A Simple Gift: Act * AS IF *


Passing forward this Simple Gift to inspire and encourage everyone on their

naturally curious and creative P.L.A.Y. journey. 🙂


Act * AS IF * you are about to receive the greatest gift.

Then remember that being present is always the greatest gift.

We can learn from every experience, every day, if we simply stay present.

Being present provides an opportunity to grow, practice, and P.L.A.Y.

A simple gift to remember this by is:

A – Abundance   vs.   S – Scarcity

I – Inspiration   vs.   F – Fear

🙂   * AS IF *  🙂

Combine this with connecting to nature and now we are really setting ourselves up for success and true P.L.A.Y.!

Time spent in the great outdoors, a few minutes to a few hours, is a natural way to bring you to the present moment especially if you key into your sensory experience.

Tune in to the hum of the bumblebee on a flower or the babbling brook making its way through the rocky path. Rub the scented pine needles between your fingers or inhale the brisk cool air on a winter’s day. Splash about down in the river or balance on a log. Look for snails in the tall meadow grasses or spy stripey rocks down by the water’s edge.

There are truly countless ways to engage and be present as nature always provides abundance and inspiration if you are willing to put aside your thoughts of scarcity and fear and simply be in the moment.

Time to tuck this gift under your thinking cap and get on with your day.

As always it is time to P.L.A.Y.!!!

Sending smiles,

Karen ;0)

❤ ❤ ❤

A Simple Gift: Greetings Celebrity


Passing forward this Simple Gift to inspire and encourage everyone on their naturally curious and creative P.L.A.Y. journey. 🙂


A NEW YEAR – 2020!  TIME TO CELEBRATE!


In an age where social media has created a new definition of celebrity I’d like to expand the idea even further and say that we are all celebrities.

Consider this, if we truly celebrated the presence of everyone we meet throughout our day wouldn’t that mean we would treat each of them as if they were a celebrity?

And if this were true wouldn’t it be a wonderful feeling to know that as you greet people throughout your day: loved ones, friends, neighbors, folks in the grocery store check-out line, and so on that you would be celebrating their existence through your smile, nod, or exchange of kind words? 🙂

Who knew if we simply celebrated our loved ones, everyone, then we would all be celebrities! 

Loving Kindness in the palm of your hand. Love rocks pass it on and celebrate!

Time to gather up your friends & family (celebrities all) and go out and P.L.A.Y. to celebrate this idea a little more!

Sending Smiles,

Karen ;0)

Skyscape Simplicity #17: A Meditative Moment


❤ ❤ ❤


Look skyward

<Breathe In>

<Breathe Out>

Take a moment to watch the clouds roll by . . .

and connect to the calm and beauty of nature that is always there for you.

❤ ❤ ❤

Wishing you much peace & prosperity throughout your P.L.A.Y. days.


❤ ❤ ❤


peace: inner calm

prosperity: good fortune & well-being

A Simple Gift: Childhood Memory Lane


Passing forward this Simple Gift to inspire and encourage everyone on their naturally curious and creative P.L.A.Y. journey. 🙂



Making Memories = Nature + Play + Imagination

All Ages – Any Time!


Your childhood memory lane can be a wonderfully creative place to revisit and P.L.A.Y.

Think of how you enjoyed spending your childhood.

What made those moments sweet for you?

Was it a fresh box of crayons and a new coloring book?

Building mini-forts with blankets and couch cushions?

Bulldozing in the sandbox?

Reaching for the moon on a swing?

Time to revisit some of your magical moments.

Mud pies or sand castles? It is all up to you! 🙂

By spending a little time re-visiting those P.L.A.Y.-filled moments you are actually making space for new ideas to bubble up to the surface and express themselves in your creative adventures.

Curious Capkins in a Castle by the Creek

And yes, I mean truly revisiting them, both indoors and outdoors.

On the next rain or snow day pull the cushions off the couch, take a few sheets or blankets out and set up a fort. Complete the scene with a tea set and this time you can fill it with REAL tea! Now soak up the sounds of rain on the roof or watch the snowflakes float by and let your imagination engage for awhile.

Trust me, this will fill your tank with the simple gift of being present in the moment which leads to more creativity down the road.

Or go visit your childhood memory lane and chase a few fireflies and say hi to the man on the moon or whomever you see up in the sky on a warm summer’s night. Spy a shooting star on a cold winter’s eve as you cuddle up to a campfire with cocoa and marshmallows on hand.

Simply make the time to P.L.A.Y. – you and your creativity will be glad you did. ❤ ❤ ❤

A portion of “my little creative corner” where every day magic meets inspiration with plenty of play through coloring, writing, doodling, combined with the magic of my daily adventures out in nature.

Sending Smiles,

Karen ;0) 🙂

Bonus = Be sure to bring along your favorite kiddo(s) to share in these magical experiences with you! ❤ ❤ ❤

Skyscape Simplicity #16: A Meditative Moment


❤ ❤ ❤


Look skyward

<Breathe In>

<Breathe Out>

Take a moment to watch the clouds roll by . . .

view the ever changing shapes and subtle textures . . .

and connect to the calm and beauty of nature that is always there for you.

❤ ❤ ❤

Wishing you much peace & prosperity throughout your P.L.A.Y. days.


❤ ❤ ❤


peace: inner calm

prosperity: good fortune & well-being

A Simple Gift: Compassion


Passing forward this Simple Gift to inspire and encourage everyone on their

naturally curious and creative P.L.A.Y. journey. 🙂


A Simple Gift: Compassion

Finding the word compass in compassion means you know you are headed in the right direction. 🙂

Both self-compassion and compassion for others require that we simply put forth our ideas and requests and then let them unfold naturally without any attachment to the outcome or direction it may send us.

This can be applied to everyone’s journey: from parenting to corporate work, building a home to homeschooling, creating art to creating a family meal.

If we are able to be in P.L.A.Y. mode more often and simply be present with what is we are more likely to engage from a place of compassion and this will make all the difference in the journey which is the sum of our life experiences.

Joseph Campbell, known for his Hero’s Journey work, summed it up well in this quote from An Open Life

It has something to do with submitting rather than dominating. Surrender, submit. Have faith, trust in the mystery. That’s not easy. Surrendering one’s life to living in, and serving, the beauty of a mysterious world is a big step. . .The purpose of the journey is compassion.

Sending Smiles,

Karen ;0) 🙂

Simple Gift: Moments of Inner Stillness


~~~ BOOK LOOK ~~~


Mindful Movements: Ten Exercises for Well-Being

by Thich Nhat Hanh

A Handful of Quiet: Happiness in Four Pebbles 

 by Thich Nhat Hanh


~ Review & Reflection ~


Are you seeking simple steps to have moments of daily inner stillness?

Is this challenging to envision when life seems to keep you in motion day and night?

Well look no further than these two calming and family friendly books by Thich Nhat Hahn that will help you and your loved ones begin a set of simple mindful practices that can be done anywhere in your day – indoors or outdoors, all together, partnered up, or solo!

I like to begin my day with Mindful Movements: Ten Exercises For Well-Being just as the morning sun begins to peek over the top of the ridge near our home. I am also very much a morning person so be sure to select the best time for you and your loved ones to engage with these simple mindful exercises to get your circulation going and to feel more centered and focused.

<breathe in><breathe out>

The movements Thich Nhat Hahn recommends are gentle and suit most folks. I like to use this as a beginning to my warm-up and typically add either a few more repetitions or a few extra yoga style stretches to feel fully awake. Focusing on the breath throughout this practice truly makes all the difference as you connect to your “aliveness”.

Then later in the afternoon, whether I’m indoors or typically outdoors on my walk, I take a moment to practice the principles of A Handful of Quiet: Happiness in Four Pebbles. I have a true fondness for finding what I call stripey stones down by the river that suit this practice nicely.

I’ve also adapted this practice, in addition to using pebbles, to sometimes using sticks, acorns, leaves, or gathering anything along my walk to then focus on my breath as I hold and release the items back into nature. I take care not to disturb things that are growing and typically select items that have fallen to the ground.

With each nature item I hold in my hand and I practice the in-out breath and connect to what I want to see and be in this world: peace, prosperity, and most of all love. This really creates clarity and gets to the true heart of this practice for me.

And so over time practicing these movements and meditations routinely has become an important part of my P.L.A.Y. path filling my tank with loving kindness towards myself (inward) and setting the intention to share this with everyone I meet (outward). And little by little these simple practices have created an inner stillness that I can connect to again and again, especially when the world seems to be constantly in motion around me.

Wishing you and yours the simple gift of accessing and connecting to your inner stillness throughout the seasons so that you too may find your days filled with peace, prosperity, and most of all love.


~ Recommended P.L.A.Y. ~

  For more inner stillness opportunities visit the Skyscape Simplicity posts HERE.

❤ ❤ ❤

P.L.A.Y. daily and Pass it on!


BOOK LOOK – Free Range Learning by Laura Grace Weldon – Chapter 12 Physical Educ/Health


~~~ BOOK LOOK ~~~

Review & Reflections


Free Range Learning:

How Homeschooling Changes Everything

by Laura Grace Weldon


~Review~


If you were to only have one homeschool, unschooling, life learning book on your shelf this would be my top pick. It is absolutely worth having this volume on your shelf to revisit again and again.

This book encompasses so many of my core beliefs on life learning and how to raise children (and yourself!) in a mindful and wholehearted way that I just had to write a series of reviews covering the chapters in this book and encouraging other folks to try out this lifestyle.

Revisit reviews of previous chapters by clicking on the Category – Homeschooling + Unschooling search tab on the right side of this page or linked HERE.

In Chapter 12 – Physical Education & Health Laura covers more of what some folks would view as the “core required subjects” of homeschooling. She emphasizes how building daily healthy habits for our mind and body will have benefits for a lifetime. Both movement and play as well as what we eat and how we rest all lead to how we experience our lives.

Be sure to try out the wide variety of options Laura offers with both activities and resources and see my reflections below on our own families lived experience and resources we used on our journey.


~Reflections~


Move More, P.L.A.Y. More, Get Outdoors, and Oh So Much More!

Our work as life learners is to engage with topics of interest, explore curiosities, and quite simply build a life of purpose and meaning through our daily adventures and this includes being active and healthy.

A Healthy Outdoor “Fall Leaf Pile Fly + Flop” Family Moment 11/2009

Healthy Activities –Here is a sample of healthy activities that our kiddos participated in over the years:

  • archery
  • biking
  • dancing
  • gardening
  • hiking
  • hip hop
  • horseback
  • ice skating
  • jogging
  • outdoor games at local park (w/shout out to our favorite Trevor the Games Man!)
  • raising goats
  • roller blading
  • running 3K races
  • soccer
  • skiing
  • sledding
  • singing
  • swim & gym
  • weight lifting

These activities were done in a mix of solo moments or in multi-age homeschool group gatherings or with the public at large.

Costs were kept down by borrowing or purchasing used equipment, approaching businesses to host homeschool sessions during slow daytime (school) hours at a lower price, and simply being selective with our activities so that many of them were cost free = just your time!

And the bonus benefit was so many of these involved time spent in nature – walking, photographing, sketching, playing, wandering, hiking, gardening, painting, sledding, laughing, engaging, listening, etc. = P.L.A.Y.-ing

Healthy Eating – Eating 3 or more times a day makes this an important relationship and connection for each person to figure out. How your body feels, fueled vs. fatigued, is directly related to physical activity and eating habits. As a homeschool family we had the opportunity to model what nourishes our bodies and learn together over time how to improve what we consumed to fuel and fulfill us daily. Over the years we have had many discussions on what we want to eat and why. The kiddos have been actively involved in the grocery trips and weekly CSA farm trips to pick our foods for over nearly 20 years – a skill for a lifetime of choices ahead. And with medical situations as a prompt we shifted together to a plant based diet, attended a conference as a family to learn more about this lifestyle, and over time we have stayed mostly plant based reaping the benefits and still having the flexibility for individuals to make adjustments to meet their own health needs.

And although both of my grown kiddos would say that our hours spent picking blueberries, strawberries, apples, and veggies at our local CSAs to fill our pantry and freezer were not always their favorite outdoor moments they do both value fresh local foods and love to consume them.

Healthy Body Awareness –  When it comes time for the conversations about the “birds & bees” I have three things to say:

  1. Look no further – go directly to the library, book store, or the link below and get the series by Robie H. Harris as the perfect story time and conversation launching point for all your healthy body awareness conversations at all ages and stages. We used these books together, one-on-one, and solo and have recommended them to families with kiddos ever since. She begins at age 4 with It’s Not the Stork! so it is never too early to get a copy and take a look to familiarize yourself with what is ahead!
  2. Be honest, be brave, have the courage to say I need to get back to you on that so you have time to think through your answers, and ALWAYS take your kiddos cues for how much information they are ready for by the questions they are asking. Too much information overloads the circuits and can get lost or misunderstood. Too little information may lead them to asking questions from other sources that provide myths or misinformation. Be present and be willing to revisit these topics again and again as your kiddos are trusting you to help guide their understanding of healthy body awareness. FYI -shaming is never welcome, especially to these talks as there is no such thing as a bad question and your kiddos curiosity is what will fuel healthy conversations and keep them coming back to learn more if they feel it is a safe space.
  3. We had the good fortune of also having some brave and compassionate parents in our homeschool co-op that were willing to take on the role of having challenging conversations with open and honest answers while teens explored these topics even further in safe and informed spaces.

Healthy Sense of Self & Relationships- Anxiety, stress, depression, have all become common everyday occurrences, especially for this technology driven generation. It is up to us as parents to model and help our kiddos have an awareness of coping strategies and building resilience. Three sources have helped inform how we have “raised” ourselves and our kiddos:

  1. Becoming familiar with the 24 Character Strengths & Values created by Martin Seligman and Christopher Peterson who are pioneers in the field of Positive Psychology. Visit the Values in Action website so you and your family can take a survey and see which are your strengths and how you lead with them everyday. This is a game changer for making long lasting connected relationships.
  2. Wholehearted Living – The work of Brene Brown on shame and vulnerability and her sharing of it in her multiple books has made all the difference in how I am as a parent, partner, daughter, friend, and in all of my relationships and has rippled out to my family, community, and beyond. If you only have the chance to read one of her books I’d say her latest, Dare to Lead: Brave Work. Tough Conversations. Whole Hearts has all the basics for how to create trusting and vulnerable relationships while holding healthy boundaries = wholehearted living. I will be doing a separate BOOK LOOK series in the future to cover her amazing and necessary work.
  3. Conflict Resolution, Sociocracy, Compassionate Communication are all models that we have had experience with together as a family in our various homeschool co-ops and in our intentional community. What we have found over the years is that there are many great strategies and guide posts that are woven throughout these models and it takes time, trial and error, to figure out what works best for you, your family, and the communities you engage with over time. They all require effort and doing the hard homework and plenty of practice AND are all worth looking into and discovering what is a good fit for your healthy lifestyle.

Chapter 13 in this series can be found HERE.

As always, compliment this reading with the authors and resources listed below.

Visit and support your local library and request these books!


~ Recommended Authors + Resources ~


Robie H. Harris –

It’s Not the Stork!: A Book About Girls, Boys, Babies, Bodies, Families and Friends (age 4 and up)

It’s So Amazing!: A Book About Eggs, Sperm, Birth, Babies, and Families (age 7 and up)

Brene Brown –

 

Dare to Lead: Brave Work. Tough Conversations. Whole Hearts.Ryan Niemiec & Robert McGrath –

 

The Power of Character Strengths: Appreciate and Ignite Your Positive Personality

Marshall Rosenberg –

Nonviolent Communication: A Language for Life

Online – How to videos – Dance, Yoga, Tai Chi, Archery, Aerobics, Weight Lifting, etc.


Purchase Here – P.L.A.Y. Nature Alliteration Adventure Guide Books

and join the P.L.A.Y.-filled journey today!


 

Skyscape Simplicity #8: A Meditative Moment


❤ ❤ ❤


Look skyward

<Breathe In>

<Breathe Out>

Take a moment to watch the clouds roll by . . .

and connect to the calm and beauty of nature that is always there for you.

Wishing you much peace & prosperity throughout your P.L.A.Y. days.


❤ ❤ ❤


peace: inner calm

prosperity: good fortune & well-being

BOOK LOOK – Free Range Learning by Laura Grace Weldon – Chapter 11 Math


~~~ BOOK LOOK ~~~

Review & Reflections


Free Range Learning:

How Homeschooling Changes Everything

by Laura Grace Weldon


~Review~


If you were to only have one homeschool, unschooling, life learning book on your shelf this would be my top pick. It is absolutely worth having this volume on your shelf to revisit again and again.

This book encompasses so many of my core beliefs on life learning and how to raise children (and yourself!) in a mindful and wholehearted way that I just had to write a series of reviews covering the chapters in this book and encouraging other folks to try out this lifestyle.

Revisit reviews of previous chapters by clicking on the Category – Homeschooling + Unschooling search tab on the right side of this page or linked HERE.

In Chapter 11 – Math, Business & Critical Thinking Laura covers more of what some folks would view as the “academic subjects” of homeschooling. She clearly states “Math is Everywhere” and so are the opportunities for engaging with it. Pretty much all that you do can be easily connected to mathematical concepts in some way and she therefore encourages you to simply engage in a wide variety of every day moments with critical thinking, logic, and other concepts applied naturally.

Be sure to try out the wide variety of options Laura offers with both activities and resources and see my reflections below on our own families lived experience and resources we used on our journey.


~Reflections~


 Focusing on the “Math”of Play, Curiosity, and Our Very Nature

Our work as life learners is to engage with topics of interest, explore curiosities, and quite simply build a life of purpose and meaning through our daily adventures. Connecting to math and using our critical thinking muscle takes on a variety of looks as we each come to it from quite a variety of angles.

Giving family members the space to explore mathematical concepts in their own way has made all the difference in our relationships and their relationship to math.

Up until the age of 7 the kiddos simply encountered math naturally in their daily lives. Working in the kitchen with mom, telling time to know when we leave for a friends house or how much more time they had in a favorite activity, counting coins they received from the grandparents, figuring out what a half of a half was so that a family of four could split dessert evenly, and so many other routine moments where math arrived naturally.

Then as they got a bit older we introduced a few things to provide further exposure to the basic concepts of + – x / and eventually fractions and decimals <see resources listed below>. From the ages of 7-12 they had the opportunity to sit with one of their parents, grandparents, their sibling, or work solo to noodle through various problem/solution exercises progressing at their own pace. There were never tests, they always had the answer keys available to use as a reference, and they each made choices in how to go about this work.

Pressure and rushing were never a part of the equation for math or any other topic for that did not match our family’s vision for learning or our lifestyle. I had already learned long ago in my teaching career that everyone learns in their own time and way even in a system that says you must know something by a certain age.

So you might ask, “were your kids ever frustrated or upset with learning math? how did you handle it? or was it simple and smooth?” Well as parents we probably already know the answer to this. The odds of this process being smooth and simple are not likely, although possible for some. I have always said my kiddos are like night and day in so many ways and it was no different in this arena. Math came easily to one kiddo and yet they often challenged the way in which it was presented. My other kiddo very early on said simply ” I don’t do math”.

We had our moments in which I had to practice patience while explaining again “why” we needed to have some basic math skills and it was necessary, in time, to learn the basics to apply to future endeavors in life. There were tears at times, both theirs and mine, as we did the dance of connection and disconnection provided by math moments. However, some of the greatest gifts on this P.L.A.Y. journey were how we handled ourselves which more often built trust vs. breaking it down. Respecting each individuals learning path and the methods that worked best for them provided daily opportunities to lean into trust and having faith that each kiddo knew their true needs and I was simply there as a guide. Communication and listening were key. They taught me more than I ever taught them. A true gift.

Navigating “MATH” with your child may feel like a challenging labyrinth over the years however follow their lead and trust it will eventually unfold naturally.

And so what is their relationship to math today as they have both feet planted in the adult world? Well the artistic kiddo never felt comfortable with math as it is customarily taught and presented in a linear fashion. And yet they have found their way navigating through “math moments” because they are motivated by their passion pursuits. Does it come easily to them? They don’t seem to think so. Do they manage well enough and know when to ask for assistance? Absolutely, just as I ask for techie help with my computer or someone might ask a neighbor for handyman help. And for the kiddo that the mathematical answers came easy, well we often encounter routine household moments in which a question comes up, they generate an answer, and I will be amazed at how they arrived at it. The way in which they see and process the equation is vastly different from what I know and yet they arrive at the same place or more often are arriving at the answer that escapes me. We are all wonderfully different learners and we all make our way, independently and interdependently.

And what is their relationship to me after traveling this “math path” together? With compassion, communication, and our relationship always foremost on my mind throughout the two decades of homeschooling/unschooling I have gratitude that the homework has payed off and our adult parent/kiddo relationships are still filled with trust and continue to build and be maintained every day.

THE Best Math Equation I Know to Be True:

Compassion + Communication = Building Connection + Trust

Be kind to yourself, be kind to your kiddos. The answers will come, in their own time and own way, both math kind and so much more.

Chapter 12 in this series can be found HERE.

As always, compliment this reading with the authors and resources listed below.

Be sure to support your local library and request these books!


~ Recommended Authors + Resources ~


Math-U-See is an online and product based program originally designed with homeschoolers in mind by Steve Demme & Family that we used at times with the kiddos when they were ages 7-12. [Note: We used the book series over 10+years ago and can not speak for the online version.

Steve SlavinAll the Math You’ll Ever Need: A Self-Teaching Guide

 

DK Math Workbooks – optional inexpensive consumable offering for the early years

 

Cindy Neuschwander -Sir Cumference and the Dragon of Pi: A Math Adventure (engaging picture book series)

 

Scholastic Series – Everything You Need to Know About MATH Homework

Khan Academy free online classes for all levels of mathematics, business, and critical thinking (for the whole family) especially as you get into the higher level math courses. [Note: We only dipped a toe into these however, we have heard of many other homeschoolers who enjoyed access to these online classes.]


Purchase Here – P.L.A.Y. Nature Alliteration Adventure Guide Books

and join the play-filled journey today!