Tag Archives: New Year

Question of the Month: How do you embrace a new way of thinking?


It’s been a tough year. That seems to be universally agreed upon if my Facebook, Pinterest and Instagram feed can be relied upon.

Clearly, we can point to so many specific things worldwide that made 2016 tough, but for me personally it was a bit more intangible than that. I could never quite place my finger on what was wrong, I just couldn’t find a way to feel right. And believe me, I tried. I signed up for the gym classes and faithfully went for awhile. I ate right, faithfully for awhile. I took me time, set goals for myself, worked hard and played hard. But mentally, I don’t think my head was ever in the game.

So, leading up to 2017 I found myself taking profound sighs of relief that the year was almost over and a new start could begin. I had this belief that my mindset would magically change and I would be so much better equipped to follow through with my plans and goals. And then I read a novel that made me shake my head. And immediately after I read two quotes on Pinterest that made me shake it again.

Why do we put so much pressure on ourselves to change? To be something better, lose weight, figure our shit out… immediately. Here’s my advice:

I’ve been tasked to answer the question ‘How do you embrace a new way of thinking?’ and to me that seems to be the best answer. Let it go. Let go of the immense pressure you put on yourself, your year and your future. Let go of the guilt, the weight, the disappointment. Let go of the idea that everything must be just so.

Because it will, eventually. It just may not be the way you originally thought. Expect change. Expect that things won’t go the way you planned. Expect that you will still find a reason to live, laugh, love and embrace life- even with it’s imperfections. Expect yourself to be, and allow yourself to be- who you want to be in that moment. I’ll leave you with this thought as it’s had a profound impact on me when I believe I needed it most this New Year.

Year End Motivation: Move Forward, Not Backward

“Don’t agonize, organize”

Florynce “Flo” Kennedy was known, among other things, for her biting wit, intelligence, and ability to incite and organize protest in the 1960s and 1970s civil rights and feminist movements. Among her famous quotes is the above, and this:

“I’m just a loud-mouthed middle-aged colored lady with a fused spine and three feet of intestines missing and a lot of people think I’m crazy. Maybe you do too, but I never stop to wonder why I’m not like other people. The mystery to me is why more people aren’t like me.”

The story is that this is what she said after she organized a mass public pissing (erm, urination) at Harvard university in 1973, to protest the lack of female bathrooms.
died in 2000, but her words live on, and so should her methods. I kind of like her idea of “making noise” and “rattling your cage door”. This past year has battered a lot of people emotionally. In the grander scheme, it has been another year of war and political turbulence, where we’ve seen the relentless pummelling of parts of Syria and the most disheartening return to fear and loathing in politics with the U.S. presidential election. In Niagara, it has been another year of economic stagnation that presents challenges for individuals living on the edge and the organizations (such as the YWCA) that work on their behalf.

What Progress?

Many moons ago, when I was in university, I recall a political philosophy professor telling my class he wasn’t so sure about human “progress”. He was sure about scientific progress, and ever so grateful for advances in medical technology, but progress in human nature? That is what he wanted us to read on about, ponder, and determine for ourselves. It is, for me, a nagging doubt that surfaces in times of strife or crisis. Are we better humans than our ancestors? Despite our supposed sophistication, have we learned anything?

The hind-end of 2016 left a lot of people anxious about the future and fearing a resurgence of racist and sexist ideals from the past. In North America, Trump’s ascendency seemed to embolden a lot of haters. In the U.K. and Europe, far-right ideas seemed to drown-out good-will and love. A lot of people were and are demoralized. Have we really forgotten our history and the brutal, blood-soaked lessons of the past? Are we moving into a new age of dystopian futility where people believe hate is right and good? Is this our era of De-Enlightenment?

I hope not. I don’t want to go there. And I’ve got work to do (with others) to help ensure we don’t. Flo Kennedy advocated grand acts of rebellion, but just as importantly, small acts of resistance, to bring about change. She clearly had faith in human progress and believed in moving forward. As she said:

“the biggest sin is sitting on your ass.”

Reflecting on 2015

Being tasked to reflect on 2015 when I still can’t believe that it’s no longer 2015 is proving to be a little mind boggling. I mean, the old saying that the older you get the faster time flies finally, really just hit home. (Oh. My. God. I’m officially old.)

I’ve never liked making New Year resolutions because I’m: 1) Way too hard on myself; 2) A realist; and 3) A really, really good procrastinator. That’s not to say that I don’t set goals for myself, it’s just that I know that most of those things take time and are usually at the top of my list each year anyway.
I recently saw a really beautiful idea on Pinterest that I decided was going to be my focus for the year. Each time something special, fun, amazing—something that you are grateful for; something that you just appreciate; something you don’t want to forget—happens to you, you write it down. Write it down and place that memory in a jar (or a photo album, etc.) And on the eve of the New Year you take a few moments to read them.

How lovely is that? I can’t imagine a better way to begin a New Year…by reflecting on all the good things that have happened during the last one. Now here’s just hoping I can stop procrastinating long enough to actually write these things down 😉

Happy New… Changes!

2015; New Year, New Changes!

Our Bloggers have been hard at work behind the scenes to come up with new stories, new content and now, new features! This month we’re excited to launch three new regular posts to our Y’s Women Blog:
Monday’s Creative Corner where you can come to find recipe, DIY, or any quote or poem that inspires us to be CREATIVE!
Friday’s Friday Finds posts will be something one of our Bloggers would like to recommend; a new restaurant, a book, movie, or product we love!
Lastly, we want you to know that we’re real women, with real opinions and stories, so we’re introducing our monthly Getting to Know You feature. We’ll pick 3 of 5 questions to answer that relate to our theme of the month. We would love if you weighed in and answered them too.
To kick us off, here are January’s Getting to Know You questions about Happiness!


If you could choose one word to describe yourself, (and only one) what would it be?

HOPEFUL (printed in all capital letters, and in the brightest of colours found in the crayon box)

List five things you couldn’t possibly live happily without.MyGarden2

In Order: My Family, My Closest Friends, the Sunshine, My Garden, and A Sense of Humour.  Everything else, I consider a bonus!

Finish this thought, Happiness is…?

A heart filled with gratitude.




Which of the four seasons makes you the most happy? And why?

Summer, because the days are long and warm and everything from getting dressed to travelling (with the exception of gardening) requires less effort and forethought. Summer passes quickly, so I appreciate the long sunny days (even when they are humid), fresh produce, sounds of crickets and cicadas, and everything else the season brings. There’s also spectacular thunderstorms to watch over the lake, and fireflies in the backyard (or sometimes, magically, millions of them in the Niagara Glen). 

What do you do to change a bad day around?

It depends on what constitutes a bad day. Sometimes its a negative or fear-filled interpretation of reality and that’s something that I can work on (as opposed to getting devastating news, which oddly I don’t think about when I think “boy, this is a bad day”). So, If I don’t think about it as “I am having a bad day” and reframe it as a rough morning, or something like that, I can work on making it better. Often, I go for a walk or a hike. I may start out feeling anxious or frustrated about something but an hour of walking in my neighbourhood can make me wonder why I was all worked up (or sad or disconsolate) in the first place.

Finish this thought, Happiness is..?

So many things. But not always easy.



If you could choose one word to describe yourself, (and only one) what would it be?

Optimistic. While I freely admit that I am one who can easily become stressed out and bogged down, I’m also one who tends to look on the brighter side of things and can usually find some optimism for most situations.

List five things you couldn’t possibly live happily without.

My family and close friends

My memories

Personal photographs/mementos

Moments of peace and quiet


Finish this thought, Happiness is…?

Sitting down at the end of a long day in a clean and organized home relaxing with my husband and son—glass of wine in hand! 🙂




n608437755_584356_6494List five things you couldn’t possibly live happily without.

  1. Family
  2. Beer
  3. Music
  4. Faith
  5. Sunshine

What do you do to change a bad day around? 

Vent. Cry. Laugh. Eat chocolate cake. Or chocolate cookies. Or both. Turn up TNT by ACDC and turn into dynamite in the living room. Do my dance routine to the “YMCA” tune in the living room (although in my version, it’s YWCA of course).

Finish this thought, Happiness is…?

…feeling loved.

…a hot, moist double chocolate chip cookie.

…a cold beer on a hot day.


Which of the four seasons makes you the most happy? And why?

YWCA picture

SUMMER! It’s almost always sunny and I can go outside whenever I want without worrying about wearing a jacket, scarf, gloves, etc. I also don’t have to worry about temperatures dropping later in the day and getting sick from it if I don’t have warm enough clothes on. I also love that everything is in full bloom; trees and flowers line the gardens in the neighbourhood, birds are singing, and people just seem happier in general and that makes me happy! Towards the end of the season, if it gets cold enough, the leaves start to change colours which is beautiful too.  

What do you do to change a bad day around? 

On a bad day, I look up really great movies to watch! It doesn’t even matter what genre the movies are, as long as they’re really good. It gives me a chance to live somebody else’s problems and struggles as well as their happier moments; movies really put my own issues into perspective! 

Finish this thought, Happiness is…?

My reason to live!


rachaelList five things you couldn’t possibly live happily without.

My family, a hot cup of tea, Jane Austen’s novels, naps and peanut butter.

Finish this thought, Happiness is…?

Winding down at the end of the day by beading (making jewllery) on the couch!

What do you do to change a bad day around? 

1. Call my Mother. 2. Chase a little black ball around a squash court (and sometimes hit it a little extra hard!)



marIf you could choose one word to describe yourself, (and only one) what would it be?

The one word that I would use to best describe myself is SURVIVOR! In spite of everything I have lived through, I still get up every day and keep moving forward. I continue to better myself through education and commitment.

List five things you couldn’t possibly live happily without.

The 5 things I couldn’t possibly live happily without are: my family and husband, reading and collecting books, regular visits to the beach, my writing and music.

Which of the four seasons makes you the most happy? And why?

Summer is my favourite season because I feel and look better. The sunshine tints my skin and reflects my Italian heritage. I don’t look pale and pasty, like a plant that wilts and loses colour when they don’t get enough sunshine. My arthritis and fibromyalgia isn’t as painful in the warm weather so I am more active. I have more energy in the summer and participate in more activities when the weather is warm. I am happier all around in the summer months. I truly believe I would thrive in a warmer climate like California, but I still make the most of my life year round regardless of the weather.

What do you do to change a bad day around? 

Sometimes I have a difficult time turning a bad day around, but I do have some coping mechanisms I use. I listen to music and sing my heart out to relieve stress. I love dancing to my favourite songs. I love to take a long ride in my sporty little car, singing along to one of my favourite CD. I meditate to alleviate any anxiety I am suffering from. Sometimes cooking a really tasty meal for my husband gives me great satisfaction. I use writing as means to express myself and release pent up emotions. I also like to work on creative projects like starting a new quilt for myself that reflects my true personality.

Finish this thought, Happiness is…?

Happiness is being content with the life you have created!



If you could choose one word to describe yourself, (and only one) what would it be?


List five things you couldn’t possibly live happily without.

Starbucks, phone, Macbook, scented candles, Twitter.

Finish this thought, Happiness is…?

Happiness is coffee. 


Sami Jo

SAMIWhich of the four seasons makes you the most happy? And why?

My favourite season is Fall, always has been. The moment summer tapers off, leaves start to turn, and I can pull on my leather jacket, is the moment I can take a clean breath of fresh air and cozy in. Give me a book or my computer, a snugly blanket, and cool drink and I’m in my own personal heaven.

What do you do to change a bad day around? 

To turn around a bad day I drop my stuff at home and escape into either my writing, a book, or a hot bath with Epsom salts. Sometimes taking even 30 minutes to myself to recalibrate is all I need.

Finish this thought, Happiness is…?

Happiness is…Home. I don’t care if I’m doing anything important or half-way interesting, if I’m at home, I’m a happy girl. Boring? Never, I’ve got everything I need under one roof.



Which of the four seasons makes you the most happy? And why?

Fall, because of sweater weather and my birthday 🙂

What do you do to change a bad day around? 

Do some yoga and getting in touch with my inner chi

Finish this thought, Happiness is…?

 Happiness is Ben Affleck.