Today I am thankful and grateful for the life I have been given. When I hear people complain about the weather or something trivial like how their alarm woke them up in the morning, it makes me realize that I really have nothing to complain about. In fact, it is the complete opposite: I am lucky to be alive, to live freely and be healthy!
I am thankful to wake up every day.
I am thankful for my health and the ability to move.
I am thankful to have a roof over my head with all the creature comforts I could ever need.
I am grateful to have been born in a free country.
I am thankful for my education and humbled to keep learning.
I am thankful to spend time in nature and fill my lungs with fresh air and feel the warm sun on my face.
I am grateful to be able to travel and see the world.
I am grateful to have a good job with nice co-workers.
I am mostly grateful for my family and friends, with whom I can share this amazing experience of life.
We each have good days and occasional bad days. The world can be fraught with pain, suffering, struggles, disappointments, hardships, turmoil and regrets. Today and every day, I choose to be grateful and enjoy every waking minute. The morning alarm is a reminder of how lucky we are. Live life to its fullest potential and be thankful for all the little things.
Do you like to putter in the garden? I tend to start on one task and then see other things that need to be done so end up spending more time in the garden than I first intended. Gardening can really draw you in and before you know it, a couple of hours have gone by!
Gardening is an excellent way to get some fresh air in addition to increasing physical activity with exercise. Gardening involves digging, pulling weeds, planting, spreading compost, trimming bushes and trees, raking, mowing and even moving rocks. It includes movements like bending, lifting, reaching, pushing and is a great way to enjoy staying fit without doing an organized sport. The benefits of gardening can increase muscle and bone strength, can lower blood pressure and even be a stress reliever. It is fun and creative and has many positive health benefits.
Some benefits of gardening include:
Encouraging relaxation & stress release
Improving physical fitness
Strengthening muscles and joints
Increasing hand dexterity
Preventing falls by improving balance
Improving mental well-being
Connecting with nature
Incorporating family fun and/or community involvement
If you are limited for space, you can start with a simple container garden on your balcony or within your kitchen window. Otherwise you can work with anything from a simple container on your deck to a small garden patch or even a large patch in your backyard. To be involved within your community, investigate shared gardens within your neighbourhood.
Gardens can attract wildlife like butterflies, bees and birds, which help fertilize colourful flowers and they become an integral part of the well being of your garden. It becomes an interactive place and an opportunity to learn about various species.
To get started there are a few tools you may need such as:
Watering can or hose
Sunhat and sunscreen
Starting out as a novice can seem daunting but also exciting! There can be so much to learn but the best way is to get your hands dirty and just start. With practice we become more experienced and we can learn by reading and simply with trial and error. When I first created a garden at my first home, I didn’t have much money but started small. We grew veggies from seed and purchased what we could afford. Sometimes you can get cuttings from neighbours, friends or a neighbourhood garage sale. Then when you become more experienced you can experiment with more unusual or exotic plants. You can also share you experience with other novice gardeners and even donate or sell clippings of your own. It really can become a great neighbourhood community builder.
In addition to getting your hands dirty by manipulating plants, it also gets you thinking creatively and gets the blood pumping. By combining creative mental thinking with physical movements, it helps maintain physical stamina and keep the mind active at the same time. Doing this along with a family member or neighbour requires teamwork and is a great overall activity to support your health in so many ways. I really love this activity and there is always so much to do that it is easy to get carried away once I start! This is a great way to get “lost puttering”. This spontaneous way of working from one task to another allows the mind to rest from a routine schedule and keeps our minds active while still being imaginative. The physical work involved with gardening can be limited to our own activity level. It is rewarding to produce beautiful flowering plants as well as nutritious, organic food we can ultimately consume.
Gardening has so many benefits and is an excellent activity at any age. It is something that can be enjoyed in almost any climate (perhaps only in summer months in certain areas) but also indoors.
My garden includes mostly perennials (plants that grow back each year), trees and shrubs along with a few herbs. I have a container with some tomato plants and I hope to spend even more time planting, growing and nurturing new plants in my retirement. I also have a few pots of herbs indoors for cooking.
What do you have in your garden?
Please leave your comments below – I’d love to hear from you!
Every day we make decisions that affect our lifestyle. By making good choices, we can increase our life expectancy and quality of life. It can make the difference between being overweight, out of breath and immobile to thinner, vibrant and active. The first possibility may mean we can’t do much but stay home. The second may mean we can see the world and do things we love with the people we love. Either way, it is determined, not only by our genes, but also by all the little choices we make every single day. One bad choice may not make a big difference in the big scheme of things, but many small bad choices could. It’s worth it to all of us to make good choices. If we keep this mindset then we will automatically make better choices.
Bird watching is an excellent activity at any time in life but especially during retirement. You can do it alone or in a group. It’s a great way to get outdoors, close to nature in a new environment or simply in your own backyard. Getting close to nature has been shown to be good for your health. It’s calming and an activity that can’t be rushed. Bird watching (or birding) helps us appreciate Mother Earth and reminds us to be kind to our environment. It’s really fun to try to find a new species to add to your list and try to figure out what you saw.
To begin bird watching, you need a few things:
Borrow some first to see what you like. It’s really worth spending a bit more for better viewing. Also you have to carry them around so make sure they aren’t too heavy! I love our Nikon 8×42 waterproof binoculars (which by the way are great for boating too).
To start out you don’t need a camera, but if you intend to document what you’ve seen, then you’ll need a zoom lens. But even a blurry picture can help you identify a bird.
Find a good bird book for your area that has good images and descriptions of behaviour, calls and habitation and migration information. You can also search on the web for information.
A quality bird feeder that keeps squirrels off will help attract birds to your own backyard. Clean it every once in a while to prevent birds spreading disease. Keep it filled so birds learn to come back. Also consider putting out suet, which attracts woodpeckers. A great option for your regular feeder is the Squirrel Buster available from Lee Valley Tools.
Once you’re set-up, start small and work on identifying the birds in your own backyard. Then venture out for walks around your neighbourhood. Perhaps there’s a pond nearby, so you can find other types of birds. Some people join groups with other birders and even go on trips to find migrating birds.
I started making a list of some of the birds I see frequently. I surprised myself because the list is by no means complete but it is actually quite long. I know I’ve missed many birds but it’s really amazing the variety on this initial list! In Ontario, Canada there are lots of beautiful birds including:
American Song Sparrow
Great Blue Heron
Green Evening Heron
Rose Breasted Grosbeak
Owls – many types
And the list goes on! Wow! My husband and I love spotting different birds while we are out for our walks either first thing in the morning or later in the evening.
Chew your food! No matter how hungry you are or how rushed your schedule, take the time to chew your food properly. Swallowing smaller pieces of food helps with digestion, making you feel more full and prevent overeating. Take the time to enjoy and taste the food!
Drink plenty of water and eliminate sugary drinks and alcohol. Our bodies need water and it’s important to stay hydrated.
Eat fibre. Most people don’t get the recommended daily intake. Fibre lowers cholesterol and blood sugar. It also massages the digestive tract and feeds the probiotics. Women should aim for 21 to 28g of fibre and men should aim for 30 to 38g of fibre. The best way to increase fibre is to increase consumption of whole foods like vegetables, fruit, oatmeal, quinoa, beans and lentils.
Support probiotics. The natural digestive “bugs” in the gut help break down food and stimulate a strong immune system. They help toxins from being absorbed into the body and create essential nutrients. Eating fermented foods, which are full of good bacteria, is important like yogurt (non-dairy is my preference) and sauerkraut. Some newer research also suggests prebiotics are also important. The best foods to support prebiotics are fresh fruits and vegetables, especially dark green leafy vegetables.
Exercise regularly. But choose your exercise times wisely. Digestion requires a large amount of blood flow and exercising right after a big meal can cause indigestion, heartburn and bloating. A light walk after a meal is ok because it stimulates the rhythmic digestive muscles. Save the big workouts for before the meal or 2 hours after a meal.
Listen to your body. If you have digestion problems, consider an elimination diet to determine foods that may cause you problems.
Victoria is the capital city of Canada’s province British Columbia. It is located on the southern most tip of Vancouver Island and is the most southern part of Western Canada. It is about 100km from British Columbia’s largest city, Vancouver, on the mainland. It is accessible by air or by boat. Greater Victoria has a population of about 365,000.
Named after Queen Victoria of the United Kingdom, it is one of the oldest cities of the Pacific Northwest, settled by the British in 1843. The city has maintained many of its original buildings including the impressive Legislature buildings and the Empress Hotel. It is also known as the Garden City with its beautiful flower gardens throughout. Many tourists flock to the popular Butchart Gardens.
The harbour is a busy place and is easily walkable. Popular for both boaters and retirees, it has the most temperature year-round climate within Canada with warm dry summers and mild, wet winters with little to no snow. Due to the mild climate, it is home to interesting birds, plants and trees. The economy is primarily technology, tourism, education and BC’s provincial government. The city is easily accessible by foot, bicycle, bus or car. Victoria’s waterfront harbour is a busy place with water taxis, private floatplanes, tour boats and private boats. If you’re thinking of visiting this lovely place, you will be sure to be impressed! The best time of year to visit to avoid larger crowds would be spring (March, April, May) or fall (September, October).
The biggest hurdle to reducing sugar is initially taste. Store bought processed foods all have an excessive amount of sugar (and salt) so our taste buds are used to more sweet flavours. Sugar is hidden in foods you wouldn’t think contain too much added sugar like crackers, condiments, peanut butter to name a few! When we eat this way our blood sugar levels are unstable and puts us on track for conditions like diabetes.
The way we start our day is especially important for setting the tone. I find if I eat something particularly sweet for breakfast, I am constantly craving that sweetness all day. Do you find that too? To help reduce sugar, start breakfast with unprocessed foods like fruit, fruit smoothies, whole grain bread, granola or oatmeal.
Add natural ingredients for sweeteners, like maple syrup and honey. Even fruit itself is sweet (bananas, pineapple, strawberries). Coconut has a natural sweetness, when added to trail mix or granola.
Try not to stock processed foods and sweets in your house. They are difficult to resist and if we keep these foods for treats, then an indulgence once in a while is ok compared to every day. Consider changing your definition of treat from store-bought chocolate chip cookies to a healthier homemade version. Keep them in the freezer so you have to defrost it before eating. If the temptation passes, keep it for another time.
Try roasting vegetables and eating as is or top them on a salad. The simple process of roasting vegetables brings out more flavour and sweetness. They start to caramelize and taste so delicious! Also make your own salad dressings to reduce sugar and oil content.
Be careful with beverages. Fruit juices and pop all contain a lot of sugar and most of us don’t take those extra calories into account. Instead drink flavoured water or herbal teas.
Lastly balance the sweetness with fibre. Fibre slows the absorption of sugar into your bloodstream giving your liver more time to deal with the calories. You can do this by adding nuts and seeds (like ground flax) and focus on sweets that involve fresh fruit that has its own fibre.
Once you more aware of added sugar in foods, your taste buds will change and you will start to appreciate foods in a more natural state, as they were meant to be eaten. Flavour can be added without the extra sugar.
Not only are houseplants aesthetically pleasing, they offer emotional, spiritual and physical benefits. Caring for them has shown to improve happiness levels, productivity and creativity and decrease stress. As proven by NASA, greenery filters indoor air toxins and converts carbon dioxide to oxygen. Read NASA’s Guide to Air-filtering houseplants and a second NASA chart here.
Including them in your home décor can add some zen to your space. It adds life and makes a room come alive. It also has a calming impact by bringing us closer to nature. When you’re choosing a new plant be picky to find the right one for your lifestyle. Consider the time you have to care for it. Also take into account the average temperature, humidity and light conditions in your space to make sure the plant will thrive in the right conditions
Here are some plants that are relatively easy to care for:
Which plants do you have in your home?
Feel free to leave your comments below. I’d love to hear from you…
How to think positively – 10 steps to encourage positive thoughts
Is your glass half empty or half full? Are you an optimist or a pessimist? Your attitude and the way you think may actually affect your health and well-being.
Negative thoughts can narrow your focus and can shut your mind off to opportunities or new ideas. If you listen with a more agreeable mind, you are more naturally open to what someone is saying. Our brains don’t process negative words very well. This is evident in young children. For example, when we say, “Don’t touch that” they automatically skip the negative word and hear “touch that”.
Positive thinking can actually make you feel happier and improve your outlook on the future. It also makes you physically and psychologically healthier. You are less stressed, have greater resistance to distress, have an increased life span and are more pleasant to be around. It starts with positive self-talk and each small step leads to more positive thoughts and actions. If you want to improve your thought process to become more positive, consider these 10 steps:
Allow quiet time with yourself. Find a peaceful place to meditate and practice deep breathing. This allows you to get into a relaxed state and helps you think more clearly.
Smile! Even if you fake it as first, it does help change your mood and relieve stress. Remember it takes fewer muscles to smile than it does to frown!
We are influenced by the people around us. Avoid people who sap your energy and motivation. Surround yourself with positive people who can give constructive and loving feedback. Talking to someone can help put things into perspective.
When you face a problem, think of it as a challenge and then a solution will naturally follow. Give yourself credit and be proud of even the smallest achievement.
Don’t play the victim and make excuses. If you make a mistake, remember that nobody is perfect. We all make mistakes but that is how we learn. Then move forward. Take charge and don’t be afraid of change. Take one step at a time. Believe in yourself!
Help someone else. Take the focus away from yourself and do something nice for another person.
Explore your creative side. Outlets like art, music, writing and drama allow you to express yourself, to explore your own original thoughts and to think outside the box.
Write down 3 things you are grateful for each day. Keep a gratitude journal. Being grateful makes you appreciate what you already have.
Read positive quotes to feel inspired. Have fun! Always make time for laughter.
Set meaningful goals. Keep visualizing where you want to be. Every small decision you make will keep you in the right direction.
Did this article make you feel happier? What steps do you take to keep positive?