4 Years of Blogging | Thanksgiving Musings

Hello blog friends! How are things going? I hope all’s well with you. Come on in to my blog space for a coffee or tea and let’s chat. The weather was typical autumn this past week, mainly sunny and cool, with some showers and strong winds mid-week.

I had a good week with my usual cycling, walking, workouts, yoga, meditation, house work, language lessons, blogging, and reading. I also got in touch with my family and friends by phone and text. This weekend I’m celebrating my blog anniversary and Thanksgiving holiday.

4 Years of Blogging: Some Thoughts

  • A milestone: I reached a blogging milestone, 4 years of blogging, on October 10th. I started my blog with Blogger in October 2016 and then switched to WordPress in June 2019. Same blog name Natalie the Explorer on both platforms. I didn’t move my old Blogger blog posts over to WordPress yet and probably won’t.
  • A good habit: I like the rhythm and habit of thinking and writing. This year I’ve been posting once a week. My blog is where I record some of what I’ve been up to, write down some thoughts, share some of my photos, and interact with my blog readers and other bloggers.
  • Friendships: I had the pleasure to meet several blogger friends IRL on Vancouver Island last September. I hope to meet them again and meet new blogger friends in the future.
  • Ongoing learning: One of the reasons for my platform switch was to learn something new. I jumped “cannonball” style into using WordPress block editor right away. I think all bloggers would agree with me that there’s always something new to learn from blogging, whether it’s new technology or general blog improvements or from readers’ comments.
  • Thank You: I want to thank everyone who reads my blog and everyone who takes the time to leave a comment. Blogging has been a fun ride for me. Your comments and friendship make it more fun and they motivate me to continue blogging. I hope you continue sharing your thoughts here.

Thanksgiving Musings: 10 Personal Gains

Currently, Canada is in the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic. Toronto public health officials have urged residents not to invite anyone over for Thanksgiving dinner this year, and to mark the holiday with only members of their immediate household. So it’s a quiet Thanksgiving at my place.

I made donations to the local food drive. I contacted my family and friends to chat and wish them a happy Thanksgiving. I spent some time thinking about what I’ve personally gained in the last seven months since COVID-19 restrictions started in mid-March.

Ten personal gains in no particular order:

  1. Health Focus: I’ve always been active, however, this pandemic brings a laser focus for me to continue being physically active, eat a balanced diet, get enough sleep, and stay mentally healthy.
  1. Time: I gain time from not getting ready to go somewhere, not commuting, not attending cultural and social events, and not traveling. This allows me to spend more time outdoors, linger when and where I want to, and read a lot more books.
  1. Money: I save more, mainly from not traveling. I’ve redirected some of my travel budget to recreation which is still a fraction of my usual travel budget. At this rate of saving, I may be able to upgrade or extend my trip next time I travel.
  1. Childhood Favourite: I resume and enjoy one of my favourite childhood activities, i.e. Cycling. When I was a child, I taught myself how to ride a bicycle using my mom’s adult bike. No training wheels for this kid. I’ve been cycling a lot more this year than previous year.
  1. A Quiet City: Toronto is the largest city in Canada. With event cancellations, business closures, online schools, and working from home arrangements, the city centre has been much quieter than normal. Less car and people traffic makes it relaxing and easier for me to maintain physical distancing when I go outside.
  1. Local Beauty: I’m grateful to have easy access to the Waterfront trail, Lake Ontario, local beaches, parks, gardens, Toronto Harbour, and the Toronto islands. This year I have more time to explore my home city by bike or on foot, and did a lot of paddling around the beautiful Toronto islands.
  1. New Discoveries: The more flexible and resourceful I am, the more fun and less stress I bring to myself. Examples: Closures of indoor gym, art galleries, concert halls, library branches? Do workouts at home, go digital, and switch to e-books. Jasmine rice unavailable? Buy Basmati rice. In the process of substitution, I discovered new videos, web sites, authors, brands, etc. Some substitutes have met or exceeded my expectations.
  1. New Skills: I use some of the extra time on hand to learn how to bake. I’ve baked several recipes and they all turned out well. I approached this as a learning experiment and proved to myself that yes, I can bake. I also improved my paddling skills by canoeing, kayaking, and stand up paddling this summer.
  1. Simple Living: The pandemic restrictions simplify life down to the essentials like staying at home and going out for exercises, groceries or medicine only. So my typical day involves going outside for fitness activities, grocery shopping, making meals at home, doing house chores, keeping in touch with family and friends by phone or text, and relaxing with books, films, and music.
  1. Life Experience: Even though I wish the pandemic would be over right now, it’s still part of our reality. Living through COVID-19 Wave 1 has given me the experience to prepare for Wave 2. Unlike Wave 1 which occurred during Spring and Summer here, Wave 2 is in Autumn and possibly Winter when it’s darker and colder. I know I need to step up my game and ride this out.

How did your week go? What personal gains have you experienced during the pandemic? I’d love to hear your comments.

Linking here.

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

71 thoughts on “4 Years of Blogging | Thanksgiving Musings

  1. Jill Weatherholt October 11, 2020 / 7:58 am

    Happy anniversary, Natalie! It goes by fast, doesn’t it? I laughed at your remark about jumping into WordPress block editor in β€œcannonball” style. I remember doing those as a kid. Good for you…I’m still struggling with the changes. Like you, I gained more time by not commuting during the pandemic. I’ll admit, that’s one part I’ve enjoyed. I hope you and your family have a wonderful Thanksgiving! Stay well and have a great week ahead. xo


    • Natalie October 11, 2020 / 9:34 am

      Thank you, Jill, for your warm wishes. “Cannonball” jumps in the deep end are fun. It’s been quiet in the city here since mid-March. Normally I’d see thousands of people at rush hours, and on most days and nights when we have arts, entertainment, and sports events going on. I hope your writing is flowing well. Have a wonderful week!


  2. Suzanne@PictureRetirement October 11, 2020 / 8:58 am

    Natalie, congratulations on your blogging anniversary! Milestones are a wonderful time to reflect, and this year has provided lots to think about. I am settling into the idea that Covid will not go away any time soon, and carry on with life as normally as possible. Our weather will begin to cool for the next few months, which is my favorite time in Florida, so I expect to be outside even more than usual. We have a couple of trips planned, but both destinations are just hours away by car. Those trips will satisfy the need for a ‘change of scenery’, and eventually, we will resume trips that offer a new experience. Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours. We have so much to be thankful for!


    • Natalie October 11, 2020 / 9:48 am

      Thank you, Suzanne, for your warm wishes. I agree we have so much to be thankful for and to carry on with life as normally as possible. I’m excited for you to soon have cooler weather which makes it comfortable to be outside more. Being outside makes a huge difference for me and my mental health during this pandemic. Having a couple of trips planned is a great idea. I’m thinking of a few possibilities. Have a wonderful week!


  3. Nancy October 11, 2020 / 9:02 am

    Happy Blog Anniversary! Happy to hear you are doing well, even during Canada’s second wave. I’m sure ours here in the U.S. is on the horizon. I love that you listed all the positive gains you’ve had during this challenging time. We also gained both money and time and I’ve certainly expanded my artistic side but, I think the biggest gain for me has been having my adult children home so much more. My son especially, is a normally a very social person but he and my daughter have been very responsible during the pandemic and stayed home with us, a gift of time together that we otherwise wouldn’t have had. We’ve enjoyed family dinners and learning new things, like cooking and building projects and come to appreciate each other so much more. Surprisingly we hardly got on each other’s nerves at all! That is a gift. πŸ™‚ Have a great week. Hopefully you will get to enjoy more fall weather.


    • Natalie October 11, 2020 / 10:04 am

      Thank you, Nancy, for your warm wishes. It’s truly a gift when you and your family are safe, well, and sharing quality time together. Even in a pandemic, there is always something good going on. We just have to look for them. I’m enjoying the beautiful Fall season here. Have a wonderful week!


  4. Hugh W. Roberts October 11, 2020 / 9:40 am

    Happy Thanksgiving, Natalie. And congratulations on your 4th blogging anniversary.

    It was good that you went straight into using the block editor when you joined WordPress. Sure, there is a lot to learn (I’m still learning), but I remember when I first joined WordPress and had to learn how to use the Classic editor. I would get so impatient at not being to create pingbacks or able to align text, along with lots of other stuff. However, the more practice I did, the better I became at it.

    Sorry to hear you’re going through a second wave of COVID-19 in your part of the world. The same is happening here in the UK. However, it’s good to see you’re keeping yourself busy and have adjusted to the new (temporary) way of life.

    Here’s to the next 4 years of blogging.


    • Natalie October 11, 2020 / 10:25 am

      Thank you, Hugh, for your warm wishes. When I started with WordPress, the block editor was about 6 months old, i.e. still fairly new with room for improvement. I had read that eventually the classic editor would be phased out so I chose to use the block editor right away, as opposed to going through two editors. Like you said, more practice, better results. Plus I find it more fun when when there is something left to learn.

      With COVID-19, I follow public health measures and carry on with life the best I can. We’ve made it through wave 1 so wave 2 is less of an adjustment at this point. In the UK where you live, are the restrictions in the second wave similar to those in the first wave or are they modified to allow for some economic activities?

      Liked by 1 person

      • Hugh W. Roberts October 11, 2020 / 10:51 am

        In the UK, different areas currently have different restrictions. They’re not as severe as the first lockdown we had, but there is a chance that the whole of the UK could go into a 2nd lockdown. In some areas, bars and restaurants have been told to close for the next 16 days. We’re also not allowed any visitors into our homes, although if you’re in an area with fewer restrictions, you can still meet up to 6 other people indoors. In some places (including where I live) we’re also not allowed to travel outside of the local area. Unfortunately, some of these rules keep changing, so it can get very confusing. I don’t see any current restrictions being lifted until at least the spring.


        • Natalie October 11, 2020 / 11:59 am

          I hear you about some of the rules keep changing and different areas have different restrictions. Toronto is a big city so it tends to have higher number of cases than other areas in the same province and this weekend restrictions resumed for 28 days.

          Liked by 1 person

  5. Erica/Erika October 11, 2020 / 12:00 pm

    Huge congratulatory hugs, Natalie! I have learned a great deal from you. The Thank you goes right back to you. You have a beautiful, welcoming, interesting blog. A highlight for me to read each week! ❀️

    You bring up a good point, how Toronto is quieter than normal.

    We will step up our game and ride this out together. Happy Thanksgiving! ❀️


    • Natalie October 11, 2020 / 12:12 pm

      Thank you, Erica/ Erika, for your kind comment about my blog. You know I’m going to hold on your huge congratulatory hugs for a while πŸ™‚ Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family!

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Gary A Wilson October 11, 2020 / 12:47 pm

    Neat stuff Natalie. Happy anniversary. In terms of blogging experience, you have a couple of years on me and really relate with all you say you’ve learned. This has been a fun and fulfilling journey so far.


    • Natalie October 11, 2020 / 4:43 pm

      Thank you, Gary. Keep on blogging. Have a great week!


  7. Joanne October 11, 2020 / 2:30 pm

    Congrats on your 4 year blogiversary!


    • Natalie October 11, 2020 / 4:43 pm

      Thank you, Joanne. Happy blogging πŸ™‚


  8. Retirement Reflections October 11, 2020 / 5:25 pm

    Happy Thanksgiving and Happy Blogiversary! I first began blogging in 2016 as well. The time certainly does fly by.
    Wishing you a great holiday weekend!


    • Natalie October 11, 2020 / 5:45 pm

      Thank you, Donna. Wishing you and your family a happy Thanksgiving!


  9. leannelc October 11, 2020 / 9:41 pm

    Hi Natalie – Happy Blogaversary – my 6th anniversary is coming up at the end of November – and I’m still happily on Blogger. I think finding a template that looks similar to WP and not having to pay a cent for anything is what keeps me there – along with the fact that there are so few technical glitches (WP users seem to be hit with plug-in issues etc fairly regularly – and I hate glitches!)
    Loved all your positive thoughts about covid – we can’t change the situation but we can certainly choose our attitude towards it x


    • Natalie October 12, 2020 / 8:17 am

      Thank you, Leanne. Four years went by fast. Both Blogger and WordPress are easy to use. I haven’t experienced any glitch on WordPress myself. Glad you’re happy with Blogger. Have a great week!


  10. OnceUponaTimeHappilyEverAfter.com October 11, 2020 / 11:40 pm

    Happy anniversary, friend!! Hope your Thanksgiving was delicious. Probably looked a little different from holidays past but hope it was pleasant all the same.

    I appreciate the way you have managed throughout Covid to maintain an optimistic outlook and to find the silver lining in the changes the virus has imposed on our lives. We have had 2000 new cases in the last 4 days here in El Paso. While a number of the new cases are among the younger generation, I still worry that at 62, I could contract it from someone who is asymptomatic and be rather sick myself. We worry about returning to the gym…have gone 3 times but have gotten scared again now. The same goes for church, the movies, and eating out. Afraid fall and winter might be kind of tough.


    • Natalie October 12, 2020 / 8:25 am

      Thank you, Leslie, for being my supportive blogger friend all this time. Indoor gyms, dining in restaurants and movie theatres are closed again here until early in November to reduce the virus spread. I follow public health measures (i.e. wash hands, wear mask, stay apart from other people, go out for essentials only) to reduce the risk of getting infected. Stay safe and well!


  11. Jennifer Jones October 12, 2020 / 4:13 am

    Happy blog anniversary Natalie and good to hear the week has been kind to you. I love the positives you have found in your life. I’ve just started using block editor and finding it a bit frustrating. Learning new things isnt always easy


    • Natalie October 12, 2020 / 8:30 am

      Thank you, Jennifer, for your comment. I started using the block editor when I moved from Blogger to WordPress so I didn’t go through the change from the classic editor to the block editor. Take a few deep breaths and give yourself time. You can do this.


  12. patwdoyle11 October 12, 2020 / 10:12 am

    Happy Anniversary Natalie. I like how you focused your “thankfulness” of the holiday on Covid-19 time. It’s very inspirational. I’m trying to be more appreciative of the at-home time – my phrase is “embrace being a homebody”. Our Thanksgiving is next month… perhaps I need to do my own Thanksgiving post. I will certainly have the time… no big holiday meal to prepare, no family & friends to gather this year, and not even the Thanksgiving Day parade (yeah, a holiday tradition for me to watch on TV). Focus on what’s been gained versus what’s been lost is an excellent reminder.


    • Natalie October 12, 2020 / 11:13 am

      Thank you, Pat. I’m humbled that you found my post inspirational. I believe everything is temporary, including this pandemic. I use my optimist’s lens to examine this temporary “stay at home” phase as an opportunity and what I’ve gained from it. I have a lot to be thankful for. I look forward to your Thanksgiving post.

      Liked by 1 person

  13. trentpmcd October 12, 2020 / 10:20 am

    Congratulations on the 4 years! I like all of your personal gains πŸ™‚ You do live up to your blog’s name: Natalie the Explorer! Maybe not exploring those far off distant places where you are the first to set foot, but still very much an explorer of places that might be even more important. Hope you have a wonderful week πŸ™‚


    • Natalie October 12, 2020 / 11:18 am

      Thank you, Trent, for your kind comment. Toronto is a big and growing city so there’s still a lot for me to explore. I feel I’m an explorer and after I choose my blog name, I discovered that my archetype is Explorer πŸ™‚ Have a wonderful week!

      Liked by 1 person

  14. Ally Bean October 12, 2020 / 11:43 am

    Congrats on four years of blogging. You’re hooked now. Your posts of your discoveries and experiences in Toronto are insightful and bring a bit of light to an otherwise dark year. I agree with you that there is always something to learn when it comes to blogging which is why I like to do it, too.


    • Natalie October 12, 2020 / 12:35 pm

      Thank you, Ally, for your kind comment. I choose light over darkness, except when I sleep πŸ™‚ I’m glad to discover your blog. I want to learn how to blog with humour and haven’t got to beginner’s level yet so I have some learning to do.

      Liked by 1 person

  15. Beaton October 12, 2020 / 5:37 pm

    congrats on the milestone !1


  16. Jo October 12, 2020 / 6:06 pm

    Happy thanksgiving and happy blogaversary. Yours is a bloggy connection that I’m grateful for – and look forward to our virtual catch-up each week.


    • Natalie October 12, 2020 / 6:16 pm

      Thank you, Jo. I’m glad to connect with you via blogging and look forward to our virtual catch-up each week, too. I hope to visit Australia and meet you IRL once travel restrictions are lifted.

      Liked by 1 person

  17. midlifestylist October 13, 2020 / 12:41 am

    Happy anniversary Natalie! I’m one year in on this blog. Happy Thanksgiving as well. It’s warming up here in Australia which I’m grateful for. The winter seemed to go forever.


    • Natalie October 13, 2020 / 8:04 am

      Thank you, Christina. Glad to hear the warmth of spring finally arrives for you. I’m enjoying autumn season here and hope for a mild winter.


  18. Debbie October 13, 2020 / 6:42 am

    Congratulations Natalie, blogging is a great habit to have! You have summed it all really well, the structure, the friendships and the ongoing learning. Looking forward to reading more of your posts over the years to come. #lifethisweek


    • Natalie October 13, 2020 / 8:05 am

      Thank you, Debbie. Four years went by fast. Now onward to the next blogging milestone.

      Liked by 1 person

  19. Laurie October 13, 2020 / 5:06 pm

    Happy Thanksgiving and Blogiversary! A lot to celebrate this week. Thinking about personal gains during the pandemic is a good way to celebrate Thanksgiving. Your words on blogging reflect exactly how I feel. I never realized how many friends I would make through blogging. I like the opportunity to think and write about various topics too. Here’s to many more posts!


    • Natalie October 13, 2020 / 5:17 pm

      Thank you, Laurie. Here’s to many more posts, new learning, and friendships from blogging! Have a wonderful week!


  20. Liesbet @ Roaming About October 13, 2020 / 8:52 pm

    There have been positive changes and effects because of the pandemic. I think one of those things for most people is the ability to slow down. Another pro is being able to save money by cutting out travel and entertainment costs. Of course, we would all like to see life return to normal. Happy blogging anniversary, Natalie. I’m so glad you’re still having fun and making new connections!


    • Natalie October 14, 2020 / 8:39 am

      Yes, some positive changes have come as a result of this pandemic. I believe that everything is temporary and eventually COVID-19 will no longer be the daily news topic. In the meantime we continue to have fun blogging πŸ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

  21. Congratulations on both your blog’s birthday and the thought-filled and kind words for your thanksgiving. I admit I have not gone down the new WP path…and I have the old editor installed.

    I sense we are not saying bye-bye to COVID here either with second waves & more coming.

    Thank you for linking up for LifeThisWeek and I hope you join in again next week, where the optional prompt is 42/51 Self-Care Stories #6. 19.10.2020. Denyse.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Natalie October 14, 2020 / 8:43 am

      Thank you, Denyse, for your kind words. Even though we’re dealing with the second wave of COVID-19 here, I believe that everything is temporary and eventually COVID-19 will not be the daily news topic. I look forward to your next link up. Have a wonderful week!


  22. Min Write of the Middle October 14, 2020 / 7:00 pm

    Congratulations Natalie on your 4 year anniversary of blogging! I know myself how rewarding blogging can be. I couldn’t imagine my life without it now. I hope you enjoy your Thanksgiving, despite not being able to invite people over. I love your list of positives you’ve gained from these Covid days. Gratitude is such a great practice. Take care and enjoy your week. xo

    Liked by 1 person

    • Natalie October 14, 2020 / 8:07 pm

      Thank you, Min, for your kind comment. I believe that everything is temporary, including COVID-19. We just need to hang in there and stay positive πŸ™‚ Have a wonderful week!


  23. Lydia C. Lee October 14, 2020 / 8:04 pm

    Blogging goes by in a blink of an eye – the landscape changes a bit but it really just becomes an enjoyable habit. I love the blue berries with the red leaves – what are they? Enjoy Thanksgiving and all that you’ve done! #Lovinglifelinky

    Liked by 1 person

    • Natalie October 14, 2020 / 8:18 pm

      Lydia, Yes, 4 years went by fast. The blueberries on the red leaves and other edible berries are common here. I’m not sure of the plant name. Will have to ask the park ranger or gardener next time I see them.


  24. Leanne @ Deep Fried Fruit October 14, 2020 / 8:16 pm

    Happy anniversary! I missed my 11th blogging anniversary which was just under 2 weeks ago. I should really pay tribute to that I suppose. I spend the first 7.5 years of that blogging DAILY. Every single day for 7.5 years. I can’t believe I managed that!
    Thanks for joining the Lovin Life LInky

    Liked by 1 person

    • Natalie October 14, 2020 / 8:22 pm

      Leanne, Happy 11th blogging anniversary to you! That’s a huge accomplishment, and 7.5 years of daily blogging is so awesome. Thank you for hosting the Loving Life linky all this time. Have a wonderful week!


  25. Sue Loncaric October 15, 2020 / 4:31 am

    Happy Blogging Anniversary Natalie. I always look forward to your posts and reading all about your life. Do you know it is just over a year since we met IRL with Donna? Would be lively to do this again.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Natalie October 15, 2020 / 8:11 am

      Hi Sue, I remember our meeting with Donna and hope we can do it again with more time to chat. I’m glad we have our blogging connections to share our news regularly. Your recent podcast with Sue-Anne about Sister Stay is informative for future travels and accommodations with social connections. Have a wonderful week!


  26. Veronica Lee October 15, 2020 / 4:57 am

    Happy Blogaversary, Natalie! So sorry to hear that you’re going through a second wave of Covid-19. We, too, are having a resurgence of cases and are now under a 2-week partial lockdown.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Natalie October 15, 2020 / 8:14 am

      Veronica, Sorry to hear you’re under a partial lockdown. I believe that everything is temporary, including COVID-19. Eventually this virus will be old news. Hang in there. Stay safe and well.


  27. betty - NZ October 17, 2020 / 5:43 pm

    Congrats on your milestone! Loving the autumn colors a lot πŸ™‚

    Your link at ‘My Corner of the World’ this week is greatly appreciated!!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Natalie October 17, 2020 / 5:50 pm

      Thank you, Betty, for hosting and commenting. More autumn colours coming πŸ™‚ Have a wonderful week!


  28. Dr Sock November 19, 2020 / 1:03 pm

    Natalie, I love to read your upbeat perspective. I confess that last month, I was thinking of writing a post about what we all have lost as a result of COVID. And now I look at your blog and you’ve taken the exact opposite approach, appreciating what you have gained through this experience. Wonderful!


    Liked by 1 person

    • Natalie November 19, 2020 / 2:17 pm

      Jude, I’m glad you enjoyed my post. I do have negative thoughts about this pandemic sometimes. Thankfully my optimistic side always emerges and makes me feel better. Writing down what I feel I’ve gained through this experience also reminds me that it’s not all gloom and doom. We’ll get through this.


  29. Narayan Kaudinya November 30, 2020 / 12:47 pm

    A happy place, a happy you feels like here πŸ™‚ many wishes more now when year’s ending at last, soon.


    • Natalie November 30, 2020 / 1:09 pm

      Thank you, Nayaran, for your visit and warm wishes. I hope you find my blog interesting to return and share your comments.


      • Narayan Kaudinya December 2, 2020 / 3:23 am

        Your blog apart from interesting is vibrating white like chameli flower. Feels happy and inviting.

        Thanks Natalie, i hope you like ‘Road to Nara’ as much. Narayan


        • Natalie December 2, 2020 / 8:57 am

          Narayan, I’m glad you find my blog interesting and welcoming. I’ll visit your blog soon.

          Liked by 1 person

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