Am I Fat?

I’ve been thinking a lot lately (always) about food, about dieting, about weight.  The reality of being 60 means a lot of history to contend with and a lot of struggles to sort out.  I am back on medication for Type 2 Diabetes and Hypertension.  For 2 fabulous years, I was able to maintain normal levels with Chinese Medicine but rising levels meant seeing a specialist and mainstream, western medication.  Now I am committed to exercise and losing another 25 pounds to be able to take the least amount of medication possible.

bicyclebicycling

I want to talk about my story with weight, with body image, and with insecurities.  When I was 13 years, I went away to summer camp where the camp nurse weighed each of us.  I stood innocently on the scale and weighed in at 160 pounds.  The nurse reacted with a Wow! Or something similar to that.  I think she told me it was too much.  I was overweight.  That was the only beginning.  I remember being a very lonely child.  My dad was strict and I wasn’t allowed the same freedoms that my brothers had.  I had to come in before dark and sleepovers were not allowed.  I had a friend who lived across the street – Karen.  She always seemed so normal – typical……just what I dreamed of being.  We stopped at the grocery store near our school a couple of times and bought a chocolate bar.  I thought I was so cool!!  I told my Mom and I saw her face fall.  I knew she was thinking that I was too fat to be eating a chocolate bar.  Now I knew I was fat…fatter than the other kids…the fattest….the big one.  Different, the odd one….the fat, Jewish one. D.i.f.f.e.r.e.n.t.  and that was the beginning of a life time of dieting.

chocolate bar

In my teen years I tried a few very weird diets.  One day I ate only bananas and almost fainted in gym class.  Gym class – now that is a whole story in itself.  I always felt fat and awkward and clumsy.  I was sure that all the other girls were athletic.  I do remember thinking I was a great soccer goalie well, until half the girls on the other team came crashing and kicking at me! I dreaded gym from day 1 until I finally could drop it as a course in Grade 10 when it was no longer mandatory.  My favourite teenage diet and one I often did was 500 calories a day eaten in 2 meals.  Each meal allowed a half piece of bread, 1 cup of salad with no dressing, 3 ounces of meat or fish and 1 apple.  Great diet for a growing teenager!  I would usually keep this regime Monday through Friday and eat normally on the weekend.  On this diet you should lose a pound per day they proclaimed.  I usually lost a pound or 2 a week.  I once asked my Mother to show me how big a pound was and she took out a pound of butter from the fridge.  That was my go to image each time I lost some weight.

butter

 

At 19 and madly in love, I ran into some relationship problems.  I couldn’t eat.  I was heartbroken.  My boss used to ask in the morning if I had eaten anything and send me to the cafeteria for tea and toast that I usually threw up after eating.  Lunch was cup-of-soup, an apple or some popcorn and dinner wasn’t much better.  I often had a few crackers with some dip.  The weight was falling off and I was at my lowest weight of 150 pounds.  Only 10 pounds lighter than my normal weight of the past 6 years but of course, everyone said how great I looked and I felt like a super model. 150 pounds was still 30 pounds over the weight the charts told me I should be at. I got married in this time and had some very beautiful photos taken.  I knew that the long white dress hid my curves and the beautiful face shots hid the body.

Sandra 1976 Indian Rocks Beach, Florida
Sandra at 20 years old and 155 pounds. Indian Rocks Beach, Florida

I don’t remember my husband ever telling me I was beautiful or sexy or openly admiring my body.  I didn’t have a lot of money to buy really trendy clothing.  Clothing is a very important part of this narrative and one I have been thinking of a lot.  When I was around 12 years old, my mother took me shopping at Curls in Moncton, N.B. , an independent store for mature women and definitely not for teens.  She bought me several new dresses.  The sales woman was my aunt.  Both my Mom and Aunt were in their 50s by then.  When I got home and we showed the new clothes to my dad, I remember him telling Mom the clothes were too old for me and Mom saying that younger clothes didn’t fit me.  When I was old enough to shop for myself, I remember struggling to find jeans in size 14 and later size 16.  I was a travel consultant at Eaton’s Travel and we wore uniforms from Eatons.  I couldn’t find a suit to fit so I had to have mine custom made.  Fortunately, the Ports’ blouses fit my corpulent size 16 body.  When I was 30 years old and still wearing size 16, I was a manager of a large women’s clothing store, Fairweather, and rarely found clothes that fit me.  We were supposed to wear only Fairweather clothes.  I often had to find something similar in another store.  Although, a solution always was possible, I was always aware that I wasn’t an “average” size.

Over the next 15 years, I gained 50 pounds at 5 pounds per year until I reached 255 and a size 24.  I was fulfilling my self-proclaimed prophecy as a fat woman.  However, I always felt that I looked good.  People always told me that I was beautiful…they loved my clothes….copied my style…told me I flowed when I walked…told me I was sexy….saw me as a trendsetter. I did some plus size modeling.  I dated…I had confidence…turned a few heads when I entered a room but deep down, I knew that I was the fattest one!  At least, that was the old and ugly tape going on in my head.

At 45 years old, after years of weight gain and then years of maintaining my weight, I started dieting again using the Weight Watchers plan.  I couldn’t afford their program so I got their books from my size 0 zero (and lifelong Weight Watcher member) and taught myself the program.

weight watcher books

I don’t remember what motivated me to make that commitment.  After losing 35 pounds, I thought about how my role as a mother was changing.  My daughters were leaving home for university and no longer needed me to be to be 2 parents or needed me to protect them.  I wondered if my subconscious realized that my warrior/protector role was changing and I didn’t need to be so “big and strong”. I got smaller through diet and daily exercise.  I walked the 6 km to work and back.  I then started biking to work and in the first week dropped 7 pounds.  I hit a plateau at 217 pounds and I felt like a little mini.  It was exciting.  I dropped 3 sizes and felt so healthy.  I maintained that weight for the next 10 years.  It took me a long time to realize I was actually no longer a size 24 – I once went in a fitting with size 24 pants that fell off me.  My daughters both told me they thought I had  a touch of body dysmorphia (might be a bit of a stretch) but the truth is, I always subconsciously, saw myself as the biggest one in room.

In the past 2 years, I have dropped another 40 pounds.  I am now 175 pounds.  This was my weight in my 30’s and I have really been working on seeing my body as it really is.  As I mentioned earlier, I have been struggling with health issues – hypertension and type 2 diabetes.  These problems can be genetic – my father, my grandfather, my grandmother, mother and brother have had one or both.  However, all I hear is OBESE, caused by OBESITY….ringing painfully in my head.  I also believe that if I lose another 25 pounds, I will miraculously be cured.  I will be the picture of health.

 

I remember an experience with a OB/Gyn during my first pregnancy.  His “bedside” manner with me was never that good- although he had been recommended by several of my friends.  I was never sure what the problem was but at one of the Jewish holidays, I asked him if I should fast.  He said no, but that didn’t mean I should be eating Cheetos in the synagogue!!  After a few more rude comments, I decided to move on to another physician.  His nurse told me that the only other time a patient complained she also was overweight.  I was 5’3” and weighed 190 pounds.   When I was living in Haifa, I had a knee injury and went to the hospital where the doctor asked me to raise my skirt so she could see the knee.  She literally gasped and said, “I didn’t realize you were obese!!”  Can I just say, Yowza….what the hell was that?

I have always loved my body….I like looking in the mirror.  I actually admire my luscious although downward facing breasts, my rounded hips, my full and juicy belly.  I really wish we saw more photos of all body types and I really hope we all continue this conversation.  This isn’t an issue particular to men or women.  It is a struggle all around.  I have loved and enjoyed many body types.

I wanted to share this story today.  We are talking a lot about fat shaming, loving all body types and then the issues around health and wellness. When I openly refer to myself as fat these days, I am reclaiming myself.  I am not shaming myself.  I am saying openly….this is who I am and I like it! I am a voluptuous, big, bold and beautiful womyn!  I am hoping that you will share your stories with me.  I am hoping that you will stand in the mirror and say with passion and love…..I love me!!!!!!!

cartoon sandra

That’s What a Healthy Life Looks Like

Yesterday I retired from my position as the National Coordinator for Canadian Voice of Women for Peace.  I am ready for the change and so excited for the challenge ahead.

Today I am heading to Milford, Connecticut to cat/house sit.  Deb and I met in 2015 when I first visited as a Bed and Breakfast guest.  I love her home – cozy, clean, quaint and a block from the beach.  This will be home for the 2 ½ weeks.

I am back on a very healthy eating and weight loss program.  Although I am satisfied with my weight and how I look these days, I can’t seem to get my health in good order.  Several years ago, I was diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes and Hypertension (High blood pressure).  Both of these are hereditary on both sides of my family but that shouldn’t have made it inevitable.  I changed my eating habits, lost 20 pounds and worked closely with a practitioner of Chinese medicine.  I take herbs and have monthly treatments.  For 2 years, I was able to lower my blood sugar readings to normal and maintain a healthy blood pressure but then last year my numbers started going up.  No matter how much I restricted what I was eating, I couldn’t do it.  I dropped another 10 pounds but then the weight loss stopped and I have been stuck for several months.  I am seeing an endocrinologist ( a specialist for diabetes) and he has me on 3 different medications and they are all at the maximum  dosage.  I am not feeling any side effects but we are also not getting to the normal numbers that he wants.  The prognosis is that I will need a new mediation but he has given me until December to lose more weight.

That’s where I am today, one week later and magically 3 pounds lighter.   I am using the weight watchers program (pre 2010).  I know it and it has worked for me in the past.  In 2004, I lost 35 pounds and kept it off, and since then I have used it to lose another 35.  At least I have gained any weight in the past 20 years.  I have an ideal weight in mine – my lowest adult weight from when I was 19 years old.  That is another 35 pounds but my goal for now is 20 pounds.   Since my diagnosis a few years ago, I believed that I could beat this if I could reach that weight.

I am inviting you to come on this journey with me – keep me motivated, keep me honest, encourage me and maybe some of you will work at this with me.  When I want a change, I believe in going public!  Go big or go home!!

Here is the plan – stick to the old weight watchers plan, work at things that I love, commit to exercise a minimum of 3 times a week but trying for 5.  The next 17 days I want to kickstart it!  I am going to beach destination in Connecticut, on the beautiful Long Island Sound, a bicycle with flat roads and a state park, miles of beach and quiet.  I am going to bike every day with a goal of 12 kilometres per day.  I want to walk the beach at low tide everyday rain or shine soaking up the healthy salt air and the “negative ions”.  My diet splurges will be fresh lobster and quahogs and a glass or 2 of wine, maybe even a light beer.  Alcohol isn’t something I drink very often but vacation screams “Have a glass or 2.” Of course, it means giving up something else on the weight watchers’ plan.

I need to purchase lunch in the airport today and I know I could have chosen a salad but instead I picked a roasted vegetable sandwich and a coffee.  I ate one half of the bun and through the rest away.  For me, that is important to throw out what I shouldn’t eat otherwise it may find its way into my mouth an hour later.  I am only supposed to have one coffee a day but every now and then, I treat myself to an extra one.  Love the dark roast with a splash of lowfat cream.

An hour until my flight departs.  I feel that my whole life is about to lift off.  Fingers crossed.

 

Do You Feel Invisible?

What is all this talk about being invisible?  Am I invisible because now I am in my 60’s?  Do you feel invisible?  Who is invisible?  C’mon let’s talk.

The first time I heard about this phenomenon was from a woman who put purple and pink in her white hair.  She had extremely thin hair….wisps of hair actually and she said that after turning 60 she had become invisible.  I thought maybe it was just her.

I was wrong!  Women talk about it alot.

This idea makes me feel so disappointed.  I have never felt invisible and I don’t feel it now in my sixties.    I am a woman who wears make-up, buys clothing, colours my hair and tries to be on trend.  It might be frivolous but for me it is fun and a way of expressing my creativity.  I love looking for new ideas, hunting for a great bargain and playing in my closet.

playing my closet
Playing in my closet

I keep wondering if this is about youthful sexuality.  Do women feel invisible because they don’t have that fresh, youthful sexuality that had turned men’s heads or …….construction workers who whistle and cat call?  That always seemed creepy and scary.

I don’t have the answer about other’s invisibility.  I am not going to suggest red lipstick and hair colour.  I am not going to suggest buying new clothes or having a make-over.  That might help someone but I think it is imperative to explore your authentic self. I am loving the direction my career ………….celebrating Life Cycle events with others.  Wedding officiant, teacher, Reflexologist and more.  I am excited to travel more with my newfound flexibility since I am retiring from my commitment as a National Cooridinator. This year my mantra comes from Louise Hay and is inspiring me to take a chance.

mantra
My mantra from Louise Hay

Now is the time to do the things that you love to do.  Reading, writing, crafting, healing, inventing, traveling, exploring…………..whatever it is……….now is the time to do it.

dance with fairies

I believe that if you are happy and fulfilled, if you are smiling, laughing or loving………………you can’t be invisible.  At the very least you are seen and cared for by the people you love.

I am blessed – my daughters love me.   They take time to stay in contact with me, visit me, open up their homes to me.  I have a grandson that fills me up with his laughter and his love.  I am very blessed.  At the same time, I no longer have a relationship with my 4 siblings.  Our dysfunctional childhood and my strong political actions have driven us apart.  I have created a family of friends.  Surrounded by this love, I am certain, I will never be invisible.

Raya, Tovah and Me spring 2016
An outing with my beautiful daughters

What do you think?

How To Make The Perfect Cup of Coffee

I have been using a French Press for almost 20 years.  I love it but this month I broke 2 of the glass container and I hate seeing waste.  I am now considering purchasing a metal one that would last.  In the meantime, this morning I made my coffee in a percolator that I found in my “magic” laundry a few years ago.  I thought it was so pretty and kept it on top of my cupboards as part of my kitchen decor.

Laundry room finds
from the magic laundry room

I don’t make purchases lightly.  I hate wasting my limited income on things I don’t need and purchasing something that I have to throw out 2 weeks later makes me crazy.

The coffee was perfect – it was easy and took less than 10 minutes.  The average time to percolate is 7-10 minutes according to my google research at 6am this morning.  I used the same measurements as I do in my French Press.

I love my coffee to be dark, full bodies, with lots of intense flavour – French Roast and Sumatra are my favourites.  Whenever I am in London, Ontario I like to purchase my coffee at Fire Roasted.  They are in the East End Market on Dundas Street, East.

Make that fair trade and organic and we are off to a very good start.  I prefer to grind my own beans for optimum flavour too.  Even beans ground the day before leave the taste wanting in my opinion.

When I started using Traditional Chinese Medicine as my healing therapy, the first thing Emily, my practitioner, recommended was only 1 cup of coffee per day.  I am good at sticking to that.  I want that cup the first thing in the morning – before food and I spend about a half hour sipping it and enjoying the start to my day.  I love mornings.

I put the beans in my grinder measured to the 1.5 cup level.  I grind and count to about 30 for the coarse grind recommended in a French press.  I then add 12 ounces of boiling water.  I stir it and let is sit for 5 minutes.  Often I add a dash of cinnamon.  I enjoy coffee with cardamon but not as my morning beverage with cream.  Each morning I add 2 tablespoons of 5 or 10 percent cream.

Each morning this is my routine – it feels so luxurious, costs me about $1 per day and leaves me feeling like a pampered diva.

favourite coffee cup

How do you make the perfect cup of coffee?

What Would You Do If You Could Do Anything?

It’s time for an exciting new adventure.  3 years ago I started this blog – I was 2 years away from my 60th birthday and I wanted to embrace that milestone with excitement, hope and a sense of adventure.  I have decided to embrace social media even more by reaching out and asking for your help as I plan the next chapter in my personal journey.  No, not online dating but instead online life planning.

 

The whole world is my oyster and there are so many things I might do.  I am enlisting my friends, family and acquaintances far and wide to explore the possibilities.  I want to hear where you’ve been, why you loved it, where you want to go and what is pulling you there.

I am making lists – that’s the way I handle things.  Lists of where I have been, what I love doing and what talents are in my bag of tricks.

aromatherapyreflexology feetDream pillow workshop 1badge

 

I intend to continue earning a living but I think I have a pretty big “bag of tricks” to offer.  I am referring to work I am doing now and career’s I have had in the past.

  • Reflexologist (Healing foot massage)
  • Workshop facilitator (Fun, inspiring sessions incorporating Aromatherapy, flower essence remedies, journalling, vision boards and more)
  • Life Cycle Officiant (weddings, funerals, coming of age, uncoupling)
  • Writer/Editor
  • Organizer (Home and office)
  • ESL teacher (English as a second language_
  • Jewish Educator (specialty is Bar/Bat Mitzvah students)
  • Travel/tourism guide
  • Administration and Management
  • Fundraising
  • Event Planning

Here is a list of things I have thought of doing:

  • House-sitting and pet-sitting. Boat-sitting (yachts?)
  • Couch surfing (think I am not really up that option) – like camping and backpacking.)
  • Tour guide
  • Destination representative (English representative at hotels and resorts)
  • Cruise ship (maybe as a Reflexologist)
  • Teaching English in actual classrooms
  • Teaching English virtually (already doing this as a supply teacher)
  • Volunteer placements with a stipend
  • Retreat centre or spa as a Reflexologist
  • Caregiver for children or seniors
  • Organizing homes/ offices far and wide

 

Now it is your turn.  I am so excited to hear your ideas.  Where would you go?  What might you do?  Let your imagination run wild.  1, 2, 3, and go!

#Busy, Tired, Stressed

busy-tired-stressedHow did this become our badge of honour?  I want to be able to say that I had a great day, a relaxing day, that I am organized and rarely feel overwhelmed. I want to say that there are enough hours in my day.  That I have time to make proper meals, time for exercise, time to meet with friends, time to read a book, time to watch a movie, a documentary or a silly sitcom.  I want to say it with pride because I actually do.  I have been able to create a simple life that most days is balanced and fulfilling.

my-goal-is-to-create

When I call my Mom (keep in mind that she is 96) and tell her what I have been up to, she says, ‘My you are a busy woman”.  I want to explain that yes, I have a full schedule but I am doing things I truly enjoy and I have a life that is very satisfying.  I know that she thinks being busy is very important or what I want her to say because that is what society dictates.  I know that my mother always ridiculed people who napped so I never tell her about my naps.  I love a nap…now that I am older and working much less….a delicious nap might last 2 hours….ok….2.5 hours.  Why not?  If I nap, I can stay up later and fill the time with one of my projects.

mom
Mom at 95

All this doesn’t mean that I don’t get busy, get tired, get stressed but when it does happen, I want to realize that this is not a state of being I admire.  I am looking at ways to continue working and by that I mean continue working past the average retirement age.  I want to work at things that bring me joy.  I want to undercover my passions.  I want to share them with others and earn my living doing just that.

I don’t think we need to wait until we are sixty to start this journey.  It seems important to excavate, explore and dig deep to find your authentic self now – today.  We all have one.  I left Canada at 48 with a plan to travel for a year.  I came home 2 years later….a radical activist and what felt like a very different person.

meme-2-whent-the-whole-world-is-silent-2

I wasn’t a different person– I had just uncovered another part of me that I had missed.  It feels now like so much of all those personal discoveries are coming together – all my passions, all my interests, all my desires and yes, maybe all my dreams.

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SandraLaya Creating

peace, joy and love

 

Pick Yourself Up, Dust Yourself Off and Start All Over Again

So here’s the thing.  I love writing and I love my blogs.  I was so excited about my Sixty in the City idea.  I couldn’t wait to get started.  Ideas flowed in my head and my heart.  When I was out ideas, words, sentences, paragraphs, and pictures poured in.  This is my passion.  I love sharing ideas and hopefully inspiring others. Ok, so what happened ….why did I stop?  Why do I have lists of blogging ideas in my “To Do List” and why haven’t I written in months? Why?  What stopped me? Hmmmm…… time to explore the usual suspects.

loose-cassette-tape-650x280  The old tapes I suppose.  What do I mean by the old tapes?  Those are those thoughts that flow through our mind.  Crap that other people told us or crap that we repeatedly tell ourselves?  Can’t, shouldn’t, wouldn’t, couldn’t.  Yowzers!!  How did that stuff get into my head?

 

half-fullI pride myself on a cup that is more than half full and often spilling over.  I think that I am a “take charge, get it done, kind of Womyn”.  I never leave dishes in the sink or laundry unfolded.  I plan my meals, plan my grocery list, take time to cook healthy from scratch food, keep my home neat and tidy, stay in touch family and loved ones, remember birthdays and special occasions, make lists and check things off. Yup, you got it….I can busy myself with a lot of mundane details and tell myself that I was too busy today but tomorrow….no the next day….ok no….next week….  I’ll do it….cause I love it.  What’s going on????

Looking back over the years (and when you are sixty, there are a lot of years to look back on) I know that many times when I was on the brink of following my passion to have my own business as an Alternative Healing practitioner. My passion for facilitating groups to inspire womyn to create the changes they want for themselves and for the world…..I didn’t follow my own advice but instead took a different path.  Consistently a solid, dependable job or contract  would come my way and how could I say no to stability and normality?   I am not criticizing those choices.  I was a sole support parent with 2 amazing daughters who I wanted to provide for.  I am certain that isn’t all there is to this pattern, though. My daughters have been self sufficient and stable on their own for over a decade.

Last spring I found a great inspiration partner.  We both wanted someone to keep us on track to achieve our goals.  We met every other week and we created a whole system to keep us motivated.  It was so exciting and so organized.  sunraysWe called our goals sun rays and each ray was a stream that we wanted to pursue and follow.  In this time I got my licence to marry couples and started officiating weddings.  I was blogging very regularly and many of my ideas were unfolding .  I started my training to become a Kohenet (Hebrew Priestess).  I was doing it!!! And… Then…I …Stopped !!!!!!!!!  Right in the middle of doing what I was sure I loved and what I am still sure I love.  What happened? One thing only….I got in my own way.

The really awesome part of all this is that it’s ok to stop and it’s ok to start again.  The old but timeless song, “take a deep breath, pick yourself up, dust yourself off and start all over again.” Listen hear

fred-and-ginger

What have I done?  I found my old mentors again …..Sarah Ban Breathnach, Louise Hay and Sark.  I dug out my vision journal and I have enjoyed looking at it again.  (some photos from my old vision book)

Today I am going to start working on expanding that vision journal with my new visions and discoveries.  Sarah Ban Breathnach suggests that you get piles of old magazines and cut out pictures that you are drawn to, putting them into separate piles for the various parts of your life.  Here is a description from one of her books.

You can usually find Sarah’s books in second hand book stores.  I suggest starting with “Simple Abundance”. Currently I am using “Something More” as my guide.

I am ready to commit to me again…..that means healthy choices and exercising, it means writing out my gratitudes from the day before, giving thanks to the Goddess, reading something inspirational.  It means making a commitment to my personal success by creating an action plan and following it though.  For me it means stepping out of my usual comfort zones.  It means finding joy in all the little spaces like walking barefoot on the beach in November in Nova Scotia or wandering through the Allan Garden Conservatory in Toronto on Boxing Day when it is cold and rainy outside.

 

 

 

What does it mean for you?

Turning 60: An awesome milestone

This is a milestone birthday for me – I just turned 60.  It isn’t my most difficult birthday.  In fact, I am finding the whole idea very exciting.  As you may know, I started the Sixty in the City blog when I was only 58 – I called it Sixty in the City (well almost).  This week I dropped the (well almost). That year I also decided to grow my hair so that I would have the longest, blondest hair ever for my sixtieth birthday.  I am having fun!  My life ranges from very serious (my work, my activism and my health) to frivolous joy.

hair at 60
My hair at 60

The most difficult birthday for me was my 28th and it really knocked me for a loop.  I cried constantly it seemed.  I called my Mom (who is 35 years older than me) and told her my life was flashing before my eyes and before I knew it I would be 68.  It all sounds ridiculous to me today but I was one very unhappy camper.

The truth is it was a difficult time.  I was very unhappy in my marriage – a relationship I had been in since before my 17th birthday, finances were very tight and my precious daughters were very little (my youngest was 6 months and my oldest was 3 years).  I was teaching both days and evenings and my in-laws had moved to town (a whole other story).  So much responsibility and I just couldn’t find the Light.

How far I have come!  I feel like I am in a place where I am living authentically and when something doesn’t feel good, I can leave it behind.  I am choosing to walk my own path.  I have finally learned the power of saying NO! And that is a very big step.

I am sixty and maybe you are turning 30 or 35 or 45 or 50……………it is significant and we need to honour it.  I believe it is very important to ask ourselves, “Am I happy? Is this the right path for me? Should I make a change?”

Making changes in our life can be a real challenge and choosing those choices even more difficult.  For me, it is imperative to assess my priorities – what gives me satisfaction, what is important to me, what fills me up and what am I doing that does not resonate.

Money is not my first priority but there is a certain level of financial security that I require and I am more than willing to work to achieve that goal.  I love time with my daughters and with my grandson – this time is so precious and makes me really happy – doesn’t matter if we are just at home, in a local park, running errands – being with my family is so satisfying.  I love to travel but I don’t require a 5 star hotel or a cruise ship. I was a travel agent years ago and had ample opportunity to experience both.  I am very lucky to have friends living in many areas of the world and sometimes I stay with them but often choose an inexpensive hostel, airbnb or a simple hotel.

Planning my summer vacation, I knew I wanted to swim in salt water so I first looked for the closest body of salt water to Toronto.  New York seems to be it.  Do you realize you can take a bus to New York for as little as $10 each way?  I found a price of $66 return for the dates that I wanted.  I asked a friend if she would like to travel with me and then we chose an AirBnb in a town along the coast just a couple of hours from New York City. The house is a block from the beach with rave reviews and the host supplies beach chairs, beach towels and umbrellas for only $60 for the room per night ($30 each).  So this holiday will cost me around $200 for 5 nights.  The real bonus here is that I have to be in the area anyway the week after to begin my training as a Jewish Priestess.

chasing the water
Seeking sun and sea

Food is really important to me as well.  I am committed to eating healthy and I do like to cook my own food.  I have blogged often about food and shopping on a budget.  I love seafood but I am happy to buy a lobster for under $20 and eat it on the beach or at home.  I won’t be more satisfied having this meal in a restaurant.  I love having people in my home and cooking for them but I also don’t mind having a potluck party- always delicious.

potluck spring 2016
Potluck in 400 square foot apartment – always room for friends

Health is a big priority and I have been spending money each month on Traditional Chinese Medicine.  It has been very healing for me and I do wish it could be of our medical system in Canada but for now, I am prepared to work to pay this expense.

I do love clothes and cosmetics but I look for deals, coupons, and shop the sales by season.  I donate clothes that no longer suit me.  It took me 2 months to find the best deal on Birkenstocks.  My old ones have developed a  crack that pinches the bottom of my foot so they must be replaced after 3 summers of wear.  I found great deals this week online at Factory Shoes – only $75 for a sandal that sells everywhere for $119- $129.

My challenge to you ………… think of your personal priorities and then find a way to manifest what you need.   If you can’t do it on your own, work with a friend (the happiest and most positive person in your life). There are times in our lives when this is more difficult – perhaps the message to remember – this too shall pass.

Puh-leese!!!! Tell me – what do you mean you don’t cook?

I had a chat recently with a woman who said “I rarely cook.  You know, I live alone so it just doesn’t make sense. She has always lived alone so it isn’t a matter of learning to cook for herself after years of feeding a big family. Usually I am more polite and would have quietly nodded but this wasn’t one of my more polite moments.  Forgive me. I just said no – I don’t know.  In fact, it is a total enigma to me. I have been thinking about it all week.  Granted it isn’t the first time I have heard it and I guess it won’t be the last since now I am asking you, dear reader, do you only cook when there is someone else to feed?

fast food

I did have a neighbour who lived alone and at the end of every week her recycling was filled with pizza boxes.

So now, scratching my head, I am wondering about those who don’t cook. What do you eat?  Do you not cook because you have found awesome food to eat every day?  Do you go to restaurants for 3 meals a day?  Do you use a food delivery service?  Do you eat the prepared food in a grocery store?  Do you live on pizzas and hamburgers? Oh my goodness, my questions are limitless. Where do you find fresh vegetables lightly steamed or roasted?  Don’t you ever crave a big pot of spinach, Kale, broccoli?

fresh veggies

I am not a fancy cook for myself – actually not a fancy cook for company.  I think I am a simple cook and I do love feeding people. I love to have people around my table enjoying and appreciating something I have made.  I also truly appreciate feeding myself.  I don’t spend hours preparing dishes but I do make sure that I get lots of vegetables and protein every day.  I aim for a balance of carbohydrates, vegetables and protein 3 times a day.  I am cognizant of the amount of sodium I consume and 2 years ago gave up sugar and sugar substitutes.  Infrequently, I will have a tablespoon of honey or maple syrup in a dessert.

Several years ago, my daughter was ill and I was staying with her.  She couldn’t tolerate the smell of cooking so I was picking up a meal on my way to her home after work each day.  I tried to make a healthy choice but it isn’t that easy – there was a Pizzaria near me where I would get 2 slices of the Mediterranean,  a Middle Eastern takeout for a chicken shwarma, and I did find a little Mom/Pop restaurant where the owner would make me a serving of white rice, unsalted chicken breast, simple salad with iceberg lettuce and a container of her homemade salt free hot sauce.  On occasion I would pick up a barbecue chicken and coleslaw. After about a month of this, I had gained 14 pounds and my blood pressure was through the roof!  My daughter was feeling better and I stepped back for a while, cooked my own food and after 14 days the weight disappeared and I was back on track.

So again, I ask the question, if you don’t cook for yourself what do you eat?

My favourite meal at home is broiled chicken (preferably thighs or leg and thigh) with lots of a green vegetable and a sweet potato.  The vegetables range from broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower( not green) spinach, kale, brussel sprouts, swiss chard or beet greens.  My choice of carbs vary as well – brown rice, barley, buckwheat groats, white potato, sweet potato, steelcut oatmeal, squash or rye bread.  When I am lazy (often), I put it all in one pan in the oven.  Voila, after 40-60 minutes dinner is done and on the plate.  Home cooked fast food.

dinner at home
Bake at 400 for 50 -60 minutes

I love a stir fry where I take out my electric wok and start with a wee bit of oil, 3 cloves of garlic and a chopped onion. Now I add the kitchen sink – usually zucchini, green beans, broccoli, spinach and anything else around.  Frozen vegetables come in handy here – peas, corn, beans, medleys of broccoli and cauliflower….just toss it all in…add a bit of water or broth rather than more oil.  For protein you can toss in black beans, chick peas, chicken, beef or pork, shrimp, tilapia, salmon or seafood medley – a different idea and mixture every day.  You can add some brown rice or any of the choices I mentioned above.  Sometimes I use frozen hash browns (no name are the lowest in sodium).  Noodles made of buckwheat (soba) are my favourite but whole wheat are healthy choice, rice noodles.  This is quick and easy food and dinner can be on the table in 20 minutes.

There is always the crock pot…put everything you want in and when you come home, dinner is hot and ready.  Last year, I learned that I could through in a whole squash – spaghetti or otherwise and it would be ready when I got home.  Any sauce tastes great on spaghetti squash.  My choice is my home made pesto.

Even a homemade pizza is a healthy at home choice – whole wheat pita, low fat mozzarella cheese grated with onions, mushrooms, tomatoes, and peppers – fast and nothing hidden! How about fish tacos – tortillas, avocado, cole slaw and a piece of fish.  Dinner is done! How about an omelette?  Spaghetti with sauce from a jar?  A sandwich piled how with protein and vegetables?

sandwich

Puh-leese!!!! Tell me – what do you mean you don’t cook? Signed puzzled in Toronto 🙂

Living Large in My Tiny Space

I do live in a tiny space and I love it.  I found this apartment 9 years ago when I moved to Toronto after 2 years of living in Haifa.  I didn’t think I would be here almost a decade later but I knew the minute I crossed the threshold that it was home.  It is just 500 square feet including the 100 square feet  of balcony.  I use that balcony in the warmer months and it was one of the non-negotiable items on my must have list – clean building, public transit, balcony, wooden floors and bathtub.

When I left Canada in 2004, I sold the house and most of what was in it.  My daughters took what they wanted for their first homes and I kept 3 antique pieces that I had inherited from my Grandmother, a coffee table my father had commissioned and 5 boxes of books and other treasures.  I safely stored them away in my brother’s home and travelled with 2 very large suitcases of clothing and shoes.

I purchased a few new pieces when I moved in – a Beddinge sofa bed from Ikea, a bookcase and a chair from Pier One and an Ikea cabinet I found on Craigslist.  The rest, I have to admit, I have found or inherited.  Yup, found, fabulous pieces set on the curb in my neighbourhood.

table find
This is a table I had many pictures of in my vision book and there it was on the street looking for me.

In my space I have created nooks – a reading nook, an office nook, a dining nook, sitting nook.  My space has a separate kitchen, a huge walk-in closet, linen closet and entrance.

My living room converts to my bedroom with a quick flip of the sofa bed.

bed

…………and my kitchen space

I added  a baker’s rack to my kitchen and it holds extra bowls, baking pans, cast iron frying pans. I  have catered from this little space, held dinner parties for up to 10 and cooked daily for myself.

This year as I prepare to train as a Kohenet (a Jewish Priestess), I have added my altar.

altar

I love to nest wherever I land.  Do you?  How do you live in a tiny space?