These days we talk a lot about finding our purpose, or our mission, or our “why”. But often we have that because of someone. Our inspiration. For me, that’s my grandmother, Gladys. (She’s first in a long, long list). You can read more about her, and what she inspires, here.
I pack a lot into my days, including time for exercise. It makes me feel healthier, stronger, and better able to deal with whatever life throws at me. So when someone asks, “How do you find time to do that?”, I tell them. I get up at 5:30 most days of the week, sometimes even on weekends.
What is really important in your life, that you can’t find time for? Is it healthy eating? Exercise? Travel? Time off with friends and family? Whatever it is, schedule it in. Not everyone’s an early riser like me. You have to know yourself. Maybe you’re better in the evening. I just know that if I leave it til later, I’m much more likely to make excuses. That means prioritizing my work, and working smarter, so I can fit in the things that I say are important. Productivity is about more than shoving more work out the door. It’s also about creating a way of working that lets you live a life that’s right for you.
Want to find out whether working with a coach can help you fit in more of what’s important to you, and less of what’s not? Fill out this contact form and I’ll get back to you. Let’s chat!
Challenging times…what do you do when it seems like your values are being assaulted every day? Sometimes all you can do is declare yourself. Hatred has no place in my world, and I am disappointed to see anyplace that declares itself to be liberal, open-minded, and supportive of freedom and liberty, allowing the preaching of hatred, or the dissemination of fear. This has been weighing on me, as I watch my friends’ worry increase (for good reason). So sometimes I just ask for a sign. This was one I received today on my morning walk. Morse Street Junior Public School, thanks. I needed that.
Need a translation? Here you go:
I spend a lot of my time writing about food. I spend more of it writing about keeping fit and getting out to explore the city by walking – at least 5K per day.
As you might guess by my @WalkEatLive handle, though, there’s another component: living. I like to do that exactly the same way as I do everything: up and to the right. What does that mean? It means with my meals, I always focus on improving what I am eating – making sure I am taking in healthy fuel to keep me going. With walking and exercise, it means challenging myself to make good choices and not slack off just because the weather is lousy or I had too much fun with friends yesterday. And in life, it means finding ways to improve on a daily basis, because without movement, there’s stagnation. I’m always building these healthy habits because no matter what direction life takes, there’s great satisfaction in saying, “I did my best to be better today”.
In an ongoing quest to be better every day, I’m always working on health as one of my priorities, and that starts with walking, and also with eating well. Filling yourself up is important – starvation, deprivation, and denial just aren’t sustainable. So instead it’s really helpful to focus on putting as many good things into a meal as possible. Empty calories are easy to banish when you choose lots of healthy vegetables, brilliant colours, lean protein – with a nod to Michael Pollan, mostly plants! This tasty salad has sweet potato, peppers, red onion, pink beans, and a tasty curry vinaigrette (equal parts Dijon, cider vinegar, canola oil, and a teaspoon or so of curry powder for each serving).
There’s more to filling yourself up to eating, though – something I have been discussing with a friend quite a bit lately. It’s important to fill your mind with positive, helpful, forward-moving thoughts. Often when we are overwhelmed with trying to help others, we forget to take care of ourselves – but the oxygen-mask rule can help keep us on track. If you’ve ever flown on a plane, you’ll recall that they tell you to put your own mask on before helping others. That’s because if you aren’t filled up (with air), you won’t be any good to anyone. So my favourite fill-up method is to get out for a good brisk walk, early in the morning as the city is waking up, and to drink in the sights and sounds around me. Today I was particularly inspired by the sunlight filtering through the trees in Allen Gardens – just steps away from skyscrapers and streetcars. That alone has filled me up with enough gratitude to last all day.
Whenever I talk about city walks, people are used to seeing my photos of skyscrapers, busy city streets, heritage buildings, or the occasional “downtowny” park. But when I post from nearby Riverdale Farm, or somewhere like the Don River Pathway/Pan Am Path, they ask, “Where’s that?” or “That’s not near your condo, is it?” It is. Within 2.5km of my condo, I can have City Hall, beautiful Lake Ontario, the Beach, the Farm, or the Trail. It’s really splendid. If you’re a city-dweller, head out in any direction for your walk, and go for twenty minutes or half an hour, then turn back. Tomorrow, choose a new direction. Even after you’ve covered some favourite routes many times, there’s always something new to discover. Take a different turn now and then, or let the lights choose whether you head north, east, south, or west, and surprises await. Start your day with a little surprise, and I’m sure you’ll be inspired to keep walking every day, as I am.
When you start to think of food as fuel, instead of comfort, you re-evaluate what you eat all the time. Salty, sugar-y treats don’t look so appealing any more. But in a busy life, it can be difficult to figure out what to cook. One of my go-to dishes when I’ve had a long, stressful day is homemade pizza. We make the whole thing ourselves, starting with the crust. Here’s how:
Turn on your oven to 425F so it will be ready.
In a measuring cup, put 3/4c of warm water with 1t of maple syrup or sugar, if that’s what you have. Sprinkle with 1T of yeast and let it rest. I sit mine on the stove since that will be giving off some warmth. While that happens, relax. Have a glass of water. Check your Facebook. Read a blog. Give yourself a little neck massage. Put away some laundry. Whatever.
Next, stir the yeast mixture and pour into a medium bowl. Sprinkle in some oregano, hot sauce or smoky paprika for flavour. If you don’t have any, no worries! It’s good plain. Add whole wheat flour, stirring in with a fork in a circular motion, a little at a time until it begins to come away from the sides of the bowl. Then sprinkle a little flour on the counter, dump the dough on that, sprinkle with a tiny bit more, and knead a couple of times to form a ball (not for ages, maybe a minute at most).
Spray the bowl with cooking spray or oil it lightly, and put your dough ball back in. Cover with a tea towel and put it in a warm place (like the top of the stove) to rise for 10 minutes.
Put a piece of parchment paper on a cookie sheet or pizza pan. This will save you cleanup time! Pat the dough out to the size of the pan on the parchment, using floured hands to keep from sticking. Top lightly. For this one we used 1/2c marinara, a few sliced mushrooms, and a diced red pepper. If you eat dairy, add cheese – 2oz of feta and 2oz of manchego. That’s it! Bake for 18 minutes, cool slightly, and serve. For two, you can do 6 slices, and save 2 for breakfast. Ready in less time than to select, order, and wait for delivery. The best part? When you get up as early as this to fit in a walk the next morning…
…when you come back home for breakfast, those extra slices will be waiting. Great topped with a poached egg! Feeling grateful, hope you are as well.
Recently our neighbourhood came together for an annual spring event, the Big Park Cleanup (in fact the whole community gets cleaned, as much as we can). Many hands made light work, and Regent Park looked even better when we were done. We had volunteer photographers, like Mark Shapiro, we were well fed by the Regent Park Catering Collective, and community facilitator and animator Barb Brook and volunteer Leonard Swartz organized us in grand fashion, just to mention a few.
Tonight many of us will come together again for our bi-monthly community potluck – the theme this month is gardening. Can’t wait to try all the delicious food! (Hmm…do you sense a theme here?) It’s at the Daniels Spectrum, 6:30pm. See you there!
Were you an active kid, and years later, not so much? Or maybe you were always more interested in sitting down with a good book, or watching movies on t.v.
Science has shown that we humans are programmed for activity. We need exercise to give our brains oxygen, not only to be fit, but also to be sharp and productive. That’s why it’s important to find ways to fit action into every day. How can you do this?
- Take a walk – at the beginning of your day, on your lunch break, or after work to decompress and make a clean break between work time and “me time”.
- Play a sport – any game that helps you move is a good game. (While you’re deciding which one, take a quick look at how the Moss Park Hockey League is making our pricey national sport affordable for kids).
- Cycle to work – see the route from a new perspective and get your heart started at the same time.
Next time you’re wrestling with a tricky problem at work, try moving around. Take a walk to a colleague’s desk, go down the stairs and up again, or even just stand up and stretch a bit. Every motion counts.
Mindfulness is a popular concept of late – I was at a networking event earlier this week and the speaker was talking about the importance of mindfulness in moving forward, making decisions, reducing stress…a host of positive outcomes. Recently my husband came home from an event of his own, and he had won a Muse TM meditation device for his social media participation. No matter whose method, device, or framework you use, there are definitely advantages to bringing yourself into the present as you go through your day. Three that immediately come to mind (no pun intended), are these:
- You’ll enjoy more, if you aren’t distracted by regret, disappointment, or daydreaming.
- You’ll be more productive, if you’re focused on the task at hand.
- You’ll feel like you have more time, if you are appreciating each moment to the fullest.
So take a little time. Slow down and focus on what’s important. Contribute where you are the best one to do so. Or to leave you with a quote attributed to Paul Sloane, “Only do what only you can do.”