Saturday, February 28, 2009

La la la line of credit

The $125 registration fee for the meditation workshop I mentioned previously is still resting in my slush savings account. Each comment that came in suggesting I save my money further convinced me to hold on and wait for something better. Thanks to all who helped me make my decision.

As it turns out, I am home with the nasty cold/cough that is whipping its way around these parts so I would have had to cancel anyways.

My monthly paycheque was deposited into my chequing account on Friday, and since I am home ill (Bean is at his dad's till tomorrow) I have been working away at my spreadsheets so that I can report my spending and saving for the month of February. This month will look similar to January's report, which is good news.

Each month I try something different to excelerate my debt reduction, and with this cheque I decided to keep only the most basic of expenses handy and plug the rest into my line of credit. Last month I pulled expense money out and put it in my slush account, but this month I put it all in the line of credit, with the intention of living as cheaply as possible for the next couple of weeks. If it gets too difficult I can pull a little bit back out to get me through the month. The benefit of this is that it will marginally reduce the daily interest rate in my line of credit, which is about 4% higher than the interest rate of my slush account, and worth tackling ASAP.

So instead of making the minimum payment of $250 on the line of credit (with the intention of topping up later on in the month), I dumped $700 into it. When I updated my sidebar I was pleased to see that I have paid 20% of that debt already this year. Go me! Now, if I have to pull $100 back out later on I will without shame, but I'm looking forward to seeing how far I can go on the little bit I left out of the line of credit.

I may also go back to cash only for the month of March, but I'm still undecided on that. Getting to the bank machine to withdraw is such a pain, what with meter parking and all. This town needs more drive-through bank machines - NOT! (Actually I think there are only two, but not my banks).


Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Asking for your help again

This time without a poll.

I have an opportunity to attend a meditation retreat this weekend. I will have to use $125 from my savings to cover the registration fee.

At first I was excited because it is in my town so I will not have to spend any money to cover travel costs. And then I started thinking that $125 is a lot of money for anything at this time.

Then I started analyzing the program. It is not residential, which means that I will return home on Friday and Saturday nights, and it doesn't begin until Sunday afternoon (which will give me a chance to get to church). I will have to bring my lunch on Saturday or the organizers have suggested "lunch at local restaurants." The teachings will be led by a minister, based on the work of Pema Chodron (of whom I am a fan).

In the past I attended three meditation retreats. They were residential, meaning I stayed immersed in the environment for the entire program. They were mostly silent, even throughout the meals (which were all provided, and amazingly vegetarian). Each retreat was led by Buddhist practitioners.

I was going to register, but hesitated when I started thinking I should save my money for a more expensive, all-inclusive residential retreat. I got a lot of satisfaction out of them before. I'm also hesitant about having the retreat broken up across three days the way it is currently organized, because I am accustomed to total immersion in a retreat. And there's something about travelling to another city to immerse myself in the experience (I love road-tripping). I convinced myself that I could learn more about Pema by re-visiting her website, or reading the books I already have.

But then I'm afraid I might be passing up an opportunity to learn, and to engage in a community of like-minded people. We may not share the residential experience, but I may make meaningful connections regardless. But do I want to spend $125 to do so?

I can't decide, and they're waiting for an answer. Help.


Karissa it is

Thanks to all voted :)

Karissa won, with ten votes
DFK came in second, with four votes
KISS had one vote

To maintain my individuality I dropped the Dee, for now.

And to celebrate, I share a short film that I enjoyed as a kid.

OK, watching that again just made me realize what a strange little eleven year old I was :)


Monday, February 23, 2009

Eight hours to go

Eight hours before my poll closes. Feel free to vote if you haven't already. The pressing issue at hand is dare I change my (*cough*pornstar) name or do I keep?

On another note, I've deleted my feed and followers stats. I'm too self-conscious to keep stuff like that around. I watched my feed go down two readers and then up one in the past two days, and today I lost two followers. Stuff like this can make me a little crazy :(


How's the apartment?

It's been almost two months since our move from the two-bedroom house to the one-bedroom apartment. Now that we're here, I can't believe I stuck it out for so long - eighteen months! - in that money-pit. To be nice, it was a lovely house, and I really liked it, but I can't say it was the most enjoyable experience living there.

It was 100 times better than the apartment we rented previously. I can't even go into how horrible that was. The house was clean, self-contained, and the rent was quite cheap ($900 a month). We moved in there in September 2007 and the landlord installed a brand-new high-efficiency furnace in October. Still, the heating costs were high, and I can't even imagine how much previous tenants were paying with the old heating system. As well, there was a monthly hydro bill, which was never under $100, even in the summer. I think it was high because I was using the dryer all year round, having never bothered to install a clothing line across the backyard.

As I was on my own with Bean, I really needed a lot of help keeping the place livable. The clothing line is just one example. The neighbours on either side of us seemed to enjoy watching me mow the 200 foot back yard, even though I was in obvious agony because my arms were too short to pull the engine cord, and the grass was so thick that the mower would conk out every five minutes. I was rarely offered any assistance, and ended up visiting the chiropractor weekly with a back injury.

Similarly, last winter was the worst for snow, and I was out there almost every day shovelling The Longest Driveway Ever. One day I thought I was going to pass out from exertion, but I had to keep going and get Bean into the car and up to daycare, and myself up to work. The neighbours came to help shovel a couple of times, but for the most part were content to sit on the porch, smoking and chuckling at my pain and bad temper.

So far, the apartment is great. It really is. It's quiet and very warm and very bright. Bean is happy to share a bed with Mama again, and enjoys having the living room as his toy domain. Every thing is in working order, and if anything breaks, I just have to put in a notice with the property management and it is supposed to get fixed right away. No more lawn care or snow shoveling for me.

The best part is how much money I have saved in the past couple of months. I have a savings account AND I am chipping away at the debt. Payday is like christmas morning every single month, because I have so much more leftover without having to give it all to utilities companies each month. At this rate, my consumer debt will be paid off in less than two years, and then I can begin tackling my student loan. If I qualify for DRR, I can instead start aggressively saving up for a property of my own.

Not looking forward to snow and lawn care though. I'll have to have someone come around to help out, or maybe a I'll have a tenant!


Sunday, February 22, 2009

Solidifying our Divine Connection

From Gururattan K. Khalsa, Ph.D

"As we cultivate our Divine Connection, we must grab on to every hint from the Universe that we are being supported. Acknowledgement is how we build trust and faith. Gratitude is how we solidify our connection. Our ability to allow establishes our willingness to receive divine assistance.

The universe works through us in our acts of service and attitude of kindness. We witness our alignment through synchronicity. Devotion and gratitude evoke the Divine embrace."

Saturday, February 21, 2009

QuickTax vs. UFile

*This is not a sponsored post*

At this time next week I will be happily entering the information from my T4 into one of the online tax preparation programs, which I have narrowed down to Ufile or Quicktax. In anticipation of this event I have already played with both programs, using the Year-to-Date column on my December pay stub.

I have filed with UFile for the past three or four years, without a hitch. Setting up my online form was simple, because they already had all my information on file from before. I had to update my address and add a couple of pages but because I am already familiar with the set-up - which hasn't changed in years - it was ok.

Setting up Quicktax is very similar to setting up UFile. The layout is quite different, which took some getting used to, but the information requested is exactly the same. In the top-left corner is a little screen that showed an ongoing balance, which was quite cool. As I entered my information throughout the form the little screen would update itself and show me what my refund was going to be. At one point it was about $200 more than what UFile had quoted, so I was almost sold on switching over. After making some adjustments the refund quoted turned out to be exactly what UFile quoted, so I knew I was on the right track.

Here's some PROS:
- After logging in, UFile opens the tax return form in a different screen, which feels more secure
- UFile has a very comprehensive left-hand sidebar that is very easy to navigate through: clicking to different points in the return is extremely simple
- UFile is WAY faster than Quicktax, speed wise. With Quicktax I felt like I was waiting too long after every entry into the form
- Quicktax has that handy little screen that shows the running balance of the refund
- Quicktax has a couple of extra features such as the RRSP Optimizer slider, which was fun to play with, as well as helpful tips for maximizing your refund (did you know that you can get a tax credit for your almost three-year-old by depositing the Child Tax Credit in a bank account in his name? Something to look into)
- UFile informed me when, playing around with RRSP contribution amounts, I had actually over-contributed (removing my urge to transfer my EF into my RRSP - it would have been too much!). Quicktax would have let me over-contribute to my heart's desire
- UFile has a handy search bar (ironically in exactly the same spot that Quicktax has the snazzy balance screen) that is actually very helpful, opening new screens of comprehensive tips (I searched for 'rrsps' and got a whole screen of helpful advice). Quicktax, as far as I could see, has only a Live Community, where much like Yahoo questions, is a Q & A amongst people using the program. I did not find this helpful at all because it was full of one-word, misspelled answers provided by other users rather than real tax advice from "experts"

The price is about the same for both programs: UFile's $15.95 vs Quicktax's $14.99. As a PC Financial customer I could have purchased Quicktax for $11.99, but I wasn't aware of the promotion until after I had already set up my registration.

Conclusion: I'm going to stick with UFile. I like the continuity of carrying my information over from year to year and not having to start all over again. Plus, it's a much much quicker program and way more detailed. Quicktax had that cool little balance update screen, and a couple of helpful suggestions at the end, but it took way too long to get through the program and every time I had to make a change to something it would make me go through the entire process over again. There might be a way to get around this but I couldn't figure it out.

Quicktax is a good program if you haven't tried an online tax preparation system in the past. Since I have already established myself with UFile without any problems, I am going to stay loyal for this year.


Friday, February 20, 2009

Self-esteem spending and debt

The other day I was chatting with a woman at work. We always talk about her daughters, whom I have never met. The elder daughter is a year younger than I, and had a great job working for the government. But it was the younger daughter that my work-friend used to talk about the most, and I noticed long ago that this particular mom had a favourite, and maybe wasn't aware of it.

She mentioned that the younger daughter, only two years out of school, had already paid off her student loan, and was currently help her older sister pay off hers. The elder daughter, after ten years in the workforce, still owed over $30 000 in student loans. My friend said that younger daughter would "work ten jobs pumping gas if she had to" in order to get out of debt, while her older sister made over $60 000 a year and had hardly paid a cent towards her own debt.

What struck me the most is a comment she made about two girls, coming from the same family, raised the same way, and turning out so differently.

As I walked away to my car I thought about this comment. I noticed years ago that the way my friend talked about her younger daughter, you would think the sun rose and set on her. She never had much to say about the older daughter, who in my opinion had done well for herself by finishing her degree and getting a job with the government.

It made me think again about the psychological aspects of debt. Maybe the elder daughter is really lost, because she grew up watching her mother favouring her younger sister. Maybe she has accumulated other debts with shopping, vacationing and partying, in order to ease the pain of the lack of support from her mother.

I don't know any of this for sure, I'm only guessing. It's always been apparent to me that my friend talks highly of her younger daughter. I don't think it's fair to say that the two girls were raised the same way. My friend practically sneered when she told me her elder daughter owes as much now as she did ten years ago.

I'm not trying to blame the girl's mom for her high debt. I think it's important for both parents and children to understand the real reasons for self-esteem spending. Once we have this self-awareness, it becomes a little easier to deal with the problem.


Thursday, February 19, 2009

Tapping into the Rhythm of Winter

Winter focused foods and other tips for staying upbeat and healthy throughout the winter months

By YogaSpace Clinic Naturopathic Doctor, Meghan Bauer

There is no changing the natural rhythm of winter (for now at least). It is long, dark and cold, and it is not surprising that year after year our health reflects this. Increased anxiety, depression, unhealthy weight gain, continuous, long lasting colds and numerous other stress and cold related concerns are common place for many Canadians.

Aside from activities involving ice, could there be something advantageous to the cycle of winter that we could tap into; and are there ways to support this natural cycle?

Here are a few tips for re-framing the winter deep freeze and keeping you healthy and upbeat throughout it.

Consider a purpose to the winter months; could there be a reason/challenge to why you have chosen to live in such a chilly place?

Winter is the end of all seasons. Take the winter months as your inward and reflective months of the year. Try a new activity or hobby to support this phase; (knitting, building a family tree, exploring a new musical genre).

In Traditional Chinese Medicine, (TCM), to unify with winter, one must emphasize the yin principle to become more receptive, introspective, and storage oriented; "one cools the surface of the body and warms the body's core. Cold and darkness drive one to seek inner warmth."

Winter is supported by the water element and thus the kidneys are the organs most affected by wintertime. "The forces of winter create cold in Heaven and water on Earth. They create the kidney organ and the bones within the body…the emotion fear, and the ability to make a groaning sound."

Warm hearty soups, whole grains, and roasted nuts support the water element. Dried foods, small dark beans, seaweeds, and steamed winter greens fortify the kidneys in the winter. Cook foods longer, at lower temperatures and with less water.

Bitter and salty foods are appropriate for winter since they promote a sinking, centering quality which heightens the capacity for storage. It is said in TCM that the bitter flavour has the capacity to 'enter the heart'. Small regular amounts of bitter foods in winter nurture deep inner experiences and preserve joy in the heart. Bitter foods include; lettuce, watercress, endive, turnip, celery, asparagus, alfalfa, rye, oats, quinoa, and amaranth. Salty foods include; miso, soy sauce, seaweeds, salt, millet, barley. However, use salt with care as an excess will weaken the water element.

Focus on rest and nurturing your inner warmth; baths, essential oils, warming foods, and yes, slower more inward focused exercise like yoga.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Strategizing my taxes

Inspired by recent posts by Saver Queen and Fabulously Broke in the City, I spent a few hours the other day contemplating moving some or all of my Emergency Fund (EF) into my RRSP account. Canadians have until March 2nd to contribute to an RRSP and use it towards our 2008 tax return.

I logged into and played around with some of the numbers. I found that I can add only $500 more to my RRSP without making an over-contribution. That $500 will also give me an extra $40 in my refund.

It hardly seems worth it for the $40, but it might be worth it for my future. $500 compounded with the almost $5000 I currently have invested might make a difference to my retirement (FB - I need one of your fancy equations to figure it out :)). Transferring $500 from my EF still leaves me with $500 for emergencies, and I will be able to bring it back up to $1000 when I get my refund in April.

Any thoughts on this? Comments and suggestions are always very much appreciated :)


Tuesday, February 17, 2009

I googled myself (and a poll)

I googled myself and the first hit was a porn star named Larissa Dee. Wow.

In order to not be mistaken for this brazen goddess (or to imply that she was an inspiration), I'm thinking of changing my screen name.

Karissa isn't the name I was given at birth, but I do think it is pretty.

I added a poll to my left-hand sidebar, under my About Me box. Please do take the time if you have it to vote. I encourage new suggestions as well as the ones I provided: please comment here if you have any.


Monday, February 16, 2009

When is withholding the truth really lying?

I have an opportunity to be dishonest - I think - and I want to sort it out here first.

It's about my student loans. Currently I am on Interest Relief (IR) and I hope to remain in this program until I have my consumer debt paid off (end goal is end of 2010). After 60 months on IR I can apply for a program called DRR (Debt reduction in repayment) that will knock a large amount from my principle owed, as well as reduce my monthly payments to hopefully less than half of what I am expected to pay if I am not in the DRR program.

The part where I lie is when I file this year's taxes. Because I took two half courses to finish my degree in 2008 I will receive a T2202A slip to use as a credit on my tax return. I was thinking of not putting this credit in my return, so that there is no real paper trail showing that I was in school this year.

Why would I do this? Because the DRR program stipulates that a loan recipient has to be out of school for the entire 60 months. As far as my research shows, I cannot take even one course during this time period because I will then become ineligible for DRR.

Part of me says, don't file the T2202A because I don't have to if I don't want to. It's not required by law is it? I assume that the government is not going to care if I don't add things that will actually improve my refund. Also, if I file, the two half-courses will be forever linked to my SIN, which means that the information will be accessible to the DRR people in a couple of years when I want to apply.

The option is to file the slip, get the extra amount added to my refund, use it towards my LOC, pay off consumer debt in two years, then begin paying student loan debt for another three years (forget about DRR).

But then the whole debt thing really feels never-ending, and not so encouraging.


Saturday, February 14, 2009

DailyOM: A Bad Apple

Sweetening A Sour Apple
When A Bad Apple Spoils the Bunch

Because life requires that we interact with different personalities, it is not uncommon for us to encounter a situation where there is one person whose behavior may negatively impact the experiences of others. Someone who is loud and crass can interrupt the serenity of those who come together to practice peace. A disruptive worker can cause rules to be imposed that affect their colleagues’ professional lives. A team member who is pessimistic or highly critical may destroy the morale of their fellow members. And one “bad apple” in your personal life can be a potent distraction that makes it difficult to focus on the blessings you’ve been given and the people who love you.

There may always be people in your life who take it upon themselves to create disruption, foster chaos, stamp out hope, and act as if they are above reproach – even when, in doing so, they put a blight on their own experiences. But you don’t need to allow their negativity and callousness to sour your good mood. Often, our first impulse upon coming head-to-head with a bad apple is to express our anger and frustration in no uncertain terms. However, bad apples only have the power to turn our lives sour if we let them.

If you can exercise patience and choose not to respond to their words or actions, you will significantly limit the effect they are able to have on you and your environment. You can also attempt to encourage a bad apple to change their behavior by letting your good behavior stand as an example. If your bad apple is simply hoping to attract notice, they may come to realize that receiving positive attention is much more satisfying than making a negative impression. While you may be tempted to simply disassociate yourself entirely from a bad apple, consider why they might be inclined to cause disturbances. Understanding their motivation can help you see that bad apples are not necessarily bad people. Though bad apples are a fact of life, minimizing the impact you allow them to have upon you is empowering because you are not letting anyone else affect the quality of your experiences. You may discover that buried at the very heart of a bad apple is a seed of goodness.

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Friday, February 13, 2009

Transfer and transfer again

I transferred $100 from my savings (not the TFSA EF) into my chequing account just in case the support cheque did not come in the mail today. I'm driving several hundred kms this weekend and did not want to use my credit card to pay for the gas and any other expenses. I also have to buy a birthday present for a seven-year-old I haven't seen in over a year before I get on the highway.

The support cheque did arrive and rather than transfer the $100 back into savings I made a bold move to instead transfer it into my line of credit. I was pleased to update my sidebar and calculate that I have already paid off 9% of that debt this year. I have a budget projection for the next couple of weeks and from my spreadsheet I can see that I will be able to transfer at least another $250 into LOC this month, plus another $70 or so onto the credit card. I'm such a geek: I'm looking forward to making these payments!

I miss my little Bean tonight while he's gone to his daddy's. I miss him whenever we're apart, but more so today because we've had such a couple of great weeks together. I'm making an effort to be more positive and peaceful at home and it's really making an improvement in our relationship. He even told me he missed me before he got on the bus yesterday. I wish he didn't have to go so far every week but I guess it's a good time for me to get stuff done around here.

Tomorrow I'll pick him up and we'll head to my Dad's for the birthday party. We'll stay overnight and then visit my Gramma on the way back home. On Monday we have a Stat holiday and I think we might check out some of the events around town. There's an arena that promises skating and bouncy castles for $10 per family. I do hope the castles will be divided appropriately by age. I don't want my little guy bounced on by bigger kids.

What are seven-year-old girls into these days? I don't want to be cheap but I don't want to spend more than $20 either. I'm not even sure if this is possible.

Karissa Dee

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Money musings - and a thank you

I had several positive and encouraging comments to my post about my parents, and I'd like to express a sincere show of gratitude for all the support. I haven't yet figured out what I should write as a follow-up, or if I should just leave it be ... I have a couple of ideas and I hope to be able to sit down, figure them out, and express them here.

Boy it's busy at work these days. It always is during the second semester, especially because we are compiling all the applications for the September intake.

It's a slow week for me financially. No extra money coming in, just the support cheque and sometimes that's a few days late. I'm comfortable with living on the small allotment in my chequing account, but I told my dad that I would bring Bean out for a visit on Saturday. It's a three-hour drive, so if the cheque is late I will have to either make a transfer from my savings, or use my credit card. I'll pay it off as soon as the cheque comes in and is safely deposited in my chequing account.

I have been thinking about further reducing my expenses. My car/apartment insurance just went up again and is now just under $100 a month. I looked into a company that will give me "up to 25% reduction" for allowing some kind of meter installation that will track my safe driving habits. Not really a problem for me because I hardly ever speed and drive cautiously, especially when I have my little guy in the car. I'm hesitant to switch because I am sold on the idea that my current insurance provider will give me a better rate for being a long-term customer. I'm afraid that a new company will quote low to get my business, and then increase the bill on me.

I'm also thinking of cancelling the internet plan on my cell phone. It costs only $15 a month and I kept it because I opted not to get cable internet for the apartment, which is about $35 a month. I wasn't counting on having a reliable wireless connection available (and I feel a bit like a thief when I use it) so I kept the extra plan on my phone so that I could still check email and facebook whenever I need to. I can also check this blog, but it's not as user-friendly for cell phones. It's such a luxury I know, but apparently the plan I have is not available anymore: $15 for unlimited IM and web. If I cancel it, and then want to restore the service sometime, I would have to buy a more expensive plan.

Finally, I have been looking at a goal on my to-do list, and have researched three or four different yoga teacher training schools. Tuition will be $3000 to $4000 for 200 hours. I was going to wait until 2010 to implement this goal into reality, but I keep going back to look at the options. I think it's because I have a fear that my job is going to be compromised in all the budget tweaking, or maybe I'm just hearing too much about un-positive economic news. I am really trying not to pay attention and just trying to live status quo, but it's so pervasive and hard to ignore.

Karissa Dee

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Book giveaway!

The lovelies at are giving away more than twenty books in a draw on February 15th. Comment here to enter the draw and share the love :)

Karissa Dee

Saturday, February 07, 2009

DailyOM: Blessed

As Blessed As You Want to Be
The Power Of Staying Positive

Our thoughts are not simply ethereal pieces of information that enter our minds and then disappear. The words and ideas that we think can shape our lives and drive us toward success and happiness or failure and distress. How you think and feel can have a profound effect on your ability to recognize opportunity, how well you perform, and the outcome of the goals that you’ve set for yourself. When you maintain an optimistic outlook and make an effort to harbor only positive thoughts, you begin to create the circumstances conducive to you achieving what you desire. You feel in control and few of life’s challenges seem truly overwhelming because it is in your nature to expect a positive conclusion. An optimistic mind is also an honest one. Staying positive does not mean that you ignore difficulties or disregard limitations. Instead, it means spending time focusing only on the thoughts that are conducive to your well-being and progress.

Positive thinking dramatically increases your chances of success in any endeavor. When you’re sure that you are worthy and that achievement is within your grasp, you start to relax and look for solutions rather than dwelling on problems. You are more likely to imagine positive situations or outcomes and disregard the thoughts related to giving up, failure, or roadblocks. What the mind expects, it finds. If you anticipate joy, good health, happiness, and accomplishment, then you will experience each one. Thinking positively may sound like a simple shift in attention – and it is – but it is a mind-set that must be developed. Whenever a negative thought enters your mind, try immediately replacing it with a constructive or optimistic one. With persistence, you can condition your mind to judge fleeting, self-defeating thoughts as inconsequential and dismiss them.

It is within your power to become as happy, content, or successful as you make up your mind to be. Staying positive may not have an immediate effect on your situation, but it will likely have a profound and instantaneous effect on your mood and the quality of your experiences. In order for positive thinking to change your life, it must become your predominant mind-set. Once you are committed to embracing positive thinking, you’ll start believing that everything that you want is within your grasp.

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Thursday, February 05, 2009

Stuff about me - a meme

Pinched from Northern Living Allowance:

1. Started your own blog
2. Slept under the stars
3. Played in a band
4. Visited Hawaii
5. Watched a meteor shower
6. Given more than you can afford to charity
7. Been to Disneyland
8. Climbed a mountain - Doi Suthep, Chiang Mai, Thailand (it has stairs, does that count?)
9. Held a praying mantis
10. Sang a solo - four lines in a play I was in about six years ago
11. Bungee jumped
12. Visited Paris
13. Watched a lightning storm at sea
14. Taught yourself an art from scratch - bass guitar
15. Adopted a child
16. Had food poisoning
17. Walked to the top of the Statue of Liberty
18. Grown your own vegetables
19. Seen the Mona Lisa in France
20. Slept on an overnight train - from Bankok to Chiang Mai
21. Had a pillow fight
22. Hitch hiked
23. Taken a sick day when you’re not ill
24. Built a snow fort
25. Held a lamb
26. Gone skinny dipping
27. Run a marathon
28. Ridden in a gondola in Venice
29. Seen a total eclipse
30. Watched a sunrise or sunset
31. Hit a home run
32. Been on a cruise
33. Seen Niagara Falls in person
34. Visited the birthplace of your ancestors
35. Seen an Amish community
36. Taught yourself a new language
37. Had enough money to be truly satisfied
38. Seen the Leaning Tower of Pisa in person
39. Gone rock climbing
40. Seen Michelangelo's David
41. Sung karaoke
42. Seen Old Faithful geyser erupt
43. Bought a stranger a meal at a restaurant
44. Visited Africa
45. Walked on a beach by moonlight - with my mom in Turks and Caicos
46. Been transported in an ambulance
47. Had your portrait painted - from a photograph - does that count?
48. Gone deep sea fishing
49. Seen the Sistine Chapel in person
50. Been to the top of the Eiffel Tower in Paris
51. Gone scuba diving or snorkeling
52. Kissed in the rain
53. Played in the mud
54. Gone to a drive-in theater
55. Been in a movie - my friend Becky's first film for film school, and I was about eight months pregnant
56. Visited the Great Wall of China
57. Started a business
58. Taken a martial arts class
59. Visited Russia
60. Served at a soup kitchen
61. Sold Girl Scout cookies
62. Gone whale watching
63. Got flowers for no reason - but really, isn't there always a reason?
64. Donated blood, platelets or plasma
65. Gone sky diving
66. Visited a Nazi Concentration Camp
67. Bounced a cheque
68. Flown in a helicopter
69. Saved a favorite childhood toy - I have a bunch stored at my dad's
70. Visited the Lincoln Memorial
71. Eaten Caviar
72. Pieced a quilt
73. Stood in Times Square
74. Toured the Everglades
75. Been fired from a job - I like to think it was mutual
76. Seen the Changing of the Guards in London
77. Broken a bone
78. Been on a speeding motorcycle
79. Seen the Grand Canyon in person
80. Published a book
81. Visited the Vatican
82. Bought a brand new car
83. Walked in Jerusalem
84. Had your picture in the newspaper - as one of a bunch of us at a protest
85. Read the entire Bible
86. Visited the White House
87. Killed and prepared an animal for eating
88. Had chickenpox
89. Saved someone’s life
90. Sat on a jury
91. Met someone famous - does the Rev. Horton Heat count?
92. Joined a book club
93. Lost a loved one
94. Had a baby
95. Seen the Alamo in person
96. Swam in the Great Salt Lake
97. Been involved in a lawsuit
98. Owned a cellphone
99. Been stung by a bee
100. Read an entire book in one day

Karissa Dee

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

How to balance life and work - part two

The following list a continuation from yesterday's and is from the Holistic Health and Education Centre that I mentioned the other day. There is no author on the handout, and I am merely transmitting the information, not taking credit. If you would like more information on the Centre and the people who look after it, please email me at karissadee at debtfreekid dot com.

6 - Pace yourself: maximize your effectiveness to make time for all of your important priorities. We all play many roles in our lives and must make sure we are the best at the ones that are most important to ourselves.

7 - Say no to the unimportant: set priorities on the things that matter most and say 'no' to the things that matter least.

8 - Take care of yourself: sometimes the things that suffer in our busy lives have to do with our own personal health. For example, fast food is a convenient time saver, but can lead to health and weight problems. Find out ways to improve and maintain personal health and wellness.

9 - Get a checkup: in order to maintain balance in your life, it's important to stay in touch with your physician. Is it time for a physical, and what kinds of questions and tests should you anticipate?
(Karissa's note: preventative health care is the most effective way to stay healthy and well and self-awareness is most important)

10 - Stop being a workaholic: if you have already found yourself in an addictive pattern with your job, it is time to get out of that habit and commit more time at home. Learn the warning signs of workaholism (K: there's that self-awareness again).

Karissa Dee

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

How to balance life and work - part one

The following list is from the Holistic Health and Education Centre that I mentioned the other day. There is no author on the handout, and I am merely transmitting the information, not taking credit. If you would like more information on the Centre and the people who look after it, please email me at karissadee at debtfreekid dot com.

1 - Find your passion and live it each day: do what you love and love what you do. Work to live NOT live to work.

2 - Start having a family night: modify work schedules, set aside other demands and spend the evening together. The family night concept works. Children need their parents' attention and guidance, and parents will benefit from positive interactions.

3 - Eat together: eat at least one meal a day together.

4 - Find a family-friendly workplace: some workplaces recognize that their employees are real people with real needs - that they are 'humans' not just 'human resources.' Identify and select an employer that will be friendly to your family commitments.

5 - Simplify your life: life tends to get pretty complex, especially for parents trying to balance so many demands. Simplify your life and try to make more time for the things that are really important to you.

Karissa Dee

Monday, February 02, 2009

January spending

I finalized all the tracking for my January spending, and I'm pleased to report that I am right on target. I way overspent in a couple of categories, but made up for it with spending shortfalls in other categories.

Here's a brief:

$0 (paid first and last in December)
Food/House (budgeted $200) $150.68
Apt./Car insurance $96 (on target)
Car gas/oil (budgeted $70) $152.31 - way over, due to an oil change and two trips to the big city (an extra 600 kms)
Phone (budgeted $90) $121.05 - way over, because I wasn't watching my daytime minutes over the xmas holidays
RESP (budgeted $40) $39.20 (on target)
Life insurance (budgeted $49) $48.73 (on target)
Misc. spending (budgeted $100) $310.10 (sickeningly over budget, but the Kiva loan is in there)
Line of credit (budgeted $500) $500
Credit card (budgeted $100) $48.57 - under budget, but I used $47 to top up my RRSP account
Emergency Fund TFSA (budgeted $800 from rent not spent) $1000 - proudly over budget!

Total spent $2914.29 ($918.72 in expenses and $1995.57 in savings/debt reduction)

February goal: $1440 expenses, $1050 savings/debt reduction

Karissa Dee

Sunday, February 01, 2009

Rules for Empowerment

As a believer in natural, holistic, alternative and universal healing strategies, I had the opportunity to visit a new Holistic Health and Education Centre near where I live.

I picked up a few handouts and today I wanted to share one of them here. It's a list of principles by which I have been making a real effort to practice.

Rules for Empowerment

- Stop trying and start allowing

- You and your own care must become a priority

- Stop trying to manage the universe

- Stop gossiping and get your nose in your own business

- Have a vision that gets you out of bed

- Add gratitude 24/7

- Accept things as they are (you don't have to like it, just stop resisting and accept it)

- Trust that the Universe is abundant and will provide

- Acknowledge yourself and your gifts daily

- Do not make yourself responsible for the happiness of anyone but yourself

- Know that you are the only one that can make your life great

What do you think?

Karissa Dee