Archives for April 2013

Tiger and the Three Pigs

A fairy tale about painting a positive self portrait and improving self-esteem and building body image

“Like hamburgers on the grill, teenage girls feel the heat and the pressure to squeeze every last ounce of fat from their bodies. If Claudia Schiffer can look so thin, so must they. If Naomi Campbell can be that slender, they can too. Why not?”
— David Leonhardt on improving self-esteem and building body image, from Climb you Stairway to Heaven: the 9 habits of maximum happiness

Somewhere in the land of low self-esteem and battered body-images …

tigerAfter years of terrorizing the countryside, hunting deer, poaching livestock, killing game, Tiger grew long in the tooth. Finally, he knew it was time to retire. So he packed his bag: “Poor self-esteem? Check. Poor body image? Check? Poor self-image? Check. Self-portrait? Uh … oh, well, three out of four ain’t bad.”

Tiger ambled into town and came to stand before the Three Little Pigs Retirement Home Inc. He rang the bell, and the first little pig appeared on the landing above. “What do you want?” asked the little pig.

“I come here to retire,” Tiger replied.

“Ooooh. I don’t think so,” the little pig declared. “You’re not like us. You’ve got big teeth. Very dangerous. We can’t let you in.”

Tiger, having poor self-image, went to the dentist to improve these apparent deficiencies, and had his teeth removed. The next day, he returned to the Three Little Pigs Retirement Home Inc. “What do you want?” asked the second little pig.

“I have no more teeth. I come here to retire,” Tiger replied once more.

“Ooooh. No, no, no. That just won’t do,” the little pig exclaimed. “You’re different. You have sharp claws. You scare us. We can’t let you in.”

No teeth, no claws, no self-portrait

Tiger took his poor self-esteem and even worse body-image to the manicurist and had his claws removed. The next day, he returned to the Three Little Pigs Retirement Home Inc. “What do you want?” demanded the third little pig.

“I have no more claws. I come here to retire,” Tiger repeated.

“Ooooh. Let me see,” the little pig muttered as he disappeared from sight. Tiger heard much whispering and commotion behind the big wooden doors. “Okay, come in,” said the little pig.

three little pigs

Tiger strolled through the doors, and there stood the three little pigs, grinning ear to ear. Suddenly they jumped on Tiger. Squealing with delight, they beat him up and sent him packing. No teeth. No claws. Yippeeee! Finally they got even with Tiger for terrorizing the animals.

Tiger should have known better. He should have accepted who he is and not try to conform to someone else’s image of him. What tiger in his right mind lets a pig paint his portrait? He should have painted a self-portrait instead.

Do you seek to improve your body or your body image? Do you seek to improve your claws or your nails, or do you improve your self-esteem? What do you see when you look in the mirror?

So, who paints your portrait?

Take this self-esteem test!

(Adapted from the motivational self-help book Climb your Stairway to Heaven: the 9 habits of maximum happiness. The book includes two chapters dedicated to improving self-esteem and two chapters dedicated to building self-confidence.)

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Self-esteem Test

Take this free self-esteem test by Karl Perera to determine how strong is your self-image

This free quiz is extremely quick and simple, just answer TRUE or FALSE to each question (if you cannot answer 100% TRUE then answer FALSE):

self-esteem1. Other people are not better off or more fortunate than me

2. I accept myself as I am and am happy with myself

3. I enjoy socializing

4. I deserve love and respect

5. I feel valued and needed

6. I don’t need others to tell me I have done a good job

7. Being myself is important

8. I make friends easily

9. I can accept criticism without feeling put down

10. I admit my mistakes openly

11. I never hide my true feelings

12. I always speak up for myself and put my views across

13. I am a happy, carefree person

14. I don’t worry what others think of my views

15. I don’t need others’ approval to feel good

16. I don’t feel guilty about doing or saying what I want

Read also: How to Boost Your Self-esteem Quickly

Total number of TRUE answers you gave

15-16 You have a high level of self esteem!
12-14 Not bad, but room for you to improve.
8-11   Low self esteem – it’s holding you back.
Below 8 your esteem is drastically low.

Self-esteem is a key component in happiness and self-actualization – so much so that two of the habits in Climb Your Stairway to Heaven: the 9 habits of maximum happiness are devoted to self-esteem. This free self-esteem test is meant simply to give you an indication of what kind of improvement you might wish to make.

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Breathe Some Life Into Your Life

Relief from anxiety in 19 seconds? A free method for increased energy, improved blood circulation, reduced swelling, and improved complexion? Studies prove that simply learning how to breathe correctly can have these remarkable effects throughout your body.

learn to breatheBreathing correctly can be as powerful as it is simple. The typical person only uses around twenty percent of their lung capacity, but with practice, they can learn how to tap into their lung’s full potential. Sending better oxygen content to all the cells of the body can bring dramatic changes in general health and mood.

Famous health guru, Dr. Andrew Weil, says that if he could only give one tip for better health, it would be to breathe properly. Proper breathing technique is central to the ancient practices of Yoga, Qi Gong, Ayurveda and other meditation disciplines. A clinical study* of thousands of participants over a 30-year period presents convincing evidence that the most significant factor in peak health and long life is how well you breathe.

*You can get the complete Framingham study at the National Institute of Health’s Database.

Breathing correctly is critical in maintaining the level of oxygen for energy, keeping the correct pH levels in the body, and enough carbon dioxide for bodily functions. Healthy people make 93 per cent of their energy aerobically (“in the presence of oxygen,”) but poor breathing habits can reduce the amount of energy made aerobically to 84 per cent. Seventy percent of the elimination of wastes from the body is through breathing.

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The good news is that poor breathing habits can be reversed. Among infants, correct breathing comes naturally. Observe a baby as it breathes to see its belly rise and fall with each breath. As we grow older, we are taught to “suck in that gut” and “puff out that chest” as we try to achieve as slim a waist as possible. Such resistance to the natural breathing posture restricts oxygen intake, which can lead to numerous physical as well as emotional problems.

“Bad” Breathing

Shallow “chest breathing” invites problems by delivering less air per breath into the lungs. Less air per breath leads to a higher number of breaths, putting in motion a series of physiological changes that constrict blood vessels. An imbalance between the oxygen and carbon dioxide levels in the lungs delivers less oxygen to the brain, the heart, and the rest of the body. Carbon dioxide (CO2,) is a vital gas that is produced by the body’s energy source: metabolism. The body’s ability to maintain a normal pH (the balance between acid and alkaline that regulates the body’s chemical reactions) depends on maintaining an adequate supply of CO2.

Too much oxygen and not enough carbon dioxide can create an agitated state. As you learn to exhale slowly, you conserve carbon dioxide and rebalance the system. However, too much carbon dioxide, and not enough oxygen, can create feelings of fatigue and depression. Learning to inhale slowly re-balances your system by taking in more oxygen. In extreme cases, a restricted supply of oxygen can contribute to anxiety, panic attacks, and even phobias. Less productive exhaling can also result in a buildup of toxins that would have been eliminated through breathing.

Stress, anxiety, and emotions all affect our breathing – the natural “fight or flight” response that increases respiration. As “civilized” people, we typically do not ease such state of arousal with immediate physical activity. Once breathing is in an aroused state, the physiological effects on the body remain after the stressful event has gone. Such arousal promotes rapid breathing leading to a metabolic imbalance where CO2 levels are too low and oxygen use is poor. The key element to many meditation disciplines is that breathing technique can affect one’s emotional state as much as one’s emotional state can affect one’s breathing.

“Bad breathing” is also performed through the mouth rather than the nose, especially during exercise or a stressful situation. Breathing through the mouth permits inhaling and exhaling large volumes of air quickly. This can lead to hyperventilation, diminished energy, and a weakening of health and well-being.

“Good” Breathing

It is easy to develop good breathing habits, but it takes practice. Most of us are completely unaware of our breathing – otherwise we would have to remember to inhale over 17,000 times a day! Breathing awareness and practice, or “breathwork,” is an important part of training for athletes, musicians, vocalists, and public speakers.

To achieve normal levels of oxygen and CO2 in your system, you begin by focusing your attention on breath! Your goal is to reduce the number of respirations from a standard of 12 per minute to as few as four per minute – which can be achieved with practice. Deep, slow breathing will feel unnatural to many who first try it and may be uncomfortable to some. After years of shallow “chest breathing,” some have a low CO2 concentration leaving them with a tight chest and malfunctioning diaphragm.

A slow inhale, followed by holding the breath, and concluding with an exhale twice as long as the inhale will help balance the CO2 level. One technique is called “4-7-8 Breathing” in which you inhale to the count of four, hold the breath to the count of seven, and slowly exhale to the count of eight. The slow exhale is key to most forms of breathwork, and critical to achieving stress reduction.

Bad Advice

“Take a deep breath” can be very bad advice to someone who is feeling anxious or is agitated. If such a person begins taking deep breaths, they are likely to experience an even more aroused state. A person prone to anxiety most likely is at or over their optimum CO2 level and needs to slow their respiration more than increase their intake volume through “take a deep breath.”

Such advice can lead to hyperventilation (breathing too fast.) The amount of carbon dioxide in blood generally regulates breathing and a low level of CO2 tends to make the nervous system more excitable. If carbon dioxide is released too rapidly, the arteries and blood vessels constrict and an insufficient supply of oxygen to the cells results, including blood (and oxygen) supply to the brain. Restricting oxygen supply to the brain can stimulate the sympathetic nervous system (fight or flight) and cause tension, anxiety, and mood swings. Low levels of oxygen in the brain has been associated with depression and other changes in brain waves.

Remembering to Breathe

Learning the proper breathing technique is important – remembering to practice that technique can become even more important. On a typical day, it is easy to become focused on a task (such as the computer or driving) and forget to breathe properly. The tendency is to revert into shallow “chest breathing” when focused. Regularly practicing diaphragmatic breathing, with measured inhale and exhale, and it will become the only breathing you do. But, like anything else, proper breathing is a learned skill and practice is critical.

Getting “lost” at a computer keyboard or within the pages of a good book happens to everyone. You will need a timer or similar alarm to remind you on a regular basis throughout the day to practice this skill. Kitchen timers work well as does a wristwatch alarm or cell phone alarm. As these require resetting and the audible alarm can be embarrassing in some situations, there is a “personal breathing coach” device on the market with a discreet, silent alarm ( that is effective.


joggingArticles regarding diaphragmatic breathing abound on the Internet. In addition to the many health benefits achieved through proper breathing technique, there are numerous web sites devoted to breathwork for sports, public speaking, singing, and musical instruments. Many sites incorporate breathwork into practice of meditation as well as natural healing and holistic medicine modalities. Search breathwork, diaphragmatic breathing, or simply healthy breathing to find an extensive array of materials.

Unfortunately, this information is not widespread in today’s medical community. Illness and Pathology, not Wellness, are the priority of most healthcare practitioners. In addition, things that are free and can’t be patented (like breathing) do not attract funding for research, so little finds its way into popular medical journals.

Breathe Some Life Into It

Breathwork is free and you already own the necessary equipment (lungs) so you and you can practice virtually anytime anywhere. You first want to evaluate your current normal breathing pattern, and then learn diaphragmatic breathing skills, and then to pace your breathing. Once you have achieved that level, the “trick” is to remember to practice your breathing and to perform it correctly. With time, these skills become your normal method of breathing and you begin to breathe some life into your life!


Guest blogger Joel McPherson, MA, HRM runs Breath Minder and Stop Anxiety Atttack Symptoms.



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Lifestyle Carnival – Happy Relaunch Edition

Welcome to the 50th edition of the Lifestyle Carnival.  This is the Happy Relaunch Edition, because it coincides with the relaunch of this blog.  We have moved it from the sub-domain to the main domain for extra exposure.  In the weeks ahead, the entire look of the blog will be upgraded, too.

Happy Blog Posts


Melody @ Vacilando writes fun – Although we have created this fun and weird existence, living abroad and traveling on our 35′ sailboat, sometimes, believe it or not, we have to remind ourselves to have FUN.

Greg @ Club Thrifty writes Planning Ahead: The Advantages of Life Planning – OK, so we may take planning ahead to a whole new section of Crazy Town. Still, planning ahead can benefit your life in many ways. Find out how inside!

Steve @ Grocery Alerts writes Guide to Cross Border Shopping for Canadians – Many Canadians cross border shop in the United States. This guide shares tips on how much you can bring back, what you can bring and useful websites.

Jason Hull @ Hull Financial Planning writes Do FBAR and FATCA Affect You if You Plan on Becoming an Expatriate? – If you plan on becoming a backpacking vagabond living in the steppes of Tajikistan, you’ll still need money to live on. Will the long arm of the IRS touch you? Here’s how to stay in their good graces if you want to be an expat.


Robert @ Kids Ain’t Cheap writes Choosing Daycare: Finding the Perfect Fit – Choosing a childcare provider is one of the hardest and most thought through decisions parents make. No one would argue that the ideal candidate for proving childcare are the parents, but in today’s world, it is more common that both parents return to work after their child is born.

Stephan Ledain @ writes The Nice People – A parable of self-discovery on the topic of faith.

Miss T. @ Prairie Eco Thrifter writes Spring Cleaning Tasks to Get a Head Start On – I actually enjoy the thought of spring cleaning. There is something about the thought of being organized and starting a season off on the right (clean) foot that is satisfying. However, I find that when I start spring cleaning, I am usually surprised by how much work it is.


Jules Wilson @ Fat Guy,Skinny Wallet writes My New Sony NWZ-W262 Walkman From Klout! – The Sony NWZ-W262 Walkman wireless MP3 player recently came into my possession, and so far I love it! You can read my first impressions & see a video of the unboxing

Tushar @ Finance TUBE writes Are smart TV’s worth it? – Consumer technology evolves at such a rapid rate these days that your tech is probably out-dated by the time you’ve managed to save up for it. Advertising sometimes manages to convince you to save up for gear neither need nor want.


CAPI @ Creating a Passive Income writes Fact or Fiction: 5 Passive Income Myths – Looking into starting a passive income? Before you try, it’s important to know the facts and falsehoods. Here are 5 passive income myths and tips.

Michael @ Financial Ramblings writes Dirty Money and Spending Behavior – Looking for new ways to save money? Consider asking for new bills the next time you withdraw money at the bank. While it’s well-accepted that currency denomination influences spending, there’s now evidence that the appearance of your money may be even more important.

Dividend Growth Investor @ Dividend Growth Investor writes Five Things to Look For in a Real Estate Investment Trust – There are five factors I analyze at a REIT, before putting my money to work in the sector. I used three REIT’s I own in this exercise in order to illustrate my strategy in action.

Bryan @ writes Best Paying Jobs For Women – Gender inequality is still an issue in America, but there are still certain careers that minimize the compensation gap and offer men and women relatively the same advancement. Healthcare continues to dominate the list of best paying industries for women, but what other jobs offer the highest pay?

MMD @ My Money Design writes Reader Debate – Would You Borrow Money to Invest in Stocks? – If real estate investors use other people’s cash to finance their investments, would it be wise for stock investors to borrow money to invest in stocks?

Arnel Ariate @ Money Soldiers writes 3 of the Best Budgeting Tips for Contractors – These are things that you need to do in order to stretch your cash in any job. Budgeting is an essential part of any financial plan and preparing a budget is essential to your contracting business.

Marvin @ Brick By Brick Investing writes Ridiculous Young Entitled Generation – My personal rant about a highschool senior who fills entitled to an Ivy League education.

Peter @ Bible Money Matters writes Work-Life Balance: More Time and Less Money – I started making more time for my son, but that pushed some work later into the night. It isn’t bad on some days. But between my full-time job and my side hustle, I can certainly see my side income slipping. Finally, I just decided that there were certain things I wanted to do, and that I wasn’t going to let the idea of making money overtake my family life.

Lynn @ Wallet Blog writes Home Warranties: Worth the Price? – A home warranty/home protection plan is a service contract that protects many of the appliances or systems (heating, plumbing, air conditioning) in your house in case they fail. They can serve as a security blanket of sorts to homeowners, particularly if you’re purchasing a home that is older or hasn’t had much in the way of upkeep over the past number of years.

Nick @ A Young Pro writes Recent Graduate Budget Infographic – I discuss the merits of an infographic aimed at helping recent graduates learn the basics of money management.

John S @ Frugal Rules writes Taking the Plunge: What the Hell Have I Done? – You learn a lot about yourself when pressed up against a wall. I found myself in this situation last summer after starting our business. By persevering through it I was able to grow and seeing the value of not giving up on oneself

Marie at FamilyMoneyValues @ Family Money Values writes WOMEN NEED MORE ECONOMIC POWER – Lack of economic power has forced women into lives of sexual slavery. Lack of economic power has caused women to stay in abusive relationships.Lack of economic power has caused women to lack access to educational opportunities.

Justin @ The Frugal Path writes Find Your Financial path – Sometimes the hardest step is the very first one that you must take. This can be especially true with personal finances.

Glen @ Monster Piggy Bank @ Monster Piggy Bank writes Time is Money – What are you Sacrificing for Money? – What are you sacrificing for money? Is it Time? Or perhaps physical or mental health? It is a question that I think many people don’t bother to ask themselves, as they don’t feel that they are sacrificing anything.

Jacob @ Cash Cow Couple writes Why You Probably Can’t Afford a Dog – Unless you’ve stashed a mound of cash in the doggy fund, you should probably take a good hard look at the total cost of owning a new dog.

Mr.CBB @ Canadian Budget Binder writes Life, Money and Retirement-Skype Doesn’t Reach Heaven – Sometimes we need to ask ourselves why we work so hard for all the money we make and whether we are spending our time wisely. Pouring your life into one basket risks leaving behind potential memories that you might not be able to go back and get. Take time to evaluate your life, your priorities and your future.

Edward Antrobus @ Edward Antrobus writes Could You Live on Minimum Wage? – 4.4 million Americans live on minimum wage. SPENT is a game designed to show the tough choices made everyday by the working poor.


Lazy Man @ Lazy Man and Money writes Thank You. I See You. – To the amazement of my fellow bloggers, I try to respond to every comment I get. It makes me sad when I see someone leave a comment saying, that they’ve been reading for years, but never left a comment. We can’t share a moment, if I can’t see you. If you have a question for me reach out and contact me… let’s connect.

Carolyn Henderson @ This Woman Writes writes Bruce Willis Knitting – Anyone who thinks that knitting is a sedentary, boring hobby doesn’t go about it the way I do.

CheapSKate @ ConsumerFu writes 25 Ways to Upcycle – At ConsumerFu we love turning trash into treasure. Don’ t miss this compilation of some of our favorite finds on Twitter.

Little House @ Little House in the Valley writes Making the Most of Your Small Garden Spaces – The good news is that with a few simple updates, you can create a beautiful garden, in spaces both big and small. Here’s a look at how.


eemusings @ NZ Muse writes Boyfriend in the kitchen: Beef and mushroom noodles

Tamar @ writes No Mayo And Deviled Eggs – Like all our other favorite recipes, it is important to be able to substitute unhealthy ingredients with healthier ones. With summer around the corner, many of us are trying to shape up and trim down for bikini season. Here is a Deviled Eggs recipe that replaces mayo with healthier alternatives.

Alexis @ FITnancials writes Stuffed Bell Peppers Recipe – Hello everyone! I am here to share with you one of my new favorite recipes. My boyfriend and I were recently talking about how we don’t really eat too healthy when we are together, so we decided to start making healthy dishes at home instead of eating out. Our first dish together was Stuffed Bell Peppers. This recipe was so delicious!

We hope you enjoyed this edition of the Lifestyle Carnival.  If you have a blog post to share you can submit it to the next edition using this handy carnival submission form.

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