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Bird Story

Friday, January 15, 2010

I've been thinking recently about how much I enjoy birds -- probably because of all the birds we have had at our feeders over the past couple of weeks. It's been great to see the gold finches in winter plumage at the window finch feeder; the woodpeckers and nuthatches and chickadees on the suet block; and the cardinals and jays at the big feeder. I can watch them for hours. According to family stories I've had a particular affinity to birds ever since I was a very small child. There are lots of interesting birds here in Ontario, summer and winter, but I do also love the egrets and roseate spoonbills on Sanibel Island, and I'm hoping to get there again for a few days in March.

So here's a bird story which is almost incredible -- but really did happen.

Quite a number of years ago when my own kids were very little, my husband and I took them for a week to a cottage resort near Haliburton in northern Ontario. We hadn't been there before. The minute we got out of our car, a female chipping sparrow came right over to me and "told" me unmistakeably and urgently to follow her to the water's edge. Fluttering expressively, she led me directly to her nest in a small bush overhanging the lake. One of her fledglings had fallen in and was spluttering, close to drowning: it must have happened just minutes before. The mother bird was asking for my help and she was touchingly confident I would understand her and would deliver. I lifted her baby out of the water and back into the nest. That mother chipping sparrow greeted me loudly and effusively every time I came out of the cottage for the entire week we were there. I told her it was ok: that we mothers had to stick together.

The following summer we took our kids to a different cottage resort miles and miles away in another area of northern Ontario. We had just unloaded the car, and I was stocking the fridge with our groceries. I looked up and there was a small bird -- perhaps a summer warbler -- fluttering at the kitchen window and trying very urgently to communicate to me. Immediately I ran out of the cottage, following the bird. This time it was my four year old son who was in imminent danger of drowning. He must have been so hot from the long car ride and so excited to be on vacation that he had gone into the lake without adult supervision. Wading out into the unfamiliar lake, he had not expected that the bottom would drop off so suddenly and he was submerging --quietly slipping under the water. I was just in time. This mother bird had alerted me to the danger for my "fledgling". She flew about our heads, celebrating his rescue with exultant warblings and swoopings.

So strange but so true.

My son is 22 now. And you'll understand: last weekend when I poured niger seed into the finch feeder, put a fresh block of suet into the nuthatch feeder, and set out the chopped peanut and sunflower seed for the blue jays, I was just making an instalment on an old and continuing debt!

  
  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

FROSTIERACES 1/23/2010 9:19AM

    Good Morning :) I read this out loud to my husband...just thought it was the most beautiful story and so amazing how nature reaches out to us. I heard the birds chirping very loud yesterday - it rained here and reached like 38 degrees...they liked that I guess! Felt like spring for a split second! Have a wonderful weekend...I'm off to read your dog story :)

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STLRZGRRL 1/22/2010 11:16PM

    Ellen!

You are a Bird Whisperer!!!

SO COOL! I left a block of suet out for the birds in my little yard when this cold snap descended but these are city birds and I don't think anyone had ever given them such a thing... they wouldn't touch it... after about a week... the entire thing disappeared!... I think a neighborhood cat must have figured out how to drag it away... and I s'pose the cats need fat in their diet, too... but it WAS for the birds!!!
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IPA-RAY 1/21/2010 9:38PM

    emoticon

Amazing! I always figured you were for the birds, now I know the birds are for you too!

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DARLENA3 1/20/2010 8:59PM

    That is because you are so one with nature and all that is good. Even the birds can tell that.

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XENAMY 1/17/2010 2:47PM

  Wow... I'm not sappy but this brought tears to my eyes. What a beautiful memory.

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WALKINGANNIE 1/16/2010 5:06PM

    What amazing and uplifting stories. Thanks.

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TRYINGHARD1948 1/16/2010 4:10PM

    Ellen, what a wonderful story and beautifully told.

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JOPAPGH 1/16/2010 3:10PM

    Ellen, Great story and so well told.

My college age daughter has always had a thing for birds. My wife got her flannel sheet with birds on them for christmas.

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JOPAPGH 1/16/2010 3:06PM

    Ellen, Great story and so well told.

My college age daughter has always had a thing for birds. My wife got her flannel sheet with birds on them for christmas.

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CMB2048 1/16/2010 12:07PM

    What a wonderful story and so beautifully told....you should have been a writer!

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ANEPANALIPTI 1/16/2010 10:09AM

    emoticon

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TAKEMETOTHEBALL 1/16/2010 2:36AM

    I just commented yesterday morning on how beautifully the birds were singing (at 6.20am). As I live by the English South Coast its mostly seagulls we hear/see who squawk rather than sing but perhaps I should pay more attention to these guys too!
Beautiful story Ellen, thanks so much for sharing emoticon
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Jackie x

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SLIMMERJESSE 1/16/2010 12:00AM

    I love birds also. Especially love their morning singing and the way my cats enjoy hearing them as well. Have a wonderful day.

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DSHONEYC 1/15/2010 11:26PM

    Oh, Ellen I think I know that about you - that you are in touch with the world around you and probably always have been. People and birds know they can trust you, because you listen. Bet you are and always have been the "buzz in the bird world". Thanks for sharing this and so much else. emoticon

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CARISSA81 1/15/2010 11:24PM

    So sweet!

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CHRYS13 1/15/2010 11:13PM

    This is amazing! What a connection/gift you have. Angels come in many forms....

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BRIGHTSPARK7 1/15/2010 11:09PM

    Oh Ellen,
This is so moving. You do have a special connection with birds. I believe they can sense your love for them.
And how miraculous that your 'fledling' was saved. Mothers do have profound connections with their young ... of all species.
Love you,
Usha.

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PHEBESS 1/15/2010 10:58PM

    Wow, both stories are just amazing!!!! You must be a very special person to have that connection with these animals!

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TRAVELGRRL 1/15/2010 10:07PM

    What an interesting story! Truth really is stranger than fiction. Thanks for sharing.

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Podrunner Week One All Done

Friday, January 08, 2010

Completed my three sessions for week one this morning -- and realized that I've got a bit of twinge developing in my right knee. Not at all alarming -- but noticed it.

And so I focused during my weights session on lower body -- keeping the hip flexors, hamstrings and quads strong will help stabilize both the knee and hip joints.

And in addition, worked on abs: strong core is important too.

Next week I'm going to take Podrunner to the track rather than the treadmill so I can concentrate more on the mid foot landing and short stride -- once set to a certain speed, the treadmill almost compels a heel landing, I think, because the conveyor belt is moving. I've got to learn to use the POSE short stride to move myself forward rather than "keeping up with the conveyor belt": which is not the same thing at all.

Really really enjoying working on this project! And looking forward to Week Two.

  
  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

PHEBESS 1/15/2010 10:32AM

    Hope your knee is keeping up with your workouts!

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FROSTIERACES 1/14/2010 10:42PM

    You're doing so great Ellen! I do dread those twinges as I get them too ...randomly throughout my body as I run and ...try my best to just relax as I'm running...
Running is definitely wonderful for the core, mine is getting so much stronger too. Well, I write this as I'm day 5 of not being on the treadmill once - BOO! Hoping I'll get back to it soon. Keep up the hard work!!! emoticon emoticon

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ANEPANALIPTI 1/14/2010 9:19AM

    YOURE DOING THIS!!!!!!!!!! :D

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DARLENA3 1/11/2010 11:54PM

    Checking out other websites about the podrunner. Does it help to start on the treadmill?

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CMB2048 1/10/2010 10:46AM

    I envy you. I always wanted to be a runner. But even when I was thin, my body just seemed so "heavy." I don't think I ever gave myself enough time to really try it and get in shape. Maybe if I dropped some weight through walking and other exercise, I'll give it a go one more time.

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JOPAPGH 1/9/2010 10:03PM

    Glad you are enjoying your journey.

To shorten the stride, work on your cadence. Quick foot turnover is the key. Add some spinning to your aerobic activity if you are not doing some now.

I should be sending the DVD out on Wednesday.

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WALKINGANNIE 1/9/2010 3:56PM

    You sound as if you're gaining a lot from this activity. All the best with your progress.

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TAKEMETOTHEBALL 1/9/2010 4:16AM

    Glad the running is going so well. You're using all the buzzwords my trainer does so you obviously know your stuff! Good luck!!
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Jackie x emoticon

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BRIGHTSPARK7 1/8/2010 10:36PM

    I like your awareness of how your foot is landing, Ellen, and how you are building good form as you progress. Glad you have found a fitness activity that calls so much to you.
All the best as you take it to the track!
xo Usha.

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TRYINGHARD1948 1/8/2010 9:55PM

    Great that you are listening to your body Ellen. It gets more important as we mature, I think. Fantastic first week, woohoo!

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I can resist anything but temptation

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

It's my belief that because I know I have no will power, all I can do is structure my life in such a way as to avoid temptation. Me and Oscar Wilde. If I buy potato chips or bake a lemon pie (yup, that was a big mistake: but delicious!!) then I've already decided to eat 'em. And I will.

So you can imagine that I was chuffed to read in the Toronto Globe today that a recent study in a reputable journal says I'm right: there is nothing noble in setting myself up to resist temptation, because temptation just makes it more likely I'll fail. The attitude to cultivate, apparently, is a humble awareness of human weakness!! Which takes the inevitability of submission to temptation very very seriously. And focuses on elimination of temptation rather than testing will power.

Here's the article, then:




Think you have self-control to keep resolutions? Then you won't

TORONTO From Tuesday's Globe and Mail
Published on Tuesday, Jan. 05, 2010 12:00AM EST

Did you confidently pledge to quit smoking when the New Year's ball dropped? Did you vow to keep your fingers out of the cookie jar? Or promise to refrain from binge drinking?

The key to sticking with that resolution is simple: Don't overestimate your own self-control.

A recent study, published in the journal Psychological Science, found that those with an inflated sense of impulse control are more likely to expose themselves to their temptations and ultimately fall into the trap of giving in to those temptations. In other words, it's not a good idea to keep that pack of cigarettes in the house if your plan is to quit, or to leave those chocolates on the top shelf, supposedly out of reach, if your resolution is to lose weight.

"Basically we walk around believing that we have more control than we in fact have, and the consequence of that is we don't take sufficient precautions," said Loran Nordgren, co-author of the study and a professor at Northwestern University's Kellogg School of Management in Illinois.

"The people who are most self-confident also, as a result, expose themselves to more temptation than others, which also makes them the most likely to fail."

The authors conducted four studies examining how beliefs on impulse control affected a person's ability to overcome temptation.

In one study, smokers were divided into two groups and told they either had superior self-control over their cravings or little impulse control. The overly confident group were more willing to keep a cigarette in their hands while they watched the 2003 film Coffee and Cigarettes. As a result, they exposed themselves to more temptation than they could handle and were more likely to smoke the cigarette.

The authors also found that smokers who were trying to quit and who felt they had more self-control were less likely to have abstained four months later, because they were not diligent enough in avoiding temptation.

"What we found is that people have chronically underestimated the power of impulse," Prof. Nordgren said. "People think they have a greater capacity for self-control than they in fact have and that misperception, what I have been calling the restraint bias, leads them into temptation."

Prof. Nordgren said people need to appreciate the destructiveness of addictions and take a humble view. That requires avoiding temptations instead of having unrealistic perceptions of control.

He said that some addiction programs, including Alcoholics Anonymous, have realized the danger of inflated impulse control beliefs. One of the tenets of Alcoholics Anonymous is that an alcoholic should admit powerlessness over alcohol.

While the purpose of Prof. Nordgren's study is to improve on addiction programs, it is also easily applied to New Year's resolutions.

"My recommendation to people making health resolutions is to be very specific on what those goals are, and those goals should absolutely be focused on ways to avoid the temptation," he said.



So now that I know -- on good authority -- that I'm right, there is no excuse for self delusion. I HAVE no will power. So: I've gotta continue avoiding temptation!

  
  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

THATCARRIEGIRL 1/11/2010 10:46PM

    Great article! I refuse to buy any sort of food item that I would be tempted to overeat, like "real" ice cream or cookies or cake. If I have one piece of cake, I will eat half of it! It's good to know that there is nothing wrong with that. Well, other than the devouring hundreds of calories for no good reason anyway!

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PHEBESS 1/9/2010 2:27PM

    I've learned that if something is in the house, it will be eaten. My only solution is to buy single portions when I absolutely have to have a cookie, or ice cream, or whatever. I have trouble with portion control if the entire item is available - so if I buy a single portion, I can stick with it. Plus single portions tend to be more expensive, so buying two single portions isn't an option (since I'm, uh, frugal, LOL). I'd be better off without the single portions, but hey, life is to be enjoyed, right?

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TAKEMETOTHEBALL 1/6/2010 5:12PM

    For the last two years I've refused to make 'New Year resolutions' as I know at the first signal of trouble I'll give up for another year. This is an ongoing thing we're doing for ourselves and our friends/families.
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Jackie x

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FROSTIERACES 1/6/2010 4:43PM

    This is so true and I set myself up all the time for many versions of this..! Recently..."Honey, should I make some chocolate chip cookies??"......"SURE!" and who eats the dough and eats the cookies just to see if they're good!? of course - me..

Great article! and thanks for stopping by my hubby's page..he's far from sparking these days just very busy with work. He always tells me when there's a message on his page but doesn't quite know what to do with them! lol Thank you, you're so sweet!

The podrunner - yeah I spoke too soon coz I really, REALLY needed someone telling me to move my tush this morning! emoticon


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WALKINGANNIE 1/6/2010 4:02PM

    Scarily true! I'm putting my faith in artificial willpower - the SP Nutrition Tracker. It's amazing, and a bit sad really, the power that this nifty tool has over me.

If I do wrong I'll have to answer to the Tracker. Please don't tell me that Spark Guy doesn't read it and mark my homework.....

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SALDABA6 1/6/2010 12:23PM

    I know I can't resist temptation, too bad the hubby doesn't seem to understand why I don't wish to have things in the home that tempt me. I have won't power: I won't buy it so it cannot tempt me emoticonThose that believe they can have cookies, chips and everything else in the house "for company" and stay out of it themselves, if they have not always done it, most likely will succumb to it at one point or another. Great blog!!

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TRYINGHARD1948 1/5/2010 10:07PM

    And to further the argument, once I am humble for several weeks or even months I then think I am safe and low and behold I fall into the trap of believing I can succeed only to fall flat on my box of chocolates when someone kind and generous gave them as a gift. Oh, how human we are! I prefer Spark's idea that it is better to have a little before the need becomes too great to handle and then comes the binge. emoticon :)

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STLRZGRRL 1/5/2010 9:10PM

    This is completely true. And if humans could live without food altogether we would all stand a better chance of staying slim!

I say "better" because people like ME can suss calories out of a passing breeze and they will leap onto my thighs and never jump back off again... so you can't go by ME...

But putting the peanut butter on the top shelf will only drive me to get the 3 calorie of exercise from dragging the step stool across the room... that PNB just can't even be in the neighborhood...

I have to surround myself with foodstuff... *sighs*... that I just don't like that much!





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Podrunner Week One Day One

Monday, January 04, 2010

Thanks to Rookie Running Group for providing the link to the Podrunner intervals programme to get me started on my return to running.

And: to JOPAPGH for recommending that I check out POSE and Chi running techniques!

Day one of week one is a 30 minute walk/jog interval routine -- and certainly not a strain for me from a cardio perspective -- but I was really concentrating on the form: erect posture, landing mid-foot, pulling up on the knees and keeping the stride short with bent arms close to the body. The podrunner programme (free download) signals the change from walk to jog so I don't have to time the intervals and can focus on the form; very very convenient! I am finding that I really need to think about it.

I'm going to work on this Mon/Wed/Fri plus weights and do alternative cardio at least 2 other days (elliptical, likely). Plus abs/stretch of course: the strong core is important to the POSE running technique too.

It's exciting after a 16 year gap from running to get back into it. Back then I was running 10 km pretty consistently 5 days a week -- too much -- and was probably 20-25 pounds heavier then -- and running with a heel-toe roll long stride which was kinda "state of the art". Quite a bit of splat splat splat: it was noisy running!!! And I was not keeping up the abs and weights either, just running with a bit of stretching afterwards. Eventually, my hips and knees rebelled. Now it's fun to check out POSE and chi to see how much running technique has changed -- a bit like the vast change in golf clubs with the giant drivers . . .

Love to run -- makes me feel quite euphoric -- particularly now that I've got my energy back. I'll do some of the podrunner programme on the treadmill and some on the track until it's possible to get back outside running in the spring: by then I'll be back to 5 km again for sure. I'm also looking at Spark Your Way and C25k materials, but for now while I'm really thinking about technique the podrunner is probably the most helpful . . .

My goal here is to take it slowly and AVOID INJURIES. I emphatically do not want to do myself a damage so that I can't exercise at all. Must say when I look at runners' blogs I do see quite a bit of indication that there are a lot of injuries out there.

Old attitude, when I was running before, was: with all of this exercise I don't have to worry about my weight, I can eat pretty much what I want. (I was wrong about that.)

New attitude this time around will be: I love to run so I'm going to stay as light as possible and focus on technique to avoid injury so that I CAN continue to run. And: I'm going to run moderately -- not every day, not 10 km every time, no matter how addictive it is. Because if I do experience injury I will back right off immediately, return to elliptical or swimming. This is about optimal fitness and fun -- especially fun.

  
  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

FROSTIERACES 1/5/2010 5:18PM

    Oh you are such a pro at this! I'd do podrunner but I don't want to be told what to do ;)! at least not yet,...I'm just running to the news/music right now happily until that is I get bored of that and am begging for someone to tell me to run!

Love your energy in this blog! I too go back a long time running, ever since school days...yet have never ran in a 5 or 10k. It's one of my determined goals of 2010! I'm a pretty light footed runner although I know that I tend to land on my left leg a little harder and catch myself doing that and try to keep an even pace, steady breathing. I agree, totally feeling my abs tightening up - even hubby commented woohoo! I'm totally with you on no injuries = no excuses and just coz I'm running doesn't = eating tonz!

I'm off to read the Rookie team posts..or some of them anyway!

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WALKINGANNIE 1/5/2010 12:22PM

    Your energy and entusiasm shines through this blog. You're a great source of motivation and inspiration. Keep on running...

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TRYINGHARD1948 1/5/2010 3:52AM

    Ellen, my husband envies you so much and says he understands that euphoric state when running. His knees gave way in his fifties and he has to walk but every now and again he can't stop himflef from just breaking into a bit of a run. All the very best on this new challenge and just go into it easy and slow,
Hugs,

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JOPAPGH 1/4/2010 8:19PM

    This sounds way to familiar: "with all of this exercise I don't have to worry about my weight, I can eat pretty much what I want." That's how I gained half the weight I lost back.

I am thrilled that you are able to do something you enjoyed so much, but now with the benefit of age and wisdom.

I have a spare ChiRunning DVD. Drop me an email...

Jog on friend...

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7 Things about Fat People Everyone Knows This!

Sunday, January 03, 2010

This is an outstanding blog by Xenamy

http://www.sparkpeople.com/mypage_public
_journal_individual.asp?blog_id=2685736

Everyone knows this -- and everyone should read this!!

Why is it that we don't discriminate against people on the basis of race, colour, religion, sex, sexual orientation . . . but, OK to discriminate on the basis of "fatness"??

Because it's "their own fault"?? Well, current research (plus the personal experience of manyh of us) indicates maybe not so much!

Wonder what everyone knows about thin people??

Gonna have to think about that!!

  
  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

THATCARRIEGIRL 1/11/2010 10:47PM

    So absolutley true.

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PHEBESS 1/9/2010 2:29PM

    I'm waiting for clothing designers to stop discriminating against the full figured woman. Who came up with "contemporary sizing" where an XL is size 10?????????

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TRYINGHARD1948 1/3/2010 5:14PM

    Thanks Ellen for the forward to a very thought provoking blog, it certainly made me reassess my attitudes.

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