camera phones.

Practical things. Like sending a friend pictures of seeds for our shared garden during a text conversation. How handy is it that we always have a camera on us?

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And how much handier is it that whatever image we capture at any given moment, we can instantly send or share it with anyone else?!

Clearly this picture never had the potential to change the world, but how many times have I been at the store and wondered if I was looking at or holding the right item. Not a problem; I just take a photo of it and send it to whoever I’m texting with or talking to. Right then and there.

This reminds me of a concept I’ve heard about; hedonic adaptation. This term just refers to the way we quickly absorb the waves of happiness that good things bring to our lives; at first we may be tickled pink to enjoy a new pleasure or convenience, but not for long. I’ve only had a camera phone in my hand for about half of my life, but it’s so easy for me to forget how much of a privilege it actually is.

And speaking of privilege… 😉 a couple months ago, shortly before COVID-19 closed things down, I treated myself to a gel manicure. My natural fingernails often behave like puff pastry and think they should shred and peel at the slightest provocation. I know; I need more collagen. I’m working on it. In the meantime, I’d gone in to a nail studio for a quick fix. It was a busy place. While I was waiting, I took the opportunity to choose the colour I wanted, to save time once my appointment actually started. Snap. I was ready with my image when my nail technician asked. Just so. Then, as I was about to leave, I saw a sign which promised that if I posted a photo of my nails in the salon, I’d be entered in a draw for a free manicure. Accordingly, I quickly took a little picture of my much-improved hands, and posted it to my instagram feed, tagging the nail shop.

Again, not earth-shattering. Still, for every such innocuous example, there must be dozens out there of camera phones to the rescue on matters of much greater import.

So blessed,

Leah 

p.s. Did I win the draw for a free manicure? This remains to be seen; there must still be a remote chance that I’ll get a call once business gets back underway. It’s possible…

French Your Way.

I love listening to the charming and pretty voice of this passionate French language teacher!

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“To have another language is to possess a second soul.”
Charlemagne

I don’t know if I can go quite that far, but I do agree with the basic sentiment; language expresses so much culture! And I do find the French language beautiful and fascinating.

I’m studying with the University of Calgary to become a professional English language teacher, for people who have a different first language. So I think it’s key for me to come back to studying my second language. Being on the learner end adds essential perspective. Empathy.

If you, like me, took French classes in school, and have some extra time on your hands, maybe you’d like to take a listen. If so, here’s a link to Jessica’s podcast webpage:

French Your Way podcast

I initially found French Your Way on the apple podcast app in my phone, but to start at the beginning, and get the very earliest episodes I went to her website. This was serendipitous; online I found Jessica’s free articles and worksheets full of helpful tips and opportunities to practice. She’s  a very experienced professional, so anything I can learn from her is a gift!

I’m sure there are countless online resources for learning other languages, but this one is a favourite of mine. This lovely lady is a native French speaker who studied for 7 years in University before embarking on a language teaching career that allowed her to travel and work in various places.

She eventually settled in Australia, where she now lives with her husband and baby daughter. Once or twice while listening to a podcast I’ve caught a tiny baby voice in the background, which is very sweet to me. Because- babies are adorable. I hope that as her little girl grows up speaking her mother’s beautiful language, I might hear her again.

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Orlova Maria (unsplash)

High-quality, free French language-learning resources.

So blessed,

Leah 

happier.

“One of the best ways to make yourself happy is to make other people happy. One of the best ways to make other people happy is to be happy yourself.” ~Gretchen Rubin~

This is one great podcast. It’s the first one I ever started listening to, and still a favourite.

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This woman is brilliant. Actually a genius. She left a promising career as a Yale-trained lawyer to become a writer who researches happiness. Also, her smart and funny younger sister, Liz, joins her; the podcast episodes are a dialogue between the two of them, with occasional guests interviewed from time to time.

Most episode include these cute little sections: “Try This At Home”, Happiness Hack”, and “Demerits and Gold Stars” (pretty funny, t.b.h.). These two. Anyway, there’s a huge community of listeners, many of whom write and call in with questions, answers, and sometimes rather amusing arguments.

I’d read some of Gretchen Rubin’s books, beginning with The Happiness Project, and Happier at Home). Eventually I read her newer offerings, and wrote little blog posts about these two: Better Than Before and The Four Tendencies. When I learned she had a podcast, I was excited to hear her talking about all these ideas. But when I heard their voices I was surprised; they sounded so down-to-earth. I don’t know what I was expecting, maybe more cerebral-sounding voices?  Anyway, I find their unabashed openness and vulnerability super relatable.

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Liz (l) and Gretchen (r)

When I first started with the Happier podcast, I was binge-listening for a while as I started at the beginning and gradually ‘caught up’. Now, of course I just listen to them as they’re released. They often make me laugh, and I always learn something or at least get a little vitamin-shot of motivation to look at things a bit differently, and I think it does make me happier, in real life.

So if you’re interested in listening in on this fun little world, here’s where you can find it:

Happier Podcast

Or you may just want to check out this little list:

Best Of Happier Podcast

Enjoy, my friends!

So blessed,

Leah 

p.s. I always do something else while I listen; often ironing or putting away laundry.

water.

“Water is life, and clean water means health.” ~Audrey Hepburn~

We are so rich; we have pure, fresh water. As much as we want, a few steps away. Flowing from the taps in the kitchen and bathroom. Pouring freely into our drinking glasses and bathtubs. We don’t have to choose between laundry and a shower; between cooking and gardening.

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In so many parts of the world, people have to trek long distances, collect dirty surface water, suffer illness and even death because they lack this one simple thing. Any day in which we wake up and drink as much clean water as we want, is a good day.

I found this recent, distressing article published by the World Health Organization:

1/3 of world’s people without safe drinking water…

As a world, we’re facing the COVID-19 pandemic. We know it’s highly infectious, but we can so easily protect ourselves, in large part by simply washing our hands. Ok, no problem. Suddenly we’re all lathering up more times in a day than ever before. So we use a little- or a lot- more soap and hand lotion than we’re used to going through. All righty.

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Photo by mrjn Photography on Unsplash

Do we appreciate what a privilege this is? All we have to do is be more mindful of handwashing. The clean water is there, waiting for us to turn the taps. It’s pure and we can run it warm. Meanwhile, billions of people- people just like us- have to face the threat of COVID-19 with little or no access to safe water.

Here’s an even more recent, and equally distressing news article:

Vulnerable countries could see 1 billion COVID cases…

It’s not just ventilators and face masks. It also comes down to water, or a lack thereof. While we do what we can every day to avoid wasting water, and donate a little of our income to help provide water to those most in need of it, let’s make sure we take a moment to really appreciate our next refreshing drink of water.

So blessed,

Leah 

p.s. I use extra water from the kitchen and dining room to water my houseplants. Every little bit helps a little, right?

the mindful kind.

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Rachael Kable ~medium~

The way I found this adorable blogger and podcaster is a little odd; I was playing around with possible blog titles a couple years ago, and when I typed in this one (the mindful kind), it was already taken. Thank goodness Rachael Kable thought of it first; she’s amazing.

Since then, I’ve been avidly listening to her gentle and friendly podcasts; binge-listening at first until I caught up, and now weekly, as she releases them. She offers practical tips, enhanced by her genuine kindness and honest vulnerability. She’s trained in psychology, and she works professionally in this field with her coaching business, but she never comes across as too technical or in any way removed from what it feels like to be the one struggling.

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“Mindfulness can be an attitude, a way of living life by connecting with the now and being open and curious about what there is to experience.”

~Rachael Kable, The Mindful Kind~

I haven’t read her book yet, but I will. Or I may order the audiobook, as her voice is very calming, and I love her Australian accent; she lived in Melbourne before moving back to the countryside where she grew up. In the meantime, I just keep following her on instagram and enjoying her short and sweet podcast episodes.

COVID-19 has added plenty of extra tension to life in this lovely world, and if ever we could use regular doses of sweet, calming wisdom, it’s now. Maybe listening in will help fill you up with this mental and emotional comfort food. Her advice is easy to take because it’s delivered with such empathy and compassion.

If you, my friends, would like to check out the offerings of this caring and clever woman, here are a few links. I hope some of you enjoy these little blessings as much as I do!

The Mindful Kind Podcast

Rachael Kable’s Mindfulness Blog

The Mindful Kind Book

Rachael Kable Instagram

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So blessed,

Leah 

security.

We’ve got it so good. Do we really know how good we’ve got it?

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Photo by Casey Horner on Unsplash

When I say security, I’m not talking about a security system or security guards. I’m more talking about the comfort we have knowing we’ll be ok for home and food, etc.

Those of us who are so blessed as to be sure of our homes and not worry about feeding ourselves and our families for the coming days are part of a very small minority of people in the world. In the oft-repeated words of Precious Ramotswe, one of my favourite characters in modern literary fiction, written by the brilliant Alexander McCall Smith, (The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency):

“This is a well-known fact.”

Like many other Canadians, and people in most parts of the world, I’ve been unable to go to my work since the COVID-19 pandemic hit. Like so many others, I’m healthy, and would be glad to work if only I could. But since my employment is on hold, so (of course) is my income. This is a first for me, and let me tell you; I’m so grateful to live in a place where there is financial assistance available through the government to help us ride this crazy wave.

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Photo by Felix Mittermeier on Unsplash

Because of benefits like this, millions of people who would otherwise suffer loss of homes and food insecurity are able to pull themselves and their families through times of economic instability. We can concentrate our pent-up energies on doing our part to keep ourselves and our communities healthy.

So blessed,

Leah 

 

 

 

dutch blitz.

I’m not really one for card games. But this one is definitely an exception.

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Little did I know what good times I was bringing home to my family when I picked this up randomly, shopping one day several years ago. You may wonder why I haven’t gotten rid of this poor old box, and just wrapped the deck of cards in a rubber band. This is why:

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While I appreciate and admire those talented individuals who can ‘do accents’, I am not one of them. But when I read the little ditty on the back of this box, I think I actually sound a bit Dutch. Maybe not, but it’s fun to try. 

It’s simple, even straightforward to understand how to play. The hilarious intensity is because it’s played all at once! No turn-taking. No dull moments in between turns. No mind-wandering. Nope.

Each player gets one of these sets (from the main deck). If you want to play with more than 4 players at a time, there’s an expansion pack you can buy. Personally, my attention is spread to full capacity with four players. One of our adult daughters has A.D.H.D., and playing Dutch Blitz with her is enough to make my head spin. She’s definitely at an advantage in this game!

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The general idea is to make lots of red, blue, yellow, and green stacks of cards in the centre of the table, each stack beginning with a 1 and ending with a 10. There’s a pattern to how and when to use the cards in each players’ hand, and it’s fun.

Don’t take my word for it, though. I’m pretty sure you can order it on Amazon. During this pandemic, a lot of us have extra time at home with our families (or housemates), and this is just one more way to enjoy it.

Here’s the official Dutch Blitz website, which has a video you can watch to see the game played:

 
The craziest, and best memory I have of playing this is from last summer. My husband and I were out car camping with our two adult daughters. It was cold and pouring rain there in the majestic mountains of Banff National Park, so we all squished into the back of our little Subaru Forester to play a few rounds of Dutch Blitz. In all honesty, we didn’t actually fit. Oddly though, we all cheerfully contorted ourselves into pretzels in order to laugh our way through this silly game together. Good times. 
 
So blessed, 
 

Leah

yoga with adriene.

I’ve never met her, but I think I love this wonderful human. She’s an incredible yoga teacher, and makes her high-quality lessons available for free on the internet. Plus she has a quirky personality, which makes trying to follow her moves fun, even when I can’t always do what she does.

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I found her classes a couple years ago, when I was searching YouTube for good exercise videos. As lovely as it is to go to an in-person class, it’s not always feasible for me. And I don’t feel like I’m ‘settling’ for what Adriene offers. I can honestly say I enjoy my yoga practice more with her than with anyone else I’ve found online, including paid sites.

In a perfect world, I would always have my incredible sister, Sara, here with me as my personal yoga instructor. I like how she really helps and coaches me individually through the poses. She’s so comforting and I feel extra reassured knowing I’m practicing under her watchful eye and nurturing hands. But in the real world, she lives hundreds of kilometres away form me, so this is a rare treat.

I wish I could say I always make the time, every day, for this soul-feeding exercise. But in real life, I don’t. Sometimes I enjoy soaking in the idea of yoga as much as the actual process of moving onto the mat. One of my sweet sisters gave me a beautiful yoga magazine/book for my birthday. Yesterday, I’m happy to say I took time to lie on the couch and page through it, feeling inspired by the beautiful images of calm, mindfulness, and healthy beauty.

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Yoga in a time of COVID19 is especially valuable, because it hits a lot of life’s current pressure points:

  • physical-distancing-friendly indoor exercise
  • free- no cost
  • mindfulness-enhancing
  • no equipment needed (though a mat is helpful)
  • calm, cheerful instructor
  • can be enjoyed alone, or with others

I know I’m not the only one who’s more or less home all the time these days. If any of you are interested, here’s where you can find this upbeat and comforting resource…

Yoga With Adriene (her website)

Yoga With Adriene (her videos on YouTube)

Thankfully, this pandemic didn’t hit us 25 years ago, before the internet.

So blessed,

Leah