What Seeds are you Planting this Growing Season?

With Easter on our doorstep and spring in the air, we’re naturally more optimistic as we head into another growing season. When we observe nature, it’s clear that there is an anticipated pattern of ebb and flow. There’s a time to pause and a time for growth. Perhaps you’re a gardener who relishes nurturing seeds that turn into beautiful plants bearing fruit or maybe you’re a bird watcher, who enjoys the season of migration, as our transient feathered friends join the hearty regulars at the feeder.

Spring is a time of renewal and growth; it’s our time to press refresh and take stock of what we love and what doesn’t work for us anymore. There’s nothing wrong with letting go of habits that don’t serve us and that relates equally to behavior and how we think. It’s easy to get caught up in ideas like this is how I’ve always done it or I can’t change now, I’m too old, regardless of how old you are. Both behavior and thinking habits are tenacious, even addictive but we’re bigger than that and we’re better than that. What nobody tells us is that we can change our mind about anything at any time and we don’t need anybody’s permission to make that move. When it comes to our habits, rather than going for bigtime change, it’s more manageable to nurture small shifts in our thinking and behavioral habits that will reap great benefit in the long run.

A breath of fresh air is a great thing to take and an even better thing to be.”  Nikunj Patel

Let’s start with breathing, shall we?  Right now, you’re inhaling one of  25,000 breaths you will take over the course of the day. We take our breath for granted until we have a problem with it but here’s the thing: we should be more aware of how we’re breathing so that we can optimize those precious 25,000 breaths. I recently became aware that my breathing needed some adjustment. I have been sucking in my belly for years to try to appear slimmer and apparently this has not been helpful for my breathing, which ultimately impacts my entire system.

Studies have shown that when we’re stressed our breathing is rapid and shallow; who hasn’t been stressed over the last year in this Pandemic pause? So I’m making time to work on slowing down, breathing in and out of the nose, expanding the belly on the in breath and relaxing it on the exhale.  Try it right now; take four or five nice slow inhales and exhales in through the nose while you expand your belly on the inhale and relax it on the exhale. This engages the diaphragm, which is a good thing. Being mindful of how I’m breathing is not a hardship and it’s a change of habit that I’m enjoying and benefiting from.

Breath is at the core of living and our thoughts are at the core of how we live, so it’s important to ensure that how we’re operating is working for us. When we fuel our happiness with thoughts and actions that make us feel good and are helpful for others, the energy of that flows into every aspect of our life. When we feel purposeful, it’s much easier to be compassionate toward ourselves and others.

Contrary to popular belief, it’s never too late and you’re never too old to feel purposeful. Start with how you invest the 24 hours you have in a day. Have you explored what interests you by taking a course or joining a group based on that interest? Can you give your time, talent or treasure to an organization in need of help? Is there something you love to do that could benefit someone else? It doesn’t have to be complicated: if you bake share your goodies with others; if you love to read start or join a book circle. If history, yoga or art is your thing, try taking an online course. Any engagement like this will spark some kind of delight that will flow into every area of your life.

We can’t forget the other support systems like getting good quality sleep, exercising and having healthy eating habits. Having healthy habits in these areas produce that same spark of positive energy that flows into all aspects of our lives.

Anything we do to improve ourselves adds value not only for us but for those close to us as well as the community around us. This is our time to refresh, renew and dance like nobody’s watching, so don’t be afraid to strut your stuff. Remember that life is for learning and growing no matter what age you are.

Chair Piloga With Tracy Reid of Fitness Powers

Let’s start the day with something new! Piloga. 

What is Piloga

It is a new fitness discipline born of a mix of Pilates and yoga. Sounds fun? In this practice, we aim at total mental and physical well-being.

Click here to participate in this 30 minutes program. Piloga allows you to have control of your body, with the awareness of breathing and mastery of every muscle and every movement, bringing a balanced posture. 

Enjoy!

Cooking With Chef Robert

Ready to make some amazingly delicious Scones and Roasted Pear and Onion Salad? This week Chef Robert Mills shares two of his favorite spring recipes. You can click here to watch the video. Here are the recipes. Enjoy!

Roberts Berry Scone Recipe

Prep:15 mins Cook:17 mins Total:32mins Servings:8

Ingredients

2 cups all-purpose flour

½ Cup Sugar

2 teaspoon baking powder

½ teaspoon salt

1 stick Butter room Temp

½ Cup Fresh Blue Berries

½ Cup Sliced Strawberries

½ Cup milk

1 large egg

Directions

Instructions Checklist

Step 1

Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Step 2

In a medium bowl, mix flour, 1/3 cup sugar, baking powder, and salt. Use your fingers to work in butter (mixture should resemble coarse meal)

Step 3

In a small bowl, whisk Milk and Egg

Step 4

Using a fork, stir in Milk and Egg into flour mixture until large dough clumps form. Use your hands to press the dough against the bowl into a ball. (The dough will be sticky in places, and there may not seem to be enough liquid at first, but as you press, the dough will come together.) add the Strawberries and blueberries.

Step 5

Place on a lightly floured surface and pat into a 7- to 8-inch circle about 3/4-inch thick.  Use a sharp knife to cut into 8 triangles; place on a cookie sheet (preferably lined with parchment paper), about 1 inch apart. Bake until golden, about 15 to 17 minutes. Cool for 5 minutes and serve warm or at room temperature.

Nutrition Facts

Per Serving: 319 calories; protein 4.9g; carbohydrates 41.1g; fat 15.5g; cholesterol 60.1mg; sodium 249.3mg.

Maple Syrup roasted Pears, Onions, Balsamic Vinaigrette, on Romaine Spears

Salad for two

Prep: 10 mins  Cook: 15 mins  Total: 25 mins  Servings: 2

Ingredients

1 Whole Pear

1 Whole Red onion

2 tablespoons maple syrup

1 tablespoon Olive Oil

4 teaspoons balsamic vinaigrette

One head of Romaine

Directions

Instructions Checklist

Step 1

Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Step 2

Cut Pear into 8 Wedges removing the seeds, Removed the skin from the onion and cut into 8 Wedges

Step 3

Place onto a baking sheets and Drizzle over the Maple syrup and Olive Oil

Step 4

Place in the oven for 15-20 minutes

Step 5

Clean Romaine and set-up on two plates

And place warm Pears and Onions on top

Finish Balsamic Vinaigrette

Per Serving: 604 calories; protein 7.6g; carbohydrates 39.2g; fat 25.8g; cholesterol 17.7mg; sodium 335.2mg

How Mindfulness Can Help Manage Stress

What do you think of when you hear the word mindfulness? Do you imagine a guru sitting crossed-legged on a mountain top chanting? Frankly, I think mindfulness could use a new public relations campaign, so that we can all appreciate the benefits of this simple yet powerful practice. I want to share with you how mindfulness might be something you can use every day in your life to manage stress, like a secret superpower.

It’s challenging for our busy thinking mind to understand that taking the focus off of our worries is a good thing. We “think” we have to think our way through everything but just like our body needs rest, our mind needs a break too. We’ve all been on a kooky emotional roller coaster ride, since this Pandemic pause began. Depending on your circumstances, you may be managing working from home, schooling for your children, you might be concerned about your investments, your family and friends, grieving loss of a loved one, your former life and there’s always the underlying fear that you might get sick.

Mindfulness is part of a deep-rooted Buddhist ritual; it’s a practice, just like being grateful is a practice. Once we start to notice what we’re grateful for in our lives, we’ll always find that there’s more to be grateful for but we have to develop the habit of seeing our world this way. Same thing goes for mindfulness, which is the practice of being present in the moment. Our beautiful brain is wired to anticipate what’s coming in the future and it loves to ruminate on what’s already happened whether it’s good or bad. The practice of mindfulness interrupts this ingrained pattern and allows us to be present without attachment to any of the concerns we have about the future or the past. The thing is it’s fleeting, so we have to be mindful of what thoughts are coming up and through practice, train our mind not to judge our thoughts and not to allow those thoughts to prevent us from living fully.

Mindfulness can be meditation but it doesn’t have to be. What if I suggested sitting comfortably with your eyes closed and just observing your breath for a few minutes. Breathing in and breathing out without judging anything, just observing. That’s a form of meditation and that’s not so weird is it? In my view, mindfulness is about becoming the observer of our thoughts without feeling that we have to jump in and engage with them. With practice, we become skilled at bringing our attention back to the present moment when we get carried off by a thought about something.

A lot of the stress we’re feeling these days is the result of speculative thinking because there is so much uncertainty in our world right now. Going over and over what we don’t know doesn’t soothe us, it does the opposite. So mindfulness can start by allowing for an awareness of how much time we invest in these questions with no answers. What if, instead of allowing random thoughts about all of our concerns, we focus on what we can do and choose one thing; then do it. That’s being mindful. If you pause when you notice your thoughts are taking you in six directions and just focus on your breath. Breathe in; breathe out. That’s being mindful.

Some people enjoy meditating, some love to colour. Some enjoy listening to music and for others it’s all about exercise. There’s no wrong or right way; certainly not just one way to nurture mindfulness. The key is to interrupt the constant stream of the 60,000 to 80,000 thoughts that bombard us every day and take up a lot of our brain’s bandwidth.

Beginning the day with a few minutes focused on mindfulness whether it’s writing in a journal, taking a walk outside, sitting quietly with a morning beverage or listening to a guided meditation, all of these practices can set us up to more easily manage our thoughts throughout the day. Then it’s important to move through the day, looking for the good in it and only focusing on one thing at a time. We’re very capable of multitasking and sometimes we think it’s the only way to get things done but multitasking is a myth; research has shown that it’s best for our mental wellness to focus on one task at a time.

However you choose to be mindful, whether it’s looking for ways to help others, learning something new or exercising, you’re supporting a healthy immune system, you’re preventing your cells from aging quickly and you’re taking charge because while there’s a lot we don’t know right now, there’s so much we can do to improve our mindset which is the only thing we have control over at any time. So, as you pursue your mindfulness practice, remember that your thoughts are powerful and you’re in charge of them.

Here is a list of suggested ways to practice mindfulness:

  • Take deep, slow belly breaths.
  • Do some gentle stretches.
  • Paint something.
  • Sit or walk in nature observing everything around you.
  • Move slowly.
  • Observe art.
  • List what you’re grateful for.
  • Listen to music.
  • Listen to a guided meditation.
  • Write in a journal.

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