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Volunteering on vacation in St Maarten

I love volunteering. It is a simple and amazing way to give back to your community and to help others, especially those in need.

Volunteering is giving your time and effort towards good causes. It doesn’t have to take all of your day, it could be a few hours in the weekend, and that goes such a long way.

My favourite events that I volunteer to help with, are those held for children. I have always enjoyed working with children and this even led me to become a teacher. I especially love working with children with special needs.  While you’re helping others, you’re also learning something new,  utilizing your skill-set, talking to people and working as part of a team towards a common goal.

While vacationing in St. Maarten, in March this year, I noticed an organization called SXM DOET advertising a weekend of island wide events to give back to the community and a call for volunteers. Naturally I contacted them and just like that- I had an opportunity to volunteer with senior citizens. The weekend event was packed with fun activities.

On the first day, I accompanied the seniors on an island tour, which allowed me to also learn and experience the island in a way I hadn’t before!

I had a great time in wonderful company, as I listened to their stories about how the island was in their youthful days.

The next day, there was a Fun Day Barbecue at a local picnic spot. I brought my teenage sister with me to help and it was her first time volunteering. My volunteer team set up seating and food service areas, decorated, served food and started games for the seniors and their families to play. It was an amazing day!

After all the dancing and games, I somehow ended up giving foot massages to two of the old ladies and we relaxed together and chatted. I met some amazing people that weekend, and I will make sure to look them up the next time I am on the island.

They really do appreciate this because as people age, their joints can become more stiff and painful, and a simple massage would help ease that discomfort. The simple truth is that many older folks are really in need of some good company and the visits give them something to look forward to.

Volunteering can be great quality time away from work and a busy life, because the focus shifts from you and onto making someone’s life better and more fulfilling, which is even more necessary if they are less fortunate.

It has been my experience that volunteer work also allows you to enhance your own self-development in ways you may never have thought of.  You can gain confidence and self esteem by working with your team of volunteers to help others. It gives you a chance to meet new friends, be more outspoken and learn more about your community

Helping others always feels good. You don’t have to give money. Giving your time and energy is usually even more appreciated!

 

Don’t like camping? Try glamping

With summer around the corner and school coming to an end, it’s time to make some travel plans that fit everyone’s expectations: The nature and adventure junkie, and the comfort and luxury lover.

I’ve always liked the idea of camping and my experience of it in my 20s was positive so much so that I would have gladly repeated the experience if my other half were more agreeable with it. Camping is simple and inexpensive way to travel and experience a new place. All you need is a tent, a sleeping bag, a knapsack with clothes to last enough days, toiletries, cooking supplies, and off you go. Well, if you like that sort of experience, great! But what if your partner in life and travel is not into roughing it? No worries! If you don’t like camping, how about glamping?

Glamping is becoming popular especially with families, people with high income and the over 60 crowd. You can find glamping sites everywhere across Canada and around the world. The demand is high and so is the offer.

Simply put, glamping is glamour and camping combined. Glamping is the perfect compromise; the camping lover will not have to renounce their need for adventure, love of nature, and experiential travel while the luxury lover won’t have to throw a wrench by demanding style and comfort. Glamping is camping with the comforts of a four-style hotel. When you “glamp”, you ditch the traditional tent that needs assembling each time you use it. Instead the options are: A barn, a hut, a cottage, a lodge, a tent, a teepee, a yurt, a villa, a treehouse, or a wagon; in any case, a very comfortable, fully-furnished, often elegant and uniquely decorated unit. Proper beds, queen or king size, guarantee a good night sleep. Units come with electricity or battery powered outlets to charge your phone, use your hairdryer and so on. On another note, if camping evokes the thought of toilets located under the stars, put all worries to rest. Glamping sites provide fully functional bathrooms with hot and cold running water, showers and or tubs.

Like all respectable campsites, glamping sites offer entertainment to all heart’s content with activities such as zip-lining, axe-throwing, wine tours, to name a few. It’s all about connecting and embracing whatever the area has to offer. As for dining, some sites come with fully equipped kitchens if you don’t mind cooking, some offer the most demanding food junkie a fine dining experience to taste the flavour of fresh and local ingredients.

It’s good to know that just like all vacation options, glamping is for all budgets, from the most affordable to the most upscale. So, do your research and surely you will come up with the alternative vacation that works for you, your family or friends. I am doing mine and leaning very much towards a glamping experience. So, taking the liberty to conjugate the verb, I say: I am glamping this summer!

 

 

 

The ultimate healer: Tumeric and Ginger Anti-inflammatory Tonic

With the fluctuating weather lately, everyone seems to be getting sick. Instead of popping a ton of Advil and chugging cough syrup, why not try a juice? This anti-inflammatory tonic should help you heal in a natural and organic way using fresh ingredients.

Ingredients:

  • 2tsp fresh turmeric
  • 4 carrots
  • 1cm fresh ginger
  • 1 orange
  • ½ lemon
  • 3 stalks celery

Directions:

Simply add all ingredients into a food processor with 1/2 cup water and blend until smooth. Enjoy in sips as the drink will be very concentrated, but will clear your system immediately.

Drinking homemade juices with the soothing spices of turmeric and ginger will strengthen your immune system and flush out nasty toxins from your immune system without using immune-suppressants such as cough syrup. Vitamin C found in oranges and lemons will also help heal a cold in no time. Enjoy this fresh juice and hopefully you are better for spring  just around the corner!

It’s 2017! God, it’s gotta be better than last year, right?!

Thank goodness 2016 is over! Am I right?!

It’s been a rough year. A lot of crazy stuff happened around the world and, personally, I’m feeling the weight of it all. But, the best part about a new year is that that last one is over. There is no need to think about it or wonder what could have happened to change things. Instead of dwelling on the past, it’s time to look to the future. And that is a refreshing thought.

The only problem with a shit show year is that people may feel pressured to overreach, maybe even try to make up for 2016 all at once. Trust me, there is no need to change your entire life in the month of January. You have an entire year, let’s not rush things.

You aren’t going to listen to me, are you? That’s okay! Starting anew can be a wonderful feeling. What I worry about is the February crush, when everyone realizes the goals they’ve set are unattainable, and all of the bad things that happened the previous year have consequences that could last until 2020. What happens then?

First thing first. Let’s tackle THIS year before we worry about the next one. Here are some tips for setting those New Year’s resolutions and planning for that high-expectation 2017:

Take time to reflect: I know you would rather not think about the past year, but it’s important to do so. Reflection offers insight into who you are and who you want to be. Think about the decisions that led to happiness and the decisions that led to that depression. Use this time to find out what works for you and what doesn’t. Also find out what is within your control. The results of certain elections and the needless deaths around the world may influence your unhappiness, but there may not be much you can do about it. Maybe you need to get involved in a charity or nonprofit? Make some donations to the causes you are passionate about? These decisions can only happen if you reflect.

Forget physical health: You will always want to change something about your appearance. Whether the goal is to lose weight, get rid of that muffin top, or simply put more effort into your wardrobe — this type of New Year’s resolution never lasts and always leads to disappointment. Instead, why not focus on mental health and feeling happy. This will still include going to the gym, but you will be going for YOU and not for those few pounds you still have to lose. Spend more time outdoors, meditate, think about your own happiness for once. Be selfish this year. I promise it’s okay to do so!

Start small: Pick one thing per month to do or change. That way, your body and mind are able to adjust. For example, say you will go to the gym two days a week in the month of January. In February, you can start eating less sugar. In March, maybe start a weekly dinner with friends and family. Start meditating for 10 minutes a night in April. If you keep this up, by the end of 2017, all of these habits and new traditions will come naturally to you.

Spend more time with friends and family: Nothing incites depression more than loneliness. Everyone is always “too busy” with work, kids, and commitments. Make 2017 the year of re-connecting and/or making new friends.  Plan a monthly dinner with friends so you can catch up and break from the craziness of regular life. Use this opportunity to vent about work and ask for advice about personal problems. And laugh. I’m a firm believer that laughter is the natural cure to everything!

Be active: No, this doesn’t mean spend more time in the gym. This means do more outside of your home. Get rid of your daily work-home-television routine and put down your phone. Go for more walks, go skating, or visit a museum on their “free” days. Get to know the city you live in. Plan a trip somewhere. Travel or plan a staycation. Nothing lifts spirits as much as a new experience.

Ultimately, focus on yourself this year. I hope these tips help make your 2017 a hell of a lot better than 2016.

And remember to walk away from 2016 like this….it will not hold you back!

 

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Why it’s important to challenge yourself

Every once in a while I get this sinking feeling — like I’m not doing enough with my life. I go to work, I come home, and then I lie on the couch for a few hours before I go to bed. The next day, I wake up and it starts all over. It makes me think: is this all there is? Shouldn’t I be doing more with my life? Where can I go from here?

This downward spiral can lead to self doubt, anxiety, and fatigue. It prevents you from actually accomplishing your goals, and makes you feel as if the few things you’ve accomplished aren’t good enough. It’s also incredibly hard to switch off those negative thoughts.

The thing is, it’s completely natural to feel like you’re in a rut. A number of things can cause it: a stale relationship, a ho-hum work environment, or it could be things in your personal life that send you over the edge. Everyone experiences it — but it’s what we do after we realize we’re in a rut that matters.

Peg Streep, author of Mastering the Art of Quitting says the human brain is hardwired to work hard and push through despite what’s happening with your life, which may sabotage your happiness and create a cycle of negative energy. This negative energy is what causes the rut. Overthinking, overworking, not taking time for yourself — all of these things make us tired of the lives we’ve worked so hard to create.

So, what to do about it?

When I start to get into this rut, I decide to challenge myself.  I try something different each time. The first time was 30 days of yoga (I suggest You-tubing Yoga with Adriene, who is an absolutely marvellous instructor, especially for beginners). The second was a video challenge, where I had to film myself every day for a month. The third was training to run a 5k. And this time, it’s trying my hand at poetry.

For me, it’s all about setting, and completing attainable goals — it makes you feel accomplished. It’s like creating a to-do list and then crossing items off. Except, instead of “send email to boss” or “do laundry”, these are life goals. At the same time, they are doable. These goals are tough, but are easy enough to complete within a month or so.  A lot of people will try to set a number of goals to accomplish at the same time (eat right, go to gym three times a week, learn a foreign language, etc ). The problem is that a full body and mind transformation takes a lot of time and patience, and if you aren’t ready for that type of commitment, you’ll just end up overwhelmed and discouraged. Go one challenge at a time and you’ll get to that end-goal, I promise you!

It’s also about pushing yourself slightly outside your comfort zone. Now, I’m not suggesting you leap out of a plane to conquer your fear of heights, but rather take small steps to push yourself in creative and impassioned ways. Understanding what keeps you within your comfort zone is equally as important as pushing yourself outside of it.

For me, running a 5k, doing yoga, writing poetry, all of these are things that are small, simple, and personalized to my specific goals — to be healthy and to develop my creativity. I’m not running a marathon. I’m not becoming a published novelist. I’m not establishing a completely zen mentality. I’m changing, slowly and at the right pace for me. At the same time, I’m challenging myself! I’m not an athletic person, nor a particularly creative one, so these goals really do force me to work hard and carve out time for myself.

At the end of the day, I enjoy these ruts. Sure, they are terrible for the first few weeks while you figure out your feelings, but they inspire creativity and give me an opportunity to re-evaluate my life. And with that creativity comes a new mentality.

Suddenly, anything is possible!

How do you deal with your rut? What are the goals you’ve set for yourself? Let us know in the comments below!

Relationship deal breakers

Recently one of my closest friends has been arguing with her manfriend of two years. She doesn’t want babies and he does; is that a deal breaker? They seem to think that it might be and I don’t blame him or her because how can she be the girl that stops him from being a father? The resentment and the guilt would ruin whatever love they have for each other, maybe not today or even a couple years from now, but eventually they would hate each other.

I don’t know if I want babies, I don’t think I do, and I’ve told Boyfriend that from day one. Children are not in my plan and he seems to be okay with that. But every once and a while I worry that maybe one day that will be a deal breaker for him. Maybe one day he’ll want to be a dad and it will feel like it’s too late to make that decision.

It’s strange that I’m in this place now, that at 25 I think about the wedding and the babies and I wonder what I want ­five years from now. Do I want to be a mother or a wife? Or will fur babies and common law do for me?

I think about a future with Boyfriend a lot; he’s my person and a future without him seems impossible to imagine, but I could do it if it meant that he got what he wanted or needed out of life, if it meant that he was happier then I could do it. But I wonder what his deal breakers are. Is there something that he needs as much as my friend’s man needs to be a father? I like to think that we’ve been honest enough with each other these past nine months, that if there was something he needed that I couldn’t give that we could end it rather than stay together and hurt each other.

When I imagine our future I think about the little things: moving in together, getting a puppy and enjoying the day to day. I’m not excited to walk down the aisle because who knows if I’ll ever make it there but I’m excited for the day when we wake up together and neither of us have to rush home. I’m excited for the day when we do the IKEA trip — partially because we need furniture and partially because testing your relationship in the hell that is IKEA is fun in a sick and twisted kind of way.

Maybe we don’t have any deal breakers, maybe we won’t have to worry that we love each other but want different things, but if that day comes I hope I’m strong enough to say goodbye. I won’t lie though: I think Boyfriend and I have a bright future ahead of us, many stupid IKEA arguments, late night conversations about nothing and breakfasts in bed. We can do anything and we have all the time in the world to figure it out.