Tag Archives: outdoors

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 Blown Away on your Birthday 

It’s a windy day here on May the first, but it is not the wind that had blown me away.  

It is the incredible people that surround me closely this year at home, far away in thought and through words posted on Facebook.  I am a bit gobsmacked to be honest.   

After the deep sorrow of my last birthday celebrating my first birthday without my mom, I had expected to be sitting in a mental pit today.  I expected to be hit in the chest with sadness.  

Isn’t it great when we continue to see that our expectations are only expectations?   

   

Today, I am soaring through the air.

 

Surprised by a pond that I thought was a broken sewer pipe.   My boys   lovingly made this pond last weekend as I sold tea.  

  We even put fish in the pond! 

Surrounded at home by my wee boys who are under the weather.   

  

Soaking up the love from all the incredible people God has chosen to surround me with. 

I am blessed! 

Soaring.  

Surprised. 

Surrounded.  

Soaking it up! 

Thank you to everyone for truly blowing me away.  I am in a bit of disbelief and I am full of gratitude.  

Thank you Sexy Neck for leading our boys and for loving me.   (Wild and crazy ideas and all!)

 

Be Seven Women Working out in Minus Seven

I have been fortunate to play on many teams, work with many colleagues and be involved with many groups.

As my mom as my standard, I have met some exceptional women.

This morning’s working out with Krista K as our leader and five other women in minus seven degrees weather beside the still lake, was truly exceptional.

The quality of heart, friendliness and athletic determination of these women is always inspiring. IMG_7034.JPGIMG_7033.JPGAll ages and stages of life are represented by these women, and no matter the weather or season of life they take time to take care of themselves.

Daily.

Intentionally.

With kindness.

Our leader and guide is what brings us together and the reason we choose to exercise in minus seven degree weather. I don’t think I have know a better trainer with an eye for how different bodies should move properly as well as knowing when I am trying to slack off. “Shoulders down Joanna. Squat down farther.”

Krista K, our detailed-oriented, friendly leader not only creates incredible workouts, but manages to jump in to help children that have been brought along.

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IMG_7037.JPGHere is Krista rolling a soccer ball up a slide to my son.

And if anyone can tell me how it is possible that I haven’t done the same workout TWICE in the SEVEN months I have been going to Krista’s classes, I would like to know!

Here is my three year old OC and I working out together: I am doing triceps, he’s on the playground.

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Extraordinary women.

Incredible morning.

Amazing Trainer.

There are no better adjectives to describe this morning of seven women working out in minus seven!

Be a Boot Camper

I am in a season of beginnings.  

Living daily with loss.

A time of rebirth.

Renewal. 

Playing on the teeter-totter, bars and with rubber balls.

I am going to boot camp with Krista King! 

Where’s Joanna? I am the lady in blue!  

IMG_4353 IMG_4352 Thank you Krista for taking and sharing these pictures.   IMG_4358IMG_4351IMG_4355   IMG_4357

A new KCity friend invited me to go to boot camp with her back in April.

I was intrigued because it was outside either at a beach or in a park.  I had heard through the grapevine that the instructor, Krista King, was a pilates-trained instructor with a heart for health and exercise.  

When I first tried boot camp, I would describe my body as a marshmallow.   After packing, moving, loving my mom through cancer, watching her die and living through profound grief, I had gained a momentous forty pounds on my six foot frame.  I was embarrassed at what I had allowed my athletic body to go through.   I was in the obese section for my height.

The first day of boot camp, I didn’t know if I would be able to run.  I knew that I couldn’t do a sit-up.  I wondered how sore I would be. 

I was pleasantly surprised.  I worked hard, but at my own pace.  I tried everything, but knew that there was no pressure to do so.  Krista King created an environment that was positive, athletically challenging for every body and it was fun to move my body in a variety of ways.  I had difficulty walking up stairs two days later, but it was well worth it and just reminded me to stretch.  

Now, three months later, I am fifteen pounds lighter and feeling like I can do anything.  I continue going to boot camp once or twice per week as well as riding my bike and doing Jillian Michaels DVD’s to help me recover and get ready for the next boot camp.    

Boot camp.

Butt kick.

Into gear,

Moving.

Shaking.

Energized.

Encouraged.

Inspired by the right instructor for me.

Finding my feet.

Firmly placed.

With God’s guidance.

 It is only the beginning.  

 

Falling Snow and Fluttering Butterflies

Crisp fresh fallen snow as I step outside.

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Dad has been by her side throughout.

He watched her last breaths.

Dad greets me at mom’s door.

There are beautiful butterflies on the door. (This is hospice’s symbol that the room is not to be disturbed).

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My big cousin by my side.

We step through the door.

Peace enfolds.

Mom is warm and quiet.

She is wearing a shirt with butterflies on it. (I think I need to lie down with all these symbols of snow and butterflies!)

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Her body is at rest.

Death has come to her body.

Thursday, December 26th, 2013 at 7:00am.

Kisses, kisses and more kisses.

I lay my head in her arm in disbelief.

In peace.

I lap up her presence.

I am enveloped by her love.

Tears slide down my cheeks.

My sister arrives.

We walk to the hospice living room.

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We light a butterfly light.

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Place mom’s special card on the mantle.

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M reads Psalm 23.

Dad talks about his sorrow and gratitude.

The boys arrive to an empty room.

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OC says. “Nana with God.”

A red rose is on the counter.

We say our goodbyes.

On the memory Christmas tree we write Nana’s name and we take an angel home for our tree.

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Then we lace up our skates and head out into the outdoors that Nana loved dearly.

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I love you mama!

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