Are You Truly Living?

By Haley Falco

Growing up, I had this narrow view of what I thought I should be doing with my life, and this was solely based off society’s standards and the messages I received from my social circles. It seemed like everyone was following the same pattern and flow of events. But not all these people seemed content with how it was playing out.

I am realizing now that life has so much more to offer than what we see in our typical day to day lives. Life is filled with so many opportunities and relationships and universal messages that can take us to a place higher than we may understand. There is so much more for us in this life than what we’ve been taught. We are here for a reason and it’s calling us to surrender to life and live in the happiest of ways.

What does it mean to truly live?

For me, this answer is simple. Do the things you love. Be surrounded by the people you love. Spend time with people who make your heart happy and those who value your worth.

Contribute to society by working a job that makes you feel good, important, and genuinely happy. It saddens me to see people work somewhere they despise. The job you dislike is what makes someone else happy, so leave it to them to take on that opportunity. Your job should be intertwined with your passions— it’s your way of giving back to the community. By doing what you love everyday, you’ll grow stronger and happier, which is what we all strive for, right?

The decisions we make are what shapes our lives, and the experiences we have are what gives us memories. And when I see people living a life they don’t truly love, and it makes me wonder, why do we do this?

We have to remind ourselves that this life is filled with so many incredible opportunities and people that will help us grow and give us the tools we need in order to flourish. But if we spend our time with negative people or work jobs that make us feel numb to life, are we truly even living?

To live means to be free. To take chances. To go with the flow of life and let things happen effortlessly. Be open to opportunity, and live a life that makes you want to live it forever.

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Are You Obsessed With Social Media?

By Haley Falco

Society is constantly pushing us to be something more than what we naturally are. Think about it—everywhere we turn there are influences (good and bad) surrounding us. There are so many messages telling us to be something more— prettier, thinner, smarter, happier, and more stylish. These messages push our limits regarding self-esteem, self-worth, our appearance, and our social status.

Personally, I feel the social media effects more now than I ever have before in my life. When I was in elementary school, I didn’t worry about the clothes I wore or how pretty I was compared to my friends. It wasn’t until I was in college when Instagram and Snapchat became the most popular downloaded apps, and I watched as it began consuming people’s lives. And for several people, their obsession with social media is becoming stronger and harder to break.

For many, the first thing they do when they wake is checking their phones for messages, emails, and notifications on social media. As well, those are usually the last things checked before falling asleep. Studies have shown that this affects our sleep cycle and ability to interact with people in the real world because we are so connected to our phones.

How do we stop social media from making us feel like we need to meet a social standard to be accepted?

For starters, become aware of the way social media affects your life. Do you spend hours upon hours scrolling through your newsfeed? If you find yourself obsessing over the online world like many of us do, maybe it’s time you make small changes. Once I recognized how addicted I was becoming, I began limiting myself on Instagram each day.

I was following many Instagram accounts that were toxic for my wellbeing. I was idealizing super-thin models from all over the world, and this is something I had to recognize before I could make a change. By looking at photo after photo of famous models that I aspired to be, my confidence was dropping and I was building very unhealthy habits because of these influences. Try unfollowing accounts that aren’t good for your mental health.

As a society, many people are becoming too dependent upon electronic relationships and inspiration, and it’s causing an inner chaos. In a perfect world, the things we see online would just be images/statuses and nothing more. Unfortunately, it’s affecting us more. It’s making it hard for young adults to develop naturally and grow solely based on personal stepping-stones.

Once we recognize the dangers of social media, we can then view it in a new light and put a stop to the control it has over our self-love and inner-peace.

Dress The Way You Love

By Haley Falco

We express ourselves in many creative ways through our style, hobbies, friendships and the way we go about our day to day lives. We show the world an image of who we are just by naturally being ourselves.

It’s so easy for us to get swept up in the latest styles and makeup, and we may not always feel like we fit in. What is it that holds us back from wearing what we want to? Are we afraid of being judged? We see fashion advice all over our favourite television shows and movies, and it makes us think we have to look a certain way to be accepted. But fashion is a form of self-expression, and by dressing in what makes you feel beautiful, it’s the greatest way to express your individuality.

Fashion is a form of self-expression, just like painting, writing or singing. When you dress in something you feel your most beautiful in, that’s when you look your most beautiful too.

More than anything, I love wearing patterned pants and bright coloured sweaters to express my fashion sense. Most of the time, my outfits don’t match and people ask me why I wear so many colours. But for me, I feel beautiful and strong when I’m dressed like this. It doesn’t have to make sense to anyone else but me.

My definition of style and beauty is different than the next girls, but that’s what makes us all so unique. And here’s the thing— when we dress in something we want to wear, without limits, we feel our most beautiful and we glow!

We get so wrapped up in believing we have to wear what society deems acceptable, but that couldn’t be any more wrong. When we do what makes us feel good, we look beautiful. When we express ourselves through our own fashion choices, our confidence radiates, and there’s nothing more beautiful than that.

 

This article was originally published for GEMINI Models preteen workbooks.

Do you have self-love?

By Haley Falco

As women, we tend to be really hard on ourselves. We see a beautiful model on Instagram, and we wish we could look more like her. A girl in your class seems to get every guys attention, and you wonder, why can’t I be like her? We seem to compare ourselves to other women who we think have more than us, and this is what causes a lack of self-love.

The more we judge ourselves, constantly wishing for more rather than being content with what we have, we begin to feel like we’re not good enough. It’s the voice in our head that tells us we need to be prettier, thinner, or have more friends in order to be happy and beautiful.

Each and every one of us has a spark that shines so bright. When you accept yourself and the person you were born to be, regardless of your flaws and imperfections, your beauty shines from the inside out. When you’re feeling happy and confident, that’s when you look the most beautiful.

Beauty isn’t about the makeup you put on your face or the way you dress, it’s about having a good heart filled with self-acceptance. When you feel love radiating through your body, and you’re genuinely happy with yourself in all forms, you shine bright and your beauty shows.

 

This article was originally published for GEMINI Models preteen workbooks.

The Danger Behind Dieting

By Haley Falco

When you hear the word “diet,” does it make you cringe? For the majority- myself included- it does. My diet starts today. I need to lose weight. I hate my body. There are so many issues with these phrases, and here I will explain why.

The word “diet” causes panic in the brain. In my opinion, it’s an overused word that shouldn’t even exist. It’s used too comfortably. Dieting is a short-term fix to a bigger issue.

Maybe you have put on some extra weight and it’s causing sickness in your body. Perhaps you have always wanted to lose another five pounds and you’d be happy. Instead, consider saying: I need to change my lifestyle. I feel unwell— it’s time I start eating healthier. I am going to make a positive change.

My unhealthy obsession with dieting started when I was in college. I began restricting foods and obsessing over the number on the scale. I have always been a healthy weight but I wanted to be thinner. I couldn’t enjoy my meals because I was too focused on calories. I began making rules for myself and it became a toxic obsession.

Self-Talk

The things you say to yourself and the way you view yourself is more important than you may realize. Many of us pick ourselves apart and say: I’m fat. I’m ugly. I wish I were thinner. I wish I were better looking. But these phrases bring us back to the root issue of all that is wrong— lack of self-love. Your lifestyle should make you feel good, free, energized, empowered, vibrant and healthy.

If only we could accept who we are, and strive to be the healthiest versions of ourselves, we could then feel self-love and inner-peace.

It wasn’t until I started researching positive life changes that I began to recognize my struggle. For the past couple years, my saviour has been positive self-talk. I journal often and make notes about my progress. I write lists about my goals and the things I love about myself.

A positive mindset is crucial for a positive outcome. Tell yourself: I deserve happiness. I deserve to have a healthy mind and a healthy body.

Knowledge is power. Knowing which foods harm and which foods heal is important. Above all else, we should be eating foods that nourish and fuel our bodies, as well as eating enough food to be at a healthy weight. Practice positive self-talk everyday and work towards healthy goals.

Recognizing Your Deepest Fears

By Haley Falco

As children we feared many things like sleeping in the dark, monsters under our bed, talking to strangers or attending our regular dentist checkups. We may even still fear these things. But have you ever looked at your fears on a deeper level? Which of your fears are holding you back from being your authentic self and living out your full potential?

So often we allow fear to run our lives. Perhaps we fear judgment, emotional or physical pain, being put down, or being afraid of the unknown future. Maybe we stay in a toxic relationship out of fear. Or we keep working the unsatisfying job because we have convinced ourselves that we don’t deserve something greater. The problem with fear is that it begins to slowly consume us, day by day. We don’t take as many chances and we don’t speak up when needed, all because of fear.

My biggest fear has always been judgement. Sometimes, my fear creeps in and I worry that I won’t be accepted. For so long I was allowing my fear of being judged to control me.

Courage

What a radical idea it is to look at our deepest fears and recognize them for what they are. How bizarre would it be to bring awareness to the fearful thoughts we have in our minds?

In this moment, look at fear as energy. All feelings are made up of energy. Once we know this, we can then shift our focus to removing the control fearful energy has over us. Do you fear rejection? Death? Pain? Abandonment? Fear isn’t necessarily bad- it’s just as important as any other energy- but we must have the courage to recognize it for what it is.

Fight, Flee or Freeze

Become aware of the times you feel fear. Is it when you’re at work? When you wake up? Before an important meeting? Make note of the way you handle it when it arises. Maybe you deal with it by tensing up, sweating or breathing shallow. Maybe you deny, withdrawal, or distract yourself from the feeling altogether.

We must learn to catch ourselves in these behaviours. Once you begin to notice your common reactions to fear, it will lose it’s control over you. Have the courage to walk into the unknown and understand that it’s okay not to know what’s next. It’s okay to release yourself from the need to plan every single detail, and just allow yourself to be.

Fear has kept you safe. It has stopped you from getting into trouble. It has served it’s purpose. But now it’s time to venture beyond it’s limits and allow yourself to be free.

 

34 Days Of No Makeup

By Haley Falco

Don’t get me wrong—I love the beauty that makeup brings to our lives. Makeup is a form of unique creation that is artistically painted and constructed. But while I spend each day soul searching in Europe, makeup would only play the role of a mask on my skin. It’s the sole reason why I wore it for so long. I take these colours and match them with those, and I thought it made me look beautiful. But did I feel beautiful?

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I was hiding under a fake image that wasn’t even the real me. And this feeling of beauty has been nothing but a manipulated truth for me.

When I began my packing list, the first thing I wrote on the page was “makeup bag.” Out of all the things for Europe, makeup shouldn’t have even made it on the list. Thankfully enough, I tore the page and started a new list with a new set of priorities—camera, books and travel journal.

The False Truth

Makeup has been hiding my true beauty all along. I didn’t fully appreciate my value until I decided to take 34 days of serenity to fully enjoy my soul searching experience. Here I am able to search my soul for the answers I have been seeking all along. The book, “Discovering Your Soul Signature” taught me that who I am is enough.

You being you is the blessing.

You being you is the miracle.

You being you is enough.

You being you is your soul signature.

Makeup was making me feel like I needed to be better than the person I was, and that was where I was wrong. I am enough—we are all enough.

We usually see in others what they don’t normally see in themselves. We pick apart ourselves and wish to lose weight, gain weight, grow taller, have bigger boobs or clearer skin. Maybe you don’t wish these things exactly, but you may wish something. And whatever that something is, give yourself the opportunity to see yourself clearly, without judgment and guilt. Be the person that you are being called to be.

When you are faced with a moment in which you forget your worth, remember that you have the power to shine. The greatest gift you can give yourself is accepting who you are, and coming to love who you have always been.

Show your imperfections because to others, those imperfections are beautiful. Those are the parts of you that make you perfect.

Say “Thank You” To The Ones Who Hurt You

HALEY FALCO

Say thank you to the ones who hurt you. Without them, you wouldn’t know what it feels like to appreciate good people. Without them, you wouldn’t have learned how to say ‘no.’

Without the people who tested your self-worth, you wouldn’t know the importance of self-love.

If they hadn’t made you feel low, you wouldn’t be standing tall today. If you hadn’t experienced pain, you wouldn’t of learned the lessons you needed to learn.

Look at your past and be grateful that it happened the way it did. Yes- remember even the emotional times that you try so hard to forget. Look at your experiences, and know that they have shaped you. Everything that happens, brings you closer to finding your true self under all the pressure, mistakes, and losses you’ve felt.

Without the people who tested your self-worth, you wouldn’t know the importance of self-love.

Feeling regret is toxic. It brings your vibrational frequency down, which makes your body feel tense and your brain scrambling for answers. When you learn to accept your past, and the things that have happened to you, you can finally move forward and feel grateful for the way it all played out.

Thank the people who hurt you, because without them, you wouldn’t know yourself as well as you do now. It is the people who tested your sanity, that brings you closer to true happiness.

Without the people who tested your self-worth, you wouldn’t know the importance of self-love.

Simple Self-Care Activities

When you’re feeling stressed, try these calming activities to relax your mind.

Haley Falco

1. Meditation

Leave your phone and any other electronics in another room and out of temptation while you meditate. Ideally, you want to be as relaxed and comfortable as possible, which is why I prefer sitting in my living room, surrounded by pillows and crystals. I usually meditate for twenty minutes, keeping my hands placed on my thighs and my eyes closed. Focus on your breathing, allowing your lungs to fill with air, breathing in and out of your nose.

When I am finished meditating, I like to stand up and stretch my body. As you stretch, you could think about the things you are grateful for. Think about your goals for the next couple years as well as ways for you to accomplish them. Ask yourself if you are genuinely happy with your life, or if there are any parts you want to change. Do you love your job? Are you in a healthy intimate relationship? Is there something you wish you were doing different? Do you have supportive friends?

2. Soak in a Hot Bath

Soaking your body in a hot bath is proven to significantly reduce stress (mentally and physically) and decrease your anxiety. After a hectic day of work, errands, meetings, etc. many people find that relaxing in hot water helps their brain slow down, which in turn helps them fall into a deeper sleep when they get to bed. Bathing stimulates your blood circulation and calms your nervous system. It’s the perfect solution!

3. Read 

Throwing yourself into another character’s life takes all the pressure off your personal stress. Reading a novel is an escape from reality, since you’re able to focus your attention on someone else’s story. Any avid reader can admit that reading a novel they relate to gives them an emotional high. This may be just what you need to take your mind off of things.

Here are some other simple suggestions for self-care:

Journal

Workout

Cook or Bake

Watch a movie

Talk to a friend

Lay under the stars/ moon/ sun

Arts and crafts

Nap

Make a list of short-term or long-term goals

Surround yourself with positive people

Burn a candle

Get a massage

How Eating Vegan is Better for the Environment

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Animal agriculture is responsible for 18 per cent of greenhouse gas emissions, according to Cowspiracy. (woodleywonderworks/ FlickrCC)

Haley Falco

Many Canadians celebrate Earth Week by joining an outdoor garbage cleanup, or by planting trees, but did you know that limiting the amount of meat you eat could also help the environment.

Eating vegan is a lifestyle change that promotes a plant-based diet, which in-turn has several environmental benefits.

Eileen Fauster, Holistic Healer and Acupuncturist in Toronto has been leading a vegan lifestyle for over 15 years.

Fauster is the founder of Essential Balance Holistic Health Services. She says she works with people who want a healthier lifestyle, to save the planet’s resources, discourage the cattle and chicken industries and proudly limit animal products for ethical reasons.

“From a nutritional standpoint, optimum health revolves around an intake of nutrients that the body can actually use and gain access to,” Fauster told Humber News.

“The best foods are plant-based foods like nuts and seeds, lentils, fresh fruits and vegetables, and lot’s and lot’s of water. Combine that with a good sleep, positive attitude and daily movement- those are the basics for a healthy life.”

According to a 2014 study by Friends of the Earth, humans waste over 630,000 tons of meat per year.

“Greenhouse gas emissions from animal agriculture are higher than the transportation industry combined. Rain forests and green areas are also being destroyed at an alarming rate to make room for cattle” – Rob Cooley, Vegetarian

Ari Soloman, Director of Communications at Mercy For Animals, a national non-profit farmed animal protection organization, has followed a vegan diet for 10 years.

“I discovered how animals are treated on factory farms before they have reached our plate and it really horrified me to know some of the extreme abuses that are really considered standard in the factory farming industry,” Soloman says.

Soloman began with Mercy For Animals by volunteering and supporting the organization, before he finally became a part of the staff team.

Reconsidering your diet can have a great impact on the environment. According to Statistics Canada, the amount of beef and veal being eaten has dropped 2.3 per cent from 2008, while pork has declined by 1.3 per cent.

Factory Farming

“The resources that go into a cattle or chicken farm are huge in terms of how many pounds of grain have to be planted and harvested in order to feed the cattle,” said Fauster.

She also says that if even 10 per cent of the population became vegan, it would save our global resources dramatically.

According to Cowspiracy, animal agriculture is responsible for 18 per cent of greenhouse gas emissions, which is more than transportations exhaust of 13 per cent of greenhouse gas emissions.

“A vegan diet definitely is better in terms of lowering your carbon footprint. It’s much less energy intensive and you don’t contribute to some of the climate change gases that are really intensive in animal farming,” said Soloman.

Methane Gas

“The methane gas from cattle hits the ozone layer. Whenever they defecate and gas is released, it hits our environment. Cattle is a huge industry and it has a huge impact,” said Fauster.

Cows release 150 gallons of methane per day, which has a large effect on climate change.

Soloman says the methane gas that comes from animals is worse than CO2 releases.

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Cows release methane gas, which is polluted into the air and effects the ozone layer. (Friends of Family Famers/ FlickrCC)

Rob Cooley, 25-year-old Sustainable Energy and Building Technology Humber College student lives a vegetarian lifestyle for environmental and ethical reasons.

He cooks most of his meals from home with ingredients like rice, lentils and chickpeas to ensure he gets all the required nutrients.

Cooley points out some of the key environmental factors damaging the planet.

“Greenhouse gas emissions from animal agriculture are higher than the transportation industry combined. Rain forests and green areas are also being destroyed at an alarming rate to make room for cattle.”

Cooley suggests a meat-less diet, which would decrease pollution, energy use and gas emissions.

“Reducing meat intake would help everyone of these problems that will cause climate change, ecosystem destruction and eventually food shortages,” said Cooley.

According to Fauster, a large portion of people prefers eating what they’re culturally familiar with, or they follow their palette and eat what tastes good. But what many people don’t know is that eating vegan opens a whole world of taste.

“[By eating vegan], you won’t be lacking in nutrients and you’ll actually absorb more nutrients because it’s easier for the body to digest.”

She uses the example of eating things that are coconut-based or high in nuts and seeds. These foods have lots of healthy oils and fats, which are a lot easier to digest than animal-based fats. These are fats that the brain and body needs for daily function.

As more people explore the world of a plant-based diet, we can then reduce our carbon footprint and lead a healthier and more humane lifestyle.

The original article was published on the Humber News website.