Do you have any teeny tiny dreams that are wriggling around in your heart right now? I have had one for years. I didn’t know how it would be possible, or even if it would be possible, but it was wiggling and jiggling around. I wanted to take our boys to Europe. To see, smell, taste how we lived for three years in Europe before they were born.
We spent our first year of marriage, at the age of 23, in a northern town in France called Harnes. Sexy Neck was playing professional volleyball and I coached and played a bit too! I used to go running around Vimy Ridge, carefully staying to the trails as I didn’t want to detonate a latent bomb from WWI.
We spent our 29th and 30th years on this earth in Germany and Switzerland.
At 32, I discovered I was pregnant with our first son while travelling in Europe for our friend’s Patrizia and Roman’s wedding in Switzerland.
And now, we are 45, our boys are 12, 10 and 8, and we are taking our radical sabbatical on the road…. to Europe!
Hotels, hostels, a bible school, a mountain resort only accessible by tram, the Oberamerhof where we lived in Germany and dear friends’ homes will be our abodes for this adventure.
Over 3000 kilometres in a stick shift European automobile and on the autobahn to boot! Those little towns we lived in don’t even have a train station, so its car travel for this family.
Plus some gymnastics training thrown in for fun!
Where would you go if you could choose an adventure for your family?
Any advice on travelling Europe with kids?
Here we go folks.
The dream is unfolding in under a week!
We know we will get lost.
Meet the most interesting people.
See castles, villages, forests and cities.
Eat interesting food.
And get hug after hugs by our amazing friends.
I am MOST excited about this last one.
Friends we have known before we had children.
Friends who grew with us through living overseas, travelling and having children.
Friends who have walked the gift of grief with us from across the Pacific.
Friends who just “know”.
The words aren’t always known, but the feeling is unexplainable.
And now they get to meet our boys.
Dreams do come true!
Let this 3000 kilometre adventure unfold in His will.
Do you like surprises? Have you ever been surprised so much that it makes you jump and shriek? (I used to love surprising my mama!)
I am jumping for JOY over this radical sabbatical right now.
As a volleyball player I was never known for my vertical, but I think I can fly right now.
I love seeing my boys happy.
No more morning stomach aches before school.
I love living this small space, small refrigerator and no dishwasher life.
Hands in the warm water and our family working together to get cleaned up.
I love wandering with no direction.
Walking out the door, into the woods and then deciding which direction to head.
I love being so far away from town that I don’t pop anywhere.
At. Any. Time.
I love the relationships I have that are growing deeper through fascinating conversations and not just two minute fly bys in the school parking lot.
Facetime. Phone Call. Texts. They all keep us genuinely connected to those people who are embracing our radical sabbatical and supporting us on this journey.
I love perspective brought on by the time and space of stepping out of life’s routines and the mundane moments of life.
To do the work that I need to do to accept the death of people I have loved deeply, to accept the direction that my family of origin has taken, and to accept where I am right at this moment.
I love learning acceptance.
I love less laundry. We wear pretty much the same thing every day, except when we go into town.
I love making a weekly meal plan, ordering my groceries, picking them up and sticking to it.
Like I mentioned, we don’t pop anywhere. Nothing is open at the ski hill right now, so we are flying solo or relying on the generosity of wonderful neighbours, if we forget anything from the grocery store.
I love our simple super food nutrition that gets delivered to our door.
I love saving money.
I love being stretched to try new things. Living a small refrigerator life has caused me to find an alternative to the gluten free Costco pizza crusts we used to devour. I have been making sourdough spelt bread and pizza crust from scratch. Can you believe it? And I love it. It is incredibly simple to do and takes only a bit of prep time either the night before or the morning of. Small spaces need simplicity and I am finding it through baking.
Our family loves to walk, no matter where we are in the world. We love to explore on foot and see what we will see. No agenda, no timeline, just walking, talking and seeing what is around us. We have noticed that there is a rhythm in the mountains that is more in touch with the seasons. There is a flow that reminds me of squirrels. Right before the season change in autumn, people were bustling around chopping wood and preparing their homes and cabins for winter. It was a beautiful thing where families worked together and often ended the day with time around a fire. The city doesn’t really have this flow. It seems that most people have similar routines and rhythms no matter the season. I encourage everyone, as you read about our radical sabbatical, consider the seasons of the year that exist where you live and what could those different seasons look like. I believe that change is a great things for human beings to feel fully alive, and noticing the seasonal changes can help us live in the present moment.
I love watching my boys learn and seeing where their learning takes them. I am surprised at how much they love learning. My boys previous love of schooling involved recess as the highlight.
Amongst ALL of these surprises the largest have been my absolute delight to step outside of the “school system” and the holiday of Halloween.
I am jumping and shrieking as I write these words.
These were scary to jump out of culturally, but oh so wonderful now.
The “school system”.
All Hallow’s Eve.
Schools are filled to overflowing with delightful teachers and parents as well as amazing kids. But anywhere that there are more than a few people gathered, there are bound to be systems in place to make things “easier”. A system meaning “procedures, principles or methods in which something is done”. These ‘procedures’ and individual teacher’s ‘principles’ often are there for the greater good of a class. From personal experience as an elementary school teacher, I know it is really hard to truly individualise learning in a school system and to really see our students every single day. Not every child’s needs can be met on a semi-regular basis. Teachers do need to have eyes on their students, so they can’t have them zipping around the neighbourhood or even the school grounds during class time. We are truly grateful to be outside of this system for this year of homeschooling. As I write these words, my eight year old is researching bakeries in Paris, my ten year old is learning about “Game Theory” in Math and my twelve year old is zipping around the online program IXL learning about Grammar. It’s a beautiful thing to watch. They are fully immersed in their learning. Soaking it up and working hard. The past seven years in the school system, I have 2 times per month, taken my boys out of school to ski or enjoy a day at home or to go visit relatives, but I didn’t feel good about it. There was this tension that they would “miss” something. As we have stepped fully away from the “school system”, I don’t feel that we are missing ONE. SINGLE. THING. Truly.
My other huge surprise this fall has been realising the energy and thought that went into the holiday of Halloween for our family. How do you feel about Halloween? For me, it has always been a holiday with a spiritual ramification that I try to ignore. Is it a dark holiday that creates more bad than good? We may have to ask a law enforcement officer to answer that one. I don’t know the answer to this question because the optimist in me always creates good from every situation that I encounter. I have chosen to embrace Halloween because I love the opportunity it provides for my boys to be creative with their costumes and meet our neighbours. How often do neighbours get a knock from a child to say “hello”? Yes, my kids do love the candy too, but for me, I love the opportunity to say hello and get to know our neighbourhood. I wonder if my boys will miss it this year. We will be standing on the Eiffel Tower in Paris, France on October 31st and most likely walking up the 674 steps. We thought this would be a fun alternative to Halloween this year! We did have our eleventh annual pumpkin carving get together with friends, which is always a highlight. Other than that, we are stepping aside from Halloween this year. Whew!
Jumping for joy.
Small space living.
Simple super food.
Grateful on this Thanksgiving 2019 for this opportunity to be surprised on this radical sabbatical.
Imagine biking away from school on June 28th knowing that you would not be returning to that industrial looking school building and schedule for over a year?Imagine being able to design your learning, travel the world and live at a ski hill with the foundational goal of skiing every single day of the ski season? Imagine moving into a nine hundred square foot home with five people and no dishwasher nor in suite laundry?
What would your radical sabbatical look like?
This imagining above is the reality we are creating and that I will be writing about during our radical sabbatical. Our family of five is riding our bikes away from grades two, four and six and walking into grades three, five and seven as homeschoolers living in a two room condominium, overlooking the ski hill.With the addition of two trips, one month long trip to Europe and one two week vacation in the spring, you now have the big picture of what is going to unfold over the next twelve months and corresponding chapters of this book about our life yet to be written.
Could you imagine?
Would you ever step out, take a time out and shake up your reality to press pause on life?
Stopping all activities except skiing and gymnastics.
Withdrawing from all volunteer positions on boards and activities in our community.Renting out our main house and only bringing the bare essentials into our small living space.
Inspired by the gift of grief given to us by my beautiful mama over five years ago.
Fanned by the gift of grief given to us this year by Sexy Neck’s mama, grandma, grandpa, my aunt and our Labrador, Summer.
Walked out first and foremost, by Joanne Kraft when her family took a year off from activities outside of school. Her book, “Just Too Busy: Taking your Family on a Radical Sabbatical”, jumped off the library shelf last winter and cemented this idea in my mind.
Watered and lovingly supported by our friends who live our freedom and growth lifestyle.
Practically supported by our teacher friends and the school that we will work with to educate our boys over the next twelve months.
Divinely inspired by our Father in heaven who knows our hearts and allowed everything to seamlessly and truly effortlessly unfold.
Now, we create space for us to live in a nine hundred square feet condominium.
Building a learning space for three creative and hardworking eight, ten and twelve year old boys.
Building a triple bunk bed so that we have more space to play.
A radical sabbatical.
Twelve months to pause and change our routine.
Finding our rhythm.
So, I sit here and ask again: What would a radical sabbatical look like for you? It doesn’t have to be as extreme as what we have done, but maybe it’s something as simple as eating dinner together every night or what Joanne Kraft did and taking a break from extracurricular activities. Whatever speaks to you as you share our journey with us, may it be meaningful to you and light up your life!
These are exciting times my friends. Truly exciting!
<Note: Joanna is currently seeking a publisher to partner with to publish her book as she helps people be free on their own journey as she shares her radical sabbatical with others.>
Isn’t it funny how a few days flat on your back allows you the privilege to reflect on health? February flu season is wafting through the house and it happened to grab on to me last Friday. The weekend was spent trying to breathe, staying warm and lying in a slightly upright position. Fun time for this jet engine energy girl. One thing about me, though, is situations like this help me grow.
These last seventy- two hours have afforded me the opportunity to think deeply about what I put into my body. Over four years ago, I was forty pounds heavier than I am today. Over four years ago, I was on a deep growth journey working through the grief of my loving mama. Over four years ago, I discovered, by my own willingness to never sit or lay in a pit too long, the best fuelling system for my body. And I want to stress “system” because there are no miracle products. Sorry. There are no one week detoxes that are going to fix your eating habits. Sorry again. And there are no amount of counting calories or points that will teach you how to nourish and listen to your body. Truth.
I now have partnered with the company that formulated this system over fifteen years ago. I have left my full time teaching life that I was very passionate about because I think all children are a gift from God. I now help match people’s personal goals to a system of products that support the systems that work within the body. And yes, we even touch on poo! After my mom died, as well as weekends like I just had, I know with 100% certainty that if we don’t have health we have nothing. If we don’t get a handle of how to fuel our bodies, we don’t have energy. If we don’t understand what our individual bodies need, we will have “dis ease”.
Here are my few gems from lying in the couch with “dis ease” if you truly want to learn how to fuel your body:
First, before you even try to uncover the food dilemma, how is your water intake and what amount of sleep are you currently getting? Furthermore, are you drinking enough water and sleeping enough for your body? How is your sleep hygiene? Are you able to sleep without your “handheld computer comforter” beside you?
Second, what do you LOVE to eat? Do you enjoy plants, meat, soups, fruit? Just because the current rage is to eat no fruit (no carbohydrates) or only eat meat (protein), you decide what is best for you personally and build your fuelling system around that.
Third, are you moving between the eating habits of starvation and overindulgence. Most people do. My company’s name literally means “balanced life”. This is your ultimate destination with your fuel. Eating every couple of hours with a balance of variety of foods that nourish you and bring you energy.
The four pillars of a healthy fuelling system.
One that doesn’t rely on feelings or emotions.
One that doesn’t flutter in the wind depending on the current ‘famous food’ that you can’t pronounce or diet plan you really only can follow when motivation is high.
Something that relies on you nourishing and listening to your body.
Something that allows your body to become more alive as you age and continue to grow.
Until we breathe no more.
Fuelling with water.
Recovering as we sleep.
Nourishing with lovely food.
Finding balance in all areas of our life, but especially with our food.
Comment below with your favourite fuelling tips.
Follow me on Instagram: @cannjoanna
If you need support in your fuelling, be free to ask me for more information at email@example.com
Who else has noticed the hashtag and word #influencer pop up all over social media?
It is everywhere, chosen by many people as the hashtag of 2019 to grow businesses and get their message out there. I am not buying the #influencer message and here is why: We need to be an #innerinfluencer and not just unconsciously digest the #influencer around us, with their edited pictures and image of the “perfect life”!
These are my three reoccurring thoughts about why we need to be an #innerinfluencer:
First, do you remember taping up posters of famous people on your physical walls and saving them on your computer desktop? It was dreamy. It was wondrous. It was also very fake! The pictures were staged. The smiles probably were too! And now with the invention of photo filters, everyone can have these pictures too! When you open a magazine or even a friend/acquaintance’s social media page, it is most likely filtered, photoshopped and staged just like the pros. Who knows if they had a fight with their husband two minutes before or are a million dollars in debt? The pictures won’t show or let us know what’s really going on.
It’s really doesn’t matter though, because in the 21st century YOU are the star of YOUR life. Go on a journey to look at your own unique gifts and talents. Look back to your childhood and when you were free and hanging up those posters of Ricky Schroeder or Backstreet Boys. What did you truly love to do and what did you want to be? This will be the greatest influence in your life. Be an #innerinfluencer. We can no longer allow ourselves to be influenced by magazine pictures and social media posts by celebrities or friends, it truly is only an illusion.
Second, do we really know the lives of the people that are calling themselves #influencer and do we want to have them influencing our lives? I was truly shocked to hear about the divorce of the Bezos. (He is the CEO of Amazon and they had build their business together.)
I have seen the power of outside influencers over and over in education where one child and even one word from another child can shift the personality and culture of individual children and an entire classroom. For example, just this year, one of my boys walked away from a beautiful friendship. This friend of my son’s is a heart-centred, kind and so much fun. My son and I have watched this boy become mean and moody because of the influence of another student in the class. My son lovingly created space and allowed his #innerinfluence to guide him. He walked away from this friendship. This is the greatest lesson my son has had with friendship in his short life and it has been a gift.
Take time to know the people who have influence in your life. Ask yourself three hard questions: Are you allowing yourself to be influenced by people who have your values and desires? Are you choosing to be influenced by people who mirror who you are and where you want to go? Can we really know these things about people not in our inner circle? Boom shakalaka. Three hard but very important questions to ask about influence. Here they are again:
1️⃣ Are you allowing yourself to be influenced by people who have your values and desires?
2️⃣ Are you choosing to be influenced by people who mirror who you are and where you want to go?
3️⃣ Can we really know these things about people not in our inner circle?
Lastly, the greatest influencers in my life don’t even participate in social media. Where do your greatest influencers exist? My influencers are my Sexy Neck, my three boys, my mother in heaven, my Heavenly Father, and a circle of friends that share their lives with me. I love the music of many musicians. I love the acting of many actors. I love the athleticism of professional athletes. I am inspired by many social media personalities with their beautiful quotes and pictures. BUT, rarely do I allow this group of people, unless I know them personally, to influence my life. I choose to be an #innerinfluencer, leaning into my gifts and talents, looking at where I need to grow and living as a human “being” with my tribe every day of my life.
I believe we are living in a world where reality is shifting, what we see is not really the way things are. The reality is the prettiest pictures and the slickest words get the greatest amount of attention, if we choose to pay attention. I want to encourage each of us that read these words to be looking outside with eyes open wide and looking within with hearts open wide.
You are a unique human being. There is truly no single human being in the world that is just like you.
May my words be an #influencer for you to look within as an #innerinfluencer because this is where the juicy dreams live in the 21st century.
Who walks into their gym and bawls their eyes out?
Who sobs crocodile tears all over a dog?
Yup, that would be me again.
This week, I walked into the gym for a usual workout, it was squat day. I walked in carrying my shoes and water bottle and see the service dog that is often sitting on the mat by the bench waiting for his handler/trainer to finish her workout. I have never greeted the dog because I wasn’t sure if the dog was working or not. I saw the handler/trainer working out and asked if I could give her dog a little pet. She said, “Yes!”.
I proceeded to sit down and the dog looked me in the eye, like only dogs can do. Viola, tears start flowing, sobbing ensues and I am soaking the fur on the top of the dog’s head.
I did “get myself together” to do my workout, but I realize in hindsight, with a bit of a chuckle, that I probably needed that cry more than any workout!
The blessings of dogs.
Enjoy their soulful presence.
Their divine eyes.
Their knowing ways.
Their ever present love.
We are blessed to have had both our dogs for so long.
Happiest of Valentine’s Day to my beautiful peeps!
I have a gift to give you on this day and it goes waaaaaay back to my university days in the faculty of Physical Education at the University of Alberta.
Do you know how your body builds muscle?
When you workout with any type of weight, your going to create little tears in the muscle fibres. During your rest time, these little tears are going to be repaired. The body repairs them by adding more tissue around them, thus increasing the size of the muscle. Viola! Building muscles. Isn’t the body incredible!
Now walk with me as I take these words from my university days about building muscle and create a Valentine’s Day ❤️ metaphor for the most powerful and life-giving muscle, the heart.
Do you wonder how to have a huge heart besides doing cardiovascular exercise?
Do you ever hear people say “S/he has the biggest heart!”?
I know that these ‘big hearted’ people have something in common to create these huge hearts. I have seen it all around me through death, divorce, and destruction (physical and emotional).
I believe that when we feel things deeply and allow our hearts to be broken, we create little tears in the muscle fibres of our heart. During our feeling and healing time, these little tears will be repaired. I believe that the body repairs the heart by adding even more tissue around them, thus increasing the ability for us to feel things more deeply and have a HUGE heart. Viola!
Take those things in life that break you and allow them to build you.
Feel things deeply.
Allow the breaking to happen.
And know that your heart.
Your ability to break.
Will all grow into the largest heart as you feel and heal.