More Bees Please

For such a small creature, bees truly make a big impact. It is estimated that one out of every three bites of food that we eat is only possible because of pollinators like honey bees. It only makes sense that we do everything in our power to keep local bees strong and healthy, so they can keep doing what they do.

Did you know that it takes about two million flowers and 556 honeybees to make one pound of honey?

What bees need most is pollen and nectar. Here are a few things you can do to help:

  1. Plant a variety of wildflowers, perennials and trees ensuring that you have blooms from April to October.
  2. Avoid using any kind of pesticides (they kill insects).
  3. Only use herbicides when plants are not in bloom and so that it doesn’t touch any standing water (bees need clean food and water supplies).

Articles that may spark even more ideas:

  1. Spare the dandelions, save some bees
    Dandelions are an early source of food for bees so leave them on your lawn all summer or at least until other blooms appear.
  2. Feeling lucky? Plant a clover lawn
    Replace grass with bee-friendly plants such as creeping thyme, self-heal and dutch white clover.
  3. Buy local honey
    Supporting beekeepers in your area not only keeps the local economy strong, it provides you with the purest form of honey.

I’d love to hear what you are doing to help our amazing bees.

Wisdom from the Honey Bee

I recently attended a speaking event called “Lessons from the Humble Honey Bee” through an organization called Ladies Out Loud (details below). Guest speaker, Lori DuMont, was informative, entertaining and truly inspiring!

While Lori covered interesting facts about bees and beekeeping, it was the life lessons we can take from them that I want to share with you.

All jobs are important

  • Whatever you are doing, whether you are the queen, worker or drone, your skills and tasks are vital to the community.

The queen bee works for the colony

  • No matter what your position, always work for the benefit of the group.

Look to the future to prepare and thrive

  • Prepare diligently and methodically for harder times.

Success requires a non-partisan, informed democracy

  • Share wisdom and communicate effectively with each other, always with the focus of benefiting the whole.

Your 1/12 of a teaspoon counts!

  • Each individual honey bee provides about 1/12 of a teaspoon of honey. It doesn’t matter how small your contribution is, it still counts!

As we watch what is happening around the world, it can feel discouraging. Will our efforts make a difference? The humble honey bee says YES!

Every little thing we do helps to make the world a better place. Keep going!

Biographies

Lori DuMont is a teacher, pianist, bibliophile, gardener, and honeybee enthusiast. She lives in Airdrie with her husband and two young children.

Ladies out Loud is for women who are interested in learning, who want to be inspired by other women, and who like to have fun and chat about anything and everything (website).

ABC Bees is a pioneer Canada-wide for beekeeping education and innovation. They are Alberta’s only educator of beginner, intermediate, and advanced beekeeping skills. (website)

Replacing Plastic Produce Bags

I’m continuing my mission to eliminate single use plastic in my life. This week it’s about no longer using those flimsy plastic produce bags that come in rolls at the grocery story.

I realize I could just place produce in my grocery cart “as is” and not bother with any kind of bag. I already do that for fruits and veggies that have skins I don’t use (bananas, onions, etc.) however I just don’t feel comfortable putting my kale and broccoli in a cart (or on the checkout scanner) that may have recently been in contact with raw meat.

I did some research on this as I wanted to make sure that my replacement wasn’t harmful for the environment. A friend sent me an article on why cotton totes were worse than plastic (thanks Helen). I also read through All About Bags, Types of Reusable Bags which gives advantages and disadvantages of bags based on type of material.

ChicoBag Reusable Mesh Produce Bags

In the end, I decided to go with bags made from 100% post-consumer recycled plastic bottles and chose the ChicoBag Reusable Mesh Produce Bags from Well.ca where we already shop.

They work great! And it feels good to do something to reduce the number of bottles that end up in the ocean.

Now, if we could only get grocery stores to stop using plastic wrap as well.

No More Plastic Food Wraps

I’m on a mission to eliminate single use plastic in my life. I replaced plastic water bottles with metal ones long ago. That was easily done. But what about the plastic wrap we use to store food in the fridge?

I’ve discovered a number of alternatives that work quite well.

Casserole dishes with plastic lid. While I realize it still has plastic, it’s not a single use item and can be reused over and over again. It is airtight and works well for storing raw meat as well as prepared foods and leftovers. It even works in the freezer.

Casserole dish with glass lid. These are great for food that need to be covered while cooking (and eliminates using tin foil) and also works for storing foods. It is similar to what my grandmother used to do – place food in a bowl and cover it with a plate.

Organic Reusable Food Wraps. I use the Etee Food Wraps which are made with organic cotton fabric, beeswax, coniferous tree resins, soy wax, jojoba and essential oils. They are bio-degradable, reusable and cling to bowls just like plastic wrap. They are not recommended for raw meat but they work great for everything else.

After a recent dinner party, I was grateful that I had all three solutions readily available for an easy cleanup… and no single use plastic!

One Breath

We all go through hard times. Every single one of us. While knowing that you are not alone can bring some comfort, it doesn’t help when you are in the midst of stress or grief or sadness.

There is one technique that can help. Anyone can do it and it’s simple to learn. Whenever I find myself in a situation where I feel anxious, fearful or my brain simply won’t let go of a thought, I do this.

I take one slow and completely focused breath.

I start by putting all my focus on my lower dantian point, the Qigong energy center. It is located in and below your navel (about three finger widths below and two finger widths behind the navel). Breath in slowly imagining that you are filling up that area with beautiful clear, positive energy. Breath out slowly imagining negativity leaving your body and fading away.

If you notice your mind “chattering” while you are doing this, move those thoughts down to this energy center and try again. It will quiet the mind.

Whatever difficulty you are going through, you can find relief in your breath. When you have completed one focused breath, take another… and another… all while focusing on this amazing energy center. When you are finished, give thanks for the breath and all the good things in your life.

Quiet or Loud – Do Something

It was time. I had been working for a couple of years and was ready to move away from home. I was super excited to start my adult life. Unfortunately, my parents had other ideas. They didn’t think a woman should be living on her own, especially one that was only 20 years old.

“Wait until you get married,” they said. Well, I was having none of that. I found a nice apartment and moved in. My parents were upset and wouldn’t speak to me for a couple of weeks. We were a close family though, so I knew it wouldn’t last. Eventually they came around and everything was fine.

Around that same time, I was walking into my bank when a young man with a clipboard approached me asking if I would like to apply for a credit card. I knew I needed to establish a credit rating, so I said yes. We filled in the application together. I met all the qualifications so was surprised when it came time to sign and he told me I had to have my husband sign it. I explained that I wasn’t married, so he replied that I needed my father to sign it then. I asked him why I couldn’t sign it myself. I was working and clearly qualified.

“Sorry, that’s the rules.” he explained. He tore the application in half, handed it to me and walked away. Well, I was having none of that either. I searched out credit card companies that accepted women independently and within a couple of weeks one arrived in the mail. Ok, that was settled.

Just a few short years later I was a newlywed and looking for a first-time home to buy. I was supporting my husband as he went through University. I made good money as a computer programmer and knew I could cover the costs, especially if we bought something small. We found the perfect house in our price range. Our offer was accepted and we were assured a mortgage wouldn’t be a problem based on my income. Everything was falling into place nicely.

Except it wasn’t. Sitting in the mortgage office, we were stunned to hear that they wouldn’t give us a mortgage. The reason? I was a woman and my husband was not earning an income. They explained that I might get pregnant and quit, so we didn’t qualify. Well, I clearly was having none of that!

Fortunately, a close friend of mine was a lawyer (and a woman). I asked her advice. She immediately picked up the phone and called the mortgage company herself, explaining who she was and that this was clearly a human rights issue. We were approved that afternoon.

A few years later I had been promoted to a senior programmer position. I had two programmer trainees under me: a woman in her thirties and a young man in his early twenties. The woman was incredibly hard working and clearly had a talent for programming. The young man was lazy and spent a lot of his time at work doing personal things. When it came time for promotions, my manager called me in and asked for my input. I told him that the woman was doing really well and was ready to be promoted, but the young man needed more time to prove himself.

The next day the promotions came out. The young man had been promoted and the woman held back. I immediately went into the manager’s office asking for an explanation. He felt the young man just needed encouragement and that a promotion would help him. As for the woman, she came from a non-technical background and he wanted her to prove herself for a longer period of time, just to be sure.

I was livid but felt that there wasn’t much I could do as I was leaving the company within a couple of weeks. I approached the woman and told her that she was really talented and encouraged her to keep going. She would get that promotion soon. To the young man, I told him he was lucky this time. He just laughed at me. A year later, I ran into someone who worked for the same company and they told me she had been promoted shortly after I left and that he had been fired. Good to hear that time sorted that one out.

I experienced many of these kinds of incidences over the years but as time moved on, they became fewer and further between. We have come a long way, yet there is still so much to do, especially in developing countries.

It’s hard to believe that it was only 100 years ago that women were initially given the right to vote in parts of Canada. I am incredibly grateful to our foremothers for everything they did to make that, and so much more, happen. Their voices would not be silenced and nor should ours.

This year International Women’s Day is being celebrated on March 8 with the theme “Better the balance, better the world.”

Whether you plan to spend the day quietly contemplating ways you can improve women’s rights in your circle or going out to demonstrate for women’s rights – do something.

One step at a time, we can make a better world for women everywhere.  

#BalanceforBetter #IWD2019

Self Discovery in Resting

I’m baaack!

I am back writing in my beloved blog after a long a break. I’m also back in a much more profound sense. I’m back being me!

The last post I wrote was about giving myself permission to take a break. It was needed. I was extremely busy and had only so much energy to give. Since my blog is a love not a job, I had to let it go for a time.

I have since changed my job to a part-time consultant gig that is way less stressful. I also spent the last two months mostly resting. Quite literally as I had the flu and just when I was starting to feel better, fell and cracked a rib. Hmmm… was the Universe trying to tell me something? Perhaps I needed a little downtime.

The last couple of months have really been a blessing. I took the time to think about who I am and where I want to go in my life. I am ready for a change. Ready to try something new.

During this time of self reflection I remembered something I used to love and that is being artistically creative. I had forgotten. Or perhaps I just let that go in the busyness of life.

Now that I do remember, it’s time to make it a priority again. So, I did one simple thing. I signed up for beginner pottery classes – one of my bucket list items. It feels great to find a way to be creative again.

What one simple thing can you do in the step towards remembering who you are and who you want to be next? I’d love to hear about it.

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