Considering My Legacy At This Stage In My Life

At my last book club meeting, we discussed When Breath Becomes Air by Dr. Paul Kalanithi. It’s the memoir of a resident doctor in his mid-30’s who explores the dance between medicine and philosophy against the backdrop of mortality and meaning. It was a book he started after his terminal diagnosis of lung cancer and finished shortly before he died. I enjoyed this thought-provoking, reflective piece of literature,  which was at times written at arms-length from the emotional baggage of impending death. It can be refreshing to talk about death that way – as in what can we learn from this thing we don’t know a whole lot about? While sitting in an intimate circle, the fireplace casting warmth, the 7 of us book club members spent a significant part of the evening on legacy.

I think about death and legacy a lot. I think this is largely because my mom passed away just before her 56th birthday. In fact, 9 years to this week, she was admitted to the hospital (for the second to last time). During our visit with her, my mom sat up in bed and told my brother and I she was sorry she wasn’t ‘leaving much’ for us. I’m sure we mumbled some reassuring words about how that wasn’t true but I honestly don’t remember the conversation going past that. Talking about her inevitable death made us uncomfortable even as the curtain of denial slowly slipped off the truth we needed to face.

What I would say to her now is that what she left us continues to show itself day after day, year after year. Her legacy lives on in the way I love my children, in the way our family continues to gather in good times and bad, in the way we support the hungry, in the way I dance around the kitchen. I see her in all those moments and more. While my memories of her come in snapshots and I now have to think really hard to remember her movements and the sound of her voice, what has never dulled are the intangible things.

Legacy and Writing

Legacy is also heavy on my mind because as a writer, I consider my work to be my literary footprint. The thing that will outlast me. Some people write their memoirs solely for that reason, and I encourage it in the classes I teach. Our articulated thoughts and ideas, and the way we affect one another, are all part of what we leave behind.

Thinking about our mortality is not morbid – it’s motivating. Admittedly, it’s not easy for most of us, but it truly can guide us to living our most meaningful lives. Throughout his book, Dr. Kalanithi shared how the decisions he made at each stage of his illness were all weighed against what was most meaningful to him at that time. Of course, he knew his life would be much shorter than what a healthy man his age could expect so there were probably a lot of things he threw out the window. When we don’t know how long we have to live, but can assume it’s a fair chunk of time, our options look different.

But maybe it’s not just about how long we have to live. Maybe it’s about how WIDE we want to. I’ve written before about wanting to live a wide life, not just a long one. These kinds of thoughts have always steered me toward a deeper satisfaction than anything I have ever chased mindlessly.

As a woman, a mother, entering her 40’s in just a few months, the lenses with which I see this world are changing a little. I’m excited by this shift. It’s helping me consider my legacy, define my values and fine-tune my goals. I’m embracing all of it and looking forward to the gems I will find along the way. Stick around – I’ll share more about my road to 40 as I tap my happy feet toward this new decade!

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What is something you hope will be part of the legacy you leave behind? I’d love to hear in the comments below!

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What’s New On Netflix? Something For Everyone!

How’s your 2018 going so far? Off to a good start? I’d love to hear in the comments if the first month was everything you hoped it would be. And if things aren’t quite going as planned, what can I do to help? If I told you what’s new on Netflix, would that work? Just kidding! Netflix isn’t the answer to all of life’s problems, but it sure provides some great entertainment to unwind at the end of a long day. Or something fun to look forward to on the weekend that doesn’t involve too much fanfare. (Or am I the only one who seems to be in hibernation mode?).

In my home, January-March are crazy months for my husband’s business which means that things feel a bit off-balance. So the weekends are absolutely precious family time and cuddle time. Netflix is definitely a part of that! To keep things fresh, it’s always good to check in on what’s new on Netflix; so far this year, there is something new for everyone in your home. Here’s what I mean:

New On Netflix In 2018 So Far…

Trolls: The Beat Goes On has been a hit with my 4-year old! It premiered on January 9 and picks up right where the movie left off, following the adventures of Poppy, Branch and all their Troll friends.

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A Series of Unfortunate Events is perfect for your tween – and mine – who wants to test the waters of scarier movies. The dark comedy series following the ill-fated Baudelaire siblings returns on March 30 for a second suspense-filled season with Neil Patrick Harris reprising his role as the cunning Count Olaf.

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One Day At A Time released its second season on January 26. If, like me, you haven’t checked it out yet, it came highly recommended by my friend Jamie and sounds perfect for teens and older. While do-it-all single mom Penelope keeps her family going, it’s the fresh perspectives of her children Elena and Alex that make the show relevant in today’s cultural landscape. I love representational television and Jamie knows this about me, so I take her recommendations to heart.

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Altered Carbon is just for you sci-fi loving adults! It’s described as a fast-paced cyberpunk series where death isn’t permanent and human consciousness can be digitized and downloaded from body to body. This dark murder mystery came out on Netflix on February 2. Have you caught an episode yet?

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Santa Clarita Diet is another one I heard a lot about and now the second season is coming out later this year!  But first, can someone explain to me why she’s eating raw meat? Is this part of the show? Tell me in the comments!

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But it doesn’t stop there: This February, Queer Eye returns after 15 years with a brand new Fab Five and the Regina King-starring crime drama Seven Seconds goes beyond the headlines of race relations and law enforcement. The standard coming-of-age story is turned on its head with a set of dueling A/V and drama clubs set in 1990s Oregon in Everything Sucks! to four bright and savvy friends growing up and navigating their way through life in South Central LA in On My Block .

And later this year, mark your calendars for family blockbuster nights with new takes on classic stories: First, get ready to welcome back the most lovable dog in Hollywood with Benji coming to Netflix in March (I LOVED Benji!), and then blast off into the galaxy with Lost in Space, a reboot of the 1960s classic which is set to launch in mid-2018.

Which of these excites you most? I can’t wait to introduce my kids to Benji; I know my dog-lover daughter will fall in love with him like I did such a long time ago!

P.S. Don’t forget: if you’re escaping the winter blues for some vitamin sea somewhere, Netflix now has a downloadable feature you’ll want to take advantage of for your flight!

taslim jaffer writer

 

 

 

 

As a member of the Netflix Stream Team, I receive some perks for sharing my honest opinions and ideas with you!

Highlights From Our Trip To Mexico: Part Two

Last week, I shared Part One of our trip highlight reel. Thank you for all your comments here, on Facebook and on Instagram! I loved sharing those photos of our trip to Mexico and have been eager to put this post together to show you more of what we loved. This edition showcases the people and language, the food, some off-resort adventure and the joy of vacationing with extended family.

If you’ve been reading for awhile, you know that I’m learning Spanish on my own. I’ve totally enjoyed the experience of learning by listening using the Michel Thomas CDs. Here are some other tools I’ve been using as well. Just today, I joined a language diary challenge on Instagram hosted by @joyoflanguages and am hoping to post something in Spanish every day in February! (I’m not the best at daily challenges but all the more reason for you to pop by there and give me a little encouragement, por favor!)

The Spanish line at the end of today’s post means, “I’m excited to learn more Spanish every day.”

Obviously, I was super excited to practice what little Spanish I know with some locals, and in fact, it was a goal of mine to have at least one (slow but successful) conversation with at least one local. And I did it! In fact, I can’t even count the number of conversations I had. Some were short, and others were longer. I had nailed the expression, “Estoy aprendiendo Espanol” (I’m learning Spanish) so that I could begin each interaction with that caveat. It was amazing to see people’s faces light up, and the feedback and encouragement I received was all kind and warm. Talk about further motivation to keep practicing! It was fun to read the signs around the resort and around town. All the ‘learning by listening’ fell into place when I saw the words represented visually. Such a cool experience.

I’m pretty sure you’re interested in the food. It’s usually the first thing I ask people about their vacation experience! I can honestly say, the food at Dreams Riviera Cancun Resort & Spa was amazing! There was the perfect variety of Mexican and international cuisine, at the buffet restaurant and at the other themed restaurants. We ate at every one except the French restaurant and that’s partly because we loved the food everywhere else so much we repeated certain restaurants! From the chicken enchiladas for breakfast at the buffet to the pizzas de queso (cheese pizzas) at the Barefoot Grill for lunch to the Thai curry at the Asian fusion restaurant for dinner (and ahem, several snacks in between) we were well-fed and happy.

My aunt, oldest daughter and I even took a cooking class where we made a delicious, fresh guacamole and ceviche. That was a fun experience and another place where I gained some Spanish vocabulary.

We also spent an afternoon/evening off the resort and in the town of Playa del Carmen to do a little shopping on 5th Avenue. I loved seeing people hanging out in the street-facing bars, or walking to their apartments just around the corner from the shopping area. My oldest got her hair braided and we bought some hats and souvenirs. Another time, sans enfants, I’d love to just slide right into one of those bars with my husband and meet some locals. You know, with my bottled water. Because I want to be Carrie but in some instances, I’m Charlotte. (Remember the girls’ trip to Mexico when Charlotte was so afraid of getting sick – and then she was the only one that did? But I’m getting there, and if you stick around long enough, you’ll be witness).

We also did a full-day excursion where we spent the morning at the Mayan ruins in Tulum and then the afternoon at the ecological park in Xelha. I wrote about that adventure and shared some tips on Surrey604. The kids loved going off-resort as much as they loved splashing at the pool and playing in the sand on the property. As they get older, I can see us doing more off-site. For now, a day and a half was perfect.

As I mentioned in Part One, we met my aunt and cousins from Edmonton there. Normally, we see each other every year or two, and it’s always at their place or ours. Sometimes there’s an event that brings us together but then it’s not the relaxed, quality time that we would want. So we decided to meet somewhere else, somewhere where nobody was hosting and we could experience something new.

Among all of us we had a gazillion pictures (give or take) and I’m so glad. On dreary, rainy Vancouver winter days, it’s nice to remember the sun and fun we had in Mexico.

Have you vacationed with extended family? How did it go? Tell me in the comments!

Until next time, dear Readers…hasta la vista! Thanks for reading about our trip to Mexico!

 

 

 

Behind My Rebrand – And Moving Forward

For 6 years I wrote under a beautiful butterfly and a bold demand: Let ME Out!! I started this blog as a mom of 2 – a preschooler and a toddler – when I desperately needed to dive into my creativity and find myself. I asked you to come along with me for the ride, and you did. And now here I am. I’m out! It’s time to stretch my wings under a rebrand.

I’m Taslim Jaffer. Welcome to my new site.

I’ve known a rebrand was coming for the last couple years. That fact hit home every time I’d be at a blogger event and someone would say, “Oh heyyyyy! You’re Let ME Out!!” while squinting at me as though trying to find my avatar in who stood before them. Mmmm…yes. At one time, I was. But there’s a lot more to who I am and to my work now, and I finally have a space to share all of that with you.

My friend Raj, from Pink Chai Media, was an enormous part of this transition. As exciting as a rebrand is, there are many technical and design elements, and big-picture thinking required that can be exhausting to figure out. She made the process smooth and fun with her savviness and passion for helping entrepreneurs put their best out there. And through it all, she helped me see myself in a different light. The photographer on her team, Aziz, was just as excited for my changes and supported me with his talent in visuals and photography. Thanks, team Pink Chai!

I’m ready to discover the world as the woman I am now: entering my 40s, focused on my professional and personal goals, a lover of the arts, wanderlust and a mom of school-aged kids.

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Image credit: Jamie Khau www.stylingtheinside.com

And this is where I’d like to share all that with you. I’ll also keep you in the loop about my recent writings that are published outside this blog. And for editors and publishers, I’ve created a portfolio of work that I will keep updated. As I rediscovered my love of writing through blogging, I also became passionate about teaching others how to write their own stories. This is a fun part of my work week! My current community and rehabilitative writing classes will be posted on this site, too.

From Then To Now

Six years ago when I started blogging, I had my preschooler and my toddler underfoot. I was writing in little bits and spurts, and was just growing into the identity of ‘writer’ while working as a speech therapist. Now I have 3 kids who are busy at school all day. Writing is my full-time career and my love. It’s how I earn an income but also how I know who I am, how I discover the world, how I share that world, how I speak up about what matters. Though I am comfortable with my identity now as a writer, I also love that it stretches me. I hope to never reach a point where I say, “I’ve written it all.”

To my Let ME Out!! readers, thank you. I truly hope you benefited from the blog posts and the personal development workbooks. You’re my crew who will especially love my new section called Inspired Living. And to anyone who’s stopping here for the first time, I hope we can get to know each other better.

I’d love to hear from you in the comments! Are you a reader from the Let ME Out!! days? Or did you just stumble here today for the first time?

 

 

Highlights From Our Trip To Mexico: Part One

I just went through all the pictures we took on our holiday to Puerto Morelos, Mexico and realized this highlight reel needs to be broken up over two posts. So, this is Part One of our trip to Mexico. If you read my last post, you know it was a pretty big deal for the 5 of us because it was our first big vacation together – and for me it was extra special because it was my first huge venture outside my comfort zone since my honeymoon. (If you haven’t read that post, I would love it if you do. It will give you a little more insight into my travel history).

If you’ve been anywhere tropical, you know that from the moment you disembark the plane – whether it’s directly outside or onto the covered bridge leading to the gate – you can just feel it. It’s a kind of warmth that sinks into you, wraps itself around your bones, lifts your hair a little and promises new experiences. I felt the same when I landed in Orlando, Honolulu, Maui, Grand Cayman, Atlanta, and Varadero; it was a reminder I was definitely not on the West coast of Canada anymore! At the same time, as we juggled carry-ons and kids toward the baggage carousel, I pictured my mom in another tropical beach town…Mombasa, Kenya where she grew up. That feeling of her being with me on this adventure made me instantly promise her that I’d get to Mombasa someday, too. But first, I was going to enjoy this trip to the fullest.

When we arrived, it was already growing dark; by the time we got to our resort, it was pitch black and past dinnertime. So, it wasn’t until the next day that I got a proper glimpse of the palm trees and the beach that confirmed we were really on our Mexican holiday.

It didn’t take us long to feel settled at the resort. Dreams Riviera Cancun Resort & Spa is the perfect size for a family looking to relax with plenty of beach and pool time. There was food everywhere – it was delicious and will obviously make the highlight reel so stay tuned! Everything was close by and the staff was just amazing. Within just a few days, I could go to any restaurant I had already eaten at and they knew without me telling them that I have an allergy to kiwifruit. Maybe that’s just a really weird allergy, but the fact that they remembered was indicative of the exceptional care and attention to detail we became accustomed to. Very quickly, we relaxed into vacation mode. And that was truly a highlight; being with the kids in a slow-paced bubble was amazing. Enjoying the kids and watching them fall in love with a new place definitely ranked up there as a highlight.

It wasn’t just relaxing with the kids, of course, that made this trip awesome. We met up with my cousins and aunt from Edmonton, and it was such an amazing experience to vacation with extended family. (Also a highlight that will show up in Part Two). The first night we got there, after some really enthusiastic screams when we caught sight of each other in the lobby, we headed to the buffet for dinner. Once we piled our plates high and met back at the table, my aunt suggested that Nadir and I choose a night to go on a romantic date. We didn’t turn it down! In fact, I got to spend a lot of time with my hubby and as you know, that’s one of the things I plan to do more of in 2018 to make this year awesome. Our trip to Mexico was great for rekindling our desire to travel together into our sunset years.

Thanks for reading Part One of our highlights – stay tuned for Part Two where I share about food, family, Spanish and off-resort adventure!

What was a highlight for you on your most recent family vacation? I’d love to hear in the comments! Any recommendations for where we should visit next?

I Can’t Be A Travel Blogger Without Telling You About My Fears

I have to share something with you guys. I can’t post any more travel stories here without telling you THE story. The one that sets the stage for who I am as a traveller and travel blogger. I have to tell you how, time after time, I’ve turned down or postponed trip after trip because of a fear that had grown inside me due to one bad experience.

Do you follow many travel bloggers? Read their blogs and enjoy their photos and captions on Instagram? Me, too. And one word that always shouts at me from these feeds is ‘fearless.’ They’re not saying it, but it’s what I absorb when I see their images of unique places, doing all kinds of amazing things. It’s inspiring! My own travel bucket list is long and exciting, but I don’t want you to think I was always able to embrace the world the way I can today. I’m up to date with my vaccines and recently got my Hep A, but nowhere did they offer to shoot me up with a dose of Courage – so if you’re feeling low on it when it comes to leaving the comfort of your home, I want to say, I get it. Before I get ahead of myself, here’s my story on how I went from eager to fearful to travel blogger.

From Eager To Fearful To Travel Blogger

Too many years ago, my husband and I went on a honeymoon to Varadero, Cuba. When we booked our trip, I was excited for our first overseas experience together, not to mention the rest and relaxation we were promised. I didn’t think about anything else. After all, I had flown to Maui for a week on my own and stayed in a hostel just a few years before, doing all kinds of things like hiking Mt. Haleakala in fake Birkenstocks and black dress socks (not lying). A week on the beach with my new husband sounded easy and blissful.

When we arrived, I was dazzled by the colourful resort, the friendly people and the beautiful white sand beach. My husband and I walked hand-in-hand up and down the shoreline, noting the older couples, silver-haired and smiling, that stretched out on beach chairs. “We’ll be just like them, travel the world everywhere, till we’re way too old to do it anymore.” These promises stirred excitement within me. I wanted to see it all.

A couple of nights later, something happened. I didn’t know if it was something I ate or whether this was bound to happen no matter where I was, but I got ill. I was nauseous all day, all night for the remainder of the trip. Not actually getting sick but always feeling close to it. I assumed that when we got home, I would feel normal, but I didn’t. My doctor prescribed a strong antibiotic just in case there was some sort of infection. That didn’t help. Weeks later, I was still nauseous every day. I would start the day feeling OK but from the moment I ate anything, I’d feel ill.

Finally, I got in touch with a naturopath who gave me some suggestions on how to cleanse my system through diet and some supplements; within a couple weeks, I noticed a huge difference. I felt so much better. In fact, I remember the first moment I realized I wasn’t nauseous. I was out for a walk on a late winter’s day. The snow was melting and running off into the sewer drains. The birds were chirping, the sun was shining. And I wasn’t nauseous. I was so happy! I stayed on a clean diet for another 6 months or so and even when I re-introduced some of my old favourites into my meals I felt generally good.

For a long time, I acquainted travelling overseas with feeling sick. This was a bit of a bummer for both my husband and I as we had hoped to travel far and wide throughout our lifetime. He didn’t push me, though, as he was the one who sat up with me during the nights I was too nauseous to sleep. He knew what I had gone through. However, we didn’t just confine ourselves to home; we travelled to different parts of Canada and the United States. But anything that felt outside of my comfort zone, we passed up. Including a complimentary all-inclusive vacation to Puerto Vallarta that my husband earned through his business.

Over the years, I’ve come to understand that what happened to me could have happened to me anywhere, including at home. That the actual cause of my symptoms was likely an imbalance of my good and bad gut bacteria which is something that occurs over time. I had just come off a really stressful couple of years and this was probably just the time my body started screaming about it.

And Then I Took The Plunge

As our children grew, that itch to take them places also grew. I wanted them to know the world and its people. Hear different languages being spoken, see different ways of living. And know that they had a place in a much bigger world. We have done quite a few local trips around the Pacific Northwest (B.C., Alberta and Washington), a driving tour of  Ontario, and flew to Atlanta, GA. But it wasn’t enough. With many families of young children travelling to Mexico, we decided that that would be our first big excursion.

We booked a one week stay at Dreams Riviera Cancun Resort & Spa through our travel agent, Zahra at Beach Wedding Vows. I think I badgered her a hundred times about food and water quality. (What kinds of medications should I take? Are you sure there will be enough bottled water for the whole week?) She was super patient with me and totally understanding when I explained to her my concerns. She assured me I would be OK.

So, last December the 5 of us took our first big flight to Cancun. I have so much to share with you about that amazing trip – but I’m saving that for another post (or three). I do want to tell you how this time when I travelled, I got infected by a bug…the travel bug! And it’s reminded me of all the deeper experiences I want in this lifetime. It really wasn’t the all-inclusive aspect that got me hooked (although being able to say, “Me gustaria dos pizzas de queso, por favor several times a day was pretty awesome. So happy I invested the time in these tools to learn Spanish!).

Travel motivates me to learn new languages – one of my interests!

It was a wonderful week of great food, company, beach time, a little adventuring and eye-opening experiences for my kids. We were all sad when it was over, and my son even cried at the resort as we were leaving. Over the Christmas holidays, we made a family travel bucket list and it is extensive. My husband and I have rekindled our dream of travelling together into our retirement years. We want to be silver-haired and smiling while walking hand-in-hand in Europe and Asia. Imagine the insight I’d have as a travel blogger by then! (I mean, I’m not actually going to retire from this, right? I hope not!).

I think what I went through, mentally more so than anything, gives me a unique perspective to offer you, dear Readers. We aren’t all born with adventure coursing through our veins, or some of us have had experiences – relevant or not – with travelling that has put us off or made us more guarded. I get that. I totally get that, and as I share with you my travels near and far, I will keep that in mind. Maybe my posts will inspire you to travel farther and deeper. And I promise to share any tools along the way to help the more timid traveller experience the majesty of this incredible planet.

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Come see the world with me!

Remembering My True Self

I’m so thankful that I’m becoming reacquainted with that girl inside me who once spent her college days writing out bucket lists and languages-to-learn lists when she was supposed to be studying for exams. I like this girl. A lot.

What’s YOUR travel story? Eager? Fearful? Both? I’d love to hear in the comments. Also, please say ‘hi’ on Instagram – I love sharing travel and other photos there.

Thanks for reading!

 

5 Things I’m Going To Do To Make 2018 Awesome!

The turn of the calendar is a fresh start, and while it’s not the only time of year we feel an urge to renew or redefine, it’s a great time to evaluate our current circumstances and aspirations. Just hours from now, we will ring in the new year! This one feels big to me; I’m turning 40, my youngest is off to elementary school, my husband and I will celebrate our 15 year anniversary, and professionally and personally, I got plans. In general, here are 5 things I’m going to do to make 2018 awesome.

Here’s How I Will Make 2018 Awesome

Date my husband. We’re coming up to 15 years of marriage and have grown in many ways since then. We’ve lived in 4 homes (in 2 provinces), had 3 children, a miscarriage, lost 2 parents, established ourselves professionally while switching careers, and too many other things to take inventory of here. We’ve grown as best friends but could you blame us if the romance took a little beating? We’ve been lucky to have family close by who could relieve us for a spell while we grabbed dinner or a movie, and even had one weekend away together in the 10 years of parenthood. But we’re ramping this up in 2018. I’m talking frequent date nights (made much easier by an amazing teenager on our street!) and…wait for it…New York City!

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Read more. I’m in a book club so I am guaranteed to read a book a month, but I’d like to double this. I’ll be recording my books on my Goodreads app (you can keep up to date by checking out my current read in the sidebar) and I’ll share my thoughts with you here and on Instagram. My to-be-read pile is huge but I’m always adding to the list, so please drop a recommendation in the comments. My favourite genre is memoir but I also love historical fiction and anything with an emotional pull.

Learn more. I want to learn all the things. You can’t be following me anywhere and not know that I’m learning Spanish (and I want to continue with this and set specific goals in this area), but I’m also talking about professional development. Good for the brain and good for the biz. Win-win, right? I also like to learn for the sake of learning. I find Netflix to be a really good resource for documentaries that stimulate my mind, get me thinking about things, and inspire me. I’ve talked about Netflix as a tool for language learning but there’s a lot more on there. My other interests include food, health, social change and human rights. As I come across something that I think will interest you, I’ll let you know here and on Twitter where I share a lot of my #streamteam thoughts.

Do less, focus more. My good friend, Jamie, taught me this one. It’s become really easy for me to say ‘no’ to things that don’t align with my values or goals, making room to focus on the things that are. This is true for my work and it’s true for my relationships and commitments. This will be an integral tool for helping me make 2018 awesome!

Move more. I started exercising regularly this past fall (ok, I kind of fell out of rhythm in December…but that’s why January is there, right?) and it felt great to move. I am having some difficulty with getting up early especially since it’s dark and cold in the mornings but it really is the best time for me to commit 30 minutes to myself. So, I guess I should just suck it up, right? Aside from my workout videos, I’d like to get back to going for walks and being more regular at Zumba. I’ll keep you posted on this as it’s a big part of my road to 40.

How are you planning to make 2018 awesome? I’d love to hear in the comments!

3 Reasons Why Netflix Binging During Air Travel Is Smart, Smart, Smart

I just learned that 57% of Canadians binge-watch their favourite Netflix entertainment in the air! Now that you can watch without WiFi, the airplane is the perfect place to catch up on some shows or distract yourself from turbulence by immersing yourself in the perfect movie. We happily downloaded movies for our 3 kids to watch (on two separate iPads – the youngest got her own, and the older two shared) for our recent trip to Mexico. We knew from the get-go that there were only so many snacks and colouring books we could pull out of our magic hat to keep these guys entertained, strapped in a seat for five and a half hours. A happy flight makes for a great start or end to a trip. We’re good with Netflix binging in public and it looks like we’re not alone!

Here are some suggestions on what to download for the kids for their air-travel Netflix binging:

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It’s not just about keeping the kids happy, though. There are some really good reasons why you should keep your Netflix shows on your tablet while you jet-set this holiday season!

3 Reasons Why You Should Download Netflix Entertainment For Air Travel

1. Your flight could be delayed. Sorry, I know that’s one of your fears as you book tickets in unpredictable winter weather. Actually, 63% of Canadians are worried about flight delays over the holidays. With your favourite shows at your fingertips, you can consider delays to be extra episodes just waiting to be devoured!

2. Another fear? Faulty in-flight systems leading to…no entertainment! I don’t think I need to elaborate on this. You’ll be the most popular person on the plane with Netflix on your tablet (just glance through the crack in the seats behind you – Seat 47C is peeking at your screen to alleviate his boredom!). In fact, 45% of Canadians who binge in the air have caught someone watching their screen from another seat!

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3. Ok, and if the in-flight system is working, what’s worse than the captain announcing the imminent landing right at the juicy part of the movie? The screen shuts off, the flight attendant kindly (but firmly) asks you to lock your lap tray, put away your screen and sit in a completely upright position. If that Netflix movie isn’t downloaded on your tablet, it’s as good as gone. You’ll never know if the ship sank. (Ok, that one isn’t available on Netflix right now so I’ll just tell you…it did sink. And it was really, really sad.)

Have I convinced you to add ‘download shows for Netflix binging’ to your travel prep list? Maybe this photo of my 3 year old daughter will remind you that a quiet child from CUN to YVR is the best child.

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My friend Raj over at Pink Chai Living had a pretty awesome idea for her recent flight to New York City. I’m going to have to download the same when I (hope to) go to NYC next spring!

Have you checked out the Netflix download feature?

As a member of the Netflix Stream Team, I receive some perks for sharing my honest opinions and ideas with you!

 

 

Learning Spanish With These 5 Tools

Earlier this year, I shared with you my goal of learning Spanish. I had planned to use these 3 tools to do it so that on my upcoming trip to Mexico I could have a successful (albeit short and slow) conversation with a local. Now, I know people on the resort speak English. I know I can order food and ask for directions in English. But I love languages, particularly Romance languages, and this was excellent motivation to embark on something new. I also believe it’s respectful and thoughtful to learn at least a little bit of the local language. (I highlight more reasons for language-learning in this column for Peace Arch News).

So, did I use the tools I thought I would? Some, but not all. And I found new ones along the way. Here’s what has been working so far:

5 Tools For Learning Spanish

1. My friend recommended I try the Michel Thomas CD collection for Beginner Spanish. And this was the most invaluable tool I used. I borrowed it from the library in June and ended up renewing it throughout the summer and into September until I could no longer renew it! And I am seriously considering buying the collection myself. I just LOVED the way Michel teaches. It’s all by listening which, frankly, is how language is best learned. (Think of how you learned your native language). At first I was freaking out a little. I felt like I should take notes, create a vocabulary list, pause the CD to repeat back. But I’m glad I used it the way it was intended. I think my second time around, I will make some notes because when I write things down they become emblazoned in my mind, but I was pleasantly surprised with how much I had retained just by listening. (He teaches other languages, too, if learning Spanish isn’t your thing).

2. Netflix!! I’ve always loved watching foreign films but my husband isn’t a huge fan. He doesn’t want to have to read subtitles while unwinding at the end of the day. I get that. But I’ve been able to convince him occasionally to throw on a Spanish movie so I can get used to hearing it spoken in varying accents, dialects and speed. And when I have a night to myself on occasion I know I can get my language geek on and watch something like: Palm Trees in the Snow, Amar, Ingobernable, La Nina, or La Esclava Blanca.

Just writing about this on this wet, grey day makes me want to curl up on my couch with a Spanish film or series! Have you seen any of these? Or have recommendations of your own? Please tell me in the comments below!

3. My sister-in-law is fluent in Spanish having studied it in university and then travelled to some Spanish-speaking countries. I should probably bug her more than I have been to practice with me since this is truly the way to gauge how much I know – plus, I can get immediate feedback and corrections which is important, too. But she has been a great source of encouragement. Amo a mi hermana!

4. Y musica! (Ok, I’m totally missing accents in my text because I don’t know how to find them on my keyboard. I apologize if you’re a Spanish speaker and this is making you cringe – if it helps, it’s making me cringe, too). So many people recommended I learn Spanish by listening to music and this made a lot of sense to me. I have fallen in love with the sounds of Enrique Iglesias, Fonsi, and Juanes. There are so many more artists out there that I have yet to discover. I’m particularly looking for ones like Juanes because I seem to pick up on his lyrics more easily. (Recommendations? Drop them below!) If you haven’t heard this song from him and Nelly Furtado, please take a moment to crank it and get lost for a moment in the beautiful words, melody and harmony.

5. T R A V E L! This is both a motivation AND a tool for learning Spanish. I don’t expect to be fluent without using this language in real life context and I can’t say I’m sad about adding travel to my list of tools. Did you know that Spanish is the official language in approximately 20 countries? And has about 400 million native speakers? Pretty amazing! Have you travelled to a Spanish-speaking country I should add to my bucket list? I’d love to hear!

As a member of the Netflix Stream Team, I receive some perks for sharing my honest opinion and ideas with you!

6 Tips For Mindful Eating During The Holidays

This is a post I published on The South Asian Buzz just before Canadian Thanksgiving. Since my American friends and family are celebrating the big turkey day in less than 48 hours (I know they’re counting down!), I thought I’d pop this post on mindful eating here. There truly is a way to enjoy all the foods we’ve come to associate with holidays in a way that won’t sabotage our health and wellness goals that we have been working on the rest of the year.

Also, let’s be honest – it’s not just Thanksgiving that means heavy meals. There’s Christmas following close behind. Then New Year’s shindigs. Valentine’s Day. Easter. And it goes on. Hopefully, these tips on mindful eating make it easy for you to stay on track, no matter what your goals are for your body, mind and spirit.

Read The Article On The South Asian Buzz

Why do I write about wellness?

Wellness and personal growth topics are of great interest to me. For years, I’ve been on a spiritual journey through writing and sitting in quiet. Recently, I’ve decided to focus on my physical health by working out and eating…better. (That’s the hardest part for this lover of all things fried, salty and cheesy!) I love researching these topics, speaking with experts and motivating my readers with the information I find. When The South Asian Buzz needed an editor for their Wellness & Personal Growth section, I happily took the position. And now I get to work with their wonderful contributors and an editorial calendar filled with engaging, powerful content.

Thanks for reading!