end of migraine.

What a relief! I just recovered from a migraine that had kept me in bed since Sunday…

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This is me, feeling happy that I could half uncover that eye this afternoon, knowing the end was in sight. I get migraines pretty often. Well, very often. But I can catch most of them early with medication etcetera and don’t often get knocked down for days a time. But when I do, I hate it.

I know I’m blessed to have medicines and a supportive family, and a comfortable bed. I appreciate my earplugs and eye mask to block noise and light, and I’m grateful for my Cefaly. It gives me amazing relief during migraines. I alternate between that and ice packs for my head and neck, but my best relief during a migraine is sleep.

Then, it gradually fades away… often leaving my poor head feeling tender; even a bit bruised. But emotionally, I feel a sense of fragile euphoria. Being up, and especially outdoors feels almost too good to be true.

This evening I meandered slowly down to the river just outside with my dear husband. We just sat there together on the riverbank, soaking in the peace and beauty of the sun on the water. I felt like I could really relate to Mole, in Kenneth Grahame’s classic tale,  The Wind In The Willows. He was so relieved to go outside into the spring sunshine after being stuck inside in the dark for so long; so was I.

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“…tired at last, he sat on the bank, while the river still chattered on to him, a babbling procession of the best stories in the world, sent from the heart of the earth to be told at last to the insatiable sea.”

So blessed,

Leah 

hiking.

See that little wee blip on the horizon? That’s the skyscrapers in downtown Calgary!

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We went for a gorgeous hike today, about an hour from home. It was pretty amazing to get this perspective on our city. This picture was taken from the road up to the Moose Mountain trailhead, where we’d planned to start a hike going up above the tree line. Alas, there were at least a couple feet of snow covering the trail, and we weren’t equipped with snowshoes, so we had to come up with a Plan B. I mean, I guess we could have forced our way through, but other hikers had tried this and ended up coming back down after a few minutes of wading through thigh-deep snow. No, thank you.

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Not far off, we found a lovely ‘walk-in-the-woods’ hike. There was almost no snow left on these trails, and it was so warm that we found this very spring-y butterfly perching prettily atop a pussy-willow tree next to our path. We hiked up and down hills in a peaceful pine forest, enjoying a little extra spring in our step, courtesy of the mossy, pine-needle carpeted trails.

The moral of the story is, a change of plans can be a wonderful thing. Serendipitous.

So blessed,

Leah

 

cars.

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My husband and son like to talk about cars, just recreationally discuss them. They enjoy watching shows about cars on T.V., and going to car shows in real life. It’s fun for them to spend hours and hours messing around with cars, fixing them up just how they want them. The things that can be done to cars to make them do car things in better, louder, faster ways are endlessly fascinating to these two people I know and love.

I generally just tune out such talk and activity as background noise. They’re happy, that’s enough. On the rare occasions when my son kindly involves me in such conversations, I try to be a good listener because I love him. But I suspect that my eyes glaze over despite my best efforts. In short, I’m not a car fan.

That said, I am convinced that cars (and by cars I mean motorized vehicles of various kinds, including ambulances) have saved countless lives. And not just directly; how many places in the world are able to have necessary supplies on a regular basis because of trucks? And I don’t have to wonder how many people would miss out on countless experiences and opportunities without the ability to get from one place to another in a relatively short time, without cars.

I love the mountains, lakes, and beaches. I’m able to access such places to go hiking and camping only because of the invention of the automobile. I also love my grown children and sisters and parents and cousins and other relatives. I’m able to live hundreds of kilometres away from these dear people and still see them fairly often thanks to cars.

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Also, grocery shopping. Errands. Going to IKEA. Church. Dates. Late-night movies. Doctor’s appointments. Library visits that end with large stacks of books. Apart from vacations and extended visits with far-off friends and family, there are thousands of little, practical ways that cars make our day-to-day lives so much more convenient and comfortable.

Where I (and a lot of other people) live, most things are more accessible by such vehicles. People who don’t drive, whether out of necessity or by choice, still benefit from buses, rides in cars, and things being delivered to shops etc nearby, usually by truck or van. It’s how we get to the farmer’s market, the hospital, the bank, and the ski hill. And it’s how Amazon gets to us.

In my heart I sometimes yearn for the long ago or far away walkability of being able to get around without cars; I’m not going to lie. And when we lived in England, I enjoyed a lot more of that. But even there, castles in the country were easier to get to by car.  

Any way I look at it, I can’t get around being grateful for the blessing of cars. They help.

So blessed,

Leah 

 

city parks.

“In merging nature and culture the most successful cities combine such universal needs as maintaining or restoring contact with the cycles of nature, with specific, local characteristics.”
― Sally A. Kitt Chappell, Chicago’s Urban Nature: A Guide to the City’s Architecture + Landscape

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This afternoon my love and I took our bikes out for a beautiful ride along the river… It wasn’t as warm outside on the cycling path as I’d optimistically hoped, so I stopped after a few minutes to put on my light sweater jacket. And zip it up. A bit breezy. But that’s ok; I’m still feeling celebratory about venturing outdoors without mittens, or even gloves.

We pedalled east, along with the flow of the beautiful blue-green Bow River… and it didn’t take us too long (maybe half an hour?) to arrive at our destination; Prince’s Island Park. It’s actually right downtown, and all the people were out enjoying the spring weather along with the two of us today. Well-spaced out. (Thanks, COVID-19.)

We saw Canada geese (some of our nation’s most unfriendly inhabitants), other cyclists, dogs (making us wish harder for one), and people in bikinis (seriously) and hammocks, walking, sitting, and lying on the grass. I had a sudden urge to feel my bare feet in the warm grass, which is starting to show signs of turning green. It felt SO good!

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Country living is a dreamy ideal, a memory from my childhood, but not realistic for me now. Clearly, I’m not alone; most people live in cities. I really appreciate city parks that give us beautiful and free access to nature, even in the middle of urban places.

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?

bicycles.

“Every time I see an adult on a bicycle, I no longer despair for the future of the human race.”

~H.G.Wells~

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Freedom. Like being a kid again, just pedalling, going wherever I wish…

Somehow whenever I push off on a bike ride, I just feel a flood of happiness. That feeling of being able to go anywhere, on my own steam. It’s wonderful to me.

Judging by the number of people out riding bicycles on any given day with even half-decent weather, I think it’s safe to say I’m not the only one who feels this way. I suspect there are more of us cycling this spring because of COVID-19 keeping kids out of school, and lots of adults home from work.

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Honestly, that’s part of the beauty of a bicycle; this sweet  sense of independence. Without interpersonal contact (COVID), without a team, a gym, a schedule, or a ball, I can just get out and go for miles. I can go as fast or as slow as I like, start and stop as often as I want to, and it just feels so good.

“Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance, you must keep moving.” 

~Albert Einstein~

By the way, my bike was a birthday gift from my husband several years ago. It’s got to be one of the best presents of all time. How many happy hours has it given me? And I live in hope that it will help me build some muscles on my thighs one of these days. It’s got to- right?

So blessed,

Leah

sourdough.

I first cultivated my rambunctious ‘starter’ culture years ago, and it’s still going strong. I haven’t named it until now, but I think I’ve just hit on the perfect appellation for this happy and healthy little creature; I’ll call it Baby.

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This is hardly an original thought, now that I think about it. My family and friends have teased me about my ‘bread babies’ for a few years. I can see why; both are soft and squishy, smell delightful, and are ever so satisfying to nurture. Both babies and Baby like to be touched and need to stretch, and grow especially well when tucked up in a cozy warm place for frequent naps. Both have within them innate qualities; given the right conditions and enough tender loving care, both turn out more wonderful than the mama or the baker can really take credit for…

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When my children were in high school and my house was full of my little dayhome children, I baked 2 loaves a day. At lunch hour, the house seemed to fill up with teenagers who obligingly devoured homemade sourdough bread, helped heartily by the half dozen cute little people who populated it all day with me. Those were the days…

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Sourdough baking is an addictive behaviour, as many will attest. I once saw a man’s twitter account introduction in which he described himself as a ‘pathological sourdough baker’. I could write an entire blog on the subject; many enthusiasts do. But I’ll stick to an occasional post here and there on the topic of my wild-yeasty friends and their exploits.

Again, this is another sweet and simple thing that enriches my life every day, including now, during the pandemic. It makes me happy; making it, seeing it grow, baking it, eating it, and sharing it.

So blessed,

Leah

 

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