societal and medical, I am considered insane or mentally unwell. Yet I function. I carry on a life, generally productively, despite this status.

Sanity is just a word, it describes variations without ever really laying a baseline.

Are those who suffer from mental illness really insane, or is their perspective on reality just different? And with the predominance of diagnosed and undiagnosed mental states, is "sanity" really the norm?


Peace, love, and imagine.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Books of 2013!

Coming NOW to my blog, in the sidebar you will find a list of books that I have read so far this year (2013) with links to their Goodreads page. If you're interested in the books, please check them out! I will attempt to review each and every one of them, but I may just resolve to review my favourites.

We'll see.

Peace, love, and read on!

(P.S. Check out the list regularly, it will be updated as necessary)

Psychiatry Update #2: A Month and a half later...

As you may recall if you're a regular reader (if not, click here and here for the first two parts of this story), I have been on Seroquel XR since November 21, 2012. I am here to update you all, if you care, on how that's been going.

Part one: I didn't increase my dosage (like the psychiatrist told me to)

When I went to see the psychiatrist, and he gave me the prescription, he told me to start at 50mg, then the next day to 100mg, then to 150mg until I spoke to my doctor (which was supposed to be about 3-4 weeks later).

I didn't do this. I stayed at 50mg. I don't recommend it to people who are incredibly in-tune with their bodies, but it's what I did and I don't regret it. (sidenote: I did increase it to 100mg from December 23-27th, due to that time of year always being very high on the anxiety and depression scale. Then I decreased back to 50mg again afterwards.)

Part two: I'm still not going to increase my dosage

I just went for the follow up with my doctor on Monday January 16, 2013. He asked me how everything was going, and I told him the truth. I told him I didn't increase my dosage, and he seemed surprised. He then told me that the psychiatrist, in the report, had recommended bumping me up to 300mg, and possibly adding an antidepressant.

Dear jesus.

I told him that I was fine. I still get mood swings, and anxiety, and manic, and depressed. But it doesn't stop me from having a life, and I don't feel exhausted from the sheer effort of appearing normal. After assessing where I was, he told me that as long as I was happy, he was happy. He is not the type of doctor to load his patients up on as many pharmaceuticals as possible. The less, the better. So he wrote me a prescription, told me if I felt the need to bump up my dosage at all to do it right away and then call him and make an appointment.

Told him I would. And I will, if it comes to that.

Part three: Emotionally

Emotionally I still feel pretty up and down most of the time, but I remember what I say now, and I don't get as intense. When I'm manic, I can recognize that my thinking is irrational and I can think my way around it. Often, just telling WonderWife that I know I'm manic will help me to bring it down a notch.

Anxiety-wise, I am doing great. I've been able to drive without freaking out, and go to the mall. I can walk around downtown for my full lunch break without having a cloud of butterflies try to force their way out of my stomach.

Overall, I'm feeling pretty great. My emotions are easier to understand and less severe. I don't blank out for hours or days at a time. I have more energy and I can do more with my time.

And... I'm anything but a zombie.

As always,
Peace, love, and GO CRAZY!

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Unimaginable Pain - A family story

There are some stories that need to be told, even if the story isn't coming from the person the story is centred around. This is one of those stories. I will be using a pseudonymn, as the person whose story this is may want to keep parts of it to himself. This story is about someone in my family, someone very dear to me, who has experienced the unimaginable and yet come out the other end strong and optimistic. This is the story of my Cousin.

*******

Just over a year ago, my Cousin contacted us from his residence at post-secondary. He had wonderful news that just couldn't be shared coldly over text messages, but broadcast to the entire family via video messaging.

My Cousin had just gotten engaged! We were all so happy, knowing that he had been with this girl for many months, and knowing that he was happy. It was announced that they would not be married until they both finished school, and until then they were just promised to one another with love in their eyes and hope in their hearts.

A few months later, another announcement. It came with a visit back home, at a family event. A sad event, but lightened with the news which my Cousin brought. His fiancee was pregnant. Though it had not been planned, it was a welcome announcement to all involved. Everyone was so happy for him and the fiancee, and best wishes were shared across the board.

All was well for many months, the due date being foretold as being December 26th. There were no sounds of dischord, no unpleasant news, all seemed to be well and my Cousin seemed to be happy.

Then, without warning, months later while my Cousin was visiting once more, he kept withdrawn. He barely spoke without prompting and he stuck to the sidelines and the shadows. Approaching him, I asked him how he was, and he brushed it off as "fine". Undeterred, I asked him about the fiancee, thinking, hoping for happy news.

My hopes were crushed, as was his heart, with the announcement that there was trouble in paradise. The girl he had promised his heart to, who carried his child, had broken his heart. And though he had tried everything to mend the scattered remains of their bond, she left him with no communication and no updates as to the wellbeing of her self or their child.

As Christmas loomed ever nearer, he wondered how she was. How the baby was, whether the baby was going to come early (as he did) or late or even on time. He fantasized about the different things he would do with the child as it grew into a toddler, preschooler, preteen. His thoughts were rarely on much else, aside from staying connected with his friends and functioning through the holidays.

Boxing day came and went with nary a word. Texts were sent to the mother, and to her parents, with short clipped replies. Curt "no baby yet" and terse "yes she's fine" was all he heard. Days passed. The new year came to being, a fresh new start. But the burden of not knowing remained.

What could be happening? Why wouldn't she just let him know how she was doing and how the baby was doing? Why wouldn't she even tell him which hospital she would be delivering at? No answer, or short "you'll know when you need to" and nothing more.

I watched as my Cousin pulled further back, away from the family slowly, for they (well meaning as they were) would always bring up the baby. His soul couldn't hold it together for much longer. No one knew how tightly he held onto the pieces of happiness that remained. No one knew the depths of his thoughts and the loss of the memory that wasn't.

Then, on what was our recently-passed grandmother's day of birth, news! The baby was here, healthy and beautiful. A little boy. But still, my Cousin was tossed around by her and her family. Told different wards at the hospital, before finally finding out that she had left the hospital.

What a torrid, painful game she had played on what had remained of his hopes.

Yet he persevered; he perseveres still. Nothing will keep him back, nothing will hold him down and keep him from happiness.

He is strong and optimistic, and he will find a way to be a part of his child's life. The life he helped create, the life he had watched grow ever so briefly in those early months of pregnancy. The life that he had dreamt of for the last ten months.

It may take time, and it may take effort. But every moment of effort will be worth it in the end, and my Cousin knows that deep within his heart.

So he waits.

*******

Thanks for reading.

If you have anyone in your life, or know anyone, who has experienced anything similar, give them a hug and be there for them. Don't bring it up unless they do, and don't pass on your opinion unless asked. It is a hard thing to go through, and even harder when you are forced to bring your thoughts back to the pain time and time again.

Peace, love, and hugs.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Money Stress: Step 1 - Save on food

As I said in my previous post, each step is worth itself in weight. So lets get right to it!

If you're reading this, maybe you think that you can improve your financial situation with some easy changes. And it's completely true, you can. Please keep in mind that what works for me and my family may not work for you. Try things, see how they work, and adapt for your own personal lifestyle.

Each tip will consist of a general tip followed by some of the changes I will be (or have been) doing to institute this change. You can use these as starter ideas, or you can use them to brainstorm your own solutions. I won't be insulted if you completely ignore any of the tips, I am just putting them out there in hopes that it helps at least one person feel less stress about their finances.

On to step one.

Step 1:
Cook at home using fresh ingredients.

We always have frozen oven meals in the freezer just in case. With WonderWife working 10 hour days and me with my variable moods (and therefore variable energy), it's just safer to have food that can just be thrown in the oven for those really bad days where I don't want to do anything. Unfortunately, they can be quite pricy. Even if you get a 1-pound bag of frozen vegetables for 2$, you're still paying more than you would for fresh vegetables.

I am dedicating it to myself now that I will start to make my own handy helpers for the freezer with what foods I currently have. Then I will move upwards to making full out freezer meals. But small steps...

Tonight I am going to grate up some of the carrots we have in the fridge along with the cauliflower and mix them together in a container to throw in the freezer. This will be an easy to use addition to any meal I throw together, easy way to add more fresh foods to our diet (which is quite fresh already, but no such thing as too much), and save money. Not to mention that carrots and cauliflower are relatively easy on the taste buds, particularly when cooked, so they will blend in nicely with many foods and not overpower.

Next, I am going to thaw out some of the bricks of cheese we have in the freezer and shred them, and refreeze them for easy to use shredded cheese. That will make adding cheese to any meal a snap, and save me time while I'm trying to throw together a meal at 6pm.

Having fresh vegetables on hand is all well and good, but it is important to use them before they go bad. Otherwise you are basically throwing away your money.

Having pre-cooked or semi-cooked meat in the freezer is a goal for me, having premade mixes in the freezer which simply need to be thrown onto a frying pan is another. There are so many possibilities in the realm of precooked and ready-to-eat foods that it is almost impossible to figure out where to start!


So that's my step one. Have you had any successes with doing prep-work ahead of time? Do you have any tips or tricks for throwing together a healthy, homemade meal in less time? I would love to hear them, as time is a valuable asset and I am going to strive to conserve more of it!

Thanks for reading, let me know what you think!

Peace, love, and munch away!

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Money Stress! How to cope...

The January stress of finances has struck me full swing. It is official, I am stressing out.

Despite the fact that we will have a comfortable cushion in the bank, I am upset because it is below what I consider "safe" and we aren't getting paid for another week and a half. There are still bills to pay. Which means that it will be going even further below safe into barely-safe territory.

I have restarted budgeting, but with Christmas and my birthday and a close uncle's birthday happening, we are using up more of our "comfort" cash than we have in many months.

This leads me to stress, which leads me to flustering, which leads me to being completely useless at everything.

HOWEVER

I will not be bogged down in this downward spiral of thinking. We are getting paid in a week and a half. The bills can wait until then, honestly. They haven't even come in yet, I just know they're coming.

I will take steps to lower our costs starting now. I have already started. I will be making some posts on what I am going to do to take charge of our finances and save money. No longer will I be controlled, I will do the controlling. Nothing is impossible, it only takes varying amounts of effort.

Therefore I will be making a plan. A plan of attack, a plan of action. With various steps of varying importance and effect. But each step is a step in and of itself and is deserving of its own praise. Regardless of how large the reward is, as long as it produces reward it is worthy.

Do you get stressed about money? Does it feel like your bank account and living conditions control you? You can change it! Come along with me and experience what a refreshing feeling it is to know that you are financially secure.

Step one, coming up next...

Peace, love, and save money!

Friday, January 4, 2013

Simplify your life: Three Important Things

Do you ever wonder why sometimes the things you want the most are the hardest to acheive? I do. I will be the first to admit and confess that I am a lazy person at heart, and prefer to avoid any extra work, or hard work, if at all possible.

That being said, sometimes the things that need to be done or that are important to you to get done, take a little bit of extra work to ensure that they meet your qualifications. Do you put forth that extra work? Do you spend a little extra time on tasks or jobs that are higher on your priority list?

It can be hard to prioritize the things that are important to you when there is so much going on in a day. But try making a list each day, even just a mental list, of three important things. Three things that you find to be paramount to you feeling like you have had a successful day.

Any three things at all.

It could be spending time with your partner, or children. Going out to meet a friend you haven't seen in a few months or years. Writing a poem/short story/in a journal. Finding a song on Youtube that you have been listening to for months and didn't know the name of it. Learning some new information on any subject.

You get the idea.

Now, everyday when you wake up, before you pour that cup of coffee/tea/other assorted hot beverage to wake you up, think of three things. Make sure you do it before you are fully awake, because then you're more likely to start overthinking it. Do it when your brain is still fuzzy, before you have a chance to full process everything. Those will be the things that are important.

Before you leave for work (if you work during the day) or at least before 9am, try to start working on at least one of those things. Set up a meeting with that friend, bookmark a Google search, call your partner and set some time aside in the afternoon or evening. Do something towards one of your important things.

When you lay down to sleep at night, remember to think about the things you accomplished that day. Push aside all less important tasks, or at least as many as you can, and focus on doing things that are truly important to you.

Writing out your important tasks in a notebook each morning with space between them gives you opportunity to write in what you did that day towards acheiving that task. It may help you realize your own slow but steady progress. Baby steps and slow progress are the paths to true change and enlightenment.

Don't rush, just do three important things each day.

Peace, love, and breathe deeply.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Trying New Things: ViSalus Shakes

In my ongoing quest to eat healthier and less junk, I started using the ViSalus meal replacement shakes. I was concerned when I first heard about them, because all I saw was people pushing them all over Facebook and the website didn't have any real information.

That has changed recently, people that I know and trust have been using them for months and have shared their opinions and results with me. They aren't being pushed every way you turn. And, most importantly, the website has some real information on it. Including nutritional information, ingredients, etc.

I am not a partner for the Body by Vi system, I just started drinking them for while I'm at work (deters from the McDonald's and other nearby junk food), and I do not use them at home.

But, despite being only 110 calories per serving (plus whatever beverage you mix it into, obviously) they are quite good! Not to mention they do keep you full, especially if you double the liquid count that it recommends.

Here is how I use it during the work week (remember, I don't use it on weekends).

Get to work: Make a shake with 2 scoops and ~1 cup of milk. Shake it up, make it all nice and mixed together, then pour into a larger cup (I mix it in a mason jar, it's handy). Add another 1-2 cups of water (WATER). Throw an ice cube or two in if it's not cold enough. Drink, enjoy.

Eat small lunch (some protein and some fruits/veg usually, sometimes bread or crackers or something carby).

Around 2-3pm, make a smaller shake with 1 scoop of powder, mixed with water. Fill cup with 2-3 cups of water (total) after it's all mixed. This carries me through the afternoon energy slump. Sometimes I'll have another fruit, or a coffee. Either or.

Then by the time I get home, I'm hungry but not famished, and I am less likely to snack after dinner.



It tastes good (quite strong if you follow the directions, but I dilute it pretty well so it's yummy), it keeps me full, it gives me good healthy energy, and there are some pretty solid ingredients in there.

The only downside is that it uses soy protein, BUT it is non-GMO soy protein, so it's alright.

I enjoy having the energy all day, I am able to cut down to 2 cups of coffee during the day, and it feels like a treat because it's so darn tasty.

I can't report on it's effectiveness for weightloss (yet) since I only just got a way to weigh myself over Christmas and have only been back at work for 2 days. But I'm sure an update will come when I update you all on my resolutions status.

Thanks for following along, and if you've been on the fence about this product, look at the website again and see if you can find anyone you trust who uses them. Way more accurate than listening to infomercials.

As always,

Peace, love, and shake on!

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

The Importance of Setting Goals and... my 2013 resolutions!

New Year's resolutions are known far and wide as "goals for the first week of January" which then get thrown out the window.

Setting goals for yourself is a very important part of productive and satisfying living, yet countless people set goals for themselves that they never actually acheive, or they give up after a very brief time.

Why is that? First and most important reason: You set your goals too high, too hard, or too little gratification.

Humans as a whole love instant gratification. Being able to feel at least a piece of success NOW is essential to our wanting to continue working towards that goal. By setting a goal that has no short-term or instant gratification, you are setting yourself up to give up on yourself.

How do we avoid that?

Set smaller goals. Be realistic.

If your goal is to get healthy, quantify that. Do you want to (eventually) lose 5, 10, 15 pounds? Or is it that you want to fit into a size 8, 10, 14? Or maybe even be able to do 50 sit ups, pushups, squats, etc in a row?

Set a big goal, such as: By December 31, 2013, I want to lose 20 pounds and/or fit into a size 10, and/or be able to do 100 pushups in a row.

Then, set smaller, monthly goals. Such as: I want to lose 3 pounds in January.

Then think about what you have to do to acheive the smaller goal. If monthly goals are still too big for you, or you want something a little closer, think instead of time-based goals.

Example: I want to exercise for one hour each week (great starting point for the inactive person).

Then, each day that you do even five minutes of exercise, track it. By the end of the week, you add it all up. Each week you set a new goal. Maybe it'll be the same goal repeated, maybe you'll up the ante a bit. But don't overreach yourself.

You are worth the effort it takes to acheive your goals.


With all of that out of the way, here are my goals for 2013:

1. Fit back into a size 8 and be healthy about it.
          a. Work out at least two hours each week
          b. Stop eating so much junk food. Eat fruits and vegetables instead.
2. Pay off the car loan.
          a. Find my cheques
          b. Stay within budget
          c. Track spending and budget
3. Write more
          a. Edit my NaNoWriMo2012 novel to readability and have people read it.
          b. Continue working on the first draft of my other novel
          c. Add new content to this blog and to my Helium.com profile every week.
4. Finish 3 of my university courses
          a. one at a time, starting with Introductory Composition


That's all for now, folks! If you have any tips or tricks to making and sticking with goals, share them below! Also, if you have made any resolutions this year, share them and join the conversation.

Be honest with yourself, and believe in yourself.

Peace, love, and everlasting happiness.