Category Archives: dreams

Be Living a radical sabbatical

What does this radical sabbatical actually look like and is Sexy Neck working? Are we divorced? Where are you? What are we doing? These have been the pervasive questions over the last month as we have lived this radical sabbatical. Some people have been inspired, some people have thought we are crazy and others have just looked at us with wide eyes as we explain how we are living.

5 people.

Yes, Sexy Neck and I are 100% in this together. (And not divorced)

900 square feet.

Condo living.

8 months.

On the top of a mountain.

At a ski hill.

With the cows.

Travelling to Europe and Asia.

Homeschooling.

Not volunteering for anything.

Taking a radical sabbatical from the life we previously knew in the city.

What does this radical sabbatical actually look like for our family of five?

The boys do formal schooling Monday thru Friday from 9:00am to Noon. This formal schooling involves the 3 R’s – reading, writing and math! And I am hitting them hard. Going over basic facts, teaching them grammar and helping them understand the basics of the english language. They are writing in a journal, writing stories and doing research. Our 12 year old is researching Ancient Rome and Tesla. Our 10 year old is immersed in simple/complex machines and robots. Our 8 year old learned everything he could about Bobcats. Did you know they pee in the water so that they don’t leave a scent? Previously, the boys have been in French immersion, so the older boys have been doing their math in french and our youngest continues to write in french. But, I haven’t been stressed about it. If we decide to dive back into french next year, we will do a bootcamp in the summer to help them get back up to speed. This year is all about filling in some educational gaps that I see and having fun learning about what they are interested in.

Now, to talk about Sexy Neck! Right now, he is in Mexico City sitting at a fair, promoting his school district to families considering international education. And he LOVES it! Sexy Neck isn’t taking a radical sabbatical this year, but we are one hour closer to his work, so he does have a shorter commute! We are looking forward to joining him on a few trips that he is going to be taking for work. Sexy Neck LOVES his job and couldn’t imagine leaving it. It is truly what he was meant to be doing: a combination of education, business, travel and working with people. His dream life! We are happy that our radical sabbatical works alongside his dreams and brings him freedom from his commute and a more relaxed mountain life. He also loves backcountry skiing, which he can do every day after work in the winter. Truly his dream life!

Everyone who knows us, knows our backgrounds in Kinesiology and our love for physical literacy. All of our boys have done gymnastics from very young to eight years old. After eight they could choose to continue in gymnastics and our two older boys have. They love the community of boys, their coach and being able to achieve their personal goals through gymnastics. Thus, our radical sabbatical involves two days per week commuting one and a half hours each way back to the city so that the boys can practice with their team. Other than gymnastics, our sporting life will involve exploring the ski hill we are living on and embracing every day of winter. The boys have a goal of skiing every single day of the ski season. We know it will be “Canntastic”!


Lots of people have been wondering about our daily routines. To recap, here are a few of our routines that we have established for this radical sabbatical:

The 3R’s Monday thru Friday from 9:00am to Noon. And yes the boys say it is hard. And yes, we do have a lot of fun and flexibility. The boys take a recess break when they choose and they also choose where they work within our 900 square feet. Sometimes it’s on the floor, on our bed, at the kitchen table and often it’s at their desk. Sexy Neck is teaching them guitar and I am doing the rest with their teacher and our friend, Michelle, from Traditional Learning Academy.

Sexy Neck is fully involved in his work as a Principal of International Programs. He continues to embrace his role working with his students, the homestay families, his amazing staff and of course travelling to promote his program.

The boys are continuing with gymnastics and loving every minute of it. It is very motivating and they love the goals they have set: our ten year old wants to do an 8 second handstand and our twelve year old wants to do a giant on the high bar all by himself. WOW!

Outside of these routines, I have been personally surprised by four different pieces of this radical sabbatical:

1. Our garbage and recycling has reduced significantly. From one large black bin of garbage per week, to one medium-sized black bag. To one large blue recycling bin every two weeks, to one medium blue Tupperware per week that I will sort at the recycling depot in about five minutes. This surprise feels pretty amazing.

2. It’s outstanding to see the people who have stepped up to support us on this journey. We know that it truly does take a village to educate our children. Not only did we take the boys to Barkerville, a town from the 1800’s to kick off the school year, we took them to Science World and the boys got a welding lesson from their beloved Papa in his beautiful garage. The two older boys learned to weld, drill, grind, sand, paint and create a rebar coat hook with their initial on it. This was really incredible to see!

3. Living in a condo with no balcony and no private outside space, I was worried about what our outside time would look like. If you know us, we spend a ton of time outside during a day, even when the boys were in brick and mortar school. The boys and I have LOVED the mountain life. We love the exploring on foot and by bike. We love the terrain. Sexy Neck has loved climbing to the top of the ski hill. Bring on the snow! I cannot wait to see what that life will be like covered in white!

4. As the daughter of a teacher and a teacher myself, believe it or not, schooling has always been a thoughtful, somewhat worrysome process. The interesting thing about homeschooling is that I am being more intuitive: watching the boys learn, seeing what lights them up and letting them lead. No yearly plans, just living in the moment and finding resources as I need them. No stress of the September startup: Wondering which friends they would be with and which teacher they would have. Throughout the boys schooling, I known the importance of a teacher and their influence on their students. We have been fortunate to have incredible teachers and we have grown through some excruciatingly inflexible and mediocre ones. I am incredibly proud and honoured to be my boys’ teacher this year for grades three, five and seven. We don’t know if we will continue homeschooling next year, but for this month, it has been magical. I have learned that my boys LOVE to learn. They have embraced all the new skills I have thrown their way, including making a meal (spaghetti and meatballs), taking them to my health and wellness conference (anyone need more energy, want to sleep better, perform better or get rid of your fluffy tummy I am your girl) and learning to sew (curtains for their triple bunk!) alongside those 3 R’s that I talked about. I have seen where my boys have gaps in their learning and I have been able to fill them: capitalization, divisibility rules, number patterns, phonics, oh my! My heart is full. And only two pencils have been thrown in the process by my ten year old! A boy after my own heart with his emotions right at the forefront. I feel very grateful for this time together. I am not surprised at how much I truly LOVE being their teacher.

On September 26th, we celebrate our youngest’s eighth birthday.

We celebrate one month of this radical sabbatical.

We sit atop this peaceful mountain and ponder the adventure to Europe in November.

The projects that we want to learn about and where our questions will take us.

I have always believed that the beginning of all knowledge is asking a question.

And I wonder where this radical sabbatical will take our family.

A band of brothers.

Sexy Neck.

A homeschooling entrepreneurial Mama

Walking on this path.

Every day into the unknown.

With routines, that are flexible.

With surprises along the way.

Watching who shows up.

What lights them up.

And what this radical sabbatical will look like.

I pray for more days like today.

Love.

Joy.

Peace.

Patience.

Kindness.

Goodness.

Dignity.

Grace.

Living our best days.

On this radical sabbatical.

xoxo Joanna

Be Opening the Treasure Box (Mother’s Day 2018) 

Five Mother’s Days! 

2014

2015

2016

2017

2018 

Five specific moments to ponder the gift of grief that I received when my mom died.  

Five seasons of pondering, praying and seeing what my hamster mind would create with the unthinkable fact that I won’t have my mom’s physical presence with me until we meet in heaven. 

Five Sundays to remember that I made a decision that nothing bad would ever come from my mom’s death.  

And it hasn’t. 

Ever! 

The moments where the waves of grief come over me have helped me uncover treasure.  

The waves have washed away the debris and clutter.  Clarity has come.  

These waves have made me sit or lie down and ponder what pieces of gold that my mom gave me that I am now missing. 

This grief has given me the privilege to see my mom’s life in totality from a perspective I never imagined.   


As a daughter.  


As a neighbour.  


As a teacher. 


As a friend.  

Watching my mom’s life come to an end allowed me to see and feel in a new way!  I was able to see and feel her influence, to this day, as my fingers tap on this keyboard. My mom/Super Nana’s presence is still felt in our lives by those who knew her and people that now know us, but never met my mama.  

Below are the treasures I have discovered about my mom.  Miraculously, now ALL these treasures are held and given to me by different people in my life, especially Sexy Neck!  The light has overshadowed the darkness of the valley of the shadow of death. I am incredibly grateful for these treasures given in DEATH to me by my mom and now given to me in LIFE by my close family and friends.  


 The treasure box has been flung open: 

✨ My mama had a golden heart.  She was always open to others and felt things deeply.  Her heart was incredibly good. It was pure gold.  She was the most non-judgemental person you could meet.  (And she never commented on my choice of clothing!). 


✨ My mama had a silver stature and posture. She could have been a President of a large company or a Principal of any school, but instead she chose family first and help raise myself, my sister, my cousins, our friends and anyone she taught. We were given the ability to hold our posture no matter what came our way. She exemplified this.   She even helped me keep my posture when I said “F*ck off” to our neighbour Chris H. by washing my mouth out with soap.   


✨ My mama had a shining smile and life-giving words that flowed from those lips. She always found something good to say, even when  people, in the same situation, may not have found something good to say.   I remember when she was close to the end of her cancer journey and we were talking about her having cancer and she responded, “Why not me, JJ?”  


✨My mama was clothed in humility.  Her volunteerism, going above and beyond in all her teaching job was a treasure for me that I now out on every day.  She created healthy boundaries but still often found ways to put others first.  We often had our cousins on family vacations, neighbours over to swim and we even had one of my sister’s friends live with us for a year just because she needed a place to live.  She was always helping and connecting with her three siblings and often our summer holidays involved visiting them or having them at our house.   She was incredibly thoughtful and now I aim to be a magical memory maker, like she was for our family.  

(My mama always made homemade birthday cakes for me and then my boys birthdays.) 

✨ At the bottom of my mama’s treasure chest after all that gold, silver, shining words, and cloths of humility, I have found nuggets. 

Not the nuggets that my boys like to talk about, but the nuggets that stick with you that you pass onto your children.  Well, I guess in some way my boys did get their nuggets from me.  My mom’s words about these specific topics still ring in my mind: marriage, parenting, the cycles of teaching, friendship and life.   

💥 Only boring people are bored.  

💥 Don’t share anything that’s negative with her (or anyone) about your marriage because they will remember and you may not tell them how you worked it out.  

💥 Don’t be so hard on your oldest child. 

💥 You are a great mother.  

💥 Wash your hands before you eat. 

💥 The same issues in teaching cycle around and around, just wait for it to correct itself. 

💥Find friends who love the same things you do.  

💥 Be a good person.   

💥 Make your bed.  (I have to admit that I still make my bed, but I really could care less if my boys make theirs.) 

💥 It’s never too late to do anything.  (My mama got her teaching degree in her late 40’s, took Spanish classes after my cousin moved to Spain and was cycling with a group in Mallorca, 90km per day, eight months before she died.) 

💥 Make no excuses.  Find a way to do what you want to do or ask for help.  (I am not very good at asking for help, but I am working on that!) 

💥 Be kind.  Work hard. Make shit happen.  

💜 MOM 💜

Her treasure box is open. 

Feel free to take what landed on you today.  

I thoroughly love all the treasures I have personally have been given and continue to discover.  

Thank you God that light always prevails.  

Always look for light, my friends!  Even in the darkness, you will find a sliver.  

This is my wish as we all celebrate Mother’s Day in our own way! 

Take something from the treasure box of my mom’s life.

A golden heart. 

Silver stature. 

Shining smile. 

Cloth of humility. 

Nuggets.  So many nuggets.  

With gratitude for all the women in my life who have my mother’s loving, vibrant and thoughtful heart!  I am blessed.  


😘 Joanna 

Be Retiring and Releasing

Do you know when you have been holding onto something for too long?

It just sits in the back of your brain, popping up in your head like an annoying old boyfriend.   As these thoughts roll through your mind like a movie, you have to decide to continue to let them float on by or to let them go.

Often if you sit with these thoughts, you just know when it is time to let things go!

For over six years, I have been fortunate to have a leave of absence from a teaching job.  And it was an amazing teaching job, which makes it hard to let go of.  I hold no regrets.  Only fabulous memories with inspiring people surrounding me.

I taught in towns and villages all through the school district.

I had students get picked up via dogsled and horseback.  I had students create the most amazing projects and share the most incredible stories.

I had a custodian that inspired me daily, saran wrapped my entire classroom and help me survive my first classroom teaching experience.

I had families that I was fortunate to know well and even teach many of their children.

I had the very best CEA’s (Teacher’s Assistants).  These women were the best teammates you could ever ask for when teaching children. They were even willing to dress up with me in PJ’s to help teach the children a lesson on responsibility. Oh that was a fun day!  The tolerated my math lessons as Grandma Cann and cried with me when students were having a hard time.

My colleagues were superior and they continue to inspire me living their lives on Facebook and Strava or when I head back to VCity and run into them on the street.  These colleagues are the ones creating amazing drama productions, music performances, coaching teams, creating community schools, teaching en francais and so many other incredible educational feats during this season of teaching children.

And oh my Principals, they were bar none the best.  Servant-hearted, caring Principals.  People that Sexy Neck and I often talk about and ask, “What would Linda or Jim or Tom or ________ do?  I was so fortunate to have the best leaders.

So as I let go, I am fully awake and completely saddened.  The ebb and flow of life, I am realizing.   A chapter in my teaching story is complete!  I am releasing and allowing new space for things in my mind, in my life and in my wildest dreams.  I am grateful to be alive!

My resignation letter is in:

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Be a Dream Car

I fell in love with a car!

Way back in 2001.

I had the great privilege to commute with an amazing group of human beings to a small outlying “VIlle” to teach.  I taught  thirty-three grade six and seven students and had a third of the school in my class, even though there were 6 teachers on staff.  The school was declining in size!  I was fortunate to learn many new things, fall in love with my students and the staff and find my dream car.

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Is it weird that I had never had a dream car before?

Is is strange that my dream was a van?

Perhaps, God knew about the brood of boys that were coming into our life six years later.

I have fallen in love with how he prepares me for “events” in my life.

Day by day.

Person by person.

Story by story.

In 2001, we commuted in a brand, spanking new 2001 grey Honda Odyssey.   On those 5:45am pick-ups, this vehicle was luxury.  With its captain seats and personal water bottles, I thought that I had it made! And that was how my dream was created.

One day.

Some how.

I would own a 2001 Honda Odyssey.

Ten years later, in 2011, we decided to look for a Honda Odyssey as we awaited the birth of our third and three car seats would not fit in the back of our current vehicle.

Enter stage left, a beautiful grey 2001 Honda Odyssey that we could pay cash for and enjoy every day until last Friday.

She decided to stop on the side of the highway.

Just like that!   She sat there for three days while we pondered and prayed and wandered and wondered.

A few friends sat together in our wonderings.

And we are so grateful!

This van taught me how to dream, about cars.

Now she is reminding me how to dream in others ways.

Perhaps our life is meant to be with one car?

I wonder what will happen in the next weeks so that we could pay cash for a new car?

I am excited.

I am leaning in with anticipation.

I am dreaming.

I am so grateful for this dream car!

 

Be in Massive ‘Inaction’! 

I had a breakthrough weekend at a business conference last Saturday.  It was truly incredible for the inspiration for action that it provided.  I realized that when you go to conferences, you need to create an action plan to help follow through and to stop from becoming adrenal junkie conference hoppers. Just hopping from conference to conference looking for that next ‘high’ or breakthrough.  

Conferences in Las Vegas.  

90 Day Game Plans. 

Massive Action.  

Goal setting and vision creating.  

I was so inspired that I decided to create a plan of ‘Inaction’! 

Less action.  

More Focus. 

Less doing.  

More being.  

My phone now sits on the fridge between 2:30pm and 7:00pm EVERY day.  

My computer is off unless I decide to sit down for 15 minutes and give ‘er with focused, concrete goals to be achieved.  

My ‘work’ is done in chunks of time lumped  together and spread throughout  the day when it works for me.  

My life is back in balance and MASSIVE action is coming from my ‘Inaction’. 

I am connecting with people on a deeper, less interrupted level. 

My boys and I are reading more, hanging out more and I am more present.  

I own my own schedule again. 

My calendar doesn’t run me and my technology doesn’t suck my time away into a vortex of nothingness. 

And the most ironic thing, my business is flourishing! 

Stop.  

Look at your time.  

Do you need to create some space for some massive ‘inaction’? 

Stop doing.  

Just be.  

You. 

Be Keeping your EYE on your Dreams

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My heart and mind overflow with hope.

Dreams are energetic and flow through our family daily.

My vision for my life is unfolding before my eyes.

Can you see the excitement?

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(This photo was taken right after a friend shared a “freedom”moment with me!) 

Time + freedom.

Time with my boys and other people that I LOVE.

Freedom to be me.

I don’t know exactly how my dreams are going to “practically” workout, but I know that they will.

I am no longer practical.

I listen to my heart, God, people that love me, those that are doing what I would like to do.

If you see me wander by, give me a high five and know that I am just following my dreams!