Gratitude makes the journey better and so does kindness

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The Quest for Slower Times

I will tell you why the 13th is not unlucky.

Take February 13th for example. It’s early morning and the sun is shining. Pup and I start on a morning hike with the intention to get to the top of a particular hill above the woods. I mean, what better day?

These days the trails are a mix of ice and crusted snow which makes for a good challenge in some parts, but if hikes are to be likened to life, at least occasionally, then the tougher sections are but good reminders of what our journey is about.

After stopping to take in the view, again, (and to roll on the crusty snow, again), we make it to the top. On the day that bears the number deemed unlucky, pup and I find ourselves in sparkling morning sunshine and with front seats to admiring birds in flight from above (the ultimate ‘bird’s eye view’ one could say, pun and all).

Why I do not miss Facebook and why just one resolution

It’s been many months since I deactivated my Facebook account. I do not miss it, and as much as I would like to, I cannot delete it fully because there are people I care about who are for now communicating only via Facebook messenger.

The social media rundown

Be as it may, the bad noise is gone. By that I mean the tsunami of fake information and rants spreading like wildfire leading to nowhere but high anxiety, and the countless posts of what should be private information. Oh, and there is also the marketing, incessant and shameless, which I do not miss. That is to say, I do not intend to return. Ever.

This month I am also taking a break from Twitter. Again, the noise can be too much at times. It’s different noise and I like being connected to like-minded people and their worthwhile words and ideas, but breaks are good. They make room for thinking and most importantly, they clear some much-needed space for other pursuits. Or more of the ones we always say we need (more) time for.  

You may be wondering about the other platforms such as Instagram and LinkedIn. I am for now set on a weekly post on Instagram and a weekly review of a few informative accounts. Since I am also keeping updated on a few science and self-improvement podcasts, any extra time on the same would mean a higher risk of falling into virtual rabbit holes which there are many. As for LinkedIn, I use it as the name implies: to link/connect with other professionals and/or professional groups.

Yes, our relationship to social media is a complicated one.

Thinking space

One resolution and a few steppingstones

It’s that time again: the yearly opportunity to start on something new (or pick up that dropped self-improvement project) to improve quality of life. I am not much for a laundry list of resolutions because I know it’s easy to get amped up and then drop one too many, but I do like a fresh start towards one or two long-term goals, and I know consistency pays off. So my one resolution is to be consistent on whatever I embark on.

For example: I want to be able to take part in the next polar bear swim (January 1, 2022) so my steppingstone is a daily cold shower (starting at 15 seconds and working towards two minutes). Since I already have a morning routine of breathing and stretching, I can pin this one on. And don’t let the 15 seconds fool you. That’s where math fails: 15 seconds under cold water does not equal 15 seconds of warm water shower. Still, cold water exposure has many virtues, and I will expand on that in a later post.

My next one and the big news I hinted at a couple of posts back is that I will be starting on a new path after spending the last year and a half studying for it. I have become a certified nutritional consultant (CNC) and that means, among others, that a new website with science-based nutrition information will be launched soon and, most importantly, that I can embark on a journey that I long dreamed of: disease prevention through healthy nutrition.

A long-term goal if there ever was one. The steppingstones in this case: reading, writing, and keeping up-to-date with the latest research on nutrition topics I will highlight in regular blog posts.


My inspiration to work on building good habits comes from James Clear, author of Atomic Habits – An Easy & Proven Way to Build Good Habits & Break Bad Ones (Penguin Random House, 2018).

My inspiration source for minimizing social media presence is Cal Newport, author of many books on focus and productivity, including Digital Minimalism – Choosing a Focused Life in a Noisy World (Portfolio, 2019).  

The inspiration for embracing the cold showers is provided by Wim Hof, also known as The Ice Man (and that says is all, though he does more than that).

A refreshing book I discovered this past year and enjoyed reading was Ultralearning – Master Hard Skills, Outsmart the Competition and Accelerate Your Career (Illustrated, 2019) by Scott H. Young. Never stop learning!

On that note…

Dogs know

If you have books or people who inspire your journey towards a more balanced life (I know that may mean different things to different people), please feel free to share. Knowledge is delightful, more so when shared.

Here’s to a good year and here’s to being present, curious, and kind. Most of all, grateful.

11 lessons from the year we are bidding goodbye to

I saw this cartoon the other day. A group of people were cautiously opening a door by pushing it with a long-handle broom. The door had 2022 written on it and the caption read ‘2022 – We’re all gonna walk in real slow…’.

It’s funny in that way that we have learned to laugh at since the first wave of the pandemic. We have now entered the fifth wave and I remember the initial predictions of the health officials about the light at the end of the tunnel becoming more visible as we were riding that first wave. The light, we have since found out, keeps going out and tunnel’s end keeps getting farther and then closer again.

Hoarding will not help us get through tough times, but a strong local economy will

There has never been a stronger case for why having a robust local economy is what will ensure our better collective future. The part of British Columbia that was affected by wildfires and incessant, killer heat this past summer is suffering from severe flooding right now.

Once again, entire communities are being evacuated and people are losing their homes and many of them, their livelihoods, as we speak. The rainstorm that ravaged the Southern Interior and the communities around Lower Mainland over the weekend, ripped apart highways and caused mudslides. Hundreds were stranded, and sadly, some lost their lives.

The COP26 climate summit and Remembrance Day have something in common

Have you been following the COP26 climate summit at all? It’s hard not to, and truth be told, it’d be a bit irresponsible to not peek at least a little bit in that direction. It’s about us and our survival after all, no?

You may have read this, I know I did, that it’s not the planet we should be concerned about but us humans. We are the proverbial frog in the pot of water that’s going from warm to boiling. The planet will survive just fine with us on it or not. We’re closer to boiling than we care to admit, but perhaps the COP26 big talks can get things rolling in the right direction, no?

Exposure to nature or exposure to news? You choose

We woke up today to the pitter patter of rain and the beauty of fog-wrapped world. Early morning work, a cup of perfectly tasting coffee, a snoozing dog… Then, her and I head to the woods.  

We descend to the bottom of our favourite nature park then up again to the very top where the low hanging clouds make everything look magical and the trees whisper in a language of their own. The colours are more vibrant when it rains and the smells more potent – according to the sharp nose that accompanies me on the morning hike.

I used to get an eyeful of the daily news in the morning a while ago but not anymore. Nowadays, the big outdoors under the blue or overcast sky, is where I get the ‘news’ I need.

We both do actually. Poppy follows invisible to me leads and then lifts her head sniffing the damp air before plunging her nose back down to sniff more tracks of deer, coyotes, and bears.

We’ve been seeing all of them lately, but mostly bears, some displaced by the massive fires we had and some resident ones too. All beautiful and healthy looking, but I admit being partial to the cinnamon mama with her two black cubs, no bigger than my dog, just rounder.

I’ve exchanged more gazes with bears this year than ever before (from a safe distance, and yes, I do carry a bear spray) and the one persistent feeling is one of awe and gratefulness. For the chance to be part of their world, which I have so much more to learn about.

The world of bears is one that most people fear, and the occasional news of bear attacks (not as many as you’d think) or the ‘happy’ ending of relocating a ‘problem’ bear (it’s usually not that happy, or even fatal, for the bear) is what you’ll find in the news, which does not help much in building the accurate picture of these animals.

Should you choose to ignore the news stories (about bears in this case), and instead follow on the curiosity incited by being immersed in places where they live, you’ll find yourself like I did, leaving the library with a considerable stack of books* about these fascinating and misunderstood, yet feared animals. (*I will provide the list at the end of the post).

It’s not just about bears. As a rule, while there’s the occasional positive story to keep hope afloat, the news is mostly rife with a lot of troublesome bits and scary headlines. Or, every now and then, obvious ones such as ‘kids who spent time in nature adjust better to life’. Well, duh.

I know that back when I was still writing a weekly column, I was often scouring the news to find the most appropriate topic to write about. End result: increased stress and finding myself trying to digest a rather heavy diet of news. With a big side of helplessness, which only sped and reinforced an anxiety-ridden vicious circle.

On the flipside, I loved writing the column and I did so for many (many) years, fully embracing the ups and downs of putting it together and seeing the reaction it caused (spoiler alert: you can’t please everyone and that’s never the point anyway; on the contrary). But once I decided to take a break, I also took a break from checking the news daily. And it felt good!

Coupled with my recent deactivation of Facebook, I find myself distanced from flitting headlines and stories that would have not long ago caused me to dwell over and even lose sleep. I miss nothing. Our daily lives are inundated with too much information as it is, so plucking out most of it left room for wonder, curiosity and…well, silence.

Even with the best intentions, it’s easy to get swept away by the massive deluge of information, clicking on this and that and digging deeper into a medium that is by design bottomless. If anything, digging deeper brings desperation and a feeling of dread.

Worse yet, getting one’s ‘news’ from social media platforms such as Facebook, or as of yesterday, Meta, is downright scary. This name change does nothing, by the way, in the way of fixing the many (meta) wrongs that Facebook fosters and has been for too long. Meta-despicable is where it’s at.

The real world, on the other hand, and the natural world in particular, one could argue, they are equally bottomless, but in completely different ways. Digging deeper to learn more adds to the purpose and the understanding of your place in it. It adds a dose of gratefulness and humility at the same time. Learning brings you to a place from where you can’t go back to living without a conscience.


And that’s what’s lost in the world of news. The rapid succession of news stories, the attention-grabbing headlines that hold you still for just a bit until they deliver you to the next, they stand in stark contrast to the slow and deep beauty dialogue that you develop with the natural world, which always invites you to go farther yet, to where you search for more knowledge and begin to understand more of yourself and the place you’re in.

That is, truly so, the beginning of something wonderful which will fill you up in formidable ways. Every single time.

P.S. As promised, the bear books list (in no particular order):

1. Charlie Russell and Maureen Enns, Grizzly seasons: Life with the brown bears of Kamchatka (Random  House Canada, 2003)

2. G.A. Brandshaw, Talking with bears: Conversations with Charlie Russell (Rocky Mountain Books, 2020)

3. Benjamin Kilham, Out on a limb: What black bears taught me about intelligence and intuition (Chelsea Green Publishing, 2013)

4. Kevin Van Tighem, Bears: without fear (Rocky Mountain Books, 2013)

5. Charlie Russell and Maureen Enns with Fred Stenson, Grizzly heart : living without fear among the brown bears of Kamchatka (Random House Canada, 2012)

Less is more – The other side of supply chain shortages

Did you know there is a shortage of toys this year? Retailers’ advice: get your shopping done early so you can buy aplenty. OK, so they are going on the premise that coveted toys must be had at all costs. A fallacy as far as common sense is concerned. Clichés aside, the best gift we can give our children (and ourselves) is time spent together: read, play, explore, and listen. Be present and things will go well.

Aside from toys, there’s more shortages yet, concerning slightly older ages (emphasis on slightly). The iPhone 13 production will too be on the slim side because of missing microchips.

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