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Friday, September 27, 2013

The teacher in me

macati, Flickr

The teacher in me is very happy these days.

Teaching, for me, is just like traveling, running or owning a dog. I need it my life. If, for one reason or another, I don't have it in my life for a while, I eventually forget how much I enjoy it. When I put it back into my life, one of my first observations is "I can't believe I've been living without this for so long!"

Yes, teaching is such a passion for me.

I am not saying teaching is an easy job. There are daily challenges of all sorts. Ask any teacher. That could make up a whole entire discussion. Nonetheless, when I teach I feel like a fish in the ocean. I don't know why. I don't know how. I just do.

My new teaching responsibilities are different than any other I have had in the past. I have taught French before. But not to groups of kids. I have taught groups of kids before. But not French. So yes, I'm slightly out of my comfort zone. Still. I love it.

Classroom management and actual teaching are full of complexities that probably take a whole lifetime to master. But at the end of the day, as one of my kids' previous preschool teacher once said, the connection with the children is half of my pay.

A new colleague of mine has the following saying on her classroom wall: "To teach is to touch a life forever". How true.

I remember telling a previous boss something along those lines too: "I love planning, prepping, implementing, assessing, evaluating, correcting, name it. I love seeing my students learn, gain confidence, make progress. But above all things, I love the children".

And I meant it.

I still do.

I never forget (or, not for very long) that each of my student is a unique individual with his/her own strengths, some real need (and the right) to flourish, and the potential to contribute something to fellow human beings. I want to respect and support that.

Despite their different backgrounds, all children have value as a person, and they all deserve to be told that.

I cannot personally relate to all students. I cannot pretend I deeply understand them all. As much as I read about the different types of learners and what not, I have to constantly remind myself that I was just one specific kind of student, and that not all function like I did. There are so many types of students (as many as there are students, one could argue). Most groups are, as one of my new colleagues put it, "an eclectic bunch". But I do try to figure out and recognize where each of my students is coming from. I strive to reach out to each of them. Already, some of my students who seemed reserved or skeptical about French at first are opening up. I cannot describe the feeling I get when I win a kid over about the value of learning French.

Other rewards include:

  • The little ones running to me for a hug as soon as I walk into their classroom. 
  • The group waving at me with huge smiles on their faces, calling excitedly "Bonjour, Madame J!" as I walk by in the school hallway or on the playground. 
  • The cute little voices enthusiastically singing the songs without being prompted. 
  • The student saying "I love that game. Can we play it more often?". 
  • The kids exclaiming "Yay!" as I walk in the room, and "Booh!" as I announce it's time for me to leave.
  • The students spontaneously offering more than what I was expecting.

All that while learning more French than they're even aware of.

How could you not love teaching?

What do you love about your job in general, or teaching or children in particular?

Have you found yourself in spontaneous teaching situations even if you're not a teacher?

Speaking of transmitting what you know and watching children bloom, how cute is this?
That kid is musically talented for her age, that's obvious if you listen until the end.
Takes after her daddy for sure.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Sweat it out

Colonnade Boston, Flickr

Not very long after I first met my running mentor, G, I saw her wearing a t-shirt that said: "Running is cheaper than therapy".

Little did I know that I would eventually come to fully understand the truth within those words! (As a beginning runner, I felt more like I needed therapy after running! It was so hard!)

I have since realized that exercise in general, when done at the right intensity, is absolutely effective at dissolving most negative emotions. And negative emotions, whether we are aware of them or not (ah! denial), abound.

Frustrations are so numerous in everyday life, coming in all shapes and sizes and always awaiting us when we least expect them! How does one transcend it all?

Not to mention existential angst, that no one is immune to even if most of us are kind of oblivious to it (denial again, or lack of lucidity?)

If it wasn't for everyday life frustrations and the deepest fear that life is meaningless... would addictions even exist?

Take a look at the all-too-common vices:

Why do so many of us

  • overspend
  • overeat
  • overdrink
  • shop like it's a religion/treat shopping malls as the new temples
  • gamble
  • spend hours online or in front of the TV
  • smoke
  • do drugs?

And why do we pursue pleasure-provoking or pain-numbing activities to a point where it interferes with our health, relationships and finances?

Why do so many of us

  • have anxiety
  • have depression
  • have anger/aggressivity
  • take pills for any of those afflictions?

And why don't we feel good in our "normal", natural, unmedicated state?

It's because deep down inside, often unconsciously, we have those unresolved questions about the meaning of life and what will come "after" (if anything). That, on top of all life's vagaries and stresses (and maybe a difficult childhood).

I'm no different. I often feel overwhelmed by daily hassles. I often feel the weight of existential dread on my shoulders.

We are human. We can't endure that. We need to cope. In our search for a coping mechanism, we encounter many such coping mechanisms that have non-negligible side effects: hence the problems with our health, relationships, and finances.

As I was training at the gym this morning, feeling the burn and/or sweating profusely and/or out of breath (depending on what exercise you caught me doing), it occurred to me that I was treating existential angst in the best possible way: by exhausting my body.

And it works. It really does. Even if you started by simply talking long, brisk walks. Or even short, slow walks, if you're completely out of shape. The idea is to start. Make it a habit. And increase the level of difficulty.

Sometimes (often) you will question it. I would lie if I said I never have fantasies of skipping my workout, or calling it a night after 15 minutes. In the morning in particular, I am often anxious to be done. It might have something to do with the alternative: I know that instead of working out, I could still be in bed.

(When I exercise in the evening I rarely wish it was over, because in that case the alternative is the following: instead of pumping iron, I could be home listening to my kids whine. Er... bring on the burpees!)

At the gym this morning I met R, who's one of D's colleagues and also a friend of the family. We talked briefly about why we are so committed to working out every day. I mentioned one of the most important things my personal trainer has taught me: "There is no excuse". Don't feel like it? Tired? Headache? (I had one today) On vacation? No excuse. Just work out. As my friend M, who also works out daily, and who takes no bulls***, would say: "Suck it up, buttercup".

Or, as I would say "One man's excuse is another man's overcome obstacle".

R added: "It does takes a special personality to commit to this kind of lifestyle". I thought "Yep, you have to be plain nuts!"

But in reality, what it really takes to commit to exercising every day is the first-hand knowledge of its benefits. Once you experience them, and compare that feeling to how you feel when you don't exercise daily... you are among the blessed ones who know. Once you know, no excuse can ever get in the way again.

I exercise daily as a gift to myself. And I thank myself for it every day, too.

What gift have you given yourself lately?
What gift will you give yourself this week?

Friday, September 20, 2013

Finding the perfect job

Red Cyan, Flickr

I was reading yet another post about passions and fun vs finances and work (actual title of the post: Your Passions vs Your Finances):


Should your choice of career be made with money in mind, or should it be made with your passions in mind? The eternal question.

Bonaparte, the blog's author, focuses on money in this post, stating that $$$ is the tool to freedom, and that having money is necessary to pursue your dreams. Passions, on the other hand, cannot always be trusted to create a sufficient income. Bonaparte is right on those grounds. Solely pursuing your passions could very well leave you broke - and frustrated.

But going for the money is a trap: focusing on your earnings and on your future projects (which will come true ONCE you have the money) has a way of making TODAY less important, turning it into a means rather than an end, a stepping stone to tomorrow, or more likely a stepping stone to "sometime in the remote future". That's risky. Being miserable today in order to enjoy life later is a sacrifice I, personally, am not willing to make. Working hard now in order to have fun later, yes, of course. I doubt anybody has ever fulfilled their dreams and felt great about themselves vegging out 24/7. We need goals, and we need to put in the effort.

But to what extent?

I would rather do a job I really like, because, as Confucius said:

Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.

How do I know the sacrifice is not always worth it? I know because I've been there. I've been in the situation where I worked too much, made good money, but did not see the days pass, and did not really enjoy myself "here and now". Financial freedom I had. Time to savour life? Not so much. The days would go by and they either had no flavor or left me intensely stressed. I don't think I was pleasant to be around, either.

Interestingly, I've also been in the opposite situation: with lots of time on my hands, but little money to call mine. I was free of obligations and duties, but I couldn't do anything that has a monetary cost, which I found limiting... and frustrating at times.

When I had my daughters, I stayed home for a while, was happy and stimulated, and never even thought of money. But as they grew and needed me less, I knew I had to go get the stimulation I needed... in a job of some sort.

I have been making gradual changes as time passes. I have experienced excess in both directions. With time and many adjustments as the demands from my family decreased and my need for external stimulation increased, I eventually found a recipe that works for me.

First, I had to realize that there is an optimal number of hours one should work every week. Working less than that "magic number" of hours can leave one understimulated and underpaid. Working more than that magic number can leave one very stressed (albeit richer).

Have you figured out your optimal workweek hours number?

Second, I have come to understand that the specific task you busy yourself with carries as much weight in the equation as the number of hours you work. Different jobs come with different benefits... and hassles. If you find yourself constantly looking at the clock, it doesn't matter how many hours you work: you obviously don't enjoy what you do.

A personal example:

In my case, based on my education, credentials and experience, the most lucrative job I can do is translation. Indeed, some translators do pretty good. There's only one problem: I like translation. I actually like it a lot. But I don't love it. I don't wake up all excited: "Yay, I'm translating today!" I'm always happy to do it. I like playing with words. I like to come up with the most accurate terminology and sentence structure I can possibly find. I like the quiet. Plus, I've recently read that translating is one of the least stressful job for the money. And working from home is definitely a huge luxury.

But when I translate, profound enthusiasm is not always present.

On the other hand, there is a job that I can do that does provides great enthusiasm: teaching. I've taught French (on and off) for years, and before that, I taught swimming technique and trained future swimming instructors. From all those years I have realized that teaching is in my blood. It's a second nature. A pure joy. Probably inherited, too, since so many family members have taught at some point in their life (or their whole life).

Don't tell my boss, but I enjoy teaching so much, sometimes I think I could almost do it for free. I don't know why I like teaching so much. Connecting with the students, seeing them make progress, but also planning lessons and grading papers/tests/exercise sheets... I love it all!

Now teaching doesn't pay as much as translation. If you calculate the hourly income, taking into consideration all the time actually spent, the difference is quite significant. But what I don't get in the way of dollars when I teach, I get in in the way of utter enjoyment.

The perfect recipe I have come up with is to translate part-time and teach part-time. This way I get the best of both worlds. Plus, I love the variety. Translating full-time would exhaust me (it's a very demanding job in terms of focus and concentration, a challenge for the ADD in me). And I would feel lonely. But teaching full-time is no small feat either, as any teacher will tell you! Doing a little bit of both keeps me balanced and happy.

Two different sides of your job, or your job and an important hobby, could also play complementary roles in your life.

How do you balance it all out? Please share your insight and experience!

In any case, I really, really hope that as many of us as possible, when picking their job, choose something that they have not only a passion but also a talent for (and yes, we ALL have a talent of some sort). When you do what you love and are good at, not only are you happy, but you share with the world what's most precious about you: your personal, unique gift.

If you missed my previous post (on time, sleep and fitness training), please go take a look!

Thursday, September 19, 2013

The early bird catches the worm

Johannes wl, Flickr

I've never been one to enjoy sleeping in (past 7 am is late for me!), but I've always admired those who get up before the birds (let's say before 6 am).

For a few years, I did have to, as I coached a varsity swim team. Getting up around 5 was NOT natural for me. To "survive", I would find a way to nap later in the day (I was still a student or working part-time). One day, I decided to make the best of the time I had between the end of the swimming practice and the arrival of children's groups (I had about half an hour of time to kill). I piled 3 big floating mattresses in the pool and lied down on them, with the intention of just relaxing the minutes away. Well. I fell asleep. Deep asleep. My boss found me catching some ZZZZZs as I floated about in the deserted pool. How embarrassing! Luckily the kids had not arrived yet.

Other than that I had never been able to get up before 6. But that all changed when I started training for long distance races. Simply put, there is just not enough time in a day to do it all! So my friend K and I decided to put runs where we could fit them, i.e. before everybody else gets up. Running that early means that it's crazy dark (and half of the year, crazy cold), but since we started, we've never looked back. There is something thrilling in having a full workout done and over with by the time most people rise. I love to spend the rest of my day knowing that my exercise is done. I love how I don't need coffee when I start the day with a run: it's fully energizing! I love to see the moon and stars at their best. I love the quiet. And after running in the dark, cold, Canadian countryside early morning, anything else the day throws at you seems like a breeze!

I like this new habit so much I have decided to extend it to all mornings (K and I run 3 or 4 times a week): I've decided to go to the gym on the "other" mornings. At first I was apprehensive: oh, but I'm gonna have to actually get in the car and drive to get there, and hurry to get back in time for shower-breakfast-put the kids on the bus-walk the dog-off to work routine! I decided to at least try it. And... I loved it! I love how quiet the gym is at such an early hour. I love how the rare hardcore fitness freaks who do attend the gym at that time interact in such a warm, almost family-like way. I love how the woman at the front desk plays old-fashioned music just because no one at the gym at 5:30 am is under 35 years old. Here's a sample from this week:

It's 5:30 am and you're lifting weights to this.

And doing push-ups to that.

And rowing away on the rowing machine to that, too.

Oh, and stretching to that, of course.

Are you an early riser?
How do you fit your training routine in your busy schedule?
How's your sleep?

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Humbling moments

Andre Vandal, Flickr

I already knew that running is a humbling sport. It has been humbling me ever since I started. The first humbling realization was that my asthma would forever present itself as an obstacle. The second one was that injuries of all sorts await those who run regularly. The third one is that no one looks their best sweating, spitting, huffing and puffing, grimacing in pain. (That being said, I find that runners look GREAT when they're not running. They just have that healthy aura.)

Slowly but surely, I learned how to manage my weaknesses (and to ignore the way I look when I run), so that long distance running could become and remain part of my life.

Eventually, everyone in the family, including myself, started considering me as a "true runner". It inspired some to join in the fun. I could only rejoice that they would want to become runners too. The only thing, right from the start, they were running faster than me! D, who probably runs once a month, registered for a 10K... and ran it 2 minutes faster than me. I "blame" his long legs (he's 6'1''). R, who only runs when the game she's playing calls for it (e.g. tag), ran her first 5K only 1 minute slower than I ran my first 5K. Small detail, I was 33 years old at the time of my first 5K. She was 9 when she ran hers at the same pace. I "blame" good genes (her dad's most likely).

This weekend, after a summer of occasional, leisurely-paced 5K jogs, I ran a 10K race I obviously wasn't properly trained for. My last race dates back to a half-marathon in May. Crazy idea to register for a 10K race after a slacker summer, but I figured it would be a good way to get my motivation back up.

Considering my level of training, it went okay. I ran it in exactly an hour, and came 61st out of 175 in my category. Since I'm among the oldest of said category (women 30-39, and I'm 37), I thought well, that's acceptable I guess.

I did, however, have to face many humbling moments at that race, that put whatever extra self-esteem I had back in its place.

"This is torture, this is pain..."
Yep, that pretty much describes how I felt running that race.

Humbling moment # 1

Before the start of the race I saw a woman I know, who's lost A LOT of weight in the past couple years, and who slowly got in shape by the same token. I thought "She's gonna be running somewhere behind me, so after the turnabout halfway through the run, I'll look for her to encourage her." Strange thing, I did not see her. I kept staring at every woman I passed who had the same color of t-shirt, but she was nowhere to be found. I finally saw her a few minutes after finishing the race. I asked her how it had gone. And that's when I learned that she had run faster than me. Just by a minute, but still. All that time, she had been ahead of me! And stupid me had assumed that because she only recently got in shape, she would be behind. How presumptuous of me. Lesson well learned.

Humbling moment # 2

About 3 km from the end of the race, a man of about 65 years caught up with me, and we ran side by side for a while. I thought "Nice, I'll cross the finish line with him". But 1 km from the finish line, the bast*** sped up like crazy! As much as I tried, I was unable to keep up! He finished about a minute before me (probably alongside above-mentioned woman).

Humbling moment # 3

Retelling the "fast-running older guy" story to an acquaintance, later, I received the last blow. There was another older man next to us, who enquired "so, what was that 65-year old's finish time?" I said "Oh, just under the hour I would say". Glowing with pride, he proceeded to tell me "I finished in 50 minutes. I'm 75 years old."

I just stared at him, speechless, in utter admiration. When I regained composure, the first thing I told him was "You got to tell me what you eat!" He actually had a banana in one hand and a bottle of chocolate milk in the other, so I guess I'm gonna be putting that on my grocery list from now on!

Before saying goodbye, I told him "Well, I still have almost 40 years to catch up to you! Maybe if I train hard enough..."

Of to some training now!!! I obviously need it!

Any humbling moment(s) you want to share with us?

Great race-starting tune. Gives me a high every time.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Embrace change

Change of perspective
Mariam S., Flickr

Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. (Albert Einstein)

Change, ah, change.

How do you feel about change?

Recently I saw a friend I hadn't had a chance to chat with in a while. When I asked what she's up to these days, she replied "Not much...", and when I asked if she had any projects, she said "Well, a couple of things here and there in the house... but I have been feeling quite unproductive actually."

At that point, sensing it was not a happy topic for her, I simply said "Sometimes it's good for us to be unproductive. Plus, when you really feel like you need a change, you'll know, and you'll do something about it." I was smiling because I knew exactly how she was feeling: stuck in a rut yet not quite ready to shake things up.

That's a perfectly fine place to be in temporarily. We all need to stop and find our bearings.

Then sooner or later, a little voice inside of us tells us "Okay, now I'm really due for a change. Let's do it." And we go for it. We implement some change.

I have another friend who LOVES change. Rencently she broke up with a boyfriend of 5-6 years. When I asked her what had prompted the breakup, she said: "Oh, you know me, J. There was nothing wrong per se with the relationship. I was just not excited about it anymore. I needed a change."

Of course if you feel completely "blahed" about your relationship, it would probably be unfair to yourself and your partner to just stay there. Breaking up isn't necessarily the solution, but sometimes... it just is.

The interesting thing about change is that there is a fine balance to achieve: too much change and you'd end up stressed, exhausted. Too little change, and you'd end up bored and demotivated.

In the last year or so, I've been longing for some change. Not big, extreme change, but some change. And recently, it started happening.

My translation business is thriving, and I enjoy it, but I've been longing for something that would allow me to actually meet people (when I translate, it's only me and my computer). As I was pondering my options, my friend K informed me that the local private school was looking for a French teacher. I have taught French as a second language in the past, and loved it. So I applied. It went well. I am now teaching French 3 mornings a week (I'll still be translating the rest of the time).

Implementing this change in my life made me nervous for maybe... 48 hours? But now it makes me very happy.

It's even motivated me to change other things in my life. Now that I'm out of my comfort zone, but fully enjoying it, I figure, "Why not?"

There's something about change that makes everything tastier, more interesting, and that makes life feel worth living.

What have you changed in your life lately? What kind of change do you think could do you good?

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Are you possessed? Part 3: How to go about a simpler life

Simple things can be very beautiful when you notice them.
Point Pleasant Park, 2013

Based on the comments I received on the previous posts, I was preaching to the choir when I put forward a simplified way of life.

Those are great news, when you consider that a simpler life usually makes one happier, while helping our precious planet thrive.

That being said, we all know that between ideas and actions, there is a bridge that isn't crossed by all. What about you? Have you crossed the bridge to a simpler life?

To make the journey easier, I put together a list of possible approaches to a simpler life. 

Tell us which ones appeal to you, and which ones you already apply.


1) Question your relationship with money 

How do you feel about the amount of money you have? Why? What would you do with more money? What would you gain from it? Knowing that money doesn't grow on tress and that you would have to work more/make sacrifices in order to have more of it, would it be worth it? Why? What would you do with less money? How would it affect your life? What if it meant working less? Would it be worth it? Why?

2) Question your relationship with richness, success and freedom

What does it mean to be rich and/or successful and/or free? Are there alternative definitions? Can you have the 3? Can you have the 3 in all areas of your life at the same time?

3) Question stuff

Question what stuff provides youWhat are you trying to fulfill by consuming, whether it's material goods in general, or any addiction in particular? Don't you resent all the expenses and maintenance stuff requires? Don't you find, no matter what you get, that you always want more and more? Where does that dissatisfaction come from? Are you influenced by the media, by comparisons with other people? What real needs of yours are you actually fulfilling?

I suggest we solve the problem at its source and cultivate detachment from the material sphere altogether!

Trees are enough.
Point Pleasant Park, 2013

Question each purchase: Do I really need this? Do I appreciate it enough to justify its price? (e.g. if you buy $5 worth of coffee every workday at a coffee shop, then you are spending over $1000 a year in coffee. Would you rather be using that money toward something else, or are you truly happy that way?) When you want to get something, ask yourself: Will I really use it or enjoy it fully and for all the time it lasts? Is it worth the money (and thus the work and the sacrifices)? 

Question your dwellingD and I sometimes dream of a bigger, more luxurious house, but we are very aware that this is purely an aesthetic yearning, NOT a functional one: our current house is big enough. To say the truth, sometimes we also fantasize on a smaller house!

Question your relationship to electronics. They are supposed to provide freedom, and instead most of us become a slave to them. Have that honest conversation with yourself: Do I really need this piece of electronics, and how is it running my life? 

Question your vice. We all have one (mine is sweets/chocolate). What do you buy/consume/feel the need for when you're bored, tired, stressed, sad or angry? Why does the solution have to be something that needs to be bought and/or consumed? Is there any other alternative, that would be healthier for yourself, your wallet, and the planet? And how about actually addressing the underlying problem? E.g. No one needs a snack at 10 pm. Just go to bed.

4) Question your leisure time and hobbies

And those of your kids, if you have any. How is your time (and theirs) used? What are you trying to achieve? Are structured activities the only way to achieve this? Is all that structured time stressing everyone out more than anything else?


1) Declutter

Better still, get rid of stuff altogether. Putting it away in a drawer, bin, closet, garage or worse... in storage elsewhere will make you feel better temporarily. But it does NOT solve the problem. Haven't used it in years? Gathers dust? Takes up space? Just get rid of it. Take a deep breath and say farewell.

From experience, once you get started getting rid of stuff, you realize it feels as good as acquiring stuff... without the side effects. The more I get rid of, the more I want to get rid of. Isn't that wonderful?

2) Get rid of financial burden

First things first. As heard recently on the radio: "If you have to wait for your paycheck to go out, then you can't afford to go out". Does it mean you will never go out again? No. What it means is you have to reconsider your earning, spending, and sources of entertainment. I have also heard that nothing else but a house and a car should be financed. Anything else should be purchased with money you actually have (debit or cash. NOT line of credit.)

3) Downsize

Speaking of houses and cars, go for what you really need and can afford. Don't become house poor. Depending on where you live and on your occupation, own only 1 car, or none.

4) Acquire less

Instead of acquiring, and depending on your abilities, grow, make and barter/trade the things you need. If you do buy, buy second hand. Personally, I'm not very good with anything manual, but I've been making my own muffins and granola bars - super easy, super healthy (sometimes it's not only about the money: I like to know precisely what I'm eating). These days, my neighbors and I trade the products of our gardens. We also trade clothes, toys and books. Is that because we're poor, cheap, or lazy? No. It's because we would be stupid not to!

5) Offer time instead of things

Spend more time with your children, partner, family members and friends. (That's all they really want anyways.) Help out. Volunteer. We all have a talent that could benefit someone.

6) Learn to linger

Use the 30-day rule before you buy something. Because of the cognitive dissonance phenomenon, we actually appreciate things more when we had to wait (and work hard) for them.

7) Pick your luxuries

Being frugal doesn't mean being cheap all over. For example, you might want to invest in good quality shoes... but own fewer pairs. On the other hand, you might realize that in some areas, you don't need higher quality/price. For example, during my travels I have tried the whole spectrum of possible lodging options, from the cheapest youth hostel to the most high end hotel. And you know what? I'm not happier either way. As long as I have a bed in a safe (and clean enough) place, I'm content! Travelling is not about the hotel anyways!

8) Free yourself from modernity

Try to live without your electronics for a set period of time, and see how that goes. 

9) Free yourself from closet anxiety

Try project 333: for 3 months, use only 33 pieces of clothing (excluding underwear, sleepwear, workout clothes and bathing suits).

10) Have free (and healthy) fun

One does not have to empty his/her wallet or to pollute (all consumption is pollution) in order to have fun. You can take a hike. Go to the beach. Invite friends over for a potluck. Take books and movies from the library. Listen to music. Play a game with your children. Give a massage to a loved one. Enjoy some intimate time with your partner. That's all free!

11) Do things one at a time

Single task... slowly. You will be amazed when you realize you actually get MORE done this way!

12) Work an optimal amount of time, ideally at something you really like

So many of my friends have actively chosen to either work from home or to work part-time (or both). Those who haven't are looking for a way to do it. One friend in particular just told me today that she was downgrading to 20 hours a week.

13) Do more of what is good for you

The examples are innumerable: 
- Less eating, more sleeping
- Less time baking dessert, more time prepping veggies
- Etc.

14) Pick your battles

On the first day of school, everyone wears their nicest outfit, right? Well, not my kids. They both had their mind set on something that, personally, I would have reserved for the weekend. Is that a big deal? NO. I'll be on them for so many, more important things... I can certainly let them wear what they want as long as it's clean and "sorta" matches together. 

For more on simplifying parenthood, read this: 


15) Keep what works for you

... even if some people say it's no good. For example, in my case, Facebook. Don't take me wrong, I HAVE wasted time on Facebook in the past. But I have built a healthier relationship with it, and fully appreciate its presence in my life. Here is an example of things I did using Facebook in the past couple of days:

- Put together a running schedule with my running partner;
- Made plans for dining out in a Vietnamese restaurant with my favorite half-Indian, half-Malaysian friend, who likes me even if I'm kinda boring with my half-French, half-Canadian heritage;
- Made plans for at least 2 other "girls nights out" with my group of "mommy friends";
- Exchanged pleasantries with some more friends;
- Exchanged info with a client;
- Found a babysitter for when D and I run a 10K race next weekend;
- Followed links to and read fascinating articles;
- Discussed the relative importance, for intelligence, of a) absolute size of the brain; b) relative size of the brain (ratio to body size); c) presence of convolutions; d) presence of neocortex.

Does that thing have a neocortex?
And is s/he happy anyways?


Simplicity is NOT about sitting on your a** all day long, doing nothing. Simplicity is about doing less of the meaningless, and more of the MEANINGFUL.

Simplicity is NOT about being cheap. Simplicity is about knowing exactly what role money and stuff have, retaking control over them, and keeping them in their place.

Simplicity is NOT about slowing down the economy. After all, what prompted the latest crisis, if it's not OVERspending?