Embracing February

February is never an easy month for me.  I am ready for spring………. well quite honestly, ready for summer.  I am a summer woman.  I love the heat, love the sun and really don’t mind humidity.  Winter takes more work to stay balanced and positive.  I intend to do it, though.  Every year I stop wearing socks in February, bring sandals to the office, ignore my sweaters, and wear my spring clothes with my big red coat over them. Big shawls and furry winter boots help because the older I get, the more I feel the cold.

Red Coat
An outing with my awesome daughters

Yesterday was one of those challenging February days – the morning started out well – waking up without an alarm clock, writing in my gratitude journal, yoga stretches for my lower back, and a walk to work that includes a challenging incline that leaves me exhilarated.  My office is now only 500 metres from home eliminating public transit but also my 40 minute walk.  I decided that I need that walk so I am taking advantage of my awesome neighbourhood.

Lee Street
Feels like walking a mountain

A little pampering goes a long way.  If you have a health insurance plan that allows for massage therapy, acupuncture or any other healing therapy, I strongly urge you to take advantage.  For those who don’t, I recommend schools for Registered Massage Therapists, Chiropractors, Estheticians, Hair Stylists and more.   The prices are extremely low in comparison and the treatments usually take longer therefore giving you a little extra pampering time. I have been taking advantage of our beauty schools for almost a decade.  Colour, cut and blow dry for around $30.  A simple wash and blow dry is only $10. Pampering on a budget for sure.

This week I visited my favourite manicurist for the best pedicure EVER.  I have been going to Mary for Manicures and Pedicures for about 9 years.  She changed locations in the Beaches3 times and I along with many others have followed her.  A pedicure with Mary compares favourably to any high end treatment.  She puts her all into her work and has a thriving clientele.  She knows I am having trouble with my knee and really spends extra time on the massage.  You can ask for extra massage and pay only $1 per minute at many salons in Toronto.  I really recommend finding someone you like and becoming a regular customer rather than just dropping in.   A mani/pedi at the many salons in Toronto are usually on $35.  It is just one of the luxuries that I give myself every 4-6 weeks when possible – for me, it is definitely living life abundantly.  You can find Mary at Professional Nail and Spa, 2221 Queen Street East, Toronto, Ontario, 416-694-4111.  Tell her Sandra sent you. (this is not a paid commercial just friends sharing great ideas)

Admittedly I am not a person who loves exercise and I really cannot motivate myself to join a class or go to a gym.  I really do enjoy getting out to a pool and I am fortunate to have one only a few kilometres away.  We are so blessed in Toronto to have community pools in every neighbourhood.  Lane swims are very reasonably priced and leisure swims are free across the city. Spending 30 – 60 minutes moving about in the pool really is a great attitude adjustment.

Stiff joints always feel worse in the winter (at least for me) and I have been faithfully doing yoga stretches for the past 2 weeks every morning.  What a difference it makes! I am concentrating on the lower back, sciatic area, hips as well as neck and shoulders.  I really appreciate the videos by Psyche Truth on YouTube.  I am really blown away by the difference I am feeling this week after being consistent.

Here are a few youtube videos that I really like but I find I need to try a variety to keep it interesting.

How To Yoga Stretches for Low Back Pain & Sciatica Relief by Jen Hilman

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9f1Y4OV3QlA&list=PLdMcHk9t7WxMgmmIFj-0Won6m8uSjrExk&index=3

Neck Stretch Exercises For Pain, Tension & Stress Relief, Jen Hilman

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CaPRFm3EZWY&index=5&list=PLdMcHk9t7WxMgmmIFj-0Won6m8uSjrExk

Stretches for Back Pain Relief, How to Stretch Routine, Beginners Home Yoga

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CaPRFm3EZWY&index=5&list=PLdMcHk9t7WxMgmmIFj-0Won6m8uSjrExk

Yoga Workout | Low Back Pain Stretches Routine, How To for Beginners, Total Wellness Austin

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ue_vHLkMgzg

For years I went to tanning salons in the winter for the tan and for the warmth and the light.  It really worked for me but I don’t recommend this.  The dangers’ of tanning beds outweighs the benefits, in my opinion.  I have never tried sun lamps to help with the lack of sunshine but it might be a great idea.  I take my Vitamin D every day, get outside for a walk and dream of summer sun.

Tulips on the table

Spring tulips on a table, visits to a garden conservatory, green house, butterfly conservatory, art gallery, museum or even a night in a local hotel ( look for great deals online).  Take a drive on a bright sunny day to a neighbouring town – visit a Farmer’s Market, Antique Shops and more.  Don’t have a car?  Rent one for the day, hop on the Go Train but get a change of scene this month.   I once spent an adventurous day at Ikea during a blizzard.  Travelled there by subway (had to change trains 3 times) and we were among the very, very, very few shoppers.  We ate in their restaurant and the staff were offering us samples of different foods since there were only 2 other customers.  It was a full day outing and I think all I bought were some bright yellow candles to go with my February tulips.

What are your secrets for a great February?

A Love Story – My name is Gordon Shumway

In loving memory of Gordon Shumway beloved family friend who left us on Friday, May 1st, 2015

My name is Gordon Shumway
My name is Gordon Shumway

My name is Gordon Shumway and I have lived a long and full life.  I have been loved every day and I have loved every day.   I was born 12 years ago (that’s 84 in people years).  My Dad adopted me and brought me home to his little house with the biggest and best backyard anyone could imagine.

My backyard paradise
My backyard paradise

We were pretty happy and spent hours and hours playing and hanging out.

Me and my Dad, Ben
Me and my Dad, Ben

Then it happened!!!!!!!!!!  He brought home this pretty blonde woman for a visit. I liked her well enough but expected she’d head out after dark.  She didn’t.  So I ate her shoe!!!!  I thought it would teach her a lesson and she’d go home and give me back my side of the bed.  She didn’t.

chewed shoe
I ate it

One morning she and I were alone at home and I heard a big knock on the door.  STRANGERS! I had to protect her and jumped up on the bed and threw my body over her and I barked and barked and barked as loudly as I could…………’cause no one was going to hurt my Mommy!  Yup, I knew it even before they did.  She was my Mommy and this is where she belonged and I loved her as big as the sky.

Raya - my Mom
Raya – my Mom

I like watching television but when there are other animals I tend to get a little over-excited and Mom and Dad had to teach me to turn around and look at the wall.  It really works and is a good strategy for anyone who gets a little anxious.  Just take a break and turn around and face the wall.

Honestly, I am just the most loved dog.  I have a ton of grandparents.  I love my Bubby (she’s writing my story).  Bubby gives me the best back rubs.  Sigh……when she comes to visit, I just sit in front of her and wait for her to start. If she ignores me for a second, I nudge her and tuck my head in her elbow until she remembers.  I love when she massages down my spine and gets her fingers into my hips.  She and I both have “Arf-ritus”.  For a while we both took glucosamine.  I love when Bubby visits.  She’s an early riser and as soon as she wakes up, we love to head outside.  Sometimes I even wake her up…she doesn’t mind and it means we can go out and play for awhile and I get my breakfast really early!  Three big cups of food and any pills or vitamins I am taking at the time. Bubby likes to count them out for me.  She came to stay with me one weekend while my folks were away.  I got to sleep on their bed and Bubby came in much later.  She snuggled up to me and gave me a big a hug.  I was so happy that I let out a big sigh and wiggled up closer to her!!!  I do love my Bubby.

Bubby isn’t much of an artist but she drew a cartoon of our big garden and all the animals that are running around in the backyard when I am in the house.  They eat our food and they know when I come out, I am going to have a great time chasing them.   Hahahaha…so much fun…especially the squirrels.   You should have seen me go!  I was so fast back in the day.

Bubby's cartoon
Bubby’s cartoon

Life was great…I had everything a dog could want.  There were good times and bad times but I just loved my Dad and my Mom through it all.  Then one day….we were four in the house!!!  Life got a little hectic….man, that little cutie takes a lot of attention but I love him to pieces.  His name is Oscar George.  The first few weeks I thought Mom and Dad were going crazy….lol.

Me and Oscar. We're napping.
Me and Oscar. We’re napping.

I have my own bed and it is supposed to be my personal space but Bubby and my buddy/brother Oscar don’t understand that. They love to stretch out with me.  Here is a photo of me and Oscar…I am the one with the greying whiskers.

Oscar on my bed
Oscar on my bed

My name is Gordon Shumway, I love you all and I know you will always love me.