Nature Journaling & Adventure-Based Learning

I thought I'd give you a peek into our homeschooling life by sharing intermittent posts on various ways we're learning. Hopefully this post will interest those who journal or would like to journal, and those who homeschool. For those who are new to Live Art.fully, I homeschool our two daughters who have recently turned ten and seven years old. 

Yesterday dawned sunny again in the Pacific Northwest (it's been beautiful lately, an uncharacteristically warm and dry winter). I had a bee in my bonnet to take my girls out on an adventure. We've been doing this lately and I'm loving it. We pack a jacket, mittens, simple lunch (cheese sandwiches, water bottles, and yogurt, for example), sketch books and paints, and off we go somewhere fabulous. 

This is our fourth year learning at home and I feel like this year we've turned a corner in terms of finding our niche. I'm learning how my girls learn best, and what makes and keeps me inspired. I've found new ways to prevent burn-out for all of us, and how to use my creativity to make learning fun. 

Yesterday we took our sketchbooks to a nearby nature trail. We ate our picnic of bread and cheese, blueberries, juice, and cookies at a picnic table under a sky my 7 year-old described as "neon blue." My 10 year-old disagreed with her sister, stating that it was not neon, just blue. Little sister explained that it was neon if you were wearing sunglasses.

After munching our picnic, the girls ran off nearby to explore and I set to work in my journal after finding a few nature treasures to sketch. Given the time of year, it took a bit more looking and creativity than it might in other seasons. There were no birds, butterflies, eggs, nests, feathers, or flowers.

Sketching under neon blue sky, with warm sun and still-crisp January air, it was quite easy to feel inspired. The girls chattered about how much fun they were having and even toyed with skipping ballet class, in favor of extending our nature time, but in the end we packed it up and delivered our dancer to the studio.

Something I've noticed about our nature-based learning adventures is that they leave us invigorated and curious to know more. Post ballet, we hit the library to look for books on nature journaling, and keeping a nature/field sketchbook. I found a great children's book on John James Audubon, The Boy Who Drew Birds

Nature journaling is a new form of journaling for me, and something I'm planning to incorporate into our outdoor learning adventures & field trips in the coming months. I'm excited to get these little watercolor sketches into my journal, and to see my girls document what they're observing in the natural world. What better way to slow down long enough to truly see?


Introducing.... My Word of Intention 2014

"If I have the belief that I can do it, I shall surely acquire the capacity to do it even if I may not have the capacity at the beginning."
 {Mahatma Ghandi}

I've been thinking about my word for this year for probably six weeks, and it's been one of the main things on my mind recently. To be honest, where RECLAIM arrived whole and perfect last year, this year's word plagued me. Starting about last summer a word had fluttered into my life and landed... and that word, OVERCOME, was one that almost became my word this year. But I just wasn't quite certain. Another word almost made it: CLIMB. A word that would represent the daily journey of struggling, effort, perseverance, and the beauty waiting when we don't give up. 

But it wasn't as pretty a word as I wanted. And though it represented, for me personally, an intangible mental process I take on every day, I knew that by itself, it wasn't as self-explanatory as I might want.

"As is our confidence, so is our capacity." {William Hazlitt}

And then yesterday, when I was still engaged in the wrestling process of words, this word came to me...


"Strength does not come from physical capacity. It comes from an indomitable will." {Mahatma Ghandi}

CAPACITY excited me, inspired me, and empowered me, and it did so on a day I am struggling with bronchitis/pneumonia. That was a litmus test for me -- as physical struggle is a regular part of my life, I need a word that will push and carry and comfort me on the bad days as well as the days that I feel I am capable on my own.

CAPACITY. To sum it up in five words, to me it means "I have what it takes."

It represents the infinite ability within us all -- to love, to be loved, to imagine and create, to build and invent, to grow, change, achieve, and yes, OVERCOME obstacles.

In the daily climb, CAPACITY is the mental fortitude to press on when legs throb. It is mind over matter. It is being Brave Enough. It is Doing it Anyway.

"The ultimate creative capacity of the brain may be, for all practical purposes, infinite." {George Leonard}

But I also needed a word that could mean finite. That wouldn't feel bossy when I needed the ability to be gracious with myself. When I need to rest more than press on. 

CAPACITY: maxed out. 

In these instances, CAPACITY will serve to remind me that while I may not have the physical capacity today, I will have it another day. 

I'm excited to see what CAPACITY and I can do together this year. Some of the specific things I want to be intentional about this year are using my words more. I didn't read or write much at all in 2013, and as a writer who was first a voracious reader, that doesn't speak well to me being my best self, on a soul level. I want to use my words to inspire and encourage people. I want my words to elevate and uplift, not to harm.

I see the capacity in YOU and I hope you let your potential take you places this year!

"You are beautiful. Your beauty, just like your capacity for life, happiness, and success, is immeasurable." {Steve Maraboli}

What is YOUR word this year?

She Chose to Be Brave, Take Risks.... Fly!

I created this art journaling spread to commemorate a risk I took. I wanted to remind myself that sometimes change is not just good, but necessary, that sometimes there are great things waiting on the other side of courage.

What I've learned is that sometimes it takes risking your life to save your life. 

Have you ever taken a risk that proved to be invaluable?
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