Read With Me!

https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/59043211-brooke-simmons

I’m not sure if i’ve told you this or not, but I do love a good book. I love to learn. I’m curious about a lot of things. This is where my book addiction comes into play. Now, I’m not the fastest reader on the planet. I’m not one of those people who can polish off a book in an afternoon. Some books I read faster than others – especially books I can’t put down which become my all time favourites like this one, this one and this one.

Over on Goodreads (my profile is here, let’s be friends), I have set a goal for myself to read 18 books in 2017. (I’m on #5). I’ve decided to start posting my book reviews here. Bare with me…this isn’t something that comes naturally. The first one will be a little thin. But hopefully I will get better at it.

Have you set a reading goal for this year? Have any book selections? I’d love to hear them.

Welcome, Goober!

About a month ago, we added a new member to our family. If you’ve been following me on Instagram, you’ve been bombarded with pictures and videos of our new little adorable dirt taxi. I introduce (duh da da dahhhhh)….Goober:

 

Goober was a rescue. It’s clear he had a home, likely with children based on his reaction to them (he loves them on TV and in person), and I would bet someone in his family owned a diesel truck. No one claimed him despite many, many efforts for a long time. He was alone in a lonely shelter, that also doubled as a fire hall in the middle of nowhere. It makes me sad to think about it actually.

Goober is my third lifetime rescue, and after a few experiences, I would honestly not do anything else. They may come with a small amount of baggage, but they love hard and are very appreciative of a warm, snuggly home. After casually looking at the PetFinder ads for several months, I knew Goober was meant to be ours when I stumbled upon his ad. I felt the same way when I found Charles:

Charles the Rescue Dog
Charles was an older dog we rescued and he passed away in 2014.

 

If you are considering your next fur-family member (of any sort) I would definitely urge you to start with considering a rescue. They are often wayyyyy less inexpensive than “buying” a dog, usually have a vet check done (not in Goober’s case, but I was ok with that to get him out of there), and if you are willing to put some time and effort into basic training, make amazing family companions. PetFinder is a great place to start.

Love from Goober…and

 

Boundaries and Difficult People

Boundaries and Difficult People

Recently, I’ve had a few instances in my life, that (in my head) go like this:

Me: Puts up a fence to protect time/space/work/family/etc. etc..

Random Person: Acting kerfuffled, starts up a bulldozer and immediately bulldozes the fence down.

Me: Picks up lumber, resurrects fence.

Random Person: Throws a temper tantrum and fires up their bulldozer again and demolishes the fence.

Ok, it’s dramatic, but it’s a funny scene in my head and really a metaphor for what some people do with other people’s boundaries.

Essentially, boundaries are the roped off areas in various facets of our lives, or distances we set to protect our well being. They are not walls. You are not blocking anyone or yourself.

You are simply stating, “please don’t step on the grass”.

Boundaries are as unique as we are. When communicated clearly, they teach people how to treat us, and how we expect to be treated. They protect our time, energy and our lives.

My fiercest boundary right now is surrounding my time. It’s a daily issue as I have multiple balls in the air every day. I have to make time to be a mom, a lover, a collaborator, a friend, a healthy person, a fur-child mama, someone who has enough sleep (…or else cray cray), a business owner, a client partner, a creator, a sales person and etc. etc.  Also – if I don’t get unstructured free time away from my laptop and phone, my creativity shits the bed – so add in “nothing time”.

You get it. You are busy too.

So basically, time is very, very important to me.

I feel like communicating a boundary clearly to other people (and even ourselves) from the get go is the easiest, (but not always possible) solution. At home for my teen, I set out a list of behaviours that won’t be tolerated without serious risk of losing privileges. At work, I set out some clear guidelines in a FAQ document and communications guidelines for my clients.

When a boundary has been crossed without the pre-communication, sometimes its best to gently let the person know. People don’t know what they don’t know. Reasonable people will totally respect your wishes without a second thought and they probably didn’t mean to overstep on purpose.

Difficult people may put up a fight.

Or they may pull a guilt trip, or throw a reverse psychology nunchuck at your head. Sometimes they will punish you in silent ways. Difficult people may also apologize when they’ve crossed the line, but continue fire up the bulldozer over and over again.

Dealing With Bulldozer Drivers

My first course of action with bulldozer drivers is distance. They get less of my time, energy and resources. This is not coming from a bitter place, but of a place of efficiency and self care. My life needs to happen, and drama and bulldozed boundaries tend to fuck up my day and could jeopardize my work.  Sometimes I let them back in little by little and give them small pieces. If it’s repetitive, it’s time for a good ol’ 5 steps back, and an unemotional evaluation of the relationship. Is it time to peacefully end? It may be. Sometimes people just won’t care. No matter how much we have faith that they will. And that is something that needs to be looked at, because continually feeling like your boundaries are disrespected will get exhausting.

Other times it’s impossible to end a relationship, at least immediately, and this is where some real tenacity and loyalty to yourself plays a big role. My suggestion is to not stir the pot, but also assert yourself where you need to. And also remember you may need extra energy when dealing with certain people or situations…so be kind to yourself.

Setting Boundaries

Boundaries that are clearly communicated to other people should not be threatening or manipulative.

“If you don’t to X then Y will happen to you” or, “if you don’t conform to my demands then I’m not going to help you with X”. Those two statements have nothing to do with boundaries and everything to do with control. The boundary differs by saying “I really want to help you, but you aren’t really respecting me (my time/my energy/my home/my love) right now”.

If we’re going to be honest here, then I need to say that I have also inadvertently stepped on other people’s boundaries. Being late is one that comes to mind.  While sometimes unavoidable, it does send the message that my time is more important than yours. It sucks to wait for people…I understand. I’m aiming for better.

I’m aiming to be more self aware and curious as to how my behaviour could be affecting other people’s boundaries.

Creating boundaries is not the most difficult thing to do, it’s enforcing them and having to have conversations that could bring up emotions in yourself or others that is tricky. But it’s something that is so needed to maintain a healthy, busy, abundant life.

I have some questions for you to ponder:

Where are you feeling that boundaries need to be made in your life?

Where are you feeling that you may be pushing other people’s boundaries?
Brooke Simmons Blog 31 Ways to Sunday

My 2017 More/Less List – No More New Years Resolutions

More Less New Years Resolutions

Happy 2017 my lovelies. I’m a bit late getting on this blog (I’ve been putting a lot of time in over on my business blog), but I really want to write more here this year. How are your New Years resolutions going so far?

I’m sharing again with you, my More/Less list. It’s something I compile every year, (I share 2015’s here), separate from my specific personal and business goals (which are solid, recorded and measurable), but in lieu of New Year’s “resolutions”. Resolutions never quite sat well with me as they are vague goals…my more/less list are things (and actually more along the lines of habits) that I would like to do more of, or less of. Have more of, have less of. Make more of, make less of. You get the idea.

There is no failure if I want “more abs” but in March I didn’t do one single sit up. I’m simply aiming to be better, do better, have more of that. There is space to try again. There is space for forgiveness – on both lists.

Here is my 2017 More/Less list:

More

  • Blogging
  • Writing
  • Videos
  • Fairness
  • Intuition
  • Adventure
  • Travel
  • Sleep
  • Gym Time
  • Abs
  • Gardening
  • Dogs
  • Horses
  • Unconditional Love
  • Sex
  • Consciousness
  • Compassion
  • Creation
  • Reading
  • Expansion
  • Decorating
  • Mountain Biking
  • Growing food
  • Self-care
  • Mid-week adventures
  • Vacations/Time Off
  • Abundance
  • Giving
  • Serving

Less

  • Alcohol
  • Complaining
  • Gossiping
  • Stress
  • Sugar
  • Gluten
  • “Shoulds”
  • Facebook
  • Comparing
  • Accepting less than
  • Excuses – for me and other people

Easy peasy…I’ve put these in my Bullet Journal for constant review. Something that I think is important to keeping on top of what you want to get or achieve.

What do you want to do more or less of this year? Do you create New Years resolutions?

Brooke Simmons Blog 31 Ways to Sunday

Mercury is Out of Retrograde

Haha…I saw this picture this morning on my Facebook timeline. Mercury is no longer retrograde. Let the computer Gods rejoice.

The Mercury retrograde phenomenon – for me at least –  is an actual thing. The day Mercury went retrograde (August 30th) my internet went on the fritz and my phone pretty much bit the biscuit. Throughout this retrograde, a tech project I’ve been working on has caused me many bangs of my head against the desk.

In Astrology, Mercury surrounds communication, travel, thought and logic. When it goes retrograde (the illusion of it moving backwards, even though it just slows down a ton), it has been known to snarl otherwise harmonious plans and communications.

And of course, it’s handy to have a planet to yell at when the internet goes down.

Mercury goes retrograde again on December 19th, 2016.

What shifts do you notice in a Mercury retrograde period?

Brooke Simmons Blog 31 Ways to Sunday

 

Summer Heat Hack: Facecloths in the Fridge

Summer Heat Hack-

Howdy, my hot, hot friends. Has it been hot enough for you? Where I am, yes, thank you. I believe I’m fully sauna detoxed at this point. This summer where I am (Ontario) it’s been hot, hot and freakin’ hot. I’ve been religiously throwing cold damp facecloths in the fridge to have handy and it’s proven to be a valuable little hack if I do say so myself.

Facecloths in the Fridge
Cheap, white Dollarama face cloths come in handy for this purpose!

I always have in stock about 30 facecloths – mostly those baby facecloths as I use them to remove make up, etc. and they are pretty gentle and soft. I also get plain white ones from Dollarama and have given up on using my nice ones unless company is staying over…I’m tired of having to chuck the expensive ones in the trash due to my mascara issues.

Every evening before bed, I take a couple of clean cloths, dampen them with cool water, wring them out well (don’t let them sit in a pile of water), and stack them on a side plate in the fridge for a few hours to get cool. The plate conducts the cold better than a ziplock or Tupperware container. Cold showers are always useful, but sometimes you just need a quick, portable cool down.

Ways I use my cold cloths in the summer:

  • Seriously, just to cool the eff down…forehead, back of neck, boobs….whatever…it’s hot.
  • On my eyeballs for 10 minutes in the morning.
  • On my face after my shower and before primer/make up…to close pores and un-swell.
  • On areas where I’ve got too much sun.
  • Great for cooling/wiping off when coming in from yard work/gardening/running/other sweaty activity.
  • On the back of my neck when I’m blowdrying my hair – this activity has the potential to actually spontaneously ignite my body…cold cloths help.
  • For kids when they have had a bit too much heat/sun/excitement or to bring fevers down.

It feels humidI make sure to have a few to start with so I can toss one’s that I’ve used directly in the laundry (which is why I always have a lot). Only put clean cloths in the fridge. I also wouldn’t let them sit for days…although they are in cooler temps so undesirable bacterial growth would be slow but you just don’t even want to play with that…they will also slowly dry up. Throw a few in the fridge before bed or in the morning when you are fixing your coffee/tea/bong hit.

Stay cool, my Loves!

Brooke Simmons Blog 31 Ways to Sunday

 

Natural Household Scrubby Cleaner Recipe

 

Howdy, Loves.

Weekends over here are usually for cleaning, laundry, working in the garden and organizing household stuff (haha, I lie about that last one – mostly). As I whip up my usual batch of cheap and natural cleaners to tackle this place, I thought I would share my favourite DIY cleaner recipe with you.

I’ve been using essential oils and creating my own cleaners since 2001 when I was pregnant with my daughter and wanted to start making my own soap. (I was obviously pregnant and insane…soap is super time consuming and slightly technical to make..somehow at the time it was a fabulous idea). I kept making cleaners over the years though because of how easy and natural they are.

This is an abrasive-like cleaner (I hate that word…it reminds me of … ahem….a few people…), but it’s totally safe and gentle…both in toxicity and on your fixtures. Why I love it:

  • Easy to make
  • Inexpensive
  • Shines up fixtures easily (taps, drains, tubs, sinks, toilets, tile, scummy glass bottles, stovetops, microwaves)
  • Gentle on almost everything, won’t scratch
  • Effective cleaning, anti-microbial power – from powerful essential oils
  • Fabulous on soap scum
  • Fabulous on baked-on stove and microwave disasters
  • Smells lovely – baking soda, IMG_4567 citrus + tea tree oils fight and neutralize odours
  • Non-toxic, environment approves!

The tea tree oil in this recipe is a must due to its anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties. Citrus not only smells lovely but also offers its own effective cleaning power.

I’m in LOOOOVE with citrus-mint essential oil blends right now. They smell amazingly clean and fresh and yummy. I’ve added a touch of spearmint to this recipe which is a sweeter, milder smelling mint and it’s heavenly.

Trash the Comet or Vim and use this stuff instead. (Breathing in Comet dust, ummm, no thanks…it’s FULL of toxic chemicals).

The recipe below covers a double sink in the kitchen and 1 full bathroom (tub +tile, toilet bowl and sink + surround). Double or triple the recipe as needed. I also get my baking soda in bulk which makes this even more cost effective. The mixture will separate slightly when it sits, just give it a quick stir.

Natural Household Scrubby Cleaner Recipe

In a jar or container, mix up:

  • 1/4 cup of baking soda
  • 1 tbsp natural dishwashing liquid
  • 5 drops of tea tree oil
  • 10 drops of citrus essential oil (I use a blend but straight lemon, orange or grapefruit would work as well)
  • 2 drops of spearmint essential oil (I’m in LOVE with the citrus/mint blend)
  • 1 tbsp of water

Mix with a spoon.

Usage Directions:

  • Splatter the mixture on the area to clean
  • With a clean, damp cloth, clean/scrub areas as usual
  • Rinse well with clean water

Happy Cleaning!

Brooke Simmons

 

 

 

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Stepping Away to Get it All Back

Stepping Away to Get it All Back

At the time I am writing this, it’s a glorious “May Two-Four” long weekend here in Ontario (after a particularly dreary, long winter). I’m in a motorhome drinking a decaf and Kahlua (long weekend, hello), and getting ready to head out in the sunshine and breathe in some campfire smoke and exhaust fumes (I’m at a speedway).

It’s really glorious though.

Yesterday, I spend the day in the garden and overhauled two of my front beds.

The start of the garden overhaul before and after
The start of the garden overhaul before and after

 

This time away is particularly lovely because I live and breathe my business 24/7. I’m always thinking, strategizing and tweaking, even if I’m not “working. Right now I’m in the midst of creating new products, services and a website overhaul. I work weekends a lot. Sometimes my brain gets tired. To say I’m mildly obsessed probably hits it on the head. But I think this actually creates a problem: I believe you can be obsessed to the point of not making any forward movement. Like divots. Divots in your brain. Like when you’re looking for the same thing over and over again…only to find it an hour later immediately when you’ve come back from a break.

It’s not ‘forward moving’ when your brain cells are frizzled on the same thing over and over. As much as we would like to think it’s best strategy, I believe it has the opposite effect.

Taking two days away (still one to go, yo) and I’m already feeling energized. Yesterday my whole focus was landscape fabric and moving rocks. Today, I’ve got myself an “O” magazine for some mindless entertainment and feel good shit between the excitement of road racing. Then I might drink a beer and have a nap.

It’s already created space in my brain and made space for those divots to fill themselves in.

Zero effs given until Tuesday.

Happy May Two-Four.

 

 

 

 

My Morning Game Changer and Morning Routine Take 2

Morning Routine

Morning routines of different successful people and creatives is been something I’ve always been curious about. I like to seek out articles about routines and study them. Look for comparisons. Try something new. Imitate a routine – try it on for size. Keep what fits, toss what doesn’t.

A few years ago, I wrote about my morning routine as it was at a time when I was consciously carving out a specific “power hour” time in the morning (I really hate that term, but it fits). Time for me. Prep my day. Create the plan. Connect with the Universe…yadda yadda. Over the last few years as I have grown to know myself more and more, it couldn’t help but evolve.

Right now my routine is more flexible. I’m someone who enjoys routine AND spontaneity (impossible?). Also being someone who isn’t the most…shall we say, quick to get moving in the morning…I need something that is flexible but also reaps many benefits. I have several things that my current morning routine consists of – only a few that are set in stone – and I take or leave the rest. No guilt. No pressure.

The common thread to my mornings is that: 1. They are spiritual. 2. They are easy. 3. They are setting myself up to have the most successful day possible. 4. Email/social media isn’t part of the plan (this drains my morning mojo almost instantaneously). It’s time to focus on my goals, my body and my spirit. To get into alignment about what’s important to me that day.

One Simple Morning Game Changer

One thing that has taken my mornings to a new level of greatness, is that I wake up a lot earlier. I am not

Morning routine
This little guy is a ray of sunshine at 5am

a morning person by nature, but a few months ago as an experiment, I invested in this wake-up light alarm clock. My iPhone does not come into my bedroom anymore as it’s such a huge distraction! Checking email and Instagram first thing in the morning is a recipe for a shit day.

So this wake up light, wakes you up gradually with a simulated, lighted sunrise. Then pops on music, or birds chirping or whatever froo-froo happy sound you choose, at the time you actually want to get up. I am a heavy morning sleeper and I have to say this gentle light has worked to wake me up every morning since I purchased it. It’s an easy wake up. It’s not jarring or annoying, and as I used it more, I experimented with earlier and earlier times, all with success. So then the earlier I get up the more time I have to linger on the things below.

My Current Morning Routine (roughly…with room and permission to flex)

5:15am – Wake-up light comes on and slowly gets brighter

5:45am – Music comes on, by this time I’m usually awake. I lay in bed and meditate and release anything that is concerning me.

6am – Wash face, brush teeth, get gym clothes on that have been picked the night before*. Make a lemon water and grab a banana for the ride to the gym.

6:20 – Most mornings now since my daughter is older, I head to the gym. I feel and work so much better after a work out. This is a static part of my routine unless there is a super valid reason why I can’t go (sick, dead).

7:30 – Home. Make tea and breakfast (I tend to at least figure out breakfast in my head the night before, prep it if I’m being a super adult). This is where my options come in. I then do one, two or several of the following (depending on what I really need, and how much time I have before I need to be in the shower):

  • Morning Pages.
  • Read a non-fiction book about a relevant topic (I save fiction for bedtime).
  • Write in my gratitude journal.
  • Pull an oracle card.
  • Brainstorm/mindmap/plan – when my mind is really on fire, or I’ve busted out a wicked idea.
  • Sun salutes (yoga).

8:10 – Shower + Podcast. I use my shower time to listen to whatever Podcast I fancy that day (money, Tim Ferriss, leadership, online marketing, astrology).

9am – Out the door or at my desk. Some days I drive my daughter and her posse to high school. Most days I’m a working nomad and work in cute cafe’s or other creative entrepreneurial gathering places.

*Life hack to get your ass to the gym.

Occasionally things don’t go as planned, but that’s life and I let that shit go. I get back on track the next day. Another thing that has been helpful is keeping things really simple in the mornings. I pick from a few simple breakfasts to make – enough that there is variety but nothing that requires a lot of effort or decision making. I try and pick out clothes the night before. I also create lists of what I may need to bring with me the next day.

More Morning Routines

If your interested in other people’s morning routines, mymorningroutine.com is a cool site to read about successful people’s routines from all kinds of careers and lifestyles. This article showcases the morning routines of 12 female leaders, and one of my favourite authors and Podcasters, Tim Ferriss gets into this topic.

I’m genuinely curious. Feel free to share your morning routine in the comments or send me a note .
Brooke Simmons

Viva Las Vegas – Fun in Sin City

Las Vegas Strip
Hi Loves. Just back from a whirlwind few days in Las Vegas. I haven’t been to Vegas since I may or may not have tied the knot there many, many moons ago (oops). I wasn’t going for a do-over. Just a last minute “hey wanna go to Vegas?” style of trip. I expected nothing. I got fabulous.

It’s changed in the last 13 years – more hotels, it seemed classier and it’s helluva lot of fun. I didn’t gamble at all. I was too busy eating and drinking to think about it. You definitely don’t have to be a gambler to enjoy this city.

Highlights of Vegas I enjoyed muchly:

  • Nobu in Caesars Palace. Sushi/Japanese, fresh, impeccable service and awesome food. Do the Chef’s Menu if possible. So yum. You’ll enjoy flavours and things you probably wouldn’t think to try. *mouth waters*
    Cosmo in Las Vegas
    Our room at The Cosmo. I heard a rumour that these rooms were all supposed to be condos at one point.
  • Harley over (or car) to the Hoover Dam and Red Rock. Wish we had more time to hike and explore Red Rock. We did the Hoover Dam tour…this is an timeless engineering wonder, and take in some of the art-deco (love) style buildings! Recommended to do once in your life.
  • Our hotel, The Cosmopolitan. Lovely, trendy and awesome. It was hard to go home to my dinky cottage. Uh….and they had colouring pencils IN MY ROOM for my colouring book issues. It’s like they fucking knew me.
  • The Secret Pizza resto in the Cosmo. Yes, a secret restaurant! This makes me feel like a special agent of something. To keep it’s secret integrity – and my imagined agent status, I’m only going to say it’s on the third floor. (Although you can really find it’s location all over the interweb). A slice from this place is just what the doctor ordered the day after the night before.

My liver and stomach needed a few full days to recover from this trip, i’m not going to lie. But it was all worth it. One thing that really stood out was the standard of service in this town. Impeccable. They have it nailed. I am making a point to go back very soon. This trip was very much about the food and drink…I’d like to explore the entertainment scene and catch a show the next time.

What are your favourite spots in Vegas? What do you recommend?

 

Brooke Simmons