This is about having the courage in life to be authentic and create sustainability.
What does it mean to have courage? To be truly courageous? How can I step out of my comfort zone and make a difference in my life? Can I make a difference in the lives of others? I want to take the next step. And the next one after that. Are you ready to really break free and do something with your life? I am! How do we start?
Allow me to introduce you to some inspiring people who have shown how a little courage can transform not only their own life, but by sharing their stories and experiences touches the lives of countless others along the way. At some point while reading this – click on this link – and consider helping to ensure that these stories get told.
Here is What I Believe
In my heart of hearts I am fearless. I am an adventuress. I love to experience new things. In my mind I believe I can do it. I can do anything I set my sights on. I am bold. I am free. Reality sets in. I have to buy groceries. I should do some laundry. I am getting behind on my bills. I need to exercise. I digress. We tend to slip into old habits and just do what we can to finish the week. Who has time to make a difference? Madonna. She can do it. She has time. She has resources. Not me.
But, there are normal people, like me, who do amazing things and manage to still get their laundry done. There are courageous, adventurous people who make a difference in the lives of others and are facing the same daily challenges that I face, some much more challenging than mine. They inspire me. (Madonna inspires me too, she always has!)
“Help Humaira build her school! Education is not a luxury ! It’s a basic human right” -Madonna said at the Sound of Change concert in London on Saturday, June 1, 2013.
I may never have the intrepid boldness to take a stand, drop everything, and leave the country to help others – but I can support those who do.
My friend (and fellow blogger) nomadic minimalist, Raam Dev, suggests that we all come into this world a tourist. The challenge is to leave an explorer. When my son’s friend from school announced that he was going on a trip around the world with his family junior year, I was amazed and intrigued. I can’t even imagine how a person would start planning a trip like that. I could see myself and my family doing it, but I shake my head in disbelief because it would be so hard to execute such a plan. And the expense. The thought of it is overwhelming! I can only imagine the wealth of life experience my family would gain if we could ever embark on such a journey. Mark and Carrie Pullen had this pearl of wisdom for their children after broadening their horizons for nine months:
“You can live any life you choose.” ~ Carrie Pullen
Meet Jody Temple White. Meet her and her courageous family. If you have ever wondered what an ordinary person can do to make a change in the world, here is your answer. There is a documentary in the works about this bold family and their courageous travel adventure around the globe. You can help get it seen and help to inspire others. The Courage Vibe is a movement. It is inspiration. It is about transformation. It is about having the courage in life to be authentic and create sustainability; for ourselves, for others, for the World.
“When a seed of inspiration strikes, believe it is possible. It may take years to grow and become real, but some form of it is meant for you.” ~Jody Temple White
How can I find the meaning in my life?
Be a traveler.
What is the difference between being a tourist and being a traveler? Ask Jody, John, Riley and Allison White. They realized and lived the difference on their trip around the world when they were enriched as a family while helping others as they went. I often say I am an adventuress. I am an explorer. For now on, I consider myself a traveler. I am on a journey. It is the journey of my life. I am not just visiting. I am taking an active role. I am a traveler not a tourist.
For the White family being travelers means living simply in each place they visit, immersing themselves in the culture, and meeting and helping people and animals along the way. This experience has brought them joy and enriched their relationships with each other and is shaping their lives in a way unimaginable for most families.
“Be brave and face your fears. ~ Allison White
How can we find joy in helping others? Who can we help?
Keep it simple. Think about what is truly important to you. What gets your heart beating? Living simply means getting along with fewer complications. What are the top things you could not live without? Doesn’t everyone deserve to have these things? What can you do to help make that possible for others who are less fortunate than you?
Think about what you love doing and who you love being with. What better way to express your love than to share that joy with others? How lovely it would be to help someone else to experience that joy. What a beautiful gift it would be to care about someone else’s basic needs.
What are you good at?
Are you skilled at something that you might take for granted that someone else might benefit from learning? What do you want to learn about? Sharing knowledge and learning from our experiences is an invaluable step in life’s journey.
I hear my fears saying things to hold me back. . . “How can I possibly help when I need help? My family needs help. My life is hard. I have health challenges. I am in debt. I can barely make ends meet. My family is not that supportive. I care about the world and I want to make a difference, but I am struggling right now.”
Life is daunting at times. If you make a list of all the challenges you are facing it would be as long as the list of things you would do to change the world. Life is challenging. Getting along in this world is hard. It’s scary. That’s why it takes courage to tackle these issues. Facing our fears, dealing with the obstacles, and being willing to make a change despite the challenges is why it takes bravery and fortitude to embark on a journey like this. Giving of yourself in service to others is a sacrifice.
Why should you do it?
Going outside your comfort zone is not easy to do! It takes commitment. Breaking free and making a difference in your life involves spirit. If you strive for a better life, a better human condition, if you hope to make the world a better place for future generations, or if you just aren’t satisfied with the way things are then it is time for you to make a change. You might find that in helping others, you can help yourself. The very act of making a difference in the life of another person may be the very thing you need to make a positive impact in your own life.
Doing this takes faith. Faith in yourself and your abilities. It takes faith in humanity and in the human spirit. I am not just talking about big round the world trips and building schools and digging wells kind of commitments. Any change you are willing to take to make a positive difference in your life takes faith. Faith is the belief of the uncertain. It’s what you know in your heart.
Making a leap of faith to break your habits and face your fears takes hope. Hope for a better life. Hope for a positive outcome. Having a real desire in your heart to do something new and to make a difference is having hope. It’s the inspiration, the drive, the catalyst that will see you through. Never give up hope. Any little thing you do is important. Everything you do is valuable. Everything you do makes a difference.
Embracing the courage to make a change in your life takes love. If you start with love, the possibilities are endless. It starts with loving yourself. Believe in yourself. You can do this! Love grows and continues to grow forever. If you have love in your heart you can do anything.
Transforming your life takes perseverance. It may not happen overnight. If you were to take a trip around the world, putting your life on hold for a year, giving up all of life’s conveniences and comforts, it would take a tremendous amount of planning, time, money, and support. Any change takes time to happen.
“…courage as a muscle that you can begin exercising and slowly strengthen over time.” ~Marquita Herald
Thank you Dona Donato, and the owners and founders of Giggling Gorilla Productions, Inc. GGP is a company dedicated to creating media and live events that support enhanced living, wildlife conservation, sustainability and a holistic way of life. It is because of their belief in the courage of families who can make a difference that this blog post and others like it are being written. With their help, millions of people will be inspired and hopefully donate to the Living the Courage Vibe documentary project.
“I truly believe that we all have this kind of courage and bravery hiding somewhere inside us. And if you just take the time to look, you will find that you do too.” ~Chris Lemig
If you want to read more about my adventures, click here: The Next Step
Be an explorer of life. Be a traveler on your journey. Don’t just observe the world around you like a tourist. Get active and engage yourself. Immerse yourself along the way. Life is an adventure!
If you could go anywhere in the world, where would you go?
I would love to share with you what I did to make my recent road trip with my family fun for myself and how our family survived driving over 2500 miles through Nevada, Arizona, Utah, Colorado, New Mexico and back to our ‘home sweet home’ in Southern California.
“Life incidents can have a significant effect on your states of mind. If something powerful happens then your belief in yourself is increased.” ~Ken Ward, from Mind Mastery
Let’s recap: We traveled through Six States in Seven Days and I experienced Nine States of Mind in the Process.
I set out to share my experience going on a road trip with my husband and three teen-aged boys and explain why it was so worthwhile that I would highly recommend that you do it at least once in your life. I ended up learning a lot about myself, my abilities, the unique family dynamics that I have taken for granted and how much it all means to me.
I wanted to parallel the “Six States” we visited with different “States of Mind” that one goes through when a) going on a road trip and b) making big life decisions like choosing a college and experiencing empty nest syndrome. I did some research on the differences of feelings versus states of mind. I had the idea when I realized that I had to be in a certain mindset to even tackle the concept of going on a road trip at this point in my life. Anyone who has been on a road trip knows what I mean.
There is a level of adventurism that is different when transporting oneself over long roads to get to a destination with many points in between over taking other modes of transportation.
There is a spirit of freedom that is involved. A sense of anything being possible ensues. I was in a special state of mind, going through cycles of many thoughts and feelings on my road trip. I have held off completing the “saga” and writing the “end” of the trip for many reasons.
Now it’s time to look at the effect the many states of mind had on me and my family:
The States of Mind
I felt like I was in a State of Dilemma when I was making the plans to go on a family vacation with little funds and very little interest from the family in terms of what to do, where to go, and how and if we should take this trip at all. Was it the right decision? After all, our son would most likely choose a California school, but he had been accepted to three out-of-state schools. Shouldn’t he at least visit them before he decided? What to do? What to do?
Even though making the trek and going on the long trip was a challenge it had many benefits. We mostly looked forward to getting to visit our beloved relatives. It is the one thing that we all wanted to do. We all enjoy visiting New Mexico and had wanted to go there for a while. We love everything about it, the hospitality of our relatives, the fun places to go, things to see, and especially the food we love to eat.
That is what made the trip worthwhile for the kids. I wish we could have spent more time there. The dilemma was in the work it took to make it all happen and the state of mind was a tough one because I added the stress of trying so hard to make everyone happy in the process.
Along the way, I observed some animals and birds that I considered to be omens. You might think that is strange, but it is just what came to mind when I saw these things and it added to the drama of the experience for me. When we were getting on the freeway for the first leg of the trip, I saw a black crow perched on a post on the corner at the on-ramp. I thought it might be a bad omen and I prayed that we would have a good trip. Later on after we had our first night in Nevada staying overnight with my mother in law, I felt better after seeing a doe running along the side of the road and that brought me a sense of peace. On the way to New Mexico driving through Colorado Springs, I saw a band of wild horses running through a range. It was quite a site to see and it was exhilarating. It was another omen, it was a good feeling that something was happening.
I felt like the true journey was just beginning and that I was on special mission. Through it all I felt like there was more I could be doing. Until we got to New Mexico and we were on the third college tour. Knowing that after this we could relax and just hang out with our family and then head home, we went to the gift shop.
Quote seen on a book in the New Mexico gift shop – after trying so hard to make everyone happy. . .
“If you want to be happy, just be.” ~Tolstoy
Is it really that easy? Can I just be? Be happy? Be content? Be satisfied.
Road Blocks and Obstacles
When things didn’t go well at the very start of the trip I felt like I was in a State of Despair. I was trying so hard to get things to work out as planned and I had to push myself hard in many directions. I needed to be assertive and calming at the same time. I was under an incredible amount of pressure. We had to be in Colorado at a certain time. All the college tours were scheduled appointments. We didn’t have any flexibility other than missing the tours and just seeing the colleges on our own.
It was interesting that the problems I had with Hertz were a matter of customer service and the failure of the company to meet my expectations. I had set high expectations for myself in planning and executing this trip. Hertz has a goal of providing a quality customer experience. My goal became to provide the best experience possible for my family. One thing I learned in this process was to expect the un-expected. I also learned that even when there is no flexibility, I am still capable of bending.
My Measure of Being a Good Mom Depends on the Level of Joy Experienced by My Least Happy Child
Being in a state of despair led me to being in a State of Confusion since I was having to make so many decisions that affected everyone and I was dealing with different attitudes and hormones while trying to make everyone comfortable and happy. I learned a lot about being prepared and having faith, in myself, in my family in our own abilities, as well in that which we cannot control.
When things went according to plan, I was in the State of Relief. This came about after being helped and receiving tender loving care and nurture from my mother in law on that first night.
I Can Always Depend on a Little Help From My Family
I relished in the comfort of knowing what to expect from our extended family. I loved being able to rely on certain things. I depended on it. I knew this trip was about visiting colleges – B-o-r-i-n-g!! We didn’t have the money or time to go to an amusement park, zip lining, fishing or river rafting while on the trip. I needed to make the connections with family be the attraction. They did not disappoint. I was relieved and enjoyed being in that state for a while. I think I am still there. Our family is awesome on both sides! The kids feel love and support from everyone. We are truly blessed. It’s never perfect, nothing ever is going to be perfect. But we appreciate who we are and where we came from.
This is How I Made the Trip FUN for Me!
One of the highlights of the trip for me was getting my nails done by my cousin, Shauni. She made a special appointment for me and while I was getting my nails done, her husband cut my son’s hair. They have a great shop, it is a nail salon and barber shop called Cool Claws and Hot Heads. Shauni has always made me feel welcomed and special when I am in town and it wouldn’t be a trip to New Mexico without a trip to see her. What I love most about getting my nails done by Shauni, is the chance to have one on one time to talk and catch up girl to girl on what is happening with the family. She is a busy working mom like me and we are doing many of the same things. We love to dish!
While we were there the whole family came over to my cousin’s house for dinner. That was about 30 people! I told the boys everyone would come to see them. It is an amazing show of support and solidarity when four generations of family show up to see you whenever you are in town. I used to think this kind of thing happened when my parents were visiting to show respect for them. They were very hospitable and when people came to California to visit they would stay at our home. I thought they planned these big dinners for special occasions. I expected maybe a handful of the close relatives to come, but I was overjoyed that everyone who lived in town and could make it came over to greet us. It is a big, affectionate, loving and supportive family. The love is deep and strong. We have been through a lot, we have lost a lot, and we celebrate with intention and gratitude when we are together.
Family support came in handy especially for our son in making his decision on what college to choose. Everyone in New Mexico wanted him to choose UNM. My cousin in Colorado, was encouraging about CUB. But they all gave him such positive and nurturing advice. They had his back and are proud of him no matter what he chose. It has to be his decision. Having family support is invaluable. I needed to be with them. I needed a big dose of that strength and fortitude. I think it will last for a while.
What Did I Learn From All of This?
The best take-away? I wasn’t in this alone – I had lots of help, mother-in-law, husband, kids, cousins, friends. I had the positive reinforcement that I needed. The purpose of the trip was to visit colleges and decide on which one our son would attend. I tried to be positive and guide him in making an informed decision without making the decision for him. It was completely successful on that front. I give the other boys credit for hanging in there purely for the ride. I think they got a lot out of it that will come into play later in their lives. For now, they showed their support for their brother. They showed respect to me and their Dad. The enjoyed the time spent with family. I still have the feeling that I owe them one. . . but I can always fall back on the guilt trip of labor pains and dirty diapers!
One of my regular states of being is the State of Awe and Wonderment. I am blessed every day that I can see the beauty in things. This was particularly evident the day we drove through the many different terrains and mountains. It was an amazing day. The sky was so clear and I will never forget how perfectly beautiful everything was and how impressed I was with the way the scenery changed so rapidly. It was like fast forwarding through my life. I felt like I was fast forwarding through life the past few years. Everything has changed so much since my parents passed on and my children have grown. I just needed to catch up. I was finally able to catch up on this trip.
Seeing the beauty in everything, I learned to appreciate nature and the feeling of being a small yet integral part of something so big. This became evident in my role in my family as well.
Some parts of the trip were heart-stopping and crazy and I found myself in a State of Excitement and Anticipation! This was the case during our Wild Rocky Mountain drive on the way to Fort Collins, Colorado. It was a quick ride much like the roller coaster of life with its ups and downs twists and turns, exhilaration, excitement, and even its let downs and disappointments. Through it all we discovered the thrill of adventure and teachable moments. I practiced patience and trust. My husband was my hero and I was reminded why I love him so much.
At the pinnacle of the ride, at the top of the Rocky Mountains, I was immersed in a State of Fear. We were driving through a snowstorm in Vail, Colorado and even though I was terrified on the inside, I remained calm on the outside. Our traverse through a difficult situation gave me the feeling of being able to conquer anything. I gained self-confidence and regained composure and respect for my partner in life and our kids. Our family as a unit stuck through it with grace. Getting over the mountain, seeing what is on the other side, the roller coaster ride, the snowstorm, are all metaphors for what is about to happen with our oldest son graduating from high school and going away to college, as well as our families adjustment to growing up and moving on in life.
Along the way I discovered a new mantra,
“I will wake to a new day.” I will. It is a new day.
After going through all of this I found myself in the perfect State of Enchantment and Bliss. I was pretty proud of myself for pulling it off, being able to spend the time with the family and eating our favorite foods, and for making the most of the situation. The good feelings started when we were in Boulder, Colorado. After settling in to a wonderful hotel and relaxing a bit, my hubby and I went on a tour of the Celestial Seasonings plant. It was the perfect place to unwind and re-energize!
Kicking back and hanging out in Boulder on Easter Sunday with the boys was another highlight of the trip. I enjoyed walking around town looking at shops, and taking in the ambiance of the little college town. The best part was going into the LUSH store and getting hand and wrist massages and learning about natural skin care products. Luckily the pretty college student was more than happy to help me and the three boys! I never get such great service when I go shopping alone. Hmmm, wonder why?
I think I managed to share with my family the best part of road trips. It’s the fun spontaneous side trips that are meant to be enjoyed just for the sake of having fun. Driving into New Mexico, I took some awesome pictures of the beautiful evening sky and sunset. For me, I had reached my destination at that point. That was a sight that I had on my list. There is nothing quite like it.
This leads me to where I ended up as a result of this undertaking, I am happy to finally reach this destination in the State of Contentment and Accomplishment. It wasn’t enough that our son was accepted at a college and was making the decision to accept an offer with support from loved ones, but it was in appreciating each other in the process and learning how much we love our home and its stable environment. We realized that appreciating the best qualities of each member of the family, recognizing that we take each other for granted at times, blessing the fact that we need each other and complement each other, loving the little things that makes us each unique and valuable is what we gained by taking this journey together. It took going away to realize that. To emphasize and instill that in the minds and hearts of my children meant the world to me.
It was worth every dime it took and every mile we drove to achieve that level of knowing and to settle in to that state of being.
I have always said if you can dream it, you can be it. If you can imagine it, you can make it happen. If you can see yourself in a place, you can go there. This trip was difficult because we went to different places to “try them on for size.” We went for the purpose of trying things out to see how it feels to be there, to see if our son could make a go of it there. Trying new things was the name of the game. We were breaking out of our comfort zone. We were all imagining ourselves in a new place. We were trying on a new learning environment and living space for our son and imagining a new family dynamic at home. It became a new rung on the ladder of development for me as a mother and a wife, for us as a family. I learned through this entire process that it is time to change my state of mind. Now I know how to do it. And I know what state of mind I have transitioned to. I am not afraid anymore. I am confident. I know I am not alone in this. I am compelled and excited about what is ahead. I can do it. I am open to new experiences. I have grown up a bit. It might not happen without bouts of dilemma and despair, fears and woe, wonder and awe, excitement and anticipation. It will be with a sense of relief, love, nurture, accomplishment, confidence, grace and contentment.
This is who I am. This is how I operate. It is all part of the journey. It is all part of a process.
It is my time to shine.
More on the States of Mind
If you want to learn more about ‘The very important difference between a feeling and a state of mind,” Here’s a great excerpt from a blog called Positive Juice:
“Feelings are temporary. They change and morph both gradually and quickly, often without us even realizing it. States of mind, however, are much longer-lasting and pervasive. You could consider a state of mind to be another kind of feeling, but there is a very important difference. Some examples of feelings versus states of mind:
* Joy versus contentment. * Anger versus resentment. * Sadness versus depression. * Love versus being in love. * Envy versus jealousy. * Delight versus appreciation. * Embarrassment versus shame. * Sureness versus faith. * Annoyance versus exasperation. * Urgency versus desperation. * Acceptance versus resignation. * Disgust versus hatred. * Relaxation versus peace of mind. * Hope versus optimism. * Desire versus longing. * Fear versus paranoia.
Feelings are part of life, both good and bad. They happen whether you like it or not, and you have very little control over them. States of mind are very different. They shape your longer-term outlook about what you are [and aren’t] supposed to do. The secret is that, while you don’t have much control over the feelings you have, you do have the ability to shape your state of mind.
The negative feelings will happen; in fact, as feelings, they are beneficial to experience–because they pass and you often learn something from them or gain a sense of perspective. But when negative feelings like anger and sadness turn into states of mind like resentment and depression, you’re in trouble.
A lot of the time, you can see when the transition from feeling to state of mind happens. If you become angry, for example, and then for days afterward, you anger is provoked much more easily than usual… that anger is becoming a lingering state of mind–a generalized resentment. Folks who suffer from this resentful state of mind [and there are quite a few out there] are the kind of people who act as though they want everybody else to have as bad a day as they are having. Their state of mind heavily influences all their interactions, and they respond to others from a place of resentment.
Some states of mind can be very good for a while. Appreciation, for example, is a very positive state of mind to have. Contentment is equally positive. Remember, these states of mind influence what you project to others… so a good state of mind is an awesome way to tap into positive energy. But even positive states of mind are good to change once in a while. You don’t want to project appreciation when someone has just had something horrible happen to them, for example.
I was excited to see this movie as soon as I saw the trailer for it in the theater. Then I found out that I can see it for FREE before it opens at a screening. It’s a LADIES NIGHT event. If you want to attend for FREE (I don’t know why I have to capitalize the word free. I guess it is because I am yelling it and I am excited!) just read on.
If you live near Sherman Oaks, CA and want to win two admission passes to see a screening of the movie on Wednesday May 29th @ 7:30PM just tell me in the comments one other movie you have seen featuring one of the stars of The Heat. If you get the answer right, and you will, I will email the details to you and make sure you and a friend are on the guest list.
I hope I see you there! Good Luck!
Note: You must live in the local area and provide your own transportation to the theater. These passes do not guarantee admission to the film. It is important to show up 45 minutes before the start of the screening to ensure VIP seating. Space is limited. I will post a message when all passes have been given away. Only the names of the limited eligible winners will be placed on the guest list. I have not been paid to promote this or any other film. All opinions are my own. I have been offered free admission to this screening.
Sign up to see a FREE Screening THIS SATURDAY at 10 AM in Burbank, just email MizBizEvents@Gmail.com for details.
What is Epic? EPIC is a 3D CG adventure comedy that reveals a fantastical world unlike any other. From the creators of ICE AGE and RIO, EPIC tells the story of an ongoing battle between the forces of good, who keep the natural world alive, and the forces of evil, who wish to destroy it. When a teenage girl finds herself magically transported into this secret universe, she teams up with an elite band of warriors and a crew of comical, larger-than-life figures, to save their world…and ours.
I have a special offer for you to see a screening on behalf of 20th Century Fox and their upcoming 3D animated feature EPIC. You can attend a special family screening of the movie on Saturday May, 18th.
If you would like to attend the special family screening of EPIC on May 18th at 10 AM in Burbank, leave a comment telling me what is your favorite animated film and send me an email to firstname.lastname@example.org letting me know how many passes you need for your family. I will send a reply email with all the details to qualified winners. I will need the exact names of all attendees prior to the date of the screening by WEDNESDAY, MAY 15th.
Note: You must live in the local area and provide your own transportation to the theater. These passes do not guarantee admission to the film. It is important to show up 45 minutes before the start of the screening to ensure VIP seating. Space is limited. I will post a message when all passes have been given away. Only the names of the limited eligible winners will be placed on the guest list.
I loved the story of Scout, the little water bottle who takes an accidental adventure through the waterways of Washington D.C.
Author, Jennifer Chambers, takes us on a journey through the waterways and habitats of all the creatures Scout encountered along the community creeks and urban rivers in Washington D.C. all the way across the Atlantic Ocean to the shores of England. In a simple yet well told story, we are shown a new perspective about the ways in which animal life is threatened by the act of throwing away a non-biodegradable object in the “wrong” place. Readers are introduced to wildlife indigenous to the East Coast of the United States who personify the need for thoughtful respect of nature.
The protective Blue Heron mamma warns, “The Earth is not an ashtray,” as she explains how cigarette butts and other garbage humans throw away can be hazardous and potentially lethal to her young. Watershed Adventures of a Water Bottle serves as an educational accompaniment to Earth Day lesson plans and other presentations about protecting the environment. Jennifer Chambers adeptly brings the lesson to life for her middle school science classes with this story. The book subtly offers suggestions and tips on recycling and cleaning up the environment while gracefully explaining the reasons behind them. These are lessons everyone can learn and should be applied to our own lives to preserve the environment and protect the wildlife that live in our own waterways.
Jennifer Chamber’s book Watershed Adventures of a Water Bottle brings the animals and their individual stories to life in a way that even younger children can understand. Endearing and adventurous, Scout is swept up in the mouth of danger, yet is saved by a little girl. We can all do our part to be watershed heroes in our home towns, saving the “Scouts” in our life, just by making sure they go to the right place.
Win a copy of the book from the author. How to win: List in the comments three items that can be placed in your recycling cart that will help to save our environment. Each answer will qualify for one entry in a traditional drawing. All entries will be placed in a hat and a winner will be drawn by an innocent fun-loving child. I will notify the winner and they will get an email from the author with instructions on how to receive a free copy of the book. An additional entry will be added to the drawing if you can tell me the name of a river or creek in your local watershed area.
Disclaimers: I received a copy of the book for free and I liked it. This review is unpaid and entirely my opinion of the book after reading it. I will conduct a random drawing around May 31st and the winner will be notified by email.
“Watershed Adventures of a Water Bottle” – Children’s book, March 2013
“The Best Hikes for Kids: Washington DC, Maryland and Virginia – Guide book, Summer 2014
Jennifer is a busy mom, author, blogger, teacher, environmental advocate and outdoor adventure director who is constantly juggling 10 things at a time – which she says, makes her husband’s head spin! She considers herself highly organized and a half-way decent teacher. Well, I think she is much much, more than that! I had the chance to interview Jennifer about her new children’s book, “Watershed Adventures of a Water Bottle” and I found her to be quite inspiring. . .
Jennifer, I look forward to reading your book and reviewing it on my blog http://MizMeliz.com but before I do I would like to get to know you a bit. Tell me about what you are up to these days.
Thank you for wanting to review my new children’s book. I am having a lot of fun networking with people to promote this book. Besides teaching and working as an advocate for the environment, I enjoy hiking the scenic trails of Washington, D.C
with my two children, my husband and our dog. I blog about our adventures and I love to help others learn about the outdoors.
What is the book about?
Here is the official synopsis: Watershed Adventures of a Water Bottle tells the story of a water bottle’s journey in the Chesapeake Bay watershed and Atlantic Ocean. Upon reaching a storm drain, the personified water bottle travels the streams and rivers of Washington, D.C., meeting animals along its ride. Each animal—from the water strider to the loggerhead turtle—teaches the water bottle about itself, its origins, its journey, and those of other pollutants in the watershed. Alima is the five-year old water bottle’s heroine; making us all believe we can be one too.
It sounds great! Why did you want to write a book about watersheds?
I wrote the book for educators and parents to use as a tool to engage kids to learn about the impact litter is having on our watersheds and oceans. In addition, 100% of the profit from the book is being equally donated to the Chesapeake Bay Trust and the Surfrider Foundation’s Rise Above Plastics program.
That’s amazing, 100% of the profits are going directly back to help the environment. How did you get the idea to write a children’s book like this?
The idea came to life from a lesson I developed for a 6-week Earth Day program for our county’s public housing after-school programs in my community. The lesson had two purposes: to engage the kids in understanding how long litter lives in our environment (biodegradable of a banana peel to a plastic water bottle) and where the litter can travel to when it enters a storm drain in their neighborhood. A lot of people think litter magically disappears; it just moves from location to location impacting the plants and animals that live at each spot.
During the activity, I had kids trace the travels of a juice box from their neighborhood street into the storm drain and then they determined the path/travels it would take, eventually ending up in the Atlantic Ocean. We brainstormed all the animals, from insects to mammals, that it could encounter along the way and what negative impact the juice box could have on the animals. After teaching this workshop eight years ago, I realized that this lesson would make a great children’s story.
How long did it take you to write the story and make it into a children’s book?
It took me another six more years to begin writing it when I was spurred to do so for my children’s elementary school. Some moms I was working with loved the idea and wanted to perform it as a play for Earth Day. (I have written it also as a play.) Therefore, over two years and a complete ending change from its original version, I finished it last summer and found two publishers who accepted the project for publishing and began that process last Fall.
Besides raising awareness about littering and it’s impact on wildlife and helping to raise funds for groups that protect the environment, what is your vision for the book?
I really hope this book can be used as a tool for environmental educators and teachers to engage kids in a science issue, one we have great behavioral control of, in an entertaining way. Science can come alive when presented in literature and story.
Why are you doing this? What motivates you?
I love being a teacher. I teach middle school science at a special ed school. My passion is to engage kids in the outdoors in whatever way, through education, adventure, play, etc. I have been writing a blog since 2009 to share my own experiences and adventures in nature (many with my children and some without like my post entitled “Three Muddy Moms….“) and my advice for families to help them engage their children in the outdoors (i.e., Camping in the Rain).
I would love to read those posts and learn more about what you do. Thank you!
To connect with Jennifer Chambers, go to her website: HIKING ALONG, Science & Hiking for Kids.
Thanks so much to Jennifer Chambers for sharing a little bit about herself, her important work and her new book, “Watershed Adventures of a Water Bottle.” I look forward to reading it! I hope you are inspired to check it out and share it with your kids.
Check out what I thought about “Watershed Adventures of a Water Bottle” in my book review. Let me know if you have any questions for Jennifer in the comments. Sign up for the Newsletter for updates or Follow Me.
Do you have a book you would like me to review or a new adventure you want to tell me about? Let me know! It’s your time to shine!
One of the best things about taking a vacation is going to new restaurants and checking out the local fare. On our recentroad trip to the Southwest, I enjoyed some of my all time favorite foods. If you are a foodie and like to read about food adventures, grab a cup of coffee, sit back and relax as I take you on a Culinary Adventure Road Trip!
I wanted to go to a family style diner, somewhere I could relax and stretch out a bit after a very long drive, and a nice server would wait on me. When we pulled off the highway and arrived at the halfway point between Las Vegas, Nevada and Boulder, Colorado we were literally in the middle of nowhere. Green River is a small town in Utah and for some reason it seemed very desolate. I had looked up restaurants in the area online ahead of time and there seemed to be quite a few. It’s the only populated area around and I expected there to be restaurants dotted along the main road. Not so much. Maybe we got off an exit too soon, or too late but we certainly didn’t see any signs of life around.
It was mid day and even though we had an early breakfast and snacks on the road, we had built up an appetite. As we drove down the main street looking for signs of life that hopefully lead us to a full service restaurant, one of the boys spotted a burger joint. A box style, family run, three table, stick in the mud. It was awesome! We had Green Chile Cheese Burgers and Fried Tater Tots. It was the first time we saw green chile burgers on a menu on this trip and the boys and I had been looking forward to having one. I don’t think they used New Mexico Green Chiles, but they were big, juicy and had the tasty tang and spicy heat that we were hoping for. After lunch, the chocolate soft serve ice cream hit the spot! We were ready to take on the long road ahead of us once again.
When we finally arrived at our destination after a grueling day of driving which included an incredible excursion over the Rocky Mountains, we didn’t care where we ate – we just wanted food. The boys went to Denny’s and brought me back a pancake sandwich that I devoured in my hotel room. In the morning, we had just enough time to grab coffee and a continental breakfast provided by the hotel. It was pretty good. We stayed at the Best Western Kiva Inn near Fort Collins, Colorado. It was one of the nicest Best Westerns I had ever stayed at. If you are in the area, I highly recommend it.
For lunch that day we had specific instructions from a friend to try Lark Burger. We were told they had awesome burgers. For some reason, I didn’t expect to find a high-end gourmet eatery in Fort Collins. I was pleasantly surprised by the selection and the quality of the food I tried. It was totally yummy and the prices were good for what you got. It turns out that Lark Burger is a chain, so if you have a chance to try it let me know. I had a Larkburger with Swiss Cheese and Truffle & Parmesan Fries. I loved every bite!
From Fort Collins, we drove to Boulder, Colorado. The first thing we did after checking in at the hotel was go on a factory tour of Celestial Seasonings. Even though we planned on being in town all weekend, it was a holiday so this was our only chance. The kids weren’t too interested and we had just experienced quite a bit of “togetherness” over the last 48 hours, so my hubby and I decided to go it alone. We had a blast! We have both always loved Celestial Seasonings teas. On the way there we reminisced of the past thirty or so years that we have enjoyed the herbal tea, the encouraging words on the packages, the unique artwork and our favorite, the Sleepy Time Bear. Besides the fact that we have both loved the product since childhood, we both love taking factory tours.
I am sorry to say that we did not get to eat at the Celestial Cafe because it closed early for the holiday. But we did enjoy the Tea Room very much and it deserves a stop on the Culinary Adventures Road Trip! When we arrived we were given our “pass” to the factory tour (it was a small package of blueberry herbal tea) and to unlimited hot and cold herbal tea tasting. There is a snack bar and a gift shop where you can buy anything and everything tea related and Celestial Seasonings trademarked. The tour itself was quite impressive. Our favorite was the Mint Room where all the mint is stored exclusively from the rest of the herbs and teas. Everything smelled remarkable and refreshing! We learned a lot about tea and herbs from around the world.
That night, we met my cousin for dinner. She has lived in Boulder for a number of years and qualifies as a local. We discussed in advance where we should eat and since it is a local favorite, this fit the bill. Turley’s serves buffalo meat as part of their very extensive organic and “clean” menu, which was something the boys wanted to try. I had a hard time deciding what to have since I was still full from the burgers over the past few days and all the tea I drank! I ended up having the Chicken Pot Pie. It was a little dry with a pizza dough kind of crust rather than a flaky pie crust. It was pretty good. I never saw the food on the boy’s plates. It vanished before I could take a picture. It must have been good!
Easter Brunch at the Renaissance Boulder Flatiron Hotel was to die for! It was very pricey, but you would expect that at a fine restaurant located in a four star hotel on a holiday weekend. The buffet menu was extensive combining unique chef prepared dishes with hometown favorites and brunch classics. Everything was displayed beautifully, the service was exceptional and the meal was a dream. Especially the bottomless mimosas!
It was very difficult to pick a restaurant in the Pearl Street area. There were plenty of choices and everything looked amazing. The boys are clued into finding the local fare and skipping the chain restaurants and things we normally eat. So, it was hard to resist an eatery called the Boulder Cafe. It is right in the center of Pearl Street Mall. It has inside and patio dining. The place felt authentically local, with a cafe menu, oyster bar, fondues and “Rocky Mountain” cuisine. It looked like a great place to take a date and there was a young clientele. I assumed everyone there to be college students. At this point, still stuffed from the reckless vacation eating I had been doing, I had an Asian Chicken Lettuce Wrap appetizer for my meal. It was such a bountiful helping, I shared it with the boys. They also chose light meals that ended up not being quite enough to fill them. They finished every last bite of my dinner! The best part was just hanging out with my boys. We walked the length of the mall and shopped a little. I got them to go in LUSH with me and they got me to go in Rocket Fizz with them.
In the morning, we rushed to check out of the hotel and get to the college tour at the University of Colorado. We had no time for breakfast, so it was “hotel room” coffee, tea, granola bars and juice on the way. Then we grabbed a bite to eat at the cafeteria at the college before we got back on the road for our next, and final stop on our road trip. Boy, were we famished when we were driving along the dry, dusty road to New Mexico! As we approached each little town, my husband would ask, “Do you want me to stop to find a place to eat here?” We were all thinking the same thing. If we stopped now, we won’t be able to eat when we go through Santa Fe. We would drive the entire distance just to eat real New Mexico chile! So, we held out until 9 PM.
As we rolled into one of my favorite all time places to visit, we started naming restaurants we knew in Santa Fe. We did a Yelp search based on our location and we selected the closest “New Mexican” restaurant we could find. As we walked in to Maria’s New Mexican Kitchen, it seemed vaguely familiar. I may have been there before. I wasn’t sure. I know for sure I felt at home. It may have been the smell of tortillas and sopapillas cooking, the smiles on the faces of the servers, the families eating a late Monday night dinner, and the old adobe that appealed to me. It was familiar. It was wholesome cooking, the food that my family makes. We took a quick look at the menu and we all looked at each other, who would ask first? “Red or green?” We all have our favorites and we like both! One of the boys ordered exactly that – both, referred to as “Christmas.” Red and green sauces made with New Mexico chiles.
Maria’s New Mexican Kitchen served it up fast, large portions of all of our favorites, complete with sopapillas and honey. I had my favorite, Stacked Enchiladas with Chile Adovada and Red Chile with a side of sour cream to cut the heat. The heat of New Mexico chile always gets me at first. Luckily, I had the chance to eat it quite a bit during our visit over the next few days and I was able to adjust! It was an amazing meal. It had been far too long!
Roasted Green Chiles being chopped for NM Green Chile Stew
My Cousin’s Red Chile Sauce
Stacked enchilada dream with New Mexico Red Chile
Everything is a blur after that! We spent a few days with family and ate wonderful food while we enjoyed being together. The boys managed to get out to their favorite local restaurants in New Mexico like Twisters Burritos and Dion’s Pizza. On our way home we stopped at a Cracker Barrell in Flagstaff, Arizona. I don’t have any more food pictures to share from the trip. It turned out to be a fun Culinary Adventure Side Trip that I hope you enjoyed.
Have you been to any of the restaurants listed here? Do you have any suggestions on where to eat in New Mexico, Colorado, or Utah? Let me know! I would love to hear about your foodie adventures!
So, I didn’t mean to leave you hanging! If you are following the entire Six States in Seven Days Road Trip Saga, I left off describing the exciting adventure just as we made it over the Rocky Mountains. Stay tuned for more fun! I would love to share with you what I did to make this trip fun for myself and how our family survived driving the rest of the 1000 miles or so through Boulder, Colorado and Albuquerque, New Mexico and back to our home sweet home in Southern California.
The purpose for my family’s recent big road trip was to visit colleges. Since the decision deadline is fast approaching, now is probably a good time to share the details of the college tours we attended.
Over all, our son applied to eight universities. His first choice from the start was San Diego State University. San Diego State was the first college he visited and was seriously considering. Lucky for us, our son decided early on what he wanted to focus his studies on and he determined his major before we began the search. He carefully considered schools based on the programs they offered in his field, as well as location and what his friends showed interest in! He had a lot of support from his school and especially his counselors.
We were mainly interested in the Engineering Departments of these schools, with a focus on Construction, Civil, and/or Architectural Engineering. We visited the following universities and attended their regular admissions tours:
It is difficult to decide on a university to attend based on how it looks on their website, or on paper, or even based solely on a recommendation. Every school is different and has its unique qualities. Just like the students! I think it is important that each student has the opportunity to visit as many colleges as possible, even before they are in high school, so they can get a feel for the place. It’s a good way to start imagining what college life is like. If you can dream it, you can make it happen!
University of Colorado at Boulder
University of New Mexico at Albuquerque
After being accepted to five universities, my son decided on Cal Poly, SLO. He liked it instantly when he arrived there for the tour. It is a beautiful campus and it is a reputable school for architectural engineering. He was honored to be accepted because he had been told how difficult it is to get in. It’s affordable within reason, and it is not too far away from home. But more than anything, he felt comfortable there and that is the most important thing.
California Polytechnic at San Luis Obispo
I am happy to give you my opinion of each school based on what I experienced. If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to ask!
Do you want to find out what happens next? The Six States in Seven Days Road Trip Saga continues in my next post: 5 Stops in a Culinary Adventure where I highlight some of the restaurants that I visited in on the road trip through Utah, Colorado, New Mexico and Arizona.
Soon, I was in a State of Excitement and Anticipation
Do you know that feeling in the pit of your stomach that you get when you hear the click of the seat belt as you are getting seated on a roller coaster ride? You know, when you ask yourself, “Why am I doing this?” Will it be fun? Will it make me sick? Will it be worth it? Will it be. . . . oh . . . here we goooooo! And it starts. It is exciting. Every breathtaking turn and each heart stopping plummet makes you smile from ear to ear. Your screams are screams of delight! And when it is over, you wonder if you will have time to take the ride again. You realize it was just a few minutes of joy. And now, it’s over. What’s next? Well – this was nothing like that!
It started slowly, after hours and hours of driving through dirt dry desert terrain and long twisty mountain roads with nothing to see but a giant blue dome overhead and the far off promise of a horizon in the distance. I kept thinking that in the near future we will get to our destination. We will be sleeping in Fort Collins, Colorado tonight and in the morning we will be touring the campus that my oldest son might be calling home before long. This might just be the first time I drive this road. It might be the first of many times. I was thinking about that when we started to drive up a long steady incline, through the foothills of a large mountain range stretched out before us. It was like the long tall ascent of a big rollercoaster and the car felt like it was being pulled by cables, slow and steady, and I couldn’t see what was at the top. My excitement was building. I felt somewhat breathless. That was probably my body adjusting to the altitude. I took some slow steady breaths. I drank some water. I looked over the railing to the land below, and I saw a vineyard. It seemed so out-of-place. The only thing that looked alive and colorful was the sign for the vineyard, and the buildings, and billboards around the area. Everything else was dry with just the hint that it had all survived the winter months and may be dormant just before Spring bursts through the vines. I took note of the place, Grande River Vineyards, and considered it might be thriving the next time I come through here, perhaps in the Fall. It might be worth a stop if we had time. I closed my eyes for a while. I repeated my mantra to myself, “I will be sleeping in Fort Collins tonight and I will wake to a new day!”
At this point my husband was driving. He had taken over at the last gas station where we had stopped to fuel up and stretch. I planned to drive longer, but he offered and I didn’t refuse. I figured I could rest and then take over again in a few hours. The next four hours of driving proved to be another testament of my husband’s stoic character. Over the years he has been my rock. He has the ability to stay calm and persevere through the most difficult times. I have seen him run into a burning building to fetch beloved items for my elderly aunt and give mouth to mouth and revive our newborn son – there is no doubt that he is an angel and a hero! He has to be patient, calm and understanding with me! I get nervous and I worry a lot. I have suffered from anxiety and panic attacks in the past. I have had bouts of vertigo. I love driving curvy roads that I am familiar with, but I get nervous and sometimes dizzy when driving through canyons where there are steep cliffs or long tunnels. But I have learned to trust him and his abilities and boy was I glad he was driving at this point in time!
We are Southern California city drivers. We are used to rush hour traffic and freeways. I shared my husband’s concerns of the hazards of driving in a snow storm with no chains, battling poor visibility, and dealing with the dreaded black ice. This is the reason I pushed the kids to leave early that morning. I wanted to get through this mountain range before nightfall. I wanted to get to Fort Collins in time for dinner and a jacuzzi. But it was about 6 PM and all I could see was mountains ahead and it was getting cold, cloudy and dark.
Driving Through the Rocky Mountains Was a Wild Ride through the State of Fear
We travelled from Henderson, Nevada through Arizona, Utah, and Colorado that day. A total of 819 miles. The estimated driving time was exactly 12 hours. When we stopped for lunch in Green River, Utah, it was sometime around 1 PM. We had 400 miles to go driving along Interstate 70 through the majestic Rocky Mountains. We had already marveled at the breathtaking and gorgeous mountains and rock formations that we saw as we drove by Arches National Park and the Colorado National Monument areas. None of it was quite as exhilarating and exciting as driving along side the Colorado River through Aspen and Vail. The curving roads around mountain peaks, the steady ascent into higher and higher elevations, the river rushing past us, the quaint snow villages with their elegant homes and lush chalet style cabins, all of it was straight out of the Travel Channel!
Throughout the entire trip, my very techie family referred to Siri on their iPhones whenever my husband would ask a question. Where is the nearest burger joint? Where is the nearest gas station? “I wonder how cold it is outside?” My hubby would tease. Even though he could see that number get lower and lower on the dashboard thermometer, one of the boys would ask, “Siri, what is the temperature outside right now?” “It’s 38 degrees right now.” Siri would answer. We knew the forecast in Vail was snow. The weather was at the freezing point, there were dark clouds over head, and we were going up steep mountain roads. It began snowing as soon as we reached the summit of the mountain in Vail.
At first they were just pretty flurries of snow flakes hitting the windshield. We still had a light glow from the sky behind us and the mountainside looked so pretty with the tall fir trees lining the slopes covered with fresh snow. Ahead it was dark and looming. There seemed to be fewer cars on the road and at some points we were all alone. As the snow started to fall all around us, I was surprisingly calm. A part of me (I will admit, a huge part of me!) was all, “Yeah! I knew it would snow, take that Hertz! My husband knew what he was doing when he reserved this vehicle.” We were prepared for this moment. Did we know what we were doing exactly? Heck no! But we had our safe roadworthy brand new Chevy Traverse All Wheel Drive and we were damned well going to need it for the next several miles. The rest of me was holding on for dear life and praying the Rosary in my head as my husband tried not to show any sign of fear lest he freak me out. The next hour of my life was spent singing the soundtrack of Les Miserables with my sons in the back seats watching the original Superman on the DVD player with headphones on while I thought positive loving calm beautiful thoughts of kittens and puppies.
We followed another SUV with a Colorado license plate rather closely due to the very poor visibility. I figured they must be experienced driving through this area. My husband knows everything about cars and how to drive them and he is very skilled with using the proper gears and shifting at the right time . . . etcetera, so on and so forth. He knew what he was doing. But I felt his stress and concern. It wasn’t terribly dangerous or frightening and we were very lucky that the snow although it was sticking to the ground, was not wet or icy. We did not see any accidents or stalled vehicles. It was just slow going through heavy snow over the highest point of the mountain and then a very long slow descent down down down on a curvy road until we made it to the bottom. It felt like skiing down a black diamond run that you ended up on by accident when you are first learning to ski or snowboard. There is only one way down. We took our time and made it. We were incredibly encouraging to each other through it all. The boys were quietly enjoying their movie even though I interrupted them often with, “Did you see that? Look over there!”
Always the Adventuress, I loved every moment of this trip. My teen-aged sons rolled their eyes. To them, it was like you’ve seen one mountain, you’ve seen them all. Overall it was impressive to them and they enjoyed it. But I was taking it all in like I would enjoy a bouquet of flowers admiring each flower for its individual beauty and scent. I loved that gorgeous drive and I hope to go back again, someday!
I will post even more about the trip, the college visits, the food, and what happened next in the coming days when we arrive in New Mexico.
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