Trash Walks

For the past two Earth Months – April 2022 and 2023 – I have organised weekly trash walks as part of my community building activities. I wanted to put my thoughts together in the form of a blog, because I have lots of thoughts, both in regards to how I am hosting these and trash in our environment.


It is a difficult thing, describing my experience with trash walks. I find them to be so meditative, peaceful, and soothing. Not only do I get to tidy up a park or green space, I get to do it side by side with other like minded folks while not talking to them. Wandering slowly through a park, scanning the ground for pieces of litter, using my grabber to pick them up then ensuring they get into my garbage bag. This is high focus work, but it also gives my mind a chance to wander and process all the stuff I’ve been dealing with lately, and practice cutting off my ruminating thoughts. All while in the grand comfort of the outdoors. The triumph at the end is seeing how much garbage was collected, or chatting about the weird stuff I found. It’s easy enough to pick up litter by myself, but doing it in community feels more meaningful, and allows for fun debriefing afterward!


I’ve seen the stats hitting the news over the past year. Depending on the poll you reference, 75% to 85% of Canadians report being worried about climate change and want our governments to take action. (Over 50% don’t think the Canadian government is doing enough, but that’s a different post). This shows me that folks do care about the environment. Not to mention all the complaining that I hear about how dirty and trash-filled some of our community spaces are. Unfortunately, there is usually some sort of blame happening along with the complaining. We are quick to point fingers, and more reluctant to redirect that finger pointing back to us.

Trash exists for a multitude of reasons: the wind blows garbage out of receptacles, public garbage cans don’t have lids and people overfill them. Trash also exists because we as a society make too much of it. The amount of disposable coffee cups and snack wrappers I have picked up at these walks and over time is ridiculously overwhelming. A lot of the garbage I encounter is part of a single use item that could have been replaced with a reusable item.

Y’all, there is no magic fairy coming around to clean up the garbage. And in Edmonton, there are very few people that are paid to pick up public garbage. The folks driving the garbage trucks are not doing it. The teachers are absolutely not doing it in the school fields. That leaves you and me. And to be honest, I am sick of cleaning up your garbage by myself.


I personally love going for trash walks, but the low attendance at my group walks is telling me that maybe I am in the minority. On the other hand, I did get a positive response from folks who were unable to attend. People who told me that they wished they could attend if they were in the city, or available on those nights (or if it wasn’t raining, or too cold, etc.).

Part of my problem is that I haven’t targeted these events tightly enough to the correct people. Does everyone on my social media want to do trash walks in Edmonton? Heck no? Do I want to start “advertising” my events farther afield? No, but I really should.


More work advertising these events just means more work. And four trash walks in one month – alongside all of the behind the scenes work – was a lot. Too much, in fact, and by number three I was already feeling burnt out and resentful.

A big part of any community work is to do it as a group, and always be recruiting and training new folks. That way, when the first people start getting tired, there is a fresh set of hands to take over while they step back and rest up. To be perfectly honest, I am currently terrible at all of this, and my improvement is very slow.


I met 8 new people, folks who have never been out to a Not Ladylike event. And some who didn’t even know what NLL was! Thanks to Ritchie Community League for boosting my posts advertising that trash walk. My parents continue to support all my cockamamie schemes, especially my Mom who came out to all four trash walks. I picked up so many bandaids at McKernan it made me laugh. Janet found a weird scooter with a skull mask at Ritchie. She was also given $20 by a stranger as a thank you, so we were able to buy the crew ice cream. I got outside and walked every week for four weeks, and I helped other folks do the same. Those achievements are small, but they are not meaningless. They are exactly the reason I host these types of events. I want to get people thinking about trash specifically, and climate activism and community building more broadly. What’s that terribly correct saying by Zero Waste Chef? “We don’t need a handful of people doing zero waste perfectly. We need millions of people doing it imperfectly.” How about we start with 10 and work our way up from there.

I don’t have a tidy conclusion, or forward-thinking ideas to make next year’s Earth Month better. But maybe this gets the conversation started at least. And we can go from there.


Earth Warrior – We can make a positive change together! (You Tube)

An Interview with Zero Waste Chef, Anne-Marie Bonneau (Cri de Coeur)

Unite for Change poll results here. Canada: What is Trudeau doing to fight climate change? Half of Canadians say not enough’ (Politico)

Canadians Are Concerned About Climate Change, Yet Demonstrate Low Awareness and Low Hope For Action (Ipsos)

Waste expert answers garbage questions from Twitter (You Tube)

Trash picking tips from TikTok’s Anna Sacks (You Tube)

Ostara Brunch

In March, I hosted my family for an Ostara Brunch. I settled on an Ostara brunch earlier in the year instead of an Easter brunch, or a non-themed brunch ecause I like themed parties. Because I am not a Catholic or Christian and I treat the Easter days as an extra long weekend and nothing more. And because I am exploring new traditions with my family that resonate more with me than the old (expected) ones.

Ostara celebrates the spring equinox. The word Ostara comes from the Anglo-Saxon goddess name, Eostre. Eostre represented spring and new beginnings. The celebration of spring is present in many ancient customs, across all cultures, and it seems that Wicca has borrowed from many of them for Ostara.

Boston Public Library

Current themes that keep popping up in my community building are loneliness, care, rest, and asking for help. A lot of these came to a head in my brunch planning, and I am open to see what lessons an event like this has for me, and how it can further inspire my community building.


Planning small meals or gatherings for my friends and family over the years has taught me what kind of an event planner I am. Some may call me a “perfectionist” like it’s a bad thing. I call it attention to detail with an eye toward ensuring that everyone knows what to expect and can prepare themselves accordingly.

I “over plan” things, but that is how I know I will be successful and comfortable at an event. I have a hard time at an organized event that I don’t have some control over, where there is no itinerary, or I don’t know the itinerary. I want to know as many details as possible before I attend. And so I build my events the same way. At least I try to. Even if it is “just” a family meal.

I am still working on how to respond to specific details during the event to ensure that everyone remains comfortable and included. Usually I have so many things going on in my brain that it gets fuzzy and becomes difficult to filter all the information coming in so I can react appropriately. It’s not that I fail to notice important details, like if someone’s water needs refilling. It’s that I notice every single detail and I have no bandwidth to respond to the truly important things.

It’s funny to think that hosting my family used to lead to heightened anxiety, but actually having them in my home and feeding them relaxes my anxiety. I say “funny” but I mean “annoying” and “stressful”! It’s also stressful when people tell me to “just relax” and “it will be fine”.


I can’t remember where I read this, but I really loved this quote:

“Family dinner means we’re sitting around our dining table, eating and talking with each other. No phones or other electronic devices are present.”


A quick Google search shows that family mealtimes are important to a child’s development, show correlations with lower risk of depression and anxiety, and lead to better relationships. Sitting down to dinner together has always been a priority for me with my kiddo. I have been to a lot of family meals over the years, but for the reasons noted above – anxiety, perfectionism – hosting larger family meals has traditionally been difficult. I consider if a blessing that my blended family is so close and connected. And while maintaining these connections isn’t solely reliant on my – oldest daughter syndrome – I can use events like this to do my part.

While I come from a blended family I am also trying to build one for my son. Family traditions are important for a lot of reasons, and I have seen the difficulty first hand with trying to maintain those through a divorce or other family changes. I also am highly aware of the problematic nature of a lot of the traditions I took part in as a child and want to find new ones to invite my family into and pass along to my son.


    I have been including this recipe in my brunches ever since my first Galentine’s brunch back in 2019. It reads weird on the page, but it is a hit every time.

    Fontina, Pear & Carmelized Onion Galette. Makes 2 medium galettes or 1 big one.

    Carmelized Onions

    • 2 tbsp butter
    • 4 cup onion slices (3-4 medium onions, I prefer red)
    • pinch of salt
    • 1-2 tbsp balsamic vinegar (sub wine)
    1. Heat butter over ledium heat in al arge pan. Add onions, pinch of salt. Cook covered for 15 minutes.
    2. Remove cover, stir, increase heat slightly and cook another 20 minutes stirring occasionally until onions turn a nice translucent brown.
    3. Add vinegar. Turn off heat and scrape bottom of the pan. Allow to cool


    • 2 frozen pie crusts
    • 2 cup crumbly cheese (the recipe calls for fontina, but I have used vegan parmesan and vegan feta successfully)
    • 1/4 tsp salt
    • 1/2 tbsp dry thyme
    • 1/2 tbsp dry rosemary, finely chopped
    • 1/4 tsp pepper
    • 2 pears, thinly sliced
    • 1 egg yolk + 1 tsp milk (dairy or non)
    • 1 cup of the carmelized onions

    1. Preheat oven to 350F.
    2. In a small bowl, combine cheese and spices.
    3. Remove dough from pans and flatten, pressing the cracks back together when they form.
    4. Top with a layer of the onions, leaving 1-2 inch border along the edge.
    5. Cover onions with a layer of pears, then top with the cheese mixture.
    6. Lift edges of dough and fold inward over the toppings. Pinch together any tears. It doesn’t matter if it looks messy!
    7. Brush egg mixture over exposed crust.
    8. Chill 10 to 15 minutes.
    9. Back 35 to 45 minutes.


    Hello, hi, it’s me writing about the biggest cliche topics this decade: self-care and loneliness. The pandemic popularized a lot of pre-existing concepts, and self-care is definitely near the top. We took a global phenomenon that affected every level of society – especially our most vulnerable members – laid bare how terribly we care for each other, and boiled it down to an individual problem with individual solutions. This combined with social media’s meteoric rise and its correlation with reported loneliness leaves our generations ill equipped to thrive during these frightening times. While I might have nothing new to add to the body of research on these topics, I am interested in how this intersects with the core values of Not Ladylike. And how our community here can address both self care (or rest) and loneliness together.


    I found a variety of definitions of loneliness in my searches, but this one resonated with me.

    “perceived social isolation, or the discrepancy between what you want from your social relationships and your perception of those relationships.”

    Psychology Today

    Humans are social creatures at heart, and loneliness developed as an early warning system to a threat to your social body, which is a significant impediment even though it might not seem intuitive or commonsensical. (source) As so many of the annoying features of our psychology, loneliness at the start is meant to alert us to a problem that is detrimental to our functioning, so we can correct it. But it feels like many of us have forgotten how to correct it, never learned in the first place, or are so divorced from the appropriate tools that it is easy to spiral out of control and begin to impact our functioning long term.

    Loneliness also has a huge stigma around it, an association with folks who have limited social skills, a mental illness, with losers. In our current culture of rugged individualism, loneliness is for the weak. But loneliness is a cue, a sign to step into our human nature and fully embody all the emotions and goodness that comes with being a social being. Loneliness is a gift. But it’s gotten out of hand. And we can’t “self-care” our way out of this.


    I’m not going to tell you how to manage your social media habits, lord knows I need a break myself every now and again. I do know from my own personal experience, and from reading a lot of articles by experts on everything from human behaviour to teenagers to leadership, that social media exacerbates all of our shitty feelings about ourselves. And surprising no one, there is a strong correlation between social media use and loneliness specifically. We know that scrolling is not good for us, comparing our everyday lives to the “highlight reels”, but we can’t seem to stop. And we turn to our feeds when we are feeling crummy, which makes us feel crummier. The cycle continues, and the only people to benefit are the billionaires at the top.

    Embarrassingly, it’s taken me a lot of years to fully embrace the fact that a like is not a friendship. And that the absence of a like is not a snub. “What are the thoughts and feelings sparked by the use of social media that lead a person to magnify their “perceived isolation?” (source) Seeing that highlight reel and forgetting that it’s a highlight reel and not real life. Seeing our friends or acquaintances out with other friends, while we sit at home alone. That discrepancy in the perception of what our social relationships actually are to where we want them to be strikes at the very heart of loneliness. And the more we get stuck in the cycle, the greater the discrepancy grows, and the harder it is to break the cycle. When this happens for me I often start unfollowing people that trigger the strongest feelings in me, which is unfair to that relationship. And unsustainable in the long-term, as it doesn’t address the underlying problem of my loneliness.

    And what about the loneliness that surfaces away from social media? To be honest, I have a hard time coming up with examples of what that might look like because social media dominates my understanding of (and experience with) loneliness these days. I live next to a house filled with twenty-somethings and I don’t know any of their names. I know of many folks who live apart from their family, in a new city and some in a new country. I’ve experienced firsthand workmates who don’t hang out after work. Those are all social relationships that easily lend themselves to a perceived disconnect.

    And y’all, we aren’t doing ourselves any favours even when we aren’t on social media. Our inner critic lies to us about why we don’t go out or why we don’t socialize more. Many folks’ social anxiety ramped up over covid, and while those excuses have outlasted their usefulness, it’s easy to fall back into that habit. These excuses and lies sound really good in our head, and often stroke our ego as well. But they aren’t helpful, despite making us feel better in the short term. And they don’t resolve our loneliness problem.


    There isn’t one easy cure for loneliness. Clearly we’ve demonstrated that social media plays a role in its existence and persistence, but deleting all of our accounts probably won’t magically resolve those feelings. It is also so hard to pick up on those cues and then act on them, instead of picking at the scab and diving back in for more pain?

    Of course self care gets touted as a cure for loneliness, which indeed, if you can practice honest, non-avoidance methods to soothe your mind and body, you are on your way to curing a lot of what ails you. But loneliness is a social problem, and I think it needs a social solution. If loneliness was cured by individualized self care practices, we would have fixed it all by now. 

    “Sharing good times is one of the keys to connection.” (source) I am always harping on those self care lists – baths and reading a book and taking a walk – and how none of them address self care in community. Collective connectedness is being part of something that is bigger than yourself. Practicing being together, working on a task or a goal with a group of people, or just hanging out, starts to chip away at our disconnected perceptions of our social interactions. The more you practice this stuff, the more you will find the sweet spot! It’s true that folks can be surrounded by other people and still be lonely, which is why we need to work at it. And why we need to be mindful of cues that other people are putting out, and tap into our vulnerability and courageous hearts to help other folks cure their loneliness too.

    And this is important work! I found a lot of scary stats while I was gathering info for this post, like “chronic loneliness is bad for our health”, (source). Or how “living with loneliness increases your odds of dying an early death by 45% (source). Does that mean that the opposite is also true? That connection and community are great for our health?

    The Not Ladylike Community aims to offer loads of opportunities for social interactions and community gatherings. Maybe I will add “cures loneliness and adds years to your life” into my next marketing campaign!

    “Our survival depends on our collective abilities, not on our individual might” (source)

    I could write hundreds of pages on how our best chance at surviving and thriving in the next few decades is if we do it together, in community. And I haven’t even scratched the surface on how that might impact our loneliness and self care strategies. We don’t even have to like each other. The connection between resilience, care, rest, loneliness, and strength is too important to ignore.

    • What does self care mean to you?
    • What does rest look like for you?
    • How do you currently take care of yourself and your community?
    • Do you know the 9 areas of self care? Physical, psychological, emotional, social, professional, environmental, spiritual, financial, and community
    • Do your self care strategies involve all areas?
    • If not, what are some strategies you can use to fill in the spaces?


    Why Millennials are so Lonely (Psychology Today) 

    Millennials are hit the hardest by the loneliness epidemic, and here’s why (Zendesk)

    Telstra Talking Loneliness Report

    Millennials and Gen-Z are the loneliest generations (Refinery 29)

    How to Deal with Loneliness: 5 ways to stop feeling lonely (Cigna)

    The lethality of loneliness John Cacioppo at TEDxDesMoines

    Social relationships and mortality risk: a meta-analytic review (Holt-Lunstad, Smith, & Layton, 2010)

    We don’t just “hang out” anymore. And it’s a problem. (Big Story podcast, episode 767)

    Victoria, BC and a Vacation Re-Think

    For our annual Mother-Son vacation, Lucas and I went to Victoria, BC in July 2022. We spent five days there, exploring by foot and bus, eating ice cream, and relaxing in our Airbnb. And I had a lot of time to think about what I want future vacations to look like for me.


    One of the first items on the very loose itinerary I created was awalk through Beacon Hill Park. The trees in BC hit different than the ones in Edmonton, and I was in awe every time I saw a new one. They are huge, and weird looking, and I love it. We also spent an hour wandering around a regional park one day, which was a great plan, but poorly executed. I would love to be able to spend more time in nature on these trips, whether it be at a park close to our residence, or something further afield that takes a bit more planning. I know this isn’t Lucas’ jam though, so I will need to figure out how to help him enjoy these times as well. Once he is older and feels more confident on his own in a new city, this would also be a good opportunity to take a break from each other for a few hours.


    After we finished up in Beacon Hill Park we started heading back to our Airbnb, and I recommended we walk through the neighbourhood instead of back on the main, busy street. And that was the best choice. I got to see how people converted their boulevards,, some wild ass flower choices in front yards, and the curbside recycling program in action. We passed a park that was mostly devoid of children, but had some great murals. I got to peep into some houses which is one of my top favourites pastimes. And it absolutely forced us – in a gentle and non-toxic way – to slow down and enjoy our time moving through the space.


    I have a little family of introverts. Being in public, in crowds, and just generally interacting with folks in the world drains us of energy. We need that quiet time to recharge. Lucas and I took daily siestas in our apartment, where we each decamped to our beds and relaxed in the method of our choosing. Video games for him and Netflix or reading for me. Having an entire apartment made that easy, but so would headphones or ear plugs. I have made the decision to stop renting from Airbnb, especially in locations that are obviously and dangerously impacted by a housing crisis. It felt really insulting to be paying a tonne of money to stay in an apartment that could have been rented out to any one of the houseless folks we saw crowding the streets on nearby Pandora (street????????)


    The more I have been working with video these past few months, the more excited I get about the possibilities! My videos are not fancy, they have no special effects or theme music. And often times the text is crooked and the transitions are sloppy. But it is so much fun to create and then to watch and re-watch our memories coming to life.


    Lucas graduates highschool and turns 18 next year, which makes me wonder how many more of these trips we have in our future. I have a big, huge, grand one planned next year to celebrate all the big endings he will be experiencing. And beginnings too. But what next? When I was 20, would I have wanted to go on a one-on-one trip with any of my parents? I’m not sure, to be honest. Will Lucas, now that we have set this precedent, this tradition? According to the blog, he and I have been traveling together like this since 2017. Six years isn’t nothing, and I won’t spend time regretting that we didn’t start sooner. There were good reasons that we didn’t start sooner. All I can do now is make a plan and put in the work for this tradition to continue for as long as possible. And then be okay if it changes, or stops, or morphs into something even lovelier.


    I keep saying this isn’t a travel blog, but I write a lot about our travels! Here are some posts about trips, how I document trips, and a blast from the past on the old blog!

    And finally, here are some thoughts about Airbnb written by other folks:

    And finally, some other stories about homelessness you might enjoy, and that I definitely did:

    7 Low Waste Ways to Celebrate Spring

    When I was a kid, my sister and I always received an elaborate Easter basket filled with treats. We looked forward to an egg hunt, hanging out with family, and having a big meal. Sometimes our celebrations happened over many days of the long weekend, and there was always something new to look forward to. Looking back at the individual parts of our family tradition, I see so many ways to make it low waste. Maybe some of these ideas can aid you when planning your family’s activities to celebrate the arrival of Spring.

    Let’s start with the coveted Easter basket. Our childhood baskets were never fancy by any means, but they were colourful and filled with treats and toys. And they made us feel special. I think that feeling can easily be captured without buying a bunch of new items, or compromising our environmental values.

    Buy Nothing groups or online secondhand marketplaces are ideal locations to pick up puzzles, games, art supplies, you name it! And once your kiddo has had their fun with it, you can post it back online and feed the sharing economy.

    Chocolate is an item that both kids and parents are excited to see in their gift baskets. Finding more ethical chocolate is becoming much easier, as I see them popping up in big box stores now as well. I say “more” ethical because y’all, chocolate is complicated. Chocolate production not only fuels deforestation and carbon dioxide emissions, there is rampant slavery and child labour. I will give all of us a little slack here with the reminder that it is functionally impossible to purchase chocolate made without slave labour because it all gets lumped into the same market. Watch for the Fair Trade label, or search for brands at, and do your best! And go without if it is causing you stress.

    No matter what you include in your basket or box, think carefully before you wrap it all up in plastic cellophane or sparkly gift wrap. It’s more than likely that the traditional wrapping and decorating is not recyclable. Get creative by using fabric, boxes or reusable bags. I wrote an entire post about low waste gift giving on Waste Free Edmonton’s blog if you need more ideas!

    Once you’ve done the gift giving and receiving, it’s probably time to eat! Traditional Easter meals can be often heavy on the meat. In our family, it was ham with gravy and allll the side dishes. One of the fastest and most environmentally friendly changes you can make to your meals is to eat less meat.

    If no meat is a no go, there are a lot of other ways to generate less waste at dinner. Farmers markets are still alive and kicking this time of year, even though where I live there is more snow on the ground than vegetables! You could plan your meal around the food available locally. If you’re struggling to find ways to “decarbonize” your dinner in a way that feels doable for your family, I’ve got 5 more tips here.

    Snow on the ground makes it challenging to celebrate the coming of spring. It still feels so far away, even in March or April. I am a Weather Optimist, so I love all the seasons equally, and there is something so special about how the sunlight hits during this time of year. I also know that seasonal affective disorder is alive and well in populations whose vitamin D is lacking thanks to the short days. You could celebrate the changing season and tackle your low mood by getting outside! Grab a sled, your skates, heck grab your boots and just walk out the door. Edmonton is really jumping on board and embracing its “Winter City” flex so there is probably a festival happening close by. And most communities have a sledding hill or skating rink. If you’re looking for a hike in Edmonton, I have lots of trailhead options listed here.

    Let’s get real here gardeners. I know you are already planning your garden, and have probably bought a bunch of seeds already. I’m also aware that this is not unrelated to the cut flowers flying off the shelves. We can’t wait for spring to start so we bring any and all signs of spring into our house as much as we can. But let me just yuck your yum for a minute there. Cut flowers are so bad for the environment and for us! They are grown in energy-intensive greenhouses using nasty pesticides and herbicides, refrigerated and then shipped via airplane all over the world. I’ve included some links below, but trust me when I say, they’re not worth it.

    Now, flip this on its head and you can do amazing things for our environment while celebrating the arrival of spring in your garden. Choose seeds and plants that are native to your area and grow them alongside food in your yard, balcony, or deck. In Edmonton we are lucky enough to have the Native Plant Society to offer you advice and sometimes they even have plants for sale. There are lots of tricks to planting natives, but they are worth the effort. Same goes with planting food. Even a few herbs in a balcony planter can have a huge impact. If you’re thinking in terms of gifts, a subscription to the ENPS newsletter, gift card to a local greenhouse that carries natives, or a handful of seed packets would be a welcome addition to any Easter basket.

    Easter or Equinox. Whatever you name and however you celebrate, there are ways to turn our favourite traditions into lower waste, less energy intensive ones. All it takes is a little imagination, or in this case, letting someone else do the work and taking this list to the store with you! Peppered throughout this blog post were SEVEN low waste ways to celebrate the arrival of Spring. Did you catch them all? Do you have any to add to this list?


    1. Take advantage of the secondhand marketplace to fill your Easter basket
    2. Buy ethical chocolate
    3. No gift wrap, get creative!
    4. Skip the gifts, and go outside
    5. “Decarbonize” your dinner and go local and meat-free
    6. Skip the store bought flowers
    7. Plan your garden with more native species or food on the seed list


    Environmental impact of cut flowers:

    Environmental impact of chocolate:

    It was frustrating that none of the articles on the environmental impact of chocolate mentioned slavery or child labour, so I found some additional articles on that specific subject.

    No Spend Month Tradition

    I think the definition of a “tradition” is after you’ve done the same thing three times in a row. So we’re not quite there yet. But the goal is to make “No Spend Month February” a tradition for me.

    Last year I wrote about how I could fit the concept of No Spend Month into my word of the year. This year, I wanted to expand the parameters, while doing some extra learning and sharing about finances. And then spend time evaluating how that worked for me, or didn’t work.

    When is payday? How much do I spend on groceries every month? How does money affect my mental wellness? How can I use money to support my core values?

    These were all questions I started asking myself a few years ago during my first No Spend Month. They are questions that keep coming up, because No Spend Month and all the habits that come along with it only work with practice and repetition. Maybe one day I will feel fully confident around money, but this day ain’t it!


    Core values are things like relationships and faith. Core values are also the lens through which I view my long term goals. Money is a tool I can use to support my values and achieve my goals. But not if I have a toxic relationship with it. Allowing for space and mindfulness during No Spend Month actually helps me identify and solidify those values. 

    Laying the Venn Diagram of Lisa over my money goals is a whole other flex, and it still feels unnatural to do so. Perhaps that is something I can work on over the course of this year. As overwhelming as that seems, it’s just another tool to use. How does my money fit into it, and how does it provide a guide to use money?


    My mental wellness addresses both self care and my mental illness. When I am having a bad day, it is harder to do everything, including money stuff. It seems obvious, but I still feel bad about making bad money decisions when I feel mentally low, or give in to decision fatigue.

    Self care can look like spending money on activities to take care of myself. But it more often looks like saving up for big items that fill my cup for even longer. All of this gets built into my budget. And because self care looks different for everyone, your self care budget will look different from mine as well.

    For me, a cross-over between values and mental wellness takes the shape of spending (or not spending) on items that fuel my environmental consciousness. A No Spend Month (or week or whatever period of time works best), works to reassure myself that I’m on track, and allows me to make adjustments for stronger and more purposeful self care moving forward.


    I am not a financial advisor or planner, so my advice to you will be mostly about me! That’s the nature of the beast. Take from my steps what you will. I hope there is at least one thing in here you can use, or even to inspire further mindfulness and exploration.

    I look at my budget, a task I wasn’t able to do even 5 years ago because I didn’t have one. So I guess step one is to put together some sort of budget for yourself. Getting ahead of myself! So then Step two is to look at your budget and all the categories. Is there appropriate focus enough on self care, and is that going to need to change over time? For example, I need more self care help on Mother’s Day, my birthday, and in December. Those months’ budgets may get some tweaking to reflect this self awareness.

    Is there a core value missing from the budget? Or are you spending too much in places that go against your values?

    Don’t be afraid to journal about this stuff, or bounce ideas off of someone you trust. I talk a lot about money with my partner. We don’t share a bank account – other than for our mortgage – but we share expenses. He is a good sounding board when I am concerned about money, or exploring budget categories. If you live or share expenses with someone, it might be helpful to loop them in on these explorations. They can often offer that sweet sweet outside perspective. But don’t expect them to have the same values as you or make the tough decisions for you.

    Step three is to identify some categories that you want to hold back on during your No Spend Month. For me, this is always the “nice to haves”, like eating out and donations.

    Step four happens at the end of the month, where you are going to do some more reflection and then put your saved money to good use. Maybe this heads into a high yield savings account, or gets added to the “fun stuff” next month. Check in on the categories that you highlighted, re-adjust for values and self care, and then celebrate!


    I have written more about No Spend Month here: 

    No Spend Month – How to Care for $0

    No Spend Month – Day 28

    If you are interested in setting money-related goals, this post might have something for you: Setting Numbers Goals.

    I find that so much of the current advice and information around money is outdated, wealth-focused, and not realistic to the ongoing crises of our current world. Our parents’ financial planning cannot be the same as ours! There are folks talking about this, but it can be difficult to find them. I continue to recommend We Bravely Go, and am always on the lookout for a similar educator based in Canada. Here is a cool list of 4 outdated money tips Millennials and Gen Z hate.

    Decolonizing Wealth by Edgar Villanueva. This book will absolutely not help you with your budgeting, but it will give you a glimpse into the bonkers world of philanthropy. It really struck a chord with me in terms of where my values intersect with how my money works for me.

    Money talk seems timely right now in the midst of historic inflation, rising costs of living, and record breaking corporate profits. I know only a little about economics, so I always appreciate someone smarter than me breaking it down into concepts that make sense for my community and family. Inflation is one of those terms that really bugs me, because I know that when I read about it in mainstream media, they are leaving out some important details. Debunking right-wing myths about inflation by Adam D.K. King gave me definitions of some important terms, and placed them in the context of our unbalanced society.

    Top Fun Things to do With Your Teenage Son on a Weekend in Calgary

    Calgary sits in Treaty 7 territory. These are the traditional and contemporary homelands of the Blackfoot confederacy which includes the Siksika, Kainai, and Piikani, as well as the Tsuut’ina, and Îyâxe Nakoda which include the Bearspaw, Chiniki, and Goodstoney First Nations. This territory is also home to the Métis Nation of Alberta, Region 3 within the historical Northwest Métis homeland. This land is known by many names to many people, including Moh’kinsstis (Blackfoot), Wincheesh-pah (Nakoda), Otos-kwunee (Cree), Kootsisáw (Tsuu’tina) and Klincho-tinay-indihay (Slavey). Lucas & I are grateful for the opportunity to visit this beautiful land and our neighbour to the south. Just because we visited here for pleasure, it does not absolve us of the responsibility to honour this space, and all human and non-human kin who live and play here as well.

    Lucas and I have a summer vacation tradition. That is, we go on a summer vacation together every year, just the two of us. Camping was the holiday of choice for a lot of years, but Lucas is not interested in that any more. With that, the pandemic travel constraints, and our teeny time period, we were left with few choices in 2021. Thank goodness we have a pretty rad city a few hours to the south of us in our home province. It’s supposedly our rival city if you ask hockey fans, but I think it’s pretty swell. In fact, at one point in our trip, both Lucas & I agreed we could definitely see ourselves living in downtown Calgary.

    So here are our Top Fun Things to do on a Weekend Trip to Calgary. This list is not exhaustive, because we are very chill vacationers, as you will learn based on some of the entries. I did get Lucas’ input as well, so this has a teenager stamp of approval (as much as that is possible).


    I won’t write too much about this, because it is literally one of the main “tourist attractions” for families in Calgary. Telus Spark has lost its spark for Lucas, but it was still a fun place to kill a couple of hours in the morning.


    As Lucas & I weren’t driving around, we got to see a bit more of Calgary than the “normal tourists”. We are already used to walking a lot at home, and when you looked at total km for the day, wasn’t even very far. After getting to Telus Spark by bus, I noted that the next stop on my list was easier to access by walking (than by transit), so we headed over a hill, through a dog park, and into Bridgeland. Cute little shops and restaurants, lots of public seating, and a nice chill vibe. This area is adjacent to where the General Hospital sat back before it was demolished in 1998. It was a special moment for me to sit in its former shadow and enjoy a quiet, reflective moment, before moving on.


    If we had more time in Calgary, I would have come back to Prince’s Island Park, and explored the other two islands in the Bow River. We saw some bike rentals (not Lucas’ thing), and honestly there were just a lot of paths to explore. Bring a snack and watch the birds (and the people).


    This one was less for Lucas and more for Mom. Downtown Calgary has loads of murals and sculptures to feast your eyes on! And I adore murals. On our last morning in town, I left Lucas in the hotel and hopped on the train. There was a station immediately outside of our hotel, so this step was so easy. And then I just rode it up and down within the downtown core, hopping off when I saw a mural or other cool art.


    Downhill Carting at Calgary Olympic Park was the top highlight of our short time in Calgary, for both me and Lucas. It was a pain in the butt to get to by bus, which was its only downside. Calgary was host to the 1988 Winter Olympics, and there is a lot of infrastructure – and a ski hill – left in the middle of the City. These folks have taken advantage of it, and built a sweet downhill cart track. You take a chair lift up the hill, hop on a really simple kart (no motor), and let gravity zip you back down the hill. Lucas was a bit more cautious than me, as I love to go fast (the faster the better). On those beautiful summer nights, I recommend pre-purchasing your tickets, because it was busy. You get as many rides down as you can make within your time slot. Good for all ages. Great for picky teenagers and adventure-seeking Moms.


    • Ditch the car. Lucas and I did 90% of our traveling without a personal vehicle. Transit and walking were absolutely perfect for the touristing we wanted to do. We did take a taxi once but that was because we got lost on a bus and needed to get to Cinnamon before it closed.
    • Indian food from Cinnamon. This came as a recommendation from a pal from Calgary, and it was just as tasty as she said it would be.
    • Calgary’s Central Library is gorgeous inside and out. Plus I hear it has books.