March Wrap-Up

Hello blog friends

I hope you and your loved ones are staying safe and healthy. March started smoothly for me for the first twelve days, then on Friday March 13, things started to change rapidly due to the COVID-19 pandemic. As the grim news unfolded around the world, I felt grateful to be home with my family. We made adjustments to our routine and prepared to stay in for the long haul.

I chose my photo of a row of colourful Muskoka chairs in the sun as the header image for this post. The sunshine is welcoming, and these chairs provide relaxation. Imagine we’re gathering in a wide circle for a coffee chat and it’s my turn to share my month of March with you.

Family and Friends

I’m grateful that my family is well, I’m well, and my friends are all well so far. We stay in touch by phone, text, or email as usual. There were two family birthdays and my friend’s mother turned 94 in March. I made sure to say happy birthday to all three.

Keeping A Routine

On or around March 13, we started receiving daily updates and urgent news about the virus spread in Canada, Ontario, and Toronto. The government started closing public schools, libraries, community centres, borders, etc. and advised people to stay home and keep a safe physical distance from others to slow the spread of the virus. More restrictions came as March progressed.

Since I had planned to be in Spain for the last two weeks of March, my home calendar from March 16 to 31 was blank. After my flights were cancelled, I decided to keep the routine that I had before the pandemic, with some adjustments due to the circumstances. I feel that this structure gives the day purpose, adds positivity to the day, makes it possible to manage time, and gives me a sense of achievement.

Lake view

Health

Throughout March, I continued with my health activities and felt good. This included daily meditation, outdoor walks, strengthening workouts, and yoga. I also kept my bedtime to get about 7-8 hours of sleep every night, and greeted each morning with a smile.

When the gym, yoga classes, and swimming pool were closed, I moved my exercises to my living room and alternated the dates: Strength workouts on Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Yoga on Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday. I used my body weight and a resistance band for my workouts. I did shorter walks outdoors while practicing physical distancing and stayed closer to home.

Arts

Before March 13, I viewed three interesting glass art exhibits by Nadira Narine, Jared Last, Rob Raeside, and one clay and porcelain exhibit by Amber Zuber.

After all non-essential businesses were closed, I viewed public art that are available on my outdoor walks. Spring has arrived and nature provides subtle beauty everywhere I look.

Purple croci

Blogs

I wrote five blog posts in March, hosted the March Wellness Weekend link-up, and maintained my usual blogging connections. I also did the monthly back-up of my blog content and media. What’s new was an interview that I did for one of my blogger friends. It’s to be published in May so watch this space.

Books

I read six books in March: Celestial Bodies, Bad Move, Elevator Pitch, Love Walked In, A Better Man, and Snowmen. The list of the eighteen books I read in the first quarter of 2020 is here.

Home

Since I had planned to be in Spain for the last half of March, I didn’t do grocery shopping before mid-March. As a result, after my trip was cancelled, it took me several visits to the different supermarkets to get our usual groceries. Fresh produce was fine while some dry goods were sold out.

My local grocery stores started adding more sanitizing stations, redirecting incoming shoppers, placing markers on the floors for physical distancing, more frequent disinfecting of common surfaces, and reducing opening hours.

With the extra time gained from not going to any event, I experimented with two recipes: clafoutis and sugar-free banana muffins. I used blueberries for the clafoutis instead of cherries. Both recipes turned out delicious and I’d make them again. My thank-you to Suzanne and Malcolm at Picture Retirement blog for sharing the banana muffin recipe.

Learning

I continued my daily French and Spanish lessons on Duolingo. It’s part of my “keeping a routine” strategy. There is no excuse to lose my streak of daily lessons while I’m healthy at home.

Movies

Before March 13, I watched one good movie, Jojo Rabbit, with my neighbours. After March 13, we postponed our movie nights until further notice. Surprisingly, I haven’t had to reach out for any movie DVDs yet.

Music

Before concert halls were closed, I attended two wonderful classical piano recitals, one by the highly-gifted 9 year-old Sunny Ritter from Austria and the other by Lisa Tahara, Jayne Abe, and Victoria Yuan who played amazing two hands, four hands, and six hands piano.

Sunny Ritter

Travel

I had five trip cancellations due to the COVID-19 pandemic: Spain in March, two in Ontario in April, Iceland in May, and California also in May. No sadness though because the best place to be during these turbulent times is Home.

The airlines, hotels, and rail company that I dealt with have been great with updates and automated cancellation process on their web sites. I’m grateful to receive either full refunds or travel credits for all five trips via electronic means with no phone call or in-person wait times.

Volunteering

Earlier this year I had signed up to volunteer at two running race events, one in March and one in early May. The organizers had to cancel both events. After the COVID-19 pandemic was declared, I volunteered to call my elderly neighbours to chat. We’ve also been doing hand clapping or pot banging from our homes at 7 PM every evening to show our support for front line health care and other essential workers.

So that was my March. Now it’s your turn. I’d love to hear your comments.

Copyright © 2020 natalietheexplorer.home.blog – All rights reserved.

52 thoughts on “March Wrap-Up

  1. Jill Weatherholt April 5, 2020 / 6:59 am

    You certainly had a productive month, Natalie! I’m sorry about your trip to Spain, but I hear things aren’t good there, so perhaps it was best that you postponed your travel. I’ve been working from home since March 17th and keeping busy with writing. Stay well!

    Like

    • Natalie April 5, 2020 / 10:40 am

      Hi Jill, I imagine your writing keeps you focused on doing something you love, and less time spent on the grim news. We can stay informed without being fixated about the pandemic news updates. Spain has been one of the top pandemic hot spots so for once, I was glad my trip was cancelled. Have a nice Sunday!

      Like

  2. Suzanne@PictureRetirement April 5, 2020 / 8:45 am

    Natalie, even in a pandemic, you manage to live a full life. That is such a testament to your positive attitude. Thank you for sharing the muffin recipe with your readers. They continue to be a hit in our home. Cancelling trips is a bummer, but something that can be resumed at a later/safer time. Take care and carry on!

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    • Natalie April 5, 2020 / 10:46 am

      Suzanne, Thank you for the recipe. It was easy to make and turned out yummy. I love life and want to use my time wisely on positive things, even when it’s a nap 🙂 From the blogs I read, we all carry on well so far.

      Like

  3. You sure have been busy. We also had a trip to Spain for this month for 3 weeks that was canceled. We have been fighting with Expedia to get a refund like thousands of others. They want to give us a voucher. By law, we are entitled to a refund. We figure when the airlines are back up and running it will to be very limited and ticket prices will have to go up to cover all there losses. So those vouchers will cost more money.
    Same thing with Ryan air and a tour package for Seville. Glad you got your refunds!!

    Keep your post coming and stay safe and sane!

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    • Natalie April 5, 2020 / 2:27 pm

      I hope you get your refund. I booked direct with Air Canada for my flights to Spain and California. The airlines had been excellent with their auto-updates on their web site, email to me, and 100% refunds within four business days after they notified me that my flights were cancelled. I had similar excellent experience with Via Rail for my train trips in Ontario.

      All transactions were electronic. I didn’t have to call anyone. I was impressed with both companies and feel grateful. Stay safe and healthy in Colombia!

      Like

    • Natalie April 5, 2020 / 2:32 pm

      Hi Janis, I figure we’re in this for a long haul so the sooner I adapt, the better I feel. There are tons of free cultural and educational resources online so I anticipate to use them more in April. Thank you for stopping by. Stay safe and healthy!

      Like

  4. Lydia C. Lee April 5, 2020 / 4:42 pm

    Sad on your travel!! I was reading that Iceland has tested 6 percent of it’s population – at random selection, not just people with symtoms, and because it’s got a young population, a lot of the positives were people with no symptoms at all, proving there’s a great importance in testing all people so as to isolate those shedding the virus unwittingly. You would watch Walter Mitty (the new one). I think that’s filmed in Iceland and Greenland. Stay safe. (I really liked Jojo Rabbit too) #Lifethisweek

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    • Natalie April 5, 2020 / 6:37 pm

      Fortunately, all the five cancelled trips are to where I’ve visited before, including Iceland, so I wasn’t sad about the cancellations. I’m very happy to be home atm. I knew several Canadians who tried to get home from abroad in March and had a very stressful time, plus they had to self-quarantine for 14 days after arriving in Canada. I love to travel but not when there is an outbreak and to be in a foreign country brings on more challenges (language, health care, costs, etc.). Stay safe and healthy where you are.

      Like

      • Lydia C. Lee April 7, 2020 / 5:25 pm

        Good attitude. I’m sulking a bit on what I’m missing…because I’m so mature 😉 #MLSTL

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        • Natalie April 7, 2020 / 5:30 pm

          Thanks for making me smile Lydia. Another blogger told me that April 7 is No Housework Day. I hope you take advantage of it and do something nice just for you 🙂

          Like

  5. Sammie @ The Annoyed Thyroid April 5, 2020 / 5:16 pm

    Pleased you are safe and well, hope you stay that way! What a shame about your trips but like you say, the best place to be right now is at home. I’m very impressed that you read 6 books in a month, I think I managed 1.5! We’ve been more or less confined to quarters since the middle of the month and I’ve been surprised at how busy we are without leaving the house! We have the same problem finding dry goods here and of course, the elusive toilet roll!

    Like

    • Natalie April 5, 2020 / 6:43 pm

      Hey Sammie, I’m glad to hear you and your hubby are safe at home. Health and safety is my #1 priority so I’m happy to be home and not in a foreign country atm. I find keeping a routine helps before the day is gone. Thank you for stopping by. Stay well!

      Like

  6. Retirement Reflections April 5, 2020 / 5:16 pm

    Hi, Natalie – I love how you stay active, and rebuild a routine, even when suddenly facing a blank calendar. You remain a true inspiraiton.
    Glad that all is well for you and your family.

    Like

    • Natalie April 5, 2020 / 6:51 pm

      Hi Donna, I figure we’re in this for a long haul so the sooner I adapt, the better I feel. I’m grateful that I had a blank canvas to work with in terms of no expectation of any event, and no feeling of loss when things disappear from the calendar. Hope all’s well with you and your family, too.

      Like

  7. Sue from Sizzling Towards 60 & Beyond April 5, 2020 / 5:59 pm

    Hi Natalie, love your attitude especially about cancelled travel plans as I know how much you enjoy travelling. As always I’m inspired and thankful for your friendship and your thoughts. xx #lifethisweek

    Like

    • Natalie April 5, 2020 / 6:55 pm

      Hi Sue, I love to travel but not to a hot spot in a global pandemic. I’m happy and grateful to be home atm. Our blogging community has been amazing. I greatly appreciate your friendship and warm thoughts. Stay safe and well!

      Like

  8. Jo April 5, 2020 / 6:24 pm

    I love how you’re sticking to routine & being creative about your workouts. It really is the best way to stay sane at the moment. Also I love how you’re seeing “art” in nature – it really is all around – & am impressed by that 9 year old virtuoso…

    Like

    • Natalie April 5, 2020 / 6:58 pm

      Jo, I figure we’re in this for a long haul so the sooner I adapt, the sooner I feel better. I’m grateful that the adjustments I needed to make have been minor. Sunny Ritter is a highly gifted pianist. Check her out on Youtube if you have a minute. Hope you and your family are well.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Jo April 5, 2020 / 6:59 pm

        All good here & we’re doing the same re routine. I say control what you can control – and that means routine.

        Like

        • Natalie April 5, 2020 / 7:01 pm

          Great to hear all good on your end. Keep calm and carry on the best we can.

          Like

  9. Deborah April 5, 2020 / 9:11 pm

    I loved Jo Jo Rabbit. Such a good movie!!!

    Well done on keeping up your exercise. I actually went on my first walk in 6+mths the other day and was very proud of myself. I need to do that more as I have a deserted beach nearby and can drive there in a couple of minutes!

    Like

    • Natalie April 6, 2020 / 8:32 am

      Deb, Your deserted beach sounds like heaven on earth to me atm. I hope you do your beach walk more often. I’m grateful to still be able to walk outside to the lake. My local government has continued to put on more restrictions and now heavy fines for those who don’t practice physical distancing.

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  10. Laurie April 6, 2020 / 8:24 am

    So sorry all your trips were canceled, Natalie! Our trip to Morocco and Portugal was canceled as well. At least we can still get outside to run/walk. Isn’t it amazing how life changed in the blink of an eye?

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    • Natalie April 6, 2020 / 8:38 am

      Yup, in a blink of an eye. I felt more relieved than sad that my trips were cancelled. I love to travel but not to a foreign country in a pandemic. Plus I’ve been to California, Iceland and Spain and got full refunds or travel credits so I feel very grateful. I know some Canadians who had a very stressful time trying to return to Canada and upon return had to be in quarantine for 14 days.

      Like

  11. tckk April 7, 2020 / 9:51 am

    So sorry all your travel plans were cancelled. Stay safe.

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    • Natalie April 7, 2020 / 1:31 pm

      Thank you for your visit and comment. I’m grateful to be home during these uncertain times.

      Like

    • Natalie April 7, 2020 / 1:33 pm

      Yes, we do the clapping and banging every evening at 7 PM to show our support and appreciation of the essential healthcare and front line workers.

      Like

  12. Deb April 7, 2020 / 2:22 pm

    I think we are all going to appreciate our freedom to travel much more once this lockdown is over. We have a trip to Portugal booked for June, but I can already see that it isn’t going to happen. Fingers crossed for your luck in getting an easy refund.
    We do the clapping for the National Health Service at 8pm on a Thursday, it’s quite emotional to listen to isn’t it?

    Like

    • Natalie April 7, 2020 / 4:17 pm

      The clapping is touching and brings the community together. Good luck with getting an easy refund for your trip to Portugal. Thank you, Deb, for stopping by.

      Like

  13. Joanne April 7, 2020 / 3:05 pm

    So sorry you had to cancel all your trips but I am so glad it sounded pretty hassle free. I did have to wait a good 45 minutes on the phone to get through to our airplane company when canceling our trip this weekend but was happy to get vouchers for future flights.

    Like

    • Natalie April 7, 2020 / 4:22 pm

      Glad to hear you got your travel vouchers. I was lucky that the airlines and rail company notified me by email then promptly issued me the refunds back to my account. I was impressed by how they handled it. Thank you, Joanne, for stopping by.

      Like

  14. Debbie from Deb's World April 7, 2020 / 6:12 pm

    I love the calmness that come through your words here Natalie, yes you’ve had lots of things cancelled but you aren’t complaining or upset. I haven’t seen the JoJo movie yet but it has been mentioned by others. I love your colourful row of chairs and imagine spring is going to welcomed with open arms. We’re enjoying autumn seasonal changes and the crispiness of nights and early morning. #mlslt

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    • Natalie April 7, 2020 / 7:31 pm

      Hi Deb, I love to travel but I’d rather be home than be in a foreign country when there is a pandemic going on. I feel grateful for many things, definitely no complaint and no upset atm.

      Liked by 1 person

  15. csuhpat1 April 7, 2020 / 9:08 pm

    Very nice. Looks like you have been very busy during this time. I am getting busy with work these days. #MLSTL

    Like

    • Natalie April 7, 2020 / 9:48 pm

      I hope you work from home or in a safe place. Thank you, Patrick, for stopping by. Stay well.

      Like

  16. leannelc April 8, 2020 / 1:52 am

    Hi Natalie – you’ve certainly been far more impacted by COVID-19 than I have. That’s a lot of trips cancelled, and a lot of external activities curtailed. I’m glad you’re managing to fill your days and stay positive because it would be quite an adjustment for you.
    One day we’ll all go back to normal, but I don’t see it happening for a while yet. Stay safe x
    Thanks for linking up with us at MLSTL and I’ve shared on my SM 😊

    Like

    • Natalie April 8, 2020 / 9:10 am

      Hi Leanne, I love to travel but I’d rather be home than be in a foreign country when there is a global pandemic going on. Plus I’ve been to the places that I planned to re-visit this spring and got my money back for the cancellations so no big impact there. As to the external activities, I moved some indoors and some online. I feel comfortable with my adjustments so far. Take care and stay well.

      Like

  17. Rebecca Jo Vincent April 8, 2020 / 8:59 am

    I tried sticking with that language thing & I just struggled so much – maybe I need to start over again

    Like

    • Natalie April 8, 2020 / 9:15 am

      I view Duolingo as a fun brain exercise. My suggestion is to start small, maybe one lesson 5 minutes a day, and keep it small so it’s manageable. Or replace it with an activity that you like. When it’s fun, we’re more likely to stick with it.

      Like

  18. Green Global Trek April 8, 2020 / 1:55 pm

    Wow Natalie you are certainly a mover and a shaker! You were SO productive. For us, we became corona refugees… We were away from our adopted home base in Viet Nam, and closing out our home from an earlier home base in Sri Lanka. While we were there, we heard the borders had closed for foreigners going into Viet Nam and we could not return. Oddly, a similar thing had happened to us last May 2019 when ISIS hit in Sri Lanka and we could not return there. So yet again, we had to on the fly select a new home base country and get there. Quickly. Reading your post I felt a twinge of envy at all the wonderful normal things I enjoy such as reading and cooking and yoga classes and so on that make up a rich routine. Everything shattered for a few weeks. But finally we have found a new home and we are settling in nicely, despite Corona.

    Peta

    Like

    • Natalie April 8, 2020 / 2:21 pm

      Hi Ben and Peta, Thank you for your visit and comment. Your quick thinking and action to fly to Mexico to establish a new home base is truly admirable. I travel frequently, too and I believe our travel experiences train us to be flexible and resourceful. I’m very happy to be home while this pandemic is going on. I know other Canadians who had a very stressful time finding a flight home from abroad and upon arrival in Canada had to be in quarantine for 14 days. I’m very glad that you found a new home. With your deep yoga practice, I’m sure you create a new routine that works well for you both. I look forward to following your updates.

      Like

  19. OnceUponaTimeHappilyEverAfter.com April 9, 2020 / 6:46 pm

    What a positive outlook about the cancellation of your trips and being home during this frightening time. Hope you were given refunds or at least credit. I had a trip to Houston planned and did get credit for my flight.

    Two runs I had registered for were canceled quite early on. One almost immediately after coronavirus became a common subject of the nightly news. I was surprised how quickly the registration fee was refunded. The second run has been postpoined until September. It is a wine run so I am very much hoping it will take place!

    Glad you were able to celebrate birthdays before things got too far along. And managed to get groceries in, even though it took several trips. We lived in Panama for years, and often didn’t have certain groceries – like chicken and sour cream – for months on end. As a result, upon returning to live in the states, I get a little nervous when our pantry starts to look bare. We really need to eat up some of what we have before I venture out for more but I worry!!

    Like

    • Natalie April 9, 2020 / 6:55 pm

      Yes, I got full refunds for my cancelled flights and rail tickets promptly so no stress there. Look how your life experience in Panama has helped you now. The grocery shopping scene is still evolving here. Every time I go to the grocery store, it’s like a mini-adventure or Forest Gump’s expression “Life’s a box of chocolate. You never know what you’re going to get.” Hope you and your loved ones are staying safe and healthy. See you soon or on Wellness Weekend Apr 19.

      Like

  20. Christie Hawkes April 11, 2020 / 7:10 pm

    Hello Natalie. I love that you are not feeling sad about having to cancel your travel plans, but are grateful to be at home. So many people have had disruptions to their plans and have accepted those disruptions with varying levels of grace. I am grateful to have been practicing acceptance of that which I cannot control over the past couple of years. It’s really coming in handy now. I wish you continued peace. Take care. Be safe. #MLSTL

    Like

    • Natalie April 11, 2020 / 7:56 pm

      Hi Christie, Glad to hear your practice of acceptance is working for you. These are unprecedented times. I try to stay calm and be flexible as much as possible. I’d rather be home than be in a foreign country when there is a global pandemic going on. Plus I’ve been to the places that I planned to re-visit this spring and got my money back for the cancellations so no big impact there. Take care and stay well!

      Like

  21. Dr Sock May 4, 2020 / 3:47 pm

    Hi Natalie. I’m glad to hear Air Canada refunded your tickets with no hassle. I’ve had a similar positive experience with Air Canada’s customer service and also WestJet, most recently when our luggage was delayed on our trip to Crete. It makes me think twice about booking with discount travel services.

    Good for you for volunteering to phone elderly shut in people during the pandemic. I’ve made a point to reaching out to friends, family and acquaintances via telephone, especially people who live alone or are highly impacted by the restrictions. I make at least one phone call a day.

    Jude

    Like

    • Natalie May 4, 2020 / 4:25 pm

      Hi Jude, Air Canada and Via Rail issued the refunds for my trips promptly after I selected the option they provided in their email to me. It was really well handled. I booked all my flights directly with the airlines and found that it would be easier to deal with them than through discount travel centres. I do my round of phone calls and texts regularly, too and have seen my neighbours at a safe distance a couple of times.

      Like

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