How to Overcome Shyness

No two people are alike and that includes personality types. Some people are naturally outgoing and can talk quite easily to strangers, while others are more withdrawn and have trouble socializing. There is absolutely nothing wrong with being shy, but shyness is still often seen as a burden that people want to overcome.

Are you shy and do you have trouble talking to people and making new friends? Here are some tips you can try to overcome your shyness:

Don’t Advertise Being Shy

You don’t have to walk into a room and say, “I’m shy.” Chances are, unless you say that, no one will come to this conclusion immediately. If you see someone who looks interesting, consider striking up a conversation. Think about a subject that the two of you might have in common as that helps to break the ice. However, if you don’t feel like talking to anyone at the moment, wait a bit and see if that changes.

Ignore Your Inner Critic

Shy people often have an inner voice that impedes their progress by telling them that they should avoid certain people and situations. That causes the shy person not to take chances and they will avoid talking to certain individuals even though they do not necessarily know that the conversation might go badly.

The next time this happens to you, ignore that voice and try to strike up a conversation. If it goes well, think about what you did that made the difference and try this approach again with someone else.

Don’t be Discouraged

Even if your encounter went badly, don’t give up. The most outgoing people in the world have bad conversations and don’t always say the right things. This doesn’t bother them because they know that, at the end of the day, it’s not that important.

 

Picking the Right Birthday Gifts for Your Parents

Are you the type of person who dreads birthdays? Not your own, but other people’s birthdays? Yes? Is it because you find it so difficult to choose the right presents?

Some people put very little thought into the gifts they buy, while others agonize over their decision because they consider birthdays to be a special occasion and they don’t want to disappoint anyone.

Choosing gifts for your parents can be daunting. If you don’t have a lot of time to be with them these days, it can be tough to know what to get. Also, they are your parents, not the guy down the hall at work you speak to once a week, so this matters.

Out of ideas? It’s tough to go wrong with any of these:

Photos

Have some nice photos that you think your parents would like? Have good quality prints made and framed. If you have children, we have yet to hear of any grandparents who are upset to receive pics of their grand kids.

Sound Machines for Sleeping

The older we get, the less quality sleep we seem to get. Have your parents found it helpful to have soothing sounds playing on their phone or stereo while trying to sleep? Sound machines perform the same function, but with far more options. They can also be easily taken on vacation.

Smartphone/Car Battery

Everyone’s phone is constantly running out of juice, so portable batteries are in demand and not that unique. However, there are now some on the market that can actually jump start your car should the need arise. A perfect addition to anyone’s car kit.

Voice Assistants

Depending on how tech-oriented your parents are, a Google Home or Amazon Echo can be a wonderful present for their home. Then again, even if they aren’t, you can hook one up and then let the system deal with their needs going forward. Beats getting that call where you have to explain which cord goes where.

Doing These Things Everyday Can Help to Make You Smarter

We would all like to be more intelligent, but not many of us have the time or opportunity to go back to school and continue our education. However, there are little things you can do every day that will help to make you smarter. It may not be the equivalent of getting a Master’s Degree, but every little bit helps, so why not take a few minutes each day to do one or more of the following?

Listen to Podcasts

Most of us have to commute to and from work everday, and that can sometimes take an hour or more of your time. Rather than just listening to music during that time, try some podcasts. News, opinion, how to…there are many different kinds out there that will help to add to your knowledge base.

Drink Green Tea

Most people load up on coffee to get them through the workday, but the only way to stay sharp is to keep drinking it. Green tea has less caffeine, but it also has l-theanine, an aminoacid that increases alpha brain waves, which aid both concentration and relaxation. So you get the brain boost equivalent to caffeine without the resulting anxiety and edginess.

Read More

We spend so much of our time staring at screens, be it social media or television, that many people are not reading as much as they used to. Read a good book; not only will you learn things, but the brain stimulation is much better for your cognitive processes than passively watching TV.

Spend Time With Smart People

This might seem intimidating, but you will almost certainly learn new things from such interactions. Also, you will have to up your game in order to contribute to a conversation, so that means more intense levels of concentration and an increased willingness to absorb new info.

Relaxation is Important for Everyone

Are you the type of person who feels like you are always running a mile a minute? Modern life can be very fast-paced and unrelenting at times. Responsibilities pile up: work, children, extended family…it can often seem like there are no hours left in the day to do anything other than finish what needs to be done.

Such a pace and lifestyle can inevitably take a toll on a person. Humans weren’t designed to have such a frenetic life for extended periods. We all need to have some downtime in which we can recharge.

Do you find yourself never having enough time to relax? If this will help motivate you: it has important health benefits!

Accelerated Aging

You may be getting things done, but it might also be costing you your youth. Lack of adequate relaxation causes aging on a cellular level; relaxing helps to slow aging.

Heart Health

Constant stress and lack of relaxation often leads to high blood pressure, which is bad for your heart.

Mental Health

Our brains need to relax and re-charge. If are frequently on the go, or in a near-constant state of worry, you are more likely to develop debilitating conditions like anxiety disorder and depression.

Tension Headaches

Do you suffer from frequent headaches? There can be a number of reasons for this, but inadequate amounts of relaxation can also play a part.

Nausea

Do you find your stomach to be “tied in knots”? This is usually the result of stress and anxiety. Medication can help, but it is better to simply learn relaxation techniques that will allow you to calm down and feel better.

Insomnia

Can’t sleep? Lie in bed tossing and turning with your mind constantly turned on? Inadequate sleep is detrimental to your health and daily performance; relaxation can help to lull both mind and body into a state where you can get the quality sleep we all need.

Are Canada Geese Getting Out of Hand?

We see them all the time: a row of Canada geese slowly sauntering out into the road, while drivers in both lanes sit and fume while the birds inch across. The geese are also nearly ever-present in parks looking for insects and hissing or charging at anyone who gets too close to their babies or nests. If for some reason you don’t see a goose one day, you might well step in the fecal mess they leave behind.

The Canada Goose is one of our national symbols and a protected species (learn more about them here), but are less respected south of the border. In several areas of the United States, it is legal to hunt these geese out of season when the population is considered to be excessive.

Like most animals, Canada Geese are especially vigilant during nesting season and there are many reports of people being attacked, even though they were not intentionally disturbing nests. The birds have posed a continual problem at the University of Waterloo campus, which even has its own Goose Watch website, but they can be a much more serious threat to aircraft.

Most city-dwellers co-exist amiably with wildlife, but Canada Geese seem to be pushing their luck at times. Their aggressive tactics and damage potential exceed typical annoyances, like skunks and raccoons, in the eyes of some citizens. It’s not just on this side of the pond either; even some UK residents are saying they have had enough. Not everyone feels that way, however, and some are expressing distress over the way the birds are being culled.

What is your take? Have you ever almost had an accident in your car or on your bike because of Canada Geese? Do you find their feces to be a continual annoyance and do you worry about the associated health hazards?

Fire Safety Tips for Your Home

There have been some terrible fire tragedies in the news lately. In some cases, it was the fault of the building materials or other factors beyond the control of the residents. However, many fires result from situations or neglect inside the home that could have been avoided through due diligence.

Here are some fire safety tips for your own home. Take a few minutes to read the following and make any changes needed to help ensure the safety of everyone involved:

  • Smoke detectors. Make sure you have smoke detectors outside of each bedroom and on each level of the home (that includes the basement and attic). Follow the manufacturer’s instructions when installing and cleaning the device. Check the batteries at least once a month and replace the unit every 5-10 years.
  • Fire extinguishers. These are a safety asset for any home. Make sure to buy one that has been approved by a nationally recognized testing laboratory. Also, choose a size that you can easily carry. The number on the unit indicates the amount of fire you can put out (the higher the number, the greater the amount).
  • Power cords. Make sure that cords are in good working order. Frayed cords can give a person a shock, and can also start fires. Also, make sure that any cords connected to devices that can cause harm or start a fire are not within the reach of children. Never break off the third prong of a plug so that it will fit an old outlet. Do not place extension cords under rugs or behind baseboards. Unplug any heat producing products when not in use.
  • Safe use of electrical products. Do not place heat-producing products near flammable materials. Make sure that lampshades are not too close to light bulbs. Never leave any cooking appliances unattended. Do not bring laptops or smartphones to bed with you because they contain lithium batteries that have the potential to ignite.

Should I Put in a Fire Pit?

There is something about camp fires. Even people who don’t like the camping experience will often talk fondly about the time they spent sitting around the fire. It is a great place to have lengthy, fulfilling conversations and almost everyone enjoys roasting hot dogs and marshmallows. Maybe it is because of some primordial connection to our ancient ancestors, but warming ourselves by an outdoor flame and also using it to cook just seem like basic activities for a human being.

Fire pits are a way you can enjoy this in your own backyard. They are quite inexpensive to build and can provide a wonderful place for you to finish off an evening with friends and family.

Fire pits can be permanent or portable; for our purposes, we will stick to the former. When choosing your stones, make sure to pick ones that can withstand the heat. Some stones will eventually splinter when subjected to such heat on a regular basis.

You can also choose between gas and wood. The former is convenient, but somehow not as traditional and welcoming. The downside is that you will need a good supply of firewood.

Check your local regulations when it comes to where you can place the fire pit. It must be a certain distance from your own home and that belonging to your neighbour(s). It just makes sense; sparks can sometimes travel on the wind and the last thing you want is for a roof to catch fire. Avoid pine and cedar as they tend to produce sparks.

It is also a good idea to have some outdoor lighting near the pit. The fire may be bright, but the area around it will remain dark. You don’t want people tripping and hurting themselves while on their way to or from the pit.

Remember to be patient when starting your fire. Never use flammable liquids!

Be Careful With Your Home Security Code

Home security services provide a welcome sense of relief for many homeowners. I know that if I plan to go away for certain period of time, there is little need to worry: if someone does break in, they will almost certainly set off the alarm and the police will be there soon.

However, your security system will not help you if someone outside the family knows the security code. This was recently made clear to neighbors of mine. The family (we’ll call them the Mitchells) went to Europe on a trip for four weeks, but their youngest son saw this as an opportunity to impress some girls at his job. This teen (we’ll call him Max) decided to give the family home code to these girls and told them to go ahead and use the house for a hangout.

I’m not sure how Max thought this would be a good idea. Well, clearly he didn’t think at all. Suffice to say it was not. The girls moved in and turned this expensive home into a party hangout. The Mitchells had asked friends a few streets over to occasionally check on the place, but these people had been busy and forgot for the first two weeks. By the time two of these friends stopped by, it was too late: the girls and their partners had been sleeping in the Mitchells’ bed, things were broken, there was food and spilled liquor on the upholstery, and cigar butts littered the floors.

The friends called the police and the teens were evicted, but the Mitchells’ privacy had been invaded to a terrible degree. Needless to say, Max was in big trouble and is grounded for the rest of the year.

So, learn from the Mitchells’ mistake: if you doubt whether your children can be trusted with the house code when you are not around, change it before you depart.

Looking for a new BBQ?

Summer is almost upon us and that means you can now add some variety to your cooking. There is just something about outdoor grilling that brings about the best in meat. However, you can’t just use any old grill: you need a quality BBQ that will hold up and deliver the consistent and evenly cooked meat that provides best results.

So who knows what is the best bbq to buy? Well, like any product, that depends on what you are looking for. Do you have a large family that you plan to grill for repeatedly over the summer months? If so, then you should seek out the best performing gas grill that can hold up for years to come. Are you single and do not have many guests? Then you can probably get by just fine with something more modest.

The best time for prices is the off-season, but you can still find some good BBQ deals if you are willing to do the work. That means going online, researching models, and comparing prices. That may seem like work, but it almost always pays off and can save you a lot of money.

Make a point of also talking to friends and family. What models do they have? Are they happy with them? Where did they buy them? Did they get the BBQ for a good price? Is there anything they don’t like about that particular brand or individual model?

Once you have made you choice, be sure to use your BBQ regularly. And if you are that person we mentioned earlier who doesn’t entertain much, here is your chance to invite friends, family, or potential partners over so you can impress them with your outdoor cooking skills! Remember, summer only lasts a few months in Canada, so take advantage of it!

When To Spend And Save On Expenses For Your Home

repairThere are certain times in our lives when all we want to do is save.  Then there are times when we would rather spend vasts amount of cash to get something done that we just don’t feel like doing.  I’m here to outline which times to spend and which to save in terms of expenses for your house.  Every home owner knows that at some point, something will happen to their home that will require maintenance or repair work.  That’s just life and you can’t change it.  However, there are things you can do to prevent this so that you’re not spending all your hard earned money on new flooring every year because your pipes are leaking.

The time to spend on your home is when you’re buying a house.  Do whatever renovations or repairs you need to do BEFORE you move in.  Make sure that your home is exactly the way you want it to be and perfect on the day you move in.  After moving into a house, you won’t want to change things around, so before is the time to renovate and make it yours.  The time to save is if you need repairs on your home.  However, this depends on what type of repairs.  If it’s paint chipping off, you can repair it yourself.  If a door gets off its hinges or the carpet starts coming unglued, look online for ways to fix these small things.  When it comes to more serious issues like window cracks or air conditioner breaks, this is the time to hire professional help.  Professionals can do easy air conditioning repair for your home, whereas it would take you hours, and you don’t know if you’re doing it right.  When you spend money on hiring professionals, you know that you’ll only need to do it once because they’ll take care of it.

There are many times when you want to spend but should really save and vice versa.  Knowing when to spend and why is important for your finances.  Make sure that when you do decide to hire someone, that they have great quality service.  Always take the time to do extensive research for when you need to spend the big bucks – the more research you do, the less likely you will be to overspend.