The 4 reasons you started tolerating and what to do about it

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 stop tolerating - set limits
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This could have been titled “how to learn to set limits because your health depends on it.”    Because we do teach people how to treat you, either by doing something or not doing something and whatever we end up tolerating  does have an impact on our health.  If you have been putting up with other people’s bad behaviour, this is the right place for you.

What you should not tolerate

When we say “ toxic relationships” a lot of what has been written is about romantic relationships and family relationships.  And those are the most important ones in our life because those people should be the ones who can be a soft shoulder to land on and they should be the safest.

However, any relationship can be hazardous to your health.  Bad bosses, insensitive co-workers, bossy friends, intrusive neighbours and all the other takers that are in your environment can impact your health negatively, sometimes as bad as closer relationships, if you let them.

Examples of stuff you should not tolerate: someone who does not respect your “No” and tries to intimidate you by making you feel guilty, stupid, not intelligent, etc.  Someone who insults you, calls you fat, stupid, or worse.  Someone who talks behind your back.  Someone who tries to force you to do anything.  Someone who does not respect the agreement you had with them. Someone who criticizes you constantly.   Someone, a boss who abuses of your goodwill and expects you to work overtime, either without pay or habitually, when he-she knows you have family or other obligations.  Someone who yells at you – be it partner, boss, co-worker, friend or neighbour. A co-worker who does not pull his or her weight.  Someone who takes your possessions without permission – borrowing means to ask first.  Someone who uses jokes to belittle you and tells you you have no sense of humour.  I could go on and on.  Usually you can recognize you are about to tolerate because you don’t feel good about what is happening.  I did not mention physical abuse: slaps, blows, pushing, etc. because they are obvious.

Why we tolerate

If you are in an unhappy marriage, friendship or other relationship or in the job with a bad boss for a while,  it may have become the norm. It most likely became the norm because you avoided speaking up the first time something unpleasant was said or done, by your partner or the boss or the colleague.  And if you avoided speaking up at the beginning, it was 1) most likely because you did not want to rock the boat, or 2) you did not think it would happen again, or 3) you were afraid of their reaction or 4) you did not think you had the right to. You may have convinced yourself it was no big deal.  The psychological forms of abuse are harder to pinpoint simply because we can be manipulated into feeling we are too sensitive, we have no sense of humour, we are party poopers, etc.  The literature is clear that many in those unhealthy relationships do not realize there are in unhealthy relationships because they have low self-esteem and they blame themselves for their problems (and they often never saw what a healthy relationship was.)  If they were treated poorly as children, they simply believe that that’s life.

Many of us have been brought up to “be nice”.  Not that being nice is not nice.  It’s absolutely better than being rude or arrogant.  But the being nice we have been told to practice means to be tolerant (tolerate), to try to understand, to put our needs last and stop being so selfish, to not ask for what you need or want.   Unfortunately not speaking up and swallowing your unhappiness can be can be lethal to your health, both your physical and mental health(s).

Speaking up is also scary because we are afraid it will lead to people breaking off the relationship.  The more unhealthy your family of origin was, the more likely you are to tolerate in life, unless you became an abuser or a bully, in which case you would not by reading this article.  The more the relationship is important, the scarier it becomes to speak up.  And the less self-esteem and self-confidence we have, the more we become sitting ducks for those who like to take advantage.

How tolerating affects your health

How does a lack of setting boundaries impact your health? Let’s just look at one time when you were nervous about an interview, or the time you almost had a car accident, or the first misunderstanding with your sweetheart, or the time a loved one was very late and you were worried “sick”.  All these events have one thing in common: stress.  Whether it was the nervousness, the sadness or the worry, you most likely felt it in your body.  Sweat, digestive issues, palpitations, headache, difficulty sleeping, etc.

Now imagine that this kind of stress becomes chronic.  So chronic that you don’t even realize it anymore.  Yes you have headaches, trouble sleeping, digestion problems, but you can’t pinpoint it to one single event like in the above paragraph..

In a 2000 study reported in the Journal of the American Medical Association, women who had moderate or severe marital strain had 2.9 times more chances to need heart surgery, to suffer heart attacks or to die of heart disease.  The same holds for unmarried women who lived with their life partner.  Dr Dean Ornish, a cardiologist who treats his patients with diet, also reports that a good marriage has a huge influence on the health of his patients and their recovery from heart disease.  “The diet can play a significant role,” he said. “But nothing is more powerful than love and intimacy.”   You can read more in his book Love and Survival.

From The American Psychosomatic Society we learn that more conflicts and disagreements put one at higher risk of elevated blood pressure, abdominal obesity, high blood sugar, and elevated bad cholesterol.

The Journal of Psychosomatic Medicine in a 1993 issue links marital conflicts with disruptions of the immune system and the Journal of Physiology and Behaviour links marital distress to a worse recovery from breast cancer.

Analyzing data from nearly 5000 participants, with a follow up at 10 years, researchers have scientifically established what most people know intuitively. If your relationships are bad, your mood is likely to follow.  “Our study shows that the quality of social relationships is a significant risk factor for major depression,” says psychiatrist Alan Teo, MD, of the University of Michigan. …  “The magnitude of these results is similar to the well-established relationship between biological risk factors and cardiovascular disease,” Teo says. “What that means is that if we can teach people how to improve the quality of their relationships, we may be able to prevent or reduce the devastating effects of clinical depression.”


I would like to say that speaking up and setting boundaries will always work out, but I can’t because there will be times it won’t.  Not only it won’t but it can cause huge drama and break the relationship.  Although it can be upsetting when it happens, we must remember that if we want to live a healthy life, we also must let go or minimize the time we spend with less than healthy individuals.  Even if it does not work out well, I can vouch for the fact that every time you exercise your “setting limits”muscle, you will feel more confident and you will be proud of yourself for really taking care of yourself.  I know it did for me.

If you are dealing with mature people, there is a good chance that you can come to an understanding and mutual respect for your needs and the other person’s needs.  However, the more toxic or immature the person you are dealing with, the worse the chance of a peaceful resolution. If you are dealing with someone who is emotionally immature or worse, toxic, there are good chances they will turn your request to respect your needs as an attack and it will end up in a shouting match.   If you are dealing with someone who has been physically violent or you fear can be, do not attempt to reason with them.  For your sake, get outside help or if, as it happened to me in a bus a long time ago, being harassed and threatened by a male passenger, keep quiet and try to get away, fast.

How to set limits

Give yourself a break if you are terrified of setting limits after many months or even years of tolerating.  It’s a process and we have to learn and practice.  It’s also easier to practice when the stakes are not very high. Easier to say no to an acquaintance than to a friend, or a life partner.  Start small.  Learn to say “No”.  One of my favorite sentences is “it does not work for me”.  I also used that sentence to terminate a romantic relationship.

I you want to come to an understanding with someone who is usually stable and mature, do use the “I feel…. when you…. and I need-prefer-want…….  Can we talk about it.”  A good way to start the conversation is to express how much you value the relationship and that’s why you are coming to them to find a solution that will benefit both of you and make you feel closer.

If you have found this article useful, please share it with your friends and your network.  If you would like to work on becoming more assertive and would like to work with me, please use the form in the Contact Us to send me a message.


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Putting things in perspective or how to feel better in 10 minutes or less

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What is perspective.  The dictionnary says :a particular attitude toward or way of regarding something; a point of view.

I don’t know if it’s the full moon on the 18th but I have had a couple of upsetting happenings in my personal life in the last few days which have totally derailed the happy-go-lucky me.  As I am taking it all in and trying to make sense of it all (maybe there’s a reason my website is makesenseoflife), I needed to put things in perspective and stop the internal turmoil to better face the situations(s).

Luckily I remembered one method I used to teach my clients in my previous careers – that is “put things in perspective”, or look at it from another angle, in this case, against a background of potentially much worse situations.

The way to do so is awfully simple.  It consists in writing down at least 10 potentially negative situations you could face right now, including at least 3 that could qualify as very bad.

Once you have listed them, you need to write a list of numbers from 100 to 0.  Then take each of the 10 potentially negative situations and write each besides a number that corresponds to how awful this would be.  For example, if being told your child has cancer is the very worst that could happen, then put that item besides the 100 (100%).

Choose the next item, like “losing my job”.  Compare this item to the one you assigned 100% – this might be 75 or 85 – thus making it high but much easier to face than getting a cancer diagnosis for your child.

Now look at the situations are are actually occurring in your life and also give them a number.  The chances are those difficult moments will rate lower than the items on your list of potential disasters.  When you now look at your list, there is a high probability that you will feel grateful for not having to face the worst, thus making dealing with what is actually happening a lot easier.

Ideally this tip will work for you.  I have seen examples where something that felt like the end of the world managed to look better than some alternatives.

When I did the exercise this morning, what I am facing is manageable.  It’s not the end of the world, unless I make it so. Being in that frame of mind will make it so much easier to find solutions than if I had remained in the space I was last evening.

If your peace of mind is turned upside down because of an event or a relationship in your life, take 10 minutes to do the exercise to put things in perspective.  And let me know in the comments if you got some benefit from it.

Before closing I want to add that this exercise is not to help you accept or tolerate unhealthy, toxic situations or people.  If either consistently treats you badly, you need to find other ways to protect yourself, including leaving.

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Rock your Retirement

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couple at the beach

We usually hear about retirement planning from the Financial industry. In fact we normally only hear about retirement from the Financial industry.

When we do hear about preparing for retirement, it is all about urging us to save and top our retirement savings fund, and that’s great.  However, great but not enough.  There is very little education around the other aspects of retirement except maybe if you have an employer who offers seminars around the non-money side of retirement.  Most of us end up in retirement not really prepared to know how to make the best of the 45- 50 or so extra hours every week.  Unfortunately many end up bored, isolated and even depressed at a time where life could be so much fun.

Here are some of the best steps I took to prepare for retirement.

A private retirement savings fund

You need a retirement savings fund. I wish I had taken that step way earlier, but when I divorced in my mid-thirties, I remembered my mother’s advice to save money and her working until she was past 70  I no longer had a husband to depend on financially in retirement and I quickly started a retirement fund which is so treasured today.  I also wish I had put more money in it but I now have enough to not worry about money.  I don’t (can’t) live an extravagant lifestyle but I am quite comfortable.

Fund an “Education Fund”for yourself

Invest in education. Your education, retraining, learning. I invested heavily in mine: both for a Bachelor’s degree and a Master’s degree, as well as in two coaching programs.  This allowed me to find work that I totally loved for 20+ years, as well as opening my own business and working from home for the past 15 years.  I don’t regret a penny spent on my adult education.  It has allowed me 25+ years of getting up eager to go to work everyday.  That is priceless considering how unhappy I was in previous jobs and the many people I have met in my life who dread Monday mornings because they hate their job.

Have a well rounded life -Have a “fun” Fund

Develop some interests outside of work, outside of the ones you share with your spouse or life partner – Ideally develop a hobby you can do at home as well as something that gets you out of the house. I would venture to say that this is most important if you are married or have a life partner.  The reason I say this is I know that when I was married and later in a relationship, it was so easy to just let outside interests fall by the wayside.  I remember how foreign it felt to go out by myself in the evening (and how fearful I had become to do so) when I ended a long term relationship.  I have also met dozens of women who felt totally lost and isolated when they divorced or became widows at or close to retirement.  A large proportion of us ladies will finish our life alone.   So keep up not only with interests but with becoming financially knowledgeable (if your partner is the one taking care of the finances), keeping up with your driving skills, if you normally sit in the passenger seat,  and learning to enjoy your own company.

Don’t stop growing emotionally

Down the list but not least, continue growing emotionally.   Life is not just for growing old but for growing up.  There is no greater assurance of happiness in life than getting our sh… together.   I am lucky that I started a second career at midlife in a field where emotional growth is not only valued but is almost part and parcel of the work.  Working with women, it soon became apparent that although I was the therapist, emotions, whether shame, guilt or any leftover issues from earlier years were universal to a degree or another.  Learning to know myself is still ongoing.  Catching reactions, looking at what’s underneath, taking care of my inner child, allowing myself to be childlike and avoiding being childish allows me to live peacefully and serene, even when life does not go as planned.

Don’t retire – re-define who you are

5)  Don’t retire.  You can stop employment, or the private practice but continue reading and being involved in the world of work or other intellectual pursuit.  That may take different forms.  You may want to mentor someone starting in your field of expertise.  You may want to volunteer your expert services.  Or you may want to find a way, even making some money, with a new project.  My new blog is such a project, started primarily to continue to be involve and learn and potentially to make money.

Are you close to retirement?  Do you know what to expect?  Do you have fears?  Have you read about the non-financial side of retirement?  What about finances?

Let me know what’s real for you around retirement




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Save on your Grocery Bill With These 5 Tips

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I like saving money on what I buy.  So much that I have made mistakes in the past by stocking up on perishables and had to throw food away.  However, there are ways to really save money on food.  These next 5 tips are some of the ways I do.  Mark Cuban, billionnaire of the Shark Tank has been known to advise to stock on non perishables, even saying “use that space under the bed for the storage of your non perishables”.  If he, with his wealth can say that, I totally want to do it.  Might not make me a billionnaire but “a penny saved is a penny earned”.

Here are some food items I never buy at full price: chicken breast, or legs, or thighs, butter, peanut butter, ice cream, whipping cream, olive oil, toothpaste, mouthwash, canned tomatoes, canned salmon, canned tuna, ground beef, steak, pickles, mayonnaise, ketchup and pasta.  And maybe a few more I just don’t remember right now.

 1. Know your prices and check the flyers

To save money, you need to know what the regular price was (is) at the same store and elsewhere.  That means you need to learn the regular price of most items you use regularly.  Without that information you can be misled into thinking you are getting a deal.  Some “discount” stores often advertise big specials.  Some are real, others not so much.  If you really want to lower your grocery bills, you also should become familiar with the usual prices of the specials.  For example, the peanut butter  I buy(brand) is regularly over $5. a kg.  It often comes on special at $4.00 a kg but the real pleasure of stocking up is when I get it at $3. a kg.  Flyers are online a day or two before the day the specials start.  With a list it’s easy to go through my 5-6 stores in about 30 minutes and take note (I used pen and paper) of what is which price where.

2. Often it’s worth driving around to take save money

Well, it depends.  My car does around 12-14 kms a liter.  A liter costs $1. right now.  If I am going to save around $10. or more then spending $2. on gas is worth it to me most of the time.  I recently saved $26. on one grocery trip that cost me $2. worth of gas.  Food tastes better when I get a good deal.  However, I don’t travel if there is a snow storm or if it’s a really busy week.  In those cases,  I’ll wait until next time.   There is always a next time.  Everything always comes back on special within a few weeks. And because I have a well-stocked pantry, I can wait.

3. Buy generic.

At least for some items.  I admit I have strong preferences for the brand of some items, ok, a few items: butter, peanut butter, toothpaste, yogourt, ice cream, tuna and probably a few others I just can’t remember right now.  As I mentioned above, I only those items when they are on special. For me saving money is not about feeling deprived.  If I was financially strapped, then it would be generic all the way.  But I am not and I love food.  Better eat less and well.

4. Shop every two weeks or even once every month

I have not yet mastered the shopping once a month – except I have so much non-perishables in my pantry that for those items I can shop once every 3 months or so – but for perishables, I have recently put myself on a schedule of shopping once every two weeks – for fruits, vegetables, ice cream, milk and meat or fish.  I have found that I spent much less than I normally do since I no longer stop by the store for one item and, you may relate, leave with a full shopping bag.  The less often you enter the grocery store, the more money you save.

5. Be adventurous

Try recipes that call for less known but cheaper ingredients.  A vegeterian chili can feed a crowd and has as much flavor as the one with meat.  The same goes for spaghetti sauce.  If you want the meat flavor, adding half pound of ground meat, or less, to either does the trick, and you can also add chick peas (ground) to the spaghetti sauce.  It thickens it and adds needed proteins.

Pearls of Wisdom

Make a budget and do your best to stick to it.  Use leftover vegetables at the end of the week to make soup.  Put leftovers in clear containers – it makes it a lot easier to remember what’s in the fridge.  Same for leftover meat.  If you think you may not have time to make that soup, freeze it all until the weekend when you have more time.  Look at the “reduced” items at the grocery store.  I have gotten perfectly good green beans and cherry tomatoes at 75% off.

If you have other tips, please let me know.  I love saving money at the grocery store and eat healthy.

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Your best anti-aging tool

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I just could not resist one more post on sleep and how essential it is to respect your need for it.  (And it probably won’t be the last one)

As I am working on this new  I find myself learning so much new stuff – mostly technology related, which for me is like learning a new language.  On Sunday I tried to work on the appearance of the blog and I was just getting nowhere.  To the point I was ready to call for help from my web designer.  I decided to sleep on it and contact her in the morning. Which I did when I got up – well, I wrote the email but decided to try one more time to solve the problem.  And I did.  My well rested brain was much more effective and it took me less than 5 minutes to figure it out.

Arianna Huffington in her bestselling book, Thrive, mentioned the need of enough sleep as necessary to a more fulfilling way of living.  That subject touched a chord with so many people that she wrote another bestseller, The Sleep Revolution.  Yes, a complete book on the need for and benefits of enough sleep written by a top world journalist, revealing among other things, the vital role sleep plays in our every waking moment and every aspect of our health – from weight gain, diabetes, and heart disease to cancer and Alzheimer’s.

Such a book would have been useless 50 years ago.  Then very few people stayed up in front the their tv.   The Ipad or computer did not exist, Sleep was not socially frowned upon.  Fast forward to 2016, it has become a badge of honour for many to boast that they can do with very little sleep. Many grocery stores are open until 11 p.m., some overnight forcing more people to go home very late.  City buses start running at 4 a.m., getting more people up before dawn.

Fortunately, science is taking a lot of interest in sleep.  One study of the University of Rochester shows that the brain has diffent functions when asleep and when awake., and likens the cleaning of the brain during sleep to dump trucks making the most of pre-dawn hours to do their work.  Our brain cleaners work bet when there is less going on.

“This study shows that the brain has different functional states when asleep and when awake,” study researcher Maiken Nedergaard, of the University of Rochester said in a statement. “In fact, the restorative nature of sleep appears to be the result of the active clearance of the by-products of neural activity that accumulate during wakefulness.”

I personally know that lack of sleep is bad for my health, but I can see how it shows in my face, even after just one too-short night.  Imagine what it does when we are chronically sleep deprived!  Lack of sleep will also make you more hungry, and by being up for longer you will also add a snack, thus more calories. An all-over losing proposition – except for the weight gain.

There are some basic ways you can determine if you have enough sleep.  The first one, is you are not tired during the day.  You don’t doze off, you don’t feel you need another coffee, you don’t dream of your bed.  The other way is you wake up before the alarm clock and you feel rested.  You don’t use the snooze button, or just stay in bed as long as you can.  Aussitôt réveillé, aussitôt levé.

If you want to live for another while yet, to keep your physical health and mental health, enjoy today and the next decades, invest in sleep now.



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Prepare to change career at mid-life

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Changing career at mid-life and beyond

retour à l'école - stock photo

Do you feel stuck in a job you hate?  Do you think you are too old to learn something new?  Are you afraid of leaving the security of a job, the prospect of loosing that retirement pension? Do you dream of changing career?  Do you secretly envy someone because they did it?

I did not think about changing career throughout my 20s or 30s because I thought it was impossible.  I did not have a Bachelor degree and never thought I could get one.  Much less a Master’s degree.  At 39,  I was a single parent, working in the government with good chances of promotion but I was not happy in my job.  I distinctly remember the day I realized I still had 25 years before retirement and how I could just not see myself doing this kind of work for another 25 years. It was a scary thought.

I was lucky during a course to meet a teacher who was doing the work I thought I would enjoy.  But then it required a Master’s degree and I thought it was out of my reach.  Then I met a fellow about my age who was doing a Master’s degree part time and I figured I was as intelligent as him and if he could do, so could I.  And I could

That year, when I was 39, I decided to risk it all.  I took an unpaid leave of absence (from my $15,000 a year safe job!!!), mortgaged my home and went to University full time for 2 years to complete a Bachelor degree I then added another year to start a Master’s program. (While I did not finish that M.A., I started another one part time, which I completed in about 5 years)

How did I pull it off, with 2 young kids and very little financial support?  Luckily, I was able to take a line of credit against the equity in my home.  For one semester I also worked part-time.  What really helped was that I was able to live very frugally during those years.  Money was spent on essentials: mortgage, food, clothes for the kids.  I did not buy one single item of clothing during those 3 years and what really saved me was that I did not own a car, lived close to downtown and loved walking.  My biggest extravagance was buying a bottle of wine every few months, and having a glass once in a while while cooking on the bbq.  The sacrifices were well worth it as I enjoy a great career as a psychotherapist for 20 years and never regretted my decision.


The biggest financial mistake I made then was to not investigate whether I could have been eligible for student loan or grants – while the line of credit was great, for me who was not very financially savvy, it cost me money.  Since I only had to pay the interest I did not see the need to pay the principal for a long while – today I know better and I would work hard to eliminate that debt as soon as possible, and I would definitely look at grants, bursaries or student loans.

Fast forward a couple of decades and I was now close to official retirement age and eyeing a 3rd career.  It became obvious that if I was going to start this 3rd career in a private business and did not want to work 7 days a week, I had to make some changes regarding paid employment.

I was working in social services where the rate of pay is historically poor.  I was also working with a coach as part of my coach training and I continually heard myself tell her “I did not have the time”.  Finally I made a big decision: to go from full time to a 4 day work week, with a corresponding 20% pay cut.  As scary as it was, this new schedule was fantastic and it gave me some breathing room and a chance to work on my business.

After a year or so of this new work arrangement, I had the chance!!! to further cut one day of work, and yes, another 20% pay cut.  At that point my coaching business was making up for the lost salary and I was also being careful in the way I spent money.

Finally, in 2008, due to health scares, a poor work environment and the fact that I had lost 3 colleagues to cancer, I chose early retirement.  That’s a 100% pay cut.  Fortunately my coaching business was making up part of my lost salary.  Having lived on 60% of my salary for a while, I had become quite good at not wasting money.

I remember the first few months – it was in the Fall – the pleasure of really enjoying my boss (myself), of sipping my coffee slowly, of scheduling my first client after 10 a.m., of scheduling my work around my bi-weekly swimming.  Pure heaven. Exactly what they mean when they say “money can’t buy happiness”.  Would I like to have more money? Absolutely!  Would I change any of the choices I made?  Absolutely not!


The only regret I have is not to have done it earlier.  The early retirement I mean.  Honestly everything – from the going to University to complete the degree to cutting the workweek to early retirement.  Except, we do things when we are ready.  I obviously was not ready before I did take the plunge.

Life has been great.  I have enjoyed every minute of my new careers and, another surprise, I am on the brink of starting yet another career: professional blogger.  It’s exciting, I am learning a lot.  I am meeting new people, I feel my brain is growing again.

Should you take the risk?  Only you can answer the question. There is a good chance you will be poorer.  There’s a good chance you will have to work hard, whether to get a degree  or to start the new career.  Are you willing to cut expenses?  Are you willing to have to say no to the luxuries you take for granted, at least for a while, whether it’s eating out, traveling, nice clothes.  Depending on what career you are moving to, you could also make a lot more money than in your old job.  Many bloggers for example make six figure income and many make very little.  Many corporate executives who are now business and life coaches also make as much if not more than they did in their paid employment and many barely make enough to survive.

If you decide to make a change, do your homework.  Talk to people who do what you want to do.  Look at the employment opportunities in the new field.  I admit I did neither which seems a bit reckless.  However,  my leave of absence from the government also included the option of returning to my old job or a similar one.  That was my safety net.  I am glad I never needed it

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Let me know what you are dreaming of changing in your life

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Avoid big money mistakes

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Money mistakes, by Marguerite Tennier, M.A                                           This post may contain affiliate links

money - calculatrice

Money.  Money..  Money. I like to think that I have always been careful with my money.  Yet, when I do a quick review in my mind – as I am doing now – I can see where in my life where I could have been a lot better in the money department.  I made huge money mistakes that ended up costing me a lot of money.

Mistake no. 1

The first money mistake I remember doing was to neglect investing the cash value of a life insurance my parents had taken for me at birth.  I don’t remember how much it was, maybe $1,000.  Not much by today’s standard but $1,000 invested at 7% when I was 20 could have grown to close to $15,000 at 60.  At 10%, over 40 years, that would have grown to over $45,000. – yes forty-five thousand dollars.

Pearl of Wisdom

Obvious – if you have some money falling from the sky, whether it’s the cash value of a life insurance policy or a gift from a generous relative, and you don’t absolutely need it to survive, invest 90% of it – and treat yourself with the other 10%.  If we are talking about huge amounts of money, invest it all now.  Consult with an independent financial adviser (fee for service) first.  And yes by all means treat yourself but remember that even a million dollars does not go very far these days.

Mistake no. 2

Mistake number 2 also has to do with investments.  I worked in the Federal government in my 20 and early 30’s.  I can’t remember exactly at which point I did it but I did: when I moved to another job in the private sector, I withdrew what was in my pension plan instead of  having it transferred to my private registered retirement plan.  I was still at that point very ignorant about compounded interest.  Again, the amount was probably not huge, a couple or a few thousand dollars???  That invested in a registered plan would have multiplied many times over the following 30 years.

Pearl of Wisdom

Any time you change job, transfer your 401K, Superannuation or other employer pension plan to your new employer’s plan.  If it’s not possible do not cash it.  Transfer it to your private pension plan so you don’t pay huge amount of taxes on the withdrawn money.  If you are not familiar with financial matters, speak to a professional accountant about the tax implications.

Mistake no. 3

Mistake no. 3 was about real estate.  In fact, it’s a compounded mistake.  Selling a house in a city I loved living in to buy in another close city – where I thought I would like to live and living to regret it in more ways than one.  The townhouse I sold ended up increasing in value after the sale so that by the time I sold the house where I thought I would like to live, house no. 1 was no longer affordable (3 years and the price of homes had almost doubled in my favourite city).  And I totally hated my new neighbourhood. More about this in Mistake no. 4

Pearl of Wisdom

Study the real estate market before you make a move.  Sometimes you don’t have a choice to sell and move, but if your situation is like mine was, just a choice to move across the river, look at what you love about your neighbourhood and assess whether the place you want to move to will also have those great features.  I love the city and the convenience of walking to the store, etc.  My new house was in a totally residential neighbourhood and I had to take the car if I needed a quart of milk.  So before you sign the offer, walk the neighbourhood.  See if it feels comfortable.  If it offers what is important to you, whether it’s walking to the store or a nearby park, pool or school.

Mistake no. 4

Mistake no. 4 the last but not the least, was to buy the second house without having the house inspection done – that was a mistake that cost me hugely – to the tune of $10,000 to repair the foundation.  This too was a compounded mistake, as I bought in a neighbourhood, a street really, where on one side there was a serious problem of drugs and on the other a lot of yelling and heavy drinking which made me feel quite unsafe because of the former and uncomfortable about the latter.

Pearl of Wisdom

That was a huge mistake.  It not only cost me money but it also cost me a lot of stress.  Finding mold on the wall and realizing the foundations are leaking is a bad way to start any day.  When that mold is in the rental unit of the house adds another layer of stress.

Never, never buy a house without having it inspected by a reputable home inspector.  That profession is not regulated everywhere, so ask friends, neighbours, people you trust for referrals.


Never assume you will enjoy the neighbourhood unless you have visited it during the people, listen for noise, the traffic, late night parties, the general feeling.  If like me you live in a city that has a long winter, it makes the above advice harder to follow during the cold season than when the temperature is mild and people spend more time outside, but still, do spend time walking on the street before you sign on the dotted line.


I hope you can avoid making these same mistakes.  Please share the information with your family, friends, colleagues.  If even one person can learn from this post, I will be more than happy.

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Make Better Choices in Love – Part 2

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couple walking

Great relationships are possible

Barbara de Angelis’s “Are You The One For Me?”  is the first book about creating great relationships  I remember reading.  It’s about how in the beginning of a relationship we can use certain criteria to make a better choice of a life partner for a healthy, happy  great relationship.  Not that other people are bad, but they are not the right fit for us and we are not the right fit for them.  And sometimes it feels like the right fit, but for the wrong reasons (our childhood wounds choose for us).  That will be the subject of another post.

This book was about choosing the right partner.  Unfortunately, I missed a previous book where she talked about being the right partner, and this was unfortunate, as I learned later that knowing myself should be the first step in the love dance.  (I just emailed her to ask about that first book and I will try to get my hands on it and report in a future post).

If you are reading this, there is a good chance that like me you look at your past and maybe even present relationships and wonder how it could have happened.  Maybe you blame yourself or your past partners.  I believe we all do the best we can with what we know.  Nobody is to blame.  But we can learn and like Oprah said “when you know better, you do better.”  I will focus on one chapter of the book: 6 mistakes we make in relationships

Most of us have “fallen” in love.  Litterally, without so much as “wait a minute and assess whether this has what it takes to sustain the tsunamis of life.”  I personally did not even think that life brought tsunamis.  Just love, sweet love.  Like buying a car because it shines and can go from 0 to 60 in no time and not knowing what it takes to have a safe ride long term.  Yes, I bought into the attraction and with the hormones driving the deal, it was a recipe for disaster, as I found out a few times.  Thanks Hollywood.

According to Ms de Angelis, we make 6 big mistakes at the beginning of a relationship. Here they are

Mistake number 1

First, we don’t ask enough questions.  I think there are two reasons: either we just don’t know how to communicate; since we have not asked ourselves questions, we don’t know there are questions to be asked.  Or, and I have worked with many women who did this, we are afraid to appear too curious, too serious, too…..We hope.  Yes, we hope.  And of course if sex has been added to the mix too early, we feel bonded, attached, thanks to that oxytocin drug.

mistake number 2

Second, we ignore warning signs.  The red flags that indicate: STOP.   We excuse behaviours, we ignore our feelings, that something seems off, that we can’t be spontaneous, that it feels forced.  That we cannot be ourselves.  That we feel more joy alone than with that person.  I remember those red flags in a number of relationships (I was a slow learner).  Thank God, I am now so much more connected to my gut, that voice inside that never sleeps, but which we often just don’t recognize or heed.

mistake number 3

We make premature compromises.  We make ourselves too available too soon.  We cancel other activities to accommodate, too early in the relationship.  Often even before there is a relationship or any talk of exclusivity. Or we agree to stuff for fear of displeasure.

mistake number 4

Then there is lust, hormones.  Powerful stuff that makes the world expand but not such a great criteria to base a relationship.  All relationship experts agree that liking the person (friendship), mutual respect and shared values are better predictors than just chemistry.  In the quite long past, people courted.  They met under the supervision, chaperonage of the family and got to know each other, for quite a while before they decided to spend their life together.  The sexual liberation as been wonderful in many ways, except maybe to make us believe that it was the way to start a relationship.

mistake number 5

We give in to material possessions.  Maybe even more so today than ever. We live in a very materialistic society.  Shiny cars and slim bodies are revered.  Marketing has intensified and is using emotions to make us believe that we “deserve” the expensive car, or the Mc House, or the prettiest woman.  There is nothing wrong with money.  I love money. Money is necessary and fun.  The old “money does not keep you warm at night” is so true.

mistake number 6

Finally, we too often put commitment before compatibility.  When Ms de Angelis advises to wait at least 3 months before having sex, she does not mean to just spend those 3 months with your eyes on the calendar.  That time should be spent getting to evaluate, assess and decide whether the person has the qualities and character of the person you want to wake up with for the next 50 years – and the person you want to be the parent of your children.

Pearl of Wisdom

The takeaway of the book is take your time.  We need to put more reflection in choosing a life partner than we do in choosing the destination of our next vacation or our next car purchase.  We need to “not fall” for appearances but wait to see if it’s sustainable for the long term.  Not easy but definitely the advice I would give to my younger self. Unfortunately, what we don’t know we cannot pass on to the future generations.  So even if you are advanced in age, it’s good to talk to the young ones about what you have learned about love and relationships.

Want to know more about Ms de Angelis.  This book is definitely worth reading if you want to be better equipped to make different choices in love.  It’s also a great gift for a young person in your life.

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Make Better Choices in Love Part 1

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Sand, Heart, Wood, Mussels, Beach, Symbol, Love

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Relationships!  Love that is.

WOW! Where do I start?  What do you think about relationships!  Good, bad, ugly or great?   Relationships, romantic relationships should be a mandatory subject in school.  Middle school.  Many of us have grown up with role models that were less than good role models.  The problem with bad, or not great role models is that unless they are obviously toxic, it’s very difficult for the child and the young adult to see that they are not what we should aim for.  I firmly believe that the high rate of divorce in our society is due to the fact that we are totally ignorant of what’s important to have a healthy, loving long term relationship, and because we don’t know, we don’t practice – from the beginning, including our criteria for choosing a partner and then being a great partner (which I did not know much about).

The map we get at birth

Let me explain.  I grew up with good parents who probably should not have ended up together.  My father was 11 years older than my mother (that’s one thing that stuck with me, as I never wanted to have a much older life partner).  What I failed to see as a kid and young adult is that I never saw my parents hold hand, or kiss or show affection toward each other.  They were polite, civil, even kind with each other, yet my mother often complained that my dad did not want to do much (hence my reluctance to be with someone older than me).  I never saw any couple show affection toward each other, except young teenagers and this was if not frowned upon, it was definitely seen as a bit of a joke, like “kids!!”. But then, I found another map: Hollywood love!  Based on pure attraction, drama, fun but not much depth.   And the story usually ended right at the wedding.  TV shows about family life also focused on niceness, and Dad being right.  My own history with relationships is, well,  not great either.  I had no idea what they were all about, except maybe that attraction was very important, that someone who had a career was also important, as well as being nice – all my boyfriends were basically nice people.

Like many I set out to find happiness without a map, or worse, with the wrong map.  And the worse part is that I did not know it was a wrong map.  When kids grow up in obviously toxic environments, some realize that it’s not what they want.  Many however, even in those obviously unhealthy families go on to re-create the same for themselves.  It’s easy to believe that what we see day in and day out is normal.

So, after many desastrous relationships, including one marriage, I set out a couple of years ago to learn everything I could about what makes a great relationship and a great marriage.

Non top essentials

  • having a great job
  • attraction
  • being nice
  • good looking

I did not say, non essentials.  I said non top essentials.  Of course, attraction is important – otherwise you’ll have a friendship.  Friendship is nice (I’ll come back to it later) but it’s not a love romantic relationship

Having a great job – that too is nice.  However, money does not equate happiness.  Money is necessary but it won’t make up for true connection

Being nice – yes that too is great, essential in fact but if you are being nice and hide how you feel, it’s a recipe for disaster.

Good looking is really in the eye of the beholder.  I know I have found the people (men) I loved good looking even when others thought they were well, average.  What I mean is don’t choose someone because of their looks.  They will lose those looks and you will be left with who they are on the inside.

I will leave you on this thought: “The best relationship is when you can be both lover and best friend.”  I don’t know who said it first but I have often heard it in the mouth of many love experts.

In Part 2, I will share some of the top marriage experts’s opinions as to what makes a great marriage.

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