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.

Summer Week 9: Spontaneous Outings

Hello blog friends! How are things going? Hope all is well with you. Come on in to my blog space and let’s chat over a cup of tea or coffee.

Summer week 9, from August 16 to 22 inclusive, delivered a beautiful stretch of good weather, sunny skies and pleasant temperatures. Daytime high ranged from 24C to 29C (75F to 84F).

I received a couple of quick messages and phone calls from my friends. My spontaneous response “Yes, let’s do this!” rounded my week with two in-person coffee chats and one Stand Up Paddling afternoon on Toronto islands.

Coffee Chat #1

Friend #1 who lives in the suburb and who has been working from home had to go into the city centre for business on Tuesday. I was flexible with my time so we met up for coffee and catch up. I walked to our meeting place and back home, got 5K done before and after our coffee chat, two birds one stone.

We sat outside on a beautiful day, 2 meters (6 feet) apart, and in a nice public square with plants and flowers. Our chat was non-stop with laughs and smiles. After our meeting was over, I got a photo of this pretty monarch butterfly. Not bad for a cell phone!

Monarch butterfly on a butterfly brush flower
Monarch butterfly on a butterfly brush flower

Coffee Chat #2

Friend #2 who lives in the west end of the city and who has been busy taking care of an elderly parent was available on Thursday. So we agreed to meet at Humber Bay Arch Bridge. I rode my bike there and back, enjoyed my ride on the scenic waterfront trail, got 20 kilometers done before and after our coffee chat, two birds one stone again.

Humber Bay Arch Bridge
Humber Bay Arch Bridge

We sat outside at Sheldon Lookout, 2 meters (6 feet) apart, on another gorgeous day, with stunning views of Humber Bay. Part of the bay, where the sun light hit the water, sparkled like a million diamonds.

The view from Sheldon Lookout
The view from Sheldon Lookout

Our chat was full of news exchange, laughs, and smiles. On this sunny day by the lake and with nice green space around us, we focused on the present and the good things in life.

A view from Sheldon Lookout
A view from Sheldon Lookout

Stand Up Paddling (SUP)

Friend #3 was asking me about my Stand Up Paddling excursion in July. So we booked to rent two SUP boards. Each rental includes a return trip on a pontoon boat to where the SUP boards are stored on the islands, a board, a paddle, a life jacket, and a flexible leash with Velcro straps to keep the board attached to our ankles. We did stand up paddling on Toronto islands for about 2.5 hours.

My cherry red SUP board...Love the starfish!
My cherry red SUP board…Love the starfish!

The lake water will be cooler in September and SUP season will be over soon so I was glad to squeeze in this SUP outing. The photos from this trip are a bit unclear because I took them while my phone was secured in a clear waterproof case!

We saw many swans and ducks during our paddling. The cherry-on-top for me was a great blue heron that stood quietly by the water as we left the islands to head home, and the fiery sunset over Toronto Harbour, signaling the end of another stunning day.

Great blue heron on Toronto Islands
Great blue heron on Toronto Islands
Sunset over Toronto Harbour
Sunset over Toronto Harbour

Spontaneity and Flexibility

These outings came together on different days with different people and minimal planning. They gave me many joyful moments. One ordinary week became extra-ordinary. I’m glad I have the flexibility in my day to say Yes, let’s do this!

After all the physical activities, I’m ready to sink into one of these big comfy Muskoka chairs and read a good book. Care to join me? I’m about half way through The Book Thief by Markus Zusak.

Muskoka chairs and lake view
Muskoka chairs and lake view

Once again, nature, sunshine, exercises, friendship, and good books are my not-so secrets to a healthy and enriched life. Summer week 9 was fantastic. I look forward to making the most of summer week 10.

How did your week go? I’d love to hear your comments.

I link up here.

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

Summer Week 6: July Smiles

Butterfly

Hello blog friends! How are you? Hope all’s well with you. Come on in to my blog space, make yourself at home with a coffee or tea, hot or iced, and let’s chat.

Summer Week 6

Summer week 6, from July 26 to August 1 inclusive, was sunny and warm. The high temperatures ranged from 28C to 33C (82F to 91F). We had heat warning on Sunday and Monday, brief showers on Wednesday, and the rest of the week was beautiful.

I enjoyed plenty of outdoor time cycling and walking on the waterfront trail or in parks by the lake. The flowers in the gardens continue to be amazing. So many colours, shapes, textures, and lovely fragrance that keep bees and butterflies busy.

My new activity of the week was Stand Up Paddling (SUP). I did SUP for about three hours on Toronto islands with my small ‘social bubble’. We paddled and had so much fun. The water was calm and warm. I saw a great blue heron, dragonflies, Eastern kingbirds, pretty water lilies, idyllic sailboats, and more.

Sailboat

July Smiles

Since we’ve just finished July and are now at the beginning of August, I thought of summarizing my fun in July in simple numbers:

  • 1 stand up paddling trip
  • 2 movies (see titles below)
  • 4 blog posts
  • 6 digital concerts (see performers below)
  • 6 kayaking trips
  • 13 yoga sessions
  • 14 strengthening workouts
  • 15 books (see list below)
  • 24 cycling trips
  • 26 walks
  • 31 online French and Spanish sessions
  • 31 meditation sessions

The two movies were both based on true stories and great performances. I gave each movie 4 stars out of 5:

  • The Big Short (Christian Bale, Steve Carrell and Ryan Gosling).
  • The Whole Wide World (Renée Zellweger and Vincent D’Onofrio).

The six concerts were performed beautifully by:

On the COVID-19 front, case numbers in Toronto have been on the downward trends so as of July 31, the City allows more businesses to re-open, now including indoor gyms, dine-in restaurants, and movie theatres that meet public health guidelines. Masks are required in indoor public spaces and people are advised to continue social distancing.

July Beach Reads

Glorious books and e-books! I was in the mood for reading and set a new personal best reading record in a month: 15 books. I enjoyed every single one of them, about half were e-books and the other half physical books. I re-read some of the chapters in each of the books. They were that good!

15 books read in July 2020

All of the authors were new to me, except Jenny Colgan and John Grisham. Although I read Neil Pasricha‘s articles and listened to him on TED Talks before, this was the first time I read one of his books. I’m glad to discover K.A. Tucker who lives in a small town outside of Toronto.

Most of the 15 books are contemporary romance, with adventures, suspense, or thriller twists. Most, not all, have happy endings. They transported me to faraway places such as Bora Bora, England, Israel, Italy, Scotland, Vietnam, Zimbabwe, and various states in the USA.

I group the books into my Top 5 Picks, Next 5 Picks, and Last 5 Picks, based on how much I liked the story and the writing style. They are in alpha order by author’s last name below.

My Top 5 Picks:
  • Beach Read by Emily Henry.
  • Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng.
  • Where The Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens.
  • The Happiness Equation: Want Nothing + Do Anything = Have Everything by Neil Pasricha.
  • The Simple Wild by K. A. Tucker.
My Next 5 Picks:
  • The Place We Met by Isabelle Broom.
  • Every Breath by Nicholas Sparks.
  • Something in the Water by Catherine Steadman.
  • Burying Water by K. A. Tucker.
  • Ten Tiny Breaths by K. A. Tucker.
My Last 5 Picks:
  • The Cafe by The Sea by Jenny Colgan.
  • Gray Mountain by John Grisham.
  • The Light We Lost by Jill Santopolo.
  • Be The Girl by K. A. Tucker.
  • On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous by Ocean Vuong.

Conclusion

July was an enriching and fabulous month with fitness, family, friends, and fun while social distancing. I look forward to making the most of August.

How was your July? What are you reading? I’d love to hear your comments.

I link up here.

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