Sunday, January 27, 2013

Brisk Beauty

It's Sun-day so it seemed like the perfect opportunity to bundle up, hustle out the door (way too early in the morning) and brave the sub zero temps to absorb some vitamin D sunshine. Winter can magically drape the mundane in a blanket of beauty which we thoroughly enjoyed today - and which I will share with you too! Take a stroll with me along the frozen waterfront...

Moody marina

Ducks on ice


Repurposing ... ditched ship as a breakwater

Stating the obvious

Marina in waiting

Just in case...

Practice makes perfect

City in the distance

Party crasher -- swan lake?

Wednesday, January 23, 2013


Walking - half running -  in sub zero frigid temperatures it hit me...


Strong - and getting stronger;

Fit - and getting fitter;

Healthy - and getting healthier;

Focused - and even more determined -

To feel the very best


And be the best possible version of me that


Monday, January 21, 2013

Optimism Pause

Photo credit: Larry Downing / Reuters
It was all things Obama, all day long, and the fact that it was Martin Luther King Day made it all the more poignant. On a frigid January day, America seem to suspend cynicism and come together over the inauguration of their President. Hundreds of thousands crowded the mall to be a part of history and millions more watched on TV.  The Obama family with playful wide smiles and expressed love beamed a shining example of the family ideal, and the President and the First Lady showed what a partnership based on love and mutual respect looks like.

Optimism is alive and well in America - and here too, in my heart. All things are possible - with the will of the people. When the people decide that discrimination and violence has to end -- it will. When the people decide that there is no room for poverty in a country of excess - it will end. Change will start with the people deciding what kind of society they want to build, and then demanding it. Love has to grow bigger than the hatred and fear. And so until that day comes, today was a pleasant pause of optimism.

"Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that."  - Martin Luther King Jr.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Right Stuff

I kicked the habit! I inhaled enough sugar, chocolate and pastries over the Christmas holidays to leave me sweet enough for a lifetime - or so it felt. After my belly fat and I had a meeting of the minds, I decided to try something a little more drastic and ditched refined sugar and processed foods. I threw in wheat for good measure after having some discomfort when, after not having bread for a week, a few pieces of rye bread bloated my belly to what looked like a six month pregnancy. I made like a squirrel and filled my fridge with a cornucopia of fresh vegetables, fruits, Greek yogurt,  nuts, eggs and of course lean meat. Each day I eat lots of delicious food to keep my blood sugar stable and try to make every calorie count (although I am not counting calories).

It hasn't been hard to resist temptation and I haven't even had my usual cravings. I feel satisfied and simply have no interest in the sweet stuff. Now I can't say I won't eat a piece of cherry pie ever again - that would just be wrong - but that will be reserved as a special treat. But for now I have returned to my upbringing in which dessert was fruit and a treat was a cup of raisins or dates. And that is plenty sweet for me!

Finally - the best part is when I put my pants on I don't have to negotiate with my buttons and zipper. I think I may have even closed a chapter on one of my rolls. My lunchtime exercising at the YWCA is making happy with my waistline - which makes me happy.

As the craggy, wise old doctor explained to me last week, "as we get older, stuff starts happening". That guy is smart! But I am going to do my best to make sure that the "stuff" is all good - the right stuff!

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Give a Little Breakfast to Kids

I just spend a full day among a diverse collection of professionals, activists and representatives from various sectors - education, healthcare, government, NGOs, sport, social services - who share a common goal of ensuring and improving the health and safety of kids in Canada. Statistics were flashed up on the screen; educators shared their concerns and challenges; doctors gave accounts of the "outcomes" of poor health and injuries they see come through the hospital; and governmental reps cited policies and programs. It reminded me of my junk drawer -- jammed packed with useful tools and instruments but with so much stuff and disorganization, it's hard to all what is available. However it was inspiring to be in the company of a roomful of passionate changemakers, all with a deep commitment to the well-being of children and youth.

It got me thinking about my weekly "give a little" commitment. I try to give to organizations and initiatives that promote sustainable solutions. But every once in a while, there is an immediate problem that needs an immediate fix. This week I donated to the Children't Breakfast Club in the Greater Toronto Area to help give kids a  good breakfast to start their day. Let's face it, kids who aren't distracted by a growling tummy can have a better chance to learn, be social and.participate in activities.

Have ideas to help me in my weekly quest? Please share!

Read about my weekly Give a Little challenge and other posts. I have to give ongoing props to Wendy Smith for her inspiring book, Give a Little. Consider giving it a read.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

A Reminder...

I've had a nasty pain in my head that has been kicking my @ss since Friday. It's a persistent devil and despite taking Motrin, Gravol, Alleve - it's clinging to me like my undersized tee shirt. I can't help feeling that I have wasted two glorious, spring-like days with my head buried in a pillow.

So as not to have the weekend be in vain, my take away is a reminder that health is the all important foundation without which, life is not able to be fully enjoyed. I am fortunate in that generally I am in good health and I don't experience too many sick days, so good health is mine to appreciate. And I do.

Tomorrow is all things "medical" with lots of appointments to check my mileage and make sure everything is in good working order. And as I stand clinging to a machine with my boobs in a vice, I will remember to repeat the mantra, "I am so lucky to have my health".

Hope your weekend was a good one.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Give a Little Loan and Donation

Back on track, starting a new year aspiring to give a little every week. I've learned that

  • something is better than nothing; 
  • lots of "little" add up to "big"; and 
  • I can always spare a dime. 
I blog about it to raise awareness of the "give a little" movement and to hopefully inspire others to dig  down deep into the couch to rustle up some change to donate a little too.

I kicked off 2013 by funding a new Kiva loan, micro loans for people who may not otherwise have access to credit - one of my favourite initiatives. I am trying to get more balance in my loans. I used to only sponsor women simply because women are more likely to be denied credit. But then I realized that there are also many men who are single parents, or are trying to support families in dire circumstances. My Kiva loans are now distributed to 30% male / 70% female. I also expanded geographically, now extending loans to people in 14 different countries.

This week I chose to support actress Kristen Bell's Crowdrise fundraiser for the Somaly Mam Foundation to help end human trafficking. Somaly herself is a survivor of sexual slavery and has dedicated her life to saving victims, building shelters and programs for healing, and empowering survivors to become agents of change. Each night when I climb into my big, warm, comfy covers I count my blessings knowing that at the exact same moment, there are girls and women around the world enduring horrific violence. Somaly Mam reminds me that I too can play a part, albeit small, in helping her save these precious souls.

Have ideas to help me in my weekly quest? Do share, please!

Read about my weekly Give a Little challenge and other posts. I have to give ongoing props to Wendy Smith for her inspiring book, Give a Little. Consider giving it a read.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Nearly Normal

The ornaments are packed up, the tree is down, and Christmas has been deconstructed and stored. It's a little late this year; I can never find any joy in stripping the tree and therefore it was easy to avoid. I just couldn't get motivated.

Polar Bear (Pops) and his wife are heading back to sunny, warmer temps; normal is creeping back into our lives and it's business as usual.

Today I joined the YWCA so I could get back to working out during my lunch hour. My old gym closed months ago and long walks had to suffice for exercise. But now with the cold and snow of winter, I have't been getting much movement in my day - and lifting my coffee mug to my lips doesn't count.

I have lots to look forward to in the upcoming weeks... a mammogram, bone density test, bloodwork, and colonoscopy consult. Yup -- life in the middle age lane is a thrill a minute. The good news is that all my medical madness is in the name of prevention and maintenance; I am very healthy (just don't ask my bathroom scale), and getting healthier.

Seriously, I live a charmed life ... my furry friend bossy schnauzer just poked me with his paw and reminded me that it is past his my bedtime ...

Christmas may be packed up, but the freshly baked memories remain.

Sunday, January 6, 2013


Kidlet says my blog is boring now that I don't write about her (she is living at university). Maybe she's right... she was an endless source of material.

I don't think I had quite caught on that she's moved out, and will probably never live here again.

For the longest time I was still buying the foods she used to like and shopping in bulk, as I'd done for years when I had a houseful. I liked to keep the door to her bedroom open (especially after I cleaned it) as a reminder of her charming personality and Fritz liked to cuddle on her bed. Actually I think he prefers and misses her old smelly hockey equipment. That - I do not miss.

And now the house is a little lot quieter and the peanut butter lasts longer. A bag of milk sits in the fridge for a week and I've taken to freezing the bread, using a few slices at a time. I can get the week's laundry done in 2 rather than 4 loads and the front hallway is devoid of her mammoth stinky hockey bag, knapsack, and random collection of shoes, boots, coats and clutter. And yet I miss her; and the days of when all of the bedrooms were occupied by my gaggle of girls.

But there is much to look forward to as time marches on - or so I keep telling myself. The trick is to embrace the now and future possibilities while cherishing that which has already been. And somewhere in there, seek out the interesting to blog about!

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Family Lottery

Where we are born -- the country and circumstances - is not unlike a lottery. And I was fortunate to come out on the winning end. I live in what I believe to be one of the safest, most beautiful, and socially conscious countries there is. It is also so with the family that I was born into .... I was raised in a noisy, often chaotic - but always exciting- household brimming with hospitality and unconditional love.

If my mother was our emotional centre, our father was our guiding light. He cut an imposing figure, but we never saw a violent bone in his body. He was demanding at times, expecting us to meet the highest of standards in our education and anything else we did. And somehow, knowing that he believed that we could "do it", made us believe it too. We watched him try everything -- sports, politics, leadership, hobbies - and excel at everything he tried. Big shoes to fill and steps to follow in. 

He prepared us well though... and even though he was borderline overprotective in some ways (our dating habits), in others he would simply give us the directives, warn us of the outcomes that would result in us not following them ("if you don't keep the snow machine exactly in tracks I make, you could fall into open water, and risk your life"), and then trust us to follow them. That was how he instilled confidence and caution into each one of us. He burdened us with responsibilities that at times, tested our limits, but then, voila - we handled them!

So today on his birthday, I will do what I always do -- say thank you Dad for being the very best; and to be grateful for winning the family lottery. I have wealth beyond belief.

Friday, January 4, 2013

The Miserables

We dined on movie theatre pizza washed down with a side of popcorn and coke. Don't think we covered any known food groups in the process, but it was a necessary evil if we wanted to catch an early flick after work, and before my bedtime. 

Hubby agreed to see Les Miserables with me -- or as he calls it -- "The Miserables". He thinks the French pronunciation sounds pretentious...  It was a big deal to get him out to this movie (even though it was pay back for The Hobbit) as he despises musicals, when, as he puts it, actors suddenly burst into song "for no apparent reason". He persevered and even I couldn't contain my giggles at one point when they "suddenly burst into song for no apparent reason". I swear I saw him tapping his foot or perhaps it was just an uncomfortable twitch.

The movie was as triumphant as the stage production - yielding tears, gasps, the occasional laugh via the comedic relief, and more tears. The tale is a tragedy of mammoth proportion; a story of love, forgiveness, and devotion. The music was simply wonderful - large and inspiring and the acting was superb. Hugh Jackman carried the film and Anne Hathaway's performance was epic. Shall I go on? Can you tell I enjoyed the film -- enough to bellow out the main theme song in the theatre parking lot (mainly to irk hubby).

Sitting now by the fire with my crazy schnauzer curled up at my feet, I'd say that it's been the perfect close to the week. And I am feeling anything but miserable.

"Take my love. For love is everlasting. And remember. The truth that once was spoken. To love another person. Is to see the face of God."   lyrics from Les Miserable finale

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Starting Again

I love new beginnings, clean slates, blank pages. And January 1st is just that for me. There seems to be a backlash against New Year's resolutions, but for me, changes have to start on the first of the month, a Monday, or on a starting line. It just works better that way for me.

So in between episodes of Bunheads (the marathon), cups of tea, loads of laundry and phone calls with family, I had time to reflect on the upcoming year and how I want to spend the precious time of life. I asked myself what I want to achieve; what I want to contribute; how I can strengthen my relationships; and how I can move closer to becoming the best possible version of myself. Many questions ,,, and the answers form the basis of my resolutions.

I resolve to appreciate and honour the life I have been granted. In addition I will make a conscious effort to floss more religiously, get my first colonoscopy, seek out the mismatched socks, and eat more vegetables EVERY day.

This time next year I will be able to say: I am a loving, caring wife, mother, daughter, sister and friend; the main colour of the food I eat is green; I donate weekly; I volunteer; I tell people how much they mean to me; I learn something new each and every day; I pay it forward and give more than I take; I love my daily walks.

Life is a series of new beginnings. When we start, try, pursue and stall - we start over again or just keep going forward. The trick is to never stop trying; to be persistent and not dwell on the stall. So that's the plan and I'm sticking with it. I am... not "I will".

I am grateful and contented... and such is my life!