Long-Term RV Travel Mistakes

Long-Term RV Travel Mistakes: What We’d do Differently

 

During our wonderful year of RV travel with kids, we did lots of things right, but we also made some mistakes that we wish we’d thought about before we left. Here are some of the things we’ll do differently if we long-term travel with our kids again.

Continue reading “Long-Term RV Travel Mistakes”

How to Be a Good Listener

How to Be a Good Listener: Developing Positive Communication Skills

I’m a talker. Sometimes, I talk too much. But over the course of many years and many mishaps, I have finally learned how to be a good listener. I still talk too much, and sometimes I still mess up (a we all do). But I try to truly listen when I’m having a conversation, and to consider someone’s points before responding. This is important in every day conversation, but it’s even more important when conflict is involved.

Continue reading “How to Be a Good Listener”

How to make Brazilian Rice

Delicious Brazilian Rice Is Good Any Time

A staple of my childhood was rice and beans. I’m sometimes asked about traditional Brazilian foods. While the national dish is feijoada, it’s not something most people eat every single day. Rice and beans, however, make an appearance at almost every lunch and dinner.

Brazilian rice is much different than the rice most Canadians experience in Chinese or Japanese dishes, and I figured today I’d teach you how to make it. But first, a quick tidbit about why I eat a lot of rice even though I grew up eating foods that aren’t necessarily Brazilian.

Continue reading “How to make Brazilian Rice”

Why I no longer follow the Ontario Curriculum

Saying goodbye to the Ontario Curriculum

 

A year of road travel will teach you to be less rigid in your scheduling. I’ve always thought that I’m a pretty laid back person, not really prone to anxiety over small things, and that I’m flexible with my planning. While that’s all very true, I also came to the realization in the last year or so that I was way too attached to one way of doing things when it came to education. Which is ironic, since I’m a fairly eclectic homeschooling parent. But the teacher in me was still hanging on the the Ontario curriculum.

Continue reading “Why I no longer follow the Ontario Curriculum”

Hands Off Our Elephants

Help Keep Hands Off Our Elephants

Ever since coming home from our adventure, it’s been hard to motivate myself to write much about travel on the blog. To be sure, I’m working on compiling our experiences into a travel memoir, but writing about travel here is a whole other thing.

Motivation has been lacking, but when a fellow Simbian asked me to write a post about the plight of elephants on the African continent, I figured it was time to revive my travel section. Hands Off Our Elephants is a worthy Kenyan campaign that needs to be discussed more. So here we are. I love these beautiful animals, and I want them to live on forever. Fortunately, despite the dangers they face, there are things we can do to ensure their survival.

 

Hands Off Our Elephants! Ethical Elephant Tourism in Kenya, www.marianamcdougall.com

Gentle Giants

Elephants are beautiful, intelligent and gentle giants who are still, unfortunately, hunted for their tusks. Although elephant hunting and the ivory trade has been banned in Kenya since 1973, the illegal trade continues—and is thriving. Hands Off our Elephants, however, has helped to significantly decrease this illegal activity, educate the public, and build community around protecting Kenya’s gorgeous wildlife. Hands Off Our Elephants is one of many campaigns by Wildlife Direct, a Kenyan charitable organization that’s focused on protecting Kenyan’s wildlife species—especially vulnerable ones.

Other worthy organizations help elephants too. There are great rehabilitation centers that take in orphaned elephants and nurse them back to health, then re-introduce them to the wild when they’re ready. Such centers often welcome tourists, but in a way that’s easier on the elephants than most other elephant tourism.

Choose Your Elephant Tourism Wisely

Elephant tourism is huge, and seeing these giants is appealing to many travellers. Unfortunately, elephant tourism is often detrimental to the animals. If you know anything about elephants, you probably already know that riding them is a terrible idea… but did you know that safaris aren’t always the best idea either? Large groups of tourists intruding in herds’ spaces can change elephants’ behaviours and make them more aggressive toward other members of the herd. So if you can’t ride an elephant and you can’t go on safari, how can you enjoy the elephants?

If you want to observe these beautiful animals while also helping the efforts to keep “hands off our elephants,” a good option is visiting a rehabilitation center, where orphaned elephants are cared for with great love and where your cash goes towards helping—not hurting—these beautiful creatures. In some rehabilitation centers, in addition to seeing baby elephants up close, you could also adopt an elephant, which helps with costs associated with caring for these large animals. The best part? If a trip to Kenya isn’t in your budget yet, you can still adopt one of these beautiful animals from the comfort of your armchair by sending a donation electronically, and still make a difference.

Help Spread the Word to Keep Hands Off Our Elephants

Unfortunately, there are many people who don’t know the plight of elephants, and you probably know someone who dreams of riding one or seeing one up close in the wild. If you hear these conversations, help spread the word that the best way to preserve these animals is to leave them alone, and donate to the organizations who work tirelessly to stop poaching and to give orphaned animals the best start in life. Don’t be afraid to speak up, and please feel free to share this post far and wide to help spread the word about keeping elephants safe.

 

 

New Year’s Resolutions? Here’s Some Help

New Year’s Resolutions & Managing Expectations

 

New Year's Resolutions? Achieve your goals in 2020. Photo of beach and palm trees in background. Photo by Matthew Brodeur on Unsplash

 

 

 

New Year’s celebrations have come and gone, and for many people, new year’s resolutions are already failing or the wagon is getting harder to stay on. Not to worry! We have everything you need to make 2020 your best year yet. Here are some tips to stay healthy and happy this year. Want more? Sign up for the mailing list for full access to our free resource library, which has self-development tools and more. In the meantime, read on for some tips on how to get a better start to 2020.

1. Stop worrying about what others expect

Many new year’s resolutions fail because we make them based on external motivation: what others think of us, what we think we “should” be doing to fulfill some external source of validation. When we don’t truly believe in a path, it becomes much harder to follow it.

Make this the year that you listen to your own heart and follow the path that’s right for you, even if that’s completely out-of-the-box and outside the realm of what those around you consider “normal.” Remember, there’s no such thing as normal, and what’s right for those in your circle may not be right for you. If those in your circle can’t support you in your different choices, it may be time to find another circle.

2. Give yourself some time

As much as I’m a huge believer in SMART goals, I also think some times we can’t see the forest for the trees when we concentrate too much on the details. We often worry too much about the end results and forget about the progress we make, little by little, each day.

We are not broken if we don’t achieve everything we’ve set out to achieve in the first few months of the year. We are not broken if we fall off the wagon. All we have to do is start fresh the next day and get back on again. You are not a failure if you fail. You are a failure if you stop trying. So fail. Fail well. Keep failing. Keep trying.

No one achieves great things the first time trying them, so give yourself some time to achieve your goals. And perhaps start with a broad goal, and move on to SMART goals once you’re a little more ready to take things in a detailed approach. For me, this looks like this: I know I need to lose weight. But I’m never going to achieve that goal if I don’t first learn to love and respect my body just the way it is, right now. So I’m giving myself some grace to achieve that broad goal first. I’m taking it step by step to learn how.

3. Practice gratitude

Practicing gratitude is something that most of us think we do. I thought I did it myself; I have much to be grateful for. I was given a second chance at life by being welcomed into a country where I had a future. I have a roof over my head, food on my plate, and clean water in my glass. I have a husband and children who love me. I enjoy the right to educate my children in the way I see fit, and I’m privileged to be able to homeschool them. I’m deeply thankful for all these things every day, and I don’t take it for granted. Yet, I’m not always grateful.

I believe being thankful for your life and being in a state of gratitude are two different things. I think when we are in a state of gratitude, that state informs our actions. I think it’s a lot harder to be angry or annoyed if your first reaction to everything is to remember gratitude.

If I’m starting to feel annoyed that the line in the store is taking too long, I can remember that I’m in line at the store because I have enough funds to buy nutritious food. If I’m starting to get impatient with my children, I can remember my gratitude for having them in my life. If I’m starting to get the blues about no longer being on the road (which everything in me tells me is my real home), I can be grateful for the stable life my children can lead and for the things stationary life provides.

Being grateful isn’t always easy, but practicing gratitude can make the rest of life easier. So practice. Practice daily. Take nothing for granted. Write down what you’re grateful for when you wake up in the morning. Let that gratitude guide you for the rest of the day.

4. Laser focus, little by little

We’re too distracted by our to-do lists. I know I am. And for those with ADHD or other attention problems, these distractions are even higher. Often, we want to do too much, too fast. I know I often fill my plate too much, and then get frustrated that I can’t accomplish all I set out to do. 

So this year, let’s take one thing at a time. Just as we need to give ourselves time to accomplish our goals and desires, we also need to give each goal and desire its own time. Stop trying to do everything at once. As much as multitasking is a way of life in the modern world, we can still take pause to focus on one goal and one small step at a time. 

I know I want to drop some weight, focus on slowing down the progression of my chronic illnesses, spend lots of time with my children, read more, draw more, write more, kiss my husband every day, meal prep, eat healthier, play more games, get together with friends more often… the list goes on and on. But it’s not humanly possible to do all those things at once, and perfect life balance is a myth. So take one thing at a time.

Choose one goal a week, one goal a month, even. Concentrate on that for a while, and put the others aside. As long as everyone’s fed and alive, the other things can wait a while. We don’t need to achieve “success” (whatever that means) in our 20s, 30s, 40s, or 50s, even. We need to do what needs to be done and concentrate on little goals, one step at a time, or we’ll drive ourselves crazy trying to accomplish too much, and feeling like we’re failing all the time.

5. Celebrate everything

I’m as much a critic of “everyone gets a trophy” as the next cynic, but there’s power in celebration. Patting yourself on the back for a job well done can encourage you to keep trying (and keep failing, and keep trying).

This might resonate with other moms, especially homeschooling moms: some days, all I can do is make sure the kids stay alive and that I have a shower. And you know what? That’s an accomplishment. In a busy day of teaching school, prepping meals, and keeping the house in somewhat decent order, I’ve often done the job of 3-5 people, all while getting paid with hugs and kisses, which, while emotionally valuable, don’t pay for my hobbies or extra wants. I was able to do something, however little it may look in the eyes of a society that defines us by how much money we earn.

So, celebrate. Celebrate the small things. Whether it’s with a reverse checklist to show yourself what you’ve accomplished, or with 10 minutes to play with stickers or work on a hobby, or a 5-minute time out for self-massage, or simply a self-pep talk to tell you that you’re killing it, give yourself the time to recognize that while it may not feel like much, it really is. Especially if you’re a person dealing with chronic illness, every little accomplishment matters.

6. Help yourself to free resources to make things easier

The Internet is full of free resources to help you do just about anything. In the age of information, the amount of resources at our disposal can feel overwhelming. So remember to take one thing at a time, evaluate resources based on whether they’re useful to you, and move on if they’re not.

Our FREE resource library has lots of helpful things to help you learn to love your body, get healthier, get organized, accomplish goals and more. Join us in making 2020 the year you make yourself a priority.

 

 

Happy New Year, and may this be the year you love yourself just the way you are, while learning and growing each day.

 

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.

Continue reading “Weekly Review: Gratitude, Books, and Taking a Break”