Sometimes a goal needs a reset button…

So much for my goal date of December 9. I’m officially hitting the reset button! New goal date is February 28, 2019.

Shortly after my last post, I was assigned a full-time role for a few weeks. After a few days on the job, I applied for an 18-month maternity leave fill position with the same company. Funny how the job search process goes, apply to loads of roles online and hear nothing. Work as a temp for a while, then receive two offers at the same time. I accepted the mat leave fill and I’ve been busy learning a new role for the last month.

Feeling frustrated by applying for jobs online and hearing little in return? I highly recommend working for Kelly Services. It’s better to earn some money than no money. Even short assignments provide the opportunity to discover new companies and industries, show your personality and skills to potential employers. Consider it networking! Definitely, the best job search decision I made.

Working full-time structured hours has been an adjustment, the first week I’d come home with my head spinning and call it a night very early. I’m getting the hang of the role and settling into somewhat of a routine.

Meal planning is going well. I batch cook about four recipes every second weekend and freeze measured portions. Lots of variety to choose from for both lunch and dinner helps with portion control and healthy choices.

There is a silver lining, my new workplace has a fitness centre! I now have a regular date with the eliptical machine. I know I will achieve my reset goal. Just got a little sidetracked. It happens. Still feeling accomplished, since I achieved the main goal on my list.

Today is a pretty special day, I’m celebrating 3 years on the good side. Had a follow up at the centre and the doctor is very pleased with how well I’m doing. I look like me again with shoulder length blonde hair! I’m full of energy and it’s such a good feeling. Sparkles are still doing their job in whatever way I envision.

A little update on Vodka, he’s sitting beside me while I type. He’s doing pretty good for a little old cat. He’s slowing down with age and is still full of love, keeps an eye on me, and tries to eat my hair. We’ll be celebrating his sixteenth birthday on Christmas day. So grateful, every day is precious with my sweet furry buddy.

Happy Holidays!

As always, I Sparkle On…one day at a time.





Want to commit to exercise? Set a goal!

Yesterday I was reading about setting goals, and it hit me. I haven’t made any goals of what I’d like to achieve by adding exercise into my life. I’m wishy-washy. No wonder I excel at making excuses and procrastination.

Why do I want to exercise? What am I hoping to achieve? Gain strength? Improve flexibility? Lose weight? Fit into the 100+ dresses in my closet? Yes, I know that’s a crazy amount of dresses. It made life easy when I worked in an office, grab a dress, sweater, shoes and go!

I want to achieve all of the above.  I’m tired of being squishy and not fitting into many of my clothes. The option does exist to buy new clothes. However, buying new clothes isn’t the answer.

My goal is to be down 10 lbs, strong and fit in 8 weeks. December 9!

I’ve been hard on myself about exercise lately. Yet when I write down what I’ve done each week, I’m doing something each day. I’m just not pushing my limits. Recognizing that I hold myself back is helpful. I have noticed that doing the YNY warm-up exercises daily makes a big difference. When I do them regularly, I feel relaxed and can move without stiffness and pain. I get the feeling I’ve said this to myself before. Time to start listening to myself.

I worked full-time for the last two weeks and was appreciative of the meal portions in my freezer, both for lunch and dinner. Keep it going and freeze more meals. Note to self: eat more fresh veggies and remember to be aware of portion control.

Fewer hours of daylight continue to challenge me. It’s dark by 6pm, and I run out of steam, ready to go to sleep. I’ve come up with an idea to focus my attention and work on some of the hobbies I enjoy. I’m going to write the hobbies on pieces of paper and place them in a jar. Each evening I will pick one or two and work on those hobbies. It’s been a while since I’ve focused on studying Italian, German, or done any drawing and painting.

The job search continues. Much more efficient with online searching that’s for sure. This helps keep me from getting wound up about the whole process. Definitely, a good thing since this is a topic that can get under my skin.

Been a good few weeks, spend time with family and friends. A little more winter prep in the yard since snow keeps taunting us. Have significantly reduced the amount of time I’m spending online. My iPad informed me yesterday that screen time is down 57% from last week. Interesting to know that it’s tracking my screen time. 😳 Freaks me out a little that it’s suddenly monitoring something that I’ve been talking about doing. Hmmm…I’ll chalk it up to coincidence and leave it at that.

Still working on it!


Why is exercising​ regularly so challenging?

Another week has flown by so quickly. I had to sit down and review what I did over the last seven days. Not sure if it’s the cooler weather or shorter days that make me want to hibernate. As soon as the sun goes down, I am ready to call it a day and go to sleep. This doesn’t help my energy level and make me want to exercise.

I did the YNY warm-ups 3 times this week. That’s pretty good. I did weights once and went for a couple long walks. All in all not bad, still room for improvement.

The warm-up exercises have really helped with my tailbone discomfort. This alone is incentive continue performing this routine regularly.

Realization, that’s the name of the game this week. I’ve realized a few things about myself that I can’t deny.

I’m not much for going to the gym. Not sure why this is, yet it is my reality. I seem to prefer to exercise at home. Now to work with this reality. I have some equipment at home, time to make sure I have an exercise plan I can follow at home and check in at the physio clinic for progress and additional exercises.

The shorter days of winter are a struggle for me. It’s common for me to want to go to sleep at 6 pm. I promised myself at the end of last winter that I would do something different this winter to energize me in the evenings. Any suggestions?

This week kept me busy and feeling productive. Didn’t think much about stress levels. I guess that’s a good thing.

My meal prep plan for the week was a success. Two slow cooker meals, rice, a soup, and pumpkin waffles are all packed in single servings and in the freezer. Easy to put together lunches and make dinners after work too. Bonus, fewer dishes to wash! This is important in my world of no dishwasher in the kitchen.

With cooler temperatures and snow falling, I finalized preparing the yard for winter. For the first time ever I mowed the lawn while snow was falling. Snow in September is too soon!!!

I was on a mission to deep clean my house this weekend. Something I have not done in a long time. It wasn’t a good idea to spend two full days cleaning, flared up my carpal tunnel in a bad way. Both hands and arms are swollen, weak, and numb. Lesson learned. Hopefully, the warm-up exercises will help my arms feel better soon.

Creating a habit of exercising has not been quite what I had envisioned. I will continue to work on it, starting small and building on what works for my life.

Still working on it!



Is making excuses a form of exercise?

I’ve been journaling my efforts based on the five building blocks. I catch myself wanting to embellish what I record. Seriously!? What’s the point of that? Who do I think I’m fooling? I know when I’m looking for a distraction and consider climbing the stairs as cardio. I’m very creative when it comes to passing anything off as cardio.

Recording my efforts have resulted in some realizations. I feel awkward sitting here and typing this; I am outing myself in writing, no more denial. The overarching theme; I make excuses. There it is, the truth, staring at me.

My life is not routine at the moment. Excuse #1. Would it make a difference if I scheduled exercise into my calendar? Would I see the reminder on my phone and follow through?

Every day is different. Excuse #2. Yet there are still 24 hours in the day, and surely I could find the time for a workout that usually can be done in under 60 minutes. I’m aware of how much time I spend online and am working to reduce time spent surfing online and chatting. When watching TV, I try to do stretching rather than just sitting and staring mindlessly at the screen.

Is awareness the first step to changing habits?

Mornings would be a great time to exercise. True, but, Vodka goes outside (which means in and out a hundred times) for the first hour of the morning, and I have to tend to him. Excuse #3. Yes, my cat runs my life at times. Not a complete waste of time though, I spend this time having breakfast and making a to-do list for the day.

Whenever I catch myself using the word ‘but’ I know I’m making excuses.

The gym. The people at the gym are great, and I feel great when I go. Why don’t I go more often? It’s not far. I have a car. I think I’m just weird and can always find something to do at home that takes priority. Excuse #4.

Searching for employment takes time and must be done a little every day. Excuse #5. Also true, yet only needs about an hour per day. Unless I find multiple roles I’m interested in and spend time researching companies before applying.

Masterful at creative excuses is what I am. Now that I’ve called myself out on this creativity, will it change?

I did manage to go for walks, do my arm routine, some squats and stretching a few times this week. So all in all, I did some exercises. Although I notice I’m selective and do the things that I like or feel comfortable for me. There is progress; I am getting stronger. I’ve increased the weight that I’m using. I’ve not given up completely; I just make things more challenging than they need to be.

I seem to have expectations of myself that I feel I’m not meeting. I’m the person who always says; expectations lead to disappointment. Time to reframe my thinking and give myself credit for what I am doing.

Hoping that this self-awareness helps me to bypass the excuse generator.

Managing stress, living mindfully and having balanced nutrition have been intertwined and less of my focus this week. Feeling more confident about my resume and cover letters helps.

Tailbone issues are ongoing. Still feeling tight and stiff. Reading the YNY exercise program book, the warm-ups each have a why bother section. These address issues I relate to all too well. Tight hips, muscle imbalance, shoulder issues. That’s me in a nutshell. Here’s a thought, do the warm-ups daily. Ideally in the mornings while Vodka does his outdoor routine.

This week it’s time to prepare the yard for winter and cook. Knowing that I’ll be working the next two weeks, I’ve got to focus on having meals ready, so I have no reason to make excuses. Going to make time for the gym this week too.


Does a setback mean I’ve failed?

This week was all about setbacks and distraction.

The discomfort with my tailbone has been constant. I had treatment for it on Tuesday and have been nursing it ever since. Yes, I’ve wimped out this week and gone for a couple of walks and sort of did a workout. It’s all good. I will exercise again.

Distractions have been the parallel theme. Searching online for job postings then writing cover letters and preparing resumes pushes me to the limit every day. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, this is not my favourite thing to do. It’s a huge struggle to write about myself and what I’m capable of or have done.

Hey Cynthia, how’s your stress level doing?

UGH! I am whiny and flustered and just want to go take a nap.

Seeing that the job search increases my stress level, I’ve made a decision. I hired a resume writing service. I’m feeling hopeful about this choice and spent most of Saturday reading and making notes that I sent to the writer. Fingers crossed.

It’s funny how the five building blocks are connected. When one is wobbling the others are impacted. A stressy week takes my mindset and eating habits along for the ride. Today things are looking up. My tailbone is feeling somewhat better, I spent the afternoon in the kitchen cooking. Even snuck downstairs to do my arm exercises while my bolognese was simmering. 🙂

Setbacks and distractions are normal and will happen again. I guess it depends on how you look at them. I view them both as temporary. 😉 Now to go do some squats.

This week I’m going to aim for 3-4 workouts and lots of stretching. We’ll see what happens. Maybe I’ll cook more this week too.



Working on making exercise a habit

It’s the end of the second week of my effort to make exercise a habit. How did I do?

Well, I started off great, going for daily walks and doing my exercises in the evening while watching Parts Unknown. I’m hooked on the show and exercising while I watch and listen makes the workout seem more manageable. I seem to take my time with the stretching exercises too. Maybe the distraction is helpful.

I notice I’m crafty when it comes to cardio. I prefer walking because I’m still unsure about exerting myself. I feel comfortable using the cardio machines at the gym, at a slow pace and for a max of 20 minutes. Now it’s going to the gym becomes a debate in my head. Never a dull moment in my inner chatter, that’s for sure. I’ll keep working on telling myself that I will get stronger and cardio will go fine. I know it’s going to take time both to increase my fitness level and to convince myself that I will be ok.

I was full of energy until Thursday and Friday when I went to a temp job from 8-5 each day. I was exhausted each evening when I got home. Crazy tired! It’s so strange how sitting all day can drain your energy. I ended up taking both as rest days. I’m ok with that. I’m a believer in listening to my body, that’s not going to change.

One thing that I am struggling with is a tender tailbone. It started while I was away on vacation in August. Not sure what the issue is, I’ll try to have it looked at this week. Sitting is uncomfortable, and I’m pretty restless because of it.

Now to my favourite topic, food. On Monday I had made a roast chicken and vegetables, a dish that becomes the basis for many other meals. Stuff the chicken with onion, garlic, and herbs, drizzle olive oil on top and season with salt, pepper, and paprika. Place the chicken on a bed of cut potatoes, sweet potatoes, onion, garlic, carrots, and celery. Roast at 425F for 2.5 hours. Simple. It’s different every time, just use vegetable and seasoning that you like.

The first-night dinner is roast chicken and vegetables on a bed of spinach. Tear apart the chicken and place it and the vegetables in the fridge. Keep the chicken bones. Next, use a slow cooker to make chicken broth overnight. Place the chicken bones, an onion, garlic, celery, carrots, maybe some herbs or whatever you like and cover with water. Cook on low overnight. In the morning strain it and refrigerate. Now you have the basis for chicken soup, chicken salad, roast veggie frittata, and whatever else you can think up.

After a couple of days of making meals with the chicken, stock, and veggies. I portion some of the stock, chicken, and roasted veggies (if there are any left) into baggies and put them in the freezer. Place the items in a pot on the stove to thaw and heat. This way there are a variety of items to mix and match for a quick meal. Tip: pour a little stock in with the chicken, it keeps better this way when frozen.

I’m looking at the list of building blocks as I type…#1 on the list ‘decrease your stress.’ Something that is in my thoughts daily as I search for job postings and prepare cover letters and resumes for. I find this process frustrating since I love to talk, write, and tell stories, just not necessarily in the context of skills and selling myself. The chatter in my head is non-stop, and I procrastinate in every possible way imaginable. Followed by reading online advice about making a career change. This is one thing I search online for and get sucked down the rabbit hole of reading article after article for any tidbit of advice that resonates with me. It’s amazing how much time can be spent reading online in hopes of that voice inside your head saying ‘oh yeah, that makes sense.’

Nonetheless, I persevere. I’m doing what makes sense to me. Searching and applying. Working as a temp, which I consider networking and quite enjoy. I keep busy and try to keep things in perspective. That’s all I can do. I still miss the old days of walking into a business with a copy of my resume. I think I’m dating myself with that statement. haha!

This week I’m going to do more cooking and stock up the freezer. Aiming for three cardio workouts at the gym. Working in the yard and garden to get them ready for fall.

Little by little I will build up strength and not have to talk myself into doing workouts. There are many things I do that I never give a second thought to. Now I’m wondering how I developed those habits. Something I’m going to read up on.



Exercise – the internal struggle is real

I’ve made it through the first week of adding exercise into my life!

The first two days went smoothly. I was excited to go to the gym and felt proud that I had done my workouts and gone for a walk each day while being mindful of what I ate.

Day 3 was challenging. There was some landscape work being done at my house that I was supervising from the front step. Meanwhile, the chatter in my head was debating what to do about today’s workout. I had done two days in a row, surely it was fine that I made today a rest day. After all, I didn’t want to overdo it right from the start. It was nearly 2 p.m. and it was too late to go to the gym. Yes, today would be a rest day. This back and forth crazy talk in my head continued until 2:45 p.m. when I put on my workout clothes and grabbed the car keys! I drove to the gym and did my workout. I even went for a walk afterward.

It’s funny how I can talk myself into or out of many things. The notion of exercise seems to enhance my most creative reasoning arguments for or against actually performing physical activity. It’s a good thing I can laugh at myself.

Day 4 consisted of more landscaping supervision, which I am now an expert. I did get off the step and do some work in the garden beds too. Today I was physically drained and feeling a little off. I have these kinds of days now and then. I did take today as a rest day and went to bed early.

It’s the weekend, I was still feeling a bit off on day 5 but started feeling energetic by evening and did my full workout at home. Thank goodness! By this time I’ve usually fallen off the exercise wagon. Spent the evening stretching and rolling out the tight spots. I’m getting through my workouts easier and feel like I know how to perform the exercises well.

Feeling back to normal today and full of energy on day 6. Washed windows, pruned a hedge, and went for a walk. This energy is likely coming from procrastination mode. I’m in the process of a career change and looking for work. This process wears on me and is an area of stress that I have to be mindful of because it can really drag me down. I’m doing my best to stay aware of how masterful I am in procrastinating and break the career search into manageable tasks. My workout went well today, maybe it was because I was feeling procrastination taking over and put all my energy into working out. At least I know that exercise helps to calm my nervousness.

I kept my meals simple this week as I’m trying to be creative and use what I have on hand before shopping. It’s been quinoa, simple salads and vegetables, chicken breast, fruit, yogurt, and oatmeal. I’ve discovered in the past that I don’t do well with adding extra protein, I gain weight when I add more than I normally consume. The key for me is portion control and that generally means measuring to be sure I’m eating reasonable portions. Eyeballing portions leads me down the path of overeating.

It’s been a good week overall. I’m proud of myself for doing the workouts and stretching. I feel the squishiness firming up and feel stronger already. Now the tricky part, to keep exercising!

This week I’ll share some recipes that I enjoy and what I do to place a few meals in the freezer each week. That way there’s always a meal on hand to heat up when I don’t have the time or energy to cook.



Moving forward into living Younger Next Year

I had my last follow up at the centre in June and am doing great. At that appointment, I decided that I am done with the so-called new normal and living with limitations and declared myself New and Improved! I’ve been struggling with procrastination winning over exercise. I also knew it was time to kick procrastination to the curb, but how?

That same week an email arrived about a Younger Next Year (YNY) workshop presented by Blaine Mackie at Mackie Physiotherapy. I was intrigued by this workshop and what it meant to be younger next year. I signed up immediately.

While sitting at the YNY workshop at Mackie Physio clinic, I realized that this was it! This lifestyle concept was what I needed to add exercise into my life. Along with accountability and community, Blaine discussed five building blocks that contribute to your best philosophical identity:

  • decrease your stress
  • nutrition
  • state of mind
  • flexibility (ability to move)
  • strength and cardiovascular

Bells were going off in my head. I do many of these things well on my own. It was the words ‘accountability and community’ that struck me. I had been trying to exercise by myself, at home, for free, and would give up after a week every time. A pulling feeling in my chest would be the catalyst. Something in my head would get freaked out, and I would convince myself I wasn’t ready to exercise.

For the last few years, my body has felt stiff and weak, makes snapping and crunching noises when I move and has a rotating circuit of strange pains and a recurring spasm in the left hamstring. I know I’m healthy enough to feel stronger, flexible and not make funny noises when I stand up. I’m also too young to accept that these things are happening to my body!

I read the book, Younger Next Year by Chris Cowley and Henry S. Lodge, M.D., to understand the full concept. Simply put, YNY is a philosophy of looking after yourself to moving into the next third feeling strong, healthy, and energetic. I could picture a few couples I admire that live this lifestyle, making it feel attainable for me.

I’ve started with an assessment with a physiotherapist. Needed a little tune-up to align my hips and am starting out slowly with walking, stretching and exercises using bands. I have to be honest, so far, I’ve not great at making time for these exercises in my daily activity.

I have many motivating factors to make exercise and nutrition a priority. Knowing that bone density loss is a possibility due to years of birth control pills, chemotherapy meds, and early menopause the importance of strength training is even more significant. If my body is making snap, crackle and pop sounds at 47, what is it going to be doing at 67?

I’ve just returned from a European holiday. I had such good intentions of beginning my exercises while on vacation. Until I arrived in Germany and the temperature was above 30C every day. There were few buildings with air conditioning, so I sure didn’t feel like exerting myself any more than necessary. I did walk more than 10,000 steps each day. I guess that was good preparation for regular exercise.

Today was my first day at the gym. I received my instructions to perform the exercises correctly and left on my own to complete the routine. I’m thrilled to say I did the sets, a little cardio, stretches and feel great! Not even a hint of a spasm from my left leg. Exercising feels promising. I will be back in the gym tomorrow.

It’s taken me longer to get started than I had hoped. Accountability and community come into play now. I’m accountable for the guidance I’ve asked for from Melissa, my physiotherapist. I’m committed to sharing this journey here on the blog to encourage others to increase their personal awareness of the five building blocks of YNY. This adventure will be fun! Ahh, finally I say goodbye to procrastination!!

I’ll share my journey into the commitment to the philosophy of living Younger Next Year. What I do to decrease stress as I embark on a career change. Nutrition is a big one, and I have tips on how to cook for one and eat well while not wasting food. Awareness of state of mind and understanding the mind-body connection as I work on the commitment to my overall health. For the flexibility and strength and cardiovascular pieces, I will consult with Blaine to share his expertise in these areas.

I’m kicking up the Sparkles a notch!

New and Improved!



Learn something new every day…

Yesterday I was in an elevator with a friend and a stranger. My friend didn’t which button was the ground or main floor. I told her it’s usually the one with the star. The stranger smiled and said, “thanks, I didn’t know that.” That was her something new for the day.

As spring has finally arrived here in Saskatoon, I feel energized by the slightly longer days. I realized something about myself and my behaviour in the dark, short days of winter. I go into a pseudo hibernation mode.

My energy levels are so low with the short days that I was ready to go to sleep most days at 6pm. I’d catch myself looking at the clock and moaning that it was only 6pm or 7pm and too early to go to bed. So did I do something constructive with my time? Nope. Instead I would hunker down and the hours would pass. Did I make any effort to socialize or leave the house after coming home from work? Not very often. Did I exercise to build my energy? In my mind I did, but physically, nope.

It’s like I disappear of the face of the earth in the winter months. Functioning in a strange mode of necessity only behaviours. I had noticed that this was my pattern in previous winters but never truly acknowledged the depth of the issue.

I’m making note in my calendar for November 2018 as the hours of daylight begin to decrease to remind myself to be engaged in life next winter. I’m going to commit to leaving the house for more that just work and spend time with friends and be outdoors more. No excuses. Because I have become masterful with excuses.

Something else I have noticed is how my hands are arms are healing. Since November 2016 I have been wearing wrist braces nightly for carpal tunnel, and seeing much improvement. About a month ago I noticed a rash on my arms from the braces and have stopped wearing them. Yes, I do wash them.

Since I’ve stopped wearing them I’ve noticed some changes. The numb feeling in my fingers and hands has returned, along with loss of strength. Stiffness and tenderness in the joints has returned to both of my thumbs. Interesting. Looks like I will be wearing those wrist braces for some time for my hands to continue healing. Maybe I will line them with silk so they don’t irritate my skin. 😉

I really do learn something new every day.

Still Sparkling! 🙂

~ Sparkle On! the book is complete.


Even though I know that when you create a goal for yourself, write it down, talk about it, that goal is going to be met. I’m still excitedly surprised when goals come to fruition. This was an important goal. I set out to have this book in print to celebrate 2 years on the good side, which was December 22, 2017. That was the date my order of books were in production at the printer. 🎉

This goal was to write a book about my life over the last few years, sharing the creative ways that I handle challenges life sends my way. Everything from job loss to living in a foreign country to diagnosis, treatment, and life after non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. If I can inspire even one person to find their own creative inner strength to handle life’s challenges, that’s why I am here!

It was a busy last half of 2017 for me. Writing and pulling together details from the last few years of my life. I really thought I would blog more throughout the writing process, clearly, that didn’t happen. So here is a little recap.

It was a brilliant decision to be part of a mastermind group for writing the book. The ongoing learning and support were exactly what I needed. I had good intentions of writing a little every day to make the process manageable. That felt like too great of an expectation. Instead, I made notes as things popped into my head and had quite a mess of notes by the end. Weeks would go by and I had only made notes, this scared me at times that I was in over my head. I think because it was emotionally draining to walk down memory lane, I could only work on writing in spurts.

Reviewing my personal journal was difficult yet necessary. Reading the words I had written was an interesting insight into my own protective instincts as I would note a symptom and attribute it to something that was familiar. As I read, the pieces of the puzzle were falling into place. Collectively they made sense, but individually they were just pieces. Looking back was difficult, everything was so vivid, at times I had to stop and walk away.

When the storyteller in me was awakened I ran with it! Many weekends were spent at the computer from Friday afternoon until Sunday evening. Only stepping away to let Vodka in and out of the house and to eat. At least I got a little exercise running up and down the stairs as often as Vodka desired to go outside! 😺

There were times when I wasn’t sure I had enough to say to write a book. And times when technology drove me mad, but I persevered and my book is called, I Sparkle On! One Woman’s Creative Way of Reclaiming Her Wellness & Living Life.

I also created a companion journal, Sparkle On! Creative Journal. It’s a fun place to design life strategies, colour, doodle, and write to find your way to Sparkle On! 

I also spent some time in Europe in October visiting friends, which is always lovely. Although I was distracted as Vodka had a dental issue in October. Thankfully he is doing well, every day is even more precious now. Thrilled to say I am doing well. I celebrated 2 years on the good side in December and my arms are feeling good. I am working on getting stronger and healthier every day. Life is good. 

I Sparkle On! …one day at a time.  😃


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