6 Habits to Stay Focused in a Distracted World

As I cozy up to my laptop while sipping my second cup of caffeinated orange pekoe, I contemplate what to write for my next post. Lately, I have had many days where I feel like my time could have been better spent (I’m looking at you, Twitter). Do you ever feel guilty for not doing the thing that you know you should be doing but really don’t want to do it? It is becoming increasingly more difficult for me to stay focussed and motivated to write blog posts, let alone log into WordPress. I am very behind on replying to comments, visiting other blogs, and interacting with other bloggers. It has become more of a chore which is not a good thing, especially since I still need to flex my writing muscle. Blogging can be a lonely path but it’s the path I choose to take.

THE IMPORTANCE OF SELF-REFLECTION 🍵💕

If you have been following me on Twitter @hellokitty8404, you’ll know that I am struggling to find significant meaning and purpose as I am grappling with difficult circumstances in my life right now. I use Twitter mainly for habit tracking and weekly updates. It has gotten to the point where I am more of an open book on Twitter than I am on my blog, which is kinda ironic considering that social media is the thing that kills productivity and keeps us distracted in this already highly distracted world.

If I have the slightest chance of succeeding as a hobby blogger, then I need to have a list of habits that help me stay focused, especially when writing is the last thing on my mind. Even though I no longer need to focus on studying for exams (I graduated in December 2020), I understand that working on a writing project or reviewing notes for work requires a similar level of discipline and focus. If you have a similar desire to be the best version of yourself, then you too will need to learn how to develop strong discipline skills and a constant desire to learn new things. Personally, I feel like this list I have created below ↓  applies to university students as well as ambitious Millennials. Let’s get started, shall we?

6 HABITS TO STAY FOCUSED IN A DISTRACTED WORLD: A PRACTICAL GUIDE

1. Log Out of Social Apps. You have no reason to be on Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, etc. Log out before these addictive apps take you down a rabbit hole that not even Alice in Wonderland wants to explore. Once you’re an active member of these apps, it becomes even more difficult to leave – good luck with that. Seriously. Don’t kid yourself. 5 minutes turns into an hour. An hour turns into 3 hours. Using your smartphone? Even worse. It’s almost impossible to put the phone down so I suggest hiding it so it is out of sight, out of mind. Log out of the messenger apps too while you’re at it (texting is just as addictive). These apps have no place on your phone which brings me to my next point.

2. Take a Social Media Hiatus. I promised myself in January 2017 that I would not download any more social apps. I seldom keep social apps on my iPhone and use my phone for what it is: a phone. There seems to be a new app released every 6 months and it’s exhausting trying to keep up with them all. This is similar to having a second job but this “job” doesn’t pay your bills. So unless it is a passion with a purpose, why bother? Btw, I am still taking a hiatus from Facebook and Instagram and have no immediate plans to return to these platforms. You can still follow me @serene_hilz so that you’ll receive updates when I eventually decide to return to Instagram. I haven’t posted anything new in years but my thoughts remain the same about social media. Thank goodness I’m done nursing school! 👩‍🎓

3. Go to Bed When You are Tired. Tired at 10 pm? Go to bed. Don’t make the same mistake as me where I end up laying on the couch at night, mindlessly playing Candy Crush or watching dumb TV shows on Netflix. I enjoy staying up late at night when it’s quiet and there are no distractions, but at the same time, extra sleep is really important for mental health and concentration the following day. Nights when I do not get enough sleep, I end up sleeping in and wasting the following day or week playing “catch up.” Go to bed and take cat naps if this is an option for you.

4. Make a Plan every day. This one seems obvious. My MIL suggested that I get a planner. Planners can be purchased from a Dollar Store and it doesn’t have to break the bank. I also bought a journal to write in whenever I am not using the notepad on my iPhone. It helps me stay in the present moment and keeps me focused on important tasks. When I complete a task, I highlight it in bright yellow which gives me a sense of accomplishment. The dopamine rush I get from doing this is much healthier than the brief adrenaline surge from Facebook or some other addicting app. At the end of the month, I review everything I completed plus I don’t feel the temptation to wander mindlessly through my notes, older blog posts, etc.

5. Email is Your New BFF. Forget texting and FB messenger. I once used texting as a way to have deeper conversations with online friends. I thought that these conversations were meaningful but I don’t have a record of them; only a virtual footprint 👣 If I want access to my past conversations, they are buried among hundreds of thousands of text messages that probably won’t be looked at again. I like e-mail because I can keep the important files and discard the rest. The email I use is the same one I had since I was 12 so if a classmate or long-lost relative needs to contact me, they can. Looking back, I remember when we used to send chain mail to our e-mail contacts. It’s bittersweet digging up old emails but I have deleted the majority of them.

6. Classical and Chillstep. If you have a hard time staying focused like I do, try listening to
music. Not just any kind of music, preferably instrumental music. My muse is classical piano music, Lofi, and Chillstep (it’s an acquired taste). YouTube makes it incredibly easy to stream playlists so I recommend starting there. I also used to be into this weird sub-genre called Nightcore, which is another acquired taste. I cannot believe I am saying this, but I even made my own Nightcore songs and upload them to YouTube. At one point, I was so bored that I spent a few weeks pretending that I was DJ Hilz or something.

Note: You can find my YouTube channel @hellokitty8404. I guess people seem to like this music because my channel currently has 538 subscribers to date, and my most popular video has 269,712 views. 💁‍♀️


(っ◔◡◔)っ ♥ FINAL THOUGHTS ♥

The world is full of distractions, especially in this digital world, and it is becoming more and more difficult to stay focused. I believe that if you are able to implement my list in your own life, you will be able to focus on the task at hand. ✍📝

If you enjoyed reading this blog post or would like to share some nuggets of wisdom with me, please join the conversation below ↓ in the comments section. I know I haven’t been the greatest at replying to people in a timely manner but I want to get back into blogging again. However, I am always open to discussing this topic with like-minded people who are also motivated and driven to succeed!

P.S. You can now easily save this blog post on Pinterest by clicking here.

Thanks for stopping by! ♥

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How to Strengthen Your Resiliency

(っ◔◡◔)っWhat do you think it means to be resilient or have resiliency?

The word “resilience” is derived from the Latin word resilience, which means “to jump back.” Resilience is the ability to bounce back from adversity and challenges. It is the ability to recover quickly from setbacks and to return to your previous state of mind. Resiliency is not a trait that everyone possesses, but it is something that you have to develop and cultivate over time.

If you imagine what a resilient person might look like, a resilient person is someone who can face adversity, uncertainty, and change with confidence. A resilient person is able to adapt to challenging situations and they have the skills needed to manage their own emotions. These people also have a sense of control over their lives, they can take charge of their circumstances and make things happen. Thus, resiliency increases their chances of success in whatever these people do, and this is something that we should all strive for!

(っ◔◡◔)っDo you wish you had this superpower?

The power of resilience can be developed and strengthened through lots of practice and patience. Resilience is a skill that can be developed, and it doesn’t take long to see some of the benefits. First, you need to know what your strengths are. Then, you can focus on those areas or develop new skills in order to improve weaknesses and challenges.

Before we get started, it is important to note that not everyone has a naturally resilient disposition and that it takes time to develop this skill. All of us have different levels of resiliency which we should try to improve on when possible. Below is a list of 7 key things that you can do to build your resilience. Let’s get started, shall we?

🔑 7 Keys to Unlocking Your Resilience

🗝 Develop healthy coping mechanisms: To succeed in life, we need to find a way to be more resilient. It’s easier said than done when you don’t know the benefits of using healthy coping mechanisms. They might include exercise, meditation, and eating healthy foods.

🗝 Work on self-confidence: Resilient people are able to overcome any challenge and have a positive, can-do attitude. They believe that with enough work, they will be successful in the end. One way to increase your resilience is by being confident in who you are — focus on developing your self-confidence by learning about yourself on

🗝 Create support systems: Networking with friends and family can be quite beneficial. They provide emotional support when you need it and can also help you recover from a difficult experience.

🗝 Develop self-efficacy: People who are resilient have a positive outlook and understand that they have the ability to overcome challenges. If you don’t believe in yourself, it will be difficult to get back up when faced with adversities.

🗝 Set goals and work towards them: If there’s one thing I’ve learned in life, it’s that anything is possible when you have a resilient attitude. With goals and hard work, you can get past any obstacle and make progress on your goals no matter what challenges arise. When you have a long-term goal to focus on, it will help you stay positive and motivated.

🗝 Improve your problem-solving skills: Resilience is an important quality to have in order to overcome obstacles. People who are resilient are able to identify and solve problems when they arise. They also stay positive and motivated during hard times, which is crucial for developing a resilient mindset.

🗝 Be adaptable to new situations: People who are agile and adaptive thrive under change, they aren’t afraid of new challenges and have learned to roll with the punches. If you want to develop your resilience, it is important to improve your adaptability skills, so that you will be able to manage difficult situations.


(っ◔◡◔)っ ♥ FINAL THOUGHTS ♥

Our society has a tendency to glorify resilience and make it seem like we all have it, but in reality, resilience is not something we can acquire overnight. It takes time and hard work to build our own personal resilience. Even if you don’t like your circumstances or think that they are fair, resilience means that you accept it for what it is and stop trying to play the victim. How do you cope with tough times and overcome obstacles? Do you want to read more blog posts like this in the future? Feel free to join the conversation by leaving a comment below ↓ If you enjoyed this blog post, you might also enjoy reading 10 Ways to Change a Negative Mindset.

Thanks for stopping by! 💕

Best Quiet Activities for Insomniacs

Are you surprised that I pulled an all-nighter last night? Apparently, I give good advice but I seldom follow it despite my best intentions. I write about this topic a lot because insomnia is currently something that I am majorly struggling with these days. I absolutely hate the feeling of being wide awake when I should be sleeping, which really throws off my sleep schedule and negatively impacts my #mood. Whether or not we are conscious of it, everything from the air we breathe to the things we do are interconnected.

Whenever I have insomnia, I know how tempting it is to just lie in bed and do nothing. However, doing nothing often makes my insomnia worse. Last night, I was up until 0600 after I promised myself that I would be in bed by midnight. Not gonna lie, I can barely function today. However, on rare occasions, insomnia has been a creative outlet for me. For instance, I often end up writing #poetry when I can’t sleep, which you can find under the page titled “Poetry.”

REDEFINING SLEEP [CONT…] 🌙✨

In case you missed my previous blog posts about Improving Sleep Hygiene and 8 Ways to Sleep Better, I highly recommend reading them first. Now that we got that out of the way, what do you do when you have tried everything and still cannot sleep? 🙄 What do you do when you find yourself tossing and turning in bed at 0200? If you happen to be scrolling through your phone at an ungodly hour because you cannot sleep, then you picked the right blog post to read! 💁‍♀️ In this blog post, we will discuss five quiet activities that you can try when insomnia strikes. Hopefully, these tips will help you get the sleep that you desperately seek.

Disclaimer: I am not a medical doctor and I am not here to give you medical advice. Please talk to your doctor if insomnia is a persistent problem to rule out any underlying medical conditions. There may be an underlying cause for your insomnia that can be treated. Additionally, your doctor can recommend other treatments or strategies that may help you sleep better.

Redefining Sleep: Best Quiet Activities for Insomniacs

1. Write in a journal. Keeping a journal is one of the best ways to work through anxiety or stress and fall asleep. If you’re having trouble sleeping, try writing out your thoughts in a personal journal. The act of writing your thoughts down will help you organize your ideas and let go of some stress that may be contributing to your insomnia.

♡ Photo by Miesha Maiden on Pexels.com

2. Listen to instrumental music. Listening to calming music when you’re trying to fall asleep is a great idea, in theory. Studies suggest that vocal-free music can actually help keep you awake since it activates our brain’s auditory cortex, which is known for being overactive in insomnia sufferers. Instrumental and/or ambient sounds like rainfall, wind chimes, or nature sounds (ocean waves, anyone?) tend to be more soothing. Personally, I love listening to BTS piano music on YouTube and the best YouTube channel in my opinion is Smyang Piano 🎧 Here are some songs that I listen to on repeat:

♡ Photo by Yuri Yuhara on Pexels.com

3. Read a book. Books are one of many quiet activities you can do when you have insomnia. Books don’t require all your attention, which means you can easily read one while also doing another task that requires less focus. This makes it a great activity for winding down at night before bed. Plus, reading about topics that interest you may help get your mind off any problems keeping you up. That being said, try not to read anything that is too exciting or makes you think critically.

4. Take deep breaths. Breathing deeply can help you relax and fall asleep faster, which is important if you have trouble falling and staying asleep. I cannot stress this enough, but it is best not to look at your phone, TV, or computer while practicing deep breathing—all of these activities stimulate your brain and body. In a previous blog post, I talked about using the 3-7-8 breathing exercise which you can read more about here.

5. Clean the house. Keeping your house clean isn’t just good for your mood; it can also help you de-stress, clear your mind and possibly even improve your sleep hygiene. The habit of cleaning before bed is a useful one because it can prevent unwanted distractions at night and make you feel more peaceful when it comes time to fall asleep. I recommend checking out this related blog post which includes a daily checklist to help you stay organized and in control of your environment.

♡ Photo by Ivan Samkov on Pexels.com

(っ◔◡◔)っ ♥ FINAL THOUGHTS ♥

Insomnia can be a frustrating condition that makes it difficult to get a good night’s sleep. When you find yourself tossing and turning in bed, you can refer to my list of five quiet activities to help you wind down and drift off to sleep. Do you agree with this list of suggestions? Is there anything that I missed? Feel free to join the conversation by leaving a comment below ↓ #Sweet-dreams

Thanks for stopping by! ♥

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The 6 Most Annoying Types of Blogs

Earlier this week, I received a lovely notification from WordPress that sereneluna.net turned 6 years old! 🥳 Admittedly, I didn’t do much with my blog until Spring 2019 and at that time, I had approx. 20 followers. Since having a quarter-life crisis in Spring 2019, I started taking blogging more seriously. It didn’t take long to realize that writing is a therapeutic outlet for me. I know that I am still a newbie blogger, but it feels really good to have people that are interested in my writing. I’m so grateful that anyone reads my blog, and I really hope that my follower count continues to grow! 🌻🌻

What Makes a Blog Annoying?

If you have been blogging for a while, you’ll know that blogging can be hard work. The worst part about blogging is that there is always a risk of your content being ignored. You’re constantly coming up with different ideas to create compelling and high-quality content for your audience. Despite all of your hard work, there is no way to know for sure if you are doing the right thing. The worst part about blogging is that it’s not easy to keep your readers engaged. However, there are some things you can do to make sure your blog posts are not too annoying. Below ↓ I want to show you 6 types of blogging styles to avoid which can be annoying for your readers. Please note that the following list is in no particular order. Let’s get started, shall we?

The 6 Most Annoying Types of Blogs

1. Blogs with no images. A blog without pictures is not engaging for the reader. Adding photos helps increase readability and breaks up the text, so go ahead and add some pictures! Increased readability may be due in part because readers don’t need to read as much text, which is often more difficult and time-consuming than looking at a picture. It’s also possible that readers are better able to remember the information shown in pictures than those seen only in text.

2. Blogs that are poorly written. Sadly, poorly written blogs are a problem that is not going away. The problem is not just the content but also the formatting and organization of the blog. It is not surprising that a poorly written blog is more likely to have lower engagement rates and fewer shares across social media platforms. As a result, this can lead to less traffic and less visibility in search engines. Okay, so how do you spot a poorly written blog? For starters, poorly written blogs usually contain a lot of spelling and grammatical errors, which can make the blog difficult to read and ultimately discourage readers from returning.

3. Blogs with no information about the blogger. Bloggers who do not have an “About” section can be sort of mysterious. It’s clear who’s behind the text that was posted, but one can’t help wondering about their motivations for doing so. These blogs might be interesting in some ways, but they will not have a built-in audience, Furthermore, these bloggers may end up having more difficulty getting their posts shared. Blogs with an “About” section are better for building an audience, attracting more followers, and reaching more readers.

4. Blogs that lack original content. There is a trend in social media to share blog posts that have been written by other people. This is being done for many reasons, but most commonly it is to build traffic for the author of the post and/or to share a person’s opinion on a topic. The problem with this practice is that it discourages original content from being created and shared, which could have consequences for the blogger down the line. Personally, I have unfollowed bloggers who do this because I think it is a lazy and unnecessary practice.

5. Blogs that are written like a diary. This blog is usually just a list of random things that this blogger has done during their day or week, such as what they ate for breakfast or what they watched on TV last night. This type of blog is not helpful to anyone and honesty, nobody cares that you had chocolate ice cream in a waffle cone and your boyfriend had vanilla frozen yogurt. Please keep in mind that your audience is not limited to yourself. I follow a few bloggers who write a lot of diary-style blog posts, but it doesn’t bother me because these bloggers have been blogging for years and I know what to expect from their work.

6. Blogs with too many ads. Bloggers who create blogs that have too many ads in them are trying to make money off of the people who visit their blogs. This can be annoying for other bloggers because a lot of advertisers are targeting these types of blogs, which could mean having to scroll through the endless amounts ads just to see what their original point was. A lot of bloggers who create blogs with too many ads in them are trying to make money by posting the “sponsored content” that they are given by their advertisers or sponsors. Some bloggers or non-bloggers might feel this way because they believe these blogs are being made for the purpose of making money.


(っ◔◡◔)っ ♥ FINAL THOUGHTS ♥

Whether you are just starting to blog or you have been blogging for a while, it can be a daunting task to come up with fresh and engaging content. If you want to have a successful blog, don’t let these 6 common blogger mistakes get in your way. Sure, I could be a bit too cynical, but I hope that you enjoyed reading this blog post nonetheless. If this blog post taught you something or made you think about the way you go about blogging differently, feel free to join the conversation by leaving a comment below ↓ I will try to reply to your comments during my free time.

Thanks for stopping by! ♥

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March Recap | Spring 2022

Although this blog post is overdue, the important thing is that I finally uploaded it in response to my previous blog post, March Goals | Spring 2022. Hey, at least I showed up and followed through with what I said I was going to do, even if it meant not following through with ALL of my goals. March was a very difficult month for both my husband and me and I am honestly surprised that I haven’t abandoned my blog yet. When I first started blogging, I promised myself that I would not quit no matter how I was feeling. Over the years, I have seen so many bloggers quit which is another reason why I make sure that this blog is updated at least once a month. ✍️

During the month of March 2022, I started off with high hopes and big goals to get healthier, but I quickly lost momentum after I kept receiving bad news throughout the month. It’s been hard to stay motivated and positive lately, but I’m hoping that April 2022 will be a better month. Here’s a recap of what happened during the month of March regarding my personal life:

  1. My husband was in a car accident and fractured his wrist. His work car was also totaled so now we only have one vehicle to drive.
  2. My 10-month old son needs urgent eye surgery, which was postponed last week. I am still too upset to talk about this. If you’re curious about the condition that my son has, you can learn more about it by clicking on this blog post (skip to #7 for details). Unfortunately, both my daughter and my son have inherited the gene from me 😔
  3. My husband and I have to make a very difficult decision regarding future plans involving the family. I am gutted and not handling this well….

A Small Victory

It wasn’t entirely doom and gloom this month. I finally found a planner at Staples out of all places, which I started using to keep track of things. Having a planner has helped me organize my day and prioritize my tasks better. I am able to see what needs to be done and what my deadlines are. This particular planner is really helpful because it keeps me on task with my work schedule, hobbies, and home life. I am trying to remember to write in it daily but most days I forget to fill out the pages. I didn’t think that it would be hard, but I guess I’m still a little lazy.

March Goals 2022

Career Goals:

  • Continue to work weekends and Fridays, preferably evening shifts I only worked evening shifts during the month of March. Friday-Sunday is my typical work week.
  • Bid on shifts so I average 7-9 shifts per month I worked a total of 9 shifts during the month of March and I did not have any sick days. I did not bid on any additional shifts because all of my shifts last month were scheduled ahead of time.
  • Renew and review courses on MLL Everything is up to date ✔
  • Attend 2 online wellness seminars I only had 1 online wellness seminar to attend. In April, I have 2 online wellness seminars to attend.

Personal Goals:

  • Publish 1-2 blog posts per month I published 4 blog posts during the month of March.
  • Publish 2-3 recipes and/or poems I published 0 recipes and/or poems during the month of March because I wanted to write more long-form blog posts instead 😅
  • Keep tabs on doctor’s appointments/pending appointments I went to all of my doctor’s appointments this month. Aaron’s eye surgery is still pending so I am eagerly waiting for more details regarding how we proceed from here.
  • Continue to declutter the house every day This really depends on how I am feeling, and whether I have the energy to declutter. These days, I am focussing more on organizing and cleaning than selling and/or donating items. I did manage to purge 3 large bags of junk though.
  • Have an IRL meeting/get-together I attended a 100-day parade at Rebecca’s school and that’s the only social thing I did this month. I am quite disappointed in myself for not making more of an effort to meet people. I think my social anxiety has been a major problem in the past. Thus, my fear of meeting new people has prevented me from stepping outside of my comfort zone.

Health Goals:

  • Follow a low carb diet for 3+ months Low carb made me miserable but I can see why people do low carb diets. I had less brain fog and felt better both physically and mentally. I ditched the low carb diet mid-March after my husband was in a car accident.
  • Continue Intermittent Fasting (IF) I still do intermittent fasting, but usually on workdays. I don’t bother eating at work so I end up unintentionally fasting for 9-10 hours.
  • Slash 90-95% of wheat products. Slash 70% of refined foods including refined sugar. I was doing really well with this up until the end of March when I received the bad news about my son. One thing I managed to cut out of my diet was store-bought bread, although I still eat pizza crust and other wheat products. I’m trying to be more mindful of what I am consuming and how it makes me feel.
  • More cooking and baking at home I have some amazing wheat-free cookie recipes that I want to share with you! However, the photos I have are crappy and I have been unable to get good quality images. Idk what it is about recipe pics, but I am not talented at food & drink photography 🙄
  • Daily walks and sunshine if weather permits 🌞 I have been making an effort to walk to Tim Hortons or the plaza at least once a day, but I still feel like I am not spending enough time outside. Canada’s weather is notoriously unpredictable. In the winter, we can experience severe snowstorms and biting cold, while in summer we may experience scorching heatwaves.

(っ◔◡◔)っ ♥ FINAL THOUGHTS ♥

I had a lot of bad things happen to me last month and I don’t know how I feel about April yet. I think that April will continue to be a challenging month for us, but at least my husband’s broken wrist is healing and he is able to drive again. As for my son’s upcoming eye surgery, please pray for him and keep him in your thoughts. I hope that April will be a better month for everyone.

Photo taken on March 14, 2022 (Pi Day)

Thanks for stopping by!

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8 Ways to Sleep Better

Some of you know that I struggle with depression and it seems to come in waves. I am going to be totally honest when I tell you that I am struggling with situational depression this month. If we were having coffee and you asked me how I was doing, I would tell you that I am not fucking fine. I don’t swear a lot so I want to emphasize and drive home the fact that things are not sunshine and rainbows over here. Mentally, I am struggling to come to terms with things. I am in no mood to explain what these things are but I might write about it in an upcoming blog post. I am just tired of receiving bad news all the damn time and I do not want to drag all of you down with my negativity.

Whenever I am really struggling with situational depression, my sleep schedule is usually the first thing to go. This week, I have been extremely sleep-deprived as I was staying up until 0500 – 0600 and waking up at 1030 to send my daughter to school. It is hard to find balance when I am dealing with these strong, negative emotions and lack of motivation. I am barely functioning from lack of sleep. Last Wednesday, I missed sending my daughter to school because I slept through my alarm. I feel like I am failing as a mother and this is not one of my prouder moments.

Redefining the Way You Sleep ✨🌙

In case you missed my post about Improving Sleep Hygiene, I highly recommend reading it first. From years of struggling with insomnia as well as excessive worrying, I know that sleep is vital for a person’s health and well-being. I also know that sleep is even more important for those who struggle with #mental-health and mood regulation. If you are currently experiencing sleep problems, then I suggest checking out my list below ↓ Here are some ways to help you get some sleep for a more productive day! 💁‍♀️

Redefining Sleep: 8 Ways to Sleep Better

1. Figure out how much sleep you need. If you are not getting enough sleep, then your body and mind are not going to function the way they should. You will feel tired and groggy, even when you wake up early. If you don’t address it now, then sleep deprivation can ultimately wreak havoc on your health. If you want to get some rest, you can start by making a plan to determine how much sleep is right for you. While some people can get away with 4 hours of sleep each night, others require more sleep.

2. Have a nighttime routine. Do you find yourself waking up during your sleep cycle? Chances are, you’re probably not getting enough REM sleep. During REM sleep, your body is working hard to replenish and repair itself. Having a nighttime routine can help get you into bed faster and fall asleep quicker, and it may even help regulate your circadian rhythm by teaching your body to start winding down at the same time each day. This might sound counterintuitive, but having a set bedtime and morning routine can actually make it easier to fall asleep at night.

3. Be consistent. We are all guilty of not always following what we say we are going to do. However, one good way to keep a consistent sleep schedule is to go to bed and wake up at the same time each day, including weekends and holidays. Also, don’t doze off for an hour in front of your computer or TV late at night; if you can’t fall asleep by 2200, get up and go to bed anyways.

4. Hello, sunshine! 🌞 If you’re having trouble sleeping, then a lack of natural light might be to blame. Spend some time each day getting at least 15 minutes of sunlight and your body will get used to feeling more awake (and alive) in the morning. Sunlight also helps reset your circadian rhythm, which is your internal clock and plays a role in sleep regulation. Since we associate darkness with going to bed, getting sunlight will trick your brain into thinking it’s time to wake up! ☕💕

5. Reward Yourself. When you are struggling to get a good night’s sleep, make it easier on yourself. You could try starting your day with a refreshing shower or a short walk outside. Exercise can also help improve your quality of sleep as well. Making time for #self-care is an important part of sleeping well at night. If you still can’t fall asleep, try adding some relaxing activities before bedtime such as taking a bath or listening to relaxing music.

6. Plan the Next Day. It is natural to have an off day or a bad week from time to time, but it can also be difficult to get back on track if you fail to plan for these mishaps. Instead of waiting for the morning, plan your next day prior to bed. In 30 minutes, you can figure out what needs to be done tomorrow and how much time each task will take. 

7. Turn off social media. The blue light from social media keeps you up at night. If you have trouble sleeping, I suggest that you deactivate your account and read a book. And please don’t bring your phone with you into bed. If you must use your phone as an alarm clock like many people do, then you need to check out this blog post for a sans phone solution.

8. Eat light before bedtime. While a few crackers won’t hurt, too many late-night calories could lead to weight gain. It is important not only to avoid eating close to bedtime but also skipping meals altogether, as that leads your body and mind into starvation mode, which can leave you feeling tired and cranky in addition to losing precious hours of valuable shuteye.


(っ◔◡◔)っ ♥ FINAL THOUGHTS ♥

Sleep is a critical part of staying healthy and it is not just limited to your physical or mental well-being. Like eating well and exercising regularly, it is important to make sleep a priority in your life. If you want to be at your best, then you need your beauty sleep. And while everyone has their own way of sleeping better, there are some general tips that can help you start getting more—and better—sleep every night. Do you agree with this list of suggestions? Is there anything that I missed? Feel free to join the conversation by leaving a comment below ↓ #Sweet-dreams

Thanks for stopping by! ♥

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5 Things I No Longer Buy

(◔_◔)っQuestion: What are some items that you no longer buy?

A few months ago, I stumbled upon this blog post which made me reflect on my own life and spending habits. My intention was to answer her question in a timely manner, but we all know how long it takes me to post a blog post response. Bee is a 30-year old blogger who runs a popular blog called Mind. Beauty. Simplicity. She writes blog posts about intentional living, self-growth, lifestyle, and anything in between. I recommend checking out her blog and following her if you haven’t done so already.

These days, I am on a similar journey as Bee. When it comes to living intentionally, I am still far from perfect but I have learned to be more mindful about my spending and to avoid buying things that aren’t going to add value to my life. Keep reading if you are interested in learning what I added to my list! 🙌


•✽ 5 THINGS I NO LONGER BUY ✽•

1. Bath & Body Works I have nothing against Bath & Body Works. In fact, it is a great store and I still like their products. I am wiser now that I am older, but when I was a teenager, my life revolved around this store. I was in love with their products and the shopping addiction got pretty bad whenever there was a sale, which was pretty much every week 😆 I would buy all sorts of things: lotions, shower gels, candles, fragrance mists —you name it. When I couldn’t go through the products fast enough, I would make lists of the products that I wouldn’t have to replenish. The lotions and body mists lasted so long to the point where they would expire and end up smelling horrible. Once I realized that I was wasting money, I stopped shopping at Bath and Body Works.

2. Subscription Boxes These days, subscription box services are catering to everyone’s tastes. You can pretty much guarantee that the subscription box model isn’t just limited to food and books – there are monthly boxes for everything from candles to clothes. Want new socks and underwear but don’t want to think about it? There’s a box for that. And as tempting as these subscription boxes are, it is important to note that these services usually charge an upfront fee as well as recurring fees each month. I cannot justify paying a high price for items that I might not even like or use! 🤦‍♀️

Note: I want to make a clear distinction between subscription boxes and subscription services. We have access to Netflix and at one point, we paid for a Spotify account. We are thinking about renewing the Spotify subscription since my husband regularly uses that platform. We also have a Costco membership and I finally upgraded to a Premium WordPress Plan last year. When I was in nursing school, I subscribed to www.nursng.com after failing a clinical rotation in Spring 2019. At one point, I also subscribed to www.coursehero.com and even uploaded my own summary notes to share with other students. Subscription services are valuable tools when used for their intended purpose.

3. Bottled Water When you stop and think about it, it is pretty insane to pay for water when you can get it for free out of your tap. Sure, bottled water isn’t bad for you; there are worse things that you could be drinking such as soda or beer. If you are not active enough to need a drink with extra electrolytes and if drinking from a reusable bottle helps reduce your plastic consumption, then why would you bother spending money on something that is so easily accessible? The water you get from your faucet is much more affordable and safer for you. Also, by using a reusable water bottle like this one, you’ll be saving money as well as doing your part for Mother Earth. 🌎

4. Starbucks Did you really think that I was only going to throw shade at Bath & Body Works? I also like the fancy coffee drinks from Starbucks, especially their Frappuccinos. The vanilla whipped cream is absolutely divine! ❤ Plus, if you are anything like me, I do not go to Starbucks just to order a basic cup of coffee. I usually go to Starbucks to spend money on these fancy, empty-calorie Frappuccinos which typically cost around $5.50 -7.50 CAD. I prefer to save these treats only for special occasions rather than treat myself every time I go to the mall or local Starbucks coffee shop. ☕💕

If you are a coffee drinker like my husband, getting a good cup of coffee doesn’t require waiting in line. It just requires learning how to make a good cup of coffee at home. Next time you are shopping, skip the Starbucks line and make coffee at home. If Starbucks coffee is your thing (for the record, MCDs coffee is my thing), you can buy the coffee beans and make it at home for a fraction of the price. Even Costco sells Starbucks coffee beans. There is really no excuse to buy takeaway coffee anymore.

5. Alcohol This is an easy one to add to the list because I was never really a fan of alcohol. I don’t understand the hype around it, I don’t like how it makes me feel, and I don’t crave alcohol like some people do. Sugar on the other hand is a different story, which you can read about here. Personally, I think that there is too much sugar in alcohol, which is not limited to Vex, Smirnoff, and those cocktails with cute little umbrellas! I am tired of harping on the fact that alcohol isn’t good for your health and overall wellbeing. When you think about it, what kind of benefit does consuming alcohol bring? None that I can think of…. so yeah, I seldom drink alcohol 🙄 I would suggest cutting out alcohol from your budget if you are looking to save some money. It is an easy way to pocket extra cash without feeling like you are missing out on anything. There are other ways that you can socialize with people: going for walks, playing board games, or setting up a game night at home. Remember, you don’t have to stop socializing altogether.

👉 Image: I went on a trip to NYC with Nick and his friends, but I don’t remember what year this was 🤷‍♀️

Choosing to live a simpler, more intentional life is a conscious decision that affects each and every choice we make. Try thinking about the things that you can live without, specifically things that no longer serve a purpose in your life. What are some items that you no longer buy? Let me know by joining the conversation below ↓ I look forward to reading your comments.

Thanks for stopping by! ♥

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How to Quit Sugar For Good

(っ◔﹏◔)っ I have a confession: I am addicted to sugar. 🙇‍♀️

I’ve had a sweet tooth since the day I was born and given a choice between candy or food for survival without the repercussions, I would have chosen the candy 🍭 Unfortunately, I inherited a sweet tooth from my grandmother and it runs in my family. Even though I minored in Nutritional & Nutraceutical Sciences (NANS), I didn’t need to study nutrition to know that sugar is addictive. And If you’re anything like me, you probably know that sugar is incredibly difficult to quit. The last time I tried quitting sugar, I managed to detox for 21 days only to relapse during the Christmas holidays. My recommendation is not to try quitting sugar during the holidays, especially if you are just starting out.

I know that I am not the only one who struggles with this addiction and if you are reading this blog post, I am guessing that the title intrigued you. My intention wasn’t to use clickbait, and to be totally transparent, the longest I’ve gone without sugar was #21days. They say it takes 21 days to break a bad habit and I want to ditch the sugar, regardless of how many times I relapse. This past weekend, I ate sugary foods and now I am paying the price with a lot of bloating, mood swings, irritability, and more sugar cravings. That being said, these past two weeks have been nothing but bad news for my family, and by now I am well aware that my coping mechanism is sweets and treats 🎂😋


Disclaimer: This blog post was inspired by blog.paleohacks.com. I added some of my own anecdotes to help emphasize the key points from their list (see image below ↓) I hope you know that sheer willpower alone will likely lead to a relapse. If you want a more sustainable, long-term solution for quitting the sweet stuff, then we need to treat sugar like the drug that it is. Let’s get started, shall we?

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👉 Image source: blog.paleohacks.com

Easy Ways to Cut Sugar Out Of Your Diet

Stop Buying Processed Foods If you stop buying processed foods, over time you will accumulate much less of them in your house. If you really want to quit cold turkey, dump your sodas down the drain and toss the rest of your empty-calorie snacks in the trash. We poured the sugar-laden sodas and drinks down the drain which was very therapeutic for me. Some people might say that it is a waste of money to throw food in the trash and I agree with them. However, we should not have purchased these products in the first place.

Make Your Own Spaghetti Sauce I have not tried making my own spaghetti sauce. We try to buy brands that are low in sodium and contain the least amount of questionable ingredients. Look for spaghetti sauce when they go on sale and stock up on the good brands.

Swap Fruit Juice with Whole Fruit I quit this bad habit years ago and I don’t feel deprived by diluting fruit juice or skipping it altogether. Whenever I drink fruit juice such as 100% orange juice or 100% apple juice, I water the juice down with 3/4 water. To this day, I cannot drink non-diluted fruit juice. It is way too sweet!

Avoid Flavored Yogurt There is a lot of hidden sugar in flavored yogurts and that is scary! In a single serving of flavored yogurt, I have seen as much as 20 grams of sugar. Yikes! This doesn’t even include the hidden sugars and sneaky sweeteners that are usually added to flavored yogurts. Opt for plain yogurt and flavor it yourself. It is pretty tasty with a little maple syrup and sliced banana.

Make Your Own Salad Dressing I have not tried this yet but both my mom and husband started making their own salad dressings. I can see the appeal in homemade salad dressings and I plan on making my own one day. Please tell me that I am not the only one with 20+ bottles of salad dressing? I cannot bring myself to throw away store-bought salad dressing.

Give Yourself a Quota Going cold turkey is hard, and let’s face it: we are going to slip up from time to time. If you are used to eating fast food for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and dessert, then you may want to slowly cut back on sugar and gradually introduce healthier alternatives like fruits and vegetables. If you must have dessert, save your cheat treat for a time when you will really enjoy it, such as date night. I did not grow up in a household where I ate dessert every night and I seldom ate fast food, so, fortunately, I haven’t developed a habit of gluttony and instant gratification.

Try Stevia, Monk Fruit, or Xylitol I have a hard time loving stevia. I find the taste of stevia awful but a lot of people have jumped on the stevia bandwagon and they embrace it with open arms. I don’t mind monk fruit but most often, it’s not made primarily of monk fruit. The one I have is erythritol with monk fruit extract. Erythritol on its own has a cooling aftertaste but gives me stomach aches, so I use it sparingly. I also use maple syrup and coconut sugar in some recipes to replace cane sugar. For days when my sugar cravings are intense, I might try sugar-free gum.

Set Dessert Rules Do you ever implement new rules, end up failing and feel worse than when you started? This method does work with strict discipline but even my family and friends haven’t had much success with it yet. You will likely end up relapsing if you feel too deprived, undergo an uncontrollable binge, or experience withdrawal as you wean yourself off of sugar. What is the best way to overcome potential drawbacks? Decide to make a change and commit to it for a month.

Don’t Keep Treats in the House Preach! 🙌 I stopped buying treats and we rarely have treats in our house. If we really want treats, we have to go out of our way for ice cream, or we make homemade french fries and chips (air fryer or baked). It also forces me to get creative. I have made recipes I would have otherwise never made, such as paleo mint chocolate truffles and chia seed pudding. If you’re going to make desserts, then at least make them paleo! Paleo desserts are naturally healthier and less processed compared to store-bought food.

Eat Dark Chocolate Ideally, you want to eat dark chocolate that is at least 70% solids. I do consume dark chocolate on a weekly basis, and I prefer to bake with dark chocolate which is naturally lower in sugar compared to conventional milk chocolate varieties.

Avoid Mixed Alcoholic Drinks Just avoid alcohol like the plague. Alcohol won’t help you lose weight, is chalked full of empty calories and it wreaks havoc on your kidneys and liver. There are other ways to have fun, like writing blog posts *laughs* In a more serious tone, alcohol is a toxin and I have been around too many alcoholics in my lifetime to know how batshit crazy alcoholics and drunk people can be. Didn’t know alcohol is a drug? FYI alcohol is a depressant. Look it up!

Cut Out Soda If you’re going to drink soda, you might as well drink liquefied candy washed down with a glass of lemon juice. I don’t need to explain why soda is bad which is pretty much self-explanatory. Don’t fool yourself into thinking that diet soda is any better. Diet soda contains similar ingredients as regular soda plus several questionable artificial sweeteners. It’s not even the sugar that is the most cringe-worthy ingredient, or the high fructose corn syrup for that matter. It’s the caramel color that is notorious for staining and corroding your teeth, and the highly acidic nature of both diet and regular varieties. Love the carbonated bubbles but don’t want to quit soda cold turkey? Try flavored sparkly water like Perrier, Bubbly, or Spindrift. Although acidic, these unadulterated sparkling waters are still healthier options.


(っ◔◡◔)っ ♥ FINAL THOUGHTS ♥

Well, there you have it! If this blog post inspired you to join me on this sans sugar journey and/or you are currently embarking on a similar journey towards a healthier lifestyle, feel free to join the conversation by leaving a comment below ↓ I look forward to reading your comments!

Also, if you would like to have your recipes featured on sereneluna.net, you can get in touch with me through my contact page or e-mail me @hilary_harm_7@hotmail.com 💌 There is no set deadline for recipe submissions. Ideally, I am looking for recipes that are wheat-free and sugar-free. Stevia, monk fruit, and xylitol are more ideal than added sugars. However, I will accept recipes that use small amounts of honey, maple syrup, coconut sugar, etc. anything of that nature. Thanks so much! 🍨💕

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March Goals | Spring 2022

This is the beginning of a new month which means that we have a fresh start (yet again). I am not waiting another day for a fresh start, since we already know that January and February 2022 were bleh months for me. I am still catching up on the comments from January. No, I have not forgotten about you all. To all of my loyal readers and blogging friends, thank you for putting up with my sloth-like self. What I really need right now is a steeped tea and a calm place to escape to which does not exist in my world. As I continue to search for my quiet sanctuary, I often think back to life before the pandemic started 😷 When I was at U of Calgary B.C. (before Covid-19), I used to escape to the arboretum on campus. I really miss that place. *Le sigh*

If you knew me IRL, my life would probably bore you. If I am not doing mundane, mind-numbing chores, I am probably working or taking care of my 5-year old kinder and 9-month old baby. That being said, I want to be more organized this month so I think it’s only fair that I hold myself accountable somehow. Since I haven’t used Instagram since 2019, I don’t see the point of using IG stories, even though I have had some success with it in the past. Right now, blogging is the main platform that I use so it makes sense to share my goals here with my readers. Just a quick note that my goals this month are rather vague and I have not gone into much detail yet regarding my current diet. Perhaps I will elaborate more about my weight loss journey and plans in a future blog post if anyone is interested. FYI I am not overweight but I want to lose belly fat, specifically visceral fat. I fit the definition of skinny fat which is annoying because I cannot wear cute clothes without hating myself. 😓

The Daily Grind ☕💕

By now, we all know that I lack the motivation to grind away at writing, editing, and uploading new content for this blog. Even on my days off, I am too lazy to get off the couch and actually do something productive. The recipes I made earlier this week were not “Insta worthy” so I didn’t bother snapping photos. I would like to share my low-carb recipes with you, but the perfectionist in me is stopping me from actually following through with it. Perfectionism is a B.I.T.C.H. 🤦‍♀️ I currently have 31 drafts on WordPress + ideas in my head + ideas that live on a notepad on my iPhone. That being said, I refuse to upload half-baked blog posts just for the sake of gaining more views and followers.

Old News is New News

In other news, I was sick (again) during the month of February. To add to this series of unfortunate events, I was unable to find a habit tracker because Costco didn’t carry them this year and the calendar store is closed until further notice 🙇‍♀️ I am a visual learner and seem to do better when I can physically see what goals I need to achieve. Right now, I lack direction and feel a bit lost when it comes to setting short-term and long-term goals which is no surprise considering that I haven’t been using a planner at all. At this time, I am thinking of sharing my goals with you to keep myself accountable for the month of March. I really seem to struggle with finding the energy and motivation to stop being a lazy potato.

It is hard to believe that one year has passed since I last posted my goals for March 2021 🌸 You can also read about how that went down here. 🌸 I have decided to keep the same layout this year. Below ↓ I will show you my list for the month of March 2022. My daily lists are very similar except that daily lists include mundane tasks like cooking and cleaning. So what does my list for the month of March look like? Here, let me show you:

March Goals 2022

Career Goals:

  • Continue to work weekends and Fridays, preferably evening shifts
  • Bid on shifts so I average 7-9 shifts per month
  • Renew and review courses on MLL
  • Attend 2 online wellness seminars

Personal Goals:

  • Publish 1-2 blog posts per month
  • Publish 2-3 recipes and/or poems
  • Keep tabs on doctor’s appointments/pending appointments
  • Continue to declutter house every day
  • Have an IRL meeting/get-together

Health Goals:

  • Follow a low carb diet for 3+ months
  • Continue Intermittent Fasting (IF)
  • Slash 90-95% of wheat products. Slash 70% of refined foods including refined sugar 🧁
  • More cooking and baking at home
  • Daily walks and sunshine if weather permits ☀️

Not that anyone cares: My scale needs new batteries so I don’t know my actual weight. The way my clothes fit is a better indicator than a stupid number on the scale. I don’t care about weight as much as the way I feel on the inside and I know that my BMI falls within the healthy range of 18.5 – 24.9. And yet, people often tell me that I do not need to lose weight, but they aren’t me. What I do know is that I don’t feel good on the inside. I want to feel healthier and my body looks (and feels) tired. Ideally, I would like a flatter stomach by summer so that is what I am working towards. More importantly, I want to get rid of my inflammation as a result of sensitivities to certain foods. The last time I felt comfortable in my own body was in 2015. I know this is an unpopular opinion, but affirmations and mantras about body positivity do not make me feel better about myself. I also came to the harsh reality that I haven’t made much progress since 2017 when I wrote a blog post about my dieting woes called No Carbs, No Life.

“Oh I don’t need real food. I’ll just live on this raw cabbage. I’m so happy. This is fine. Everything is fine.” — Jenny Lawson

Do you have any goals that you are trying to achieve this month? If you do, what are they? Feel free to join the conversation by leaving a comment below ↓ I look forward to reading your comments. I am working this weekend, so I will reply to your comments and catch up on blog posts when I have time.

Thanks for stopping by! ♥

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7 Ways to Stop Wasting Money 💰

Disclaimer: I uploaded this post in 2019 as its own page, but nobody stumbled upon it. I added updates and edited the original blog post to reflect the direction that this blog is headed in. Btw, I searched high and low for the original Pikachu x Coffee & Donuts image(s) but I could only find them as re-shares on Pinterest. I cannot take full credit for these, so if you happen to know where they came from, feel free to let me know so I can give the artist(s) credit. Thank you! ✌💖

The Frugal Millenial

As a Millenial, I noticed that I do not fit the typical Millenial stereotype. Yes, I do enjoy homemade avocado toast once in a while, but you probably won’t find me frivolously spending money on daily Starbucks coffee runs or FabFitFun subscription boxes. Don’t get me wrong: there is nothing wrong with Starbucks…. more on that later. ☕ Since moving 2000+ miles away from home, I have learned to embrace frugality and started living below my means, which in turn, helps me save money. I am not saying that you should become frugal like me. All I am saying is that people are at risk of over-spending and buying sh*t they don’t need if they aren’t conscious of their spending habits. Surprisingly, cutting back on unnecessary spending is not as painful as it sounds nor does it have to be difficult. Below ↓ I have 7 practical tips on how to save money, whether you are a college student or a broke Millennial who needs to cut back on frivolous spending and curb your bad habits, once and for all. Let’s get started, shall we?

7 Ways to Stop Wasting Money

1. Think before you buy. When you receive your next paycheck, birthday money, etc. you don’t need to spend it immediately. How can you think like a wealthy person if you keep blowing your money on materialistic things or wants, rather than needs? It’s not about how much money you make; it’s about how much money you save.

(っ◔◡◔)っMy Two Cents: Is a daily Starbucks run really necessary? I go to Starbucks maybe once or twice per year, and even then, I am conscious of how much I am spending on these overpriced drinks. Sometimes, date night is a must so I do splurge from time to time but this is not a daily or weekly thing for us. Being frugal doesn’t mean that I don’t buy nice things. However, we buy what is on sale and only if we need it vs. want it. For example, a few years ago when my daughter was a toddler, we bought a Baby Gap hoodie that was on sale for $10 in the U.S.

2. Less is more. Do you really need 4 tablets, 2 laptops, and 3 smartphones with unlimited data and roaming? If you are being honest with yourself, then you probably don’t need data on your tablet when you travel and you can still live well without the latest tech gadgets. This is not only expensive but it won’t keep you satisfied for very long. Soon enough, you will want the next latest, shiny thing that is within reach. Like video game, manga collecting, etc., it gets old after a while or you will grow bored of it. Most concerning, you will end up burning a hole in your wallet from this compulsive habit. Although some people might disagree, collecting stuff might not give you the sense of satisfaction that you have been searching for.

(っ◔◡◔)っMy Two Cents: We all gotta start somewhere. During the decluttering process, you might also benefit from reading this book: “The Life-changing Magic of Tidying Up” by Marie Kondo.

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3. Shop at discount stores. If you can find the same brands at a discount store, then shop there. In order to know if I am actually getting a good deal, I shop by unit price to save money on groceries, etc. My husband taught me this trick so that I don’t get carried away shopping at places like Dollarama where smaller items by weight are disguised as being a good deal 😆 Sometimes, upgrading to a larger size elsewhere makes sense, like dish soap or…. ahem! toilet paper! 🧻🙊 Most of the time, I can get away with shopping at Dollarama for the same brands.

(っ◔◡◔)っMy Two Cents: When we were still living in the NW of Calgary, I was excited when there was a Dollarama opening nearby. If you are familiar with the NW of Calgary, it used to be challenging finding a Dollarama within a 10min. driving radius. Since we moved to our townhouse, I happen to live close to a plaza with a Dollarama! 😅 This is the best Dollar Store in Canada in my opinion. I often shop here for discounted brand-name items and cute stationery (see photo of cute tropical stickers). The photo of the Dollarama signage was taken in the NW of Calgary before we moved across the city in May 2021.

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4. Don’t collect multiples. This is an ongoing problem at my mom’s house. She often buys multiple items of the same thing because she forgets what she already bought. As a result, items like food in the fridge often get lost and forgotten. Not only is this a waste of money, but chances are you will end up tossing these expired products in the trash. I try not to buy multiples by keeping track of what I own which is easier when you own less stuff in the first place. Do you really need 5 bottles of soap from Bath and Body Works? Unless there is an amazing sale on soap and you plan on giving them away as gifts, skip the multiples. My husband often buys multiples so I have a rule that we have to use up what we have before going to the store to buy more. 🛒🏃‍♀️

(っ◔◡◔)っMy Two Cents: I got a discount on these items which I would normally buy anyway because I bought them in a gift set rather than individually. Best of all, these items are full-sized so I got to try new brands and scents that I would not have tried otherwise. They sell these gift sets at the beginning of the school year, so it is like Christmas in September! To this day, I still don’t know what happened to the dry shampoo… I think it got left behind the last time I visited Ontario. If anyone has ever tried dry shampoo, let me know if it is worth buying in the comments below ↓ I’m curious to know what you think! 🙋‍♀️

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5. Make it Yourself. Do you have a habit of getting takeaway every time you leave the house? Do you need that daily 3 PM caffeine fix at the drive-thru? Instead of buying drinks, fast food, etc., the frugal alternative is to make it yourself. It is much cheaper to make a smoothie at home but it requires a little effort. I prefer to take the DIY route plus I can control what I put in my body (calories, fat, ingredients). With the internet being readily available to us, there are DIY recipes on YouTube, from Starbucks mock-cappuccinos to bath bombs.

(っ◔◡◔)っMy Two Cents: I never understood why anyone would spend full price on hot water and a teabag at Tim Horton’s, especially when hot water is virtually free and tea costs roughly 10 cents per bag. For this reason, I only order steeped tea at Tims which I cannot replicate at home. Trust me, I tried every hack and my homemade steeped tea tastes nothing like store-bought, even after I tried filtering the teabags at home for a richer, bolder taste. *Le sigh*

6. Cancel your subscriptions. As much as I enjoy reading magazines, much of what I read becomes redundant over time. There are a couple magazines that I really enjoy but even these get old after a while. Magazines are also quite pricey so it makes sense to order a yearly subscription. The only problem is that I was locked into a 2-year subscription to Cosmopolitan even though I got bored of reading them after a few months. I couldn’t care less about the advertisements, makeup, and fashion sections (more ads for expensive products that I don’t need).

(っ◔◡◔)っMy Two Cents: Before discarding my magazines, I made a vision board with snippets of positive messages. Before I moved to Calgary, I mailed my vision board to an online friend who lives in the U.S. For a while, we were sending each other snail mail. Since I reached most of the goals that I had put on my vision board and I didn’t have room for it in my new apartment, I gave it to her. What you are seeing here are some of the snippets I used. At this time, I am unable to dig up a photo of the vision which is probably buried in a file somewhere on our computer.

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7. Rewire Your Brain. I recommend having a broke student mentality, but not to take it too literally. If you have ever been in post-secondary school, then you will understand what I am talking about. Much of changing a habit begins with the way you think. By thinking a certain way, over time you can reprogram your brain to understand that the sacrifices you are making now won’t feel like sacrifices in the future.

(っ◔◡◔)っMy Two Cents: I have also adopted a minimalist mindset over the years and I am much happier with what I have these days. I no longer chase the latest, shiniest thing that is waved in my face. Learn to appreciate the good things in life and be grateful for what you have. 🙏💕

“Nothing worth having comes easy.” Theodore Roosevelt

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To all of my Millennial and non-Millennial readers, I hope that you enjoyed reading this blog post! 🙌 If this blog post taught you something or made you think about things differently, feel free to join the conversation by leaving a comment below ↓ I will be AFK (working) this weekend, so I will reply to your comments when I have time.

Thanks for stopping by! ♥

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10 Ways to Change a Negative Mindset

When I was still active on Instagram @serene_hilz, I posted an IG story about my struggle with handling strong, negative emotions. I realize that I am naturally drawn towards negativity, so perhaps that is why I attract more of it in my life. Lately, I have been reading more negative blog posts than usual, and I believe that this could be due to my newsfeed. Not surprisingly, I tend to follow like-minded individuals who seem to be negative like myself. After all, misery loves company.

(◔_◔)っSerious Question: How are we supposed to embrace negative emotions so we can get on with our day and have more mental clarity? To answer this question, I have compiled a list of 10 things that can help you change your negative mindset. Let’s get started!

10 Ways to Change a Negative Mindset

1. Check your attitude. The way you think about your life, goals, dreams, and desires can make a difference in how you live your life. Think about it: If you ruminate on the things that you do not have in your life, then you will subconsciously attract more of these things in your life. Not only that, but you will also create more frustration which is harnessed from negative energy. You are ultimately doing yourself a disservice by being a Negative Nancy and there is nothing cute about whining to me or to anyone else.

2. Think Better Thoughts. What is the difference between people who feel stuck in life and people who go on to accomplish great things? Successful people think differently than the rest of the herd. Often, successful people have already changed their mindsets, whether they are aware of it or not. The good news is that it is never too late to transform your thinking patterns too. One way to adopt a growth mindset is to become aware of your negative thoughts and actively choose to think better thoughts. Stop ruminating over the things that went wrong or believing that you are a victim in life. Instead, you can channel this negativity into a creative outlet, like blogging.

3. Stop Comparing Yourself to Others. Yikes. I think this one deserves its own blog post. I cannot stress this point enough but comparison really is the thief of joy. We live in a society where social comparison dominates, and whether we admit it or not, humans love to compare and judge. Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, and other social media platforms really do bring out the green-eyed monster in people. Next time you feel tempted to compare yourself to someone you envy, try shifting your focus. Instead of focussing on others’ achievements, turn inwards and start focussing on your own unique qualities. I know this is easier said than done, but try counting your blessings the next time you catch yourself being envious of someone else.

4. Cry It Out! 😭 They say that “good girls don’t cry.” I hate to be the person to tell you this, but mentally stable girls cry. Big boys cry too. There is nothing bad about having a good cry. Most of us are taught that crying is immature, uncool, and a sign of weakness. If that was the case where we weren’t allowed to be vulnerable, then I would not be writing this blog post. More than ever, we need to allow ourselves to feel these feelings, both good and bad, and tears are a natural, emotional release. This, crying is a healthy way to let go of bottled-up feelings and emotional pain.

5. Forgive Others. How much time and energy do you spend being angry towards other people? Anger is obviously serving some kind of purpose in your life; otherwise, you wouldn’t be projecting anger into the universe. That being said, what good does it do for you to hold a grudge against someone who has done you wrong? Learning to forgive others is easier said than done, since negative emotions often cloud our judgment, thus making forgiveness seem like a waste of time. However, learning how to forgive others will give you peace of mind and, in turn, you will become mentally stronger.

“Unforgiveness is like drinking posion and hoping the other person dies.” – Margaret Stunt

6. Forgive Yourself. Do you say cruel things to yourself that you would never say to anyone else? Would you speak to your friends the same way you speak to yourself? Chances are, you probably judge yourself too harshly. AmIright? If you think that you are being too hard on yourself, maybe it is time to practice self-compassion and forgive yourself for being the imperfect human being that you are. We cannot undo our past mistakes, but we can choose to make better choices in the future if we can forgive ourselves and learn to trust the universe.

“You’ve been criticising yourself for years and it hasn’t worked. Try approving of yourself and see what happens.” – Louise Hay

7. Learn to Let Go. There will always be things that you cannot control no matter how much you try to micromanage or wish for a more desirable outcome. And sometimes, feeling out of control can be overwhelming. If you believe that you are a #victim, I cannot deal with you right now. Seriously, nothing annoys me more than people who have a victim mentality. That being said, learning to let go and surrender to the universe is not the same as playing #victim. The universe works in mysterious ways and it is okay to surrender to the divine universe. Acknowledging your weaknesses and letting go of the things yet you cannot control will, in turn, make you a mentally stronger person.

8. Accept Life As It Is. Accepting reality can be scary because it means being okay with the way things are in the present moment. If you have been fighting reality, you might not be ready to accept your life as is. Similar to Point #7 it means surrendering and letting go of your fantasy self. It means facing and accepting what is, which allows you to make wiser choices in the future. Resisting reality might seem like the easier choice, but avoiding and resisting the truth has negative consequences.

9. Do Nothing. What do I mean by this, exactly? Doing nothing seems counterproductive, doesn’t it? However, doing nothing is similar to sitting in a silent room and meditating. I understand that meditation isn’t for everyone, nor am I telling you to meditate. People who have kids and/or busy schedules might not have the time to “do nothing.” A calmer mind can do wonders for your mental health if you are able to shut off the monkey chatter. The brain is not meant to run on overdrive all the freaking time!

10. Practice Mindfulness. If you haven’t been practicing mindfulness on a regular basis, start reconnecting with it by first silencing your mind. By living in the present, you break away from focusing on the past or future. If you have a philosophy background, you’ll know that the past and future are not real; the present moment is real. Since mindfulness enables us to bring our attention back to the present moment, perhaps we should start focussing on the things that are right in front of our noses. Just saying.

“Peace of mind arrives the moment you come to peace with the contents of your mind.” – Rasheed Ogunlaru


(っ◔◔)っ ♥ FINAL THOUGHTS ♥

When you are feeling more relaxed and calm, you will be able to focus your energy on the things that actually matter. Best of all, you will be able to think more clearly which enables you to plan and better organize your thoughts. Remember, insanity is the definition of doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results, so I challenge you to try something different today. Feel free to join the conversation by leaving a comment below ↓ if this blog post taught you something or made you think about things differently.

This image was edited by me aka. Mama Hillz

Thanks for stopping by! ♥

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🌞Sunshine Blogger Award 10.0🌞

I want to continue where I left off since uploading the 🌞Sunshine Blogger Award 9.0🌞. Sure, there are several topics that I could be writing about right now, but I want to finish this before I move on to something else. You see, I tend to get hyperfocused and/or fixated on one thing which I feel inclined to finish before I am able to move on. I have always been like this and I don’t really see it as a shortcoming or problem. I checked my drafts yesterday to see if there were any more outstanding Sunshine Blogger Awards (SBAs) but it appears that I am all caught up! That being said, I really wanted to wrap up and retire the SBAs on my blog for good so the 🌞Sunshine Blogger Award 10.0🌞 will be my last one in this series.

Btw, feel free to leave comments in the comment section below ↓ BUT if you say something generic like, “Congratulations” then I’m not going to reply to you. To clarify, this was an open nomination for anyone who wanted to participate, so I basically nominated myself LOL

The Sunshine Blogger Award is per recognition award for bloggers who inspire readers by promoting positivity and bringing joy. Since nobody nominated me for any recent Sunshine Blogger Awards, I did some digging on WP and found an open nomination from a blogger named Beverly who runs a blog called https://becomingtheoilandwine.com. Honestly, this is the first time that I have read her blog so I don’t really know what her blog is about yet. When I have more time, I plan to catch up on her blog posts.


🌞SUNSHINE BLOGGER AWARD RULES🌞

The Sunshine Blogger Award has rules (surprise, surprise!). These rules ensure the success of this award, providing exposure to all the award winners. The rules are quite simple and straightforward.

RULES FOR AWARD:

  • Thank the person who nominated you and provide a link back to their blog so others can find them.
  • Answer the 11 questions asked by the blogger who nominated you.
  • Nominate 11 other bloggers and ask them 11 new questions 👈 optional
  • Notify the nominees about it by commenting on one of their blog posts 👈 optional
  • List the rules and display a Sunshine Blogger Award logo on your post and/or your blog site.

QUESTIONS I WAS ASKED:

1. What is one of your funniest funnest time of the summer? I’m not sure if this is a typo, and even then, this question is confusing. Funnest time of the summer? 🤔 I think the person asking this question meant to say “most fun.” I deal with high functioning depression so I cannot recall the last time I had fun during the summer. If I had to choose something, it would be enjoying refreshing bubble tea on a hot, sunny day! 😎 The husband would agree – this is his drink, not mine!

2. How do you like your ice cream? Plain or Toppings? I think D.W. can answer this question! 🍨

D.W.: Does Muffy have an ice cream machine? If she does, I’m gonna have vanilla with vanilla sprinkles and hot vanilla sauce. Does she have a petting zoo? I wanna pet a whale. I think I’ll pet the whale first, and then I’ll have the vanilla with vanilla sprinkles and vanilla sauce. But if I pet the whale first, my hands might smell fishy, so first, I’ll have the vanilla with the vanilla sprinkles and vanilla sauce, and then… Oh, wait. Whales are mammals, right? I wonder if my hands will smell mammaly.

3. What are your favorite gospel songs? I’ll recognize the songs when I hear them, but otherwise, I don’t know the names of the songs that I like. I don’t keep a playlist of gospel music.

4. Do you like ice skating or riding a bike? I used to be able to do both, but I haven’t ice skated or ridden a bike in over 15 years. I would like to go bike riding again since we live close to a 30-kilometer bike path, but we need nicer weather before I can turn that dream into a reality.

5. What is your favorite food to eat during summertime? How I dream of sunshine and summertime! I look forward to eating watermelon 🍉 and other yummy fruits that are in season during the summer months. Since it is wintertime, you’ll find me eating boring apples, bananas, and oranges. 🍎🍌🍊

6. What is your favorite book to read? I gave up buying (and reading) books in 2020 to save money and I haven’t looked back 😶 If I were to read a book, you would probably find me reading a self-help book or a recipe book from my bookshelf. One of my favorite books is, “The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck: A Counterintuitive Approach to Living a Good Life” by Mark Manson.  

7. What dream place would you enjoy visiting? Lately, I have been daydreaming of visiting the Maldives ever since I watched YouTubers vlog about this dreamy place! 🏝

Photo by Asad Photo Maldives from Pexels

8. Do you have any pets? If so, What kind? I have a Pug named Zoë and she lives in Ontario with my parents. My dad spells her name differently: Zoey. Since I live approx. 2,200 miles away, it is rare if I get to visit my dog. I miss my dog terribly. I blinked and she is now an old lady.

In Spring 2019, my husband and I adopted a rescue cat and I named him Timon, after the Lion King. He is a free-spirited cat who is untrainable, but I love him dearly 🐈‍⬛💕 In Spring 2021, my husband decided to get a bunch of fish so we have not one but three fish aquariums. Two fish aquariums are freshwater and the third fish aquarium is saltwater. I told him that cats and fish do not mix but he wouldn’t listen to me. 🤷‍♀️

9. What does Christ mean to you? This is a tricky question for me to answer because I consider myself to be a very spiritual person and only a little religious. What does “a little religious” mean, exactly? 🤔 It means that I lean towards Christianity and share the same morals and values as a Christian, but I do not actively read the Bible and I go to church because my husband makes me is Catholic. That being said, I find that going to church gives me a sense of calm and peace of mind, in similar ways as guided meditation. In the past, I was more agnostic but have started embracing religion a lot more since I became a mother. I am open to change, but I cannot see myself ever becoming a super religious person.

10. What encourages you to keep writing? I enjoy writing for an audience. Knowing that there are readers who give me the time of day and genuinely care about what I have to say means the world to me. Unlike other forms of social media, blogging gives me a voice. Also, I prefer to share my thoughts with like-minded people instead of keeping these thoughts to myself. I am an open book by nature, so this is a great platform for me to be my true, authentic self! 💖

11. Where is your favorite place to go to for vacation? I cannot remember the last time we took a real vacation, except to visit our families in Ontario last summer. However, I hardly call this a vacation; it is more of an obligation. We took a plane there so I guess this still counts? ✈ Ontario is my home province.

This is a photo of my childhood room. As a teenager and young adult, I had this limiting belief that I would be imprisoned between these four walls for most of my adult life. At the time, I was too scared to venture out on my own. Since moving out, my room has been repainted and my parents’ house is currently being renovated. I wish I could have told my younger self what I know now: The real prison is your mind and your limiting beliefs are keeping you stuck in life.

🌞SUNSHINE BLOGGER AWARD NOMINEES🌞

Again, I have decided to leave it open to anyone who wants to join in on the fun and I am keeping the same questions as last time. Tag, you’re it!

QUESTIONS FOR YOU:

1. Why did you start blogging?
2. What is the theme of your blog?
3. Is your blog a hobby blog or do you monetize your blog?
4. Are you a vegetarian?
5. How has the COVID-19 pandemic affected you?
6. Have you ever tried online dating?
7. Do you have a Nintendo Switch? If yes, what is your favorite game? 🍎🍒🍊🍑🍐
8. Do you play Animal Crossing? If yes, what is your Island’s fruit? 
9. Do you believe in magic?
11. What is your favorite cereal?

And….GO!! I know you have very busy lives outside of the blogging world and I appreciate that you took the time to read this blog post! I look forward to reading your answers if you decide to participate in the Sunshine Blogger Award.

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