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Category: Work Life Balance

Gardening

Gardening

Gardening – is it good for you?

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
  • Producing delicious, nutritious food
  • Encouraging creativity
  • Allowing for Puttering

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.

Swallowtail butterfly
Ruby-throated hummingbird

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.

Gardening tools

To get started there are a few tools you may need such as:

  • Spade
  • Rake
  • Trowel
  • Gardening gloves
  • Soil
  • Fertilizer
  • Watering can or hose
  • Twine
  • Broom
  • Wheelbarrow
  • Kneeling pad
  • Sunhat and sunscreen
  • Clippers
  • Weeder
  • Shears

Consider also:

  • Bird feeder
  • Bird bath
  • Ornamental objects
  • Lighting
  • Pathways
  • Outside seating

 

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.

Vertical container garden

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 own backyard

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!

Read also about Bird Watching and Go Outside!

Healthy Lifestyle

Healthy Lifestyle

Choose to be healthy

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.

Which would you choose?

Read more about Lifestyle Choices.

Bird Watching

Bird Watching

Bird Watching

Blue Jay

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.

White-Breasted Nuthatch

To begin bird watching, you need a few things:

  1. Binoculars
    • 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).
  2. Camera
    • 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.
  3. Bird Book
    • 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.
  4. Bird Feeder
    • 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.

Osprey
Osprey taking flight

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:

  • Cardinal
  • Blue Jay
  • American Goldfinch
  • House Finch
  • American Song Sparrow
  • Ruby-throated Hummingbird
  • Great Blue Heron
  • Green Evening Heron
  • Red-winged Blackbird
  • Downy Woodpecker
  • Pileated Woodpecker
  • Common Flicker
  • Mallard Duck
  • Canada Goose
  • Rose Breasted Grosbeak
  • Common Loon
  • Common Grackle
  • Bohemian Waxwing
  • American Robin
  • White-breasted Nuthatch
  • Black-capped Chickadee
  • Crow
  • Tree Swallow
  • Seagull
  • Phoebe Bird
  • Belted Kingfisher
  • Slate-coloured Junco
  • Osprey
  • Turkey Vulture
  • Ruffed Grouse
  • 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.

What birds have you seen?

Read also Go Outside!

Positive Thinking

Positive Thinking

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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!
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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!
  6. Help someone else. Take the focus away from yourself and do something nice for another person.
  7. 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.
  8. Write down 3 things you are grateful for each day. Keep a gratitude journal. Being grateful makes you appreciate what you already have.
  9. Read positive quotes to feel inspired. Have fun! Always make time for laughter.
  10. 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?

Please leave me your comments below…

Read also Ten Tips to Manage StressMindfulness, and Work Life Balance

Boating

Boating

Boating

Do you ever had those days when you’re feeling stressed and just want to get away from it all? A change of scene and a change of pace can do wonders. One activity I love for escaping is boating.

Cruising on Rideau Canal

In my youth, my parents built a cottage on a small lake. The experience I had and the memories that were created at the summer cottage were priceless. My family had a canoe and small aluminum rowboat. We never needed to go far on the water and the cottage was well equipped with the basics. It was a time to be unplugged from school and work. My siblings and I would spend the summers there until we were old enough to work a summer job. There were endless hours swimming, fishing, puttering and exploring. In the evenings, there were plenty of card games, reading in the bunks and even playing hide-and-seek in the dark with other kids on the lake.

My husband has similar memories and we wanted to share like experiences with our own children. We never got our own cottage but instead we invested in a boat. We did quite a lot of research and eventually got our first boat, which was a Princecraft deck boat. Our girls were young at the time, but old enough to help. We trailered it to nearby rivers and lakes and explored everywhere we could. We anchored and fished and swam. We beached it on nearby beaches and picnicked, spending the day out in the sun. Our girls had fun being pulled around on the tube. We even took it on trips and camped on the shore along the way.

Our first boat: a Princecraft deck boat

Boating was a new way to escape! It is a hobby that forced us to slow down and not rush. Boating has its own pace and you simply can’t rush it. This is one reason we really love it now. It forces you to slow down and not get exited about delays. When you’re out on the water, you can feel your heart rate start to slow. The feeling of being out on the water is relaxing, calming but at times can even be exhilarating! The wind and sun feel energy giving and there’s nothing like having a picnic lunch in the boat after a delightful swim to cool off on a hot summer’s day.

An upgrade: 26 foot Regal cruiser

Our next boat was an upgrade. We soon learned that pitching a tent and blowing up 4 air mattresses each evening was tiring! So we sold the Princecraft and purchased a 26-foot Regal cruiser, which we moored at a marina. It slept 4 relatively comfortably and had a mini-bathroom (or head) and kitchenette. We outfitted it with solar power and anchored out many evenings. There is nothing quite like seeing the sunset and sunrise from out on the water…. So peaceful!

Back to a trailerable Princecraft fishing/ski boat

Now that our adult children have moved out, we have downgraded again to a trailerable boat – another Princecraft but this time a fishing/ski boat with a windshield. It suits our needs right now while we are only using it on weekends in the summer. For the winter months it is covered and stored.

Our dream and plans include one day purchasing a 40-foot trawler to live on for a year and travel the Great Loop. This will be a true test of our love of boating. I will be interested to compare living on a boat for a 2-week holiday versus living on it for a whole year!

Boating is a fun activity with the family

Challenges with boating:

  • Finding the right boat – consider how and when you will use it, how and where you will store it, do your research, go to boat shows, get as much info as you can, buy used
  • Ask lots of people – everyone has advice – most boaters love to tell you all about their boat and their experiences
  • Learning how to maintain a boat – changing oil, filters, etc. YouTube is a great resource
  • Learning how to launch a boat and how to trailer – if you are new to this, then practise backing up and learn how to turn the wheel to be able to back a boat down a ramp – it comes with practise
  • It can feel stressful to get your boat launched with other boaters waiting to use the ramp – remember everyone is in the same boat (so to speak) so don’t panic! Most boaters help each other – it’s a good community
  • Some boaters like to drink – this is one part I can do without – drinking and driving any vehicle is a big No-No in my books
  • Always wear lifejackets even if you know how to swim
  • Allow extra time – you can’t be in a rush!

 

Best part of boating:

  • Enjoyment of being out on the water
  • Getting close to nature
  • Fun time with family and friends – swimming, fishing, tubing, skiing exploring
  • Relaxing activities – reading, picnicking, fishing, sleeping
  • Great stress reliever, great weekend activity/hobby, great retirement activity

 

Are you thinking about starting boating?

What are your experiences out on the water?

Please let me know. Leave your comments below…

 

Read about other retirement activities.

Read about how to reduce stress.

How to be Healthier

How to be Healthier

15 Ways to be Healthier

  1. Replace sweets with fruit
  2. Shop on a full stomach
  3. Cook your own meals
  4. Eat lots of veggies & salads
  5. Drink plenty of water
  6. Wash your hands regularly
  7. Meditate 10 minutes each day
  8. Read a book
  9. Unplug from your phone
  10. Keep the same bedtime every day
  11. Get outside and get moving
  12. Wear sunscreen & sunglasses
  13. Take the stairs
  14. Nourish close relationships
  15. Be grateful every day

How do you keep healthy?

Share your thoughts in the comment section below…

 

Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff

Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff

Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff

Those that know me would say I worry about little things too much. What does that say about me? Are you one of those people?

When I’m at work, doing my job well requires not only seeing the big picture but also attention to detail. I think I carry that over to my personal life too closely! I’m reminded of this when I re-read a book “Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff and It’s All Small Stuff” by Richard Carlson. He first published this book in 1961. It has been reprinted numerous times and became a #1 New York Times bestseller. It isn’t rocket science but still very important for reminding us of “the big picture” and in the author’s words giving us “simple ways to keep the little things from taking over your life”. If it applied back in 1961, it still applies today – if not more so. I find that technology has demanded that we work harder and at a faster pace. We sometimes forget to quiet the mind and stop and smell the roses…

Here are a few quotes from his book that resonate with me:

  1. Make peace with imperfection
  2. Don’t interrupt others or finish their sentences
  3. Remind yourself that when you die, your in-basket won’t be empty
  4. Learn to live in the present moment
  5. Do one thing at a time
  6. Practice random acts of kindness
  7. Get comfortable not knowing
  8. Realize the power of your own thoughts
  9. Keep asking yourself “What’s really important?”
  10. Look for the extraordinary in the ordinary

I am far from perfect, but I will try to be less of a perfectionist! This year I’m learning to meditate and practise mindfulness. Also for me, exercising is an important way to invest in my health and for those few precious moments, clear my head and simply concentrate on just me.

How to you deal with all the small stuff?

Please leave your comments below. I’d love to hear from you!

Volunteer

Volunteer

Be A Volunteer

Volunteering is about giving your time to a good cause. Volunteers do important work and are not compensated with money but the rewards of service go far beyond monetary payment. Individuals not only get personal satisfaction, but also a deeper understanding of community as well as a network of contacts that can become useful when looking for a job. It gives you the chance to use your talents and develop new skills and make a difference in someone’s life. Volunteering can be done at any stage of life from the teenage years right through to senior years.

Steps to becoming a volunteer:

  1. Consider why you want to be a volunteer
  2. Consider your values, skills and interests
  3. Choose an organization that is meaningful to you.
  4. Look for an organization or activity in your community.
  5. Start small.

 

Here are some sectors with volunteer opportunities:

  1. Social & Legal Services – residential care, pro bono legal, housing (ex. toy drives, administrative help, senior centres, community projects)
  2. Civic & Environmental Advocacy – human rights environmental & wildlife conservation (ex. trail or river clean-up, administrative support)
  3. Arts & Culture – performing arts, non-profit radio/TV, museums, orchestras (ex. volunteer behind the scenes at theatres, weed gardens, clerical support, teach children, elderly or disabled)
  4. Education – schools (pre-school, elementary, high-school, college), libraries, research (ex. tutoring, after-school programs, participate in educational research, school council)
  5. Health Services – hospitals, clinics, other health care facilities (ex. clerical skills, visit patients, drive patients to appointments)
  6. International Relations & Development – international relief, human rights, peace & security (ex. administrative roles, prepare care packages for international disaster aid, organize campaigns)

 

The best way to start volunteering is to start small. Consider what you have to offer and what the needs are in your local community. Ask around and talk to as many people as you can. Don’t commit in a big way right away – just test the waters and see how it goes. Try more than one type of volunteering. Then once you are comfortable and feel good about the work, consider a regular schedule of volunteering. It feels good to give back to the community!

How do you volunteer?

Please leave your comments below…

Read about Retirement Activities.

 

 

 

Puttering

Puttering

The Art of Puttering About

The other day, I set about to start some baking in the kitchen, when I got sucked into “the puttering zone”. I was looking for a rarely used tool in the back of a cupboard, and before I knew it, I’d sorted and cleaned the cupboard and an hour had gone by. You’ve had this experience right? When you start out doing one thing and get sucked into a zone of puttering?! For me it happens working in the garden or as I’m doing chores around the house. One little thing leads to another, and without much thought, I seem to have managed to accomplish quite a bit.

Puttering implies, wasting time. However, did you know puttering could be good for you? Consider the definition:

Verb “putter”

  1. to busy or occupy oneself in a leisurely, casual, or ineffective manner: to putter in the garden.
  2. to move or go in a specified manner with ineffective action or little energy or purpose: to putter about the house on a rainy day.
  3. to move or go slowly or aimlessly; loiter.

Verb phrase “Putter away”

  1. To spend or fill, in a random, inconsequential or unproductive way; fritter away; waste

In our busy lives, when every moment needs to be filled with purpose or meaning, the act of puttering is perceived as negative. Even the definition uses words like “ineffective”, “aimlessly”, “loiter” and “waste”. The pleasure in puttering is in the act itself, not necessarily the outcome – although that can be rewarding too! Some studies have shown that puttering is good for the brain and the body.

One study by a team from Rush University Medical Center found that “activities like cooking, washing the dishes, playing cards” may help reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s.

Another study from Stockholm tracked 60-year-old men and women over 12 years and found that people who had an active daily life that included “non-exercise” like “gardening, car maintenance, berry picking or DIY projects” had a 30% lower risk of heart attack or stroke compared to people who were sedentary.

The act of puttering is beneficial because it allows the brain to be free, without schedules or deadlines. The absent-minded aspect opens the mind to creativity, to be free to think. Instead of sitting in a chair all day, puttering about also challenges our balance and coordination. Moving about is good for us; it’s what our bodies are programmed to do.

Puttering is the antithesis to the “to-do list”. Everyone that knows me will tell you that I LOVE LISTS! There’s good reason to keep lists – but that’s another topic! So when I putter it’s spontaneous and creative. It allows my mind to be free and wander. Puttering is like a mini-vacation. I love this quote:

“Puttering is a time to be alone, to dream, to get in touch with yourself… To putter is to discover.” ~ Alexandra Stoddard

When’s the last time you found yourself puttering?

Do you find it relaxing? Leave your comments below…

Read also Retirement Activities and Work Life Balance.

 

Live Life for Yourself

Live Life for Yourself

Live Life for Yourself

Ten tips to start living for you, not someone else:

  1. Learn to say no. If you have too much on your plate, it’s time to evaluate and perhaps simplify your burden. You will not be judged by saying NO to something – you may be respected more because you know your limits.
  2. Speak your mind. Express yourself, even if others may judge you.
  3. Respect your own feelings. While still be respectful of those around you, make yourself a priority and listen to your inner voice.
  4. Accept your weaknesses. Celebrate your strengths.
  5. Let go of toxic or unsupportive relationships.
  6. Spend time with family and those who love and support you. Stay in touch with good friends.
  7. Contribute as a quiet leader. Even if you aren’t outspoken, be strong in your decisions and actions. Take pride in your choices.
  8. Pursue a hobby or job you are passionate about, even if others think it’s weird.
  9. Don’t just talk about your dreams. Start to live them!
  10. Have no regrets – If this was your last day, what would you do?

Dance like there’s nobody watching!

What will you do for yourself today? Let me know in the comments below…

Read about Work Life Balance.