Tag Archives: mindfulness

New This Week

New This Week

I’ve been back for over a month and have spent time reacquainting myself with the city of Aguascalientes and a few friends and neighbors. I’ve also made some new friends but more about that in another blog post. Right now I’m going to focus on three new things I’ve started this week.

I started a course on mindfulness offered by Rice University. I’ve taken two other courses in this area previously and am always open to ideas that will improve my quality of life. I’m taking this course through Coursera, a sight I’ve used before. It offers a variety of courses for free if you don’t want or need that piece of paper.

Guilty. I downloaded a new game onto my tablet. Word Connect. I’m learning new words that I never knew were words. It’s a stimulating game and a welcome addition to the other word games I’ve played in the past. And no, I’m not hooked up to Facebook with it so you won’t find me there.

I found a new place to shop, although it won’t be very often. I prefer to frequent the corner stores in my neighborhood and support the locals. But a new HEB opened up while I was back in the USA and I just had to check it out. And it’s only a 10 minute Uber trip away. Far superior to Walmart or Sam’s Club although a tad smaller than Costco.

A new course, a new game and a new place to shop. That’s my new things so far this week. And it’s only Wednesday!

The Best Laid Plans

The Best Laid Plans

Plans. We all make them. We try to follow them. More often than not, things don’t always go as planned.

I look at my life and wonder how everything got so convoluted. One year in Mexico has turned into more than a decade. But oh the incredible adventures I’ve had. I’ve met amazing people and traveled to fascinating places.

I had just settled in to a comfortable routine of six months in Mexico and six months in Leavenworth, with side trips to Canada to see my kids. When I headed south in the fall of 2019, I was returning to Aguascalientes. Yes I’d visited the museums and art galleries the previous winter, but I’d also made friendships and I had volunteer work planned. Needless to say traveling was also on the agenda.

The six months became eleven when Covid arrived. I watched way too many movies in Spanish on TV, colored for hours on end and found games to play on my phone that were quite addictive.

I used up all my gel pens and markers. I colored every single page, including the title page, of a book I’d brought with me. I headed for the nearest papeleria and bought crayons and children’s coloring books, all that was available in my area.

I spent hours in meditation and prayer, a most welcome respite especially after dealing with INM and obtaining an extended stay when my visa expired. I must admit it was a much easier process getting that extended stay in the USA a few months later.

I arrived in Leavenworth in late September with the idea that I’d pick up my warmer clothes and head up to Canada. These plans changed when numerous restrictions regarding travel and quarantine were enforced. I must admit I quite enjoyed the mild winter here as compared with the brutal winters on the Canadian prairies I had experienced in the past.

It’s now August and I haven’t made it back to Canada yet. Yep, eleven months and counting. But a very different life than I had in Mexico. I can’t remember the last time I colored, although I did take out my acrylics and paint yesterday. Movies are now in English and I’m usually with friends when watching. No games on my phone anymore. They’ve all been moved onto my tablet lol.

Of course it’s also been a very different experience here in the USA this year. I used to wear a mask because of smoke from fires, not because of COVID-19. My volunteer work has dwindled down to teaching fitness classes. Lunches and activities at the Senior Center are mere memories, as are book club and programs at the library.

I’m constantly being asked when and where I’ll travel to next. My answer remains the same. I don’t know. Rules regarding travel change every day. I’ve given up making plans as they keep changing as well.

There is only one constant in my life right now. As the deadline of September 20th approaches, I will be en route to Canada or Mexico. If it’s Canada I don’t know where my destination will be. I have kids in two different provinces. If it’s Mexico I will definitely be on my way to Aguascalientes. To me these are all long range plans and I have more than enough trouble making even short range plans now.

For now, my plans are merely whatever happens to fall together. Extreme mindfulness.



Pachelbel’s Canon In D is one of my favorite classics to listen to when I meditate. This afternoon I was listening to Pachelbel with ocean sounds and it got me thinking of all the different places I’ve been when I’ve meditated with this particular version of the Canon.

One of my earliest memories dates back to when my son Kyle was a baby. He would nap beside me in bed while I meditated. I never fell asleep although Pachelbel always lulled Kyle to sleep.

Kelsey was my first dog and he often cuddled in bed with me while I meditated. Of course he would frequently bring squeak toys with him and become quite annoyed when I didn’t want to play.

Koal was the last dog I had and I can still feel him snuggled up against me on the bed. This was before knee surgery and he just seemed to zero in on which knee would benefit the most from the warmth of his body.

Pachelbel has also accompanied me on my travels in Mexico for the past several years, as well as in Washington.

For those of you who are into mindfulness and meditation, I highly recommend Pachelbel. There are numerous versions available online with a variety of musical instruments and other sounds.

If you are not into meditation, I highly recommend that you try it. I find it especially helpful in coping with the stress added to our lives by the advent of COVID-19.

Taking Care Of Me

Taking Care Of Me

Taking care of me is a relatively new phenomena in my life. Until about ten years ago, I had spent decades putting other people first. Now it was finally time for me.

The downside is that I have spent the last ten years mostly traveling around. This is not exactly conducive with getting involved in a long term relationship. And I find myself alone now in a foreign country waiting out this pandemic.

Why didn’t I return to Canada when I had the chance? I haven’t had a home there in ten years. I had nowhere to go. Yes I have children and friends there. But it’s one thing to come back to visit for a week or two but quite another to come back for a longer period of time.

Where I really wanted to go was back to Leavenworth. I discovered this quaint village four years ago and I’ve put down roots there. But I’m Canadian not American so the border is closed to me.

I have been taking care of myself here in Aguascalientes. First and foremost is that I have a comfortable place to stay and a neighborhood where food and other supplies are readily available within walking distance.

While I am living alone I am definitely not lonely. I have a great phone plan and have unlimited international calls. My family and friends are very accessible.

The highlight is definitely the video calls to my daughter and granddaughter. The other day Madeline sang Twinkle Twinkle Little Star to me and my heart melted.

Then there are the texts and messaging on social media apps. I’m really limiting my time on Facebook as I’m tired of all the misinformation and inaccurate statistics. I know what I need to do to stay healthy and I’m doing my best.

I go out for two short walks daily. I usually pick up food at this time as well. My fridge may be small but it’s adequately stocked.

I join in discussion groups on the Mayo Clinic website. These are a great source of support at this time.

I’m really enjoying a course I’m taking from University of Toronto. The topic is dealing with anxiety in the face of COVID-19.

I color every day and I listen to music. I watch movies in Spanish. I’m participating in an online Bible study. I do online church services. And I still do the SAIL exercises.

I take time to meditate. And I take time to contemplate life. I’m pretty sure there will be some big changes in my life when this pandemic is no longer a threat and becomes treatable instead.

I live in the present. Mindfulness is key. I want to avoid any unnecessary PTSD in the aftermath.

Last but definitely not least, prayer has been an important part of my life for some time. But it is even more meaningful now.

What are you doing for yourself?

What About Your Other Health?

What About Your Other Health?

Wash your hands. Don’t touch your face. Maintain social distancing. Stay at home. This is all great advice for protecting your physical health.

But what about your mental health? What are you doing to protect your mental health?

If you’re self-isolating, you spend a lot of time by yourself. This is a perfect opportunity for your brain to go into overdrive. This results in an unnecessary abundance of fear and anxiety and ultimately panic. Even if you are at home and have other family members with you, the conversation ultimately focuses on COVID-19.

The art of mindfulness and meditation are two techniques that work for me. If I’m coloring I focus on the masterpiece I’m creating. If I’m watching a movie I really listen to the Spanish and am amazed at how much better my comprehension has become.

I meditate with music and imagery. I’ve even gotten back to gazing at the flame of a candle.

I’ve replaced a great deal of my social media viewing with the above-mentioned. When I want the facts about COVID-19 I go to the Mayo Clinic website. I also participate in discussion groups on this site.

I find online Church as well as Bible study to be important. Both are a great way to stay connected. I also find them comforting.

I also spend less time on the phone although I do connect with the my family and close friends more regularly. Just as long as the conversation doesn’t focus completely on the virus.

Quite obviously I’m spending more time writing. Blog posts are every second day. I’m also working on my next book.

I make a point of going out for walks every day. I lose myself in the beauty of nature. So many trees and flowers are beginning to bloom.

I guess you could say I take a lot of time for ME and I highly recommend it.

Take time for yourself!

Mindfulness And Me

Mindfulness And Me

I love to learn, perhaps even live to learn. I have several letters after my name as I have studied and completed a variety of different courses throughout the years. I never fully appreciated school when I was younger as I felt disdain for all the compulsory and mundane subjects that were necessary in order to get to the “good stuff”.  For instance, a basic science course was required in university in order to achieve a Bachelor of Arts degree. Courses in economics and statistics were prerequisites for a degree in Social Work. Whatever is the logic for this? Just give me the courses in psychology and sociology that are of interest to me, the ones that will help me and benefit those who rely on me for my assistance in their daily struggles.  

I am now at a stage in my life where I have the time to study a variety of topics that previously just were not possible. I heartily thank the Internet for making available to me an abundance of courses from universities around the world.  I would like to focus on the course I am currently taking entitled De-Mystifying Mindfulness. The Universiteit Leiden in The Netherlands is my source for this one.

I have practiced meditation throughout most of my life. As a teenager, I was introduced to this art when I took yoga classes. I always looked forward to the body scan at the conclusion of the evening after contorting my body into all kinds of crazy positions. This was always a peaceful and calming time, until it was time to bundle up and head out into the frigid temperatures that are so characteristic of Winnipeg winters.

Now that I have more time to devote to meditation, I am beginning to fully realize just how important it is to live in the moment and to become fully aware of the present. I used to view meditation as a form of relaxation, but I now appreciate just how much of an influence mindfulness has on all my daily activities and I attempt to incorporate it into my life each and every day.  I do not see mindfulness as merely taking the time for a quiet meditation in the evening. It has become more of a way of life for me where I strive to be mindful throughout the day.

Of course it isn’t always possible to fully concentrate or to turn my focus to one thing specifically. I have often found myself on autopilot when it comes to common routines. And I do have to caution myself against being judgmental and critical and resolving to do more and to do it better. All this does is cause a great deal of unnecessary pressure and stress. This then defeats the entire purpose of being mindful.

Because I strive to practice mindfulness regularly does not mean I am a Buddhist or any type of religious fanatic. I view mindfulness with more of a scientific as well as a therapeutic approach. We live in a highly technological society today, the end result being a faster pace of life along with the stress and anxiety that accompany this type of lifestyle. Instead of time becoming a helpful organizational tool, it is often a troublesome enemy instead. Multitasking and deadlines plague our lives as we set loftier and loftier goals for ourselves.

 As I grow older, I find that the time flies by more quickly than ever with each passing year. I think back to when I wished that time would go by more quickly. Why was I ever in such a hurry? I can never recapture those unwanted moments that have somehow evolved into treasured moments.

I choose to focus on the present, to live in the here and now. If my mind wanders, I know that it’s always possible to return and begin again. After all, I do have a past that can never be forgotten, but it can be stored away safely. I refuse to fear my future but rather to embrace what may come my way. Inhale every breath deeply, and slowly exhale………….