Sunday, 18 November 2018

5 Things That I'm Grateful For

Greetings! I'm back from Morocco and am feeling grateful for numerous things that I'm grouping them into five at the moment.

1. Completing my trip to Morocco with wonderful experiences: I visited Rabat, Volubilis, Fez, Marrakesh, and Casablanca. All the sensory stimuli that I expected from Morocco came true. I'm grateful for my good health throughout my trip, the nice weather, reliable Wi-Fi, amazing sights, tasty food, friendly travellers that I met along the way, knowledgeable tour guides, and my knowledge of French language which enables me to read the local signs and feel more comfortable in a foreign land.

2. Returning home safely without flight delay or lost luggage: I had a carry-on suitcase which I checked in on my flights from Casablanca to Frankfurt and Frankfurt to Toronto. I didn't need to check it in but volunteered since both flights were full and cabin space was limited. My flights were on time and my carry-on arrived in Toronto with me. A happy ending!

3. Relishing the familiarity at home: As soon as I landed in Toronto, it felt great to know exactly where everything is, unlike when I landed in Casablanca and everything was foreign. Both experiences made me smile. It was wonderful to travel and to return home. My appreciation for things at home such as drinking clean water from the tap is heightened.

4. Resuming activities that I enjoy: I'm back to use my home computer, the gym, the swimming pool, the library (already put two books on hold), and blogging. I'll be out and about to attend entertainment, art, and social events. The local shops have put up beautiful displays for the holidays and with the temperatures hover around freezing point, I look forward to my daily walks while feeling the festive atmosphere in the city.

5. Planning for my next trip: This is part of #4 above. I'm always grateful for having the capacity to travel. I plan to be home until after New Year's to soak in all the beautiful festivities and precious time with my family and friends. Then I'll go to explore Guatemala in Central America. A new adventure awaits!

What about you? How are things going with you?

Wednesday, 14 November 2018

Wellness Wednesday November 14

Welcome to our 11th Wellness Wednesday link up in 2018! Hard to believe that we have about six weeks to go before 2018 is over. In this post, I'll share my October wellness goal updates, my November wellness goals, and stress management tips.


In October, I was able to achieve all my wellness goals because I was at home and could go to the gym, yoga classes, and the swimming pool on a regular basis. This is certainly a big plus to build up fitness, just in time for my trip to Morocco in November. My progress tracking is below:
  1. Meditate 15 minutes daily: Done! Meditation is part of my daily routine now and I like this quiet, focused time.
  2. Smile or laugh daily: Yes! October in a nutshell was a fun-filled month, full of leisure activities that I enjoy so it was easy for me to smile daily.
  3. Walk 45 minutes or more daily: Done! I usually walk 45 minutes in the morning, plus walking around to get from A to B during the day.
  4. Work out in the gym three times a week, one hour each time: I worked out fourteen times in October, on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.
  5. Practice yoga twice a week, one hour each time: I attended nine out of nine yoga classes on Tuesday and Thursday.
  6. Swim one hour weekly: There were four Saturdays in October and I went swimming four out of four dates.
  7. Finish a 5K running race: Yes, I did on October 21, at the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront 5K race. It was a chilly morning with temperature hovering at 2C (35F). I ran at a steady pace without a walk break, and felt great when I crossed the Finish line. I also ran 5K on each of the other three Sundays in October.

In November, I'm in Morocco for part of the month. I usually need to modify my fitness routine when I travel. Sometimes it's due to my traveling schedule, and sometimes it's due to the lack of access to a gym or a swimming pool.

In any case, I'm determined to do some exercises every day, to keep my energy level even, and to make it easy to resume my fitness routine after I return home. So I'm setting the following realistic goals for myself:
  1. Meditate 15 minutes daily.
  2. Smile or laugh daily.
  3. Walk 45 minutes or more daily.
  4. Work out in the gym nine times, one hour each time.
  5. Attend seven yoga classes, one hour each time.
  6. Go swimming three times, one hour each time.
  7. Run 5K three times.

When I created this optional prompt, I was thinking how we tend to get more stressed as the year-end holidays approach, and together we can share tips to manage stress.

In general, I'd suggest to take a pro-active approach to manage stress before it hits us hard. Activities such as taking breaks, walking, exercising, eating healthy, staying hydrated, doing something fun, socializing, and getting enough sleep all help our well-being.

For the holidays, I'd suggest three tips:
  1. Have a plan for holiday shopping and holiday outings, and stick to it. Your wallet and waist line will thank you after New Year's Day.
  2. Spend your time and energy with people, places, or things that bring you joy. Whether it's a phone call, a card, a hug, or a get-together, prioritize your holiday activities.
  3. Find some quiet time for yourself to relax and recharge during the holidays. A whole new year will be here soon enough and you'd want to welcome it while feeling your best.
Your turn...I'd love to hear how you're doing with your wellness goals and your tips to manage stress.

Sunday, 4 November 2018

Mums is the word

Greetings! Mums is the word as in the hundreds of colourful pot chrysanthemums, cascades, and baskets that I saw at the Allan Gardens Conservatory Chrysanthemum Show. This event runs from October 8 to November 9, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. every day, free admission.

I visited the Conservatory at mid-day, mid-week and shared the Chrysanthemum Show with a handful of other visitors. Plenty of space and time to pause, admire the flowers, and snap photos at different angles. A very relaxing experience!

Take a virtual wander with me to see a small sample of the eighty or so varieties of colourful mums, from pink, yellow, white, red, to the deepest burgundy and purple below (click to enlarge the pictures):

The Chrysanthemum Show is a wonderful visual treat. There are many plants to see in other parts of the Conservatory, in case you are not into flowers. I hope you enjoy the photos as much as I enjoy admiring the chrysanthemums during my visit.

So it's not "mum's the word" as in to keep a secret, or keep quiet. It's mums, mums, and mums everywhere at the Chrysanthemum Show.

Let's chat about gardens and flowers in your city, or what is making you smile today :)

Thursday, 1 November 2018

October in a nutshell

Greetings! I was looking forward to spending October to explore and enjoy what my home city has to offer before I travel overseas again. It turned out to be a beautiful and fun-filled month in so many ways.

First off, autumn colours were at their peaks in October. I love the different shades of yellow, orange, and red on the trees. I got to see them every day during my walk! Then there were a few fun happenings, such as our Thanksgiving on October 8th, my blog's second anniversary on October 10th, my guest post on Sue's blog on October 18th, and a 5K race on October 21st.

Without further ado, here's my October in a nutshell:


My October wellness goals, as posted here, kept me active every day. Since I was at home for the whole month, I was able to use the gym, yoga classes, the swimming pool, and consistently complete my daily fitness activities.

On October 21, I participated in the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront 5K race with close to 7,000 other participants. It was a chilly morning with temperature hovering at 2 Celsius (35F). We started our run at 8 AM, shortly after sunrise. I chose to run at a steady pace, not fast but evenly paced without a walk break.

I really enjoyed the race and finished it feeling strong, as if I could run a few more kilometers. Out of the near 7,000 participants, there were only 270 female runners in my age category. I'm satisfied to finish in the top 14% of my age category without sprinting.

My 5K finisher's medal and new running shirt


Concerts: I was able to attend eight excellent concerts in October, each lasts for an hour, all with free admission. Most of them were piano, or voice and piano. The amphitheatre at the Canadian Opera Company (COC) is a remarkable space, and to listen to Sofya Gulyak's solo piano concert there was a wonderful experience. Look up her name and read her impressive bio if you like.

R. Bradshaw Amphitheatre, COC

    Movies: In October, I watched four movies as a weekly social activity with my neighbours. Billionaire Boys Club did not hold my interest so I left early. Skyscraper, Ant-man and the Wasp were entertaining, and Mama Mia Here We Go Again was a fun musical.


    Art Works: I continue to be in awe of the rich art scene in my home city. In October, I had the pleasure to view several diverse art exhibits, all with free admission. I wrote about them here and here.

    Purple by Vera Dernovsek

      Books: In October I resumed reading books that I borrow from the local public library. Within three weeks, I finished three thriller novels, about 500 pages each, all written by Linwood Barclay. I'm now on to his 4th novel titled The Twenty-Three. I look forward to finishing it before I travel to Morocco.

        Gardens: I visited two gardens in October. The Toronto Music Garden looks ready for the holiday season with the light decorations. Allan Gardens Conservatory had an artistic and beautiful autumn show. I'll write about it in my upcoming post.

        Toronto Music Garden

        Language Lessons: I continued with my French and Spanish online lessons throughout October. I spend about fifteen minutes on each language every day. The short duration works for me and the consistent practice helps my progress.


        Blogging: I wrote six posts in October and one guest post as featured here. When my blog turned two on October 10, I asked readers for help. Thank you to everyone who provided comments. I took the feedback received from that post and got to work with some of my own ideas. So far, I made the following additions and may make a few more changes:
        • Added the About Me page,
        • Updated the Countries Visited page with links to the destination posts that I have published,
        • Added the Recent Posts gadget to my blog's side bar - Five recent posts are listed by default,
        • Added the Through My Lens gadget to my blog's side bar with one of my photos that will be updated periodically. 

        Through My Lens: Autumn leaves

        Extended family gatherings: We enjoyed two big family gatherings in October, one was for our Thanksgiving and another one on last Sunday when we had our cousins visiting us from overseas. Plenty of good food, fun conversations, and best of all everyone is healthy.

        Trying new restaurants: I ate out twice with my family and had a fun lunch date with my friend. All three restaurants (Joe Bird, Joey, and Taverna Mercatto) offered very good service and nice seating. I'd have the tuna salad at Joey and the marguerita pizza at Taverna Mercatto again. They were very tasty.

        Tuna salad at Joey restaurant


        My trip to Morocco is coming up next week! The weather forecast at my destination looks good, with warmer temperatures than Toronto. I look forward to sightseeing in Morocco.


        October was an awesome month in my book, with the right amount of variety and at my pace. I gave it an A plus! I look forward to enjoying life as fully as I can in November.

        How was your October? What good things happened? I'd love to hear your updates.

        Sunday, 28 October 2018

        Discovering Gallery Arcturus

        Greetings! I've got a question for you. When was the last time you explored something new and found it to be a total delight? I mean something that made your mouth and your mind smile. I experienced this recently.

        I mentioned in my post last week that I visited a new-to-me art gallery called Gallery Arcturus. It is located at 80 Gerrard Street East, by Ryerson University, in downtown Toronto. Admission is free.

        Gallery Arcturus is actually a public art museum with five galleries in a multi-storey house. When I arrived at the front door, I needed to buzz to be let in. The staff on duty gave me a quick overview of the Gallery and let me wander on my own to view the art works on exhibit.

        I was there at mid-day, mid-week and had the five galleries to myself. Think "a kid in a candy store". From the ground floor to the top floor, everything seemed to be well-curated and tastefully displayed without making the visitor feel overwhelmed.

        Although there were many art items on display, for this blog post, I included just a sample of what was on exhibit that I thought was interesting. We all have different tastes for arts and our mood also affects what we see so I'll let the photos "speak" to you and perhaps you see something you like.
        THE GENESIS GALLERY: This gallery displays installations and new sculpture titled A Serious Matter and overturned by debbie harris. The artist displays her name all in lowercase.

        A Serious Matter by debbie harris

        overturned by debbie harris

        overturned by debbie harris

        blown away by debbie harris

        THE COLLAGE GALLERY: "from the street" sculpture and cards by Joseph Lammirato are displayed on all the walls in this gallery. There is a paper handout that lists the titles of what's on display on each wall. His sculpture will be on the telephone poles of the city in the next month or so.

        Art creations by Joseph Lammirato

        THE UP NORTH GALLERY: This gallery displays art work by Claustro, McConnachie, and Kimura. Claustro is the husband and wife team (Carol Currie and Stuart Leggett). Eric McConnachie is a northern Ontario artist who has adopted the medium and tools of one of his mentors, Tom Thomson. Most of McConnachie's works are done on small wood panels showing nature and how it changes through all the seasons and light.

        Silver Peak by Carol Currie & Stuart Leggett

        Paintings by Eric McConnachie

        THE ASCENDING GALLERY: This gallery displays art work by Kimura, Kuptana, and harris. I like the bright colours in Kuptana's paintings.

        Painting by Floyd Kuptana

        Sculpture by Floyd Kuptana

        FLOYD KUPTANA GALLERY: This gallery displays sculpture and 2-D work by Kuptana. There is also a library and seating area here, perfect for admiring Kuptana's art works and browsing books.

        Sculpture by Floyd Kuptana

        Seating area in Floyd Kuptana Gallery

        I'm glad I decided to give it a whirl and visit a place that I have not been to before. This is my new whirl 2018.10 edition! It's a total delight to discover Gallery Arcturus. In addition, upon leaving, I received the staff recommendations and a list of nearby museums and galleries with free admission. I look forward to eventually visiting them all.

        Have you explored something new recently and found it to be a total delight? I'd love to hear about it.

        Sunday, 21 October 2018

        Autumn fun list update #1

        Greetings and happy Sunday! About four weeks ago, I wrote a post on my Autumn fun list. Today I'm reviewing my list and providing an update on my progress. Before I get into the details, I want to share with you a photo of a red maple tree because I love autumn colours in Ontario.

        AUTUMN FUN LIST UPDATE #1 (September 22 to December 20, 2018):

        1. Attend ten concerts: 60% done so far. I was able to attend six excellent concerts performed by:
        • Frédéric Lacroix (piano) and Norman Brown (baritone)
        • Walter Buczynski with pianist Younggun Kim
        • Artists of the Canadian Opera Company Ensemble Studio "The Best of Rossini"
        • Cathy Yang (solo piano)
        • Sofya Gulyak (solo piano)
        • Lisa Tahara (piano) and Brenna Hardy-Kavanagh (violin)

        All of the above performers have very impressive bios. They have performed at prestigious events in Canada and abroad so I feel very fortunate to listen to their performances live. Plus, admission to these concerts is free.

        2. Visit three art exhibitions: 100% done and more! When I wrote my Autumn fun list in September, I was hoping to visit three art exhibitions. It turned out that I was able to visit more than three. All of them have free admission as follows:
        • Insights Incite exhibition at FCP Gallery
        • Visual Arts exhibitions Fall 2018 at Harbourfront Centre
        • World Press Photo 2018 exhibition at Brookfield Place
        • Art exhibits at Gallery Arcturus
        Gallery Arcturus was new to me and what a wonderful discovery it was! I plan to write a separate post on it. In the mean time, I'm including a sample of the art work that I've seen at the first three places mentioned.

        October Roses by Vera Dernovsek

        Change Enables Growth by Tracey Lawko

        The Peacock's Tale mural by Ola Volo

        Glazed ceramics by Anders H. Ruhwald

        Rockhopper Penguins, photo by Thomas P. Peschak

        WP Photo of the Year, Spot News by R. Schemidt

        Aside from the art exhibits, I also attended the Indian Residential School Survivors (IRSS) Cultural Gathering and Celebration at Toronto's Nathan Phillips Square. More than twenty painted teepees were set up around the square to offer educational programming and drop-in workshops throughout the three-day event.

        Teepees at Nathan Phillips Square

        The event also included the unveiling of a commemorative sculpture of a female turtle crawling over top of a boulder, to signify overcoming struggle. The shell of the turtle has tiles to represent the 13 moons and 28-day cycle. Turtles are symbolic within multiple First Nations creation stories. The sculpture, created by Anishinabe artist Solomon King, is the planned centrepiece of the IRSS Legacy garden.

        Turtle sculpture at Nathan Phillips Square

        3. Watch ten movies: In progress, 30% done so far. I watched Billionaire Boys Club, Skyscraper, and Ant-Man and The Wasp. My verdict:
        • Billionaire Boys Club didn't keep my interest so I left about 45 minutes in
        • Skyscraper is entertaining unless you dislike fires and super high-rise buildings
        • Ant-Man and the Wasp is also entertaining unless you dislike ants and wasps :)

        4. Try three new-to-me restaurants: In progress, 33% done so far. We dined out at Joe Bird, which has a quirky decor (an RV at the entrance, and casual decor inside), nice lake view, and good service. The food was average though so we won't be rushing back anytime soon.

        Camper van at Joe Bird entrance

        Lake view from Joe Bird restaurant

        Chicken taquitos

        5. Enjoy Thanksgiving with my family: Yes, 100% done! Our Thanksgiving was on October 8. My brother and sister-in-law hosted a beautiful family dinner with turkey and all the sides. We had a lot of fun catching up with everyone and a lot to be thankful for since everyone in our family is doing well.

        6. Meet up with my friends for coffee or lunch: In progress. I had one fun lunch date with my friend this week, a second lunch date booked for next week, and a third one booked in early November. My friends' work schedules sometimes change at the last minute so it's great when our dates go as planned.

        7. Write a guest post for another blog in October: Yes, 100% done! I'm honored to be the guest writer on Sue's blog on October 18. My topic was Thriving by Diversifying as posted here. Thank you to Sue for featuring me and to all readers and bloggers who left comments.

        8. Take a trip to explore Morocco in November: Pending. I booked my flights and accommodations. I've been reading on a few places that I plan to visit in Morocco. I'll continue with my travel planning checklist until departure date.

        From my list, I counted three items completed, four in progress, and one pending. In November I'll be in Morocco for part of the month so I'll resume going to the fun events in my home city after my trip.

        Speaking of resuming...I've returned to read paper books. I used to read books all the time then paused to switch to online reading. Now I'm back to books that I borrow from the local public library. I'm currently reading Linwood Barclay's thriller novels. I just finished No Time for Goodbye which grabbed my attention from the beginning to the end. I'll start reading the trilogy Broken Promise, Far from True, and The Twenty-Three this week.

        How are things going with you? What good things happened? I'd love to hear your update.

        Thursday, 18 October 2018

        What I've Gained by Diversifying My Activities

        Thank you to Sue from Sizzling Towards 60 & Beyond for inviting me to be a Guest Writer on her site. It is an honor to be part of her Over 50 & Thriving Series.

        The terms "diversify, diversifying, diversification" often come up in investment portfolios. They aim to optimize return and reduce risk. I apply the same concept to my Fun and Wellness plans!

        To find out the Top Five Benefits that I've gained by diversifying my fun and wellness activities, please join us at Sue's site.

        I look forward to seeing you there!