5 Reasons To Consider Volunteer Work

Volunteer work, the backbone of every non-profit or charity organization. Without them, a lot of these places could not do the great work that they do.

I’m going to share my experience with volunteering and why I think everyone who is able to, should.

I volunteer at the Toronto Humane Society working with behaviour cats, and feeding kittens. Each of the following reasons I recommend volunteering is based on my experience there, but can be applied to any place you wish to volunteer.

The most important thing I can tell you is to volunteer for a cause you are passionate about.

1. It is very rewarding
As cliche as it sounds, knowing the impact your work is having does make you feel great. For me, seeing a cat that came in terrified and anxious, who wouldn’t let anyone pet them gradually become more and more comfortable with people, and then eventually get adopted is amazing! Every volunteer who interacted with that cat had a part in helping it find it’s home and have a great life.


2. It gets you out of the house
For anyone who is between jobs, unable to work, or is retired, it’s a great way to help you get out of the house on a regular basis so that you don’t go crazy staying home all the time. I personally have a day job and my business, but I see a lot of people who volunteer at the THS a few more times a week than me because they aren’t working and they love it.

3. You meet new people
I love the people I volunteer with. We may or may not have very much in common, but we all share the same compassion for animals. Some amazing new friendships can be formed with people you never would have met otherwise.

4. It looks great on a resume
This isn’t really the best reason for why someone should volunteer. This should not be the only reason you are doing it. It’s just a perk.

5. It’s wonderful for your mental health.
Whether you have a mental illness or not, your mental health is important. Doing something nice for others gives your brain a neurochemical sense of reward. Basically, you just feel good! Personally, I’ve found that during times of bad depression, going to the THS has really helped lift my spirits. It’s hard for your brain to tell you that you don’t matter when you are doing something that will positively affect another’s life. When I begin to feel this way, I try to remember the cat who never came out of her box for the longest time, who finally came out and after a long visit, and ended up purring on my lap! By my next volunteer shift, that cat had been adopted. I think about the cats who love attention and how happy they are when I show up with their favourite wand toy or a brush. I remember all the cat’s that weren’t eating because of stress, who I was able to encourage to eat. I know I matter because I helped improve the lives of these cats.

 

 

 

What I Would Do if I Won the Lottery

This is a daydream that I’m sure a lot of people share. Can you just imagine how your life would change? The burdens of student loans, consumer debt, or living paycheck to paycheck would disappear. Dreams of buying a home, a car, or starting a business could be realized. It’s amazing to think about.

It’s such a strange thing for me to think about, considering I never buy lottery tickets. The pessimistic part of my brain tells me its a waste of money because I won’t win. Which I guess is smart. But let’s think about it for a minute!

I know there are statistics that say a lot of people who win the lottery, go broke not too long after because they get carried away. So I’m going to keep that in mind here.

Let’s pretend I won last night’s Lotto Max jackpot, which was 60 Million. Wow! Where do I start?

First thing I would do is buy a house. That’s an easy one! I would buy one in Toronto, in the neighbourhood that we currently rent. Something I don’t think we will ever be able to do! The house would likely cost around 2 Million.

I would then renovate the house. I want to create the ultimate sewing and craft room. There will be table space and shelves all along the wall, a large cutting table, and I would LOVE LOVE LOVE to buy one of those Sewing cabinets from The Original Scrapbox.

There will, of course, be extra rooms for potential future children, and one “cat room” that the dog won’t be able to get to. This can be their sanctuary with cat trees, lots of sunlight, and a quiet space for the litter boxes. My husband will get his own office/video game room with a big TV and comfortable couch. All the other staple rooms would be renovated to suit our style if needed. The backyard will also have a hot tub or pool.

If I could find a retail space for sale in a good area for less than 1 million, I would open my own store to sell my Etsy products, as well as carry other products as well. This would also be great for me to have a place to store inventory for both the shop and Etsy, and I would love to help small businesses/designers showcase their work at the shop. It would also be necessary for

I think that 60 million is too much money to not give any to charities. Easily I would give 3 million to the Toronto Humane Society. As a volunteer, seeing the amazing work they do first hand, lets me know that the money would be put to great use. I would also continuously donate to them on a regular basis from profits of my business. I would also split another 3 million between various charities that help women in developing countries, hospitals, such as, Sick Kids, and charities that support people with mental illnesses.

Next I would give 5 million to my parents, and my husband’s parents. As a thank you for raising us! And we would give our siblings each about $100 000. I would also start a college/wedding fund for the potential future children by putting one million into a savings account.

Now all that’s left is to buy each of us a car. One SUV and one smaller car. The remaining will be put in the bank to collect interest and allow us to live a comfortable lifestyle.

….If only.

It’s nice to dream, and it’s nice to have aspirations, and things to grow towards. But it’s also good to be grateful for the things we do have. My husband and I have a lovely apartment with ensuite laundry. That’s awesome! We have 4 beautiful fur-babies, who may interfere with my ability to run my business, but they are so sweet and loving that it doesn’t matter. We have a nice patio, and our building has great outdoor space.

Winning the lottery would be amazing, but I am fine without it too.

Why it’s Important for me to be Open About my Mental Health

I was quiet for so long, but that wasn’t helping anyone, especially me.

I think it is very important for people to talk more openly about their mental health issues. Because the more we normalize it the more we reduce the stigma that unfortunately still surrounds it. Continuing to keep it a secret and feeling embarrassed or shameful about it only helps the stigma stick around. And guess what, there is nothing embarrassing or shameful about having an illness. Any illness. 

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However, I do understand that some people suffer in silence because they aren’t mentally prepared to “come out” about their struggles, or they know how a certain person will react. That is why the people who can speak up, should. We can be a voice for those that can’t speak up yet, and hopefully be the inspiration for them to eventually speak up.

For me, I had such a hard time being open about it. I feared judgement from my family and friends. I still haven’t exactly told everyone yet, but it’s not something I am going out of my way to hide either. Just like a person with diabetes doesn’t need to announce their illness to everyone, but they have no problem saying they have it if the topic comes up.

I make a point of speaking very casually about it now. I used to be a little hushed when I brought it up, my tone of voice would change, and you could tell I was feeling a little worried bringing it up. I was still a little embarrassed by it. Talking about it like it’s no big deal, is what will help others realize its no big deal. There’s no need to change how you treat me (unless I bring something up with you specifically) or interact with me. You can still joke around with me, but just have an understanding that my mind works differently.

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To those that have someone in their life with a mental illness, if they are open about it with you, go ahead and ask them questions about it. Don’t get too personal of course, but if I bring up taking my meds, you can ask me a little about them, how they are working for me, if I had any weird side effects, whatever. Just don’t ask why I need to take them, and offer “natural” ways to treat depression. (Seriously!) If someone doesn’t want to answer, respect that of course.

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Basically, the more normal we all make talking about mental illness, the more the stigma will go away. And a little bit of humour can go a long way too!

We Got a Puppy!

So I thought the first post about my time away from the blog would be a positive one! In this past summer we adopted our beautiful puppy, Pixel!

We had been looking for a puppy for a while. The Toronto Humane Society, where I volunteer with the cats, didn’t have any puppies that were available for adoption around that time. So we looked into other animal shelters and online for “accidental litters”. We absolutely didn’t want to go through a breeder, because they are expensive and we weren’t looking for a specific breed. We had a few breeds in mind, and wanted a mix, or, “mutt”.

One day, one my my husband’s co-workers told him she found out about someone who had an accidental litter, and we saw a picture of one of the puppies. So cute! So we contacted the owner of the mother and arranged to meet the puppies.

We met them when they were 5 weeks old. There were 11 of them, and 4 had already been claimed. We met the mother, who was very relaxed and gorgeous. A German Shepherd, Husky mix. And saw a picture of the dad, a Husky, Lab mix. Sitting in a room with 11 tiny puppies running all over the place was so fun! We picked Pixel, she had beautiful markings and we felt something when we held her, verses the others. We knew she was the one!

We picked her up the following week when she was 6 weeks old. I know that’s really early, but they told us that the mother had stopped nursing them already and they were eating dry food. We decided that she may as well come home with us, so she can start getting used to our home, and cats.

It is definitely true that dogs are a lot more work than cats! We found that out very quickly. For the first little while, I would take her to work with me, so that she could go outside a few times a day.

She had a bit of a rough start. When she was 8 weeks old, there was an emergency middle of the night vet run. She had swallowed a rock a couple days earlier, we were giving her special food to hopefully help her pass it. Fortunately, she threw it up, which means it didn’t go through her intestines, but she threw up everything, non stop, and woke us up whimpering. At the emergency vet, it was a long wait, and it’s a rather depressing place, especially at night. But one slightly amusing part of the night happened when the vet was examining her and she had explosive diarrhea, allllll over the vet. So she had to go change her entire outfit.

On top of that, she also had a bad case of kennel cough. It’s a very contagious dog cold/flu. It sounds horrible! We felt bad that there wasn’t much we could do for her on a coughing fit, and that she wasn’t able to play with her friends.

Since then, she has been pretty healthy. There has been the occasional sickness when she has eaten things that didn’t agree with her.

Dogs really have a tendency to get sick more than cats, and overall are a lot more expensive. I love Pixel, and I couldn’t imagine life without her now. But I also wouldn’t recommend someone adopt a dog, or puppy, without giving it a lot of thought. Realize that they are a lot of work and a lot of money.

That being said, she is worth every penny to us! Having a dog is wonderful for so many reasons. They are a wonderful companion who is always happy to see you. Pixel is wonderful at picking up on emotions. And anytime you are really upset, she will be right by your side. She has also, in a way, forced me to get up and go outside more often than I was before. (Although, she is mostly my husband’s responsibility for going outside) I almost always take her outside to socialize with other dogs and then I can socialize with other dog owners.

For the first little while after bringing her home, I took her to work with me at my day job. I work as a design assistant in a custom design boutique. It was a little tough because she didn’t like being alone when she was awake, and if I left her downstairs when I went up to help customers, she would whine. I often kept her upstairs with me when I didn’t have much work downstairs, and customers loved that!

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Right now she is almost 11 months old, with so much energy! She will be turning 1 on May 6th 2018. We are thinking about having a birthday party for her and her “boyfriend” Duke, who is 2 weeks younger, next month.

She has made a wonderful addition to our family, and I’m sure when she starts calming down, the cats will agree with us. Right now they are still a little nervous around her.

You can follow her on Instagram @the_pixel_puppy

 

 

Guess Who’s Back!

Hi everyone! I’m back!

Where I’ve been and why I hadn’t updated in a long time is a very long story. I will get into it in future blog posts I’m sure. It started with a very stressful situation that snowballed and then I just had a hard time getting back to it.

A lot has happened in the past year and a half since my last post, and I plan to tell you about all of the important stuff.

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But first! I want to tell you about what I am working on now!

 

I’ve always had an entrepreneurial mindset, and running my own business is something that I’ve wanted to do for a long time. But it’s not easy, and I often wonder why it appeals to me so much. As a person who deals with mental health issues on a regular basis, it’s something that is extra challenging for me, but here I am!

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As most know, I am an Arbonne Independent Consultant. I love the products and the company’s values. I think joining this company helped me realize my desire to own a business. However, it didn’t give me the creative outlet I need. I don’t feel passionate about marketing these products, which I think is what made my journey with Arbonne very slow. I’ve decided that Arbonne does have a purpose and place in my life, and who knows what I will do with it in the future. For now, I am remaining a consultant, but this business is going on the back burner. People are definitely still welcome to come to me for Arbonne products, and I love to help people find the best products for them.

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So, if I’m putting Arbonne in the background, what is my focus now??

I am going to continue to write in this blog, and I plan to soon begin to try out video blogging as well. Me on camera? Yikes! If any Vloggers have any tips or advice for someone starting out on YouTube, leave a comment below.

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Under the umbrella of my company “Tarably Inspired” I am going to have 2 separate businesses that sell on Etsy.

The first is a fashion shop. I actually started Tarapparel back in 2010 when I graduated from college and I was bored living in Sarnia trying to save up some money to move to Toronto. After I moved here I dropped it. Tarapparel is going to carry a wide range of products. Sweaters, tops, skirts, pajamas, accessories, and pet accessories.

The other shop is called Digital Sequin. It’s a graphic and photography shop. I’ve always had a love for photography, and this is one way to make money from this hobby. I also really enjoy making graphics and printables.

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This is Sequin, who I named Digital Sequin after.

I am in the process of building up inventory for each, and expect to launch each shop in the next couple of months. While doing this, you can follow my progress here, on my Facebook page, and on Instagram.

 

Thank you so much for reading, and I hope you stick around and watch my journey!

Giving up Pop

Pop or soda, whatever you call it, it’s delicious. Most people can agree on that, and for a lot of families, it ends up on the shopping list every month without much thought.

When I was a kid, I drank pop probably every day. I loved the fizzy-ness I loved the flavours, and of course, the sugar. And I had the cavities to prove it! I felt bad for my cousins, who’s mom would only allow them to have one pop a day. “How strict!” I thought.

As I got older, I started hearing about the health concerns with pop. But I kept thinking, “whatever, I’m still healthy and thin, and people have been drinking pop forever.” Yes, I was blessed with a great metabolism, and weight gain was not a concern I had when it came to pop, but I failed to think about all the other ways it could be affecting me. My teeth for instance, I had cavities almost every time I went in for my dental checkup. I can also just imagine the affect it was having on my stomach, intestines, kidneys, and heart. Not to mention the caffeine. I always said, “well, I don’t drink coffee, so this is my caffeine source” But I also love my chocolate, so I was getting plenty of caffeine.

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Image source and for more information: Huffingtonpost

I would say I was addicted to pop. I would crave it, I would be irritable if we didn’t have pop when I wanted one, and the relief I felt having that first sip was a great feeling. This was not good.

As I begun to be more aware of my anxiety and depression, and admitting to myself that this is a problem, I started looking into what I can do to help myself. Obviously living a healthy lifestyle is a biggie. I decided to get into yoga, and go for more walks. Little changes so it didn’t feel too overwhelming. I would walk to the subway station instead of taking the bus, and instead of my sugary cereal in the morning, I would make myself a protein shake with berries in the morning.

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But I also knew, cutting out caffeine and sugar would make a huge difference, and the best way to do that would be to stop drinking pop. AHH! This was a horrifying thought! There was no way I could see myself being able to do that.

I decided to start slow. I went by my aunt’s “strict” rule of just one pop a day. And with this rule, I found sometimes I would have a day here and there where I wouldn’t have a pop, because I would ask myself, “do you want this pop now, what if you want it later?” and then later I would either forget about it, or decide I may as well leave it for today.

I needed something to substitute the pop with though. I needed something refreshing that had flavour. So I tried drinking more juice. But for some reason that wasn’t enough. The 3 things that I found that helped the most was infusing water with fruit, iced tea (loose leaf tea, steeped, and iced, with no sugar added), and Arbonne’s Fizz Sticks.

The Fizz Sticks are great for giving me that fizzy-ness I miss from pop. They are very versatile as well. You can just mix them with water, or blend them with water and strawberries. There are many things you can mix them with. Maybe I will make a blog post about that one day….

So there I was, drinking a lot more water, and some juice, and a lot less pop. And you know what? I started feeling amazing! I felt like I had more energy, and generally felt healthier. And I eventually got to a point where I wasn’t having my daily pop. Now, I can have one every now and then, as a treat, without suddenly “needing” it again. But I will say, when I do treat myself, I can feel the effects almost right away since I am not used to it anymore. Boy does my stomach get bloated! And I feel the sugar crash, and generally less energetic.

Since quitting pop, I’ve had 3 dental checkups without cavities! (I went to the dentist last week and my record was broken unfortunately, but I wasn’t surprised, when I was home for a few weeks before my wedding, I had a bit more pop than usual, and a lot of sweets. Oops!)

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I want to challenge you. Try limiting your pop intake for a week or two. Drink no more than 1 a day, but try to not drink any at all. And see how you feel. Then ask yourself, if feeling this great and knowing what harmful stuff is NOT going into your body, is worth not having pop all the time?

Don’t think you can do it? Neither did I.