Saturday, April 28, 2012

Step by Step: 250 Miles and an Earbug

Woohoo!! It took me two months but I've just earned my 250 Mile Badge from Fitbit!! Yeah, I know the image is of my 50 mile Badge from March 11th but unfortunately the 250 mile image didn't quite make it through the email process.  Hey, it's the thought that counts :))

I've skipped through some of those 250 miles (608,515 steps according to my stride) and trudged through a few more.  I'm ten pounds lighter, one clothing size smaller and my rings finally fit my fingers again.  This is a very good thing as I was determined not to have those rings resized so they've been sitting in my drawer for longer than I care to remember.

I've also managed to pick up one very pesky earbug (Urban Dictionary definition: A song that's stuck in your head that you can't get out for anything).  I thought that I would share it with you in the hopes that sharing may exorcise it from my own head.  Let's also hope that I'm not going to have to walk 500 or, worse yet, 1000 miles to get rid of this tune!  Exorcised by exercise so to speak ;)

Here's I'm Gonna Be (500 Miles) by The Proclaimers  re-edited with clips from the movie Benny & Joon.

May 31, 2012: Just hit 400 miles (958,266 steps). Really looking forward to the 500 mile mark!

Friday, April 27, 2012

The South March Highlands: Truly a Great Place in Canada

South March Highlands 2010 by Jayni Bloch

Though I've blogged my love of the South March Highlands before (The South March Highlands: Ottawa's Fragile Urban Wilderness  & Saving Beaver Pond Forest in Kanata, Ontario ) I thought it was time for another post in honour of it being recognized as one of the Great Places in Canada by the Canadian Institute of Planners.
Just 20 minutes from Parliament Hill, this is Ottawa's Great Forest: an old-growth paradise that is recreationally enjoyed and spiritually revered. It has untapped ecotourism potential, but threatened by urban sprawl. Spanning over a thousand hectares, this Canadian Shield ecosystem is more than a billion years old. Rich in wetlands and mature forest, it is home to more than 654 species, including 18 species that are at risk of becoming extinct.
This area contains hundreds of mammal, bird, and vegetation species. The fact that they’re all in one place within a major urban city is astounding. No other major city in the world has the biodiversity that this region has. For citizens and tourists alike, the South March Highlands offer an immersive glimpse into Canada's pre-colonial ecology. The forest attracts birders, nature lovers, scouts, biologists, archeologists, hikers, mountain bikers, skiers, photographers...and dreamers.  Read More ...
The fight to preserve the remaining undeveloped lands in the South March Highlands is still ongoing.  Turns out that "birders, nature lovers, scouts, biologists, archeologists, hikers, mountain bikers, skiers, photographers...and dreamers" make quite a tenacious bunch when it comes to caring for our environment and trying to save our natural treasures for generations to follow.

Learn more at South March Highlands.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Spring 2012: Ottawa Bright Spot

Many thanks to my neighbour for cultivating this beautiful little patch!

I walk past it every day and it certainly has helped to brighten up this week in Ottawa especially on Monday when Mother Nature decided that we needed a reminder of what winter can be like.

Well thankfully that snow didn't last for long.  Now if only the Senators can pull off Game 7 we'll really go back to enjoying the spring!

Monday, April 23, 2012

Skyrim: Violin Cover

Perhaps it's because I've spent my fair share of time in Skyrim that I find this so evocative but I don't think you have to be the Dragonborn to enjoy this arrangement & performance by Jason Yang.


Sunday, April 22, 2012

La Vie en Rose

VERANDA Magazine: March-April 2012

If I was brave I would paint a room pink, have white linen chairs
and bright yellow throw cushions
I would paint a room bright yellow, have red leather chairs and lots of white accents.

VERANDA Magazine: May-June 2012

But until I gather up my courage
I will content myself with savouring the beautiful designs of others
Tweaking my own web pages & virtual creations.

La Vie en Rose indeed!

Friday, April 20, 2012

Step by Step: Sneaking up on Fitness

J. W. Waterhouse: The Lady of Shalot Looking at Lancelot via Wikipedia

I'm sure that mine is a commonplace story.

As a child & teenager, running full-out towards Fitness was easy.  Looking back it seems that it was almost effortless, though I know that's really not the case.  Dancing, swimming, skiing, biking & walking everywhere I wanted to go.  Sure there were sore muscles and a guaranteed good night's sleep but injury and real fatique just didn't enter into the picture.  I never "watched what I ate" and was often described as "skinny".  Ahhh ... those were the days :))

As a young adult my pursuit of Fitness was still head-on;  Aerobic classes (feel the burn!), Step classes, Spin classes (I must have cycled to Amsterdam & back).  The effort was now conscious but my body still followed me as long as I wasn't too gung-ho.

Life happened, as it tends to do.

As a young mother I often imagined an invisible umbilical cord connecting my daughter to me.  Energy flowed in one direction, towards her.  I never begrudged a bit of it.  I did, however, start resenting those Aerobics Instructors yelling "eight more" at me when I did manage to make it to a class.

Stress from work and the physical changes that come with aging.  Now there's a vicious cycle!  My mind & body were working together again and it wasn't in a good way.  For more years than I care to remember, Fitness (and its partner Health) kept kicking me to the curb just when I needed them the most.  Thank goodness I managed to maintain a tenacious hold through Pilates as I hoped for better things to come.

An attitude adjustment was in order.

Though it's now pretty much impossible for me to chase full-tilt after Fitness, I do know I can still sneak up on it, step by step.  With Pilates, yoga and, more recently, a wonderful little gadget called Fitbit (you've just got to love technology sometimes!) I think I've finally solved my Fitness puzzle.  I couldn't be more delighted or relieved to be back on track!

P.S. Regarding the Lady of Shalot, It's not clear to me who cursed & imprisoned her but I do wish she could have broken free and kicked his/her butt.  Then having won her freedoom, gone on to live a happy and productive life.  The lady had courage,  too bad she couldn't have outsmarted her adversary and found balance in her life.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Comfort Trumps Fashion: Morning Walk Attire

A glorious spring day for an early morning walk in Ottawa.
Wanted to get out there ASAP.
Ended up wearing my white UV sun hat, fuzzy red winter gloves and purple spring jacket.
No slave to fashion am I!
My neighbours kindly averted their eyes.
My dogs didn't notice anything unusual (love those furry friends).
I couldn't have enjoyed it more.
Comfort Trumps Fashion.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Hibernation: My Mother was a Performing Bear?

My mother has always claimed that in a previous life she was a Russian Performing Bear.  As a child and young adult I found the idea amusing and rather magical even though her life, as you can well imagine, apparently wasn't all honey snacks and pretty tutus. I have the lingering impression that she hadn't necessarily gotten along with her "management", so to speak.

Becker's Bears by Marthe and Juliette Vesque (circa 1914)

As I grow older, I sometimes think about this bear connection and gradually the idea has evolved into something not quite so fanciful.  Not that my mother has gotten more bear-like over the years (though she has adopted a wide variety of teddies who needed a good home) but I have!  Particularly during the winter months when the days are shorter and darker, the urge to hibernate kicks in with a vengeance.  

Sure, the medical profession has come up with fancy explanations such as Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) but even that could be interpreted as lending credence to her theory and I quote:
In many species, activity is diminished during the winter months in response to the reduction in available food and the difficulties of surviving in cold weather. Hibernation is an extreme example, but even species that do not hibernate often exhibit changes in behavior during the winter. It has been argued that SAD is an evolved adaptation in humans that is a variant or remnant of a hibernation response in some remote ancestor.[23] Presumably, food was scarce during most of human prehistory, and a tendency toward low mood during the winter months would have been adaptive by reducing the need for calorie intake. 
No wonder I just want to stay in bed only getting up for a good meal of perogies & cabbage rolls!  I wonder how many of my relatives feel the same way; blessed & burdened as we are by genetics that conserve energy during the long winter months helping us to survive until spring arrives?

Fortunately, spring came early to my part of the world this year and so I'm up and running again.  In celebration, I've dusted off this blog with a new look and good intentions on more frequent contributions.

In closing, I'll leave you with a bit of Russian Folklore to ponder, especially those of us who are descended from Mikhail Dokuchic.  A coincidence you say?
The Russian word that is the equivalent of "teddy bear," "misha," is also the diminutive for the name Mikhail, which is the standard "first name" of folk-tale bears.