#4 — Asking for money to spend on things you couldn’t afford was embarrassing.

A red brick wall with the words “Until Debt Tear Us Apart” written in black, upper case letters.
A red brick wall with the words “Until Debt Tear Us Apart” written in black, upper case letters.
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When I was growing up in the 1980s, talking about money was a taboo subject. Asking someone how much they made was up there with sex, religion, and home life. There were questions you didn’t ask and things you didn’t tell anyone, not even your best friends.

Instead, the adults would shake hands and ask, “so, what do you do?” and at once, their eyes would glaze over as they searched the recesses of their minds for a time when they may have heard how much income the stranger’s line of work generated. …


Name the mountain you want to challenge, chose a path you can handle, get your supports in place, and take one step at a time.

A man in a puffy, red jacket stands on a snowboard facing a mountain in the background.
A man in a puffy, red jacket stands on a snowboard facing a mountain in the background.

It arrived in a thick envelope, a mountain that seemed impossible to climb: the statement of what I owed after four years of student loans. At the time, my meagre earnings barely covered our living expenses, never mind debt payments.

Panic welled up in my chest as I stared at the unsurmountable number. I had no idea where to begin.

We’ve all been there.

The doctor tells you that you have to lose weight because…


This works because when you feel happy, you get more done!

Multiple colorful umbrellas, open against a blue sky.
Multiple colorful umbrellas, open against a blue sky.
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I have discovered a way to make crossing items off my checklist even more satisfying: coloured pens! I prop the polychrome stylographs in an old mug. It started with using the merry writing tools to underline valuable passages when I’m reading. First, I create a legend indicating what each colour represents. For example, red might mean I would like to look into the sentence topic further; blue might be a sentence structure that I found interesting; purple might be a profound idea that resonated with me. Then, I underline, write notes, and draw shapes around anything I want to reference…


Come to Saskatchewan — we have plenty of nice, affordable houses in beautiful communities where you can find work and raise your family.

View of Toronto’s downtown core from the vantage point of a park across a river.
View of Toronto’s downtown core from the vantage point of a park across a river.
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Canadian news is hot with stories of misplaced millennials who can’t find affordable housing in Canada. Bidding wars begin seconds after a listing goes live. People line up down the block waiting for viewing, only to have the house sell out from under them.

Here’s a statement from a report that does not represent all of Canada:

Soaring home prices, insane bidding wars and cancelled dreams have spread from urban centres into towns across Canada. …


How to stay steady and remain hopeful while waiting for a breakthrough

Winter scenery. In the background there is an open area covered in snow. Pine trees covered in snow in the farther back. In the foreground is a snow covered lantern, with a yellow glowing light inside.
Winter scenery. In the background there is an open area covered in snow. Pine trees covered in snow in the farther back. In the foreground is a snow covered lantern, with a yellow glowing light inside.
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Winter on the Canadian prairies generally starts peacefully with the first snowfall. The harvest is in, and the trees are bare, snow blankets the earth, a hush falls over the land. It is the beginning of the season of rest, a time of gratitude and simplicity. All is well.

That is, until January and February, when the temperature dips to -40 degrees Celsius. Then, every simple action becomes an arduous chore. Vehicles won’t start, people fall on the ice, layers of heavy clothing restrict movement, and frostbite warnings inundate social media. …


Friendship on a city bus | An act of kindness | Contagious joy

A large window at a coffee shop. Inside is a countertop with a large white mug containing a succulent plant and a yellow ceramic flower pot with a succulent. Outside is a street with tall historic buildings, black lamp posts with round lights, and flowers planted in large barrels.
A large window at a coffee shop. Inside is a countertop with a large white mug containing a succulent plant and a yellow ceramic flower pot with a succulent. Outside is a street with tall historic buildings, black lamp posts with round lights, and flowers planted in large barrels.
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Having time to spare between appointments, I stopped into a local coffee shop to get out of the heat. Settling into my favourite spot near the window that faced the bus stop, I sipped on a cold coffee and took in my surroundings. It was a fall afternoon, around the time when the air starts to dry your throat and dragonflies begin to arrive. Hot, dry air trickled through the door. Overheated people in business attire picked up ice drinks. …


The cat with many names but no permanent address.

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The first time I met Reggie, he was rolling around on the sidewalk at my daughter and son-in-law’s house, meowing insistently. Cooing at him, I stooped down to give him the loves he was begging for and was rewarded with instant purring. He had started visiting Nic and Mandy’s yard earlier that week and was affectionately named Sir Reginald because his long hair made him appear very regal. His size and desperation for affection, though, made us wonder if he had been abandoned. The long-haired tabby was so thin that his…


What keeps us from raising the standards we hold for ourselves | What we can learn from self-determined people

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Picture in your head one person you know who exudes confidence, walks with their head held high and has life figured out. What is your first thought? Definitely not me? Maybe a little twinge of jealousy? That’s okay. It is hard not to feel cheated when we see people around us making progress in areas where we feel stuck. We all want success for ourselves.

Yet do we not know deep in our hearts that we are stuck because of our own doing? We feel that nothing is going to change; nothing is ever going to get better. …


ANECDOTES | DOGS | LIFE LESSONS

What I learned from my dog’s reactions to standoffish park patrons

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I wrote a story a few months ago about my senior dog’s seamless transition from farm life to city life. You can read it if you would like more context. Sasha continues to teach her humans about navigating city life, and that walking in the park is the key to happiness.

We occasionally encounter less agreeable park patrons. Not everyone likes dogs, and we understand that. Sasha does now. Coming from a small town, where she was regularly found waiting outside the elementary school for the kids to come out and play, not being fawned over by every passerby…


Regenerative gardening: an analogy for how to have a happier family life.

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This weekend is the May long weekend in Canada, meaning that we get one extra day off, hopefully, spent outdoors. The area where I live is notorious for being cold and rainy on this particular national holiday. Yet this isn’t always guaranteed. Some years it is unpredictably warm on the May long. Out of caution, the rule of (green) thumb for gardeners in Saskatchewan is no planting until after the May long weekend. Today it is 30 degrees Celsius; two inches of snow and a temperature of -2 degrees are forecasted for the weekend. …

Crystal Garrett

Writing about life lessons learned from nature, adventures, and mistakes.

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