Brandy’s Entries

No.103

9th Oct 2017

Practicing Gratitude this Thanksgiving

hand lettered

Every October we gather around a table with our friends and family to eat and drink for Thanksgiving. It’s a holiday that has evolved into, for a lot of us, a time to reflect and practice gratitude for everything and everyone in our lives that we are grateful for.

I was explaining to my four year old daughter the importance of knowing how truly lucky we are here in Canada. I have grown up in an environment where I have more than enough food on the table, safe and tasty drinking water, a roof over my head and my daughter will know she is being raised with the same privileges. It’s important for my family to talk about what we are grateful for and to remind ourselves of this daily with a practice of gratitude. I think starting this practice, even though she is young and can’t fully understand the concept, is a valuable lesson to teach her.

I hope you had some time to sit and reflect too. Whether you just did it by yourself in quiet silence with a cup of coffee or maybe by writing in a gratitude jourmal, whatever you chose to do it’s meaningful and part of living a conscious life.

I created this print above to share with you all to show you my gratitude.

Happy Thanksgiving!

No.102

25th Jan 2017

Bell Let’s Talk: Mental Health

Bell Let's Talk

Today in Canada it’s Bell Let’s Talk day, it’s a day to discuss and bring awareness to mental health and the stigma that comes with people struggling. I am one of those people, since I was a teenager I have had bouts of depression that have followed me into adulthood. I’m hoping that by sharing my story that it will help others to shed the shame associated with depression and other mental illness, so they can get the help they need. You are not alone, we are in this together.

I am an open book, ask people who know me, I’m a sharer. I don’t hesitate if someone I know is dealing with mental health problems, in fact I’ll  jump right into action to offer advice, an ear to listen or just give a big hug. If you need a shoulder I am your person, BUT when it comes to dealing with my own struggles with depression I have a very difficult time sharing and asking for help. It’s the loss of control and the shame that follows me around whenever depression hits and that causes me to shut down, go down the rabbit hole and isolate myself.  It’s easy for me to get lost in my darkness and become worse. It can be even harder pulling myself out of it because to me depression feels familiar and although it is painful I sometimes can’t pull away from it, it’s like an old friend visiting again. Depression for me is sitting around feeling sorry and being hard myself, it’s thinking the worst about almost everything and it’s assuming it will never get better. It’s isolating because no one wants to be around me and I don’t want to be around them because I’m afraid of how I’ll appear and I’m prone to speaking negatively. That’s why we need to bring more awareness and help lift the stigma that makes me feel it’s my fault that I can’t snap out of my crappy mood, it’s so much more than just a bad mood, it’s a complete way of negatively thinking about myself and the world around me. It’s an illness that requires my attention and care; daily.

So what do I do to protect myself from the cloud of depression? I have to take care of myself, it’s regular self care routines that keep my mind and body healthy. I thought sharing what I do might help someone else out there struggling. These are things I do fairly regularly but I also recommend seeking a professional if you are in a really bad place, for example it’s starting to affect your concentration at work, your sleep, your relationships or definitely if you are thinking of hurting yourself. What worked for me is going to my family doctor, not to discuss my depression but to just a get a referral to a counsellor. Unfortunately in my experience family doctors aren’t equipped to help out too much and trying to talk to mine just resulted in me going home feeling discouraged because she only had 10 minutes and minimal skills to offer as help.

Yoga

I practice yoga a couple times a week and I find it helps me destress and slow down the chatter in my head. Exercise helps with keeping serotonin & good hormone levels up and adrenaline & stress hormones levels lower (which make dealing with stress much more difficult).

Meditation

I do morning and sometimes evening meditations (not everyday but I’m working making it a daily habit), it’s 15-20 minutes of focusing on breathing and releasing thoughts to help slow down my mind chatter. I use an app called Calm, which is expensive but for me it works and I use it.  Calm has both guided and unguided meditations with different categories to chose from such as Focus, Body Scans, Loving-Kindness, Forgiveness, Walking Meditation, Sleeping, etc. I love the variety of meditations so I can tailor it my moods and needs.

SAD Blue Light Therapy

I’ve been using my Phillips goLite Blue for several years now as a way to combat the winter blues. Seasonal Affective Disorder is caused in the fall and winter months when we don’t get enough sunshine. Light therapy helps with my energy levels and I use it every morning, including when I worked in an office. I explained to my co-workers that it helped with my mood and energy levels which makes me better abled to do my job well.

Talking to a Professional

Talking to someone that is trained in mental health is a great tool to see what’s going on in my head. It takes a lot of courage for me to go see a counsellor but just like going to see the doctor about an illness, going to see a professional makes sense. I think if more people talked about their experiences and discussed going to a therapist, the fear that most people feel (including myself) would lessen. If you aren’t sure about seeing someone but you need help, I read and use this workbook

Getting Outside

Sometimes if I’m feeling down or my thoughts are getting the best of me a good walk outside will do wonders. I especially feel good after a walk in the forest, being in nature and not around the busy city noise helps clear my mind and bring perspective to what’s going on. Focusing on breathing also calms me down and is especially important for me if I’m feeling anxious or stressed, it will lower all those Fight & Flight chemicals that are in my body.

As a part of Bell Let’s Talk Day it is important to get on social media to promote the cause. Bell donates money for every text, tweet, Facebook post, etc. Go to Bell Let’s Talk for more information on what you can do to raise money and to get involved in bringing awareness to mental health issues. 

No.101

1st Dec 2016

Christmas Time is Here Playlist!

Christmas Time is Here

Yay it’s DECEMBER! I love Christmas time and it’s December 1st so that means it’s time to go to our favourite Christmas tree lot to pick out our family Christmas tree. It’s become a family tradition to go to the same family run Tree Lot on Arbutus & 8 Ave here in Kitsilano, they always remember us and help us pick out the best tree.

Holiday Cards Styled

Decorating the house for Christmas is such a special time, our daughter is 3 1/2 and so she’s really excited for Christmas this year. So I wanted to share a fun holiday playlist with you that I made on Spotify for you to listen to while you decorate your tree and house for the holidays. It’s got classic Christmas songs that transport you back in time, Bing Crosby, Ella Fitzgerald, Nat King Cole and it also has some of my new favourites by The Shins, She & Him, Jann Arden, and Michael Buble.

Hope you have a wonderful beginning of December and that you enjoy this playlist! Christmas Time is Here.

 

No.100

28th Nov 2016

Featured on Global BC News

Advent Calendar Blog

I’m so excited to share that this past weekend my Christmas Advent Calendar and Tree Display were featured on Global BC News at Noon in a segment featuring Etsy Ambassador Joy Pecknold to showcase local Vancouver Etsy designers! Check out the segment HERE and see mine and other cool holiday decorations all done by local Etsy Vancouver designers.

Last Christmas I made a similar Advent Calendar last year for my own personal use and I thought other people might enjoy it as much as I did so I went to work improving the design and then making available on my Etsy shop. Each day is designed with a custom hand lettered number for 25 days counting down to Christmas. Also included in the design are winter scenery photos from my own personal collection that are on two sides of the pyramid so you can spin them around to either feature the number or the photos. I had to improve the design of the Advent Christmas Calendar because last year’s version had to be glued together and then ripped open to get the chocolate out, not ideal. The new design features a poke open bottom that folds together without glue so when you open it the chocolate/candy/toy falls out into your hand, easy peasy.

There’s still time to order a calendar or even better if you live in Vancouver, Cadeaux Bakery in Gastown has them available for purchase and then you don’t have to worry about getting it time.

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas!

Advent Calendar Blog2

No.99

17th Nov 2016

Etsy Shop Open for Business!

Christmas Advent Calendar 2016

I finally took the plunge and set up an Etsy shop! I am both excited and terrified because now my work is out there in the world. As my husband keeps telling baby steps when starting an online shop, soI have started with my absolutely favourite holiday CHRISTMAS! I have small collection of holiday cards and a new and approved Advent Calendar now available on my Etsy shop.

I have plans on creating more fun designs for upcoming holidays, birthday and celebration cards. We’ll see how it goes and where this takes me, but for now I’m going to enjoy the feeling of completing a goal I have had for a long time now.  Tis the season to celebrate!

Take a peek at my Etsy shop and tell your family & friends.

Holiday Cards Styled