Archive for ‘Perfectionism’

August 4, 2011

3 Bucks For Retirement

It’s one latte or 0.000005% of my retirement savings.

Today, doing some casual work I was able to earn $30 cold hard Canadian cash. I know that’s probably what you spent on lunch today but such is my life, for today, and I accept that. Yesterday I made a commitment to you all that I would begin to “pay myself first” by taking ten percent off the top off all of my earnings for savings. In my example, I used $50 with my savings being $5.  The universe decided to see how serious I was with my commitment today by starting me off with an even smaller example. Ah universe, always a card.

It’s Party Time

I am here to say that my whopping $3 has been transferred to the ashtray in my car (Do new cars even have ashtrays?) to ensure that it is not spent inadvertently. I was kind of hoping for balloons and confetti and party hats in my head when I started my savings plan, but I guess that’s always been part of the problem. I shouldn’t need a pat on the back and a great job to take care of myself like a mature adult.

So, the $3 is gone. Out of site out of mind. So as to avoid looks of confusion and perhaps endless giggling, I will wait until I have saved up at least $100 before I open some sort of savings or investment account.

One baby step, one less latte, one day at a time. I can do this.



August 3, 2011

Piggy-er Bank

I recently posted about how I am going to start taking aggressive action to address financial MEbucket of my life. I thought it was important to take some immediate action, even though I am not working yet, and cash flow is virtually non-existent. There is something to be said for having the framework in place before you start and it is in this spirit that I take step one.

Many years back, likely around the time of its first printing around 1989, I read the book The Wealthy Barber and like most that read it, was immediately inspired. I connected in this book in a very real way, but like many other things in life my approach was that I would start taking the books recommended actions “tomorrow.” Well this is tomorrow.

The biggest thing that sticks out in my head from when I read David Chilton’s The Wealthy Barber is “pay yourself first.” This is something that immediately resonated with me, especially because I had seen it in action in my own life. For a time, I was paying into an RRSP that I paid to before I paid any other items; before bills, before entertainment, and before life’s other necessities. Like “Roy” says in the book, you adjust your life to this not being a part of your cash flow and for all intents and purposes it disappears. The great part of course is that it doesn’t disappear, in reality you are saving, making money off interest and growing your financial independence.

Starting today, I am paying myself first. Ten percent right off the top. This is pretty hard to do when you are taking in virtually no income, but I can do it. For now, if I make $50 bucks, $5 is going into my virtual piggy bank for now. Once it’s in my “MEbank” it’s no longer available for ongoing expenses and can only be used for my retirement. Once I have a few bucks there, I will open an RRSP and keep the savings going that way.

As a guy with black and white thinking, this is something that I would definitely struggle with in the past. What’s the point?? If I can’t save something substantial, why bother. Why not wait until my income improves? That logic has brought me where I am today and it’s time for a little more colourful thinking. For now, I will do what I can, when I can do more, I will do more.

Novel concept.



May 19, 2011

Enough Wise Ideas

The Execut(ion)er

I’m a great starter. It’s always been one of my strengths to come up with big ideas. I do great research, I plan well, I create custom forms of tracking and accountability and then I get at it. Occasionally this gets me into trouble.  After the high of all the strategy and planning wears off, I am left with delivery. Execution. Monotony.

It is clear to me today that this is a short sited view when I quickly forget why I had the big idea to begin with. There was something I wanted to manifest in my life, some goal I wanted to reach, or some problem I want to solve. Without the execution of the plan true MEfurbishment will never happen. This is the insight I had when I was meditation this morning.

Happy Life

I have had lots of ideas and lots of plans lately and I want to make sure I take stock of my progress but also remember where I am heading with all of this. I want to MEfurbish my life. My buckets are clear and my plans are made. That is not to say that this are rigid or unchangeable but rather that I must not allow myself to become distracted. I am aiming for good health, good relationships, and a happy life.

All this is to say that the tone of is moving out of an ideas phase and into an action phase and this is what I will continue to share with you in the weeks ahead. To that end I have added a new widget to my sidebar that shows my weight loss to since I started tracking my food and exercise on

I have a lot to do to move the needle in this and my other buckets before I get back to ideas.

Wish me luck!



April 26, 2011

Right Back At It

Four Day Week!

It was a busy Easter weekend, and while it was great, and it was nice to spend some extra time with family and friends, I am glad that it’s over. In my journey of MEfurbishment, one of the most important things I have going for me are my routines. Much has been said and written about the routines of children over the years. I have come to believe that routines are equally important to adults too but certainly they are to me.

My level of awareness, regarding what contributes to stress and what alleviates it in me, has grown considerably over the past year. While I absolutely love holidays and special events, they also add more stress in my life because of their impact on my routines. Routine becomes a stress reducer in many ways because of its familiarity but also because it ensures that I am getting what I need to be happy and healthy. As long as my routine is set up with my MEbucket’s in mind, there is a dramatically positive impact on my happiness and well-being.

Our routines ensure that we have a balance of all of the buckets that we want to work on in our lives. Changes to these routines can sometimes swing a pendulum too far in the direction of one particular area. For example, I can very easily put all of my focus on family and friends and take time away from things like health, finances and creative endeavours. Coming out of a holiday weekend I can often feel like I have spent too much money and really need time to myself. In recent months I am also discovering that when I don’t prioritize my creative endeavours I really notice a difference in my energy and contentedness.

Going into this long weekend, I took a look at each of my buckets and decided how I would ensure I maintained the balance that I need in my life. Let’s have a look at how I did:


Going into Easter weekend I wanted to focus on two major things to ensure that I was prioritizing my health bucket.  I wanted to make certain that I kept up my meditation practice during the weekend. This is something that I can easily let slip on a long weekend and I really notice the difference in my level of grounded-ness when I meditate. The other key ingredient was healthful food choices. I managed to make both of these happen despite a visit from the Easter Bunny.


My tendency is to spend too much money at holiday times and I wanted to make sure this was not the case this Easter. Perhaps surprisingly, it’s not the holiday event itself where I regret my spending but in the other things I write off in holiday weekend cash dumps. Going out for meals, additional un-needed shopping sprees, and a desire to fill up my long weekend with additional events like, movies, concerts, museums and the like are all things that have derailed me in the past. This Easter weekend I was able to keep my spending in check which is a great feeling coming into the start of the week.


Normally the first thing to go during a busy holiday weekend, creativity was something that I was really focused on making sure it still had its place. A couple of things helped me out in that area. I wanted to make a new and exciting Vegan Easter feast, this being my first Vegan Easter. Cooking is always a creative experience for me because I rarely use a recipe as it is written. I will often use a recipe as a base and experiment with it until it is perfect for the MEkitchen.  I ended up with a delicious Carrot Coconut Bisque and a hearty Mushroom Quinoa Loaf. Next was time spent writing and taking pictures of my gastronomic fun to share on MEfurbish. The photography aspect of the recipe posts really got my creative juices flowing. I have missed photography and while I would not call the quick point and shoot stuff I did this weekend very creative, it really got me thinking about what I could do with recipes and photography in the future. I am really looking forward to working on this more in the months ahead.


There were a few ways that I made the environment a focus this weekend. With all its busyness it would have been easy to just pick up something like Tofurky instead of spending the time preparing my own meal, especially with the fact that I am the only vegan in my home. Taking the time to pick up bulk, and mostly local ingredients, saved on packaging and travel and making a large batch of food will save on energy costs in the upcoming few weeks as I enjoy leftovers. Another way in which I expanded on the environment bucket was to attend a local EcoExpo here in my home town of Ottawa. Any time I can educate myself and make new contacts I am making progress here.


Community is something that was fostered by the EcoExpo I was at as well. The ‘Green”  community as well the Vegan community both had a presence at the Expo and networking with these individuals and gaining awareness about the industry as a whole is helpful.  I also made a decision to attend a function of another community organization I belong too instead of one of the family events that I have taken part in every year since my childhood. The event I let go of  does not feed me in the same way as the function I chose. It was a hard decision to make, but one that I am glad I made in the end for my own peace of mind.


This was an easy one for me to work on. Spending time with family and friends, buying treats and gifts for my daughter, cooking, listening to tons of music, and spending lots of time writing are all things that I find fun. I was able to easily work these and more into the four days of the weekend.


Like fun, relationships are easy one for me to focus on within a holiday weekend. Spending time with family and friends works on these relationships by default. In looking for opportunities to take special action in working on key relationships I made a concerted effort to spend time with some of them that have taken a back seat lately. One area that may seem trivial but that was important to me was taking the time to send a few emails that I haven’t made the time to do recently. Out of all of the steps I took this weekend, this simple one, may have had the greatest impact on my mood, and serenity. Clearly, it was something that was taking up too much space in my head.

Even with all the work on keeping things balanced, things just seem to go smoother when the day to day routines kick back in. Spontaneity and routine used to seem like polar opposites to me, but what I have found is that my routines allow me to be spontaneous without feeling like I am taking away from something else. This is a big shift and an enjoyable one.



April 21, 2011

What The Bleep Am I Eating? Part II

Natural vs. Synthetic

In What The Bleep Am I Eating? Part 1 I shared my surprise at the list of ingredients that are found in a box of Kellogg’s All-Bran. Not knowing what some of these ingredients even are, and where others are typically sourced I decided to do some research in order to make an informed decision about what I am eating.

A few things are worth noting before we delve into the ingredients themselves.

  •  When a vitamin or mineral is added as an ingredient it can be added in its natural form or created synthetically. Just determining that the ingredient is vitamin or mineral does not mean it is “natural” or “healthy”. It is not a requirement in Canada or the US to label the source or call out genetic modifications.
  • Being a Vegan, I will call attention to the fact that labels do not show if a source ingredient is vegan or not, we vegans have to do some digging to determine that fact.
  • As a general rule, it is accepted (by everyone except large corporations and their proponents) that the less processing that takes place on foods the better.
  • When vitamins and minerals are added to products, it is often because these nutritional components were removed during processing.

The Low Down


I was surprised to find in my research that “Malt Flavouring” is often a form of hidden MSG used in consumer foods. It is called a flavour “enhancer” but many of the articles I read on its creation and use referred also to its addictive behaviours, a variety of health concerns, and the ability to make lesser quality food taste “better.”  If you would like to read more about the research I did, you can read here, here, and here.  In the end I have decided that I would be on the lookout for malt flavouring ion products and choose not to partake in eating them as much as possible.


These minerals are used as additives in many foods. I spent a fair amount of time researching both of these types of Calcium and was unable to determine any real concerns with either. I was also pleased to see that both are vegan.  You can see some additional information about their uses and sources at The Vegetarian Resource Group here.


This is Vitamin C and as is the case with any of the vitamin and mineral ingredients are of no concern and are in fact helpful to the body. One point that has become clear to me through some of this research is that there is no way to know with certainty that they are not sourced from genetically modified plants is to buy organic. For example if I was to purchase Natures Path Organic Smart Bran, I would know that the source ingredients were also organic unless otherwise labeled on the box.


The term “reduced” is not in reference to the amount of iron in the product but the process by which the iron was refined. As with the other mineral and vitamin ingredients, other considerations would be if the product is organic how much processing or refining takes place. For example, a cereal that has four whole grains and a resulting percentage of iron is quite different than a product where the grain is processed, manipulated, removed of nutrients and supplementary synthetic vitamins and minerals are added. In my world, the simpler, the more whole, and the less processed the ingredients are the better.


This is another name for Niacin which is a type of Vitamin B. In looking for natural sources of Niacin I can look to legumes and whole grains. Because only the “Bran” of the wheat is used in All-Bran it is higher in fibre but not whole grain and therefore processed.


Another synthetic B vitamin like Niacin. In this case, I could look to whole grain rice as a natural source, as well as the brain itself.


For the purposes of food production this B vitamin is sourced from fungus and/or bacteria. A more palatable alternative would be leafy green vegetables.


Folic Acid comes in both vegan and non-vegan forms typically in food production. I have heard through the Vegan Grapevine that the only way to know for sure if a producer uses a vegan (synthetic or fungal) source is to contact the company directly. Thankfully, others have gone before me and the accidentally vegan website by PETA has already established that All-Bran is in fact Vegan. They have done the legwork for me on this one.  Looking for a natural source? Look to mushrooms and green leafy veggies to get your fill.


Similar to others we have discussed above, this is a synthetic B Vitamin that occurs naturally in whole grains legumes, nuts, fruits, and vegetables


One of several names for Vitamin A, this can be both vegan and non-vegan in processed foods, in this case being vegan. It can be found in its natural form in milk, eggs, some fish oil but for vegans, “many orange and yellow vegetables contain a substance which is transformed in the body into the vitamin” as per The Vegetarian Resource Group.


Occurs naturally only in Animal Foods, but in this case is created synthetically.


This can be vegan or non but is often sourced from animal products for food production, it can also be created through fungus or synthetically.

So What Do I Do Now?

So what does this all tell us? Well I think it each of us something different as well all have different priorities and values. For me personally, it is clear to me that I would prefer other products to this one even though it is Vegan. I try to avoid making absolute statements, this just sets me up to fail later and creates an unhealthy feeling of restriction, so I am instead making a decision to avoid this product moving forward, where possible. If circumstances arise that make choosing All-Bran the best choice for me in that given moment, I am going to allow for that possibility. I think this is a balanced and grayer step in my health MEbucket.



April 2, 2011

Say It To Me Now

It’s Not A Musical!

I was goofing around with “Half Cherry” this morning and I very mistakenly fat fingered something which ended up sounding like the beginning to a song that I absolutely love. This song is actually one of the songs that re-inspired me to play the guitar. Say It To Me Now by Glen Hansard seems like a great song to learn early in my guitar playing journey because then original song is just guitar and vocals and for an aspiring musician with an inexperienced ear, it actually seems like it would be pretty easy to play.

Hearing this would be riff had me searching on Google to find the video, then searching for how-to’s on playing the song. My hopes were pretty high still when I watched Glen play in the video. One thing I noticed immediately was that there was at least a very small amount of picking in the song. That took a little bit of wind out of my sails but he was only plucking on the number six string so, I figured maybe I could make this work. Say It To Me Now is from the movie Once, a great film. Some might say its a musical, but I refuse to utter those words because of the imagery it conjures up. There’s no singing “can you please pass the corn” in this film, but lots of great music.

What Was I Thinking?

I found a how to play Say It To Me Now here, and then the anxiety started to build. What was I thinking? I don’t even own a guitar yet other than “Half Cherry” a bright red kid’s guitar with two strings missing. I quickly changed my tune though with this song and reminded myself that like everything else on MEfurbish, this is a process. I don’t have to be perfect. There is no finish line or time clock. This song at the moment is purely inspiration, and that’s just fine.

After letting my guard down considerably I was surprised to see that I was able to follow along quite a bit. It was quite enjoyable and I really do feel like I could play this song. So now that I have moved all the way up to step six or seven in my head, I’d better get back down to earth and keep going with step one and step two. Step one has been an effort to grow some calluses, and that has been going very well. I can really see the difference in the ease of holding strings, and my overall comfort level with a guitar in my hand. Step two is without a doubt the most important step of all – get a guitar!

Now if I could only sing like Glen Hansard….

Have a look and a listen below. Don’t forget to pop over to the MEmusic page to here this song and many more great tunes.



April 1, 2011

Are You A Tree-Hugger Too?

A Tree-Hugger and a Vegan

It’s partly the gift cards that I have received and partly the free wireless I use for blog posting.  I do stop by the local Starbucks most days during the week and the service, I must admit, is for the most part stellar.  They know my order well, Venti Pike for here, in a mug and a Venti Water for here, in a glass. Depending on who is working it can be delivered with smiles, rolling eyes or complete animosity.

This morning I came in to Starbucks for a coffee and some free wireless. They knew the order well and just verified that I wanted the same as normal.

“Sure that would be great; I will also have a fruit and grain bar” (the only vegan option on the Starbucks menu).

“I suppose you would like that on a plate too,” the Barista says sarcastically.

“Yes please”

“So are you a Tree-Hugger too, as well as a Vegan?”

“I do care about the environment that we live in, if that’s what you’re asking.”

As she kind of hmmmf-ed and gathered my order, the manager, nervously standing in earshot says, “The thing I love about Cindy* is that she has no self-edit…he-he.”

This is same Barista who told me asking for my oatmeal in a mug was a pain in the ass.  “You should try to wash oatmeal out of a mug!” I do, frequently. Have you heard of the universal solvent, it’s called water! Work’s wonders! It really shouldn’t be this difficult to give crap. No wonder I feel more at home at Bridgehead. I just wish there was one closer to home. I can’t justify using several dollars in gas and creating additional pollution to have a compostable cup and a little respect.

Starbucks is a large concern in reality. According to an article at sustainabilityissexy.coma report conducted jointly by the Alliance for Environmental Innovation and Starbucks found that 1.9 billion cups were used by Starbucks in 2000. In 2006, Starbucks reported that this figure had grown to 2.3 billion cups for use at their stores.”  That’s a lot of cups, and a lot waste, and a lot less trees.” So yeah, I guess I am a tree-hugger.

Bring a Mug!

I’m not perfect, I frequently forget my travel mug when I am out and about and end up getting a coffee in a paper cup. This usually brings a certain amount of guilt and mental gymnastics with it and I have decided that it’s really not worth the grief. I proclaim today that I will do my best to bring my travel mug with me in the car or forgo the coffee altogether.

I’d say that’s a pebble in the Environment bucket. Thanks for nudge Cindy.*

Check out MEmusic for a great post inspired song by Rush. The Trees has always been one of my favourites.



*The name of the Barista in question has been changed to protect the integrity of my future coffees.
March 31, 2011

Community Drumming Circle

Perfectionism and Procrastination

A sense of community, especially the community in which I live, has been something that I have wanted to foster for some time now. I find myself wanting to come up with the perfect solution, the perfect plan, the perfect event, and as is often the case, I end up not taking any action at all.

It’s only in recent months that I have been able to connect the dots on the fact that my perfectionism is linked a great deal to my procrastination. Putting things off until they feel perfect or until the perfect fit comes along has been a real detriment to my personal growth. I am making efforts to ensure that this does not hold me back during my MEfurbishment.

Get Out There!

As an exercise in taking action, just for the sake of taking action, I decided to give myself 10 minutes of reflection on what ways I could just “get out there” and get involved. I was surprised that I only ended up needing two. Recently I have adopted a vegan lifestyle.  There are a variety of ways that this fact will work itself onto the pages of MEfurbish in the future. In this case I thought of getting more involved in the Vegan Meetup in my area.  While this is something  that I expect I will do in the future, right now I want to try and choose things that I am hyper motivated to do. Fun and Music are always high on my list so I started to think in this way. This reminded me that recently while I was looking for a used Djembe on Kijiji someone replied that I should consider a drumming circle. He indicated that someone always has an extra drum to play on and I would meet lots of fellow drum lovers as well as sharing ideas and tips. That’s it!

A drumming circle is exactly about community. It’s not a drumming squiggle or drumming cubicles. It’s about getting to know and connect with people and sharing a common interest – in a circle. What could be more community sounding than that?  This morning I replied to that email and said that I would be super interested in coming out to the next event. I’ll keep you posted!

If you hear thumping and tapping in the weeks ahead, you never know I could be just around the corner.