Sidewalk Messages

Healthy Mindset – Day 13

On an otherwise very blah day, this made my day….I don’t know Auntie Chan or Leo, but I love that she can look out her living room window and see this message!

We are not in a full “lockdown” here, so going for a walk is still allowed. It’s essential for our physical and mental well-being so I hope it continues to be allowed. Be safe, practice all the protocols, don’t go to the places that everyone flocks to, and choose a time when you don’t see as many people out. When you cross the street to avoid someone, smile or say hi. Yes, it takes a bit more planning, but if you can go out for a walk, I highly encourage it.

Friendly physical distancing makes a huge difference:

No writing or creative exercise today – just a wish that everyone gets some fresh air this weekend.

getting my hands dirty

Healthy Mindset – Day 12

It was 12 degrees (celsius) on the weekend, and in the sun, it felt more like 25 degrees. That got me dreaming of gardening. Once the warm weather hits, I predict gardening is going to replace bread baking as the new “it” activity. I usually plant flowers, tomatoes and herbs like basil and parsley. This year, I’m going to add a few vegetables to the mix. In fact, I ordered the seeds a few weeks ago, when I had an idea that I’m going to become an urban farmer of sorts! That’s definitely not going to happen, but getting outside, digging my hands in the soil, and seeing everything grow sure seems like it will be a good antidote to our current situation.

I’ve been stalking the Facebook pages of local greenhouses to see if they will still be open and was happy to see that the three I checked out plan to offer curbside pick-up or delivery. Perfect. But, it’s only April 2! That means it’s still about six weeks to wait (and some around here would say that’s still too early to plant!). Oh well, it’s something thing to look forward to.

Today’s creative exercise is to plan your garden!

And for some inspiration, here are some pics from Butchart Gardens, in Victoria, BC, June 2014

Thoughts on Resilience

“It’s not the load that breaks you down, it’s the way you carry it.”

Lena Horne

Healthy Mindset – Day 11

I’m an over-thinker.

Are you? Do you also absorb information deeply and feel things deeply? Does it sometimes cause you to dwell on the worst possible outcomes? During times like this, I think it’s safe to say we’ve all had our moments where we have gone deep to absorb the enormity of what is happening. It’s still mind boggling to think about how fast things have changed. It’s scary and heartbreaking to see the impact of the virus close to home and around the world and sometimes you may just want to sit with those thoughts and feelings for awhile. I’ve sought out complete silence many times over the last few weeks (with the windows open, when it’s warm enough, to listen to the birds).

Are you also doing things that make you feel good like getting some exercise, eating well, and staying in contact with family and friends? Are you seeking out things that make you smile and laugh, bring you joy, and allow you to express yourself or help someone else? If yes, in the big scheme of things, you probably feel okay, good, even, despite all the uncertainty around us. That means you have strong resilience. You know how to balance your emotions and stay calm in the midst of what’s happening.

Being aware that I’m an over-thinker is the first step towards having a healthy mindset and becoming resilient. The second is that I know what the signs are when I’m over-thinking and how to set myself towards a better state of mind. Last week, in particular, there was an instance where I’d just read a few too many stories on my news app and was thinking about the implications to our way of life which was then making me feel anxious. I was taking shallow breaths, holding tension in my neck and shoulders, and beginning to feel a pit in my stomach. I know taking some deep breaths will help, so I took three. I’d also planned to go for a walk around that time, and even though I didn’t feel like it, I knew it would make me feel better. And it did, and continues to. I look for hearts in windows, I look for sidewalk chalk art, I look for graffiti art on the sides of buildings and use my phone to take pictures of what I find interesting. Focussing on something else helps me appreciate the positivity and beauty around me. Plus nothing beats the feeling of fresh air in the Spring after a long, cold winter. I still want to read news stories about what’s happening, but now I make a point of doing so before I go for a walk because I know I’ll be able to work out my stress and that “heavy” feeling. Knowing what makes me feel stressed and having a plan to alleviate it contributes to my resilience.

Each day I set my mind towards having a healthy frame of mind which is way I’m keeping track of what day it is. It doesn’t mean being “positive” all the time, that would be disingenuous given what we are experiencing. It means I’m going to look for ways to find balance. Because that’s what I’m looking for, more often than not, I achieve that balance at some point each day.

Today’s writing questions are: What are the qualities of a resilient person? Do you think of yourself as having those qualities? Why or why not? What other difficult times have you gone through? What did you learn from those situations that are helping you get through this now or could help you get through this? 10 years from now, how would you like tell the story of what this period of time was like for you and your loved ones?

(The pic is of the Lizard Range Mountains from the deck of Island Lake Lodge at Fernie, British Columbia, September 2019).

enjoying a cozy, grey day

Healthy Mindset – Day 10

It was raining and snowing all morning and now it’s just grey and windy outside, so today it feels perfectly normal to stay inside, get cozy and have that extra cup of coffee. My routine has been to write in the morning, and then work on my other projects in the afternoon. I had too many things to write about this morning and I couldn’t focus on just one (it’s not a bad problem to have!) so today I decided to switch it around. However, I still don’t feel particularly articulate, and that’s okay.

Today’s writing exercise is what’s your favourite way to spend a rainy day?

One of the places I dream about going back to is Tofino on Vancouver Island. I was last there in 2011 and it was cold, grey, and honestly, kind of miserable, but it was beautiful.

All the feelings

Healthy Mindset – Day 9

Some days in the last few weeks have been exactly like this!

Recognizing that it’s normal to have thoughts and feelings come and go throughout the day, even at the best of times, is one way of being kind to yourself. Not getting stuck in the thoughts and feelings that impact you negatively is what is important. I’ll delve into this more as the week goes on, but for now today’s writing exercise is what are 5 things you are incredibly grateful for at this time in your life and why?

(The bear, gorilla, and giraffe pics were taken at the Audubon Zoo in New Orleans, March 2016, and the others around Regina, SK).

Letting the light in

Ring the bells (ring the bells) that still can ring, Forget your perfect offering

There is a crack in everything (there is a crack in everything), That’s how the light gets in

Leonard Cohen

Healthy Mindset – Day 7 & 8

I started this last Sunday with a vague plan to post every day about maintaining my own healthy mindset during these unprecedented times and thought perhaps others would find it helpful, as well. It’s still my plan to post every day and offer a writing exercise or an idea for a creative activity (likely photography related).  

Exercising the creative parts of our minds is a way to see things differently and increases happiness, boosts immunity (Google “how does creativity boost immunity”), increases focus, and offers a sense of freedom (there’s no right or wrong way to express your creativity!). Writing your thoughts down, whether in a journal or writing yourself notes on your phone (I used to do that on my coffee breaks at my previous job) has the same benefits. All good things, and especially so in scary, uncertain times. 

I’m experienced in emotional intelligence, life and work-related coaching so I’ll continue sharing what I know, as well. In early March, it was my goal to have my business website up by last week and fully launch my business. Like everyone else, I’m having to adapt my offerings, and that’s what I’ve been working on. However, at the same time, I’m also working through my own thoughts about what’s happening here and around the world. My blog has always been meant to be a place where I could share my take on the world through photography, quotes I find meaningful, and thoughts on life and travel, and that will continue. 

This has always been one of my favourite quotes, and never has it been more significant:

“The world is not respectable; it is mortal, tormented, confused, deluded forever; but it is shot through with beauty, with love, with glints of courage and laughter; and in these, the spirit blooms timidly, and struggles to the light amid the thorns.”

George Santayana
Hotel Saskatchewan, Regina, SK on Friday night

Today’s writing exercises – How do your express your creativity and how does it make you feel? What are your favourite quotes, sayings or song lyrics? Why are they meaningful to you? 

Healthy Mindset – Day 6

Let there be space in your togetherness

Kahlil Gibran

How has your week been? In some ways, it feels like things are settling into a sort of “sameness”. Since this started, I’ve been thinking that this period of time is a marathon, not a race. We have to ride this out, staying consistent in the things we are doing to minimize the impact on ourselves, loved ones, communities, and, ultimately, our healthcare system. It’s the only way to get to the other side of this.

Creating routines throughout my day that give me purpose and that I look forward to will help manage the “sameness”. This week it’s been being productive during the day (I’ve been mostly successful at that), checking in with how other people in my life are doing, going for a walk before supper, cooking a nice supper, watching a movie in the evening, and reading before bed. Mixed in with all of that is sadness and incredulity about what’s happening in other places, and thinking about the impact this is having on our society now, and what it’s going to be like when we get through this. The last part is relevant to my work and makes me think about how I can help people the longer this goes on, and once we’re through it. What routines are you creating?

I’m hoping to get my camera out this weekend. Now that the days are getting longer, today’s creative exercise is take a picture(s) at Golden Hour (before the sun sets), either in your own home or outside in your neighbourhood. It’s such a beautiful time of day.

Have a good weekend,


(My plan is to take Saturday’s off from positing).

Elk Island National Park, June 2015
New Orleans, March 2016
Kaanapali Beach, Maui, March 2015
My Living Room