Aging as a Positive Project

Last year when I hit my mid-sixties I realized my children are closer to middle-age than I am! Technically I’m either in the second middle-age yes, there is such a categoryor in the first stage of old-age. Yikes…

My personality type is wired to typically see the cup half full instead of half empty; so I am approaching aging as a project!

First some disclosures how I feel about me getting older:

  • I’m resistant to aging, as determined by the number of years I’ve lived. It’s been said: survival is resistance: I’m choosing to thrive with resistance . Not in denial, but in being brave and fighting back.
  • I haven’t prepared a strategy for aging (beyond financial affairs with my husband), although I did skim through Women Rowing North – Navigating Life’s Currents and Flourishing as We Age . Mary Pipher shares helpful aging guidelines like: everything is workable; when you feel lost or something goes wrong apply the 1st rule of the wilderness, DON’T PANIC.
  • My aging angst is not so much about wrinkles, grey hair and ‘age-related roles’ but with symptoms that interfere with my physical activities, i.e ‘cranky’ joints. It doesn’t come easy to align body, mind and emotions that another pool workout will be okay today instead of a long hike: hoping this is temporary. Regardless: it’s in the project.
  • I live in a 60’s-aged body, but my heart and mind lives in the 50’s.

50’s and plus – we’re in this together

Like everything else in life, aging is different for each of us; factored by our health, history, hopes and more. And even if our personality leans toward a mental and emotional attitude that focuses on the bright side of life as we age, the expected positive results don’t always show up!

Consider this paraphrase from psychologist Kendra Cherry “…having a positive outlook on life’s challenges doesn’t necessarily mean avoiding or ignoring the bad things; it is ……. making the most of the potentially bad situations, and viewing yourself and your abilities in a positive light.”

We can choose to make the best of those situations we can’t control.

If we are ready to approach aging as a project – with positivity, choosing to thrive and live with vibrancy – having a particular focus to aim for can help us move ahead with purpose.

A negative mind will never give you a positive life (unknown)

Looking at questions like these can help with getting started.

  • observing others in our circles – community, online, work or otherwise – has someone impressed us with particular skills or life directions that have ignited the curiosity to ask.. “what if…?” My interest in doing videos and sharing interviews has inspired my checking out a local Toastmasters to hone my skills for fewer “ums, ahs and other fillers”! Maybe I’ll pursue this more or it could be just a stepping stone to something else.
  • feeling betrayed by a body showing its physical restrictions? This one’s a challenge for many of us. A positivity spin like this could be helpful:
    • acknowledging and allowing time to feel the frustration
    • following recommended treatments
    • being open and courageous in accepting potential changes that could unfold a new version of us – that’s exciting and maybe adventuresome too!
  • what needs to be given a proper ending for space and freedom to discover and explore what the next stage of life can look like – regardless of age? Emily P. Freeman’s podcast, Finding the Beginning in the Ending shares thoughts for “letting things go, putting them to rest”- and beginning the next project.

If aging with a positive vibe is a project you want to pursue, dig into what you value and want, write down what direction you want to go. Journal your ideas how you’re going to get there. It’s a start.

I hope you choose to participate in your aging process, to own it and make it your project.

Love and gratitude,  

Karen

P.S. If Aging as a Positive Project captures your heart, my free downloadable Rescripting to a sustainable health story for any stage of life could be a positive place to start. For comments, requests for a complimentary chat to consider working together for your vibrant inspired living – at any age – you are welcome to contact me here.

The Rest of My Dominican Republic Story

Part one of my DR mission-cation story tells the story how my husband and I, Team Paying it Forward and Servant’s Heart Ministries (SHM) helped build a house.

I shared photos and thoughts how the physical work progressed- how our goal was accomplished!

In this post my lens is focused on other activities squeezed into our week.

orientation tour with SHM’s local team

PHOTO BY TEAM LEADER, TAMMY

I’m sharing here but a thumbnail view. But as our van driver responded to people waving in front of their houses or walking down the streets, the relationship of the mission with the community was obvious and inspiring! As team members in the van – that often bottomed-out!, it felt good to be partnered with SHM.

  • community centre for kids and adultssafe gathering spot for group activities; internet access for homework and communication; kitchen area where they make wonderful Santo Domingo coffee! At the centre I delivered a hockey bag stuffed with used ball equipment, thanks to my Lunenburg community! Kids were at school so didn’t play ball – good thing, it’s been a long time since I put on a mitt and got in the game!
ENERGETIC, ORGANIZED, CREATIVE LEADERS READY TO LAUGH AND HUG
  • Danica’s Dream Pregnancy Resource Centreresource centre helps young women (often alone, scared, perhaps subjected to an unwanted pregnancy) with an instructional program, knowledge and resources they need to succeed. Support stretches beyond the birth of their baby, providing a 2-year practical education, healthy lifestyle program. The centre also offers education and events for teen-age girls: hygiene, self-worth, life skills.
JENNIE AND TAMMY IN STOREROOM: ITEMS DONATED FOR BABIES UP TO 2 YRS.
HAPPY MOM, HAPPY STORY, LITTLE ONE RECOVERING WELL FROM SURGERY

We poked our heads into a room with Moms and babes: “Buenos Dios” and waving hello. Too short a visit for my baby-loving husband!

I returned to the centre a few days later to talk with their leader, Jennie; to learn about the centre’s programs and leave educational tools and feminine hygiene kits designed by Days For Girls organization.

I recently discovered Days4Girls . Inspired by its mission to help women and girls around the globe live with dignity every day of the month – I’ve become an advocate in sharing their work. Check their website – if interested in learning more reach out to them or me! ketoews@gmail.com.

  • Hugs for Kids – School an action-packed stop – children ‘swamped us’ with hugs, laughter, energy to play. I found it refreshing these kids weren’t asking for or expecting treats from the foreigners– they wanted piggy-back rides, to jump a rope or kick a ball.
PHOTO BY TEAM MEMBER STEVE

bonus blessings

  1. I love hospitality; cooking and eating together – in a kitchen, around a table – this time in a backyard next to a house being built, chickens on the run, cauldron-sized pots balanced over open fires, hand-demo instructions. A wonderful cooking camaraderie and shared experience with team members, Minerva, and her sister who’d travelled to come help: together serving those we care for by providing one of their basic needs. For the record this was the most flavourful meal I had the whole week!
MINERVA, FIRST-CLASS CHEF AND LADY OF THE NEW HOUSE
5-STAR RATING ON THIS BLEND FOR CHICKEN
REAL MEN HELP COOKI’VE NEVER SEEN THAT MUCH RICE IN A POT

2. I love watching baseball. Years ago my husband and I vacationed in the Dominican; a highlight was watching a game where some of the players were DR major league stars.

Crazy-fun, although got a little tense until we figured out the yelling in Español and many fists shaken in our direction was because we were cheering for the ‘wrong’ team in our section of the stadium. All was well after we switched allegiance!

This time a Dominican-Canadian slow pitch ball tournament was happening right across the street from our lodging. Not nearly as serious!

What great fun watching and cheering for whatever team we wanted to. Met Montreal ball-players in the stands waiting to play – whose game ultimately got bumped so many times, that sadly we weren’t able to watch them on the field.

3. I love going to church where worship music and the message exudes life, action and Joy! Exactly what we found at an evening service where our shuttle driver and his wife attend. The language was different, the songs were different, but the Spirit felt the same. Awesome.

After the minister finished speaking we stayed to hear women just back from a spiritual retreat share their testimonies. We understood few of the details, but a message was expressed from their hearts, through tears and hugs with a sense of peace: relationship with God and people had been restored. Is this not a message and need for all people in all cultures.

4. I love nature, palm trees on the Caribbean Ocean. SHM doesn’t have a facility for hosting teams: participants pay for their travel and accommodations. Ours was lovely….pools, buffets, clean rooms with air conditioners and showers to clean off construction dirt….the luxurious daily contrasts between those we went to serve and our privileged world. I found it hard, processing the disparity questions, daily jostling between these two worlds. I still do.

PHOTO BY TEAM MEMBER STEVE

This wraps it up. Would I do another mission-cation? Absolutely, in some form, somewhere. Would I encourage you or others to do one? Only if it is calling your name or heart, in this stage of your life – and if you’re undecided? Just stay open.

I do urge us all to help others feel better in their lives – be that a kind word, sponsoring a child, shuttle service for medical appointments, praying, defending someone’s name, supporting a fund-raiser, writing letters.

I hope you enjoyed these highlights of my trip. Would love to read your comments, hear your travel stories.

Love and Gratitude,

Karen

P.S. Want to work together discovering your next step for vibrant living? Contact me here for a free short chat.

Mission-cation* A Dominican Republic Project – Part 1

When I was a kid ‘vacation’ wasn’t a two-week holiday slot on my farmer-Dad’s calendar. Travelling was going to visit family, often an hour and a half drive (one-way) for us to see grandparents: a jaunt squished between Dad’s morning and night cow-milking schedule – what a treat when older brothers could cover the evening shift.

Long after the cows were gone my parents’ travel plans still focused on visiting one of us five kids and Dad was especially happy if that included helping us with a project.

From somewhere in the gene pool, I am wired to go and see and do! Throughout the seasons of life I’ve been blessed with health and sufficient means to travel – most often with my husband of 45+ years – for R&R in the sun; hiking with a backpack and tent; travelling to run races; visiting my Scottish ‘roots’ and of course – also visiting family!

Yet a travel category still gnawed on my wish list:

To take a *mission-cation – a mission combined with a vacation abroad or in one’s home country, achieving/contributing to a humanitarian project in addition to vacation perks and/or in environment different than home.

Karen Toews

The closest connection to fulfilling this desire, in 2005, was running an ultramarathon with my husband, to raise funds for a clinic (built in 2006) for our favourite mission in Mozambique.

An amazing trip and race of a lifetime; yet I still wanted my boots-on-the-ground experience.

In December 2017, a friend affiliated with Servant’s Heart Ministries (SHM), started working with a local team to build a house in Sosua, Dominican Republic. The plan was to go for a week in the spring of 2019.

This was my trip! Even better, my builder-husband decided he was in too!

Fast forward through 2018: fund-raising for the project’s supplies and labour for local tradesmen. Bottle drives and bake sales; spaghetti supper; penny auction; packing groceries, Bingo bowling; catering Christmas parties and donations from many generous souls.

April 3, 2019, on-the-ground in the Dominican, we were excited to get started but the SHM team-on-the-ground had planned an orientation day first. Touring us through a section of the Sosua community helped us acclimate to our surroundings and showed us the big-picture impact of the SHM operation for neighbourhood adults and children. A great day with wonderful people: substance for another blogpost. (Full disclosure, our team had exemplary energy and enthusiasm, but after a few days of moving concrete blocks and pails of mortar we fondly looked back at that ‘easier’ orientation day!)

Next morning we were dressed in work duds, slathered with sunscreen, carrying our water bottles – ready to rock, waiting in the resort lobby alongside tourists prepped for a day by the pool or the ocean or headed out for an excursion. After a few days of this routine some of the guests began to recognize our team in different stages of grubby and fatigue, coming back for the lunch and siesta break or at day’s end. It was fun to answer their questions as to what we were up to!

PHOTO CREDITS: TEAM MEMBER STEVE

Finally delivered to ground zero, thanks to driver-Dave navigating up and around hills amongst animals, motorbikes, pedestrians and vehicles.

I know from practice living in the kaffuffle of house building/renovations that a house takes months to complete. This project would not get done in a week! But our team of ten, linked with the local block-layers, had a scope of work.

Get the concrete walls up and the house closed in with a tin roof- okay then!

A delight to meet the recipient family; hard for me to relate how they felt after waiting four years for their new home.

Different languages weren’t a barrier for interpreting Minerva’s emotions as we hugged – kindred women, wives, mothers and grandmothers- but I am still processing the disparity in our lives’ circumstances because of where each of us was born. I hope to articulate this better when my thoughts are more settled.

A lovely family to work and spend some days with; enjoying small mugs of strong, sweet coffee and many hugs, trying to communicate and crazy-laughing when we knew we had totally mis-interpreted things. One day my wish was granted to cook a meal with Minerva for the work gang – a story to share later.

A project using rudimentary equipment and physically demanding labour.

I won first prize for getting the dirtiest!

Team mates Debbie and Tammy learning masonry. How did they stay so clean?! These two never said quit and never stopped smiling!

My husband Derryl loving the chance to be a concrete guy shouting for more mud!

Though our goal was daunting, thank God it was accomplished on schedule.



Time to say good-bye; first a celebration with the family and workers – and a few neighbour girls who shared so many smiles and hugs. Happy tears with a prayer of dedication and thanksgiving – including safety without injury on the job. (No small blessing considering the flip-flops I saw on the job!)

This project expanded my heart and spirit, pushed some physical limits, and I was so proud of my husband, in his zone but respectful of not being in charge. Being there only a few days, it’s already surreal looking back – were we really there with these beautiful people!

Before part two of this story is posted, I urge you to pause and consider:

  • don’t give up on the spark of a dream or mission on your travel wish-list – be patient, ready for action and if it involves a team, expect personal growth and work, i.e. months of fund-raising!
  • if your trip/mission involves physical labour, find out the specifics, i.e. how much weight are you going to be lugging and lifting. Prepare.
  • know your limits, i.e. heat (or cold), stamina, previous injuries. No heroics to go over the edge just to keep up, or save face.
  • there’s more than one way to do things; ours isn’t always the best one.
  • above all – expect (even look for ) the unexpected.

Thank you for reading my thoughts and travelogue. I look forward to writing the rest of this story – and many more.

With love and gratitude,

xo, Karen

PS If you’d like to share your travel dream or experience – or something else related to Vibrant Inspired Living, I’d love to read your comment. I promise to respond.

Adventure is in the Air

Maybe it’s the arrival of spring on the calendar: crocuses aren’t up yet but I can visualize their yearning, stretching to reach through the soil.

It could be visualizing my daughter Renee on her three-day solo hike-ski-backpack in the Laurentians. I’m rejoicing for her happiness (just a wee bit jealous) and anticipating when time and place will be right for my first solo adventure.

What really elevated my high alert for adventure was a weekend of attending two back-to-back presentations.

Jenna (from GetOutside ) – a woman in her 30’s living in Canmore, Alberta – shared her thru-hiking the Appalachian Trail story. Her inspirational presentation was followed by the Women’s Adventure Film Tour the next evening, featuring women adventurers from ages four to ninety!

I will never – that’s right, never! – be heli-snowboarding in Iran, mountain biking on narrow, mountain precipice trails in Nepal or competitive surfing in Hawaii.

But I am pumped for expectation and awareness for my own adventures.

Adventures I already love, i.e. plans are in place with friends for an annual ocean-kayaking trip, and the ones waiting for me to show up.

random thoughts for being open to adventure

Adventure is relative to your individual desires, the stage or season of life you’re in now. Taking a train cross-country as a teen-ager or as a senior; exploring hikes from a list like this of Canada’s best ; cycling from one end of your state or province to another. Pick your pleasure.

Adventure is curiosity and knowing enough to get yourself started; then trusting yourself to figure out the rest.

Adventure is making choices that will cost you something – gear; time in researching and preparation; travel; unfamiliar discomfort i.e. sleeping in a tent or rustic conditions; money.

When you invest in something you want, it doesn’t feel like a sacrifice.

Adventure is spontaneity: don’t over-think before accepting an invitation or opportunity. Look for inspiring presentations; join a hiking group to build confidence and fitness; sign up with a paddling group to be safe as you stretch into new territory.

Second Kayak on the Left is Mine

Adventure can be following an education and career path you never expected to go – with challenges, even danger – forging a path that will forever change your life. Like this story (referral link) Find Me Unafraid: Love, Loss and Hope in an African Slum by Jessica Posner and Kennedy Odede – your adventure could impact hundreds of others.

Adventure is attitude. When blogger and author Osheta Moore (referral link) – eight months pregnant with a two-year-old – realized that evacuation following Hurricane Katrina would be months-long she chose to accept: “….I could look at this like, God is with us on this adventure and I’m going to be open to anything that happens at this point..”

Adventure is Facing Fear: challenges to make it happen; fear of injuries; fear that others might think you’re crazy, fear of setting adventure goals and not reaching them.

Feel the fear and let it work for you in energy and motivation, and not as an immobilizer.

Hiking Companion, Cape Chignecto, NS

Adventure can bring rewards of accomplishments. You’re sure to grow in learning and adapting ‘for the next time’.

Adventure is for every age. It might have been my cross-country move in my 50’s or because I hang around with women like my friend Nancy – but I truly feel more adventurous now than I ever have. Mindset can carry you long after energy wanes.

I understand the fear factor. Running marathons, paddling, cycling, hiking – daring to encourage others to stretch and face their fears.

I hate to think of what I – we – miss in life when fear immobilizes us.

If you feel your life is too short, too precious and expansive to be limited by fear – I would love to help you move ahead with coaching using mindset strategies and starting with small steps . You can reach me here or at ketoews@gmail.com.

Helping you script your vibrant life with healthy eating, activity, purpose and adventure!

Love and gratitude,  

Karen

P.S. If you would you like to catch video interviews, snippets of recipes and random thoughts and tips for all things related to holistic health – and adventure! – visit my FB page: https://www.facebook.com/karentoews/

what I’ve been up to: reviving the moxie

I had a vacation in January.

I didn’t escape winter to enjoy sun, sand and palm trees. I returned to my Alberta home town for a visiting-blitz with family and friends. It was lovely.

I went for cold morning walks at By-the-Lake-Park : reviving wonderful memories where I’ve logged a zillion running steps in year’s past.

I reflected on changes since these trails were a daily running route. Moving 12 years ago from this forever-home community to Nova Scotia. Heeding reality that my knees would be healthier and happier by switching from running to hiking. It’s difficult saying good-bye… I love and continue to discover my new province. And hiking-backpacking-camping is invigorating; wide open for travel and adventure!

The Alberta vacation was delicious: satisfying a hunger for reconnecting with siblings and families, elderly aunts, myriad friends. Eating with those I love, at tables in spaces archived with memories. Now with several more.

My plane trip back to Nova Scotia was eventful.

After tossing about in a wind and rain storm; a redirected flight ended in a Montreal layover where I sprawled for a few hours on an airport couch. January’s wrap-up might have been a sign.

February: time now to write, be creative, prepare work projects!

But my moxie for it all had checked out. I’d lost the spunk, grit, eagerness.

I dug my way through some writing deadlines.

And then I faced February’s funk the best ways I know fit for me. I hope some of these ideas and links might fit for you also.

I Read (or listened to) books

Audio books are perfect while driving-travelling-doing kitchen work and I love having digital books downloaded for overnight treks in the back country. After using Scribd‘s 30-day free trial I signed up for their monthly unlimited subscription plan. It’s great. No due dates. The books are mine. This might be a good fit for you and your family. (I’m not a Scribd affiliate.)

Memoirs are my #1 genre, followed by personal growth. Sorry, no fiction here:

I DO love the feel of a paper book: here are two that placed well into my current reading thread related to refugees, humanitarian aid, justice:

  • David Starr, From Bombs to Books “remarkable stories of refugee children and their families at two exceptional British Columbia schools.” Also cool – and Canadian.

I Exercised: because I know I must, not because I should

  • Aqua Tabata class: my swimming pool-love affair story is here. I’ve had to temporarily switch from one pool to another since the furnace packed it in at one location. Until repairs and classes resume, I’m happily doing my own water-weights routine. Mandatory for survival.
  • Being in nature is non-negotiable: for me it’s a sacred pathway (referral link). February’s cold, wind, snow and ice were nasty. My layering up, starting with wool long johns, to spend time in the woods has been redemptive and revitalizing.

I Listened to a Podcast Series

  • Jen’s line-up of voices with such broad spheres can be a bit intimidating – but I listened for the motivating bits I can use for my world, i.e. sitting at this keyboard sharing a trying to revive my moxie story!
  • If you’re wanting more fire in the belly, I’d check out this series.

I Cleaned out some corners

  • I tackled my least favourite house-cleaning job – washing out disgusting, dusty, cob-webbed corners. It triggered momentum for the wooden stairs, floors, even more. Visual accomplishments work wonders.
  • My large desk facilitates spreading out papers – a bit of everything. Sorting through envelopes in a basket buried in a corner, I discovered the reminder note of a silent auction certificate (with expiry date) that I purchased in 2018. I booked accommodation at a yurt: charming retreat for hubbie and me.
  • A renewal notice is paper-clipped to a corner of my daytimer: waiting for yes or no if I’m ready to renew my annual business license. Affirmative: paid in full.

Thank you for reading what I’ve been up to. What really happened in February for my typical enthusiasm to get washed-up?

Maybe cold weather, fewer hours in sunshine, shifts in vision and purpose, the blues after so much wonderful family time at Christmas and the weeks following?

I don’t have the answer. Just that life and bodies are complex. It’s now March and I’m eager to move forward.

If I can be of any help for you to discover, or recover, your moxie please contact me here or at ketoews@gmail.com.

As always, may you live rejuvenated by healthy food, activity, purpose and joy.

Love and gratitude,  

Karen

What are you hungry for? The messy and beautiful matter of Food

I have been mulling over and digging through these thoughts a long time in writing this post: wanting to tread carefully and respectfully in sharing recommendations on a subject so personal (and challenging) as food. But here goes.

Note: the previous posts in this series are not sequential, so reading them first isn’t critical. But for helpful thoughts and action steps related to this discussion of hunger, I encourage you to also read what are we really craving? – and thoughts on hunger for connection and friendship.

Food: the random menu list displays how options can be all over the map.

Add on: details about nutrients, dietary protocols, the practicality of needing food several times a day; shopping, cooking at home or eating elsewhere…

And factor in: the likelihood of psychological pressure through shame and judgment from ourselves and others, based on what we eat or don’t eat – especially if we carry excess weight.

Food is in the thick of it: even with a foodie mindset and nutritional training I know it can be painfully complicated.

YET. Though I don’t know the ‘when and where’ of the origin of our need for food, I believe it was in the earliest ‘God-design’ for living – because it can be so beautiful, pleasurable, nourishing, healing, delicious, purposeful! If you feel that food is your enemy I want to help you turn that around.

Try releasing perfection, start scripting your own rules.

At one time in my work I would offer here a tidy menu plan and a list of good or bad, yes and no foods with a check list to record your score: no disrespect to those using this system if it works well for you. Now, I suggest cutting the pressure to get the food thing perfect, to listen to your body – and yes, your heart too – allow yourself to write your own rules. Don’t let the term rules put you off, i.e. oral health is improved thanks to a “brush before bed rule” . A snack rule for eating a combo of protein, fat and fibre keeps you satisfied longer., i.e. apple with almond butter or cheese.

Idea! Integrate Health Canada’s guidelines into your new rules.

Ready to Begin? Then Consider These Four Things

  • Approach food as your friend to appreciate and enjoy rather than a controller, inconvenience: choose food based on the eating-path you ultimately desire, rather than what you ‘must deny‘ yourself. Go at your pace as simple or as deep for what fits for you, now.
  • Think about how you want to feel with your food while you’re eating it: what you want it to do – or not – for you, the pleasures and challenges of preparing it and sharing it.
  • Ask yourself: what stage of life am I in right now? If children are still at home, are you the primary cook, do strict dietary guidelines apply, available time for cooking is more or less, you’re not as excited about food – this all helps you determine what is your next step.
  • Mindset and emotions can accompany food like dressing on a salad: useful additions to making food choices and to thoroughly enjoying food. Your mindset is powerful – access my free booklet including a section on eating for health. Emotions can try to sway you to binge on potato chips, or chocolate chips: neither can fill the loneliness you feel after you’ve moved to a new city. On the other hand – if a rich, creamy mug of cocoa feels like a hug, ENJOY! If you like, let’s meet to work through this.

Some of these eating goals might fit, or can inspire your own menu plan.

menutwo

Savour the essence of food

Finally: a pause for food-gratitude. I’ve never been starving for lack of food – and I’m hoping this is your story also. I encourage a practice of ‘giving thanks’ for our abundance as a routine of thankfulness and reminder that many people (one in nine, world-wide) experience chronic hunger. What a privilege to actively contribute to feed our world.

Wrapping this up with two things:

  • Though we can get overwhelmed, caught in perfection, frustrated by habits, or how our body responds to food, it is not our enemy but a blessing to sustain life. How boring it would be to just throw back hand fulls of tablets for our sustenance!
  • A Food Disclaimer in a nutshell: I am not proposing a daily diet of processed foods or consuming large amounts of refined white—anything! But I do recommend a meal plan with whole, real foods as close as possible to how you’d find them in nature.
  • Oh, one more! If you’re beating yourself up over the eating-food scene and want to move to a more beautiful, less complicated relationship, connect with me here or at ketoews@gmail.com for a complimentary 20-minute conversation. I’d love to help you get started.

I hope this post has been helpful. Don’t forget to check Part 1 and Part 2.

If I can be of any help, in whatever stage of life you’re in, please contact me here or at ketoews@gmail.com.

May you be rejuvenated with healthy food, activity, purpose and joy.

Love and gratitude,  

Karen

Bending the Bar

In track and field competitions the high jump bar is gradually moved up for testing physical limits and aiming for greater achievements.

In the process of living all of us have times – many times! – when we are challenged and feel limited by our performance bars which might be:

  • adapting our actions because we’ve being previously been ‘shut down’ by others
  • stuck in not feeling good enough and compensating by people-pleasing
  • trapped in patterns just because it seems the ‘right’ thing, what we have always done
  • frustrated by unsatisfying efforts for changing our health

The above scenarios can be reasons for bending the bar* and by that I mean – not particularly focusing on moving the bar higher. But making (often small) adjustments to support positive changes you desire – finding freedom and fulfilment with less attention on ‘we should improve ourselves’ and more to investigating for meaningful living.

Bending the bar even a little can be risky – we could get injured, judged, disappointed – but the very same things can happen if we never move at all.

Five areas to bend the bar towards living a life of confidence, purpose and adventure.

1 Acknowledge if perfection is blocking your desires. Do you want to build friendships but think you must have the perfect house and meal before inviting the new family in the neighbourhood for dinner? You’ve written an interesting book review you’d like to contribute to the local library but are you measuring it against the New York Times columns! Your neighbour’s invitation to join her on the pickle ball court intrigues you but you’ve never played and don’t want to look silly. Avoid setting impossible standards.

2 Discover and establish a healthy, secure understanding of who you are. Dare to dig inside: have hurts or lies from the past silenced your voice and tainted the truth of the beauty of you? Your sense of identity can tell you: “I have talents with value” or “nobody would accept or need what I have to offer in the world”. For me, identity comes from believing I have God-given desires and purpose. I need to stand in this daily, filling my mind and Spirit knowing I am Loved. I encourage you in your journey to explore who you truly are; it’s a lifetime of leaning into, learning and being YOU.

3 There is not one way, nor a magic formula for weight loss, getting fit and working towards overall well-being. From my health coaching experience I advise expectations that make sense. A different diet (even one with copious amounts of vegetables and healthy protein!) can not fix an unhealthy mindset, prevent anxiety or eliminate depression. But food can help you have more energy, better digestion and a host of other benefits. Have you seen the new Canada food guide ? In my view it isn’t perfect for everyone, but it’s a good place to start.

4 Life is a continuum of different stages and places. Sometimes these occur from one calendar season to the next; or in periods of illness or a divorce or retirement or a move in location. What has always worked before often has a lifespan , i.e. every Sunday night all the family – kids and grands and more – always joined you around your table. Give yourself permission to set new traditions, explore new areas of interest – which includes accepting that everything might not work out as you hoped. Which may or may not be a good thing – but move ahead from there.

5 At every age we will experience challenges in wondering what steps we should take next? Whether it’s how we do our work, raise our children, what charity can I be involved in – the choices are forever. This may sound weird, but for me when I listen to my heart and feel an emotional connection (often with tears!) I sense this is an opening or opportunity for me to be open to; even though I can’t see the whole journey laid out ahead of me. Discover what moves you for positive change – then do the next thing.

*I didn’t coin the phrase Bending the Bar: Michelle Obama used it in her best-seller, On Becoming, a memoir I thoroughly enjoyed on audio.

I would be happy to hear how you are bending the bar for a deeper discovery of your desires. Would you like to connect for support with the five areas I discussed to help you move towards a life of confidence, purpose and adventure? Let’s have a (complimentary) short chat to help make this happen for you. You can connect with me here or at ketoews@gmail.com.

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 I can be of any help, please contact me here or at ketoews@gmail.com.

P.P.S. NOTE for readers who are following my blog of WordPress and want to avoid receiving two blog emails. Please try unsubscribing with the link at the bottom of the email that comes from WordPress. Hope this helps with the duplication.

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

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.

P.P.S. NOTE for readers who are following my blog of WordPress and want to avoid receiving two blog emails. Please try unsubscribing with the link at the bottom of the email that comes from WordPress. Hope this helps with the duplication.

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

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.