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.  

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.

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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 

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  • 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.