Spring cleaning my way to a minimalist life

I am a hoarder at heart. Maybe it’s the fault of my favourite childhood author, Laura Ingalls Wilder, whose descriptions of storage rooms brimming with canned goods and produce seemed so comforting and warm. Maybe it dates back further, to our ancestral days when the ability to stockpile food and tools significantly increased our odds of survival. Either way, there is something about having an abundance of things that just makes me feel good. Secure. Protected. Prepared.

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My smartphone addiction is ruining my life. Here’s how.

There are two fundamental truths that I have learned as a parent to three kids. The first is that no matter how you choose to raise your child — co-sleeping or separate rooms, breastfed or bottle, organic food or floor snacks — the moment that you claim something you’re doing works, it is guaranteed to stop.

And the second is that everything you do, and I mean literally everything, will now take ten times as much time. Getting dressed to leave the house used to take three minutes. Now it’s 30. Doing the week’s laundry used to take a couple of hours max, most of which could be spent multi-tasking in between loads. Now, the laundry never, ever ends.

Sometimes my husband and I look at each other and ask, “What did we do with our time before we had kids?” We say this, not because we can’t remember, but because it’s incredible that we have managed to cram so much more into the same amount of hours. It’s exhausting.

Which is why I’ve never felt guilty about stealing a few minutes here and there to tune out, to relax, to scroll through mindless junk on my phone. Because we all deserve a break. Except now, I realize that my kids are no longer the biggest demands on my time. My phone is. It’s a massive time-suck that continually draws me in, like a black hole from which I cannot escape.

It’s an addiction.

And it’s ruining my life.
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Telemiracle: Changing the world, one miracle at a time

There are many ways we mark March in Saskatchewan. Hauling our kids to and from the rink for the last few hockey games of the season. Enjoying a final round of beer and chicken wings at the local curling club or getting one last ice fishing trip in before the snow melts away. In all cases, layering a bunnyhug under your winter coat because the weather will change from being ‘not half bad’ in the afternoon to ‘still freakin’ cold outside’ at night.

But nothing is more quintessentially Saskatchewan in March than answering the call to “ring those phones” during the province’s annual telethon — Telemiracle. The 21-hour variety show shines a spotlight on the diverse talent within the province, intermixed with performances by a celebrity cast. But more than that, it proves once again that small groups of people working together — coming together — to help others can have a powerful impact on our world.

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The best thing you can do for your relationship is talk about money

Picture it. You’ve settled the kids with a babysitter, put on some clean clothes and headed out with your spouse for a long overdue date night. You’re about to enjoy a bottle of wine, a nice meal, maybe even dessert. And best of all, a rare chance for uninterrupted, adult conversation.

You know what you should talk about?

Money.

I know what you’re thinking: “That’s a sure-fire way to kill the mood.” Or “Great. Just what I want to do — start a fight.”

But the truth is having a heart-to-heart about your finances is one of the best things you can do to build a healthy, lasting relationship.

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Economy vs. environment: Five ways you can support both


Someone, somewhere, started a rumour that it’s impossible to have a strong economy and a healthy environment. Then they drew a line between the two and suggested we all choose a side.

Well don’t.

This is lazy thinking.

It underestimates people’s ability to adapt to change and solve complex problems. It ignores the incredible work that industries are already doing to improve environmental stewardship while fostering economic success. And, worse of all, it makes it seem like there’s nothing we can do as individuals to balance the interests of both, so why bother to try.

The truth is individuals can have a very big impact on both the economy and the environment just by the choices they make on how and where to spend their money.

Here’s a few things that we can all do to support both.

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How to talk about mental health

People everywhere are jumping on board the Bell Let’s Talk Day by sharing messages of support via social media and in person, and for very good reason. Mental health affects all of us, in so many ways.

When you look at the statistics, the numbers are staggering. According to the Canadian Mental Health Association:

  • One in five Canadians will personally experience a mental illness in their lifetime.
  • Suicide accounts for nearly a quarter of all deaths among 15- to 24-year-olds. It’s one of the leading causes, second only to accidents. Canada’s youth suicide rate is the third highest in the industrialized world.
  • About half of the people who feel they’ve suffered from depression or anxiety have never seen a doctor about it.
  • Only one in five Canadian children who need mental health services receive them.

When you break these numbers down to the individuals behind them, the stories will break your heart. Ten-year-old girls committing suicide. First responders struggling to deal with post-traumatic stress disorder. New mothers taken by post-partum depression. Sometimes these stories make the news and are momentarily spotlighted. Too often they are ignored.

This is why we need the Bell Let’s Talk Day. We all have a responsibility to participate in the conversation. We all have a story to tell. Some big. Some small. Here’s mine.

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Seven tips for setting and achieving personal goals

I love a fresh start. A clean page. A new beginning. The feeling that anything is possible, that opportunities are endless, that potential abounds.

Nothing says fresh start like a new year. It is the ultimate opportunity to let go of past mistakes and embark on a journey of self improvement. But the trouble with New Year’s resolutions is that, if you screw up, as most people inevitably do, the temptation to throw in the towel and try again next year becomes incredibly strong. So strong, in fact, that about two-thirds of people who make New Year’s resolutions give up before the end of January.

Not everyone sets New Year’s resolutions, but most people have a goal that they want to achieve. Maybe they want to be healthier. Maybe they want a new job. Or to develop a new skill. I can think of a hundred things that I’d love to change, be better at, or check off my bucket list.

So here are some tips I’ve found to help me (and you) set goals and achieve them.

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Four tips for managing holiday stress

This time of year brings out the best in people … and sometimes the worst. Maybe it’s the cold weather. Maybe it’s the grating holiday music. Or the molasses-like crowds.

Or the pressure of choosing the right gift.

Or the never-ending to-do list.

Or your Elf on the Shelf.

Or the financial and emotional stress.

Whatever the reason, you’re sure to come across someone who has just blown their last nerve and is hovering on the edge of their sanity.

Maybe that person is you.

At some point, I know, it’s probably going to be me.

So here are a few tips to help you keep your cool, at least until 2017.

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How to survive your Elf on the Shelf

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I love everything about the Christmas season — the decorations and lights, the cheesy movies, the food (and drinks), the good deeds, and the get-togethers with family and friends. The list goes on. But there is one thing about this time of year that I really hate.

Elf on the Shelf.

I remember back in 2005, when this phenomenon first hit the stores. “Did you get an Elf on the Shelf yet,” my sister asked.

“No, and I’m not going to,” I replied. Because I thought the idea of having a weird-looking doll spy on us in our home was a little too Chucky-esque.

But by the next year, my then four-year-old had noticed these elves popping up in other people’s houses. “When are we going to get our elf,” she asked, over and over.

And soon her younger brother joined forces. “Can we get an Elf on the Shelf mom?” they pleaded, every time we went anywhere for anything. “When are we getting our elf?”

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Eight tips for better holiday giving

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“We make a living by what we get.
We make a life by what we give. ”
– Winston Churchill

The holiday season is upon us, whether we’re ready for it or not. I can tell the season is here because shoppers are fighting over this year’s most popular toys, Starbucks has released it’s red cups, and the Facebook debate about whether to say “Happy Holidays” or “Merry Christmas” is in full swing.

A number of charities have also started their seasonal campaigns. For most, this is the make it or break it season.  While the rest of us are jostling crowds and sipping eggnog lattes, or better yet — shopping online with a rum and eggnog in hand — these charities are counting on us to set enough money aside to see them and their clients through the upcoming year. So that they can provide others with things like food, clothing, shelter, care and support.

It provides a little perspective this time of year. And also makes me realize that my current level of generosity sucks. Continue reading Eight tips for better holiday giving