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4 Easy Ways to Optimize & Give Yourself More Free Time

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I’m willing to bet that you’re quite familiar with the feeling of being overwhelmed. Whether it be triggered by your workload, school requirements, family commitments, or a combination of them all, we all have more than enough on our metaphorical plate.

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While I’ve always been someone who not only appreciates being busy, but also feel as though I thrive when at my busiest, I have to admit that the past 4-5 months have been a bit too much. Did I consciously choose to not turn down pretty well any work opportunity? Yes. Am I grateful for a lot of what came from that decision? Yes. But would I do it again? No, or at least not in the same way.

But rather than simply not agreeing to do as much (which I inevitably will have to do at some level), I set out on a mini-mission to identify ways that I can optimize my work and life process. While I’m still undoubtedly a work-in-progress when it comes to this endeavour, I want to share with you 4 relatively simple, yet powerful, ways that I’ve already helped optimize my process:

1. PICK YOUR FAVOURITES & REMOVE THE UNNECESSARY

While this can certainly be applied in a number of realms, the one in particular that I would like to point your attention to, is the world of social media. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, social media is awesome, and I know that you wouldn’t be here reading this right now without it. But do we really need as much of it as we are currently feeding ourselves?

Rather than going cold turkey, one of the ways I optimized my time is that I cut out the social media platforms that I found to be either completely redundant, or of less interest to me. This involved uninstalling Snapchat, and to stop using Twitter. This has not only helped me to cut out a number of largely unnecessary distractions but it has also allowed me to better appreciate and focus on the others that, to me, are of greater value.

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2. ASK & YOU SHALL RECEIVE

We all know how great it can feel to both give and receive help, yet the vast majority of us absolutely suck at asking for it. Despite what your mind may tell you, it is not “you against the world,” and you know that. So stop feeling as though you need to do everything.

I’m not suggesting that independence is not important, I’m instead reminding you that collaboration can also be quite the wonderful tool to utilize and embrace.

3. DELEGATE/ AUTOMATE & TRUST

You’re right. When it comes to pretty well everything that you do, you CAN do it better than anyone else -or at least with a “touch” that only you could ever provide. But that does NOT mean that you therefore cannot delegate a number of things to others, who believe it or not, can likely do a pretty damn good job of it themselves.

All of the world’s greatest leaders only got there by graduating through responsibilities. They delegated and automated whatever they could in favour of focusing on that which is the most important. Identify the things you know you don’t personally need to do, hand them off to someone who can, and trust their ability to not only execute it, but to also become more proficient at it over time.

4. SHUT OFF NOTIFICATIONS & FOCUS

This one for me, thanks in large part to the nature of my work, was a real game changer. I will forever be thankful for the day that I decided to turn off audio notifications from every single application on my phone (including email) except for incoming calls and text messages.

Even though I had gotten pretty good at not instantaneously replying, it’s amazing how much of a negative impact just the noise can have on your ability to focus. I partnered this up by applying a principle from The 4-Hour Workweek by Tim Ferriss which involves just checking your email at two set times daily, and my productivity has gone through the roof. And believe it or not, the world has not ended despite me sometimes taking hours or days to get back to people.


Ready to change your life today? Get my FREE eBook on 5 Quick Daily Hacks for a GENUINELY Happier Life sent straight to your inbox within 48 hours by signing up here. And for more brutally honest personal development content designed for those who actually want to change, be sure to subscribe to my YouTube Channel and to follow me on Facebook.

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Awareness

The Health Benefits Of Reading Books Compared To Reading From Screens

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In Brief

  • The Facts:

    Numerous studies show the scientific benefits of reading. These benefits tend to increase when reading from actual books rather than screens.

  • Reflect On:

    Do screens consume the majority of your time? When was the last time you read a book? Reading is akin to exercise for your brain.

In the age of information we are being bombarded left, right and center with quick facts, fake news, censored information, video images and so much more. This is greatly affecting the span of our attention. To many the idea of picking up a book, when we could just as easily listen to it, or read segments on our phones is completely absurd. However, there are many benefits that come along with reading books that just might make it worth it to you.

Consider just the very act of reading a book in itself, holding it, turning the pages, seeing your progress in the development of the story, it’s almost as if you are a part of it.

Benefits Of Reading Books

Reading requires patience and diligence, which is not something required from a glance and a click on a quick headline. Reading a book  is almost a kin to running a marathon for your brain, I mean if you can finish a whole book!

Reading stimulates imagination and creativity.

Research has shown that reading helps with comprehension and emotional intelligence as well as fluid intelligence — meaning the ability to reason and have flexible thinking. This leads to smarter decision-making regarding yourself and others.

As we age, our memory will decline, but regular reading can help keep minds sharper longer according to research published in Neurology. Frequently exercising your mind was also proven in that same study to lower mental decline by 32 percent.

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“Our study suggests that exercising your brain by taking part in activities such as these across a person’s lifetime, from childhood through old age, is important for brain health in old age,” study author Robert. S. Wilson of the Rush University Medical Center in Chicago said in a statement. “Based on this, we shouldn’t underestimate the effects of everyday activities, such as reading and writing, on our children, ourselves and our parents or grandparents.”

Reading can help make you more empathetic — researchers from the Netherlands designed two experiments showing that people who were “emotionally transported” by a work of fiction experienced boosts in empathy,

“In two experimental studies, we were able to show that self-reported empathic skills significantly changed over the course of one week for readers of a fictional story by fiction authors Arthur Conan Doyle and José Saramago,” they wrote in their findings. “More specifically, highly transported readers of Doyle became more empathic, while non-transported readers of both Doyle and Saramago became less empathic.”

Even More Reasons Read Books

Aside from these deeper reasons to read books, here are some more basic ones:

Books are a lot easier on the eyes than screens, which will provide a nice break for many of us as we are spending an increasing amount of time staring at screens at work, at home, on our smartphones while watching Netflix — your eyes could use the break.

One survey of 429 university students revealed that nearly half had complained of strained eyes after reading digitally. Electronic books can cause screen fatigue, which may lead to blurred vision, redness, dryness, and irritation. With print books, you don’t have to worry about any of that.

If you are reading an actual book, there is less of a chance that you will be distracted compared to reading on your phone. A book has no notification pings, buzzes or pop-ups, and you can ensure this distraction free time by leaving your phone in another room or putting it on silent or on airplane mode while reading.

Another great thing about books and the wonderful byproduct of less screen time is less exposure to electromagnetic frequencies, if you don’t have your phone on you, and perhaps you even have your Wi-Fi turned off while not in use you are giving your body a bit of a break from the constant bombardment of these frequencies.

Reading books before bed can help you sleep better, the main reason being — they do not emit blue light, or any kind of light at all actually, which has been shown to interfere with a good night’s rest. Not only that, but personally I find in general, reading a book tends to make me sleepy, so I enjoy reading a few chapters before putting my head down for the night.

Who doesn’t love the smell of a good book? You know that lovely, kind of musty smell old books give off? Or the fresh, crisp paper smell of a brand new book?

Final Thoughts To Consider?

Will reading books become an outdated thing of the past? Or will we be able to stand by the benefits of books and keep collecting them for generations to come? Only time will tell! To finish off, I’ll leave you with some words of wisdom from the late, great, Dr. Seuss,

“The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.” — Dr. Seuss

Much Love

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Consciousness

Full Moon In Gemini: Learning, Healing, & Inspired Action

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We are having a Full Moon in Gemini on December 11th-12th, depending on your location. This is the peak of the Lunar cycle that began with a New Moon in Sagittarius on November 26th. The energies of the Full Moon are strongest in the days surrounding it yet its astrological configurations still play a part over the following two weeks. You may also start to see its themes build up following the New Moon prior to it.

Interestingly this Full Moon occurs on 12/12 for most of the world and at 12:12am in the EST time zone. The year 2019 adds to 12 as well (2+0+1+9= 12). This can be interpreted in different ways, however, the thing that I would like to point out is that 12 is associated with completion and astrologically with Pisces which is the final and 12th sign.

This is not only the last Full Moon (and complete lunar cycle) of the year but the last one of the decade. In the Universal time zone it will be occurring at 5:12am, with the number being associated with change. This Full Moon will be followed by eclipses that are ushering in the new decade which also fits with this 5-12 energy.

Full Moon’s are a period in which we feel a push-pull between two opposing signs, in this case being the Moon in Gemini and Sun in Sagittarius. It can play out as either a conflict, integration, or some sort of dynamic playing out between the energies of both signs.

We can feel this opposition happening individually within us and/or we can also experience it play out around us with some people (or circumstances) expressing the Sagittarius side and others expressing the Gemini side. In some cases, Full Moon’s can also reflect/trigger some sort of change which may apply more in this case when considering some of the other factors mentioned in this article.

Gemini is a Mercury ruled Air sign with a strong mental orientation. It is communicative, articulate, informative, social, inquisitive, clever, multifaceted, versatile, witty, agile, and dualistic. This sign is also associated with the immediate environment, the neighbourhood, siblings, commuting, reading, audiobooks/podcasts, mail, and writing. Negatively, Gemini energy can be scattered, superficial, gossipy, inconsistent, two faced, and lack emotion.

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Sagittarius is a Jupiter ruled Fire sign motivated by passion, exploration, and beliefs. It is broadminded, freedom loving, philosophical, optimistic, visionary, expansive, aspiring, risk taking, and big picture oriented. This sign is also associated with higher education, media, sales/marketing, religion, morals,  travel, foreign lands, and other international matters or pursuits. Negatively, Sagittarius energy can be unrealistic, pretentious, judgemental, excessive, blunt, preachy, and have a hard time comprehending limitations.

Both of these signs within this polarity are about learning and communicating what they know. The difference between them is that Gemini leans more towards sharing/learning knowledge from a variety of sources while Sagittarius leans more towards developing its own perspective based on the synthesis of what has been learned and experienced. Gemini can also be more factual in comparison to the idealistic Sagittarian energy.

Full Moon Square Neptune & Quincunx Venus-Saturn-Pluto Conjunction

This Full Moon is separating from a square with Neptune which is strongest in the day leading up to it. This can be good for creative, spiritual, compassionate activities especially if they are linked  to the Gemini-Sagittarius themes mentioned above. However, this can also reflect confusion, impracticality, delusion, escapism, and unreliability.

Venus is separating from a tight conjunction with Saturn and moving towards Pluto at the time of this Full Moon. In the days leading up to this, there could have been more serious or restrictive energy around Venus ruled areas of love, friendship, money, values, or pleasures.

Perhaps a need to be more disciplined, responsible, committed, restraining, or realistic could be a theme. Obstacles, limitations, cautiousness, or endings may have also come up. This can be good for stabilizing, solidifying, building, or taking a mature approach towards things pertaining to Venus.

Pluto in the mix can add more heaviness to this energy. However, Venus makes its conjunction to Pluto in the following two days, after its interaction with Saturn. The themes mentioned above may be followed by or combined with intensity, passion, obsession, secrets, empowerment, evolution, transformation, or even some sort of purging and release. This can also be a period of revealing or getting clear around Venus issues.

This Full Moon is in a quincunx aspect to this Saturn-Venus-Pluto conjunction. This can create a disconnect between these issues (mentioned in the last two paragraphs) and our feelings or other things going on in our lives. This can also reflect challenges and irritations which may  require adjustments.

Jupiter Newly in Capricorn Trine Uranus in Taurus

On December 2nd, Jupiter entered Capricorn and will stay there for the next year. It joins Saturn, Pluto, and the South Node in which it will be making conjunctions within 2020. Overall, Jupiter in this sign connecting to these planets can be good for different types of growth around worldly goals, ambitions, structures, and towards building anything with the long term in mind. It can also bring some endings around these things as well.

Jupiter forms a trine with Uranus in Taurus which is strongest from this Full Moon until the following week with it peaking on December 15th. This can be good for learning or expansiveness towards something new, unusual, unconventional, technological, metaphysical, scientific, or perhaps even revolutionary.

It can also be connected to beliefs, travel, and other types of exploration. For some people it can manifest as sudden luck or bring some sort of freedom. Considering that this aspect is occurring in Earth signs, it can play out around material, physical, financial, or practical matters.

Mars Trine Neptune, Sextile Saturn, Pluto

Mars in Scorpio is in a trine with Neptune in Pisces in the day leading up to, and few days following, this Full Moon. This can reflect actions that are inspired, creative, spiritual, imaginative, or compassionate. Activities or efforts involving art or water may also be a theme. For some people it can be magical on a sexual level, however this also depends on how the Venus-Saturn-Pluto aspect (mentioned earlier) is playing out which can bring some heaviness to relationships in some cases.

Mars then moves towards a sextile to Saturn and Pluto in Capricorn which peaks from December 17th to 23rd. This is good for applying ourselves in a way that is practical, realistic, responsible, thorough, stable, focused, tangible, or purposeful. Efforts towards bringing more structure or building towards something may be a theme. This can help us to be more focused, overcome obstacles, making productive changes, and uncovering things to assist us in making progress.

Eclipse Season is Approaching with Neptune, Chiron, and Uranus in Transition

In the two weeks after this Full Moon we will have a Solar Eclipse in Capricorn on December 25th/26th followed by a Lunar Eclipse in Cancer on January 10th/11th. Neptune recently ended its retrograde, Uranus finishes its retrograde in a month, while Chiron is transitioning out of retrograde at the time of this Full Moon.

All of this combined shows that the period from mid-November until mid-January is a time of transitions, changes, and new developments. Eclipses can reflect beginnings, endings, and even evolutionary developments in specific areas of our lives that can begin to play out in the six weeks prior up until the six months following. (I will be writing separate articles on these eclipse, join my mailing list here to ensure that you are notified when they are published)

Planets, and other celestial bodies like Chiron, going from retrograde to direct can help us progress forward in new ways in areas connected to what they represent and how they are interacting with our personal astrology charts. I covered Neptune going direct in my previous article and will be covering Uranus going direct in an upcoming eclipse article. However, the most significant one at this point is Chiron as it is transitioning during this Full Moon phase. Its themes will be coming up more strongly.

Chiron is associated with old wounds, trauma, blockages, negative patterns, and other issues getting in the way of our potential, self-expression, and the embodiment of our highest selves. It is also associated with the solutions to our healing, awareness, and achieving wholeness.

It is about developing a different relationship with our wounds by turning them into strengths or working with them in a more positive way. Chiron is the maverick, it is unorthodox, holistic, and can bridge things together that are normally separate and are not thought to be compatible with each other.

Things To Consider During This Period

Is there anything new or different that you’d like to learn at this time? What have you been inspired to do in the last few weeks? Do you need to take into consideration certain facts, instructions, or details in order to fulfill your aspirations?

What has been coming up for you in regards to Venus issues of love, friendships, values, creativity, aesthetics, money, and pleasures? Do you need to address anything pertaining to these things? Have any issues or themes connected to your wounds or negative patterns come up? What do you need to do to heal/address this and move forward in a more empowered way?

These are just some examples of what you may be experiencing during this period; however, there may be other variations of this energy playing out. If you wish to do any sort of intentional release connected to what has come up it is best to do so anytime after the peak of the Full Moon or as it is waning over the following two weeks. The exact moment of it will be on December 12th at 5:12am Universal Time. You can click here to see what that is in your time zone.

Follow me on INSTAGRAM, FACEBOOK, and YOUTUBE for more astrology related content.

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Looking for astrological insight into what is going on in your life? Or perhaps looking to better understand your life and its potentials? Get a personalized astrology reading with Carmen (author of this article) specific to you based on your exact birth date, time, and location. Click here for more information or to order. 

Holographic 2020 Lunar Calendar

An art piece and lunar calendar all in one. This calendar features moon phases for every day of the month for the entirety of 2020.

Hologrpahic foil set on a dark 11" x 11" poster makes the moon's phases shimmer as light strikes them in this unique art piece.

Buy yours here!
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Consciousness

11 Things Everybody Should Let Go of Before 2020 – Easier Said Than Done Of Course

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In Brief

  • The Facts:

    2020 is coming up, and below are some personal transformation tips to explore and reflect on.

  • Reflect On:

    Why is new years always a time for resolutions? Can we begin taking the steps to implement resolutions on our lives that we feel inspired to make starting right now?

The new year is almost here and it’s often a time when we all start to think about what we want to change for the next year. I’ve never been much a fan of the whole cliche of changing because of the new year, but why not embrace it as a time where we can reflect at least? That usually leads to change!

Do a quick reflection right now. Do you feel like you have followed your deeper knowings and desires this past year? Have you engaged your passions much? Do you feel you got caught up in the stresses of life quite often? Did you feel judgement, negative self talk and anger were a big part of your days? Reflecting on how you’ve felt over your year and being honest with yourself about it gives you the chance to know how to adjust and move forward from this moment forward whether it be the new year or not.

I’ve found in my own life that if I don’t pay attention to how I feel, what I create, what’s playing out in my life and take responsibility for it, it doesn’t change. It stays the same, I experience the same emotions or stagnant feelings, and I don’t move forward. But the moment I decide to take it into my own hands, I see how much I’m not a victim to what happens.

11 Things To Let Go of Before the New year

1. Stop all the negative self talk – It’s first because it’s probably one of the most important. The more we talk poorly about ourselves, to ourselves or others, the more we disempower ourselves and empower all the things we wish to adjust about ourselves. Observe it, take note of it, and kick it. It’s not helping you.

2. Choose one bad eating habit and kick it! – Taking care of and fuelling your vessel is one of the most important things we can do in life to stay mentally, emotionally and spiritually healthy. Pick one of your worst eating habits and aim to cut it out completely in 3 months. Whatever it might be, be honest with yourself and make it happen. Then take on the next bad eating habit in 3 months.

3. Let go of chasing ‘success’ – So often we put up goals or plans for ourselves yet have this tiny limited scope of what success is. Next thing you know we bring stress, worry and fear into the equation throughout the whole journey because we may not be totally in line to hit this pin prick point of what success looks like to us. Instead, do your best to take the steps needed to get to where you want to go, but let go of the lure of success and what it looks like and means. There’s no such thing as failure. (more)

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4. Kick the idea that you cannot achieve or follow what’s in your heart – So often we have our ideas of what we are excited or passionate about, but let it go because we think we can’t do it or because it’s unrealistic. Instead of believing every word of that, take ONE step. One step towards making engaging your passion or exploring a dream. The one step will lead to the next and the next, but you have to take the first one. Plan out that first step and take it! A quick side note to this, be sure to reflect on making sure that your dreams are actually yours, and not just what your parents, society or friends are telling you to chase and go after.

5. Let go of the idea that you should run from your problems – We often get into this mentality that we just need to “get over it.” In theory, this sounds sorta good, you move on from things that happen in the past or something to that effect. But by just forgetting about it, did we really move on? No, it gets triggered again later or lies dormant as a resented event etc. Instead, let’s face our problems and truly move past them. Journal about it, talk to someone else about it. Put the cards on the table to someone who cares about you and who can help you move past it. Pick someone who will see the bigger picture and be honest with you. You have all it takes to move past what challenges you.

6. Stop comparing yourself to others – This is a big one. So often we are looking at others and using what they have, do or are to compare it against us and make up a story. This whole game can make us sad or feel down about ourselves or it can feed our ego in a big way. Let it go, respect everyone’s journey, including your own and stop the need to compare yourself to others.

7. Stop judging others – Judging other people can become a habit and an addiction. It’s like something we can’t stop doing sometimes! Take a moment the next time you judge someone and observe it. Ask yourself why you did it, how did it make you feel? Etc. Make a conscious effort to stop. (more)

8.  Stop the blame game – Blaming and pointing fingers when it comes to our challenges or what happens to us doesn’t allow us to look at and observe how we might have created or aligned with an experience to help make it happen. I’m not saying there’s nothing others can do to hurt you, I’m simply saying take responsibility for how you feel and don’t even point blame, it doesn’t help us.

9. Stop worrying and trying so hard to fit in and be accepted –  This is something far too many of us do just to save face and not be “the weird one.” The reality is, it’s more ‘weird’ to be a version of yourself that isn’t genuine or real simply because you want to be accepted by others. It’s a choice you can’t maintain forever and the longer it goes the more uncomfortable you will feel. Be you, accept yourself, be genuine and don’t try to make others do the same when. Let it happen. Trust.

10. Let go of the need to control everything – Sometimes we can’t take a step forward in anything because we don’t know all the answers or all the variables. This is our obsession with control sometimes. Yes, observe a situation and make the best choices available to you, but don’t worry so much about needing to control or know every detail about it. Learn to leave things up to trust and knowing that things will work out as they need to. This doesn’t mean be reckless, just that you don’t need to control everything, person and detail.

11. Stop procrastinating – This one goes with everything on the list. Stop putting it all off. Whatever it may be. The changes listed above, the hobby you want to, the career you want to explore, or the thing you want to tell to someone important to you. Stop putting it off and just do it!

Holographic 2020 Lunar Calendar

An art piece and lunar calendar all in one. This calendar features moon phases for every day of the month for the entirety of 2020.

Hologrpahic foil set on a dark 11" x 11" poster makes the moon's phases shimmer as light strikes them in this unique art piece.

Buy yours here!
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