Gratitude and Balance

Hello blog friends! How are things going? I hope all’s well with you. Come on in to my blog space and let’s catch up on our news over a cup of coffee or tea. Before I get to the topics of Gratitude and Balance, let me share one of my fun outings this week.

Stand Up Paddling

Summer week 13, from September 13 to 19 inclusive, was mainly sunny and cool. Daytime high temperatures ranged from 14C to 26C (57F to 79F). I enjoyed cycling and walking every weekday morning and squeezed in my third Stand Up Paddling (SUP) excursion of summer 2020 yesterday.

Swan in Toronto harbour.

It was a gorgeous morning to be on the water with swans swimming ahead of my SUP board. I checked out a number of floating houses, some are nicely decorated, and talked to people who live on a boat full-time. One of the sailboat captains offered to take me sailing around Toronto Islands so I may take up that offer on another day.


When I reflect on the thirteen weeks of summer 2020, every week exceeds my expectations. Let’s see how I did with my summer fun plan that I posted on June 21:

Eat a lot of summer fruits: Yes, especially blueberries, strawberries, and peaches from farms in Ontario.

Enjoy ice cream: Yes, I stayed with classic chocolate and natural vanilla flavours and enjoyed them on hot and humid days.

Explore local gardens or parks: Yes, I explored several local parks and gardens. Some of my favourites include Coronation Park, Trillium Park, Marilyn Bell Park, and the Toronto Music Garden.

Go cycling on the Waterfront trail: Yes, during the thirteen weeks of summer, I cycled 5 or 6 trips per week. The Waterfront trail is scenic and it’s for cyclists, joggers, and pedestrians so I feel safe cycling on it.

A section of the Waterfront Trail.
A section of the Waterfront Trail

Have a picnic by the lake: Yes, every time I went cycling, I had a picnic by the lake. I also had coffee chats by the lake when my siblings and nieces visited this summer.

Look for wildlife in the city: Yes, I saw many birds, butterflies, dragonflies, cormorants, ducks, fish, geese, swans, toads, terns, turtles, beavers, minks, squirrels, etc. My favourites are the grey herons, snowy egrets, and monarch butterflies.

Paddle within Toronto Islands: Yes, I went canoeing twice, stand up paddling three times, and kayaking six times in thirteen weeks. Way better than I expected and I loved every paddling trip that I took.

Read light novels: I read 55 novels from June 1 to September 20 and love reading every day! This is what I can do when COVID-19 prevents me from going to movie theatres, concerts, restaurants, or shopping centres.

A quiet beach
A quiet beach

Relax at a lake beach: Yes, I spent lots of relaxing time at the beaches on Toronto Islands, Cherry Beach, and Ontario Place.

Walk on the boardwalk: Yes, I walked along the board walks at Marilyn Bell Park, Gibraltar Point, and Harbourfront.

I’m grateful that I’m in good health and I’m free to explore and enjoy life even with restrictions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. My family and friends are all well. I wake up every morning with gratitude and intend to make the most of every day. I look forward to enjoying Autumn 2020!


Today is the 9th Wellness Weekend link up and the optional prompt is Balance. I hope you join in and share your thoughts in the Comments on how you achieve your life balance.

I take actions to stay balanced and I work at it. Here’s my list of actions:

Emotional health: Make time for fun every day. Treat myself to whatever that makes me laugh or smile.

Intellectual health: Expand my awareness and explore the world via arts, blogs, books, language lessons, music, movies, nature, travel, etc. I choose the activities I like and mix them up.

Mental health: Focus on relationships that matter. Have some solitude time to reflect and relax every day. Minimize toxicity from negative people, news, and social media. I scan the news for my awareness but don’t spend hours on it.

Physical health: Include balance exercises to strengthen the muscles that keep us balanced (e.g. Tree pose in yoga, single leg dead lifts in workout session). Alternate high intensity workout day with a less intense activity the next day. Alternate the side that I start at each workout (Left, Right). Try to eat a balanced diet with grains, lean meat, fruit, and vegetables. Drink water for hydration. Get enough sleep (for me 7-8 hours per night).

How did your week go? How do you find your balance? I’d love to hear your comments.

Linking here.

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68 thoughts on “Gratitude and Balance

  1. dprastka September 20, 2020 / 7:29 am

    Thank you for the coffee and what a wonderful post reflecting on your summer and all the great things you’ve done, seen and accomplished. Huge smiles for sure!! And I’m working on that life balance, looking towards our move to Arizona which should really help us get to that better part of life balance. You are so inspirational!! I hope you have a wonderful week ahead! ❤️


    • Natalie September 20, 2020 / 9:18 am

      Diana, I think finding balance is an ongoing process with periodic reviews and adjustments. Your move to Arizona sounds exciting. Thank you for your kind comment. Have a wonderful upcoming week!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Jill Weatherholt September 20, 2020 / 7:30 am

    Your actions to stay balanced are wise, Natalie. “Minimize toxicity from negative people, news, and social media.” Definitely! This is so important right now. Thank you for your inspiring post, Natalie. Have a great week! xo


    • Natalie September 20, 2020 / 9:32 am

      Jill, I’ve noticed how negative people, news, and social media affect people’s mental health and some people can’t seem to stay away from the toxicity. It takes self-awareness, self-control, and in some cases, professional help to get back to a healthy mental state. I try to focus my time and energy on positive things and enjoy my life more when I take this approach. Thank you for your comment as always. Have a wonderful week!


  3. joanne September 20, 2020 / 7:41 am

    What beautiful pictures! Your paddling time sounds so relaxing. I love this look back at your bucket list and all the simple pleasures of summer.


    • Natalie September 20, 2020 / 9:43 am

      Joanne, I enjoy paddling within the beautiful Toronto islands a lot. This summer is full of fun. It really exceeds my expectations. Now onward to Autumn!


  4. Liesbet @ Roaming About September 20, 2020 / 8:48 am

    You sure had a fantastic summer, Natalie and I’m glad you managed to do everything you hoped for and more. A good reason to be grateful! And, I think you are one of the most balanced, grateful, and aware people I “know”. By the way, you forgot to mention your daily language classes in the “intellectual health” category. 🙂 It still boggles my mind how you can pack so much variety and activities in each week – especially the amount of books you read and the almost daily bike rides!


    • Natalie September 20, 2020 / 9:56 am

      Liesbet, Thank you for your thoughtful comment and the reminder about my language lessons. I updated my post 🙂 I can pack a lot in my day without feeling rushed mainly because I allocate a block of time for each activity, I’m disciplined enough to do it, and I’m totally focused when I do it. Also I choose the activities that I enjoy so I look forward to doing them and they don’t feel like chores. The examples of cycling and reading, gosh, I can spend all day just to cycle then read but of course I want to do so many things and there’s also tedious chores to keep life going so I need to moderate what I do each day.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. K.L. Hale September 20, 2020 / 9:55 am

    Thank you for this wonderful post so full of wisdom and health and so much more! I’m glad you had such a great summer experience even in a pandemic. Balance is certainly key. I do the things you like to do to keep the balance. Blessings to you!


    • Natalie September 20, 2020 / 10:06 am

      Thank you, Karla, for your visit and kind comment. I hope you’ve had a good summer, too. I’m off to visit your blog. Have a great week!


  6. patwdoyle11 September 20, 2020 / 12:07 pm

    Natalie – How you are “managing life” during this pandemic is very inspiring! Both in what you are doing and how you are thinking about it. Makes me realize I need to shift my thinking a bit. Thanks.


    • Natalie September 20, 2020 / 12:24 pm

      Pat, Thank you for your kind comment. I’m glad How I’m managing life during this pandemic gave you some ideas. I look forward to reading about your thinking shift if/ when you blog about it.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Michelle Churchman September 20, 2020 / 2:25 pm

    Love your attitude! I am generally a pretty happy person, but I think I could learn a thing or two from you. Beautiful photo of your city! I’ve not been to Toronto, but my husband has. He says it’s a beautiful place. I hope I get to see it some time.



    • Natalie September 20, 2020 / 3:45 pm

      Thank you, Michelle, for your kind comment. We can all learn from each other. Keeping balance is an ongoing process with periodic reviews and adjustments. I’m glad to hear your husband liked Toronto and I hope you get to see it soon when all travel restrictions are lifted.

      BTW, if you don’t include your blog URL in your comment signature, your comment won’t require my moderation.


  8. Dr Sock September 20, 2020 / 2:48 pm

    Natalie, I think you and I share similar ideas about what constitutes a good life balance. However, you are far more organized and disciplined about it than I am.



    • Natalie September 20, 2020 / 3:47 pm

      Jude, Yes I’m pretty good at self-discipline. I’m organized when it’s something I enjoy or when I think it’s important. I’m not so organized when it’s a chore 🙂


  9. Lydia C. Lee September 20, 2020 / 5:13 pm

    I love that beach picture. What a lovely post. Yes, we need to focus on seeking out our moments of happiness and joy at the moment.


    • Natalie September 20, 2020 / 7:31 pm

      I have that beach to myself on weekday mornings when I go there. Glad you liked my post.


  10. Gary A Wilson September 20, 2020 / 5:22 pm

    My “I’m thankful for…” list is very long also. A lot of people helped me get to where I am and lacking them, my and the lives of my family would be very different. We are Christians and recognize God moving in our lives also. There is lots of detail that could be shared, but suffice to say that we’re thankful for our health and quality of life and for the work we’ve been given to accomplish. Three healthy kids, all doing cool stuff with no antagonism between any of us. . . How many parents have that to be thankful for? We sure are.

    Thanks to you too Natalie for bringing this all to mind. Gratitude is something that is very hard to run out of.


    • Natalie September 20, 2020 / 7:33 pm

      Gary, Yes, gratitude is hard to run out of. Thank you for sharing what you’re thankful for.


  11. Terri Webster Schrandt September 20, 2020 / 6:23 pm

    First of all, your pics are amazing, Natalie! I’m jealous of your gorgeous view from your paddle board. I sure miss my outdoor leisure time. You are very motivating. Keep up the good “fun.”


    • Natalie September 20, 2020 / 7:36 pm

      Thank you, Terri, for your comment about my photos. Coming from you as an accomplished photographer, it’s like music to my ears 🙂 Yes, I’m all for leisure fun. It’s the best medicine.

      Liked by 1 person

  12. Sue from Women Living Well After 50 September 20, 2020 / 6:53 pm

    I love your attitude to life Natalie! The photo of the Toronoto skyline are beautiful as is the Waterfront Trail. You’ve given me some good ideas for activities to do this summer. Have a great week #lifethisweek


    • Natalie September 20, 2020 / 7:40 pm

      Sue, We both have positive attitude to life. I’m glad you’ve got some good ideas for summer activities from my post. Can’t wait to read about your experiences when you do them. Have a wonderful week!


  13. Jennifer Jones September 20, 2020 / 6:57 pm

    Looks like you’ve had a wonderful summer Natalie. Your summer photos are gorgeous. Looking forward to your autumn photos


    • Natalie September 20, 2020 / 7:43 pm

      Jennifer, I’m glad you liked my photos. When I took them, the day was stunning and the clouds looked interesting. There are signs of autumn here while the leaves are changing colours. It will be gorgeous in a couple of weeks.


  14. Debbie September 20, 2020 / 7:11 pm

    A fabulous wrap up of your summer so far Natalie. You certainly have a lot of balance in your life and it’s always a joy to visit and read what you’ve been up to. Another lovely post! #lifethisweek


    • Natalie September 20, 2020 / 7:46 pm

      Thank you, Debbie, for your kind comment. I work at maintaining my balance, not too much effort required but I’m mindful of how I spend my time and make adjustments when I feel off balance.

      Liked by 1 person

  15. msomerville2014 September 20, 2020 / 8:17 pm

    I have enjoyed your posts. Than you for sharing your list of goals from the beginning of summer. Things I admire in this: 1) You did not let COVID keep you down 2) You are living proof of what a woman armed with a plan and determination can accomplish. I really appreciate your gratitude list as well. Best, Michele


    • Natalie September 20, 2020 / 8:40 pm

      Thank you, Michele, for your kind comment. I have a huge zest for life and like to take steps to live a healthy and enriched life. When COVID-19 pandemic started, I made adjustments to my routine and have been following public health measures to stay well while having some fun. It’s doable where I live.

      Liked by 1 person

  16. Stuart Danker September 20, 2020 / 8:32 pm

    Gratitude is such an important practice, and I love how you paired it with balance. Even reading your post makes me feel that much zen-er. Thanks for thist!


    • Natalie September 20, 2020 / 8:46 pm

      Stuart, Welcome to my blog and thank you for your nice comment. Glad my post made you feel zen-er 🙂


  17. midlifestylist September 20, 2020 / 11:17 pm

    Hi Natalie, What a lovely summer you’ve had. We seemed to have the longest winter here in Australia but it’s probably because I’ve spent so much of it at home. It’s finally warming up so I’m grateful for that. I need to practice gratitude daily so I think I’ll go back to that as I think it’s really great for mental health. Regards, Christina


    • Natalie September 21, 2020 / 9:02 am

      Thank you, Christina, for your comment. Yes, practicing daily gratitude is good for our mental health. It makes us focus on what we have as opposed to what we don’t and that is a positive reminder.


  18. Retirement Reflections September 20, 2020 / 11:20 pm

    Hi, Natalie – I love how you continue to say YES to life, to adventure, to health, well-being and balance. I am always so inspired by your energy, enthusiasm and your incredibly positive nature which shines through even in the most difficult times.


    • Natalie September 21, 2020 / 9:09 am

      Thank you, Donna, for your kind comment. With some creative thinking, we can continue to enjoy life, stay safe and well while living with COVID-19. Your hiking in BC is a shining example.


  19. leannelc September 21, 2020 / 12:04 am

    Natalie I really like how you challenge yourself to keep growing and staying active and engaged – but doing it in a fun way, rather than as a chore. Your photos have also been lovely to look at with all the blue skies and water – it’s made my Aussie Winter more enjoyable – and our Summer is on its way slowly but surely.


    • Natalie September 21, 2020 / 9:16 am

      Leanne, The fun factor is one of my selection criteria for what goes on my day agenda. If not now, when? The weather has been very good here overall and that makes it easy for me to take nice photos. I hope you’re enjoying Spring. It’s a beautiful season.


  20. Jo September 21, 2020 / 1:00 am

    You’ve had such a great summer – and read so many books. I know that I’ve said it before but I really admire the way that you work towards finding a balance.


    • Natalie September 21, 2020 / 9:21 am

      Jo, I’m flattered to have your admiration 🙂 This summer exceeds my expectations. The thing about achieving balance is that it gives calmness and new energy for more explorations.

      Liked by 1 person

  21. Sagittarius Viking September 21, 2020 / 4:48 am

    You have created a beautiful life for yourself. I really enjoyed having coffee with you. Have a fabulous new week!


    • Natalie September 21, 2020 / 9:25 am

      Maria, It’s well worth my efforts to create and maintain this beautiful life for myself. Anyone can do it when they put their mind to it. I’d love to have coffee with you IRL one day. Have a wonderful week!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Sagittarius Viking September 21, 2020 / 10:43 am

        Yes! I agree, it all start in our minds. Let’s make that coffee IRL happen.


        • Natalie September 21, 2020 / 2:05 pm

          Let’s stay in touch until travel restrictions are lifted. I had planned to return to Scandinavian countries for another visit. I have friends in Denmark and Finland so adding Sweden to my itinerary would be lovely.


  22. Sanch @ Sanch Writes September 21, 2020 / 5:19 am

    Such a lovely post Natalie! I am impressed by 55 books in such a short span! Loving your outdoor adventures as always and the way in which you bring balance to your life. Hope you have a fantastic week ahead!


    • Natalie September 21, 2020 / 9:30 am

      Thank you, Sanch, for your kind comment. Social distancing gives me time to devour fiction novels. Plus after being active during the day, it feels good to sit down to read and rest my feet. Have a wonderful week!


  23. Michele Morin September 21, 2020 / 8:43 am

    55 novels!
    I really enjoyed this thoughtful reflection.


    • Natalie September 21, 2020 / 9:32 am

      Thank you, Michele, for your visit and comment. I’m glad you enjoyed my post. Yes, social distancing gives me time to read fiction novels and it’s my pleasure to read every day.

      Liked by 1 person

  24. Darlene September 21, 2020 / 9:35 am

    You did amazingly well with your goals! 55 books, congratulations. I love your positive attitude. Stay well. #SeniSal


    • Natalie September 21, 2020 / 9:43 am

      Thank you, Darlene, for your kind comment. Social distancing gives me time to read and it’s my pleasure to read every day. Have a wonderful week!


  25. trentpmcd September 21, 2020 / 11:51 am

    Gratitude and Balance are two great “keywords”. Sounds like you had a wonderful, active and successful summer. The one that gets me is the number of books read! impressive. SUP is not my favorite – I much prefer kayaking, but it can still be fun. Glad you were able to get out on the water again 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Natalie September 21, 2020 / 2:10 pm

      Yeah, the SUP trip may be my last for this season until next Spring. I gain time from not going to concerts, movie theatres, restaurants, social events, and not watching TV. I use that time to read novels 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  26. Laurie September 21, 2020 / 12:15 pm

    You did your 3rd SUP session and I have yet to do even one. Ugh! I need to make myself get out and give it a try. It looks like so much fun and such a good way to get exercise.

    Gratitude is a wonderful way to improve your health. Listing everything we have to be thankful for makes me realize just how many blessings I have!


    • Natalie September 21, 2020 / 2:14 pm

      Laurie, We’re heading into Fall here and the weather may be unpredictable so I booked the SUP trip ASAP. Hope you have some fun on the water soon.


  27. Denyse Whelan. B.Ed. M.Ed. (@DenyseWhelan1) September 23, 2020 / 5:18 am

    This was a lovely and newsy read and I liked the ways in which you balanced your health needs. I have been in deficit for physical health because I am still in recovery mode from 2 x surgeries in July and August but I am slowly gaining fitness via my walking stamina each day. Allowing my body to do its healing job is a priority.

    Thanks for linking up this week, next week, the optional prompt is 39/51 Healthy. 28.9.2020 Hope to see you there too. Denyse.


    • Natalie September 23, 2020 / 8:47 am

      Denyse, Healing is important and good for you to walk each day to stay fit. I look forward to the next link up. Have a wonderful week!


  28. Min Write of the Middle September 23, 2020 / 8:02 pm

    Beautiful photographs as usual Natalie and lovely to read all the varied activities you do to keep yourself feeling fulfilled and balanced and healthy. I’ve never tried stand up paddleboarding. Maybe one day I will! I think it would probably be entertaining for others as I’m sure I’d be falling in the water alot! Enjoy the rest of your week. xo

    Liked by 1 person

    • Natalie September 23, 2020 / 8:06 pm

      Min, No worry about falling into the water when you try SUP. It’s part of the fun. Plus nobody is watching you since they’ll be busy keeping themselves balanced on the SUP board 🙂


  29. Ally Bean September 24, 2020 / 10:56 am

    Your summer summary is inspiring as are your photos. I enjoy your perspective and while I did very little this summer I’m grateful for what I did. Your list of your four ‘healths’ is exactly how I think of my life, too. It keeps me in balance, but I’ve never put any of my answers to paper. Great idea.


    • Natalie September 24, 2020 / 12:54 pm

      Ally, I’m glad to find a kindred spirit regarding life balance. I like the expression carpe diem (seize the day) and do it often. Thank you for sharing your thoughts. Have a wonderful week!

      Liked by 1 person

  30. September 27, 2020 / 4:47 pm

    Although we don’t know each other in real life, I would think you are about the most balanced person I know. Your life seems very calm, and you find a way to enjoy life’s pleasures while learning new things, exercising your body and your mind.

    The photo of the little house boat is so inviting. I would love to spend a few days aboard that vessel, maybe just by myself!! Shhh, don’t tell anyone. But I could use a few days to read, craft and nap without having to worry about anyone else in my life. All I would need is some wine, cheese and crusty bread to eat. And a couple of great books. Sounds like heaven.


    • Natalie September 27, 2020 / 5:17 pm

      Leslie, Thank you so much for your kind words. I think if / when we meet IRL, we’ll have a lot to talk about after we overcome the initial shyness 🙂 I work at maintaining balance and take steps to enjoy life. I like your ideas to spend a few days on that pretty houseboat with good wine, cheese, crusty bread, and good books. My kind of heaven, too.


  31. dawnkinster September 28, 2020 / 3:10 pm

    Wow…I’m impressed that you got so much done duirng summer! Especially THIS summer! I have a list of stuff I want to do in 2020 and so far I am not doing very well with them. I few I have accomplished but I’m having trouble staying focused enough to read a book. I have put air in the bike tires but not taken it anywhere. On the other hand I’ve campe 3 times, been over to Lake Michigan 2x, and learned more about water color painting. So not everything is lost!


    • Natalie September 28, 2020 / 4:41 pm

      Dawn, That was my response to COVID-19 🙂 All kidding aside, I think what you were able to do was awesome (camping, visiting one of the Great Lakes and water color painting). Have a wonderful week!


  32. Erica/Erika September 29, 2020 / 2:22 am

    Hi Natalie, I am always with you on the Summer ice cream. Your Summer reading is exceptional. 55 novels! You make many great points on Gratitude and Balance. I think it helps with every part of our physical and emotional health. You are always an inspiration, Natalie.🙂


    • Natalie September 29, 2020 / 9:11 am

      Hi Erica/ Erika, One day you and I will meet for ice cream IRL 🙂 One good thing that comes out of social isolation for me is more time to read. I’m grateful to have access to e-books. I feel shy and humbled to be an inspiration.

      Liked by 1 person

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