Thursday, 15 September 2016

After yesterday's post this is interesting

The 18 things mentally tough people do:
1. They move on - they don't waste time feeling sorry for themselves. 
2. They keep control - they don't give away their power. 
3. They embrace change - they welcome challenges.
4. They stay happy - they don't complain and they don't waste energy on things they can't control.
5. They are kind - they are fair and unafraid to speak up. They don't worry about pleasing other people.
6. They are willing to take calculated risks - they weigh the risks and benefit before taking action.
7. They invest their energy in the present - they don't dwell on the past
8. They accept full responsibility for their past behaviour - they don't make the same mistake over and over. 
9. They celebrate other people’s success - they don't resent that success.
10. They are willing to fail - they don't give up after failing and they see every failure as a chance to improve.
11. They enjoy their time alone - they don't fear being alone.
12. They are prepared to work and succeed on their own merits - they don't feel the world owes them anything.
13. They have staying power - they don't expect immediate results.
14. They evaluate their core beliefs - and modify as needed.
15. They expend their energy wisely - they don't spend time on unproductive thoughts. 
16. They think productively - they replace negative thoughts with productive thoughts.
17. They tolerate discomfort - they accept their feelings without being controlled by them.
18. They reflect on their progress - every day. They take time to consider what they've achieved and where they are going.

I like this list but can't track down where it has come from although it seems awfully similar to the list below that I found on Forbes entitled "Mentally Strong People: The 13 Things They Avoid" (Cheryl Conner) just obviously written in reverse. I prefer the following list because it has more information attached.

1.    Waste Time Feeling Sorry for Themselves. You don’t see mentally strong people feeling sorry for their circumstances or dwelling on the way they’ve been mistreated. They have learned to take responsibility for their actions and outcomes, and they have an inherent understanding of the fact that frequently life is not fair. They are able to emerge from trying circumstances with self-awareness and gratitude for the lessons learned. When a situation turns out badly, they respond with phrases such as “Oh, well.” Or perhaps simply, “Next!”
2. Give Away Their Power. Mentally strong people avoid giving others the power to make them feel inferior or bad. They understand they are in control of their actions and emotions. They know their strength is in their ability to manage the way they respond.
3.    Shy Away from Change. Mentally strong people embrace change and they welcome challenge. Their biggest “fear,” if they have one, is not of the unknown, but of becoming complacent and stagnant. An environment of change and even uncertainty can energize a mentally strong person and bring out their best.
4. Waste Energy on Things They Can’t Control. Mentally strong people don’t complain (much) about bad traffic, lost luggage, or especially about other people, as they recognize that all of these factors are generally beyond their control. In a bad situation, they recognize that the one thing they can always control is their own response and attitude, and they use these attributes well.
5. Worry About Pleasing Others. Know any people pleasers? Or, conversely, people who go out of their way to dis-please others as a way of reinforcing an image of strength? Neither position is a good one. A mentally strong person strives to be kind and fair and to please others where appropriate, but is unafraid to speak up. They are able to withstand the possibility that someone will get upset and will navigate the situation, wherever possible, with grace.
6. Fear Taking Calculated Risks. A mentally strong person is willing to take calculated risks. This is a different thing entirely than jumping headlong into foolish risks. But with mental strength, an individual can weigh the risks and benefits thoroughly, and will fully assess the potential downsides and even the worst-case scenarios before they take action.
7. Dwell on the Past. There is strength in acknowledging the past and especially in acknowledging the things learned from past experiences—but a mentally strong person is able to avoid miring their mental energy in past disappointments or in fantasies of the “glory days” gone by. They invest the majority of their energy in creating an optimal present and future.
8. Make the Same Mistakes Over and Over. We all know the definition of insanity, right? It’s when we take the same actions again and again while hoping for a different and better outcome than we’ve gotten before. A mentally strong person accepts full responsibility for past behavior and is willing to learn from mistakes. Research shows that the ability to be self-reflective in an accurate and productive way is one of the greatest strengths of spectacularly successful executives and entrepreneurs.
9. Resent Other People’s Success. It takes strength of character to feel genuine joy and excitement for other people’s success. Mentally strong people have this ability. They don’t become jealous or resentful when others succeed (although they may take close notes on what the individual did well). They are willing to work hard for their own chances at success, without relying on shortcuts.
10. Give Up After Failure. Every failure is a chance to improve. Even the greatest entrepreneurs are willing to admit that their early efforts invariably brought many failures. Mentally strong people are willing to fail again and again, if necessary, as long as the learning experience from every “failure” can bring them closer to their ultimate goals.
11. Fear Alone Time. Mentally strong people enjoy and even treasure the time they spend alone. They use their downtime to reflect, to plan, and to be productive. Most importantly, they don’t depend on others to shore up their happiness and moods. They can be happy with others, and they can also be happy alone.
12. Feel the World Owes Them Anything. Particularly in the current economy, executives and employees at every level are gaining the realization that the world does not owe them a salary, a benefits package and a comfortable life, regardless of their preparation and schooling. Mentally strong people enter the world prepared to work and succeed on their merits, at every stage of the game.
13. Expect Immediate Results. Whether it’s a workout plan, a nutritional regimen, or starting a business, mentally strong people are “in it for the long haul”. They know better than to expect immediate results. They apply their energy and time in measured doses and they celebrate each milestone and increment of success on the way. They have “staying power.” And they understand that genuine changes take time. 

Wednesday, 14 September 2016

"Hey EVERYONE, leave those kids alone"

I watched this brilliant TED talk today - How to raise successful kids - without over-parenting - and Julie Lythcott-Haims had some very interesting things to say. It was great being reminded of why I home educate in the way that I do - where my children find their own path to their passions and stretch themselves when they are ready with mine and their Dad's support and love.

"With our overhelp... we deprive our kids of the chance to build self-efficacy which is a really fundamental tenant of the human psyche... Self-efficacy is built when ones sees that one's own actions lead to outcomes." Julie Lythcott-Haims.

This has come at a really interesting time in my family's home education journey as ds has just turned 15 and is starting to consider what he wants to do over the next few years. He has a wonderful extended family where there could be chances to travel and work in Hong Kong; work in a family-run shop down South; travel with a worldly-wise niece; work for exams at a college or just carry on having fun as he does every day. Like every parent I want him to do everything; try everything; experience everything and do it all now whilst he is young. However that might not be what is right for him and it is his live, not mine.

What I do know about him though is that he doesn't base his self-worth on grades (mentioned in the TED talk) because at present he doesn't have any!! What he has had is a childhood "built on things like love and chores." This comment by Julie again made me smile because both my kids have helped with household activities from an early age. In fact, one of my favourite childhood pictures of ds was taken with him when he was helping trim the hedge at 20 months!!

Neither of my children particularly like doing jobs around our home but we have had family meetings where dh and I have explained how the household works, including finances so that they can understand that they are part of a system that works better when everyone is involved, understands the system and helps out accordingly.

My children can go to school if and when they want and as mentioned above ds is considering going to college next year to do some exams. It is so much easier for a child to know their own mind (desires, capability, etc.) when they have always been allowed to make their own choices. Luckily going to school doesn't stop that happening but it definitely makes that harder. As Julie states "If their childhood has not been lived according to a tyrannical checklist then when they get to college...they'll have gone there on their own volition, fuelled by their own desire, capable and ready to thrive there."

I loved Julie's last comment that her children are wildflowers of an unknown genus and species because even though both my children have been born to the same parents and neither has been to school I can tell you that they are not only wildflowers of unknown genus and species but that they are both TOTALLY different wildflowers of unknown genus and species. And as such they need very different things from me as a parent (and from their Dad) to help them feel unconditionally loved and valued. This is one of the many 'lessons' we discuss in our family about how different dd and ds are as well as how different Mum and Dad are (see the 5 Languages of Love results from the 4 of us here as one example of our different needs) I also agree that "it's my job to provide a nourishing environment, to strengthen them through chores and to love them so they can love job is not to make them become what I would have them become, but to support them in becoming their glorious selves."

I love this sentiment and I hope that is what I am doing for my children along with their father. However I do wonder after watching this TED talk whether that is enough?

What I wondered after watching it was by over-parenting do we actually make sure that our children NEVER grow into adults who can make their own decisions. Julie mentions that our children are growing into adults who need a "workplace checklist" because they can't think for themselves and implied in her talk it the need for praise and validation to build their self-esteem. As you may have read in a previous blog post of mine there is a theory out there that rewards are detrimental to everyone (read more here near the bottom of the post.)

Also in the blog post about mental health in children here  I stated that:

Mentally healthy and resilient adults are grown out of children who have such traits as: self-esteem, a healthy body image, positive self-belief, empathy for other people and the planet, a passion for life, an ability to acknowledge and learn from their mistakes, accountability for their actions, etc.

So what happens if these childhood needs don't get met? Do we then have adults who are still acting like children and can't take responsibility for their actions or decisions? Do we have adults who need constant validation and if they don't get it they blame those around them?

I think not over-parenting definitely, helps in this area and teaching our children about love is definitely a must. However, I think that our children also need to learn about not blaming and they need to learn about taking accountability for their actions (revisit Brene Brown here.)

I too often see that low self-esteem and low self-efficacy in adults leads to the blaming of others for things that those adults ALLOWED to happen to them. My children sometimes exhibit this behaviour and it is something that it really hard to teach/explain. I thank goodness that there are people out there like Brene Brown who show that blaming others and not taking accountability is not good (read more here -> blame is basically the discharging of anger)

We need to hold ourselves accountable for what we allow to happen to us.
We need to hold boundaries around what we allow to happen to ourselves.

Hopefully if we are brought up with unconditional love where we have the space and time to build self-efficacy, self-esteem (which I feel includes not blaming but holding others & ourselves accountable), empathy and positive self-belief maybe we can then move forward as an adult in an adult's body and not someone who needs external validation or to blame others when our life doesn't turn out the way we wanted.

A massively tall order I think and one of the reasons I write this blog: to remind myself of the huge task I have taken on being a parent and also the huge responsibility I have in being a wife, a friend, a daughter, a sister or just being a human being interacting with others on this planet!!!!

Anyway go and watch the TED talk -How to raise successful kids - without over-parenting - and consider watching Brene Brown about blame here and Natasha Devon about mental health in schools via my blog here.

Friday, 1 July 2016

#30dayswild - last day & going forward

Well, my last day didn't quite go to plan because my mobile phone suddenly died so I had to take it to the EE shop and lost my ability to take any photos. Luckily I have a camera but unluckily it was flat!!

Soooooooooo I have:

put together a photo of pictures that I haven't publish before but are from the last 30 days

Done my garden design base map which is for my permaculture design which I mentioned at the beginning of the challenge.

I have learnt most of my plants in my garden and I have added the ones I want to keep to this base map so I now know what I am working with.

It was good to see that most of the things that I want to keep in my garden have been added on purpose over the years since my Permaculture Design Couse (PDC)

There is a lot of work still to do but it is going well and I will be planting my tomatoes, squash and day lily plants tomorrow.

I have also started observing the sunshine that reaches which parts of my garden. This is a part of my garden design so I know where there are risks of frost, shade, too much sun, etc. I need to catalogue these properly but here are some photos from 09:30 on a June morning.

The other thing I have been doing is sorting out my internal house wilderness!! I have way too much stuff which is not being used properly.

As part of my permaculture journey, I have been challenging myself to a minimalist month every 4 months. A minimalist month is where you get rid of 1 thing on the 1st of the month; 2 thing on the 2nd of the month; etc to 30 things on the 30th of the month (read more about it here). I have combined this with the idea that if you can pick up a thing and respond to the question "does this bring me joy or enhance my life" with no then I get rid of it (here is a photo of some of the stuff that I got rid of in Feb.)

This last day of the challenge my children joined me and we took 4 bags worth of unneeded stuff to the charity shop and I sold 2 things to others who will get far more use out of them than me.

I know that I spend a lot of time every day tidying my house; dealing with clutter; losing things or misplacing stuff and having to find them, etc. If I can re-distribute the things that I don't need then I am going to waste a lot less of my time with these sorts of things.

Then I can use that time for something more beneficial such as #staywild!!

This challenge has been amazing and I have learnt loads myself and from the wonderful people on the facebook page. I will definitely be doing this challenge next year and would recommend it to everyone.

And here is the last picture I managed to take of the wilderness encroaching on the York City Walls before my phone broke.

Thursday, 30 June 2016

#30dayswild day 29 - keep trying

Today was all about confidence and to keep trying and learning more. I have discovered over the last month is that perseverance is key whether it be with taking photos, drawing, gardening, trying to become more observant in this massively busy world or whatever else.

I have taken photo after photo; spent hours trying to video bees, birds, insects, etc.; tried sketching, tried sketching again.

My husband has set up his time lapse camera in our woodland so many times with no result but he keeps trying just in case he gets that magical shot.

For example, this photo of the York railway station framed by trees was the 3rd photo I took because I wanted to get the clock visible through the trees but the wind kept blowing!!

I took a landscape of the water on spider's web but it didn't show the water as well as the one above in portrait. As long as you are enjoying yourself or are getting something out of the experience it is worth it. All the 'failures' are worth it because you might get that magical shot or you learn something about yourself. I have discovered that my phone camera and camera have features on them that I wasn't even aware of before this challenge started.

I gave myself permission to experiment.
I gave myself the time to explore what I like about photos.
I gave myself time to find out more about the equipment I use for photos.
I decided to stop comparing myself to others - I don't have a fancy camera and, to be honest, if I did I am not going to take in on walks to work or taking my children to activities: I am just going to use my phone. My phone has limits so I worked with that.
I gave myself permission to take a little more time over observing my surroundings.
I gave myself permission to take a little more time to walk somewhere so I could observe and take photos or videos.
I took the time to explore different routes to places so I could explore more of the wonderful city in which I live.
I pushed beyond my comfort zone to try my hand at sketching.

I am sure there are many other things but these are the ones I can think of right now.

So today when I got home from town I got my lovely Caran d'Ache pencils, a 'how to draw insects' book and headed off to my friend's house to try my hand at drawing in colour.

It seems weird but I was more worried about the colouring than the sketching because whenever I have done any drawing it has usually been sketching in pencil or pen. I always feel I should leave a picture there and not 'ruin' it.

However the #30dayswild community on facebook gave me the boost I needed to give it a go and here is the result!! It's not perfect but it is mine and it has inspired me to keep having a go.

Tuesday, 28 June 2016

#30dayswild - days 27-28 - drawing, open door theatre, edible plants and bees again

Well, who would have thought it? Because of the #30dayswild challenge, I decided to have a go at drawing again. I have done some in the past but there has always been that nagging voice in the background: that voice from my art teachers at school: that voice that told me I couldn't draw. I did have one art teacher who told me I was ok because she taught a type of doodly art like this> and I really, really liked doing it but I also really liked the idea of sketching and I was definitely put off that at school.

In later life, I tried my hand at zentangle and again enjoyed that very much but I always wanted to sketch, draw and maybe even do a bit of coloured drawing!!

So thanks again #30dayswild challenge because day 27 I picked up a pen and had a go at sketching. I then posted the pictures to the facebook page to see what people thought and I have been blown away by the response!!

To date, I have 175 likes/loves and loads and loads of fantastic comments. I will be trying my hand at more sketching tomorrow as I am off to an arty friends house for the day and it will be #30dayswild inspired art!!!

Day 29
Today couldn't help but be a nature inspired day because my dd's home education theatre group performed a short version of Midsummer Night's Dream in the York Museum Gardens. The weather didn't hold up which was a shame but luckily we were under trees and nothing could dampen the enthusiasm of the children or all the adults watching. It was fantastic and such a fantastic city center venue in which to perform!!

Another great thing that happened today was that the York Press did a great double-spread piece about home educating in York which featured some of the performers in the play. You can read it here.

One of the reasons I home-educate is because I think children should spend more time in nature. It seemed pertinent to the #30dayswild challenge.

My dh had never been through the relatively new edible wood mentioned in #30daywild blogs here and here so before the performance, we took him there so he could have a look.

I got to take some more photos and try some plants!!

I am hoping to get my hands on some of these types of plants for my garden and I might well be getting an edible daylily from my arty friend tomorrow which I am very excited about.
I love eating daylily nearly as much as nasturtiums.

I also tried to get some pictures and videos of the bees on the lavender but again didn't do too well. I do love the sounds in the background of the video of children in nature and this bee picture didn't turn out to badly.

Sunday, 26 June 2016

#30dayswild - My Bee Movie - day26

Today has been a lot about bees. Having noticed that we had bees under our decking I spent a lot of time trying to get pictures and video of them. It wasn't as easy as I thought as can be seen by my very flaky video!! Enjoy the bees as well as the bird sounds regardless!!

I did manage to get other wild pictures and pictures from a different perspective which was fab. And I got to do with this all with my whole family which is rare!!

We visited the York City Art Gallery as they were doing a deal whereby York residents could get in for free.

As has been a strange theme that seems to have taken hold whilst doing this #30dayswild challenge I took pictures of nature finding a hold on the city walls near the art gallery. I did this whilst standing on the decking getting a fabulous new view on this section of city wall as shown below.


I was also able, whilst standing on the decking, to take pictures of the edible woods mentioned in this blog here after taking photos of these nature-inspired pieces in the art gallery.

I loved the rainbow coloured pieces.

I also loved that as part of the war exhibition my dd wrote that she thought that growing more plants and trees would make the world a better place for everyone.

Whilst sorting out my photos I found these lovely pictures from Newby Hall. I hope I will get more from there next week when I go there again.

I love patterns in nature like in these plants.

#30dayswild extra post - Children's University and Yorkshire Rows encouraging kids to get outdoors

I was at the Children's University Summer Festival last Thursday as I mentioned in my blog post here. I attended with my 2 children who were collecting their latest certificates.

As part of the ceremony, in-between the different groups of kids being congratulated on their achievements, the main talk was from 2 women who were part of the Yorkshire Rows team who rowed across the Atlantic starting in Dec 2015.

It was an inspiring talk and fantastic to see 'older' women supporting each other to achieve such a massive accomplishment: the four of them became the oldest women to cross the Atlantic achieveing a new Atlantic Record and Guinness World Record.

One of the many reasons I home educate is because I want my children to not associate learning with school but have an innate awareness that learning is something that can be done at any age, in any place, on your own, in a team, etc. These women were a great example of that: they decided to learn a new skill together, learnt it and then went on to do something amazing together. They raised money, broke records and one of them even appeared nude on national TV (by mistake.) They were also very humble at the ceremony: taking the time to congratulate the children on their achievements and encouraging them to try new things.

It got me thinking about the great things that people do if they don't limit themselves by ability (these women couldn't row a few years previous), by age (they didn't let their age stop them), by gender, by status (they are all mothers) or by anything. What a great example to everyone and fitting that I attended this whilst also doing the #30dayswild challenge: you can't really get wilder than rowing across the Atlantic encountering sharks, whales, turtles, flying fish, negotiating a hurricane and dealing with 40-foot waves.

I am not going to add doing that to my list of things to do this month or even next year but it has made me think and my children seemed inspired as well. And that is the other thing I wanted to add in this post: the Children's University are a great organisation which has a specific category for outdoors learning as well as having learning partners with Forestry Commission and English Heritage. In other areas of the country, Forest Schools are also a recognised learning destination.  So Children's University is encouraging wilderness activities. Maybe the Wildlife Trusts could become a learning partner with them?

Saturday, 25 June 2016

#30dayswild days 24-25

Day 24

I was working all day so during my lunch break I decided to do a bit of clearing up at the back of  my work. I took all the recyclables home and binned the rest.

Then I did my usual walk but decided to take crazy pictures of nature breaking through pavements, walls and other spaces. I didn't want to do my usual collage so I tested out a new thing for showing pictures. I got it by using this website here and I quite like it.
Unfortunately the website in question deleted my photos when my free trial ran out so you cannot see the photos anymore. Here's a different one!!

Later on I went for a walk with my gorgeous dh and couldn't resist the usual sunset photos on the way to the shops and then again on the way back.

Day 25

Another day at work and I didn't want to do the usual walk at lunch time around the fab York City Walls so I decided to walk down by the river. Having done the plants through pavements photos yesterday I noticed the plants growing through the walls along the riverside. I took some photos and thought I would display these scrolling gallery style (again using the cincopa website.) Again the website in question deleted my photos.

There was a family of geese near where I was so I got photos of them too!! You can scroll through the photos to see them.

I found a feather by the front door of work when I got back as well as 2 on the way back which I created worktop desk art with!!

It was fun working next to feathers for the rest of the afternoon.

I then got this lovely picture from the back of where I work on the way home.

Walking home I really appreciated walking through the Poppy Fields that I blogged about here. And then was really pleased when even though it looked like it was going to rain (see below), it didn't and I got to take this picture of starlings.

Before this #30dayswild challenge I wouldn't have even noticed the birds, let alone have known what type of bird they were!!!

Thursday, 23 June 2016

#30dayswild days 21-23 - walking around York

The last 3 days of the #30dayswild challenge has been mostly about noticing more of the nature around my home city of York. I have found that since starting this challenge I am more aware of the green that we are lucky enough to have around the city which maybe I hadn't really noticed before.

I have been trying to tweet via instagram as I have gone along but I thought I would also get my pictures logged here as well!!

Day 21

The pictures below are from my walk around York City on the North West side.

Day 22

Walking into town again along the river when we witnessed a huge branch breaking off a tree.

The noise it made as it broke was amazing!!

This picture shows the gap and the hanging branch.

We then spent 2 hours in the fantastic Museum Gardens which I have mentioned before in my #30dayswild blog here watching my dd play in nature with her friends!!

I snapped a picture of this squirrel but mostly just enjoyed the sun and chatting with my friends!!

Day 23

Whilst my kids were at their weekly Parkour class I took the opportunity to explore the natural wonders of my local business park and was surprised to find 2 ponds which I didn't even know were there. I also collected 3 feathers on my walk and made natural art!!

For the 3rd time in 3 days I needed to walk into town to watch my kids collect their certificates at the Children's University Summer Festival. This celebration has been planned for a few months now so I decided to take the #30dayswild challenge into account and parked up at a friends and walked into town from her and her kids.

This meant that my children and I got to experience a different part of York - photographed below - and I got to eat lunch in her garden (top left.) My friend thinks the big blue tube is something to do with gas. Her daughter thinks it is excellent to climb and I thought it made a great urban-meets-nature photo.

We then came home to another fantastic sunset (with added balloon) 

AND I managed to do 14 out of 14 hours of over 250 steps on my fitbit. 

Tuesday, 21 June 2016

#30dayswild - day 20 - celebrating the Strawberry Moon

It had to be done didn't it? Celebrating the Summer Solstice Strawberry Moon with the virgin fire in our chiminea? I thought so too so that is what we did. I also took some pictures of the lovely sunset as well!!!

Dh, dd and I all wrote the things we wanted to put behind on and burnt them.

We then wrote the dreams we had for the coming year and burnt those too. You can see the paper in one of the photos!!

I then sat and listened to the dusk while the fire went out.

I stayed up to get a photo of the full moon but it was too cloudy. So I stayed up a bit longer and got some very blurry pictures.

So I switched from my camera to my phone and tried out some different modes and managed to get these few photos whilst also remembering I had also taken the sunset ones on my evening walk.

I love the moon reflecting on the skylight on the roof of my house!!

Still don't quite get a clear picture but I think they came out better than on the camera even though the camera is more powerful.

At least I managed to find some different modes on both my camera and phone which meant that these are better than any I have taken before.

I think these were taken in night mode and you have to hold the camera or phone for a few seconds before it starts processing the pictures. Not easy when you are leaning out of a velux window. Good fun though discovering more ways to take photos!!

And great that I remembered my sunset photos!!

I always love taking pictures in this gap in the houses as you get to see the sky.

This sounds strange but in York it isn't easy to see the sunset because York is very flat and there are lots of houses. To see any sunsets I usually have to go into my attic room and lean out of the velux.

So I always try to add this road to my walks to get a good look at the sky. It always pays off.