January Wrap-Up

Some winter blues are glorious like the sunny blue skies that we had last Wednesday. I went out for a walk and sat down in one of the Muskoka chairs to soak in the warm sunshine, daydream, and observe nature. It was quiet and blissful by the lake.

On my left, several seagulls took off and glided in the air. On my right, two Canada geese swam and a few ducks dipped in the calm harbour. The shimmering lights in the water prompted me to reflect on the first month of 2020.

Beautiful winter blue
Beautiful winter blue

January was a fun and enriching month. My extended family had a big get-together to celebrate a few family birthdays and the Lunar New Year. My friends and I met on several dates for coffee and lunch catch-ups. We’ve figured out how to embrace winter!

In between these social gatherings, I completed all my health goals and enjoyed plenty of leisure activities (8 art exhibits, 1 wildlife photography exhibit, 4 blog posts, 6 books, 31 French and 31 Spanish online sessions, 3.5 movies, and 3 recitals). I’m grateful for such a great month and an amazing start to the new year.

In case you’re curious, below are more details. I keep track of the data for my own benefit.


One of the advantages of living near the centre of a big city is the access to cultural events year round. I continue to be amazed by the quantity and quality of new art exhibits I can view for free. In January, I saw eight interesting exhibits:

  • Anxious Audience by American artist Rashid Johnson.
  • Black Diamond by Toronto-based artist Krystal Ball.
  • Blues Klair by Belgian artist Vincent Meessen.
  • Loop: An interactive light and sound installation with six giant wheels. Visitors sit down inside the wheel (zoetrope), pump the bar, and make the image cylinder turn to display the hand-drawn black and white animations.
  • Feels: An installation of carved acrylic pendants in gold and turquoise colours by Emma Piirtoniemi.
  • Hold Everything Dear: A contemporary exhibit by Hajra Waheed.
  • Ingenuous Purpose: An exhibition featuring beautiful dog blankets and hangings made by the Kwanlin Dün Cultural Centre (KDCC) Sewing Group in Whitehorse.
  • What we found after you left: A contemporary exhibit by Naeem Mohaiemen.
Black Diamond mural by Krystal Ball
Black Diamond mural by Krystal Ball


I made a few changes to my blog, including new header image, new tag line, updated Travel page, updated Wellness page, and added Award-free and Copyright notices on the right side bar. I also wrote four posts and hosted the first Wellness Weekend 2020 link-up:

Blues Klair exhibit by Vincent Meessen
Blues Klair exhibit by Vincent Meessen


I enjoyed reading six books which took my imagination from places in Canada to the United States, across the Atlantic to the United Kingdom and then India:

  • 26 Knots by Bindu Suresh.
  • Starlight by Richard Wagamese.
  • Bone Black by Carol Rose GoldenEagle.
  • The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein.
  • The Flatshare by Beth O’Leary.
  • A Delhi Obsession by M.G. Vassanji.


I met all my health goals, felt great, and slept well in January:

  • Greeted every new day with a smile.
  • Meditated 15 minutes daily.
  • Made 26 outdoor walks, average 8 km (5 miles) each walk.
  • Completed 13 strength workouts in the gym, one hour each.
  • Attended 9 yoga classes, one hour each.
  • Went swimming 5 times, one hour each.
  • Had 4 full rest days.


I continue learning French and Spanish lessons on Duolingo, about 30 minutes every day. It’s a good exercise for my brain!

Loop art installation
Loop – An interactive light and sound installation


My neighbour friends and I resumed our movie nights after the holidays. We enjoyed watching the first three movies and did not like the fourth one so we ended our evening half way through it:

  • Judy starring Renee Zellweger.
  • Gemini Man starring Will Smith.
  • Harriet starring Cynthia Erivo.
  • The Lighthouse starring Willem Dafoe and Robert Pattinson.


I enjoyed three excellent concerts, each was about one hour in duration:

  • Sonatas for piano and violin by Beethoven performed by James Parker, piano and Mark Fewer, violin.
  • Solo piano recital by Brazilian musician Andre Mehmari.
  • Solo piano recital by Toronto-based musician Bryn Blackwood.
Anxious Audience by Rashid Johnson
Anxious Audience by Rashid Johnson

Similar to Travel

The Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2019 exhibition at the Royal Ontario Museum took my friend and I to exotic places visually. The amazing exhibition showcases all-new photographs from around the world reveal striking wildlife, breathtaking landscapes, and the remarkable beauty of our natural world.

After our museum visit, we walked to the new Eataly store. It’s a bustling Italian marketplace with three restaurants, nine take-away counters, and a cooking school. In the full market, we found hundreds of culinary delights imported from Italy. We agreed to return here for our next coffee and lunch meet-up.

Cheese variety at Eataly Toronto
Say Cheese at Eataly Toronto

So that was my January. How was yours? What good things happened? I’d love to hear your comments.

Copyright © 2023 natalietheexplorer.home.blog – All rights reserved.

47 thoughts on “January Wrap-Up

  1. Jill Weatherholt February 2, 2020 / 7:39 am

    You sure had a busy and productive January, Natalie. I enjoyed your photos, especially the cheese! I’ve never met a cheese I didn’t like. 🙂 The month seemed to fly! Once I got over the flu, I turned in my book to my editor and started work on the next proposal. I expect February to go just as quickly. Have a great Sunday!


    • Natalie February 2, 2020 / 12:23 pm

      Hi Jill, Congrats on turning your book to your editor! It’s a big milestone that deserves some wine and cheese to celebrate 🙂 Here’s to a healthy, flu-free February and great writing on your next proposal.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Suzanne@PictureRetirement February 2, 2020 / 9:29 am

    Hi Natalie, as always, you make me dizzy with all you manage to accomplish in just one month.I’ll ask again, when do you sleep? I would have loved to visit any of those exhibits, based on the titles alone and thanks for the ‘heads up’ regarding the movies.Your photos are delightful!

    In comparison, I have been in slow motion this month but it was still satisfying. We have had a lot of rain and cold weather (for South Florida), so a lot of my outdoor plans were thwarted.I had to forgo tennis on many occasions and exercise inside instead.I spent some time strength training, which was good. I read “Little Fires Everywhere”, by Celest Ng and liked it but didn’t love it. Made a birthday dinner for my hubby, spent some time with friends and enjoyed a visit with our daughter. That’s about it.

    Thanks for sharing your January wrap-up and take care.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Natalie February 2, 2020 / 12:34 pm

      Hi Suzanne, I get about 8 hours of sleep every day, and one day a week, I laze around at home 🙂 Your January sounds very good and balanced. Thank you for sharing your month’s summary.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Retirement Reflections February 2, 2020 / 4:55 pm

    Hi, Natalie – I love your winter blues shot. That could be Vancouver Island! The changes that you have made to your blog are very effective — nicely done!


    • Natalie February 2, 2020 / 7:34 pm

      Thank you, Donna. I love the blue skies and the lake views. Now I’ll think of Vancouver Island, too. A famous couple from the UK chose to stay on Vancouver Island recently. Smart choice!


      • Retirement Reflections February 4, 2020 / 10:27 pm

        Thanks, Natalie. I’m back from #MLSTL. I heard that that famous couple were also looking at propery in Toronto. We are very happy to share them!


  4. Jo February 2, 2020 / 6:11 pm

    I love your opening shot – just glorious. As always I love the balance in your months. As an aside, I’m taking a leaf out of your book and spending some time on duolingo each day – Scottish Gaelic.


    • Natalie February 2, 2020 / 7:40 pm

      It was a glorious day and I didn’t want to leave the big comfy chair. Scottish Gaelic sounds like an exotic and fun brain teaser. You’re unlocking a new vocabulary and the history behind the words.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Jo February 2, 2020 / 8:45 pm

        Yeah, that’s what attracted me to it – that and I have a story set in Scotland lurking in the edges of my brain.


  5. Sue from Sizzling Towards 60 & Beyond February 2, 2020 / 6:50 pm

    Another busy and enriched month for you Natalie. I am constantly inspired by your zest for living. I also love your first health goal ‘greeting each day with a smile’ – perfect. Have another fun filled February. xx


    • Natalie February 2, 2020 / 7:43 pm

      Hi Sue – I think waking up to a new day is a great reason to smile. The alternative is not good 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • Sue from Sizzling Towards 60 & Beyond February 5, 2020 / 4:32 pm

        That is for sure. I love the Black Diamond mural and those cheeses! My husband would love to sample those but his Dr wouldn’t be too happy with him. Thanks for sharing at #MLSTL and have a beautiful week. xx


        • Natalie February 5, 2020 / 5:19 pm

          As we get older, we have to watch what we eat and drink more closely (sigh). I resisted the temptations to sample the cheeses at Eataly. My photo only showed one of the several cheese areas they have there. Thank you, Sue, for hosting MLSTL. Have a beautiful week!


  6. Erica/Erika February 2, 2020 / 7:51 pm

    A perfect, fun first photo, Natalie, depicting quiet, bliss and reflection. Was the wildlife photography exhibit at the Imax/Museum? I usually attend one each year at our Museum. Your blog always looked great in the past. I especially like it now. I have not had the courage to make many blog changes, (yet.)

    I like everything Richard Wagamese. I have not yet read “Starlight.” On my list. As I continue to read your post, you answer my above question. One of the main events in our life is one of my daughters is expecting a baby the end of February. The plan so for is for me to be her labour coach. We all know how predictable babies can be.😉 You are always an inspiration Natalie and a breath of fresh air. Thank you!


    • Natalie February 2, 2020 / 8:37 pm

      Hi Erica/ Erika – A new baby/ grand-baby to arrive is big and happy news. Your heart is going to expand with so much more love. All the best to your daughter. She’s in very good hands with you by her side.

      It was my first time reading Richard Wagamese and I’ll read more of his books soon. He was such a wonderful storyteller. I loved the scenery he described in Starlight.

      Thank you for your kind comment about me being an inspiration. I feel honoured and humbled.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Erica/Erika February 2, 2020 / 8:53 pm

        A favourite book by Richard Wagamese I have read a few times, “Embers.” It is almost poetry in prose form. Filled with gems.


        • Natalie February 2, 2020 / 9:01 pm

          I’m requesting Embers from my library. Thank you, Erica/ Erika, for sharing one of your favourite books.

          Liked by 1 person

  7. Deborah February 2, 2020 / 8:16 pm

    I love how positively you open this post Natalie. Mine’s the complete opposite. As usual I’m impressed at all you’ve done during the month…

    Did you like The Flatshare? It was one of my top 3 reads last year?


    • Natalie February 2, 2020 / 8:41 pm

      I enjoyed The Flatshare very much, Deb. I learned about it from your Top 3 reads post. Thank you! I looked up the other two books on your Top 3 list last year but they were not in my library system yet.


  8. Sydney Shop Girl February 3, 2020 / 2:33 am

    The Winter Blues photo is my favourite this week, Natalie! Thank you for sharing your busy, happy and inspiring january with us!

    SSG xxx


    • Natalie February 3, 2020 / 8:10 am

      Thank you, SSG, for your comment. I greatly appreciate it.


  9. Dr Sock February 3, 2020 / 2:37 pm

    Wow Natalie! I am always impressed with how you manage to fit in so much exercise every month along with cultural and social events. I generally am a very active person, but my schedule isn’t as full as yours. I like your addition of a copyright notice and award-free blog notice on the sidebar. Good ideas.



    • Natalie February 3, 2020 / 5:28 pm

      Thank you, Jude, for your comment. I allocate one hour per day to exercise, except on Sundays. I’ve been doing this for so long, the hour goes by very fast. I enjoy the social aspects of my gym and yoga class, and have made new friends by being one of the “regulars”. The walking is my normal because I choose not to own a car.


  10. 3sistersabroad February 3, 2020 / 2:38 pm

    Wow you certainly pack in a lot in one month. Im lucky to have read 1 book, visited my gym 8 times. However I do walk every day taking my dogs for walks, runs at the beach and park. You inspire me to do more lets hope I can do a bit more this month. #SeniSal


    • Natalie February 3, 2020 / 5:36 pm

      Thank you, Bree, for your comment. I think the main thing is to do something that we enjoy and try something new once in a while to stretch our mind and/ or body.

      Liked by 1 person

  11. Debbie from Deb's World February 3, 2020 / 7:57 pm

    Another full-on month for you Natalie, you cover a lot of ground and I am in awe of your range of activities! Love the photos too and that photo of winter blue is very enticing! #lifethisweek


  12. theunretired February 4, 2020 / 11:11 pm

    Hola Natalie. Tomo una courso d’espanol tambien, con 8 gente y una professora de Argentina. Tu Es mug occupado. Ann


    • Natalie February 5, 2020 / 8:44 am

      Hola Ann, Es muy bien que tu tienes una professora de Argentina. Necesito hablar espagnol más à menudo.


  13. Suzanne February 4, 2020 / 11:37 pm

    “One of the advantages of living near the centre of a big city is the access to cultural events year-round.” I couldn’t agree more Natalie. Love the artwork you captured, brilliant. #MSTL


    • Natalie February 5, 2020 / 8:46 am

      Thank you, Suzanne, for your comment. I’m thankful to have more time for art now and my city has a lot of it for free.

      Liked by 1 person

  14. Denyse Whelan February 5, 2020 / 3:19 am

    Your month was a great balance for you I can see. I applaud your planning, commitment and dedication towards goals set and met!

    Thank you for linking up for Life This Week #174. Next week’s optional prompt is 6/51 Interesting 10.2.2020. Hope to see you again there too. Denyse.


    • Natalie February 5, 2020 / 8:48 am

      Thank you, Denyse, for your kind words and for hosting LTW. I look forward to reading your post next week.


  15. leannelc February 5, 2020 / 3:48 am

    Natalie you’re always so busy – I can’t imagine how you fit it all in and get so much done. I do enjoy reading about all you achieve each month and how you spread it out over several different areas so there’s lots of balance in there too. January looks like it was a really good month for you.
    Thanks for linking up with us at MLSTL and I’ve shared on my SM 😊


    • Natalie February 5, 2020 / 9:00 am

      Hi Leanne – When I focus on each activity, I get so much done. My strength workouts are the most challenging physically, the foreign language lessons are the most challenging mind-wise, and the rest of my activities are easy. Thank you for hosting MLSTL and sharing on your SM.


  16. Deb February 5, 2020 / 5:54 am

    You manage to fit so much into your months! You live in a place which really caters for everyone, and just look at the blue sky in your first photo – I’m quite envious. I really wish there was a place like the Eataly store you visited, I’d really love to attend an Italian cookery class.


    • Natalie February 5, 2020 / 9:07 am

      Thank you, Deb, for your comment. We have some sunny days in the winter and when the sky is blue, it’s really blue. The Eataly store has locations in Italy and some major cities in the USA. I think the Eataly Toronto store is the first opened in Canada. It’s a good place to buy specialty Italian products as gifts or for foodies.


  17. Suger February 5, 2020 / 6:00 pm

    What a month! I can’t wait to see The Lighthouse, a few people have mentioned it now and put it firmly on top of my list. I was also looking for some new book suggestions, so thank you!


    • Natalie February 5, 2020 / 8:39 pm

      Thank you, Melissa, for your comment. We didn’t like The Lighthouse after watching the first hour. The story didn’t click with us. We enjoyed watching the other three movies. Harriet was a little bit more than 2 hours long but it kept us in our seats until the end.


      • Suger February 6, 2020 / 2:13 am

        Oooo, okay. Not ideal. Haha. I’ll put the others on my list instead. Thank you.


  18. OnceUponaTimeHappilyEverAfter.com February 10, 2020 / 11:51 pm

    That mural is breathtaking. The colors are lovely but I think the shapes and the contours making up the tones in her skin color make the piece so interesting. Equally lovely is the lakeside photo. Sounds like a blissful afternoon in the sun.

    Glad to read your positive review of Judy and Harriet. I want to see both. Will have to check if they are out on Netflix yet. We are trying very hard not to spend the money to go see movies in the theater that we will soon be able to see at home. I always enjoyed sharing the important, brave life of Harriet Tubman with my students.

    Give me all the cheese!! I don’t get my fair share around here because PC is always digging into our cheese drawer in the frig. If I want it, I have to hide it or eat it right away!!


    • Natalie February 11, 2020 / 8:10 am

      The Harriet movie kept us glued to the screen the whole time. Judy was good, too. I’m interested in hearing what you think of them after you see them. The cheese variety at the Eataly store was impressive. My friend and I plan to come back and next time we’ll ask for samples 🙂


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