inspired by Nancy’s determination and courage to ‘do the dream’

Nancy enjoying Aussie sunshine: a world away from Canada’s winter!

A mutual friend (thank you, Janice!) introduced me to Nancy Veinot. We immediately recognized kindred spirits for hiking, activity, fun and adventure and our friendship has grown since that day in 2015.

Nancy’s vibrant spirit, energy, and curiosity for LIFE continues to inspire me; in sharing this story I hope you too will be encouraged to follow your dreams – at any age!

Nancy isn’t one to attract attention to herself, but in conversations during the hours we’ve spent hiking, camping, paddling, climbing a mountain, she’s been filling me in on some of her history; like she’s lived “forever” in a small community in rural Nova Scotia, has two fun-loving sisters (true – I’ve met them) and two brothers, and hard-working parents.

All interesting bits to know. But most fascinating to hear are her travel and adventure stories which she’s experienced since a day in January of 2012 – when Nancy slid a retirement notice under her employer’s office door.

Nancy had worked full time for thirty years at a manufacturing company in her community (and was grateful for this work and benefits) – but there were no options or opportunities to change that schedule to do “other exciting things”.

She didn’t need time to contemplate what she was going to do for the rest of her life. Her first adventure was already planned – based on a seed of an idea that started at a dental appointment. She heard about WWOOFing.

Willing Workers On Organic Farms – a worldwide community linking volunteers with organic farmers and growers to promote cultural and educational experiences based on trust and non-monetary exchange. People aged 18-80 can participate in this exchange of culture and volunteer labour for food and accommodation: for between 4-6 hrs/day or 30 hrs of work/week.

In Nancy’s mind, to be one of these Willing Workers was going to be her opportunity for an inexpensive way to travel to do the things she had been dreaming to do someday. New activities, meeting people, foreign cultures. Going WWOOFingwas on a page in the back of my mind” for 12 years!

A country gal is familiar with working with chickens.

She researched potential countries to go to, wrote and submitted bios of her experience, skills and objectives. And kept the plan close to her chest – with the exception of her closest family members and her husband “who really thought (or hoped) that I was just talking through my hat and that this was only a brainstorm” .

Three weeks after that day of submitting the retirement notice Nancy was on a plane to go WWOOFing in Australia. Why there?

The dream to travel Down Under began in Nancy’s elementary school days where teachers “fed my personal curiosity for travel and adventure with songs like Waltzing Matilda and KookaburraSits in an Old Gum Tree”. And knowing the exchange host supplies accommodation and food and a WWOOF-er pays for travel expenses to reach that location, Nancy chose a far-reaching destination where she’d probably not return to – and planned for a three-month stay, not pushing too hard on her husband’s well-wishes to go away and explore! Also mindful of aging parents who tried to be encouraging but couldn’t hide their emotions, Nancy chose a phone and internet-accessible continent for everyone’s peace of mind.

Nancy’s smile and curiosity: welcome, comfortable openings for meeting new friends.

Nancy loved wwoofing: it didn’t disappoint her in its variety and adventure. Here’s her summary of a few experiences:

  • Worked for host near Sydney – labelled jars of honey, did plantings on the property, helped install gyproc, did some painting.  He made a lot of beer.  Of course, I had to help him by sampling.
  • Stayed with host in the Kalamundra Hills near Perth. Gathered eggs from 350 ‘chooks’, collected drops from passion fruit, watered 14 Dorper sheep, deadheaded roses, went to Farm Market and sold eggs, chutneys, jams, passion fruit. And walked her dog.
  • Went across the Nullabor Plain by train – Adelaide to Perth – 42 hrs – wow-o-wow-o-wow 2500 km. The 478K plain is the longest straightest stretch of rail in the world. Two scheduled stops on entire trip: one extra drop off for 18-year old German lad – in the middle of NOWHERE where his driver met him.  He was going to work on a sheep station, over 3-hr drive from the train station across the plains – on a farm with more than 1 million acres and 50,000 sheep.
  • Spent a few days on the Great Ocean Road with a host who took me in because I was a “mature age wwoofer”, we harvested veggies, traded recipes, I helped her butcher a kangaroo. We visited all of her family.
  • At the beach every day with my host (she was an architect) in Turquay – surf capital of AU. Checked on the hooded plover nests for predators, harvested veggies, attended a Harvest Festival and outdoor Opera Concert in Melbourne – a huge picnic setting with people of all ages… we shared meals and bottles of wine.
  • Bit of a scare: almost missed ferry to go to Tasmania – took the wrong tram and went downhill and not uphill! Quickly took taxi to ferry terminal. I had a paid reservation, they were calling my name as I boarded the ferry – last person on.

So I ask, while reading Nancy’s story have you been reminded of a dream that’s been sitting in the back of your mind – or nurturing a seed that’s still in the idea stage?

If you’re hesitating, what is holding you back?

Are you fearful you’re too old or too young, or what others will think, or that there are too many unknowns?

I asked Nancy”…what would you say to a woman – of any age – but particularly in the 55+ stage of life, about moving beyond the perimeter of what’s normal?”

“Know that others have gone before you and succeeded – you are no different.  Confidence and common sense will guide you.  Do it – don’t take your health for granted.  Time is running out. For me, each adventure motivates me to do more while I am able.”

Thank you Nancy: for inspiring us to be curious, determined, patient and courageous in taking steps towards our dreams.

None of us know how long we’ll be able – follow your dreams, my friends!

Nancy, me, Janice – kindred adventure friends!

I would be happy to hear about your dreams and if you’re ready to launch!

Love and gratitude,  

Karen

P.S. Whatever stage of life you’re in – my desire is you will be rejuvenated with healthy food, physical movement, living with purpose and joy. If you feel stuck in moving towards any of these desires – or the dreams that call your name – let’s connect for a complimentary short chat to help make this happen for you. I’m available here or at ketoews@gmail.com.

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saying good-bye, saying hello

In these last days of 2018 – checking off to-do’s, appointments and commitments – we’re close to finishing up another edition of our daytimer, calendar, online app, whatever method we use to help us stay on course.

photo credits, Renee Tougas

As you are starting to log information into your 2019 calendar have you taken time for a look in the rearview mirror?  Or is that yet to come on a slower day during the holidays?

Having a look back is a good thing.

When you and I stop and reflect, I think you will agree that our world – both in the universal sense and our own smaller sphere – is a perpetual cycle of beginnings and endings. The Beatles’ classic Hello, Goodbye isn’t a perfect fit for this discussion but its lyrics are few and simple and catchy (just click on the link!). And it’s a theme worth unwrapping a little to get us thinking.

Some things in life just happen – like aging and the next calendar year, death, illness, war, and others. We don’t determine when those doors will be opened or closed.

But in many things- we can decide if, when, how, to say hello and good-bye.

these are just a few examples:

  • relationships that have lost connection or meaning. This can happen with change in interests, location, time – or just a sense, ‘it’s over”.
  • habits Saying good-bye to daily doses of processed “junk food” and hello to eating for energy.
  • rituals that no longer capture your spirit or heart. Sunday dinner with all the family may have once been the best but not necessarily forever.
  • telling ourselves the truth. Call out procrastination for what it is – and what it is taking from you – say hello to an accountability partner.
  • business/work partnership . Saying good-bye to a working relationship where compatibility, friendship, and hard-working commitment was empowering can be hard. But sometimes good-bye is the only way to move forward.
  • time to retire, change jobs? Impactful, courageous decisions to make: being aware of both what we see in the rearview mirror and out the front window.

My entrepreneurial spirit has allowed me to say hello and good-bye to business partnerships. Memories and lessons learned through creativity, diligence, frustration and challenge are what I see in that rearview mirror – and also provided a gift I can share with you: a FREE Celebration Recipe e-booklet with healthier, delicious celebration foods (a collection from In Balance colleagues and myself before we disbanded).

Hello and good-bye to something doesn’t necessarily mean a forever thing.

I am excited to be meeting with a childhood friend over the holidays – whom I haven’t seen or communicated with for about fifty years. Gaps and renewals can happen in so many areas.

Picking up beginnings, or closing up endings is participating in life.

Either way – saying good-bye, saying hello – can lead to our growth, adventure, health and healing.

saying good-bye, saying hello

Friends, we were created for vibrant and meaningful lives.  Let’s choose to walk our days with joy and confidence saying good-bye and hello.

I would be happy to hear about your beginnings and endings: and don’t forget to access your FREE Celebration Recipe Booklet.

Love and gratitude,  

Karen

P.S. Whatever stage of life you’re in – my desire is you will be rejuvenated with healthy food, physical movement, living with purpose and joy. If you want to connect with me for a free short chat to help make this happen for you I’m available here or at ketoews@gmail.com.

P.P.S. This is my Affiliate and Privacy Policy.Love and gratitude.  

is your daytimer discouraging you or helping you live the life you desire

18 years of life as recorded in my daytimers.

In December’s holiday season, to-do lists are probably read even more than the ‘top 10 best sellers’! But year-round we use some kind of system for scheduling appointments, making to-do lists, planning events, keeping life on track… 

  • paper book daytimer or journal method (my favourite)
  • online app or program (tried that without success)
  • calendar on the wall (my Mom’s method; it was shocking how three or four ‘reminders’ extrapolated into accomplishing more in a day than many could do in three!)
  • trusting memory (which most of us dare not totally rely upon).

No right or best or wrong or bad – it’s about the system that works for you. 

But regardless of the system, if we have: unrealistic expectations of how much can be accomplished in a day; an overload of commitments to step up and rescue others’ mismanagement; mismatched to-do’s that aren’t you – we will be empty, stressed and probably angry. 

This is Emilie McDermott’s take on how combatting mental clutter connects with a written daytimer system:  “…getting to-do’s out of my head, I can then focus on the most important things to accomplish in my day.” 

I can understand that. But the challenge – and I’m not alone here – is the dance of deciding on any given day what is considered a to-do (i.e. finish decorating the house for Christmas) or an important thing  (i.e. wrap up this blog, and publish today). 

A desired outcome is to still love yourself at the end of the day, not being ‘a bear to live with’ depending on items checked off in the daytimer. Not easy!

I get it. There are non-negotiables, i.e. a long-awaited, scheduled doctor’s appointment, a work deadline, a commitment to your Mom or friend. But even in the hot-seat seasons there has to be space to include in your to-do list, permission to ‘colour outside the lines’ of your daytimer to fill your well. 

What can you add to your daytimer, in this busy holiday season?

  • play your musical instrument rather than bake another batch of Christmas cookies
  • have tea and dig out a previous daytimer/journal for reflection on that year’s happenings
  • knit or enjoy another therapeutic handcraft 
  • have coffee with a friend you haven’t seen for a while
  • take a long walk in nature’s healing energy
  • literally doodle or colour your way to a creative happy space 
Breathe and play with the pens.

The older I get, it’s very evident I will always need a daytimer – my bright red Moleskine daytimer (referral link) is already getting marked up. However,  before 2020 (yikes!) I am considering learning the Bullet Journal Method, (referral link) founded by Ryder Carroll. I’ve seen my daughter Renee Tougas use this method for efficient management for home, home schooling, work as a writer  and more, which she shares here:

What is great about the bullet journal concept is that you can weave these two [scheduling and journaling] together really well. There’s nothing limiting you in a bullet journal. There is no calendar or weekly template you must follow and fill, preventing you from chronicling personal thoughts right alongside the week’s tasks……For me, it seems that using a bullet journal has allowed me to see with more clarity the connection between my growth (the struggle and triumphs) and my responsibilities, tasks, to-do’s that facilitate that growth.

I like the idea of this amalgamated journal; though this format that one builds yourself, will require some effort to efficiently use. If this interests you, and you’re curious to learn together, let me know.  Perhaps it can be arranged to happen online.

Helpful tools – but just tools – for creating the life you desire.
 

Friends, we were created for vibrant and meaningful lives.  To that end, as I walk through my days, tweaking the system, I would be happy to hear how you are also navigating yours.

Love and gratitude,  

Karen

P.S. Whatever stage of life you’re in – my desire is you will be rejuvenated with healthy food, physical movement, living with purpose and joy. If you want to connect with me for a free short chat to help make this happen for you I’m available here or at ketoews@gmail.com.

P.P.S. This is my Affiliate and Privacy Policy.Love and gratitude.  

Tabata in the Pool, Re-Shaping my fitness story

If it is 8:30 on a Monday or Thursday morning I’m probably in the pool at a Tabata class. Two years ago I’d have said Are you kidding? Not me!

My surprising turnabout compels me to encourage you – whether it’s literally putting your toes in the water, or some other fitness or life challenge, just try before saying no.

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Tabata gear: water weights, flotation belt, noodle – and water bottle for hydration!

A friend and fellow-foodie-colleague once encouraged me to try Tabata, a high-intensity-interval-training (HIIT) exercise at the gym that she totally loves. I was tempted, but after my former love affair with long distance running my body gets cranky with high-impact exercise. Fitness and activity goals are different now;  and I’ve fallen in love with other sports. 

One of them is kayaking.

Kejimkujik National Park, Nova Scotia. 

Nova Scotia, the province that is now my home  – offers enough ‘happy paddling places’ to last a lifetime: LaHave River where I live; the Atlantic Ocean; lakes and waterways all ’round the province to explore and experience. Did I say, I love kayaking?!

Sadly though, the season is short (I don’t fancy cold-weather wetsuits). I’m on the water from late May to October – that’s it. So my fitness challenge is maintaining paddling fitness over the winter months,  readiness for launching in the spring.

Obvious solutions would be the gym or strength-training (weights!) at home. Except that I do not like, nor carry through with, either of these. I’ve tried them and I know.

Swimming laps is also not my thing but I needed to find something, so in December, 2016 I checked out the program at the local private pool . And as a shot in the dark, I went to a free test-run aqua fitness class cuz I just might like it. 

I ended up purchasing a 10-session punchcard for January 2017. And I still like it:

  • The 8:30AM start works for me.
  • Lana, our well-trained instructor, encourages fun “work-it!” motivation.
  • As anticipated, participants are around my age and some older: a cool, friendly and fun group in the pool – and energized after our workout we manage to navigate around each other in the small dressing room! 
  • In spite of a chronic rotator cuff issue I can adapt my movements and intensity. 
  • Everyone is free to work as hard – or not – as you want or are able.

Shortly after I started, when Lana introduced Tabata in the deep end, no-impact using a flotation belt (referral link) – I discovered the sweet spot of my physical activity.

                                 Making friends with water weights. (referral link)

This definition of Tabata describes timing and duration of the intervals. Ours varies from one class to the next, which keeps it interesting; this video (not of our class – our instructor is much better looking!) is one example of Tabata in the pool.

There aren’t any short cuts. With all habit-building efforts, rewards are linked with consistently showing up, and there have been benefits for me and my ‘classmates’: 

  • strength to slice a paddle through the water and hoist a kayak
  • building core balance – noticeable for me on the trail, less tripping!
  • toned muscles that feel better in jeans
  • physical healing support for chronic joint concerns
  • happy news reports for weight loss 
  • connection with others in real life: building friendships and networks
  • confidence, leadership: we carry on, with or without the instructor (or electricity!)  

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I hate to miss Tabata, it gives me even more than I’d hoped for.  To think I could have missed it all because ‘the water isn’t my thing’ and I wasn’t keen on driving a short distance to workout in a cold pool (that feels warmer really fast as you start moving)!! 

Have an open mind! Discover and experience what matters to you and what you do not want to miss. I’d love to hear how you have re-shaped your fitness story.  

Love and gratitude.  

Karen

P.S. Whatever stage of life you’re in – my desire is that you will be rejuvenated with healthy food, physical movement, living with purpose and joy. If you want to connect with me for a free short chat to help make this happen for you I’m available here or at ketoews@gmail.com.

P.P.S. This is my Affiliate and Privacy Policy.

If you want to change, write a new story

Would you describe your life as one with purpose, energy and joy? Or do you feel stuck in your story: missing the fulfillment of desires you were designed to experience.

stuck

We all have some downer days. But maybe your story line isn’t working for you.  

  • was it written by someone else, i.e. your parents, an employer, a teacher
  • crafted by life’s circumstances, i.e. where you were born, social conditions
  • scripted from beliefs based on a mindset where things can’t change
  • a story you wrote, that was working – but the script needs revising

The quotes for “Change your life, change your story” are myriad. This one’s interesting.

If you ever find yourself in the wrong story, leave. 

Mo Willems, children’s author, Goldilocks and the Three Dinosaurs

I’m not suggesting that everything is messed up with your story or that one should simply run and escape from life.  But I encourage making changes if that will make your life more vibrant, authentic, and meaningful in the stage of life you’re living now.

Let’s look at some areas where one can get stuck and some thoughts for change:

  • trying to fulfil expectations of others:
    • already feeling stressed about the upcoming Holiday season? It’s your call: do you need to provide decorating, food, gifts to meet everyone else’s wishes?
    • have you lost joy in your position as youth leader or secretary of the women’s group? Make choices based on your right reason and right motive* 
  • comparison with others, or yourself – how you used to be
    • moving and staying fit is great! If it’s time to switch from running a half marathon to cycling, yoga or Tabata at the pool – that’s okay.  Your personal challenge to walk 10K every day for a month may inspire or intimidate others  – regardless, it’s your story.
    • a friend’s gardens may be flourishing and beautiful: if that kind of work doesn’t bring you joy anymore, just appreciating their’s can be enough.
    • you choose how to spend your money. i.e. new hiking boots or sofa, or cruise tickets or membership for a lecture series – live life fully in your own skin 

AccessTheTools

  • spiritual and emotional health
    • there are several paths to draw near to God; in Sacred Pathways (referral link), author Gary Thomas shares ways to free you in your path of worship. Being open, listening in your spirit can be inspiration for your new story.
    • Don’t hide –  staying connected  matters.
  • neglected nutrition and health
    • if alcohol has become more of a daily necessity than a glass of wine with dinner do the hard stuff – get support to help you.
    • a friend may have lost – and gained – weight several times but that was their story.  Supporting health is your privilege and responsibility – don’t go it alone!
  • being aware of personality type
    • we’re all wired differently, discover what makes you tick, where your strengths and weaknesses lie. It can help you to work with who are as a person and how you live with others in your world.  There are many personality tools: I like and use the Enneagram. Explore it a bit with Ian Morgan Cron’s  Typology podcast and the book he authored with Suzanne Stabile The Road Back to You (referral link).
    • Eduardo Garcia*, burn survivor and positive-living hero says it so well, “stay in your own lane of truth“. Be YOU .

How many stories do you know of that are ‘pretty good’, but could be happier and healthier with some changes. How about yours – are you ready to start writing?

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Love and gratitude for being here. If you want,  please do share your new story!

Karen

P.S. Whatever stage of life you’re in – my desire is that you will be rejuvenated with healthy food, physical movement, living with purpose and joy. If you want to connect with me for a free short chat to help make this happen for you I’m available here or at ketoews@gmail.com.

P.P.S. This is my Affiliate and Privacy Policy.

Cabbage in the Sauerkraut Crock

On my previous website I posted often about food, including recipes. I still love experimenting with, researching, cooking (and eating!), healthy food but I’ve rescripted my nutrition writing and focus to a broader nourishment story for body, soul and spirit.

However, considering the seasonal abundance of cabbage, its health benefits when fermented, and the fact you’ll feel like such an amazing (rural or urban) ‘homesteader’  producing this easy-to-make sauerkraut I just needed to share this recipe with you!

First some not-so-trivial  tidbits about cabbage (and cruciferous veggies).

  • good defense against, and the possible prevention of, cancer. Over-dosing on one food group (even vegetables) is not a cancer-free guarantee.  But according to Sally Errey in Staying Alive! Cookbook for Cancer Free Living, scientists weren’t sure why this vegetable family had this distinction until recent studies which have shown their ability to help the body’s toxic waste-disposal system. Certain plant chemicals, like sulforaphane and indole-3-carbinol, trigger the release of a protein that causes the release of several toxin-fighting enzymes that may either neutralize cancer-causing chemicals or help the body excrete them.
  • contains Phytochemicals (plantchemicals): good source of antioxidants which have unique abilities to modify human hormones and to prevent toxic compounds from binding to human DNA – possibly preventing damage that could lead to cancer.

Benefits of fermentation.

  • preserves food/nutrients
  • breaks nutrients down into more easily digestible forms
  • creates new nutrients
  • removes toxins from food

I learned the ways of a gardener from the example of my mother – an extraordinary worker who preserved the fruits of her labour by canning, freezing, pickling – but never fermenting. Perhaps it wasn’t in her Scottish upbringing or she’d heard stories of smelly brine bubbling out of crocks lurking in dark cellars! Whatever the reason, the only sauerkraut I ate growing up was bought at the grocery store and that pattern remained.

Until my nutrition studies piqued my interest in making my own. I bought Wild Fermentation by  Sandor Ellix Katz (referral link) because I read “sauerkraut is easy to make” on more than one page.

And it really is so. I’m not the expert but I encourage you to try it.

What you need. 

Food: Cabbage and salt (I use coarse sea salt). Utensils: A sturdy knife, a crock, a tea towel, a plate that is slightly smaller than the opening of the crock, a large rock.

Buy good solid heads of cabbage. I’ve learned from shopping at our garden markets that “fall” cabbage is the best type to use for sauerkraut. I don’t know the proper name of this particular cabbage, but living in Lunenburg county that boasts both home-style and commercial sauerkraut operations, I do what the experts advise.

Except not always on this point: sauerkraut should be made as the moon is waxingMy hankering to fill the kraut crock doesn’t always line up with the lunar cycle so sometimes I do my own thing. But this year I’m following the Farmer’s Almanac.

Steps to Make Sauerkraut:

Chop cabbage into threads, as fine or coarse as you like it.

Place in a large bowl as you chop it. Sprinkle salt on it as you go. How much salt? This depends on health and taste preferences. I recommend going lightly – for starters, 3-4 Tablespoons of coarse salt per 5 pounds of sliced cabbage.

Mix cabbage and salt thoroughly and pack into your crock. It’s important to pack just a bit at a time into the crock – pressing it down hard with your fist or some other sturdy tool. This is an important step: you don’t want to allow room for air pockets and the tamping packs the kraut, helping to force the water out of the cabbage.

Cover the cabbage with a plate and place a heavy stone (that’s been well-washed) on top of it. This weight is needed to force the water out of the cabbage and to keep it submerged. Very important: push down on the weight as needed to help that happen.

Cover the crock with a tea towel and set in a corner of the kitchen, out of the sun and in a cool rather than warm location.

Check the kraut the next day and every day or two after. The important factor is that the water-brine always covers the cabbage. According to Sandor Ellix Katz, “some cabbage, particularly if it’s old, simply contains less water.” He suggests if the brine hasn’t risen to the top by the next day, you can add some salt water (1 Tbsp. salt to 1 cup water) to bring up the brine level. I haven’t had experience with this as the brine has been sufficient. To help it stay submerged in brine, every day or so I firmly press on the rock/plate.

Here I’ve taken the rock out so you can see the brine. This was after about 4 days.

When is it ready?

It’s all about how you like it. It should start to be tangy in about a week.

Taste it. Its flavours will evolve as it ages. If you do take some out to enjoy, repack the remaining kraut, keeping the surface level and your weights clean. I generally leave mine in the kitchen area for a couple weeks, checking it often. Then I’ll move it to a cooler location for 1-2 weeks before putting it into jars and into the refrigerator. I’ll taste as I go but don’t usually eat mine until it’s fermented about 4 weeks. My batches are usually small like the one above so it’s all eaten before it gets too ‘ripe’.

Maintain cleanliness, keep cabbage submerged, let me know how you like it!

Love and gratitude for joining me here,

Karen

P.S. Whatever stage of life you’re in – I encourage you to be rejuvenated with healthy food, physical movement, living with purpose and joy. If you want to connect with me for a free short chat how I can help you work to make this happen for you please get in touch here or at ketoews@gmail.com. My wish is for your ‘Vibrant Inspired Living’ xo

(Affiliate Disclosure: I am a participate in affiliate marketing, including the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program. Whenever you buy something on Amazon from a link you click on my blog, I get a (very) small percentage of that sale.)

Thoughts about Aging: Re-scripting Life Might Include Dementia

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This summer I had my 65th birthday.

In my heart and mind I tell myself I’m somewhere around 50 years old; blessed with health; physical fitness; freedom in time and resources as compared to the earlier years of raising children and being employed; in love with my husband of 45 years; and have not been tested for nor diagnosed with dementia.

Thank you God, for all of the above.

However, there are times I: forget what I went to fetch when I go into another room;  need to repeat a phone number several times to help (and hope) it sticks; can promptly forget your name a minute after I’m introduced to you.

Does this bother me? Uh, yes it does: enough for a part of me to keep “watching for dementia signs” but not enough to practice memorizing my shopping list – I think I’m forever stuck in my habit of using recycled envelopes for that.

The book Still Alice (referral link for novel written in 2007) and the movie that followed revealed the story how ruthless dementia is: affecting some earlier than later – irregardless of intelligence and keen cognition – bringing with it fear and loneliness with the sense of losing oneself as life weaves in and out of blurry stages.

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Through observing a neighbour’s early-onset diagnosis and rapid decline, and supporting a friend with her children and their father, dementia’s Russian roulette capacity to show up ‘at will’ and steal life and personality has come ‘closer to home’.

But the reality is: we will all age.

We’re advised to do Sudoku puzzles and to eat the ‘healthy 10-food MIND list‘ which can be good practices for every age. Worry is a bigger struggle for some than others – but it’s probably safe to say everyone at some time has thought ‘will dementia will part of the aging process for me or someone in my close circles’?

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For me I receive help and courage in facing this fear of ‘what might be or could be’ by:

  • my belief in a power higher than myself; a trust in God’s love for me, and a faith He helps me feel safe as I walk every path of my life.
  • reading stories of other people’s journeys to enlighten my understanding. And here I highly recommend the most recent book I’ve read, a memoir Somebody I Used to Know (by Wendy Mitchell, referral link for Kindle book). Mitchell writes her firsthand experience of Alzheimer’s with optimism, sharing her coping systems – all the while knowing ” it wasn’t always like this. I know there was another me.”
  • having compassion for others and myself in the questions and unknowns

Mitchell’s book is illuminating and brimming with courage: a helpful guide for people concerned and connected to all sides of the dementia diagnosis. I hope you will read it for yourself: here are just three highlights.

Following her diagnosis and “there’s nothing we can do, I’m afraid,’ Mitchell writes:

I can still remember the feelings of loss and fear and hopelessness…in the days and weeks that followed, all I could of was that word afraid. It felt so negative, so scary. They were afraid there was nothing….I was afraid there was nothing….if I’d been told yes the diagnosis is dementia….[but] I’ll put you in touch with people who can help you to adapt, who also have a diagnosis…to share tips and tricks…Immediately I would have had hope.

If you’re told by your boss day after day you’re stupid, you eventually feel that way.

A diagnosis [of dementia] is bad enough….devastating news – but that’s where negative language can stop…positive language can begin. If someone tells you day after day that you’re suffering from dementia, you end up believing it. We ‘struggle’ on a daily basis to outmaneuver the challenges we face but, often with help, we can find ways of overcoming those struggles…..[people should] replace the word sufferer with living with.

Wendy, a single Mom with two daughters who by necessity or personality was always extremely organized, uses Post-it Notes and technology to help remind her of routines.  Another tool she uses to help outwit this disease was by creating a memory room as soon as she had her diagnosis.

Dementia isn’t an inspirational topic. But considering we don’t all have the privilege of the ‘long view of life’, it’s my hope that your take-away from reading this will be one of hope and some tips you hadn’t thought of before to help yourself or someone you love.

Love and gratitude for being here,

Karen

P.S. Whatever stage of life you’re in – I encourage you to be rejuvenated with healthy food, physical movement, living with purpose and joy. If you want to connect with me for a free short chat how I can help you work to help make this happen for you I’m available here or at ketoews@gmail.com.

Connection and Friendship: Part two What are you hungry for

Recently my husband and I enjoyed supper with friends at their charming reno-in-progress, 200-year-old summer-house. The planked salmon served with veggies-extraordinaire – finished off with fresh fruit and whipped cream for dessert – was ‘deliciously’ satisfying!

However, the meaningful and heart-rich conversation we shared around their table was what truly invigorated our spirits; we went home satiated in friendship and connection.

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Our experience – in this case, choosing to linger and talk around the table rather than moving to another place in the house – underlined how meeting and eating at the table can be so deeply nourishing, even sacred: healthy for our hearts and our souls.

Not everyone is skilled in cooking; having people over for a meal is very stressful for some. Maybe this is you.

And depending on your personality, not knowing your guests very well before they come to your house can cause some apprehension.

So how can we make this work – for gathering others to meet and eat at our table?

Your guests may also feel a bit nervous- take small steps. Sometimes it helps to ask several people you think who would relate to each other, and you provide the setting for them to share and get to know each other. This can be for a group of women only, or for couples or any other group. True story: because my husband and I are more on the out-going side we’ve been asked to join in on a meal at my cousin’s house to help keep the conversation rolling. Really. That works. My husband and I have been married a long time and in this area of inviting people to our house we have learned to trust each other’s intuition, which has resulted in meeting some very interesting and wonderful people: as recently as two weeks ago when we offered hospitality to a motorcyclist my husband met at a car wash!

It’s impossible to measure but I’m sure these kinds of steps have added more blessing to our lives than for those we’ve been able to share with. Connection goes both ways.

Ask people about their stories – they generally have at least one they’re happy to share. 

Through my Mom’s capable example I watched and learned her ease with hospitality –  which included my help peeling potatoes, setting the table – and washing dishes! So for me the kitchen, preparing food – is mostly a happy and comfortable zone. 

But in the past that ‘ease’ has often put me into an entertaining mode rather than one of hospitality.  So I’m paying attention and learning to integrate my passion for cooking good food, with my desire to invite connection and friendship by:

  • not planning my menu and foods simply to impress the people I’ve invited, as that can often be intimidating or disconnecting.
  • providing an environment that is focused on comfortable rather than fancy or needing to be expensive or feeling excessive
  • being less complicated doesn’t mean less tasty. Clear and simple.
  • inviting guests to join in the food preparation to promote connection – you’re in!
  • being aware that everyone can’t eat everything. Asking ahead about allergies and food sensitivities (even foods people just don’t like) helps put everyone at ease.
  • discerning when it’s appropriate to include Pinterest ideas for fun and pizzazz!

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It can be amazing: I encourage you to open your heart and home, share around your table to meet a hunger for connection and friendship through providing:

  • food: God’s greatest gift to us for physically nourishing us, his creation
  • our ‘homely’ expression of breaking bread and drinking wine – being sensitive,  willing and caring to share your heart and compassion
  • opportunity for memories, relationships, conversations and intimacy that will become part of who we are and our history, to understand how-

 “The world is far more delicious than it need be.”    Tom Chester

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Thank you for connecting with me; I appreciate your online friendship and hope if connecting with others is a challenge for you, that you will have courage to Begin.

With love and gratitude,

Karen

P.S. As always, if you want to talk about rejuvenating your life with healthy food, getting more active, moving towards purposeful living at any age, I’m available here or send me an email at ketoews@gmail.com.

Thirty Thoughts for Scripting Life with Confidence and Hope

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Every day is full of decisions – we don’t even realize we are making some of them, as they are choices we naturally default to. An example: I have a breakfast ‘script’ that works well for me. I always have coffee not long after I wake up (not in bed, thank you very much!) so there’s no decision on that, and five days out of seven the rest of my breakfast will be a combo of oats, nuts and seeds (my favourite is home-made granola), with fruit and yogurt.

You may allow for more of a surprise factor in your morning food routine, but sometime throughout the day there is probably some track you automatically follow, i.e for exercise, shopping destination, connecting with someone, etc.

Like me and my breakfast, the daily track you’re on may be working well for you. But what about the other points in life where you aren’t happy anymore following the script: 

  •  that you inherited by virtue of where and when you were born?
  • that is based on old choices and ingrained habits and patterns?

The script isn’t bad, we all need one to get started. But often, as part of our growth, we need to write a new script for our lives.

This is what my work and vision for Rescripting Life Beyond an Empty Nest is all about.

There are so many new script possibilities; and probabilities like these that may have prompted you to consider a re-write:

  • navigating a career change
  • living in a new location
  • becoming a Grandmother (oh such a wonderful gift!)
  • figuring out and living with purpose as you age
  • giving yourself permission for adventures you’ve reserved for others (younger or older than you!)
  • shifting expectations you’ve placed on others, yourself or granted others for you

It’s not easy to change. But I’ve seen it happen and believe in the possibility for women to re-script what isn’t working for them: now, in whatever stage and space of life:

  • you are stronger than you think
  • you don’t need to be afraid of your strengths
  • becoming the woman you were designed to be is a valuable gift to yourself and to your world around you – and an expression of gratitude for LIFE

My son Brad, one of the most meaningful lines in the script in my life, is a podcaster. When I read his recent episode, Whose Line is it Anyway? I was so excited to hear how he addresses this very thing – how to move away from following the script to improvising our way to a more vibrant life.

Re-scripting isn’t tearing up the old story; rather it’s an improvisation, some rewriting of those parts that don’t fit us anymore. 

Improvising in music, improvising in life, is not the absence of a script, the absence of an established order of ideas, thoughts, or musical notes. Rather it’s an individualization of the script. We make the choice to repeat, play, and act what we believe is worth keeping, introducing new notes, new meaning, and new experience. Brad: Whose Line is it anyway?

I am offering FREE on my Vibrant Inspired Living FB group Thirty Thoughts for Scripting Life with Confidence and Hope. In the month of August I will be posting thirty thoughts to help you script your life with confidence and hope, with the desire you will improvise your way to a more vibrant life. (If you aren’t already a member of the Vibrant Inspired Living FB group, just send me a request – no pressure to stay longer than you wish.)

For extra inspiration I encourage you to listen to Brad’s podcast (can download from website or find it on B-RAD with Brad Toews in any podcast directory or app). This podcast is a quick 20 minutes – while you’re driving or cooking – with useful ideas and interesting musical metaphors to inspire the mindset and actions necessary to make those changes in your life.

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Thanks for stopping by – and I do look forward to seeing you this month on the Thirty Thoughts for Scripting Life with Confidence and Hope on Vibrant Inspired Living!

With love and gratitude,

Karen

P.S. As always, if you want to talk about rejuvenating your life with healthy food, getting more active, moving towards purposeful living at any age, I’m available here or send me an email at ketoews@gmail.com.

Photo credits: Cheryl – with kudos to her novice rock-climbing sister at the top!

What are you hungry for? Part One

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I’m a recipe reader and collector, foodie aficionado, nutrition guru and coach for emotional eaters  so I spend a LOT of time thinking, sourcing and writing about food, nutrients, presentation, flavour, allergies and sensitivities, food trends, etc.

However, in this post, triggered by a podcast interview with Jen Hatmaker and Shauna Nieguist , I’m removing all my ‘foodie’ hats and want to take a close-up look at what are you, the people at your table and mine, hungry for?

Honestly, this subject is a bit of a minefield for me:

  • because I highly value nutrition and healthy whole real food as the best way to honour our body and health – a gift to be appreciated and cared for.
  • I also believe that sharing hospitality and love and food around our table expresses kindness and serves a basic need for connection and acceptance.
  • I am so influenced by my background experience and passion about food and hospitality, that I can make the whole scene quite complicated and intense.

What’s the answer to the question? We all crave nourishment physically and for our soul. If there’s a tug in our heart to serve these up for others (for us too!), the challenge is finding what way fits with who we are, in the stage or place we are in right now.

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Finding a way to make it work.

  • move towards simple. Give yourself a break, make it more comfortable for everyone. A ready-bagged salad and BBQ chicken from the supermarket might not be organic but it is okay! Be real. Start with small steps if your re-scripting life includes adjusting expectations and definitions of hospitality versus entertaining.
  • Do you have a signature dish? I love how Jen and Shauna  (who inspired this topic- referral link) said,” just make a thing your thing and make the same delicious thing a hundred times in a row.. you just don’t have to fix it if it’s not broken.” It might be spaghetti and meatballs, pasta or taco salad, or pizza – serve it stuffed full of love! Jen and Shauna have their thing: ChickenMangoCurry_SalmonMustardPecans
  • Paper plates and plastic cutlery can make the difference of inviting that family with young children or not. (I am working on a mindset for all kinds of scenarios.) Set a table with conversation to celebrate the joy of friendship, laughter, and inclusion.
  • Plan and host (share) your meal at an appropriate location other than your home. Simple food can be the catalyst to connect with new immigrants, seniors, singles. (Just a note: so often the receiving is much greater than the effort of the giving!)

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Meeting the hunger need may not be easy for us. The food options and choices may or may not fit with our nutrition philosophy; I’m not advocating we toss out what we know to support our long-term wellness.

I am just suggesting we thoughtfully consider the question what and how we can help provide what people are hungry for. (How to help nurture those less obvious spiritual and emotional hungers are saved for Part Two in another post.)

Thanks for stopping by – and I’d love to know what is your food thing? Send along the recipe and I’ll add it to a list with Jen and Shauna’s.

With love and gratitude,

Karen

P.S. As always, if you want to talk about rejuvenating your life with healthy food, getting more active, moving towards purposeful living at any age, I’m available here or at ketoews@gmail.com.

Tips for Re-Scripting summer with its changes in stages of life

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I adore – love – wholeheartedly embrace summer! The extended daylight, more time dedicated to family, fresh(er) food, focus on activity: it is all SO energizing.

And just as life has different stages, our summer seasons vary from one to another.

My summers as a Mom with two kids at home were typically: a two-week vacation, often camping; tending flower beds and vegetable gardens; planning and hosting family celebrations; squeezing flexibility into work schedules of both my husband and myself.

In the years following, our two kids had summer weddings and eventually the family expanded with an accumulative total of six fantastic grandkids! After our move to Nova Scotia in 2007, summers had a different vibe with sharing fun and sun and sand with family; my husband and I exploring our new province every opportunity we had.

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As our family members have grown older, our summer story has changed based on hosting visitors; excursions kayaking with friends in Kejimkujik National Park , cycling in Quebec , back-pack hiking. Less garden planting and tending: always berry picking.

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This summer of 2018 is significantly raising the bar for a different story.

My husband is on a cross-the-country (Canada) motorbike trip. His dream for taking this epic journey is happening while I write.

To travel the distance, with flexibility to ‘go with the flow’, he is away for five weeks, six weeks, or maybe two months. He’s calling it a “trip to revisit his past” as he catches up with family and friends and places in Quebec; Ontario; Minnesota, USA; the Canadian prairies; British Columbia;  and locations in between. An ambitious and adventure-packed journey.

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June 1st launching from home for trip-of-a-lifetime!

I couldn’t be happier for him. His updates and photos reflect the realization of his wishes.

Of course I miss him – we miss each other – but this isn’t the first time we’ve been apart for this length of time. You can read the story in my Journey of the Heart – the beginning of my re-scripting for this stage of life and one that continues to be re-written.

This trip was planned a few months in advance; my husband ordered specific protective gear and serviced his bike (high priority for both him and me!); stocked up on maps and planned a basic route; communicated with people he wanted to see.

Changes in life often happen without warning; we re-script as it plays out. This time I had a heads up, so I prepared for what I would do while he was away, based on outdoor activities l enjoy, and a mindset to include challenge and celebration into my summer!

Making intentional plans was important for me. If your summer view looks like there are some changes – or you want to make some changes, I encourage you to consider:

  • A basic plan still allows for spontaneity: without it days can roll along after each other. Avoid regret of missed opportunity for adventure, exploration or personal growth: whether it’s a solo trip: by plane or train to visit grandkids, or a hiking trip.
  • Contact a like-minded friend or women in your community, commit to a date to connect with someone. I lean towards people who also enjoy physical activity; perhaps you’re curious to visit a new museum, make a road trip to a charming B&B you’ve seen advertised, do a bookstore run, visit as many beaches as you can.
  • Intercept fear of ‘I’ve never done that before!‘- register for the art class if it’s a recurring desire. I’m working through this myself: an ocean kayak trip is planned – in the company of competent paddlers –  but upping the ante for me!
  • Choose not to miss the joy in your plans; don’t compare your life with what others are doing, or adjust your plans according to “what others will think about you!”
  • Adjust other areas of your life to accommodate the plan.  If you miss some of the berry season and can’t fill the freezer like usual – oh well!
  • Adopt the mindset that plans often change; sometimes they even work out better!

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View of Montreal from summit of Mont Royal – just before the rain!

My re-scripted summer plans are shaping up and already being enjoyed: kayaking and hiking new routes; rendezvousing with my sister in Montreal to celebrate my 65th birthday – along with my daughter and family who live there. So grateful for it all.

Your summer is your unique story. I hope you’re inspired to ‘write’ a great one for YOU!

Love and gratitude,

Karen

P.S. As always, if you want to talk about rejuvenating your life with healthy food, getting more active, moving towards purposeful living at any age, I’m available here or at ketoews@gmail.com.

Kindness

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The kindness theme has been following me around for a few days.

Finally, after a cheery little girl (about 4 or 5 years old) heaved open a heavy glass door for me to enter a store, I knew I needed to write about this gift of kindness!

The very word kindness evokes a sense of warmth and goodness – just give yourself a hug to reinforce how wonderful kindness can make you feel! Please stay with me ’til the end of the post – for spreading kindness full circle back to YOU – with my Downloadable Freebie 

Let’s Just Be a Little Kinder in the Ways We Can

Katrina Kenison, author of several books (referral link), has written through her seasons of re-scripting life and shared this in her Kindness blog .

“….we cannot make pain and suffering disappear. We can’t control the hurtful actions of others or silence the voices that threaten, humiliate, insult, or shame. We cannot solve the opioid crisis, keep the desperate family together at the border, slow the arctic melt, or prevent the disturbed teenager from killing his classmates. We can bring more kindness into the world…”

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What Can you Give From Your Hand or Your Pocket?

I just love Ann Voskamp’s writing style, here are some of her wise, kind words from The Broken Way,(referral link):

“… If your hand was willing, you could pull out [of your pocket] a small miracle, a small gift – a note that made a soul stronger, a cup of something warm to soothe someone’s knotted places, a hand to help someone up, open arms just to embrace the overwhelmed and whisper grace“.

Voskamp (a sage, in my view) skillfully expands this giving kindness thought: including a research reference, how kindness, “having a helping behaviour seemed to buffer the negative effects of stress.” Isn’t that great how that works? A kindness partnership: stretching from our heart, or our pocket – or pushing hard to open a door.

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(credits to Bella Vita)

Use YOUR Kindness Voice

What does your kindness, love language look like?

  • preparing a meal for the family of someone who’s mid-stream in cancer treatments
  • watering the vacationing neighbour’s flowers that look ready to crawl to the tap
  • phoning – or driving – to talk to a friend or family member you’ve lost touch with
  • sharing cards and notes with inspirational messages….

It’s great when we feel we’ve discerned a meaningful way to show kindness, but here too, doing life is not about being perfect, that you have to get it right or not at all. Give from the gift of who you are.

If you’re interested in discovering your love language (and for others in the household too!) check out Gary Chapman’s helpful book (referral link).

Full Circle Back to You

What are the ways you show yourself kindness? Have you hugged yourself yet today? Do it now!

The message about the value of caring for ourself physically, emotionally, mentally, spiritually is everywhere.

I also know that too often energy or spirit is lagging and I’m not anxious to offer my husband a back rub, or talk on the phone with a friend who’s had a rough day, or give myself slack for having too much sunlight in the room while shooting my LIVE video!

I believe the starting point is: what are we thinking, as our thoughts direct our days. To help you establish a practice for a mindset and ‘kindness lifestyle’ that you can grow with, I am excited to gift you with my free Renewing your Mindset for Vibrant Living

If this Kindness message has inspired you, or if you have a kindness story (given or received) to share, I’d love to hear from you!

Love and gratitude,

Karen

P.S. As always, if you want to talk about rejuvenating your life with healthy food, getting more active, moving towards purposeful living at any age, I’m available at ketoews@gmail.com or here.

(Affiliate Disclosure: I am a participate in affiliate marketing, including the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program. Whenever you buy something on Amazon from a link you click on my blog, I get a (very) small percentage of that sale.)