Coping with Aging Parents

My mom’s health is declining, that’s something really hard to admit out loud some days. Neither of my parents were ever the pinnacle of physically fitness and they work very hard on a daily basis.  So to be honest I always knew this day would come, I just kind of hoped it would happen after my 20’s. It’s hard having your parent’s health declining while they still consider you a child. I swear, I say things and they just go in one ear-and out the other. What I’m trying to say is, it’s hard to parent your parent when your parent is still parenting you. LOL, if that makes sense?

It’s definitely a frustrating process for both parties; taking on someone else’s struggles can be overwhelming. From my experience, I think it’s really important to have someone or something to relate to. Here are some helpful and positive ways to deal with your aging parents.

Take time for yourself. There are weeks where I find myself constantly doing things for others, which isn’t bad but we need to remember to also save some TLC for ourselves. Go to the spa, get some ice cream, listen to music, play video games or paint. Do something that brings joy to your life.

Remember all you can do is try to help. I think a lot of my stress resonated in my negative perspective, but really all you can do is try and help. You can only do so much until it starts affecting you and you need to make sure you look out for number one. Try to think about positive aspects of your life; sometimes I’ll make a list of everything I’m thankful for. It helps me remember all the good in my life.

Remember to be humble. At the end of the day they’re your parent and they need you. It makes it twice as hard on them when you’re being difficult or non-sympathetic. However their health is declining you should be respectful and care about what they’re going through because it’s definitely not easy.

Plan fun things to do. The simplest things such as a family dinner or a game night with friends can help provide a sense of relief during stressful weeks. It also helps to keep you goal oriented and able to plan for new experiences.

Lastly, take it one day at time.

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Back To School: How to Make Your First Week Manageable

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As appealing as the re-emergence of pumpkin spice and layering clothing is, fall also means that back to school is now a reality for lots of us.  It’s comparable to an ongoing case of the mondaze, except it doesn’t end until the next summer.  As much as the entire student population would prefer to hide away and avoid all responsibilities, it’s time to buckle down and get our degrees.  Here we have come up with a list of ways to get your head in gear to turn that dread into determination and commitment.

Buy Your Books Early

There is nothing that makes the feeling of back to school set in quite like waiting in the never-ending campus bookstore line.  This line is a huge waste of time, but for some reason, we find ourselves waiting in it every semester.  Why? Because we still aren’t quite sure if our schedule is going to change, and what classes we might drop or swap out of.  Buying your books early will save you time, and even if you do end up dropping one of the courses you bought books for, you are very likely to have someone in that class who still hasn’t bought theirs, and would be more than willing to skip the lines and pay you in cash to save themselves the headache.

Meet Your Professors

Disclaimer:  This will not make you look like a kiss-ass. Meeting your professors before your classes start can be extremely helpful and can give you a feel for what’s to come during your semester.  As we all know, Professors can vary based on personality, marking style, teaching style, availability, etc. so meeting with them, or simply sending them an email will make yourself known, and will allow you to have any questions answered before classes begin and everyone gets busy.

Find Out Where Your Classes Are

Even if you’re in your third or fourth year of University or College, campus can still feel like some sort of maze.  There will always be hidden pockets of classrooms and hallways that you’ve never seen or been in before, and the panic of not knowing where your classes are five minutes before they start can be overwhelming.  Taking a walk around campus on your own beforehand will give you a mental map of where to go, and will familiarize you with the fastest routes to take when you have back to back classes.

Read Your Syllabi

After your first year, you’ll notice that less and less of your professors will take the first day of class to go over course material.  This means that it’s your own responsibility to understand the course requirements and mark down all of the due dates and ask questions if anything is unclear.  Being that person who asks questions already answered in the syllabus will undoubtedly annoy your professor as well, so make sure that you have gone over all of the information provided before you ask if the midterm is open book.

Preparing for school this way will definitely spare you some stress for your first week of classes.  If you still find yourself feeling anxious, just remember the university ragers that are just waiting for you around the corner.  University is where you’ll work and party your hardest, so stay committed, and stay safe!

12 Essential to Pack for Music Festivals

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With music festival season in full swing, dancing, singing, and letting loose is all that’s on our minds.  When it comes to packing and preparing for the worst, however, it can be hard to know what to bring, and what to leave behind.  To help with the headache, we have compiled a list of the must-have items to bring to any music festival so that you can avoid whatever stress may come your way.

A Small Backpack

This may be obvious for a lot of people, but having a mini backpack with you really helps keep your hands free to dance and comfortably maneuver yourself around a really busy venue or festival ground.  With this, you will be forced to pack light to minimize carrying extra weight around with you.

A Poncho

Aside from EDM festivals, most festivals go in rain or shine.  To prevent yourself from paying a ridiculous amount of money for ponchos from sellers at the festival, we highly recommend hitting up your local dollar store and picking up a poncho that is already conveniently wrapped up nice and tightly so that it will take up minimal space in your bag.

Baby Wipes/Tissues

The inevitably least glamorous part of music festivals is the washroom situation.  Outhouses and overcrowded restrooms get very gross very fast, and there is rarely toilet paper anywhere to be found. If feeling clean and fresh is important to you, keeping a small pack of baby wipes in your backpack will come as a godsend.

Hand Sanitizer

Again, along with the joyous outhouse experience comes the dirty, lack of soap conflict.  Hand sanitizer is an absolute must, and we guarantee you will not regret bringing it along with you.

Water

This is a necessity; pretty self-explanatory.

Snacks

Even though festivals do always have food available to purchase, waiting in food stand lines in the sweltering heat, however, can result in some full-fledged hanger and desperation.  Keeping a granola bar or some trail mix with you can really help tie you over as you wait.  It has saved us from quite a few adult temper tantrums, and also helped when the beers and drinks were fuelling the hunger pangs.

Sunglasses

Burning your retinas is never a good idea.

Flannels/Sweaters

As most festivals go from day through the night, it’s important to prepare for the inevitable temperature changes that take place.  Bringing a flannel or sweater with you can really be a saviour when it gets uncomfortably cold for your shorts and crop top.

Facial Mist

Being in full sun for extended periods can leave you sticky and sweaty.  Bringing a facial mist with you can really help during those moments when you need an instant refresh.

Sunscreen

Again, being in the sun while dancing and moving will result in some inevitable sweating.  Make sure to reapply sunscreen throughout the day to avoid that lobster-like complexion.

Comfortable, Closed Toe Shoes

As much as we see people on instagram prancing around Coachella in heels and strappy sandals, they are the farthest from a practical choice of footwear.  Plan to be on your feet all day, and to have your toes stepped on.

A Hat

If you’ve ever experienced a scalp sunburn, you’ll know how necessary this is.

With the exception of the hat and shoes (which you would be wearing anyway), all of these items can fit comfortably in a mini backpack.  Having all of these on hand will make sure that your music festival experience is filled with good memories and music, and not panic and discomfort.  If you have any other festival must-haves, leave them in the comments below, we’d love to read them!

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Budgeting Your Way Through University

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One of the most stressful parts of university and living away from home has to be budgeting.  The change of having to pay for rent, food, essentials, and transportation can come as a costly shock to those who previously had them provided.  One way to make sure you have enough money for your all of your necessities as well as your leisure, is to set up your own budget, and stick to it.

The first step is finding out exactly how much money you have, and how much you will be making (or receiving from financial aid) throughout the year.  If you feel like you may be struggling to make ends meet, this would be a good time to ask yourself if getting a part-time job would be helpful.  Of course, if you’re enrolled in a particularly work-heavy program, getting a job is probably not the best option for you, as you want to ensure that you will have plenty of time to focus on your course work.  Jobs can be very time-demanding even if part-time, and if most of your money is going towards tuition, you want to make sure you make that investment worthwhile.

Next is ensuring you know how much you need to put aside for tuition, books, rent, food, necessities, leisure, and transportation.  For books, try to opt for used instead of new, and also try to compare prices of your campus bookstore with other stores and online shops.  You’d be surprised how much more your campus bookstore will charge for books you can also find elsewhere.

For food, necessities, and leisure, it’s easiest to make a weekly budget.  Sticking to making your necessary purchases once a week and setting a limit for spending is essential to sticking to a university budget, and will help you identify your spending habits and patterns.

Knowing when to spend and when to splurge is one of the biggest struggles of living alone for the first time.  One of the easier places to limit spending is with food.  Avoid buying meals on campus unless you have a prepaid meal plan, as these can quickly add up.  Try to allow yourself some extra time in the morning or the night before to pack whatever meals and snacks you may need (we recommend our fresh rice noodle bowl recipe, it’s great as a packed lunch and doesn’t need to be reheated).  Simply bringing your own cookies or muffins to have with your Starbucks coffee is a really great starting point, and can really jumpstart the habit of being prepared and avoiding unexpected and unnecessary spending.

Food can be your best friend or worst enemy when it comes to your finances.  Wasting food is a dangerous habit to get into, so it’s essential to know exactly how much food you have and need so that you can avoid letting what you buy go past its expiration date.  Don’t get into the habit of stockpiling food when it’s on sale, because more often than not, we buy more than we can eat through.

What we hope you take away from this post is the aspect of staying financially aware.  The stress in finances in most cases comes from not knowing how much you can reasonably spend based on your income and savings.  Keeping on top of this will significantly lower your stress and also help you get into these helpful habits that will carry on long-term.  If you have any other tips for saving through University, leave them in the comments, we’d love to read them!

She Ain’t Fat Bruh

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The only good thing about getting home from vacation is being able to catch up on all the dope tunes I missed out on when I was gone. At the top of my mind, I instantly thought Drake’s new album Views and  Beyonce’s Lemonade, until I came across a new track by Trinidad James called “Just A Lil’ Thick” (She Juicy) ft. Mystikal, Lil Dicky.

Besides having a great beat, which is one of my top priorities as a person who A) likes to dance and B) often throws parties. This track embraces the idea of loving women’s bodies who in modern day society would be considered “fat, obese, or overweight”. Our society often resorts to body shaming when someone’s body does not fit the ideal body type, for women the ideal body type is someone who is considered thin, or skinny.

For most women, laying outside of these standards can result in negative feedback from society, work place opportunities, lovers, friends and family. In the music video, James rejects societal stereotypes about what men should want or find attractive in a female, while also changing the negative idea of the word “fat” and saying “She ain’t fat bruh, just a lil thick”. This transforms the negative stereotype of “fat” into something that isn’t so offensive to those who have a larger body type.

He tackles fat shaming attitudes by embracing the positive side to thicker women, with lyrics like “I’m talkin the 175 and up club, the we cook good, we eat good, we look good”. This acknowledges that just because a woman likes to eat, it does not make her “fat” but an attractive woman who is comfortable enough in her own skin to actually EAT!

This song actually makes me happy when I listen to it; I think as women, our bodies and our looks can sometimes be a daily struggle, especially if we aren’t being supported by others around us. Some people go to extremes just to be so thin because society tells them this how you should be and look.

To me I’ve never been that skinny girl, I LOVE FOOD and always will, but I know how in our heads we can get as females, sometimes it can literally ruin my week just because the pressures of looking good are so strong, especially in summer time.

So to every woman out there who is struggling with body issues, weight issues, beauty issues, just know that you are NOT alone, you’re smart, you’re beautiful and you will find someone who will love you for you. Stop trying to fit in when you’re supposed to stand out!

Creating Your Own Inspiration Space

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Its hard to deny that our mood, motivation, and creativity is often affected by our environment.  Keeping your work environment clean, comfortable, personalized can often help with keeping you on track while keeping you motivated.  This type of space does not have to take up an entire room, and can be as simple as keeping a vision board, personalizing your desk, cubicle, or home office space.

We all find comfort in different things, whether it be in minimalism, clutter, organization, there are millions of possibilities for creating your ideal work environment.  Much like any other space, it is important to include elements of your interests and inspirations. These can be photos, plants, figurines, drawings, quotes, or anything else that you can fit onto your desk or hang around it.  Whatever elements you choose to add to your space, just make sure that you maintain a degree of organization to avoid a chaotic mess, which tends to happen in any workspace.

Next, its important to have all of your work materials close by.  Its best to keep them within arm’s reach, as you will want to avoid having to get up to gather things later on, as it will only leave more possibility for distraction. Storage and organization is key for this, as you want to make sure you have enough space while also keeping things easily accessible.

Another useful tip is to keep switching out decorative or functional elements of your workspace to keep things new and fresh.  If this is a creative space, this is particularly important, as introducing new interesting elements to your workspace can help with the mental creative process.  Sometimes all it takes is a change of scenery.

We hope that these suggestions help you in creating your ideal workspace, and remember that there are endless possibilities as to what you can do with any area you choose to work with. Make this into a fun personal project which will work to motivate you in your creative endeavors.

How to Deal with the Disappointment of Losing a Job

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Stepping into the real world for the first time can be really scary and there are not many sources that discuss the ups and downs of entering the job market place. Whether you want to realize it or not it is competitive out there, you are going to be constantly pressing yourself to be better than the next, in a sense the job market is like a shark tank, you eat or be eaten.

The thing is, you will go through many employers in your life and some experiences are going to outright suck, so it is important to know that even though some jobs may be didn’t go as well as you had hoped, there are still a billion more opportunities out there waiting for you to tackle them.

If you were recently let go from a job or are unemployed then you might be going through some trials of your own. Constantly re-thinking where you went wrong, maybe you’re being really hard on yourself and you’re not alone. Statistics Canada states that the unemployment rate for Ontario as of January 2016 is 6.7% of our population and if you’re like me and you are in your 20’s, this will not be the first time you feel disappointed about employment opportunities.

In spirit of trying to overcome this overwhelming feeling of disappointment, here are some great tips from Psychology Today; an article written by F. Diane Barth calledCoping with Disappointment”.

Barth discusses several steps that can help when you or someone you know is having a hard time overcoming disappointment. The following steps can be helpful for many moments of disappoint including dealing with a job loss.

  1. Talk about it, revisiting painful moments can be painful at first but it is much better to discuss these things than to keep them buried inside where they can fester. Talk to friends, relatives or a professional, someone who can help you process these feelings.
  2. Keep in mind there are two sides to every story, before acting on what you might think the situation is, sit back and contemplate things prior to action making.
  3. Place yourself in the other person’s shoes, try to understand their situation from their position, you might have done the same.
  4. Anger is often a result of hurt feelings; address these feeling in a sensitive manner instead of internalizing.
  5. Talking to the person or people who caused your hurt feelings can result in both positive and negative feedback. Ensure you’re clear on what you come to accomplish through your discussion with them and do not attack them, as this will cause no progress. If you can engage with them, try to have a rational discussion about what they did that hurt you and why it hurt you. This can help heal both sides’ hurt or unresolved feelings.

Barth asserts that by recognizing the fact that disappoint is a common human experience, this will help us overcome and deal with the emotional process that inevitably comes with it, but the positive aspect to see is that this helps deepen our capacity to connect with others who have also had these experiences. So if you’re recently dealing with a situation that is disappointing, do not worry, you are not alone and although these feelings may be hard to process right away, they are helping you progress is your own life journey.

Monday Munch: Fresh Rice Noodle Bowl

“Noodle Bowls” are coming out on top as the new trendy health choice for a lot of people who are looking for an easy and nutritious way to satisfy their hunger. There are tons of variations that you can find now, that are inspired by flavours from all over Asia and beyond, using ingredients you can find right in your local grocery store.  They’re delicious, comforting, fresh, and can be customized to fit even the pickiest of palettes.

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This one we’ve put together for you is the perfect smorgasbord of cheap and flavourful. Incorporating Vietnamese flavours with fresh veggies and marinated tofu, this noodle bowl packs a punch without bruising your wallet in the process.  Today we were feeling pretty fond of cilantro, but of course, if you are one of those people who can’t handle the taste, you can absolutely substitute it for fresh mint, or thai basil.  Also, if you want to make this recipe vegan, you can opt for vegan fish sauce (yes, it exists) or just cut it out altogether.

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INGREDIENTS

Marinated Tofu

1/2 a small onion

1 clove of garlic,

1/3 cup of firm tofu

1 ½ tbsp of lime juice

2 tbsp of hoisin sauce

½ tsp fish sauce

1 tbsp grapeseed oil (or any cooking oil of your choice)

1 pinch of salt

2 chopped cilantro stems

½ tsp of minced lemongrass (fresh or re-constituted dry lemongrass)

½ tsp sriracha

Quick Carrot Pickle

1 medium carrot

1 tbsp rice vinegar

½ tsp fish sauce

½ tsp granulated sugar

Toppings & Noodles

1 4 inch piece of cucumber

¼ of an avocado

¼ of a lime

1 green onion

1/3 cup chopped cilantro leaves

1/5th of a pack of rice vermicelli noodles

The first order of business is our quick pickled carrots.  All you’ll need to do for these is peel and shred your carrot, throw it into a bowl, and mix it with 2 tsp of rice vinegar, ¼ tsp of fish sauce, ¼ tsp of granulated sugar, and a pinch of salt.  Now set that aside to soak in while we prepare to marinate the tofu.

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For the tofu, finely chop the garlic, onion, lemongrass, and cilantro stems and add them to a small bowl.  Thinly slice your tofu and also add that to the bowl, along with your wet ingredients and salt.  Now set that aside.

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Next, chop up the rest of your fresh ingredients into bite sized pieces, and boil some water to cook your rice vermicelli according to the instructions on the package.  We used the super thin kind that can be softened by submerging them in hot water and letting them sit until they become soft.  Once your noodles are soft enough for your liking, rinse them in cold water to stop the cooking process and put them into a bowl.

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In a small pan on medium heat, toss in your marinated tofu and stir fry it until both sides are nicely browned.  Arrange your tofu, carrot pickles, and chopped vegetables on top of your noodles and drizzle with more sriracha and hoisin sauce to your taste.

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Enjoy!

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If you do end up making this noodle bowl, or any of our other recipes, take a pic and tag us in it using the hashtag #themondaymunch.  We’d love to see your creations!