living the life of levon

According to wikipedia : The expression, “Living the life of Riley” suggests an ideal contented life, possibly living on someone else’s money, time or work. Rather than a negative freeloading or golddigging aspect, it instead implies that someone is kept or advantaged.


This is levon.


(photo credit: Jesse Foster, 2008)



he lives an ideal contented life


darc and levon chillin' by the pool



he lives on our money, time and work


eye surgery recovery (2007)


he is kept


bathtime 2007



and advantaged


levon lounging on the couch


what a lucky guy!


much love.

occupational hazard

Could Parkinson’s disease be considered an occupational hazard?

Some research indicates that farmers, ranchers & fishermen (link here to the research article),


Grampy Roland unloading lobster traps (1997)

and people with more education (link to research article),

especially health care workers

Nurse Alice

and teachers

Professor Smith

are more likely to develop Parkinson’s disease later in life.

Conversely, engineers, construction and production workers are less likely to develop Parkinson’s disease.

Wayne Campbell

The increased risk has been attributed to increased psychosocial stress, pesticides and infectious agents (especially respiratory). People in the health care field may also have a more attentive eye, and access to better specialists and quicker diagnoses – which can all play a role.

Most hypotheses come back to physical activity (link to research article), and its contribution to decreasing risk of developing Parkinson’s disease (even though farmers and fisherman are one of the most active professions, exposure to toxins may outweigh its benefits!).

interesting stuff, huh?

… so maybe we just need to get out there and get movin! much love.


what if it just took dedication?



when I was young I was dedicated to ballet…

the nutcraker (1990)

my quote from the local newspaper... i was 7 years old!


then I moved on to cheerleading… I was (often, extremely!) dedicated…

SDSS cheerleading (2000)



now, I am dedicated to improving the lives of people with Parkinson’s disease…

data collection with Elaine (2010)


and yoga.

photography by Jaimie Rankin


Throughout it all, there’s been my dedication to learning…

kindergarten graduation (1988)
bachelor of health science graduation (2006)



Malcolm Gladwell says that if you want to let your light shine, you should dedicate 10,000 hours to whatever that is! (Seth Godin also comments on this theory)


so, the question is … what are you dedicated to? much love.

new season, new perspective

happy spring!

i ushered in the change in seasons with a yoga workshop with the wonderful Ryan Leier (One Yoga, Saskatoon – at Moksha Yoga Kelowna (

Ryan Leier

The first day started with a discussion on the ‘yamas’ and ‘niyamas’… or “yoga code”. Often, people start yoga and focus purely on the discipline of the physical practice; however, the foundation of yoga is living as conscious and compassionate beings.

If you’ve ever practiced yoga, you may have felt the energetic footprint of each posture… but, if you’re not in alignment/balance in body, mind and the rest of your life, this could potentially do more harm than good! Both living your life and practicing yoga poses with integrity will enable you to surrender to the experience.


energy flow

My focus the next day was about how to do asana (physical yoga postures) with a balance of effort and ease. It’s amazing how the struggles on your mat reflect those in your day-to-day life… should I relax a bit and take a break? Or really go for it? By being more aware of how you are feeling, you are able to be more compassionate with yourself – which extends to others too!

… we also had some fun with inversions!

headstand, step-by-step

Inversions stimulate pituitary and hypothalamus glands, improve circulation to the heart and encourage venous return, increase memory and concentration, strengthen immune systems and encourage lymphatic fluid drainage. Finally, they strengthen the spine, neck, arms, shoulders, legs and abdominal muscles… need I say more?


photography - Jaimie Rankin

so, try turning your world upside-down and get a new perspective… just remember the joy is in the journey! much love.

support & information

yesterday, I attended a monthly Parkinson’s support group meeting in Vernon. I go to both the Kelowna and Vernon support groups, not only to let people with PD know I’m here [ and would love for them to be involved in my research 😉 ] … but also because it is an incredible opportunity to learn!

(photo credit: Parkinson's disease Society Wales support group)

I’m always amazed at wealth of knowledge people living with PD and their caregivers have. After living with the disease day-in and day-out, they are able to…

notice subtle cognitive changes like neurologists,



discuss side-effects and drug-interactions like pharmacists,



and compensate for fluctuations in movement abilities like physios and kinesiologists!



There is so much wisdom to be gained by being involved with the Parkinson’s community… and older adults in general. much love.

bring on the backpacking!

after tours through europe, canada, and scotland, we’ve decided to retire our packs (well, the packs that dave & flo so graciously let us borrow!).


packs on the beach, cinque terre, italy

me and my (heavy!) pack, monte carlo


berger traverse, BC


and say hello to “maia” and “arrakis” (thanks Valhalla Pure!)… fully waterproof and ready for Bowron Lake (july) and West Coast Trail (august)!


maia & arrakis

bowron lake (

west coast trail (

Bring on backpacking season!

I’m so grateful for the opportunities to explore and play in BC, and the people I get to share it with! much love.

weather warnings

my heart goes out to everyone affected by the earthquake and subsequent tsunami that hit japan early this morning.

japan 03/11/2011 (

japan 03/11/2011 (

japan 03/11/2011 (

japan 03/11/2011 (


and I hope that everyone along the west coast stays informed and safe.

vancouver island (

Tofino is particularly vulnerable to tsunamis but has systems in place to inform their community and facilitate a quick evacuation.

Darc and I made the trek to Tofino for my birthday last november. What a beautiful area!

with amazing trees…


Cathedral Grove, BC



Long Beach, BC

hot springs…


hot spring island, BC

and surf…



tofino, bc

i highly recommend a visit… but maybe wait until the weather calms down. much love.

happy international women’s day!

happy 100th anniversary of international women’s day! this marks 100 years since Marie Curie won her SECOND nobel prize (first for physics, second for chemistry)… that’s one smart lady!


Marie Curie

I attended a great webcast this morning that included a national panel discussion on women’s issues in health, including; policy, globalization and addiction. This was run by the Institute of Healthy Living and Chronic Disease Prevention here at UBC Okanagan ( and CIHR’s Institute of Gender and Health.



Last weekend’s Parkinson’s conference was a wonderful opportunity to connect with staff from the Parkinson Society BC and researchers from the Pacific Parkinson’s Research Centre (PPRC). I hope to go for a visit to the centre in Vancouver soon and see what goes on at the PPRC!

Friday, we got settled into the (pet-friendly!) hotel room…


Levon gettin’ cozy


I attended the Parkinson conference on Saturday morning/afternoon. If you’re interested in what information I took away, and what I’m going to share with my support groups, see here ->PSBC regional conference Langley handout.


Then (fueled by FREE McDonald’s coffee) the three of us hopped back in the car and headed back to Kelowna Saturday evening.


Fueling up in Hope, BC


Coquihalla highway, BC


Coquihalla Highway, BC


I feel so grateful to have the opportunity (and the means) to attend presentations like this; it is valuable to connect to other Parkinson researchers and community members and I always leave with new perspectives and insight. much love.

caring about Parkinson’s

darc, levon and i are hittin’ the dusty trail and heading to Langley BC. They are having a Parkinson’s Regional Conference there. Since I can’t get enough of PD information, I want to be there to meet these folks from the Pacific Parkinson’s Research Centre (…

Dr. Martin McKeown, Neurologist and Clinical Director, "A Picture of Your Brain is Worth a Million Words"

Maggie Caunter, Physiotherapist,"The Importance of Exercise"


I love working with the Parkinson community, I find it so rewarding. For those of you who don’t know, here’s my Parkinson story…

I started volunteering for the Parkinson Society in 2002… I’m sure my roommates could tell you that every Friday I took an hour-long bus ride down to White Oaks Mall in London ON to get to the Parkinson office there. I’ve sold tulips, stood at mall displays, organized hair cutting, galas … you name it!


It all started because of this man, my Grampy (Buddy) Roland…


Jesse and I with Grampy Roland, early 1990's


Since he lived in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia and I was in Ontario, I felt like by volunteering I could help make a difference in the lives of people with Parkinson’s disease (PD).


The more I got involved in the Parkinson community, the more I started to think about her, Nanny (Sadie) Roland….

Nanny Roland and I, 1985

Caregivers selflessly donate all their time to their spouse, tending to their constantly changing needs. Parkinson’s disease is so individual and ever-changing, that caregivers can easily get overwhelmed and don’t know where to turn for help…


Care for the caregivers is an often forgotten component in PD care, which I why I did my Masters’ thesis on Caregiver Burden (here’s the published paper if you’re interested -> FINAL An exploration of the burden experience by spousal cg of indivs with PD (Roland, 2010))


I’m happy to announce that Kelowna now has a Caregiver Support Group! We had a great turn-out at the first meeting and they are going to continue to meet once a month (the last Friday at 10am, contact PSBC for more info) to spend time talking about their needs and sharing with others who are in similar situations. I think this is such an important component of care for any one dealing with a chronic degenerative condition, and am so happy that it is underway.



If everyone took the time to ask a caregiver in their life how they are doing and if they need to talk / some help, it may just lighten their load and make their day! much love.

food day

sometimes productivity isn’t measured by the amount of words you write or data files you analyze, but how much fun you have mixing flour and water (and maybe a few other ingredients)!

luckily I have a partner who knows his way around the kitchen … sunday was very productive!

much love.


coffee with levon

dutch baby pancake

english muffins

whole wheat loaf

cinnamon buns



chocolate croissants