My Blogging Experience

April 24, 2010

The Man Who Forgot Everything

Filed under: Daily Living — debyj @ 12:08 pm

I watched this story on ABC this week.

It is about a man in Arizona that has suffered from extreme amnesia. About a year ago, he had an accident and it resulted in the complete loss of his memory. He could not remember his wife, his kids, his parents, his dogs, nothing!

Can you imagine waking up one day with no recollection of anything? You are in a bed, but you do not know what a bed is or what a blanket is. You walk outside to see the sun but you don’t know what that is. I can’t imagine how overwhelming each day has been for him discovering new things everyday. Imagine how differently you would see life if you were in his shoes. It was particularly interesting to hear his perspective on rituals, holidays, and traditions we have.  He did not get excited about putting up a Christmas tree or carving a pumpkin because he did not have any sort of emotional connection to those traditions.  He did not understand why we did those things.  I guess it makes sense if you cannot remember growing up in any sort of culture or traditions.

Really interesting story, definitely worth checking out!


April 6, 2010

Why I Think All Students Should Perform

I hosted a piano recital on Easter Sunday in my home town.  One week from today (eek!) I have to complete a graduating recital (in order to graduate), so I took the opportunity on Sunday to prepare myself for the graded recital and give my family and friends a chance to hear me play.

It went pretty well.  I played for an hour and included about 45 minutes of memorized music.  Every time I have a recital, the first thing I am always asked afterwards is how I can possibly memorize all that music.  It is totally possible! In fact, after you pick up on some tricks to memorizing, its not too hard to learn at all.  In our day to day lives, we really only use a small percentage of our brain.  Our brains are completely capable of handling much more.  We just don’t expect that because we never really need to use too much of it!  Have you ever had to memorize a piece of music before, maybe a poem for a class in high school, or a speech for a wedding?  Could you remember it? Was it that hard to learn or was it just hard to perform it memorized?

The toughest challenge is handling my nerves.  Memorization and nerves do not mix well so I have to very carefully prepare myself for performances and during the performance I have to constantly use positive self talk to remind myself that I know the music backwards and forwards and that I can perform well.  The second I start thinking “O crap! whats next, I forget!” or “geez that sucked”, it all goes downhill from there and things that I can play perfect in practice suddenly sound awful, I have strange memory lapses, or worse…I freeze!  The first piece I performed on Sunday needed a little more positive encouragement because I had a few memory slips and messed up on a few spots when I should have been able to nail them, but as I got more comfortable with the stage and my audience, my pieces started to sound more like they should.

Although not necessarily on piano, I think that all students need to gain experience performing from memory (be it on a instrument, giving a speech, acting in a play, talking to a small group, etc).  Performance provides a lot of challenges that will be good exercise for their brains and help them understand how to handle stress and high-pressure situations. Not many people enjoy performance because most do not know how to handle their nerves and they are scared, but stand up to their nerves and perform and they might feel like they are on top of the world when they can succesfully perform something memorized.  This is something all students should do because no matter where they go in life, they are probably going to have to perform at least once and they are always going to find themselves in various situations where they face feelings of anxiety, stress, nervousness, and fear.  Performing and memorizing may be a challenge for them and will definitely require encouragement, but in the end I am sure they will thank their teachers for that experience.

March 27, 2010

Food Companies making you an Addict (and you don’t even know it)

Filed under: Daily Living — Tags: , , , , , , , — debyj @ 11:43 am

My mom sent me this in an email a couple days ago and I decided to blog about it because I think it is very important for people to be aware of this issue.  The article is from a blog and is titled Hydrolyzed Vegetable Protein. I strongly encourage that you read it.  There was recently a recall announced on a significant number of products containing HVP.  The current list includes 160 items!

Something that really shocked me in doing research on HVP is that it contains MSG (monosodium glutamate).  MSG is something I have been trying to avoid completely because it is very dangerous for our bodies and it causes us to crave more food even when we are full.   I search ingredient labels for it each time I consider a new food product.  I am not the only one doing this.  Recently, the effects of MSG has been largely publicized so companies have had to find a new way to use it or suffer from loss of sales.  HVP contains MSG and is a way that companies are avoiding having to put MSG on the food labels.  HVP is something that I personally was not familiar with until this recall and am very disappointed that I now have to search for that in my ingredients too.  I feel the I have been deceived and am concerned that the food producers care much more about getting me addicted to their foods than helping me live a happy, healthy life.

I am reading a book by Michael Pollan right now called Food Rules (2009).  It is a fantastic book and I am very excited that someone out there is standing up for consumers.  In his book, he mentions the obvious problems with the Western Diet and explains that there is no help from food manufacturers, nutritional research centers, or governments because there is a lot of money in the food industry and the health sector (which is treating illnesses and developing drugs for the problems the Western Diet is causing).  The more companies process a food, the cheaper it is to make and the greater the profits for all involved, except of course the consumers.

With companies constantly producing new additives and chemicals to get us addicted to their foods and lower their production costs, I do not feel like I can trust processed foods whatsoever anymore.  The only way you can really avoid this problem is to eat as much naturally created food as possible and even that can be a challenge! (but that is a whole other blog post in its own)

I am very concerned for the children of the current generation.  They are growing up eating these processed foods and as a result their bodies are not getting the proper nutrients and their immune systems are suffering.  How is this influencing their health in the future, how is it influencing their moods from day to day, their attitudes towards life??  I hope we as a society can start to take this issue more seriously and try to fight against processed foods and force our manufacturers to go back to natural foods that are good for us.

March 15, 2010


Filed under: Daily Living — Tags: , , , — debyj @ 10:40 am

Opening the lines of communication…does a note like this one look familiar to anyone that has ever had a roommate?

I have decided that after many months of conflict, drama, and argument after argument, I am going to have to blog about my roommates and seek advice from my cyberfriends.

In my four years of renting, I have had more than TEN different roommates and next month I am getting new ones to add to the count.  I could probably write an entire book on the experiences that I have had with my many roommates.   Some have been great and others not so good.

The roommates I have now are absolutely, hands down, the worst I have ever had!  I sooo cannot wait until the end of this month when they move out.  The main problem I have with them is COMMUNICATION! In fact, I would have to say that has been the root of most of the conflicts I have ever had with roommates.  The problem with these two is that I am not sure they understand the word communication at all. They have been living here for about sixth months now.  I can count about 100 times they have called my landlord to complain about something we were doing or picked up our stuff and moved it somewhere without our permission and I cannot count ONE time when they came to us to tell us they had a problem.  We have approached them everytime they have upset us by not communicating and told them to please speak with us if they have a problem.  We really are not hard to get along with!  TV is too loud?? Well, ask, I can probably turn it down!  My laundry is done and I forgot about it? knock on the door, i will happily move it!  But….no matter how many times we ask them to PRETTY PRETTY PLEASE communicate, they will not.  It has become an endless battle and now…my landlord is very very mad.

Here is a retelling of the phone call I got at 9:00 this morning:

Landlord: “are you playing the piano?” (it is a digital piano, i had it on med-low volume)

Me: “yes”

Landlord: “well I am having a very busy day and dont have time for this but the guys downstairs are calling me complaining about you playing the piano so could you stop playing.  I know you shouldn’t have to but I don’t have time to come over there and tell them to stop the crap”

Me: “thats funny, they never said anything to me. I could have turned it down if they would have just asked. It is not the middle of the night or anything.  I can turn it down but I am not about to stop playing.  Why should I have to be silent for them?”

Landlord: “well, I am just tired of dealing with them. Could you just help me out and wait it out

with me? They are only going to be here for a couple more weeks”

me: “i guess so”

I get along with my landlord really well and I know he is doing his best in this situation, but I am really tempted to just tell him to deal with it.  Why should I have to tiptoe around my house during the day?  I am paying rent too!  It is not like I am blaring the stereo and shaking the house or partying until three am (which the roommates do frequently).  At the same time, it is obvious that my roommates are irrational and refuse to deal with problems in mature ways.  That makes me a little afraid right now.  What if the start thinking “o, well this is my last month here, so I am just going to do whatever I feel like?”  We share storage space. They could easily steal or damage something of mine or they could easily come into my suite and do something terrible.  Who knows really…. So now I have to decide if I am going to fight the fight or lay low until they leave!  Decisions, decisions.

On the plus side, if you ever want to improve your communication and conflict-management skills, get a roommate.  You will learn a lot!

February 9, 2010

How I manage a $250 grocery budget each month

Filed under: Daily Living — Tags: , , , , — debyj @ 9:45 pm

I recently did an Elluminate session on nutrition and the question was asked: “is eating healthier more expensive”? I replied that for me it is not and I do not think it has to be. When I tell people that my husband and I spend $250 each month on groceries, they think I am crazy (either that or anorexic), so today I will be explaining why I am not crazy and why healthy does not have to equal more money!

The number one reason I can keep a low budget is a Meal Plan. We usually make a meal plan no more than 5 days in advance. Before I make the Meal Plan, I always have a quick look at grocery store flyers online. I figure out which store I believe has the best sales and then make my meal plan using foods that are on sale. I also like to have a look at what is in my refrigerator and my freezer and use that up first to prevent food from going to waste.

Here as an example of what my Meal Plan looks like for today:

Feb 22 – 26 Breakfast Lunch Supper Snacks Take out

Nick 8:30-6

Deb 4:30-10

Your Choice:

Yogurt, berries and nuts

Fruit salad

Cereal with fruit


Nick: spinach salad and sandwich

Deb: BLT

Leftover pork chops, steamed carrots, and rice Apples,




Berry shakes

Banana loaf


Trail mix



Veggies and dip (broccoli, carrots, celery)

Ground beef

We have a column that includes our work/school schedules for each day to help us plan out who will be cooking and when is the best time to eat. We almost always have different lunch plans because I am usually home at that time and he is usually bagging a lunch for work. We like to include one general list of snacks for each week so that when we want a snack, we do have several options to chose from. We also include a column for what we need to “take out” of the freezer for the next day so that it is thawed out and ready to cook.

I really enjoy using a meal plan mainly because I never have to try to come up with supper on the fly. I always know what I am going to be making that day and look forward to meal times because I know I will be eating healthy, nutritious, tasty, and inexpensive meals.

Another way we save money is that we avoid convenience foods. If we know we will not have much time to cook a meal one day, we will make something the day before so that we can specifically avoid those pre-packaged, ready-to-eat foods. Generally, convenience foods are going to cost more and they are not going to be as healthy for you as a home-made meal or snack. You will also typically have to eat more of the convenience food than say carrots to feel your hunger is satisfied.

Some people buy everything in bulk, but I would like to suggest that you only buy in bulk the items that you know are cheaper than in singles AND you know you will use up in three months or less. It may seem like you are saving a lot at the time, but if it all goes in your basement where you forget about it, it becomes wasted money when you throw it out because it is too old.

My last tip for saving money on groceries is to be sure that when trying a new recipie you use something that includes ingredients that you typically already have in your cupboard so that you do not have to go out and buy a whole bunch of new groceries for that one meal.

Everyone is different and has different lifestyles and eating habits. By planning out your meals and doing your research on sales, you can save yourself a lot of money, stress, and time. Meal plans are great because you can easily personalize them to your own needs and lifestyle. They do not take long to create either. I usually spend 15 minutes on my meal plans each week and it probably saves me time every week because I am not humming and hawing about what I am going to eat everyday at meal time. It is definitely something I am glad I got into the habit of doing and hope you can try it too!

February 3, 2010

Life lessons I learned from my dogs

Filed under: Daily Living — Tags: , , — debyj @ 3:24 pm

Sometimes we learn lessons in places we never expect and from people (or animals in my case) that we never expected. Not only have I learned life lessons from my dogs, but I have also learned to open my eyes and be more open to learning. Sometimes I find we get in our heads that we can only learn from people that are older and wiser than us. Well, I disagree. I think we can learn from people of all ages, especially our students, but the only way to do that is open our minds and be available to learn.

So what exactly did I learn from my dogs? Well…lets start with some introductions:

This is Daisy:

Daisy is a 2.5 year old beagle. My husband and I got her when she was 1 year old. We were her 4th owners. We quickly discovered that Daisy had more energy than a grade 1 classroom combined and loved to eat anything and everything she could get her teeth on (especially the expensive things like cell phones and prescription glasses). She also enjoyed jumping on people, barking at anything that moved, and running away. One particular time, we got a call from the grocery store across the street because Daisy had run into their store and taken interest in greeting all of the customers (fortunate for us she did not eat any of the food).

I had dogs my entire life and I have never had to put so much work into caring for a dog. I think I read every dog training book available and watched every tv show and video on dog training that I could find. And my shocking diagnosis….Daisy was not the problem…it was ME!

After a year and a half of owning Daisy, I am happy to say that she will not find herself with a 5th owner anytime soon! I can say Daisy does not chew on things that are not hers anymore. She does not run away, she doesn’t bark at people, and she does not jump on people unless she is allowed.

This is Lucky:

We adopted Lucky from the Regina Humane Society about 4 months ago. We decided to get a second dog if we happened to come across a dog that would be a good companion for Daisy and a positive influence for her. We happened to stumble across Lucky one day and he proved to be a great dog. His previous owners had quite the report on how terrible Lucky was but we still have not seen that side of him. We immediately started working with Lucky and training him using the same techniques we had used with Daisy and he has responded well.

So how did I learn to change so that Daisy and Lucky could behave better?

1. I learned to have patience. It was not easy at times, but sometimes I just had to wait and wait for Daisy to calm down before we could accomplish anything.

2. I learned to be calm. If I am freaking out, Daisy and Lucky sense it, so they just freak out too! I learned that if I could be calm when they were freaking out, my energy would be contagious to them and they would immediately calm down.

3. I learned to forgive and forget. Dogs forget. They live in the moment, so I learned not to be bitter because Daisy ate my sock three days before. She had no idea that was why I was mad and so it was not helping the situation.

4. I learned the importance of structure. Everyone (including dogs) needs some kind of structure in their lives to function properly. If we do not have structure, we typically act out negatively. For example, try and teach in a classroom with no rules, expectations, or routines.

5. Unconditional love. I think dogs have unconditional love because they never hold anything against us. Humans on the other hand, hold things against each other all the time and it always seems to get us in big trouble. My dogs are always a constant reminder to not hold grudges against anyone.

When I got Daisy, I never expected to learn so much from her. All of the things she has taught me have transferred into all aspects of my life, especially my teaching. I find it is so exciting to think of all the learning opportunities we have available to us and am sometimes saddened by the fact that some people let those opportunities pass them by everyday because they do not believe it is possible.

Some of my favorite dog trainers:

Cesar Milan

Tamar Geller

My favorite pet store:

Pawsitively Purrfect

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