How Does Gardening Relieve Stress?

One of my favorite activities is working in my garden; it is also a vibrant place to meditate, often visited by various winged and four-legged creatures. Being in nature, touching the soil and creating a living landscape is healing in a way that is like nothing else. The very fragrance of the soil, the textures of the barks and foliage of green plants, the aromatic flowers, all are a work of art that is soothing to the spirit.Gardening is a creative work, all in magnificent 3-D. The pallette you have to work with includes textures, colors, shapes, sounds and scents. You can plant for wildlife, or for butterflies. Rain gardens are a beautiful way to deal with runoff from the roof, while recharging the local water table instead of sending rainwater down the city sewer system.Granted, all this may not work for you if you don’t like gardening. Even if you love the idea of gardening, and perhaps have some experience or helped your mother or grandmother in the garden when you were a child, it is important that it not be a chore. The easiest first mistake is to take on too much, and find that instead of being a stress relief you are stressed because the goals you set are unrealistic.Rather than end up with a stressful responsibility that has become overwhelming, it is far better to enjoy a potted plant or a single container garden on the patio, or a hanging planter or two by the walkway to greet you with their cheerful color, than to stress out over a large garden that has run to weeds due to lack of available time.Keep it simple, start small… Or even, start tiny, even indoors with a little terrarium, or a potted group of cactus. One plant that I consider important to keep in the house is an aloe plant. It is hardy, doesn’t mind indoors as long as the humidity doesn’t get too low, and is a wonderful medicinal herb for minor burns, scratches and bruises. Another fun idea, especially if you love to cook, is to keep a small window herb garden. For more information on growing your own kitchen herbs, check out the Organic Gardening website with a great web page on growing herbs indoors.A garden is a way to connect with nature, to slow down and be in the moment, and restore a sense of self in the noise and haste of the modern urban environment. Leave the phone and other noisemakers and distractions inside. Get a break from computer screens, TV screens, hand-held device screens and relax your gaze to take in a wider view. If you’ve ever suffered chastisement in school from indulging in the simple pleasure of looking out the window at beautiful clouds, you know what I mean.My avocation is natural areas restoration; I am a member of a not-for-profit group that is working to set aside natural areas for wildlife habitat. We restore these areas as close as possible to their pre-settlement condition, with native plants and clean waterways. Of course, once the native plant community returns, the wildlife shows up in abundance. You may enjoy creating an ecosystem in your yard that not only features native plants, but will attract wildlife such as endangered butterflies, dragonflies, and birds. The National Wildlife Federation website has great information on how to create wildlife habitat in your yard or community. Again, be realistic and take things in small bites; this is a process. If nothing else, nature encourages us to slow down, take our time to enjoy. Take on too much and we soon fall into stress and anxiety over arbitrary, ultimately unsatisfying goals that we have set for ourselves. You know what Pogo said, “We have met the enemy and he is us”.If you live in an apartment and don’t have garden space, you may want to consider joining in with the local community garden – or start one. The local community or neighborhood garden can also provide, if you wish, an opportunity to enjoy the benefit of social interaction.Gardening provides a sense of accomplishment – that is, if we’ve not overwhelmed ourselves with too much to take care of. Not only that, but there is great satisfaction in growing our own vegetables, fruits and fresh herbs. There is no fruit or vegetable in the supermarket, however much money is paid out, that will compare with your home-grown, lovingly cared for vegetable. No matter that it may be a simple container-grown cherry tomato. For a great article on the best tomatoes for container growing, check out what Colleen Vanderlinden has to say, based on her personal experience.There is even a movement called “geo-sense” gardening coming out of Europe. The idea is to design home gardens to provide stress relief. The tradition has deep roots, according to an article by Dr. Leonard P. Perry, Extension Professor at the University of Vermont. The ancient gardens of great civilizations of Egypt, Persia and China were designed to bring nature into their urban environments. Dr. Perry’s article contains ideas to incorporate into your garden to make it an environment – a mini ecosystem – that is designed for serenity.In traditional Japan, the garden was an expression of Zen philosophy. In an article on the Japanese Garden website, Dr. Koichi Kawana explains the philosophy behind traditional Japanese garden design. The Helpful Gardener website is another great website describes the traditional Japanese Garden, and its underlying Zen philosophy.The garden, whether it is a large plot or a simple miniature ecosystem in a container, embodies many things; spiritual philosophy, connectedness with nature, a living artistic creation, being grounded with our hands literally in the dirt, growing and providing ourselves and loved ones with our own superb food. All these things are the bounty that nature provides – freely given, asking for just a little touch of loving hands.If you enjoy gardening, tell us about your experiences, and whether or not you find gardening to be relaxing. Do you find it a challenge to find the time you want to work in the garden? Have you been challenged by trying to do too much? How do you balance the enjoyment with the work needed to keep your garden in good shape? Are you an “au natural” gardener, or do you prefer a neat and orderly design? Does it seem to bring you closer to nature, or even to a meditative, spiritual experience?If you have found this article to be helpful, please do share it with your friends using the social media buttons below.

Optimal Web Design: a Delicate Balance Between Aesthetics, Usability, and Accessibility

Having designed and developed websites for over 25 years, I must confess the biggest gripe I have when it comes to dealing with clients: their obsession with aesthetics. Hold on – what’s wrong with that? Surely I’m forgetting the “design” part of web design by complaining that clients focus too intently on how the site actually…looks? No, I’ve not forgotten – it’s just that aesthetics need to be balanced with usability and accessibility considerations too, and that if a client becomes too focused on aesthetics, their site can concede too many usability and accessibility features in the process.

The advantage aesthetics have over usability and accessibility is that it’s visual, whereas the latter two are often “invisible”: they’re not obvious, yet they can severely affect the level of success a website can hope to achieve.

Before we go too far, let’s get definitions of two words that are already popping up a lot in this article.

Usability
This term is fairly self-explanatory: usability concerns itself with how easy a website is to use. A website with strong usability is easy to navigate while making it easy for the visitor to do stuff (e.g. buy something, find out certain key information).

Accessibility
This term has two chief aspects to it: 1) how accessible a site is to people, particularly people with disabilities. 2) how accessible a site is to all devices.

On point 1), a site might be inaccessible if you can only navigate it by mouse, or if images do not have alt text, so blind people can’t have the images described to them via a screen reader.

On point 2), a website might be considered inaccessible if it doesn’t provide small-screen devices with a single column layout (therefore the text is very small, and you have to pinch-and-zoom to read it).

Suggested article: Directory of Web Design and Development Related Websites

So what kind of problems can too much focus on aesthetics cause?
Some common problems that come to mind:-

custom fonts that are hard to read
imagery in the header area that pushes the actual content of the page way below the fold (“below the fold” is the part of the page you have to scroll to see).
“mystery meat navigation” – navigation that’s hidden away, and you only know something is a link when you hover over it with your finger or mouse (usually these are images)
layouts that require horizontal scrolling
These are just some examples. They are usually part of a concept that the client has in their head. For example, a client might say “I’m imagining my site where each page looks like lined paper, and all the text will be displayed as a handwritten font”. There’s nothing wrong with such an idea per se, but problems can arise when the content of the site doesn’t match the design. For example, text as scrawled hand-writing can work very well with short-form content, but people will struggle to read it if it’s long-form.

There’s certainly a time and a place for conceptual ideas to be developed as web pages, but the typical client of mine is a small business that needs their site to perform specific tasks: to make it as easy as possible for someone to buy something, sign up to a service, sign up to a newsletter. Achieving these goals means balancing aesthetics with usability and accessibility so that they can create an optimum experience for the visitor.

Suggested article: Design Views | Share your design philosophies and ideas

Established websites focus a lot on usability and accessibility
You only have to look at the big platforms like Google, eBay, and Amazon to know how much time and money Big Tech throw at making their own websites as accessible and usable as possible. These sites aren’t using conceptual designs or trying to “wow” the visitor with eye candy. I often cite these examples to prospective new clients.

Hold on – most sites use templates now – isn’t usability and accessibility baked in?
For sure, there’s a lot of issues that are ironed out by the underlying website template. For example, HTML structure (headline tags et al), and responsive design are included in most templates these days. However, the content itself can cause issues. A client adding large images to the top of the page can push text down the page – even the title of the page can end up below the fold. Their navigation titles are vague or outright misleading. Moreover, not all design templates practice good usability and accessibility. Many layouts flagrantly ignore good web design practices. This is the issue where clients say “I really love the look and feel of this design template…”, and you know you’d have to turn it inside out to make it a useable and accessible website. I’ve put many a design template through an ahrefs.com audit only to see it get a very low score, and realize the amount of work I’d need to get a score of 95%+ isn’t worth the trouble. In summary, not all templates are the same. Some are very considerate toward usability and accessibility, others don’t even know these concepts exist.

Making it clear to clients
Of course, I don’t get in a war of words with clients. I explain what I can do for them, and what they need to look out for when it comes to maximizing their website’s potential. Actually, it’s more often the case that as soon as their website goes live, they then start to focus heavily on site performance – which is like the lightbulb moment for them: they’re reeling off their basket abandonment stats, their page bounce percentages, their conversion rates. And thus, often without knowing it, they start to optimize their site’s content to further help their visitors achieve the aims they are trying to achieve.

Business Capital Solutions In Canada: Accessing Proper Cash Flow & Commercial Financing

Business capital requirements in Canada often boil down to some basic truths the business owner/financial mgr/entrepreneur needs to address when it comes to financing for businesses.

One of those truths? Knowing the true state of their financial condition and what financing they do and don’t qualify for when it comes to meeting commercial lending requirements in Canadian business.

Business Loans In Canada

Whether you are smaller or start-up firm looking for information on how to get a business loan or a larger established firm looking for growth financing or acquisition opportunities we’re highlighting 3 mistakes that commercial loan seekers like your company need to avoid making when addressing, sourcing and negotiating your cash flow / working capital and commercial financing needs.

1. Understand the true condition of your company finances – These are almost always successful addressed when you spend time on your financials and understand how your financial statements reflect your access to commercial loans & business credit in general

2. Ensure you have a plan in place for sales growth and financial needs as it relates to commercial financing

3. Understand that actual hard facts about cash flow which is, of course, the lifeblood of your company

Can you honestly answer or feel positive about all those 3 points. If so, pass Go and collect $ 100.00!

A good way to address your company’s finance plans is to ensure you understand growth finance solutions, as well as how to manage in a downturn – i.e. not growing, losing money, etc; It’s never fun to fund yourself in an economic or industry downturn such as the COVID pandemic of 2020!

When we talk to clients of new or established businesses it seems they are almost always talking about sales, so the ability to understand and focus on the differences in their profits and cash fluctuations is key.

How do cash flow and sales plans and projections affect the type of financing you require? For one thing sales growth usually starts out by consuming your cash, not generating it. A poor finance plan will drag your business down and addressing financing simply gets tougher and tougher.

Three basics always emerge when it comes to your search for the right business capital and financing.

1. The amount of financing you need

2. The type of financing (debt/cash flow/asset monetization) The business loan interest rate will be dramatically affected by whether you choose traditional or alternative financing solutions. Private business loans in Canada come from non regulated commercial finance companies most often known as ‘ alternative lenders ‘. These lenders are typically highly specialized in one ‘ niche ‘ of business financing and may be Canadian firms or branches of U.S. banks and non-bank lenders

3. How the financing is structured to be manageable with your day to day operations

What Finance Company In Canada Can Meet Your Borrowing Needs & Why Is Capital Important In Business

Let’s identify and break down key financings your firm should know about and understand if they are applicable and achievable to your business. They include:

A/R Financing / Factoring / Confidential Receivable Finance

Inventory finance / floor planning / retail inventory

Working Capital term loans

Unsecured cash flow loans

Merchant working capital loans/advances – these loans are geared toward short term cash needs and are typically one year in duration. Loan amounts are typically 15-20% of your annual sales revenues.

Royalty finance

Asset based non bank business lines of credit

Tax credit financing (SR&ED bridge loans)

Equipment Leasing / Sale leasebacks – Equipment financing in Canada is used by almost 80% of all companies looking to acquire new, and used, assets.

Govt Guaranteed Small Business Loan program – Government Loans in Canada are sometimes referred to as ‘ SBL’, aka Note: BDC Finance solutions are available from this Canadian non-bricks and morter crown corporation. A small business loan via the government-guaranteed loan program comes with true flexibility around term loan duration, market rates, no pre payment penalties, and of course the low personal guarantee that is required by borrowers. These two ‘ government ‘ loan solutions are often perfect for financing a new business.

If you’re focused on not making mistakes in your business finance needs and want to capitalize on the solutions your competitors are probably already using seek out and speak to a trusted, credible and experienced Canadian business financing advisor who can assist you with your cash flow and commercial financing needs.

Stan has had a successful career with some of the world’s largest and most successful corporations.

His employers over the last 25 years were, ASHLAND OIL, ( 1977-1980) DIGITAL EQUIPMENT CORPORATION, ( 1980-1990) ) CABLE & WIRELESS PLC,( 1991 -1993) ) AND HEWLETT PACKARD ( 1994-2004 ) In 2004 Stan founded 7 PARK AVENUE FINANCIAL – He is an expert in Canadian Business Financing.