Sleepy Time

Happy New Year, Readers!

My consistent wishes/ joke has been that I hope 2018 is more amazing than 2017 … which should not be hard given the bar is so low.

So how did you celebrate?

Both myself and my really good friend, Beverly, realized that both of our beaus were doing their own thing. Hers was hunting and Maciej is visiting his family in Europe. Upon this realization, we thought it would be a great opportunity to have a “girls night in” as well as officially engage in wedding things as she is my co-maid of honour.

When her train arrived, we went shopping and I started looking at wedding bands (and finally found one that I really like that has a fun significance!), she tried on bridesmaid dresses (and we finally settled on one) and I tried on my wedding dress again because … what can I say … I am so excited!!! It was such a fun day and definitely one of my most memorable New Years celebrations.

After we went to the cinema and saw Pitch Perfect 3. I really enjoyed it despite it being a hokey chick-flick. The plotline is in no way deep but when you are out with your girlfriend(s) and are around my age – as I found the context was very much targetted to us who are veering close to the 30 mark but not quite yet – it was a funny movie.

After the movie, we came back, I iced a homemade chocolate cake – which I cheated with a gluten-free box because I am recently over being ill LOL but I did bake it in my oven!! – and I made homemade vegan baked nacho dip for dinner. Confession: For a box mix, this cake is legitimate. Often with gluten-free, there is a weird aftertaste due to the use of potato starch or rice flour in the mix. With this mix, you cannot tell the difference between the gluten-free and a real cake … at least that is what Beverly said because I have not eaten gluten in almost three years.

We drank wine and I evilly introduced her to Drop Dead Diva on Netflix. Like an old person, I took a nap a few minutes before the countdown and when the clock struck midnight, we took pictures, blew noisemakers and then we … are you ready for it *Taylor Style* … went to bed!

With the advent of a new year, many people discuss their resolutions and goals. Some are opposed to this and others use this calculation of time as an opportunity to make lifestyle changes. I personally have eight areas I am working on in 2018. One of the lifestyle changes I am trying to make is ensuring I get enough sleep! I think this is an “I am almost 30 and all-nighters are not cool anymore because I turn into a raving bitch erm … crazy lady” situation. The reality is, I am very productive in the mornings and I genuinely enjoy sitting in my favourite chair before people have started texting and e-mailing as I watch the sunrise and sip on my coffee. It is a truly hygge ritual that I value.

In the past, I have overworked late into the night and I would often sleep through alarms, become short-tempered and extremely anxious with physical symptoms. During my undergraduate degree (oh the dawn of your early 20s), it was not uncommon for me to be at school at 6:00 AM reading and drinking a coffee in the library, doing courses/ lectures until 2:30 PM to 5:00 PM, getting back on the bus home and writing papers until 11:00 PM, sleep until 4:30 AM, continue working then go in for my part-time government job for 9:00 AM and occasionally attend an evening course from 7:00 PM to 10:00 PM that night! Insane … I know! I really have no idea how I pulled this off except maybe my age made the onset of the physical repercussions sneak up on me a bit slower. During this break, I have started turning off my alarm and resting up. At this point, I feel caught up on sleep and am slowly going to be pushing back to earlier bedtimes so that ultimately I am able to wake up well-rested by 5:30 AM.

One thing I am incredibly guilty of is sleeping with Netflix streaming on my iPad. I have read a lot about the negative effects of blue light on your circadian rhythm and I know this bad habit needs to be broken. Some of the effects include: a) suppression of melatonin production; b) not feeling rested after sleep due to a lack of REM cycles; and, c)  poor overall quality of sleep. The full recommendation actually indicates that devices should be shut off 30 minutes prior to sleep. I would love to get into this habit! 21st century me is already toying with what I could be doing if all devices are off for 30 minutes. Some ideas include reading a paper book and meditation/ yoga. But I recognize this is going to be a slow transition if it is going to work.

Truth Bomb: In my final year of high school, I was extremely anxious as I (thinking worst case scenario) did not want to return to high school for a “victory lap”. Complete nonsense, I know. As a result, I suffered from chronic night terrors for months! And these were vivid and terrifying. One of the times I was so scared I jumped into bed with my sister. This is when the habit started because I found that sleeping with the TV on stopped my night terrors. I did this for years – far longer than necessary; however, I was scared that my night terrors would return if I did not sleep with the TV on. Has anyone ever experienced this? Now I am at a point where I cannot sleep without the background noise.

So what do you think? Have any of you ever tried eliminating technology and ensuring you are getting a routine 8-hour rest? What were your strategies? How about night terrors? Have any of you experienced this?

Let me know and may 2018 be amazing to all of you!

Steph xoxo

The Milestone Race

What is life!? LOL

How is the work week going, readers? We are just over the “hump” so to speak. I have been productive at both working to complete my master’s thesis and doing some data management for one of my (many) jobs.

A topic that has resonated with me lately is the idea of, what I am coining, the milestone race. Humans are competitive by nature and in a variety of different ways. Many women (of course not all women) in their 20s are in the “family” race. You guys totally know what I am talking about: get some post-secondary education, find a partner, get married, buy your forever home, have 1.8 kids … the works. In fact, some people go to the extent completing the race within 10 years! All the by the age of 30! Now, let us consider this for a minute.

To be clear, the above chart is meant to be humorous, not offensive. What I am doing is poking fun at the prescribed decade that is your 20s … (I heard your 30s are better? If not, keep it to yourself, I need some hope LOL) and with that being said, I question this notion. I question rushing through so many of life’s joys in the quick span of your first decade as an adult! We are socialized as young girls to believe that this is happily ever after. We have seen it in the millions of minutes spent watching our Disney princesses find their prince, our rom-com protagonists finding love in the most apropos way and do not get me started on 50 Shades of Grey!

While there is nothing wrong with hitting these milestones, and flourishing happily – I congratulate you if this is what you needed – consider the flower children who make different choices. What about those of us who do not follow this pattern. The problem I have come to notice is that while there is nothing wrong with “settling down”, this prescription is not a prescription for happiness and it does not define your worth as a person.

Furthermore, while you are busy running the marathon of your third decade to hit the finish line quickly, you miss all the fun and joy that comes from the blunders, processes and lessons you are forced to learn as you navigate your transition into adulthood. Take for example the ample arguments on paint colour and design I watched my parents so passionately argue about growing up. I swear, being on the brink of bloody divorce over the colour of wooden spoon (I am exaggerating, my parents love each other going on over 30 years now LOL) – has brought many hilarious memories when we look around their house and the warmth that colour brought into their home. In addition, those whose families were built out of order and in different circumstances has brought forth my most favourite little spider-nephew as I watch my sister so confidently flourish in her career and raise her son with no remorse nor care to rush into a marriage because “that is what you do”. She is confident and is in the process of raising a beautifully smart, confident and silly little guy.

And with that, I come back to me – the overworked and exhausted overachiever who looks forward to one day marrying my partner, but keeps up the hustle! I have not achieved “marriage” (1000 XP right?? LOL) and there is some time until I will. I am nowhere near being able to afford a house. I live in a 1 bedroom apartment in Toronto and love every quirk that comes with it. The fact I decorated my home, my kitchen sucks, and my bedroom is my sanctuary of calmness – but I do not own it – I still love these moments. Looking on social media, one can see that I have a handsome partner who is going to have a fabulously successful career one day. In addition, I have worked so hard and my career thus far has been pretty successful, I am independent. This, however, is deceiving because while I have had some amazing successes, people are not seeing the not-so-glamourous stress I put on myself to cultivate my passion. Have any of you spent 16 hours consecutively editing and eating your quick leftovers at your desk all on 3-4 hours of sleep? If you have, I send you all my empathy – you are amazing!

Furthermore, when analyzing my life using the above “milestone race” (which I get often in an attempt to diminish my successes), of course I do not come up to par! We all make the story of our lives. It is not up to other people to assess our stories in accordance to one prescription. As so famously stated by Aerosmith: Life’s a journey, not a destination. And with that, I leave you my readers with a vote of confidence and wisdom. Consider your life and every single thing that has not worked out the way you think it should. What has happened instead? What have you learnt from it? Are you happy? If you are not, what can you do to try? Is it by removing yourself from the milestone race? Wishing you joy as you make your history.

Feel free to comment below or connect on social media. Every one of you is going to have the story of a lifetime, I promise.

Cheers and enjoy the rest of your week!

Feelings of Overwhelm

What am I going to do?

I don’t know about anyone else but 2017 has not been my year. I feel like the challenges that have been thrown at me are reminiscent of being the last player left on your team during dodgeball and there are no balls left on your side.

Earlier in the year, when another challenge would present itself, I would usually respond with anger, frustration and overwhelm before I finally exploded and tired out. I would like to say I have made sooooo much progress but really, today, I would like to acknowledge my baby steps. You see, typically as someone who is innately anxious while also enjoying achieving big dreams, I see the big picture and freak out. This goes for my large accumulation of student debt, the entire 6 chapters of my master’s thesis, and the steps leading to my ultimate professional goal. Even to some extent, I get overwhelmed and impatient with this blog… I JUST GOT IT RUNNING YESTERDAY! THIS IS MY SECOND POST!!

On Monday, I sat with a good friend of mine who has an accumulation of wisdom in her years ahead of my own. We were discussing some of my work and she told me: “Okay Stephanie, you are well on your way. However, now you need to take each chapter one at a time, finish it, refine it, make it perfect. Then once that is completely done – THEN move onto the next”. I share this little tidbit of wisdom with you my readers because – like most areas of my life, I tend to circle things. I move around without always committing to my one main task at hand. There is a whole philosophy of productivity that talks about this. For now, I would like to refer to this infographic created by Brandon Gaille. Gaille proposes 5 time management techniques for enhanced productivity.

My biggest vice is I switch between tasks and I procrastinate on social media. So, what if I did not? Would that bring the stress down? Would I actually get something done? I have decided to try all five of these techniques over the next week and write a review post on my feelings towards the various methods. It is my hope that I can figure out which method works for me so I can get the things I need off my to-do list.

On the list for tomorrow:

I have to complete my proposal for a conference in New York City; I need to complete a chapter of my thesis; and, I need to host people in celebration of Maciej’s birthday!!

On that note, I have put together a lovely menu spread for tomorrow! I am excited to get cooking! The recipes in this menu are all from one of my favourite bloggers of all time, Angela Liddon of Oh She Glows. Her recipes are always a hit – even amongst those dietary meat purists. On the menu I have:

Appetizers:

Main Course

Dessert:

Drinks:

I think it goes without saying, I have one HECK of a day in the kitchen and on the computer tomorrow – anyone want to give me a vote of confidence that I can pull this off? Nah, sadly, me neither. I think it would be wise if I take some time before bed and schedule out my day tomorrow in my iCloud calendar as well as make friends with the Pomodoro technique because tomorrow is going to be a busy one! I will let you know how the menu turns out!

Do you have any productivity tips and tricks? How about keeping stress and overwhelm at bay? Share them below! I would love to discuss them with you!

Wishing everyone a good night!

And of course, most importantly – to the man I hope to keep whispering nonsense to until you have tripled this age – Happy Birthday.

Photo credit: Boakview Photography