Mantras lately

made by littlekokomo.com

I’ve been reading some inspirational books recently, and decided to make a few desktop backgrounds with positive messages to keep me motivated. I’m at a turning point in my life and sometimes it’s easy to get discouraged by obstacles or realizing how much work is ahead before I get to where I want to be. I can easily slip into a negative mindset where I think of what my life could have been if things had been different, and that kind of thinking is sooo counter productive. I sometimes need a reminder that says, “hey! stop that!”
This post is dedicated to my friend Christina in Berlin! We’ve been having a lot of long talks about our common need to stay creative, despite whatever setbacks we may have. It’s a good time to surround ourselves with a team of cheerleaders and just plow forward with our passions. So, thanks, lady, and keep at it!
All images made with photoshop and pictures I have taken.
made by littlekokomo.com made by littlekokomo.comAbove quote taken from the book “What color is your parachute?

made by littlekokomo.comNot sure who the original author of this last quote is, but I recently read it in “Big Magic” by Elizabeth Gilbert.
Feel free to use these as your own desktop backgrounds if they are helpful to you! If you repost them, please link back to my site. Thanks and Happy Friday! xo.

Illustrated Recipe: Mushroom Paté

I’m extra excited to share my latest illustration, mainly because it’s a recipe by an awesome and inspiring friend of mine. Danielle Levy is a nutritionist based in Montreal who has taught me so much about health and food and how they are related. I went to get a consultation from her a few years ago after having been on antibiotics for about 9 months. My immune system was hit pretty bad, my skin was developing rashes non-stop, my energy was low and I had frequent heartburn. Doctors didn’t seem to listen to my issues at the time, but rather prescribe me more antibiotics which just added to the unhealthy cycle. Danielle helped me turn things around gradually while still maintaining a positive relationship with food. Food is, after all, one of the greatest pleasures in life, right?

I encourage you to check out her nutrition blog here to see her inspirational posts and recipes!

Illustration of the week: Body Loving

I drew the image above as a reaction to something that left a nagging feeling in the back of my head.

Last week, I was shopping at a bookstore downtown when I came across the print below.
MIN-K1B-GNA-007_A_APZWhile it is beautiful and quickly got my attention, I’m just tired of seeing the same body type over and over in fashion illustration, and fashion altogether. I am not into thin-shaming in any way, and I don’t discriminate against any size. It’s just that less than 5% of women have the body type that is constantly being shoved in our faces. I think I speak for all of us when I say we’ve seen enough thigh gaps for a lifetime. I’d like it if women of all shapes and ethnicities could be represented (and this is coming from a white woman who usually fits in a size small, not that it should matter). Show me the diversity that I see in the city everyday. Show me that women of all walks of life can be included in what we define as beautiful. Then maybe when we hear phrases like “Just love your body”, we can actually give it a try.

So many of us can be really critical of the way we look, trying to fit into someone else’s idea of beauty, even when it’s not physiologically possible.
Your body is amazing. It does so much for you, and the least you can do for it is to stop judging it. Be kind to yourself. (At least for today).

Have a lovely weekend, xoxo

PS: see more of my illustrations here.

How to Keep a Positive Attitude while Unemployed

A few months ago, at the very beginning of this record-breaking cold winter, I unexpectedly got laid-off from my job in education. Although my current situation is particular (my health then took a turn, awaiting for medical tests), this is a difficult period to go through, especially with the uncertainty in the job market and not knowing what to expect. Losing a job can feel like losing a social role, a community and a sense of purpose.

The entire job search–endless online searches, interviews, waiting for callbacks–can be demoralizing. When I first got the news, my biggest concern was that I would have too much free time, which would lead to endless marathons of The Good Wife and a huge drop in self-esteem. However, I have figured out a few things that have made it easier for me.

Here are my 9 tips to help keep a positive and productive lifestyle while unemployed:

1) Join a gym or fitness group immediately. This helped me get out of the house everyday and feel part of a community. Keeping fit also allows me feel productive and confident because I am working to keep my body healthy. If this isn’t financially feasible, setting regular time for exercise outdoors, like jogging or walking, is also helpful. It’s like that phrase we often hear, “A healthy body is a healthy mind”.

2) Create a list of things you’ve been wanting to do, but haven’t had the time. These are your goals that have been put on the back-burner for a while. Ask yourself if they still interest you, and keep them in a realistic range. This could be learning/improving a language, taking a course on something you’ve always wanted to learn, even reading a particular book… Always be learning! You never know what skills might end up helping you in the labor market.

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Hit the books! The ones you’ve always wanted to read.

3) Try to maintain an active social life: Going to a party or an event might not feel like the most appealing thing to do, especially having to meet new people and answer the question, “So, what do you do?” But the more you avoid networking, the more difficult it becomes. For myself, it has been more comfortable to meet with small groups of friends who are supportive and positive role models. I once heard that 70% of jobs are found through personal connections, so ultimately these interactions might help you in your search.

4) Stick to a functional schedule: It’s easy to slip into a routine where noon is the new wake-up time, and sleep happens anytime after 3am. But this schedule can cause you to lose touch with your goals. If you are looking for a 9-5 job, try to keep a schedule that reflects your desired lifestyle, even if it just means waking up at the same reasonable time everyday and getting dressed. Just don’t live in your PJs!

5) Rediscover a hobby you might have dropped: for me this was mostly drawing and painting, listening to new music, and DIY projects.

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Check out a museum exhibit during free or discounted hours.

6) Find the benefits of a flexible schedule: many discounts are only offered at awkward times during the day. Movie matinees, museums, and community yoga classes just to name a few. Waiting several months for an appointment? Ask them to give you a call if they have any cancellations. You are open to this now.

7) Take care of the things you kept putting off: doctor’s appointments, that small renovation project, the pile of clothes that need to be mended… They’re always on the back of your mind, and now’s your chance to get them done.

8) Plan 3 things per day: If you are feeling overwhelmed and aren’t sure how to approach your tasks, try to plan 3 things to do per day. This can be something like: go to the gym, meet with a friend for lunch, bake lasagna. The job search should not be the only plan in the day. Keeping an agenda or planner can also help.

9) Indulge in the little things you didn’t have time for before: Things like making meals that require more effort, walking to places you would normally drive to, taking a bath. Try a slow pace for a change, your body and mind will thank you.

Photos from my instagram

Salad Days: Crunchy Red Cabbage and Kale Slaw

I’m not the type of person who throws around terms like “detox” or “cleanse,” mainly because I don’t like doing things in extremes. But also because I know I won’t stick to something if it doesn’t make me happy or requires constant effort. I can get a load of groceries full of leafy green vegetables and have the best intentions (“green juice every day!” or “only plant-based meals this week!”), but when it comes down to scouring the fridge for a snack, the chances of me actually following through are slim.

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However, that process was made a little easier when came across Martha Stewart’s Red Cabbage and Kale Slaw. A hearty colourful salad that can live in the fridge for a few days, you say? And it’s easy to make? Simple 3-ingredient dressing? I’m in. Here’s my variation:

Dressing:
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon apple-cider vinegar
Coarse salt and pepper

For the salad:
the juice of half a lemon
3 cups mixed shredded kale and red cabbage
1 carrot, shredded or julienned (use organic and you don’t have to peel it!)
1/4 cup fresh cilantro leaves (or parsley if you prefer
2 tablespoons pumpkin seeds
handful of smoked almonds

squeeze half a lemon over the kale and red cabbage in a big bowl, sprinkle with some sea salt. While it soaks in, make the dressing:
Whisk olive oil, mustard, and apple-cider vinegar in a small bowl. Season with a bit of salt and pepper.
Add the shredded carrot, cilantro, pumpkin seeds and almonds to the kale-cabbage mixture and drizzle the dressing. Toss to coat, add more salt and pepper if needed. The dressing and lemon juice should soften the leaves, but it will still have a satisfying crunch.

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Cover up the leftovers and keep them in the fridge. Next time you’re rummaging for a snack, it’s there waiting for you.

How to Beat the Winter Blues: Part 1

Have you ever used a sunlamp?

They are said to help with seasonal affective disorder (SAD) and certain types of depression. Although I don’t feel depressed, I do suffer from chronic insomnia and my sleep therapist suggested I try it. She told me light therapy can help jumpstart my circadian rhythm, which would make me feel more alert in the morning and sleepier earlier in the evening (I usually don’t feel tired until 4am). Her instructions were to look into it as soon as possible when I wake up, keeping my face no more than a foot away, for 30 minutes.

I’ve had it for a few weeks but I am sometimes reluctant to use it. It’s not pleasant to stare into a bright light first thing in the morning! I just want to enjoy my coffee and slowly take in the day! But I have to consider the long-term effects. 30 minutes of discomfort in the morning might mean more time asleep at night.

I’m curious- what are your experiences with sunlamps?

Image via Ebay