Weekly Review: Gratitude, Books, and Taking a Break

Week In Review: Children’s Books, Gratitude, and a Taking a Break from Writing

We’ve had a lovely week with a lot to be grateful for, a lot to pray for, and a lot of soul searching about what will happen in the fall.

This past week has been a bit of a whirlwind, and I expect the next couple of weeks will be no different. As we prepare to move back into our home in Kingston, we’re trying to visit with family and friends before the packing frenzy begins. We don’t have a lot to pack as we have no furniture, but we do still have clothes, books, kitchenware, etc., so it’ll be good to leave the last few days we have in London for packing rather than visiting.

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Free Homeschooling Resources: The Ultimate List

The Ultimate List of Free Homeschooling Resources

Homeschooling can get pretty expensive when you get excited about all kinds of curriculum and when you add in all the extra-curriculars that homeschoolers love to participate in. But homeschooling doesn’t have to break the bank. In the age of information, resources are abundant, and you can learn almost anything online for free.

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Almost “home” in Kingston, ON

Thinking of “home”—Kingston, ON

Even though we’re not travelling anymore, we aren’t really home, either. In a way, our trip isn’t exactly over, as we haven’t returned to our regular residence. We are stationary in London, ON for the time being, until our apartment lease here is over, the tenant is out of our house in Kingston, and Dan takes his permanent post at the Kingston branch of the company that hired him in May.

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My Weight Loss Journey: The Tools I’m Using

My weight loss journey involves more than nutrition and exercise

As I embark on my journey to lose 40 lbs and hopefully help alleviate some of my arthritis pain, I’m using a few tools I thought I’d share with you.

First and foremost, I’ve accepted and confessed to myself that my number one problem is using food as a coping mechanism. So while I’m increasing my physical activity and decreasing my caloric intake, I’m also working on the psychological part: finding different ways to deal with stress, anxiety, and depression. So the tools I’m using address mental health, exercise, and nutrition.

Tools for Weight Loss: Mental Health

A long time ago, I started reading the book Mind Over Mood, and at the time, it seemed helpful. I then abandoned the book for various reasons. I’m starting to read the book again, and I believe it will help me in finding healthier ways to cope with difficult situations and time periods. So Mind Over Mood is tool #1 for the mental health part of my weight loss journey.

Tool #2 also addresses emotional needs: I’ll be making a point of journalling for a minimum of 5 minutes a day. Writing is my escape, and it has helped me since I was a small child. Writing can be really therapeutical, so I’m going to prioritize those 5 minutes during my day.

Tools for Weight Loss: Exercise

The hardest part of adopting an exercise routine for me isn’t about the physical aspect—it’s about the emotional one. I worked for eight years as a Kinesiologist specializing in exercise for people with chronic illnesses. I know exactly what I have to do to adapt workouts so I can do them without creating further damage to my unstable joints… but it’s so hard to accept that this is what I have to do.

It’s hard to go from doing triathlons to calling a half-hour walk (while wearing braces) a workout. So I suppose the exercise portion of my weight loss plan is also emotional. I’ve finally accepted that I can’t work out like I used to (at least not right away, anyway). So I started with a simple goal: walk for 30 minutes 3 days per week for the first week.

I’m happy to say I’ve surpassed that goal and was able to walk for 30 minutes all 7 days last week. I also did all my physiotherapy exercises every day last week. The plan going forward is to add 5 minutes to the walk each week, until I’m walking for a solid hour, as long as my body can take it. I might also alternate some bike rides in there if I feel like it.

The only physical tool I’m using for my exercise, for now, is a physiotherapy band and stress balls for my physio.

The tools I'm using for my weight loss journey

Tools for Weight Loss: Nutrition

Now for the nutrition part. Firstly, let me say this: there are always people trying to tell me that I need to give up this or that nutrient to “cure” my chronic illnesses and/or to lose weight. This is one of the main reasons I don’t often talk or write about my chronic illnesses, and one of the reasons I left the fitness industry. Too many “experts.”

So let me clear from the get-go: when I get comments about what I should or shouldn’t eat, what exercise regimen I should adopt, or any other medical advice from non-medical professionals, I’m simply not going to answer those comments.

I’m a former Registered Kinesiologist and my sister is a Dietitian. I know good nutrition information when I see it (and it generally doesn’t come from lay people with no formal training).

There is a tonne of misinformation out there about how nutrition works, and the constant barrage of people telling professionals that they know more about nutrition and exercise than the professionals do (because they’ve read the “latest research”—usually on a blog) gets really tiring, really fast. <end rant.>

So, moving on. Despite what the credential-less “experts” have to say, weight loss, while a complex issue, comes down to one thing in the end: calories in, calories out. You burn more calories than you take in, you lose weight. Do the opposite, and you gain. Take in the same amount as you burn, and you maintain. It’s that simple. And it’s that hard.

While I know that counting calories is what every single weight loss plan is based on (despite the lies marketers tell you), I find it cumbersome and tiresome to try and calculate calories all the time. So I’m using a tool to do the job for me. Eatthismuch.com is a great website where you can enter your goals and how many meals you’d like to have in a day. It then gives you how many calories you need to reach your goals, and generates a meal plan with the exact calories you need. You can change things around and do all sorts of neat things with it, too. I’ll be using this website as I plan my meals for the weeks ahead.

If anyone’s wondering, I won’t be following a particular diet or restricting any particular foods. I’m simply going to eat the amount of calories I need to try to reach my goal by the end of December—which is a reasonable amount of time to lose the amount of weight I’ve set as a goal.

The only restrictions I’ll have are not eating meat, because that’s something I already do (not for weight loss, but for other reasons), and I might take cheese completely out, because I have no discipline around it (and because it gives me gas!) Otherwise, I’m eating normal food—yes, including sugar and carbs.

You can lose weight eating anything, as long as your caloric output is greater than your input. I don’t recommend a diet of Twinkies and Doritos, but the fact that you can lose weight on that diet emphasizes my point.

If you’re curious, I’ll mostly be eating vegetables, eggs, hummus, fish and yes, some bread will be included, too. And yes, there will be sugar in my tea, but not a lot of it—and I won’t be drinking tea every day.

I’ll check in about how my weight loss journey is going each Sunday during my Weekly Review. And no, I don’t need nutrition and exercise advice. If I do, I’ll go to a professional in the field of nutrition or human movement.

If you’d like to read some of my thoughts on weight loss, you can read this LifeHacker article, where I was quoted as an expert back when I was a personal trainer. You can also read some of my weight loss tips here.


RVing Families You Should Follow

When we’re not going on bicycle adventures or travelling long-term in an RV with our kiddos, we like to be inspired to go on other trips. Travel is a way of life for us, not just something we do on vacation days.

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Everyone is responsible for their own feelings.

When we tell everyone that they’re “responsible for their own feelings,” we lose something we need desperately in our world: compassion.

I see it time and time again when someone mentions being triggered, or when someone has a hard time dealing with a confrontation. There’s always that one person (or several people) proclaiming, “no one controls your feelings but you.” Or “You’re responsible for your own feelings.” Or they quote Eleanor Roosevelt, “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.”  And while all that might be true, it ignores one very important factor: the aggressor is responsible for the actions they take, too. And they’re responsible for the consequences of those actions.

Yes, you have some responsibility for how you make people feel.

There have been a couple of times in my life when I was going through a terribly difficult time, and along came the straw that broke the camel’s back. You don’t know what people are going through, and you don’t know if you’re going to be that straw for someone. So treat people with kindness.

True, you don’t have control over other people’s feelings, and you can’t live your life stepping on eggshells in fear of setting someone off. However, that doesn’t give you license to demean others, call them names, and tell them to just deal with the feelings you’re causing. Yes, you do have partial responsibility for how you make people feel. And you should act accordingly.


"You're Responsible for Your Own Feelings." But where does compassion come in? www.marianamcdougall.com. In an age of "me first," we need to take responsibility for how we make others feel. BackgPhoto by Rémi Walle on Unsplashround


So the next time you feel inclined to tell someone “you’re responsible for your own feelings,” think back to what you have said to that person or what might have been said to them. Consider the history you might not be aware of—how this person might still be working really hard at healing from an abusive relationship. How this person might have a loved one on their deathbed and is especially vulnerable in this moment. How this person needs compassion and unconditional love desperately, and how all you’re giving them is disdain.

Consider how your own self-development journey into being someone who isn’t affected by “triggers” might be playing out for the people around you. It’s great to be strong and “trigger-proof,” but if that makes you someone without compassion and without love for others, was it worth it? Consider that perhaps not everyone is as strong as you. That everyone experiences things differently and is at a different point in their journey. That in the time it takes for you to say, “only you can manage your feelings,” that person may be having physical symptoms from an anxiety disorder, and you’re exacerbating those symptoms with your lack of compassion. And that’s just one example.

Stop judging others for their reaction to events and start offering a listening ear, a “walk a mile in their shoes” attitude, and learn that your way of dealing with things doesn’t have to and never will be everyone’s way.

And most importantly, remember this: people won’t always remember how emotionally strong you were, but they will always remember how you made them feel. Want to leave your mark on this world? Stop belittling those who are still healing from emotional upheaveal and are struggling to not let things affect them. Want to leave your mark on this world? Let people remember that you made them feel wonderful. Want to leave your mark on this world? Be kind. 

Homeschooling Planning Resources

Homeschooling Planning for flexible homeschoolers

I’m starting my homeschooling planning for September. While I see the appeal and benefit of unschooling, it’s not the right choice for our family, for a variety of reasons, so we do have some planning involved in our school life.

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