Sweet Spring!

Lucky Enough to: Savour Spring 

Springing into action! I am lucky enough to have spent the winter months in Florida. I am a person who savours heat so I love it down south. However the heat has a habit of making the mind go numb; hence no blog posts for a while. Well, anyway, that is my excuse and, like the old cliché, I am sticking to it. Isn’t enjoying the moment what this blog is all about!

Have you ever moved somewhere for a specific reason, only the move hasn’t worked out that way? We moved to the Okanagan a year ago- for the weather! What I recall from spring 2016 is rain, rain, rain. This spring seems to be heading the same way. I am trying very hard to appreciate the dampness, as it is preventing the wildfires that threatened the Okanagan a few years ago. The moment the sun shines, I am out reveling in the rays. If you are a person who lives in a winter city, you will understand that feeling. Or perhaps you are a person who lives where the weather doesn’t change much. If that is the case, you may want to visit an area where spring is revealing her wonder.

Sweet

Presents

Revealed

Instant

New

Glory

If spring hasn’t quite sent out its delights to your place in the world, here are a few photos that I hope you enjoy.

 

 

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Four Ways to use Mindfulness for a Happier, Healthier New Year

Lucky Enough to be Mindful

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Are you one of the oodles of people who made a New Year’s Resolution and have already broken that resolve? It is much easier to fail when our goals are too broad or not logically attainable.

Happiness: If you resolved to be a happier person, mindfulness makes it easier. Instead of focusing on the negative, break the situation down into small bits. Ask yourself what tiny thing could you appreciate about the  situation.

If you are in the frozen north, enduring record breaking snowfall, appreciate the uniqueness of each snowflake. Make angels in the snow and appreciate how soft the snow is. Instead of bemoaning the cold and snow, think about how shoveling can help keep you in shape. Pay it forward. Decide to be kind to a neighbor and shovel their driveway. Bake cookies for a homeless shelter or volunteer .

If you are fortunate enough to be on a beach, (You should already be happy!) enjoy the feel of the sun kissing your skin. Use the texture of the sand to exfoliate your skin. Appreciate the geometry and symmetry found in seashells.

Rest: If making snow angels is not for you, take advantage of the inclement weather and give yourself permission to be a sinful sloth. Use this time to rest, watch movies, read books, etc. Recharge  your batteries. Appreciate this found time and thank your god, Buddha or deity. Oh, and eat that bit of chocolate,  delighting in the flavour and smoothness.

Not to rub salt (or snow) in the wound but I am very mindful and appreciative that I live in a sunny, warm climate most of the year. However, every once in a while, I tell my husband I need a snow day. To clean, to recharge, to reorganize closets, to delutter, etc.
Decluttering is another tool that promotes mindfulness and happiness. A review of the web show many advantages of decluttering. Clutter affects your emotional and physical well-being. We become frustrated and irritated when we can’t find something. If we are surrounded by more items than we can handle, we become stressed. An organized, decluttered home frees up more time as we are not looking for items or moving things around to find more space, not to mention dusting and washing unused and unnecessary items. Use your newly found free time to achieve other new year resolutions such as spending more time with family, reading more, or trying out new activities.

Don’t forget to declutter your digital life as well. Unsubscribe from sites that no longer interest you. Delete apps  you no longer use. Organize email files. Perhaps you also want to think about decluttering negative people from your life.
Weightloss: You can use mindfulness to ease your way to achieving a goal. Like many people, your goal might be weightloss. Sure, many of us would like to lose some weight by a certain date but sticking to a diet is hard (not to mention that most diets aren’t scientifically proven.) Yet, there are things you can do to help you reach success.

Set achievable goals. I once went to Weight Watchers and was actually fairly successful  But the journey wasn’t always a joy ride. Sometimes, my friend would lose  2 or 3 pounds a week and I would lose a quarter of a pound. But hey, the needle was on the plus side and I was mindful of that.

Be mindful of what you are eating. A web search will highlight studies that show food journaling helps achieve more weight loss. This helps keep one mindful of what one has eaten, helps  identify triggers and also shows the time of day when one is likely to overeat. There are also many apps that help record calories, food intake and exercise. I am attending a wedding in Hawaii three months from now. This has turned me into a woman on a shape-up mission. MyFitnessPal is a free app that I am using to help keep me mindful of my caloric intake and food choices. Other studies suggest slowing down and mindfully chewing, savouring the various tastes and textures of the food. Also, think about whether you are hungry or thirsty. Many of us confuse hunger with thirst.

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How will you use mindfulness in the new year?

 

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10 Wishes For Christmas

Joy

Love

Peace

Family

Health

Friends

Happiness

Magic

Life

 

 

 

 

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From Yoga Zen to Yoga Giggles.

Lucky Enough To: Enjoy Yoga

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Saturday morning, as usual, I went to the morning yoga class at G.T. Bray. When I arrived I was delighted to learn that the class would be held outside. We first did a few stretches, with the Snowy Egrets flying above and a cooling breeze wafting over us. Gently moving into Zen. Smoothly we flowed into Warrior 1. Then ….. bursts of giggles as four adorable three-year olds quickly abandoned the play structure and charmed their way into our class. The children were enchanting as we watched their little bodies fold and bend into yoga poses. Little ones are so uninhibited and carefree. Precious moments and a gift to daily appreciation.

There is something so lovely and freeing when practicing yoga outside. We become one with nature: refreshing, gentle winds, sweet birdsong, the whisper of pine needles and the lulling warmth of sunshine.

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Other places I have savored outdoor yoga include up a mountain at Off the Grid Organic Winery-West Kelowna, The Millenial Public Library-Winnipeg and Canmore, Alberta.

What are your favorite yoga moments?

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Is Home Where the Heart Is?

 Lucky Enough To: Have a Lovely Home.

Lately I needed a bit of uplifting and decided to watch some “teary”  happy-ending Christmas movies. There seems to be two themes: Love will win and returning home for Christmas will solve all woes.

This led to thoughts about what makes a home a home. Would the answer to that be true of all homes? Large or small? Expensive homes or barely more than a shack homes?

One year, my husband and I lived in an apartment in Cairo, which we used as our base as we traveled throughout parts of the Middle East and Africa. It was amazing how quickly the apartment became our home. After trekking around another country, and upon returning to the apartment, we found ourselves saying, “It feels good to be home.” This despite the fact the our bed was barely more than a piece of foam on some slats, water that ran out in the middle of a shower, and a sketchy elevator that often didn’t work. And yet, I feel badly even thinking of these few “negatives” as we had so so much more than the Egyptian family of 9 that lived in the dirt space beneath our building. However, to that family, this dirt space beneath the building with no running water nor electricity and rooms created by hanging sheets, was their home.

When I reminisce about this family, I fondly recall them as fun-loving, smiling, kind and generous family, who viewed this space as their home. Their hearts were definitely there.

A few years later, I volunteered with Habitat for Humanity in Cambodia. Many of the rural homes were similar to the one in this photo. These little charmers in the photo on the left, were bundles of love and mischief and were happy to call this home.

Many others lived in floating houses in the Floating Fishing Village on the Tonli Sap. As their home floats, and the physical surrounding change a little, does this affect what or where the inhabitants call home?

I am spending the winter at my Florida home, for which I am truly grateful and appreciate daily.  I think because it is so warm here,  the homeless gravitate to the area. I often wonder how the various people ended up homeless, what their  stories are and do they have a special place they call home?

And lastly, for a bit of humour, is this Wood Stork asking to share my home? It often comes to the door and peers in.

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Please share your thoughts. What is home to you?  What aspects of your home are you grateful for? 

 

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25 Acts of Christmas Kindness for Children

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With the Christmas season fast approaching, it seemed appropriate to write a post about children, appreciation and kindness.

One idea I particularly like is to help the children create a Kindness Calendar. The children brainstorm for 25 simple ways to show appreciation or kindness. You can choose the form this takes from a variety of ideas. The type of activity will depend on the age of the child.  There is a variety of ideas on Pinterest. You can view one example-Random Acts of Kindness Advent Calendar on Coffee Cups and Crayons  (coffeecupsandcrayons.com).

Activities with toddlers and pre-schoolers are always so much fun. Here is a link to a lovely kindness calendar for pre-schoolers. http://momsmessymiracles.com/acts-of-kindness-for-preschoolers/

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Kindness Kits are another wonderful way to encourage gratitude, kindness and sharing with older children.  The kit or container could be an inexpensive backpack, shoebox, or reusable shopping bag, etc.  The idea is to pack the kit with items to give to a homeless person or to donate to a shelter. Items might include: soap, shampoo, deodorant, comb, toothbrush and toothpaste, socks, and gloves. Small food items such as granola bars, raisins and pre-packaged cookies could be included.

Younger school-age children might prefer packing school supplies and snacks. Create a teachable moment by having children brainstorm for possible items. Asking the children to print the words is also a way to practice some spelling. (Oops, once a teacher, always a teacher.) When I was a kindergarten teacher, some of the students did not have anything to eat at snack time. I always stocked a cupboard with cereal packs and granola bars.

Reading the charming children’s book The Mitten by Jan Brett is a delightful way to introduce talking about being homeless, sharing warmth, and being kind to others.

 Have fun and please share your ideas in the comments section. Thanks with gratitude!

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Four Reasons to Imagine What is Behind This Secret Door.

Lucky Enough: To Imagine.

A secret door! One day, while walking home from a hike, I came upon this door in a foliage-covered wall. I was so intrigued. Why is this door here? Where does it lead to? What happens when one steps through it? Would one have amazing adventures such as when one steps through the back of the wardrobe in The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe?

What are you imagining? Does this photo tickle your sense of wonder? It should and here is why.

  •  Imagination could be a portal to self-discovery. Imagining starts with an idea and the shape that idea takes has the potential to open up a world of opportunities. Psychologists have theorized that individuals who reach their potential and purpose do it through their potential to imagine those possibilities first. (The Huffington Post)

  • Imagining helps us be more empathetic. When we are able to picture something we haven’t experienced ourselves, we may be more able to understand what someone else is going through. “Imagination……is the power that enables us to empathize with humans whose experiences we have never shared.” J.K. Rowling

  • Imagination is a creative power for inventing an instrument, designing a dress or a house, painting a picture or writing a book. It is the important ingredient of creative visualization, affirmations and positive thinking. (Successconsciousness.com)

  • Lastly, you can be happier! Research suggests that creative activities may have therapeutic benefits and enhance well-being. (authentichappiness.sas.upenn.edu).

***Please share your imaginings in the comment section. I am so curious as to what others will imagine.

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