Do Something Different This Valentine’s Day

We’re almost halfway through January already, which means that Valentine’s Day is just around the corner. Most couples have a set routine and, if that works for them, great! However, others might be finding that their usual Valentine’s Day options are getting a little stale and that’s the last thing you want on this special day.

Here are some ideas that might help you come up something a little different this February 14th:

Group Date

Most couples have a romantic dinner together at a favorite restaurant before coming home for some private time. However, instead, why not get together with other couples for a group date? You can do this in a restaurant or at someone’s home, making it a pot luck, BYOB event. Decorate, play games, have delicious, calorie-packed desserts. Think of it as a second Christmas in February. There will still be time afterward for the two of you to be alone.

Homemade Gifts

Instead of just going out to the department store and grabbing candy and/or a teddy bear, why not take some time in the weeks before Valentine’s Day to make something yourself? Think about what your partner really loves and create it for them. That shows a fare greater degree of care, dedication, and thoughtfulness than just choosing something anyone could buy at a thousand different stores.

Make Your Own Valentine’s Day

Want a table at your favorite restaurant on Feb. 14th? Hope you booked well in advance, otherwise, tough luck! Planning to go dancing on Valentine’s Day? Better get there early!

Crowds, crowds, crowds…for many couples, that is the antithesis of what Valentine’s Day is about. So be rebels and pick your own date! The 1st, 15th, 24th, 29th (where possible)…there’s no rule that says you can’t have your special day before or after the traditional one.

 

 

Is Your Cat Depressed?

Does your kitty seem rather listless and lacking in energy lately? The smart alecks among us will say, “How can you tell?” but cat owners can sense when their pets are not themselves. Cats may not spend most of the day bouncing off the walls, but when they are noticeably less active, this can be a cause of concern.

Sometimes this change in activity level is due to a health condition, so the first step is to book an appointment with the vet. However, it is possible for your cat to pass with flying colors, but still not seem right. If this is the case, here are some things you can try:

Re-Establish Your Bonding

If your cat is depressed, there is a good chance that she is not responding in the same way to you. In order to rekindle that enthusiasm, try bonding with her once again by doing things she enjoys. This can include playing (try introducing some new toys), grooming, or even just cuddling together.

As you likely know, cats cannot be forced into doing anything, so be gentle and try to let this happen as naturally as possible. And be patient.

Get Her a New Friend

Just like humans, cats can plunge into depression if they lose their children or a longtime friend. While you can’t force cats to bond, consider getting her a companion. This can make a world of difference, though the change may not happen immediately.

Consult Your Vet

Believe it or not, there are anti-depressants deemed suitable for use in felines. However, you will need to speak with your vet about getting them. Ask also whether they have any suggestions, based on both their experience with your pet and cats in general.

Do not ever give a cat an anti-depressant from a human’s prescription. These are much stronger than the ones for animals and could cause her serious harm.

Steps That Can Help You Control Your Anger

Anger is a basic human emotion, but not an especially desirable one. Sometimes it is unavoidable; or so it seems. People who get angry often usually have the capability to reign it in before an outburst occurs. However, due to various circumstances and psychological conditions, this is not always possible.

When anger becomes more than just a way to let off steam (or that process routinely gets out of hand), you should work on controlling it. We don’t claim that you will never lose your temper again after trying these steps, but you will be more likely to retain your composure.

Walk Away

Are there certain situations that inevitably leave you fuming? Try to avoid them and, failing that, get up and walk away. Anger is never a good state in which to make rational decisions. People have incurred great difficulty, and even ruined their lives by acting out while mad. Weigh the possible consequences and you will soon realize that whatever this situation is, it’s probably not worth the trouble. This is not being cowardly; it’s displaying common sense.

Short-Term Solutions

When we are angry, it is tough to think about possible repercussions. It is also difficult to consider the big picture. In such cases, you are better off going to a short-term solution that diffuses the situation and allows everyone to walk away before anything truly serious occurs.

Relaxation

It is usually not possible to just go lie down while you are mad, so learn some relaxation techniques you can do anywhere. Deep breathing is the most basic and easiest to do, but you can also find a quiet space and engage in some meditation.

For longest lasting results, see a therapist. They will not only have additional ideas on what can help you regain your balance, but will also discuss the issues that contribute to your anger. That way you are both dealing with the problem and, hopefully, solving it at the same time.

Dreading Your Next Business Meeting? Try These Tips!

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Meetings are a common part of most any business these days. They are important for keeping things organized, creating and discussing objectives, and ensuring that everyone is up-to-date on new developments both inside and outside the organization.

That said, not everyone running or attending meetings takes them as seriously as they should. Business meetings should not be off the cuff; you definitely need to prepare beforehand in order to maximize the time and get all of the agenda covered effectively.

Here are some tips on how to accomplish this:

Maximize Your Prep

Bottom line: do your homework! Know the agenda, know your part in the agenda, and be prepared to speak authoritatively on this subject. You will also need to answer any questions that might come up.

The agenda should lay out the amount of time you have for your presentation and questions, but don’t let a 15-minute time slot lead you to believe that not much preparation is needed. There is no way to know for sure just what questions could be asked of you.

Be Succinct

By the same token: be succinct and don’t run over your allotted time so that the whole meeting stays on track. Rambling on and on, and not being focused will result in people not paying attention, thus defeating the whole point of your presentation.

Pay Attention to Others

Just because you are finished is not a reason for you to doze off during the rest of the meeting. Chances are the other presentations will be relevant to your role and responsibilities as well. Take detailed notes and ask any questions you might have.

Follow-Up on Points Raised

Many meetings result in action plans being created. Make sure to do your part in them going forward and follow-up with other team members when necessary.

Night Visibility for Safety

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Walking, jogging, and biking on warm summer nights is a great way to exercise and a form of physical activity that you can continue doing into the fall. However, it is important that oncoming traffic can see you and this takes on an extra dimension as we get later and later into the year.

The sun goes down earlier and the nights become darker this time of year. That means drivers have even less time to see a cyclist or pedestrian, if they are not wearing appropriate clothing or have taken other measures to be seen.

Wearing light colored clothing or having a reflector or flashing light attached to your bike or clothing/shoes gives the sort of advance notice that allows drivers plenty of time to avoid you. Black jackets, shirts, and jeans may look cool, but they are completely inappropriate for people who will be walking anywhere other than sidewalks once the sun goes down.

For those of you who enjoy a little evening exercise, here are some additional precautions to take:

Know when the sun is going down
You can easily find out this information by checking your weather channel. If you don’t want to take the risk, plan your exercise time so that it is done and you are home before dark.

Parents: tell your children
Remember how carefree you were in your youth? You didn’t worry about letting safety get in the way of living in the moment and having a good time. Impress upon your children the importance of making sure they are visible at night. If that doesn’t work, consider limiting the amount of time they can be outside unattended. That will probably change their attitude.

Do your part behind the wheel
Remember to drive responsibly and carefully at night. Keep your eye out for cyclists and runners who may be jogging along the side of the road. Be sure to give them a wide berth when passing.

Blog Updates: How Often Do You Need New Content?

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Blogging really started taking the Internet by storm about a decade ago. It became a phenomenon for both people who wanted to express their creative side and those who saw it as a business opportunity. Some people are such prolific bloggers that they have new posts up several times a week, while others just post occasionally.

Some blog owners might be wondering, “How often should I put up new material?” That can vary depending on what you are doing and your goals.

Google likes active blogs

There are a number of different strategies people employ to get their website to show up high in the Google search rankings. One of the most basic is to provide a site that is useful and informative. In addition to looking at the quality of what you are putting up, Google also considers the quantity. You may have an excellent blog post that you put up once a month, but, high quality or not, it will not get you the same attention as posting five times as much material of slightly lesser value. If you want to rank high in Google, you need to update your blog often.

Businesses need to stay on top of the competition

That goes without saying in most every aspect of business, including the Internet. You not only need to keep an eye on the competition, you also need to come up with creative ways to best them. Concocting original, fun, and informative blog posts is an excellent way to accomplish that.

Do you post about recurring events?

A good way to create a loyal following is to post regularly about recurring events. However, this means that you must adhere to a strict schedule so that new posts arrive precisely when your audience expects them to. In other words, if you choose this approach, you must be disciplined and not let them down.

Don’t Let Frustration Ruin Your Day

 

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Have you ever gotten frustrated? I mean really, really frustrated? You almost certainly have because frustration is a very common emotion. Nonetheless, too much frustration can be a very bad thing. It can be particularly negative for your emotional health, which almost always also feeds into your physical health.

Are you finding that common bouts of frustration are seriously impeding your life? Here are some tips on how you can become calmer and more centred.

Practice avoidance

Do some other people or situations consistently leave you frustrated? Sometimes changing strategy and behaviour can help to alleviate this, but in the end, the best way to eliminate it definitively is to be avoid it altogether. This can require some planning and even seem rather awkward or rude, but think about the alternative. It will be worth it in the end.

Consider other options

There are a few situations in life where there is only one option to end a problem. Alternative options may require more time, planning, or money, but may actually represent the best choice in the end. If avoiding frustration is your main goal, do not be afraid to take the longer and harder route because it will probably be the more rewarding choice in the end.

However, if you are experiencing frustration in the moment, the best strategy is to step back and wait until you feel calmer. You will be able to think more clearly and make the best choice at that time.

Make changes

Once you have decided on the new course of action, proceed to make the changes. Even if everything does not work out immediately, you will likely begin to feel the benefits right away because you are being proactive and hopefully starting a new chapter. Gauge the results and make changes as needed. Good luck!

How Media Consumption Has Changed

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At the risk of sounding 100 years old, things sure have changed when it comes to media consumption in the world. Up until the late 1970s, if you wanted to watch something on television, you looked it up in the TV Guide and then sat in front of the TV when it aired. The arrival of the VCR changed that, allowing people to record things and watch them later. The VCR gave way to PVRs, which made the process even easier.

In the early 2000s, streaming also became a viable and increasingly popular way to consume media. Netflix, which had previously been a DVD-through-the-mail rental service, launched its streaming platform which became so popular, it dominated Internet use during certain periods in multiple countries. With its low cost, original movies, and wide selection of television shows, Netflix has become a dominant way that many people consume media these days.

Streaming services like Netflix also inaugurated what came to be known as binge watching. Instead of watching one episode a week of a program, people would instead wait for multiple episodes to appear on the site and then watch them one after another. In doing this, some people would spend entire days parked in front of Netflix. They could also now get through an entire season of a program in only a matter of days, rather than the months it used to take. This can be a fascinating and rewarding way to watch a program, especially if it is serialized and has a running storyline.

On the downside, services like Netflix and the new cable universe, which offers literally hundreds of channels, are encouraging people to become even more sedentary, increasing the obesity epidemic. So, there is more to watch than ever, and more ways to watch it, but we also need to take more responsibility in how we consume media than our parents did.

Why It’s Good to Be Productive

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You have no doubt heard the phrase “busy as a bee.” In fact, it may have haunted you since your childhood. It is sometimes presented as a positive thing, but just as often, a sign that someone is not maintaining a good work/life balance.

It is entirely possible to overdo it on your job, and, alas, many people do, resulting in physical and mental health issues, and downtime at work. However, that is not to say that slacking off is the best thing for your physical and mental health; quite the contrary. It is better to be busy and productive. Here are just a few reasons why:

Learning New Things

Very few of us live lives where we do exactly the same thing every day at home or on the job. Thus, it stands that the busier you are, the more you are exposed to new things, hence the more you will learn on a daily basis.

Brain Building

In addition to that new learning, you will also be stimulating your brain, which is always a good thing. Keeping mentally active not only makes you smarter, various scientific studies have shown that it can help to prevent forms of dementia, such as Alzheimer’s.

Vacations are Even Better

Some people worry about the work they will return to after their vacation, but productive people already have everything well in hand. They can spend their time on that Hawaiian beach worrying about nothing more than a possible sunburn.

Your Boss Will Notice

It can be tough to find employees who are not only qualified for their positions, but will also remain engaged. If you are both, and maintain that level of enthusiasm and output, that work will get you noticed and make you more likely to receive a raise and other forms of advancement.

 

 

 

Enjoy the Wonders of Fall

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Another summer is almost behind us. It seems like the older I get, the faster summer vanishes. This year, those on the west coast of Canada enjoyed a scorcher, while those of us in the east received so much rain, we practically needed an umbrella with us at all times.

As a child, I hated fall. Not so much because of the changes it brought, but because it meant summer had ended and we were back at school. As an adult, I still find myself a bit wistful that another summer has passed. However, I am now also better able to appreciate the joys that autumn brings to us each year.

Thanks to all of that Ontario precipitation, this has been one of the lushest and greenest summers in memory. That means that those fall colours should be even more vivid than usual. If you have never gone on a fall hike and really taken the time to enjoy the forest and those multi-coloured carpets of falling leaves, be sure to do that this year.

There is also something very soothing about the weather this time of year. Gone are those humid days where you feel like you are walking through a wall of water. Also thankfully absent are those long, dry, parched times where it is a chore, not a pleasure, to be outside. I love a good fall breeze. It makes the air seem fresh and allows me to indulge in my favourite outdoor sports without needing eight layers of sunblock.

Fall is often seen as the beginning of the end of the year, and it is. However, for me, at least, it doesn’t have the negative connotations of winter. I view autumn as a time of change and transformation. If this is the beginning of a mourning period for the passing of summer, at least it’s a really lovely one.