Solitude is something I thrive on, and this social distancing and isolation has brought me lots of solitude. I remember enjoying my solitude even as a child, playing quietly in my room, or building models of cars and animals. One of my favourite childhood past times was to sit in the linen closet with a flashlight and one of my favourite books. I could spend hours doing just that. Rainy days never got me down because I enjoyed the quiet of solitude.

Dreamy sky

This has carried over into my adult life with me enjoying activities like walking alone with my dog, jogging alone, or hiding out in a room with my laptop and streaming something, or reading in my bedroom until the wee hours of the morning. "Just one more chapter, just one more page..ok..just one more sentence". Alone time is something I need to recharge, replenish and keep my creative mind working.

The pandemic has forced everyone to stay home for the safety and health of everyone, which meant more solitude for me. I have enjoyed my time spent working on masks for the homeless and streaming to my heart's content, and going for really long trail walks or just resting. I've had time to create, to work on unfinished projects, to read interesting articles that have nothing to do with the pandemic, to actually have a conversation with friends I don't get to see very often, and to harass my kids daily - how are you? Are you well? Are you safe? This has been a good time for me to turn inward and re-align myself with my ideals, to take stock of weaknesses and strengths and to spend time learning new things. It's been a great time to connect with my tribe and to plan for the new future, and how I'm going to come out of it and move forward.

But I'll be will be a month since I closed my spa, temporarily, and I'm starting to feel it - the lack of daily human connection. As much as I thrive on solitude and need it to keep an even keel, I miss my tribe! I miss seeing the smiling faces, sharing life stories and experiences, sharing a lot of laughter, and just chatting. Chatting with my clients, my tribe, joking around with my assistant, having a little visit with my work neighbours or just going for a coffee. With anyone other than my

It is hard..this self isolation and social and physical distancing. We need human interaction and contact. We need it as much as we need air, and the lockdown is really weighing in on some people. Many of us are struggling with anxiety and depression and I've had a couple of bad days, but I try to reach out on those days. I'll talk to my husband about how I'm feeling just to talk about it. Sharing this emotional burden has eased it for me, and knowing that he's feeling a little of that too makes it a little easier to get through. I'll reach out to friends and see how they're doing, what they're doing to pass the time and how they're feeling. I'm finding that most are feeling like me - enjoying the downtime but also feeling the pressure of self isolation and social distancing. So I listen and offer the only thing I can right now - emotional support. We are all of us feeling pressure. Some are working still and some are working more than they did before and everyone is feeling the anxiety about the future and what's in store for us. It's a scary unknown, uncharted waters and the visibility is low. What to do????

I'm practicing daily gratitude. I'm finding that when I start my day with gratitude for the tiniest things, it changes my mood, and my mindset. I'm still anxious about the future, but also looking forward to it. It's going to be an adventure that's for sure! I'd rather look at it like that - an adventure - because life is an adventure. We make plans all the time..vacation plans, life plans, wedding plans, savings plans..all kinds of plans but none of us ever planned for this! Rather than viewing everything through dark shades, I'll look at everything full on, no rose coloured glasses, just with my eyes, my mind and my heart. And I'll begin it with gratitude. I am grateful every day that I'm alive, and capable. I'm grateful for the circle of support around me and tap into it regularly, and give to it regularly. I'm grateful for my sewing abilities that can help me help others, particularly the homeless. I'm presently working on a big batch of home made masks for them and feel like I'm helping others just by sitting in front of my sewing machine for hours each day.

I'm also grateful for you, dear reader. You are my tribe. You make each day so unique and so filled with laughter and learning. You are my mentors, my teachers, my friends, my muses and so much more, and bring me such joy. Words can never convey the gratitude I feel for all of you. We will head into this unknown future with each other, and to me, that's exciting! A little scary, but still so very exciting! My deepest wish is that we all carry each other into the future with a stronger sense of community and a greater respect for our earth, and for each other.

Stay safe my lovelies, my tribe. Until we meet again, which we will, stay safe, stay healthy and find one thing to be grateful for today.

Yes, we are all stressed, worried, scared, unsure, and under duress. We are all in uncharted waters here, and the future is so unknown, as it always has been (let's keep that in mind), but we must remain hopeful.

Spring has finally arrived, mostly...I think. But, it WILL truly arrive, and the sun will shine brighter and stronger, and the earth will warm, and new life will begin. New life will begin, and we will all begin with it. That's what I like about this picture..that even under intense pressure, you can actually still smile. There are many things to smile about. When you're out there picking up supplies for yourself, or a neighbour that can't leave the house, or might be too frightened to do so, smile at the people you see. A smile really is a form of communication. It tells others that you are friendly, and approachable (but only as close a 3 meters for now), and that you are sharing their experience. We are all sharing this experience together right now. A smile can alleviate so much fear, can express that you care, you understand and that even though you can't get close right now, you can bridge that space between you and a stranger with the most universal greeting there is - a smile.

Social distancing is still the best method to prevent transmission and staying at home unless you absolutely need to go out can really help stop the transmission of this virus. But, staying at home is stressful because that means we can't go to work, we can't go to the gym to get exercise that will help alleviate some stress, and we can't visit with friends to vent our fears and frustrations...there are so many things we just can't do right now, and along with financial fears, health fears and the fear of what is waiting for us down the road, can really increase the pressure and strain we are all feeling, and create even more stress. So, how can we all reduce our stress?

Get plenty of rest. 8 hours, minimum a night. I know, personally how hard that is when your brains won't shut up and you're fill with anxiety...but on the bright side..if you don't get a good night's sleep, you now have the opportunity to nap throughout the when you're kids are napping. Put on a really boring documentary or one of those tv channels that sell crap..I can't remember what that channel is called but it ALWAYS put me to sleep.

Eat healthy. Even though we need to have non-perishables in our pantry, they don't all have to been canned. Rice, noodles, peanut butter, dried beans and legumes (which are high in fiber so BONUS), nuts, dried berries and fruits, quinoa and other whole grains and many other dried goods that are healthier options for your pantry. But the best food right now is lots of fresh fruits and veggies, raw, as well as anything home made from scratch. There are a number of local businesses that offer healthy premade meals, @macrofoods being only one of them. If you need to order in, then try alternatives to regular pizza by getting a cauliflower pizza, with a side salad :)

With the gyms closed, now is a great time to get outside..nowhere crowded of course, but we there are many city trails available to the public that are safe, clean, and a nice break from the confines of your house. If you really can't get out there, try online workouts. Plenty of gyms are offering online training and coaching, and social media is stuffed with all kinds of trainers offering classes via facetime, zoom, and other social media platforms. Or, you and your besties could host a Facebook live, or IG live, and everyone work out together. Personally? I follow Psyche Truth on YouTube and do the yoga workouts I find there. Erica is my absolute favourite!

Talk to someone you love and trust. You might need to text, or message, or even do some face time on your phone, but talk to someone. Sharing your burdens of fear and anxiety will lighten the load, and and allow you to vent your fears and frustrations. But, you'll find yourself chatting before long, laughing, sharing experiences, news, helpful tips, but mostly you'll be sharing hope. We are all in this together. We are all experiencing stress, fear, uncertainty, anxiety and so much more, but by sharing this, we can help each other work through these things. So, talk to someone, and listen to someone, and share you experiences, and share news about where to find the staples that are needed. Try not to share too much about the negative impact this is having, but rather the good things that are happening like communities coming together to help each other, like trading goods for services or goods for goods ( this was the beginning of human trade and economy - the barter system). Share cooking or baking tips, or what you are doing to keep from going stir-crazy while being at home.

Being at home for 2 weeks with little ones is quite daunting. They have great energy and will need all kinds of stimulation, but remember bed time stories? I used to read to my kids every night before bed. It was our last connection of the day, and it was the best part of the day. Sure, they would be in bed soon and I would get a much needed break, but as we snuggled together and I read "Fox in Socks" while the kids laughed at me twisting my tongue over the words, the bond of family was solidified. No matter what had happened during the day, this was our time to reconnect and reaffirm our bond as a family. My kids are adults now so I don't have the same problem parents are facing right now, but if I did have small kids at home, we'd be busy with crafts, reading, and lots of play. Since I wouldn't have to rush to work, or try to do much in a single day, I'd have that chance to play games with them, read a lot, watch some programs with them, teach them a skill or two, and talk. I miss my kids being young because we did have so much fun together, and they kept my mind fresh and open. I'm sure the parents out there are doing all they can to keep the kids busy and happy, and most importantly safe and healthy, and now is a good time to share your tips with other parents who are at home, desperately trying to find fun and interesting things for the kids to do. Share your fun, and your struggles with other parents right now. Grown up talk is just as important right now, so please reach out to each other and help keep each other sane.

This is definitely going to be one helluva storm that we are all weathering. But, as the saying loosely goes "smooth seas don't make a good sailor". As we all head into this storm together, keep in mind, we are all heading in this together. We are all adrift out there, feeling very alone, very scared, afraid of drowning, being lost, or being forgotten, and fearful of what is waiting for us down the road. How long will this storm last? What will happen after the storm has passed? No one really knows how long this will last but what happens after can be determined right now. Now is the time to find each other, and hang onto each other. To pull together as a whole and support each other. Do you see someone floundering? Reach out to them and let them know that if you can help in any way, you will. This is not the time to let others flounder or drown. We must absolutely be reaching out our hands (metaphorically) and grabbing onto each other and hanging on. Now is the time to be the best human being you can possibly be. Now is the time for other big companies to offer help, as Facebook has done, and I applaud them for doing this, and hope other big companies will show their altruism at this time when it is so greatly needed. Now is the time to share what little you have to move the entire world forward, away from selfishness to selflessness. If you have something that can help someone out, please share it. Knowledge, skill, basic supplies, wealth..all of these things can be shared and shared so easily. Even if you don't have a lot of money, you probably have a lot of other things you can share, and in doing so, we, as humans, can move forward to a better future. One that is less hectic, less stressful, less crazy.

I'm going to end this blog by asking each and every one of you to reach out to someone today and see what you can do to help ease their fears, frustrations, or concerns. Let's all be the humans we have been trying to be, and make a difference in someone else's life.

Be safe. Be healthy. Be kind.

Joanne Gale

Those are not my jogging shoes, just thought I'd start with that. :) Mine are dirty, starting to fray, and in need of a new pair, which I'll be hunting around for soon as it's dry enough to not worry about getting a soaker.

One year ago, I got a dog and started walking every day with her, twice a day. We'd go on long walks at night, usually for about an hour, sometimes more. I really wanted to jog though, but my left knee was having none of that. Even our long evening walks, which were loads of fun, and sometimes an exercise in patience with a puppy that's learning new things, like "heel", or "leave that..leave it..leaveitforcryinoutloud..what's in your mouth??? OMG!!! LEAVE IT!!" But for the most part, she's been an amazing walking partner, even when I would slow down because of pain in my left knee. Then I'd start to hobble and my right hip would hurt and by the time I got home I was just a bundle of pain. That started to change the more I walked and built up strength in my knee and legs, and then I got the Slimwave system and things really started moving forward. Like, really moving forward!

I don't want to toot the horn of my own platforms, but Slimwave has made a huge difference in my strength and stamina. I didn't get booty results like my assistant, Dania did, but I was focusing on building strength in my legs, particularly around my knees. And it has helped tremendously.

So, I'm out walking the dog one night, and we like to go to a local park where there are ponds and nicely paved walk ways. I usually let her off the leash because no one else is there at night, and she likes to run around, play fetch, and just be silly. It lets her burn off some of that energy. I decided to pretend I'm running away from her, and as I jogged away, I started to feel pretty good. So, I leashed her up, and we went for a short jog, about 5 minutes. Then, I walked for another 5 minutes checking in my with knees.."all good?" All good they said. So, I jogged another 5 minutes, and finished up our walk with a brisk pace for about 20 minutes. I felt fine when I got home, and the next day there was no pain. I was a happy camper!!!

My happy camper of a dog.

Jogging has been my go-to exercise since high school, when I took up cross country running a little more seriously. I was on the cross country team in middle school and had a great coach, and took what I learned to high school. Then, as years went by, I continued to jog on a regular basis, pushing myself to go further and longer. I was up to 10k runs when a kidney infection took me out. It took me a long time to recover from that, so I had to shorten my runs. As the years went by, I joined gyms, worked out with weights, but always hit the treadmill and got about 40 minutes of cardio. It was great. Then, hypothyroidism knocked the crap outta me. I had zero energy and felt like crap for almost 2 years, when I found a doctor that would hear me, and got on the right medication and the right dose. But, I had stopped jogging by then and the pain in my left knee was keeping me from being as active as I like to be.

So, I'm starting slow. I jog 3 to 4 times a week now, building up to the 30 minute jogs I like. 10 to 15 minute jogs are all I allow myself right now even though I feel strong enough to jog longer, I know that if I go too hard too soon that I'm going to either injure myself, or be too sore for the next few days to get out and do it again. So, start slow, pace yourself, and enjoy the activity..that's what I'm telling myself.

I'm really proud of myself for getting this far with it and I've stuck to it. I feel more energized and clear-headed, and more relaxed during the day. I sleep slightly better too which is a HUGE thing for me, having sleep troubles that have plagued me since I was a teenager. I'm not really thinking about losing weight as I haven't stepped on my scale in about 5 months. I go by how my clothes fit, and measurements anyway. What I'm trying to do is build my strength and stamina, and get back into a routing doing an activity that I really enjoy.

I'll keep everyone posted about my progress. Being accountable is a great way to stay motivated, and I'm going to do my best to not let you, dear reader, or myself down.

Happy trails!!

Joanne Gale

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