Café de la Vie

The Art of Being Intentional: Gift Giving

How do we show those we love how we truly feel? Are you starting to feel the pre-made gift sets or standard trendy gifts are not quite aligning with your personal zest for gift giving but lack the time or resources to pull off something more intentional and unique? Here are some of my strategies to keeping a tight budget, maximizing a busy schedule and still being known as a great gift giver.


  • Start thinking weeks/months in advance. I always set annual calendar reminders in my phone for folks who I know I want to give a little more TLC and appreciation to on their birthday, special milestones, or even holidays like Christmas.
  • Listening to what your loved ones say. Usually, when your loved one says something in Sept/Oct they are not typically thinking you will remember what they said months ago and it means so much more to them that they know that you were listening, that you remembered and you took the time to prioritize it for them.
  • Think about what that person means to you. I always like to give cards with an essay about why I appreciate that person, our relationship and their/our growth during the last year. It’s like a little time capsule that person can keep as a memento to look back to when they need a pick me up or even a chuckle.
  • Ask yourself if there are any special items or activities that your loved one is usually too humble or busy to personally splurge on. I remember once, my friend got me a gift card for a very fancy custom making bra store because she knew with my budget lifestyle I was not likely to splurge on for this type of thing. At first, I thought it was a weird gift but I actually ended up loving it because she hit the nail on the head with helping me pamper myself in a more practical way.
  • Research, explore, and embrace the gift giving experience. I like the old saying “work smarter, not harder.” This may sound counter intuitive but spending a bit of time here or there to research different products or blogs/Pinterest with their mountains of ideas and resources; it can truly help get your creative juices flowing. Once you have your idea. SLEEP ON IT. Impulse gifting, can sometimes work out but more often than not it can be disastrous.


You picked up that box set on your way home after work, or grabbed that pretty jewelry piece at your local store, it’s wrapped and discretely hidden… But… in 5 years… will you or the receiver remember that gift? Do you feel the gift reflects your relationship? Let’s say, Margaret has been really wanting the GoT box set for forever but… it is out of her budget. This could be a great gift BUT I encourage you to personalize it. When I’m buying gifts that are less obviously thoughtful, I always add a little sparkle, this can be a heart-warming message in a card, adorably hand made wrapping, homemade cookies etc.


  • Don’t be afraid to let your inner artist shine.  Adults can often struggle to still find opportunities to maximize their personal creative side. Gifting can be one of those conduits to tapping into that inner drive to make something beautiful and impactful for the people who mean the most to you.




The Pickle: The Greatest Invention?

They are sweat and tangy and good in so many ways!! But sometimes, life can get a little too real… enjoy!!


  1.  When you are trying to thwart your housemates from eating your pickles: 29b0c4b86cbfdb4073f5cbaa9ec16094
  2.  When your hamburger realizes its missing its best feature….
  3. When it’s time to see who your true friends are…
  4. When you have found your ride-or-die…
  5. When it is time to wake up…#$@&%*!Bite_Me_Pickle_Wall_Clock_300x300
  6. When your boss tells you that you’re actually late for work…
  7.  When your boss tells you everything they expect you to do….today…

  8. When you are racing the clock to freedom
  9. When you conquer that list! TGIF! Pickles! Pickles everywhere!!raf,750x1000,075,t,fafafa ca443f4786.u3
  10.  See ya later, weekend warriors!!

A Big’ol Cup of AnxieTEA


Anxiety is very common, and I am one of the unlucky souls with it. I have endured the echoes of insecurities, self-doubt, worry and pessimism. However, I like to have a healthy dose of optimism with my morning tea.


I have been lucky in that my anxiety for the most part is mild and I manage it quite well. That was up until entering nursing school. It exceeded the resources and tools that typically helped me kick anxiety’s ass and I had to make the decision to start medication to manage my anxiety while I finish school and boy am I glad because it took my anxiety down by a good 60%.


I noticed getting to the point of recognizing that I needed a little more help I really felt the internalized stigma that comes with admitting your mental health has deteriorated. Although, no one said “don’t do it” there were the looks of doubt and confusion regarding the legitimacy and effectiveness of these supports and even after being on medications for almost a year, I was surprised to be asked a leading question that implied I would not need my anxiety medications once school was finished.

I felt like that question in itself gave me anxiety. How do I know what my life will be in a year? How stressful my first nursing job will be? How stable my life will be? Will I have time to properly leverage my strategies for managing stress?  All I know is that I take this pill once a day and it has been a huge game changer in how clearly I see the world today and for as long as I need it.


I wanted to make this article to give guidance on strategies that I have leveraged to help manage my anxiety beyond pharmaceutical aids and to reinforce that speaking out and standing up for yourself and your mental health is as precious as it is necessary. So let’s get started!

  • I LOVE high impact cardio. Before nursing undermined me being a regular gym rat I love(d) running long distance, doing Krav Maga, and strength training. Even with a busy schedule; find time to prioritize this even if it is only 30 minutes.
  • I equally LOVE meditation. I’m the gal who can meditate anywhere! If you are new to the practice and are having difficulties getting into it. Don’t give up. Apps like Headspace and Insight are great for beginners.
  • Wined down rituals. I have learned that at the end of the day I need a good hour to fully wined down. If I do anything that is stressful or overstimulating, it is a pain in the ass to fall asleep and I will be awake and restless until at least 3am. Usually for me, I will shower, make some tea, read a book or watch a slice-of-life feel good type of videos. Sometimes I will just meditate, practice my ukulele, clean my apartment or take a hot bath. Try out different routines and do them for at least two weeks so you are allowing your body enough time to start adapting and responding to changes.
  • Sleep hygiene is your bff. This one might sound a bit “off” but it’s actually so important. If you are not sleeping enough and regularly it throws off not only your cognitive function but also your body’s hormones. So if you are chronically not sleeping properly you are going to feel it mentally and physically.
  • Listen to your body. Do you ever notice certain situations, people, items or tasks cause you anxiety? If it is not practical to distance yourself from those variables, is there anything that you can do to manage your emotional and physical reaction? For me, sometimes this means giving myself a pep talk or positive affirmations beforehand or if I can feel my anxiety is escalating to panic, I will remove myself and do deep breathing and meditation to re-center myself and then re-engage.
  • Prioritize who you let in your life. I am a believer in being intentional with how much of yourself you give to others and if you feel that your friends take more from you then they give; it probably is not a healthy relationship. It is important to ensure the folks you surround yourself with: support you, build you up, and inspire you to be your best self. If they drag you down and are not making a genuine effort to improve the friendship do not be afraid to cut them lose or distance yourself depending on the circumstances.
  • Be kind to yourself. This one can be hard because with anxiety, usually you are your own worst enemy. I try to periodically reflect on my success and my goals. I take time to appreciate those in my life who support me through the highs and lows. I acknowledge that not everyday will be a great day and welcome those feelings…for a finite amount of time.


Just remember. Rome wasn’t built in a day and neither was the human mind. Be kind to yourself and take the time to respect and prioritize your needs.  



Child Magnet

Do you ever feel like you are a magnet for certain types of people, situations or things? I have a few….


#1. Children.

Children. Love me. Parents. Love to allow their children to randomly hangout with me. The stranger. Weird. I know.


How do I know this is a theme?
A few years ago, I was riding the Greyhound a substantial distance for Canadian standards. While transferring in Ottawa to head a west, an adorable little 2-3-year-old sat beside me while her mother sorted out what to do with her infant and their baggage. The child wanted to sing with me…in French. My French language skills did not include this particular nursery rhyme. So being the adult that I am, I swiftly ran away from the munchkin and gave my seat to the mother and moved several seats. 

Fast forward several hours and no further communication with this family; I was awoken at 3am-ish by the mother… who asked me to watch her sleeping toddler and hold her baby while she ran in to buy snacks at this convenience store we had stopped at. In my head I did a “Hail Mary” and before I could respond she had shoved her sleeping baby at me. Fast forward again, the baby awakes, and I sternly inform this child they are not to cry because they are the first baby I had held. The child instead stares at me like I am a demon on acid. Through reciprocal looks of confusion and dread; me and the kid decided we just would not work out as friends and fortunately, his mother returned before his tears and screams hit their peak.


Time skip 8 years and at least a couple dozen other interactions with random children:


I am sitting in my doctor’s office last week. A different mother with a baby and a toddler again enters my life. The baby is cool as a cucumber; sleeping, drooling and being adorable. The toddler…. So much screaming and running and a mother who would periodically tries to catch him and takes a laissez-faire approach to discipline…hence running and screaming child. IMG_4894[1]

Everyone is becoming progressively more and more annoyed. Personally, I thought it was entertaining. But… I am a kind soul and thought I would help everyone out. After hearing the mom shout this little one’s name a dozen times, I too shouted his name and of course because toddlers are way too trusting of strangers, he was immediately enamored by this stranger calling his name. I then proceeded to distract him with everything in my backpack and ultimately, we drew a picture together while his mother looked on with absolute admiration. In my head I’m thinking, hey lady I hope you talk to your kid about not talking to strangers…because…. Well…. this was weird…. But hey at least we got to draw a picture of a T-rex having a dance party while watching a T.V. and no one questioned


me on why I have a pen light and a stethoscope “randomly” in my backpack while waiting in a doctor’s office.
Children. Love me. It’s an unusual yet comical blessing.


Tips for Thriving in Nursing School:

I am nearing the last 10 months of my studies and I often have students engaging me for support and guidance at various obstacles points in this journey. I have found the follow strategies and resources to be invaluable.
  1. Prioritize your time. Always look at your assignments/test and assess what is worth the most and will likely be the hardest when you are allocating your study time. Do NOT and I mean do NOT forget to prioritize time for the people, activities and things that mean the most to you. I made sure my weekly schedule included the option to have up two 2 social activities per week in addition to school and self care needs, when I was at my most busy periods.
  2. Sleep and self care are important. The program is very challenging and it’s easy to let your health fall by the wayside but don’t let that happen. images
  3. Make study friends. This is soooo helpful for OSCE prep especially with helping to identify if you are missing things in your study notes and it is also a life savor if you miss class or if you are simply too busy to get through the mountain of readings.
  4. Advocate for yourself. You are in control of your learning experience so if you feel you need help, are not being treated fairly, or are feeling overwhelmed do not be afraid to speak up for guidance and support.
  5. Take everything you hear with a grain of salt. Every cohort and individual’s experiences are very different. In my first year, I only ever heard horror stories from upper year students about classes, clinical and professors. I found many of these stories to be the exact opposite of my experience so go into everything with an open mind, a positive attitude and prepared to work hard.


I’m not going to sugar coat it. Nursing school is very hard and there will be points when you are wondering why you are torturing yourself with the unrealistic expectations of many of these programs. Remember that you earned your seat in your program, you deserve to be in your program, and at the end of this program you determine what to do with the knowledge, skills and experience you have acquired. Don’t let anyone tarnish your confidence or determination.
Stay tuned for what’s in my clinical bag! Please hit me up if there are questions or topics you want me to discuss!


What’s In My Clinical Bag? (Star Wars Edition)

Clinical can always be a big ominous stress ball; especially in first year…and second year… and well.. you get the picture. Here are some items and tips and tricks that I have learned along the way. I have hyperlinked the specific products that I have and love.


Things to have in your pockets:lllll

  1. Stethoscope. This in an investment. Think of it like your light saber. Thus, guard it with your life. No one wants to be like Anikan…
  2. An actual penlight that more closely resembles a light saber.
  3. A note pad of approximately this size with multicolored pens to jot down Jedi teachings.
  4. A mini-clock to make sure you stay on fleek.
  5. Safety glasses to shield and disguise yourself while searching for Siths…
  6. A small bag of nuts and chap stick because you’re worth it.
  7. Cheap ass water bottle because you’re going to lose it while climbing sand dunes in Tatooine.


What kind of footwear do I wear to survive those darling 12 hour shifts you ask?

  • I worked with an LPN who recommended Alegria and I have to say they are way better then wearing runners and much easier to keep clean/presentable. I suggest calling up your local shoe stores and seeing if they carry them because usually they can modify the inserts for you.
  • Compression socks. Sounds crazy. I know. But I swear by them after regrettably giving the stink eye when I first saw a nurse wearing them. I got these exact ones on Amazon and they are cheap but effective for long days.
  • In terms of storing my supplies; I use a bigger fabric pencil case. I would wait to buy this until you have worked a few clinical shifts and can gauge everything your professor specifically will want you to bring.13600317_1613889835307130_2845812270626374109_n.png


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