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Posts from the ‘Being Human’ Category

A new year, a big cut, and hair for cancer

Cut

The new year evokes a certain excitement that takes root from new possibilities, opportunities, and fresh starts. For my family and I, this weekend also marks the 5th anniversary of the end of my late father’s long battle with cancer. As such, I’d decided to mark the occasion in a different kind of way: the lengthy locks I have been saving up are finally getting donated to a cancer wig program.

Charity, my beloved stylist at W did the honours. The short, but sweet, process was captured in the Vine below. And how did it feel? Fantastic.

If you live in Canada and are interested in donating your hair to an organization that makes wigs for cancer patients, you can refer to the Brain Tumour Foundation of Canada’s list of organizations by province. Aside from that, there are a few things you should know in advance before you donate your hair. The rest is easy.

  1. You’ll need at least 8″ or 12″ of untreated hair (hair that hasn’t been previously dyed, bleached, or treated). The length requirements will depend on where you’re donating to. For example, the “Beautiful Lengths” program managed by the Canadian Cancer Society in partnership with P&G requires 8″, while A Child’s Voice Foundation for children’s wigs requires at least 12″.
  2. Your hair will need to be both clean and dry. They don’t accept wet hair. If you cut it while it is wet, make sure it is fully dry before sending it in.
  3. When you cut your hair, make sure your hair is tied off at both ends. Braided is best.
  4. There can’t be more than 5% grey hair in your ponytail. This is because it takes between 8-15 hair donations to make a wig. To make the wig uniform in colour, all of the hair needs to be treated and dyed one colour. Grey hair tends to take in the colour at a different rate than hair of other colours, which affects the final result of the wig and how authentic the wig looks.

Fuller instructions are provided on each organization’s site, along with their address. It’s best to check in advance to make sure they don’t have additional instructions or more specific requirements I haven’t covered here.

As for me, I decided to send my hair to the Canadian Cancer Society and P&G’s Beautiful Lengths program. In Canada, their address is:

Pantene Beautiful Lengths
C/O Archway Marketing Services
P.O. Box 434
2110 Kipling Ave.
Etobicoke Station B, Ontario
M9W 5L4

Happy New Year and all the best in 2014!

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Happy Canadian Thanksgiving! The happiness experiment

I came across this video a couple weeks ago, and it’s given me much food for thought since. And now that we’ve arrived at the Canadian Thanksgiving holiday weekend, I thought it’d be a great thing to post in the spirit of the holiday.

So as you get ready for the time spent with family and friends, perhaps over a large feast of sorts, if you have time, check out this video. And for those of you not residing in Canada, it’s still a fantastic video carrying a great message and reminder of a special thing that carries a lucky byproduct: happiness.

I won’t say too much more. Just watch the video.

Happy Canadian Thanksgiving, everybody.

Power of a thought

eeyore_snow“It’s snowing still,” said Eeyore gloomily.
“So it is.”
“And freezing.”
“Is it?”
“Yes,” said Eeyore. “However,” he said, brightening up a little, “we haven’t had an earthquake lately.”
― A.A. Milne

We’ve all had those times when we feel at our limit. We’re not able to keep up, and the smallest things trigger feelings of frustration or anxiety. At times like these, it can be difficult to find the lighter side of life; and even with the knowledge that all things must come to an end, no solace or comfort is felt. Sometimes, it feels that there really is no rest for the weary.

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Simplify

donations

Along with the buy ban, I’ve been focused on the concept of simplicity lately. The serene, nature-filled days of Tulum brought on a lot of thought and inspiration since returning home around how much more simply I could be living… and how much more space I could be creating in my life for new ideas, new inspiration, new activities… new priorities.

It was hard not to notice the sharp contrast between worlds. Of course things will always be very different on a vacation when compared with every day living. However, there was something about getting power from the sun, water from the rain, getting up with the sun, and getting in tuned with the moon and tidal patterns that are invigorating and pure. Life in the city means a whole other world of thought, decision-making, and priorities. The constant barrage of noise, cues of what’s important, things to buy, and conflicting things competing for your attention and time.

Coming back, I wanted to simplify and maintain some semblance of the connection I felt while I was away to nature, the natural cycles and rhythms of nature, and more space for more inspired thought.

All very conceptual and abstract, so naturally, the first place I started was… my closet.

Why the closet. I see it as a material symbol of how much clutter I have in my life. It’s also something I have to see and make decisions about daily. As a physical, tangible thing, I felt it would be worth attacking as a step towards the larger effort to simplify. Not a shelf, rail, or drawer was left untouched. On average, I purged a third to half of what I had, and the result has been incredibly liberating and eye-opening. I simply haven’t needed all these things – but better yet, someone else may have use for it. So the bag of clothes and other accessories are going to a Mennonite-run clothing drop-off location, whereas I have more space already.

Love of tea

tealove
I’ve been on a purge lately (more on that in another post), and opened my pantry to realize how much tea I have. Boxes upon boxes housing at least a couple dozen varieties. At least.

So the answer: obviously, I’m drinking a different kind every day now. None of this waiting until I’m feeling a little under the weather or saving it for a rainy day. Yesterday was the first one: a jasmine tea ball.

The best part to these beautiful little tea balls is the way they’re crafted. Tied together delicately and dried, but when you steep them, they slowly blossom. I love that. The aesthetic of the blossoming tea ball into a gorgeous floral pattern.

Here’s a short Vine video of the tea opening up:

2013: Year of the Water Snake… and the Buy Ban

Happy Chinese New Year!

I had originally intended to write as we rang in the New Year on January 1st, but with everything going on, not only did I not write on the 1st, I missed January entirely. So here I am, posting in time for the Chinese New Year while it is still a time for new beginnings. For those of you celebrating Chinese New Year today and into this next week, Gong hai fat chow!cny2013

In preparation for Chinese New Year, many Chinese families go through a big pre-new year’s cleaning that’s symbolic of getting rid of the old and making room for the new. For myself, 2013 represents a reverse clean. I’ve decided to re-enter another buy ban year: a year of a self-imposed ban on buying. Keeping the old and making no room (at least as far as my closet goes) for the new. Conceptually, it’s my own tiny part in curbing the extreme consumerism our culture promotes at least in my own life, but also re-establishing more thoughtful, selective, and frugal buying habits in myself.

So, what this all means is that for this next year, I can buy nothing that is non-essential, or to look at it the other way, I only buy what is essential to my life. Of course, there’s room to argue that within those parameters, there can be loopholes such as needing that new dress – which would completely defeat the purpose of a buy ban. So, to spell it out more deliberately for myself, my rules are the following. Read more

Recharge at Amich Lake

Several months ago, we were invited to go spend a weekend at a friend’s cottage on Amich Lake. As is often the case, the weekend was planned so far in advance, we had no idea what might be demanding of our time and attention when it finally came. As it turned out, the timing of our cottage get-away landed squarely in the midst of a particularly busy week amongst a slew of colliding deadlines. I found myself struggling. To go or not to go?

The need to pause for a recharge usually goes without saying after a particularly busy spell, but it often goes ignored in the midst of one. The busier the time, the bigger the drive to postpone the break until later… when you can afford it. But sometimes, the less it feels possible to take the time, the more it’s probably needed. It was definitely the case for me. In the end, I went, and I am so glad I did.

We were warned the drive would be long. An estimated 3.5 hours from Toronto. Our friend wasn’t bluffing. Between the usual cottage traffic and a must-stop at the infamous Webers burger joint on the way, we arrived at nearly 1AM after four hours of driving… but was it ever worth it.

The long-time family owned cottage compound awaited us. And yes, I said “compound”. Upon arrival, we quickly saw that this wasn’t your average cottage on a lake. The property housed several cabins of varying arrangements that could sleep anywhere from two to eight, plotted in close proximity of the lake, washrooms, and the main house. A boathouse contained a games room and several more rooms and bunks. All in all, we were told the property could sleep up to twenty-four people comfortably.

The main house itself was a beautiful three-storey lodge with roomy ceilings, a spacious family-centric kitchen and dining room, and small hide-away nooks built into different parts of the house. Large windows let in streams of sunlight, and the top floor acted as a natural ventilation system with windows that drew out the warm air from below and pulled in the cooler air from the outside. Decor was a tasteful rustic: everything from the enormous elk antler chandelier in the living room (which was made by collecting shed antlers, by the way – no elk were harmed in the making of the chandelier) to the birch bark lamps and beams.

However, perhaps the best part about the property was the nature and ability to immerse in it. The nights suffered from none of the light pollution of the city, and the sky was deep with millions of stars. The air was crisp, fresh, and rich from the oxygen pumped out by the trees in the area, and the lake pristine. Complete peace. I believe I slept more in the one weekend than I had for weeks. Incredible.

For our puppy, the weekend meant her first encounter with a body of water. Days were filled with new sights, smells and endless exploring through the trees, running in the grass, sniffing the waters edge… rolling in beaver poop. In other words, doggie heaven.

Does life get better than this?

I really don’t think it does. And it really can’t help but bring a certain perspective. Something about pausing to breathe and allowing the body to recharge. And when it seems like you can’t afford to take the time to slow down to recharge – it’s likely the opposite is true. You really can’t afford not to. Your body, mind, and spirit will thank you. And if nothing else, your puppy will.

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