Saturday, July 23, 2016

Airplane Windows Views + Anxiety

Looking at Prince Edward Island from above for the first time!

Are you tired of me sharing about the Brave Writer Retreat yet?! It is taking a while to process all the feelings and information...

The title for this post is a little odd, but says it all at the same time. 

I grew up traveling a lot with my parents, mostly by car and plane. My father had a business that included attending trade shows and my mother enjoyed traveling for pleasure too. Once I moved to Canada, I traveled back home to France often during the first years. 

All that to say that flying in an airplane was pretty common for me in my childhood and early adulthood. 

Then I had kids. 

And that is when I started being scared of flying. 

So our little family drove a lot more and didn't fly. 

The last time I flew to France to visit my mother and maternal grandparents was in 2001.  I had taken Gravol (over the counter medicine for motion sickness) and it had worked like a charm, knocking me out until we were almost in Paris. That was the last time I had gone on an airplane.

Fast forward to last summer, when I agreed to participate in this summer's Brave Writer Retreat in Cincinnati, Ohio as a speaker and workshop leader. As the date got closer, or really anytime I thought about the trip, I was very nervous. 

When planning for my trip to Ohio, I first tried to figure out if I could take a train or bus, anything but flying. I quickly realized that it would take forever so going on a plane would have to do. 

Ready to flight out of Charlottetown with the sunrise

I booked my flights. Three flights each way, actually. Up and down, taking off and landing, a total of 6 times each way. 

As the date got closer to my departure, I was increasingly nervous, loosing sleep and my appetite. I seriously worried about the airplane crashing and never seeing my family again. All kinds of doomed scenarios played in my head for weeks before my trip. I can honestly say that if I hadn't committed to speaking at the retreat, I would have backed out of it and stayed home. 

I have slowly realized over this last year that I do have some anxiety and phobias. I am not diagnosed officially but I am much more aware now of how my body reacts to certain situations physically and how I have stopped myself in the past because of it.

I am grateful that I now have a wonderful doctor who actually listens to my concerns. She had prescribed me a low dosage prescription (lorazepam) for an intrusive medical exam that I was very nervous about. I was very surprised at the time that it was so mild. I didn't feel any different, but it had helped calm my nerves so I could get through the exam. I asked if I could use the same prescription during my trip. This reassured me that I could, that if I needed it, I would have some helpful calming medication with me. I also focused on the fact that I was about to experience something completely new at the retreat, and I was also meeting one of my childhood friends for the first time in years during my New York City stop. 

View of New York City and Central Park

I am only sharing this with you because I am finally realizing that it really is OK to ask for help, to talk about my anxiety and nervousness. I used to feel bad about it. I never talked about it. I grew up with a mother that did not encourage me to talk about my feelings. It just wasn't done. If I felt scared or nervous about something, I was told to just keep going, to ignore those feelings, to push them away. As a kid, I didn't know any different. As an adult though, I wish I had spoken up earlier and asked for help. It is OK to not feel like I have it "all together". It is OK to say "I'm scared" or "I feel like I can't do this". It is even more OK to ask for help, especially if my feelings or brain or whatever it is stop me from doing things I actually want to do. 

Flying above the clouds was my favourite

I actually enjoyed the experience of traveling by air again. I didn't feel like I wanted to run out of the airplane once I boarded. I enjoyed those flights, including the take off and landing. I still didn't enjoy the turbulence on some of the flights, but that is normal! I looked outside the airplane windows. I took photos. I listened to audio books. It was a good experience, one that showed me I could do this, with a little help, and that was very reassuring. 

Toronto and Toronto Islands

Thank you if you read all this and looked at my photos. I truly appreciate you. I rarely write on this blog from my heart and it makes me feel very vulnerable. It is much safer to stay on the surface instead of diving down deep, but after being inspired at the retreat, I feel pulled to share just a little more. 

Friday, July 22, 2016

Plan With Me Challenge ~ July 1 to 15

Last month, I participated in my first Plan With Me Challenge. Plan with Me Challenge is a daily challenge with prompts that invite us to explore our planners a little more closely. It is hosted each month by Kara from Boho Berry, Jessica from Pretty Prints and Paper, Kim from Tiny Ray of Sunshine. 

I really enjoyed being a part of this and I am continuing this month too. The community on Instagram is amazing and so inspiring! I post my challenge photos (almost) daily on Instagram. I also wrote a 2 blog posts recap for June here and here. 

With being away for the Brave Writer Retreat, I got a little behind on my daily challenge posting, but I am catching up and can now share with you the first 15 days of this challenge!

1.Howdy!  2.Monthly Set-Up  3.Today
4. Relaxing  5.Experimenting  6.Big Plans

7.Workspace  8.My Last Planner  9.Useful
10.Not For Me  11.Exactly What I Wanted  12.Planning Ahead 

13.Break  14.Favourite Ideas  15.Currently 

See you in a couple of weeks for the rest of July's challenge photos! 

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Read the World Summer Book Club ~ Africa

We joined the Read the World Summer Book Club last week. The book club is the brainchild of Sarah from Read Aloud Revival and Jamie from Simple Homeschool.  

Each week for 8 weeks, we will read about a certain region of the world. The goal of the book club is super simple, to read one book about that region. There is a book that ties in with the whole experience called "Give Your Child the World", but I don't have it yet. For now, I look over the weekly post (check out the post on Africa!) on Simple Homeschool and also select books from our awesome public library. 

The open book is The Village that Vanished, a powerful story about courage

We extended our Africa week over almost 3 weeks since I was away most of last week and we were waiting for books from the library that I had requested. We didn't mind at all. This week, we finished our last books on Africa and we will start North America. We are skipping Europe for now. I feel bad about it since I was born and raised there, but we can always go back later! 

Reading more about Africa while making pizzas, not an African food ;) 

Here are the books we read:

  • The Village that Vanished by Ann Grifalconi 
  • Africa: Everything You Ever Wanted to Know by Clive Gifford 
  • The Red Pencil by Andrea Davis Pinkney
  • Hungry Planet (Egypt and Chad chapters) by Peter Menzel
  • Kenya (Country Explorers) by Sean McCollum
  • Meerkat Mail by Emily Gravett
  • Africans Thought of It (Amazing Innovations) by Bathseba Opini
  • One Plastic Bag: Isatou Ceesay and the Recycling Women of the Gambia by Miranda Paul
  • The Soccer Fence: a Story of Friendship, Hope and Apartheid in South Africa by Phil Bildner 
  • One Hen: How One Small Loan Made a Big Difference by Katie Smith Milway 

I love including food from other cultures when we study different countries so we did that! I got a little lost from all the delicious choices on Global Table Adventure  at first, there are so many recipes I wanted to try! I did select 3 dishes: 

From the top to the bottom of photo: Tanzania Coconut Potato Soup,
Eritrean Spiced Bread, and Eritrean Lentil Stew 

We also played Mancala together, a strategy game from Ancient Africa. We have had this game for many years and I have played so many times but my kids always win against me! Still, I really enjoy it. You can see our board in the top photo. Our game came with 3 different rules, the Egyptian, Ethiopian, and Nigerian Rules.

I really appreciate the free printables and links that can be found on each week's post at Simple Homeschool as part of the Summer Book Club! You can visit this Africa week link to get a better idea. 

I printed the world map and Africa map. We taped them to the side of one of our bookshelves. Each time we read a book about an African country, we coloured it in. We will continue to do that as it is a great visual for us. 

I am also using the "My Global Book Log" to keep track of the books we read. I ran out of space so I am writing more on the back! I printed the recipes I cooked as well and will keep all these printables together. It will be nice to look back at the end of the summer and see the countries we read about with the book lists and the food we ate!

If you are interested in joining this free summer book club, check out this post for all the information: The Read the World Summer Book Club. 

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Nature Appreciation Resources ~ Brave Writer Retreat

As mentioned in my last blog post, I am sharing with you a list of resources, books, and tools that I talked about during my Nature Appreciation workshop at the Brave Writer Retreat last week. 

If you attended the retreat, this is similar to the handout included in your folders, plus a few other bits of information! This blog post includes many clickable links, which couldn't be done with a piece of paper...ahhh technology! 

First, a few quotes to ponder:

“If getting our kids out into nature is a search for perfection, or is one more chore, then the belief in perfection and the chore defeats the joy. It’s a good thing to learn more about nature in order to share this knowledge with children; it’s even better if the adult and child learn about nature together. And it’s a lot more fun.” Richard Louv, author of Last Child in the Woods.

“Consider nature study an adventure, a life-long achievement. Keep your eyes wide open for opportunities to discover new things that come into your everyday life.” Barb McCoy, Handbook of Nature Study Blog.

“It may not feel as if you are in nature when you walk through a city, but you are. All around you is a richly interconnected web involving nutrient exchange, competing interests, and cross-species communication. There’s an invisible world right in front of our noses, ready for exploration....To paraphrase Marcel Proust, the only real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes.” Nathanael Johnson, author of Unseen City.

“Some children are born naturalists, but even those who aren’t were born with a natural curiosity about the world and should be encouraged to observe nature.” Charlotte Mason. volume 2.

10 Simple Ways to Start Nature Study with Your Children

  1. Lay down on a patch of grass and look at clouds
  2. Do a seasonal nature scavenger hunt (google a list or make your own)
  3. Pick 2 topics of interests, one for you and one your children choice, head to the library and gather books on the subject, including fiction picture books
  4. Watch nature documentaries - Disney Nature or any narrated by David Attenborough
  5. Make your own bird feeders, observe your new visitors, notice their colours, beaks, size differences, behaviour. Identifying can come later!
  6. Look at the stars on a clear night, not during full moon
  7. Take a magnifying glass outside and observe the tiny world. Watch ants or spiders, look at flowers, leaves, and tree bark  up close
  8. Set up a bug hotel or a toad house in your backyard
  9. Go out on a rainy day and collect raindrops in a jar, observe how the water gathers on different surfaces
  10. Set up a nature table or tray with books, field guides, binoculars, and small collection of nature items like rocks, seashells, feathers

Field Guides

-Field guides for your region on topics of your interest!
A great way to find field guides are at library book sales and thrift stores.
The older guides are still usually accurate and sometimes have beautiful illustrations, at great prices!
-Usborne Spotter’s Guides (UK link, but helpful for the list and check your local Usborne seller!)
-Pocket Naturalist Guides Series. These are great for taking along on hikes as they are laminated, folded, and not heavy, while still providing useful information - available for so many locations and topics!

Nature Study Guides - Inspiration + Resources for Parents

-Colouring books, especially the nature themed from Dover Colouring Books

Great Nature Books for Kids

There are many wonderful nature books for children! Visit your public library or local book store and discover your new favourites. Here is a list to get you started:

-Books by Dianna Hutts Aston: A rock is Lively, A Butterly is Patient, An Egg is Quiet
-Books by Steve Jenkins: Egg, The Beetle Book, and others
-The Flower Alphabet Book by Jerry Pallotta
-Exploring the Night Sky by Terence Dickinson
-One Small Square series by Donald Silver

Inspiring + Helpful Websites

-Handbook of Nature Study Home of the Outdoor Hour Challenge *subscribe to her newsletter!
-Mud Puddles to Meteors  *Mud Puddles Nature Lab will re-open in August, wonderful for daily nature inspiration 
-Instagram - Search #naturestudy and be instantly inspired!
-Nature Study blog posts here! My family & I have enjoyed nature for years! I especially love this series I wrote last summer: Canadian Nature.
-Nature Study board on my Pinterest 

Websites + Documentaries


Tools & Gadgets

Binoculars  (link is to a helpful article on how to choose binoculars for kids)
Private Eye Loupe 

Photos of my kids enjoying nature from a few springs ago:
Celeste smelling wildflowers, Andre with a worm,
Adrienne crossing a creek and taking a photo on one of our walks
(note the headphones...a must for her on our nature walks)