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.

Gratitude

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!

Balance

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.

I link up here.

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

3 Fun Lists To Share

Hello blog friends! How are you doing? I hope all is well with you. Come on in to my blog space so we can have a coffee or tea and catch up since I last shared my imaginary fishing expedition with you.

If we were having coffee, I’d say that I hope you like lists. I use them to capture key points when they’re still fresh in my mind and I can expand them into more details later. I have three fun lists to share in this post: The Extras, Mind Exercises, and Summer Fun. Feel free to read all three, or skip to the list that may be of interest to you.

The Extras

Orange flowers.

My first list is the extras that make my ordinary days extra-ordinary. They bring me many smiles this week:

  • Chats with my family members online.
  • Chats with my girlfriends by phone.
  • Chat with my neighbour: in-person, outdoors, and 2 metres apart.
  • Blue skies and sunshine all week long, high 30C on summer solstice.
  • Booked and anticipating a kayak outing next week.
  • Home-baked banana blueberry loaf: My new baking success.
  • New books from the library.
  • New sightings of urban wildlife: Birds, toads, and river otter pups.
  • Outdoor walks in the sunshine.
  • Scents of lilacs, roses, and blends of other flowers.

I’m grateful that my family and friends are all well. To date, no one in my social circle is sickened by the COVID-19 virus. Summer is officially here and nature continues to show off her seasonal beauty that makes my time outdoors wonderful.

10 Fun Mind Exercises

My second list shows ten fun exercises that I do to keep my brain sharp. The 6th Wellness Weekend link-up of 2020 is on today. The optional prompt for June is Mind Exercises. Please join in on the fun. All links are at the bottom of this post.

When we’re young, most of us are not concerned about our health. As we age, we know we need to do something to stay healthy. I assume that my blog readers all know we need to take care of our mind (the brain), just like any other part of the body.

When it comes to brain health, I refer to the Alzheimer Society Canada web site. It has plenty of helpful information and resources such as: A page on brain health, a printable brochure titled Heads Up for Healthier Brain, and a short video on “What can you do to keep your brain healthy?”.

I do several fun mind exercises on a regular basis and try new things to keep my brain as healthy as possible as I age. I also try to eat healthy, stay socially active, get enough sleep, and go for my regular health check-ups.

Here’s my list of 10 Fun Mind Exercises:

  • Bake a new recipe: Baking uses a number of senses: smell, touch, sight, and taste, which all involve different parts of the brain.
  • Do math in my head without the aid of calculator, or pencil and paper.
  • Do physical exercises that involve switching sides, counting steps, sets, repetitions, and focusing on different muscle groups.
  • Learn foreign languages: French and Spanish. The listening and hearing involved stimulates the brain, and more efforts required to differentiate the two similar languages.
  • Learn new skills: Baking, blogging, learning a new 20-minute dance workout with various dance moves, and photography.
  • Meditate: Of all the mental exercises, meditation may be the most challenging. It takes practice to quiet our mind.
  • Play with words: Write blog posts, play word games or Scrabble.
  • Practice yoga: Many yoga poses require focus and good co-ordination of mind and body.
  • Read widely, study directions, and maps.
  • Test my recall: Make a list, memorize it, recall it an hour or so later to see how many items I can recall.

My Summer 2020 Fun List

My blogger friend, Leslie at Once Upon A Time Happily Ever After, has invited me and other bloggers to join in her Summer Fun List link-up so the third and last list in this post is my Summer 2020 Fun List.

My Summer 2020 Fun List

My Summer 2020 Fun List focuses on summer in the city. It has a number of outdoor activities that take advantage of the warm weather and the natural amenities by Lake Ontario. These activities are inexpensive and require minimal preparation on my part.

Here’s my list of 10 Summer Fun Activities:

  • Eat a lot of summer fruits.
  • Enjoy ice cream.
  • Explore local gardens or parks.
  • Go cycling on the waterfront trail.
  • Have a picnic by the lake.
  • Look for wildlife in the city.
  • Paddle within Toronto Islands.
  • Read light novels.
  • Relax at a lake beach.
  • Walk on the boardwalk.

I hope to share some of these activities with my family and friends as the government eases restrictions on social gatherings, and to check off all ten items on my summer fun list in the next thirteen weeks, before the first day of Autumn hits.

How did your week go? What fun mind exercises do you do? What’s on your summer fun list? I’d love to hear your comments.

I’m linking up this post to Wellness Weekends 2020, Summer 2020 Fun List, and other link-ups as listed here.

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

Checking Off My Holiday Fun List

Greetings! It’s December 21st, time to share how I did on my holiday fun list that I wrote here. I had five items and wanted to have free or low cost, and environmentally-friendly fun. So here we go:

1) View the holiday light displays: I walked with my family in the downtown core to see beautiful holiday light displays. In Eaton Centre, the tallest Christmas tree was quite a centrepiece. Big banks and major department stores also set up amazing decorations.

Christmas tree at Toronto Eaton Centre
Christmas tree at Toronto Eaton Centre

2) Listen to live holiday music: My friends and I walked to see the Cavalcade of Lights at City Hall. This event marked the official start of the holiday season in Toronto. The 53rd annual celebration featured the first lighting of Toronto’s 15-metre (50-foot) Christmas tree, live musical performances, a skating party and a spectacular fireworks display. I love the hundreds of dazzling lights that hang above the ice rink and all around Nathan Philips Square.

Cavalcade of Lights in Toronto
Cavalcade of Lights in Toronto

3) Bake a Ration cake: I baked a Second World War Ration cake with the recipe found here while listening to music. It was an easy and relaxing activity. The kitchen smelled good. The cake turned out well even though I used an 8-inch round pan instead of a square pan. My family and I enjoyed the yummy treats. Success!

A slice of Ration cake
A slice of home made ration cake

4) Give food and hope: The local Metro grocery store creates convenient, ready-to-go food bank bags. Metro will make a donation of $1 to Feed Ontario for each bag purchase. I bought a few bags of food items to let the recipients know that I care.

Food donation
Food donation at Metro grocery store

5) Walk to show the Earth some love: I walked outdoors with my family through the Financial District to the main shopping centre (see item 1 above) and with my friends to City Hall (see item 2 above). Each time we stopped to watch the Hudson’s Bay Christmas window displays. Here’s a snapshot of what’s behind the five windows and the toy soldiers on guard (click on the photos to enlarge them):

So I checked off my holiday fun list. We enjoyed the lights, the live music, the cake, and the outdoor walks. It felt good to donate food to help less fortunate people in the city. All of these activities were either free or low cost, and I’d say environmentally friendly.

What I love most is how Mother Nature displays a simple and beautiful decoration for the season: Fresh pine cones on the tree.

Coming up next week: My sister is hosting our annual family holiday get-together. Three generations in my family will be there, plus a few family friends. We’ve coordinated the dinner menu and each of us will bring food and drinks to share. I’m looking forward to this party!

Wishing you peace, joy, and good health for this holiday season and in the New Year 2020.

Click here to join Leslie and share your holiday list update.

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

5 Fun Activities for the Holidays

Holiday decorations

My blogger friend, Leslie, invited me and other bloggers to share my holiday fun list with her on November 21, and a quick update on how I did on my list on December 21. I call my list a Fun list since I don’t ever have a bucket list.

Now I’m challenging myself to have fun this holiday at either no cost or low cost and to be environmental-friendly as much as possible. I also want activities that engage my senses. So I come up with the following five for the period of November 21 to December 21.

5 Fun Activities for the Holidays

1) View the holiday light displays: The big banks and major department stores downtown always put up dazzling holiday displays, some with fairy tale themes. City Hall also has a real 15-metre (50-foot) Christmas tree that will be lit up at the end of November. I plan to do a 30-minute walk to get there and enjoy the visual treats for free.

2) Listen to live holiday music: I usually go with my friends to the Cavalcade of Lights event in November and/ or the annual holiday concert in December at City Hall. Both events offer wonderful music performances and are free to the public. Again I plan to do a 30-minute walk to get there.

3) Bake a Ration cake: I found this Second World War Ration cake recipe here. It would be fun to make it for the holidays. The cake is low cost as I already have the ingredients in our pantry. The kitchen will smell good. If the cake turns out well, my family and I will satisfy our taste buds with the yummy treats. Win-win-win.

4) Give food and hope: It’s a sad reality that we have people who rely on food bank because they have nowhere else to turn. I plan to donate online or buy food items and donate at a local grocery store. I’ve got the list of food items that our local Daily Bread Food Bank always needs because of their high nutritional value (e.g. baby food and formula, peanut butter, canned fish and meat, canned fruits and vegetables, rice, grains, lentils, beans, dried pasta, pasta sauce, canned tomatoes, cans of soup and stew, powdered, canned and tetra pak milk).

5) Walk to show the Earth some love: It would be fun to map an outdoor route with a few points of interest and walk it with my family or friends. We bring a warm beverage like hot chocolate or hot apple cider in our reusable travel mugs and enjoy it during or at the end of our walk. I keep my fingers crossed for reasonable weather between November 21 and December 21 so that I can complete this activity.

How about you? What do you have on your holiday fun list?

Click here to share your plans.

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