Bad habits are hard to break. I know this to be true because I have several (hundred) of them. Like talking too loudly to sometimes being abrasive and "bossy," and consuming way too much caffeine, to cutting my own hair every few months during hormone-fueled bouts of self-loathing. Oh, and I also don’t drink enough water.
Water is a pretty controversial subject in some circles. Stand at the staff room coffee pot at 3pm on a Tuesday and suggest switching to water after lunch. Go on; I dare you. You’ll be lucky to leave with your life. Because you know what makes you irritable? BEING DEHYDRATED.
A lot of us don’t drink enough water, but I really wasn’t drinking any water. Most days, I’d head back to the coffee pot for the third fill-up and realize I’d had nothing to drink all day but caffeine. Sometimes the only water I’d get each day came from my toothbrush. I can rationalize any bad habit (try me; it’s my superpower) and over the years I've told myself things ranging from too much water would dilute the blood in my caffeine stream, or that it was boring anyway, or that the two wilted leaves of lettuce garnish on my deep fried cheese balls would provide all the H2O I needed. Told you I had some bad habits.
But, just as most people would suggest that professional hair cuts are an act of self-care, making sure I was hydrated was equally important to my well-being. Now I had to be the one to realize it.
But here’s the thing.
I am generally not a beacon of positivity or patience. If I was going to drink more water, the increased bathroom visits better have some payoff. I have stuff to do and this can’t be complicated. I don’t want to have to keep cut up pieces of juicy fruit for fancy immersion water tumblers or add stickers to a calendar to remind me to change complicated filters. So I’ve accepted and approached the Wellness Week Challenge with Nestlé Pure Life Sparkling Water as much as I do any other challenge. I will do it, but you had better make it easy or it ain’t happening. “User friendly” is my jam (and was also my nickname in high school). Besides, coffee is 85% of why I don't hurt people 91% of the time.
May I be blunt. I'd rather watch Frozen for the 7,000th time than drink flat water. Nestlé makes sparkling water drinkable and it became my new liquid best friend for the week. For seven days, I drank it in increasing amounts, from “what is this bubbly clear fluid?” all the way to “so this is what normal pee looks like!” (Um, not like maple syrup, apparently.)
Here’s a quick synopsis of my week of water:
Coffee or Water? Coffee. Coffee or Water? Coffee. There’s water in coffee, so that’s a start right? Google tells me that doesn't count; my partner tells me I have a “problem.” I choose some water after two cups of coffee. There are bubbles in it. This is not coffee. It feels funny on my tongue but in a good way. I'm scared.
3:12pm. I've had a litre of sparkling water throughout the day. Takeaway: My bathroom needs repainting.
"Hi babe. Can you pick up some toilet paper after work? Get the BIG pack."
I'm down to two coffees a day and upped my water intake to almost 1.5 litres each day and more if I exercise, so 1.5 litres because I don't exercise. I feel pretty good and the caffeine crashes aren't happening, so I have sustained energy throughout the day. I also don't seem to be snacking as much. Downside: I learned not to leave the house without peeing if there is ANY chance of getting stuck at elementary school carpool.
I decided to try and drink only ONE cup of coffee this morning. Day five dawns, I have my one cup. I have a sick kid at home, my teenager wants me to drive her to a mall two towns over because they have better French fries, and I have a project due at work. This was maybe the wrong day to cut caffeine. OMG, I can't feel my legs. I think I am rethinking this challenge but I am spiteful and strong and I WILL DO THIS. Okay, let's have some water and get some perspective. Breathe, breathe. We can do this. I haven't burned anything down all week so I am on a roll here.
It's a weekend night. I drink gin on the this night. Guess what? I swap out my regular tonic for Nestlé Pure Life sparkling water with lime flavour and this has several effects: I save several hundred calories, I still get the gin in my belly, and the following morning I don't feel like someone knit my brain a too-tight sweater.
There's a can of sparkling water in my purse, I can’t find my coffee cup and I don’t even care. WHO AM I?
Now, I’m no math wizard, but I started thinking that if I was able to #RethinkMyDrink for a whole week, with positive results (everyone lived!), maybe I should keep it up. It sure is nice not to have the caffeine boomerang hit you in the face while you're climbing the stairs up from the laundry room at 4pm. I’ll still enjoy my morning cup (or two – let’s not get crazy) but after that I am all about the bubbles. I'm a few weeks past my initial seven-day trial and I'm still going strong. The bathroom visits even calmed down as my bladder started to understand this wasn’t a feast or famine situation and I now spend the bulk of time in rooms of my house that don't hold toilets. As for forming new habits, I’m feeling pretty confident in my new abilities and I’m considering applying the seven-day challenge principle to other areas of my life that need work.
I may even call a professional hairdresser.
Want the easiest challenge you’ll ever take and maybe win a trip in the process?
It’s time to Rethink Your Drink! Register online at Sparkling7DayChallenge.ca and pledge to switch out one of your regular drink choices for a Nestlé Pure Life Sparkling water once a day for seven days.
Not only will you receive a coupon to save $3 off a case of Nestlé Pure Life Sparkling Water, six Canadians will have the chance to win a luxurious weekend away in Toronto.
It’s time to add some sparkle to your life. Register now.
I can't hear "Purple Rain" without remembering a darkened high school gym and the sweaty weight of a boy's 16 year-old hands resting on my 16 year-old ass.
Prince died this week. At 57, his life was unarguably short, and 57 is a number I can see from my windshield, just up ahead on the left of my next milestone birthday.
When we were in grade five, my best friend loved Prince with a burning purple passion. She was relentless in her efforts to convert me, but I was a reluctant participant. I wanted to listen to Duran Duran and my old Flying Lizards 45, but Kathleen would have none of it. And besides, her parents didn't yell like mine did and we were allowed inside there, and so by default it was her house, her rules.
But then we watched Purple Rain, and things were different after that. Although at 11 years-old I was too young to understand the adult intricacies of the plot, I knew this movie and this music meant something, something good for women, something that felt like bubbles in my pelvis. I couldn't tell you what exactly, because my child brain was naive and concerned mostly with puffy stickers with googly eyes and securing Cougar boots for the winter. What I did know - or rather, what I felt - was Prince speaking directly to a generation of girls. He was, in a not-so-subtle way, taking a hand in shaping future participation in our era's collective consciousness, all before I even knew what the fuck a collective consciousness was. Prince's music celebrated women and it celebrated life.
There will be no new music from Prince, but access to his catalogue is available on iTunes and in record stores, and on Spotify and Pandora and Youtube, and in cassette cases in musty garage lofts and basements. His music and movies and appearance will be digitally preserved on countless formats forever.
My little bird died this week; my budgie Sunny, who, to my knowledge, had no strong feelings for Prince one way or another. The two deaths exist separately outside of each other and with relatively little consequence to my own bigger picture. It was just a bird, people say. It does sound ridiculous to cry for the death of a bird; after all, it's small and helpless enough that I could kill it with my bare hands. But I didn't. I loved this tiny green bird who didn't do much except sing loudly when he heard my voice and fly in circles when I opened his cage. I think Sunny knew he was going to die because he spent the day prior to his death rocking back and forth on the floor of his cage. He didn't sing. I gave him peace and covered half of his cage with a towel for privacy and quiet. He knew; I knew. Birds don't show weakness until the very end, to avoid being left by their flock. This is their biological defense mechanism.
But these two deaths in a week - no matter how grand or how insignificant - has me thinking about the end. The BIG end. The end where everything is over, there are no more chapters, and nothing else will matter to you ever again.
Icons and stars and heroes and friends and family and even little birds die and decay, and we will too. Prince's death is news and I mourn the part I know - the music and the feelings it inspired in me and the memories of my life it ran beside. I will never be 11 or 16 again, and it is unlikely that I will dance in a school gym, and I have to be okay with that. I can't spend whatever time I have left mourning things I was privileged enough to experience. Isn't memory the sweetest human gift? I'd rather live my whole life on a small hill and remember the mediocrity than reach the summit of a mountain with no recall.
I spent some time at the hospital recently with an elderly loved one. We sat for hours, waiting in one room or another, being funnelled through the network of a large metropolitan hospital. While in the emergency department, the "code blue" bell was rung so many times I looked up the meaning on my phone. It's cardiac arrest. In eight hours there were so many code blue calls that I lost track.
My love asked me not to leave them. I didn't; I wouldn't. They slept, were seen and treated, and when the order for discharge came the wait for our ride to their home began. I know this won't be the last time I am here with her. Our days together are short. So I enjoy what is left for us, until she passes and I have only memories of her.
Because life is just a party and parties weren't meant to last.
The snow has finally melted! We are saved! Spring hath not forsaken us, having kicked winter in the soft baby making part. The warmer weather and sunshine is bringing everything back to life, including weeds. Okay, maybe the snow wasn't so bad after all because it's only been warm for three days and somehow my patio and gardens are full of hard to control weeds already.
It's time to arm yourself. I don't like spraying chemicals where my kids and dog play, and enjoying a BBQ'd hamburger next to a chemical dumping ground isn't high on my summer to-do list, either. Most counties have banned hardcore pesticide weaponry from residential use anyway, and since my two tomato plants don't qualify as "agricultural farming" (I tried) I'm stuck either plucking weeds or living with them. Trying to convince myself they were decorative lawn cover didn't work.
A friend's mom told me about her magical safe weed control formula and while the cynical side of me was all "you crazy, lady," the other, kinder-to-friends'-moms part of me thought I'd give it a try and woo hoo because it WORKS.
Behold, patio weeds; or, as referred to by its proper botanical name "The Devil's Pubic Hair":
10 seconds after 24 hours after spray, it's plucked out and GONE.
1L (4 cups) white vinegar
1/2 cup table salt
1 tsp. dish soap (Good quality - no bargain brands)
Juice from one lemon, and throw the halves in, peel and all
Combine until salt is dissolved. You can use right away but letting formula "brew" in a sunny spot to infuse with lemon is even better.
While not technically "poison," you'd be ill-advised to put this stuff near your eating or peeing places. Or your eyes, or a cut on broken skin. You know what? Just be careful, okay? This shizz is acid, pure and simple and that's gonna sting, whether you're a dandelion or not.
You can easily increase the amounts to double or triple recipe. I mixed in a glass bowl and then poured into a new spray trigger bottle on stream setting so I could blast them (it's cathartic; trust me) but I also set my older kids to work with an old paintbrush to dip and "paint" the cracks of our walkway. Leave the lemon halves in the liquid as long as possible, removing only if they don't allow you to squirt the liquid easily. It's the oils you want from the lemon, so the longer they can stay in the better.
Bonus: your backyard is going to smell like a Salt and Vinegar chips factory and there's not one single drawback I can imagine to that scenario.
Just be careful of overspray on plants you want to hang around - this stuff is potent and non-selective — and, just like Tequila, it won't care who it causes to dance on an all-inclusive resort bar topless, errr...I mean, eradicate.