End of Summer Bucket List

July 30th, 2014

It’s that time of the year, and I’m freaking out a little bit. It’s time to get ready for back to school and I am not ready.  I want to savor the beautiful days, and time outside, and wait - what was it that I wanted to do again? Here’s my end-of-Summer bucket list; I hope it will help you to to savor every moment (and even savor moments outside after school starts):

1. Find a Pick-Your-Own farm. When I lived in Virginia and was writing 15 Minutes Outside: 365 Ways to Get Out of the House and Connect with Your Kids, August was peach season, leading into raspberries at the end of August. Wherever you live, you’ll find a worthwhile (and delicious!) field trip in a pick-your-own experience.

2. Play outside a little longer. Make picnic dinners at the park a regular park of your routine. Better yet, with each picnic find a new park to enjoy and you’ll have a list of go-to places after school starts to add to your picnic dinner routine.

3. Revisit your favorites. Ask each family member what the best part of Summer has been so far; keep a running list on the counter as you think of activities. Whatever you loved that much, if it is still accessible, do it again! Ask yourself also if those are things you can do September onward to bring back that feeling of Summer.

4. Plant for the butterflies. Native to North America, milkweed is relatively easy to find and plant in the U.S. this time of year (if you live elsewhere, ask your local nursery which native plants are host plants for butterflies). If you are lucky, the milkweed plants (my favorite is orange asclepias tuberosa) may have monarch butterfly eggs all over them like ours did. The kids watched twelve caterpillars grow from teeny tiny to huge. Watching them build their chrysalises into September and hatch into monarch butterflies was awesome!

5. Get curious, over and over again. We are all constantly on the go, and asking simple questions of one another is sometimes the easiest way to learn about each other and how you and those closest to you like to spend time outside. Need some help? My portable Rebecca Plants Curiosity Cards are great to keep by the door, in your bag, and in the car for 50 open-ended questions.

And of course, stay connected with me on my new Facebook page, Be Outside and Grow, for outdoor inspiration any time of the year.

About Rebecca P. Cohen
Rebecca P. Cohen believes time outside transforms our lives for the better. Rebecca is author of the book, 15 Minutes Outside: 365 Ways to Get Out of the House and Connect with Your Kids (Sourcebooks), the upcoming children’s book series PJ’s Backyard Adventures, and inventor of Rebecca Plants Curiosity Cards. She is also host of the video series, Get Out of the House, which shows fun ideas for time outside in every season.  For Rebecca’s inspiring blog and free downloads, visit RebeccaPlants.com.

Bookmark and Share

1 Way to Make the World Cup Last

July 17th, 2014

A pick up game at 10,000 feet

Whether adult or kid, there was a special connection with World Cup fans watching all over the world, and there is one thing my family does that anyone can do to capture the essence of the love of this global game:

Bring a soccer ball/football with you wherever you go.

Why is having a soccer ball on hand so special? You are ready for a fun pick up game anywhere, any time. Football is a connection that transcends the need for language. Young and old, you make friends in an instant.

For example, when we moved to a new town two years ago, we didn’t know anyone, so we’d just show up at a local park with a ball and we always had someone to play with, adults and kids. Even if you are by yourself, juggling the ball with your feet is a great way to pass the time if you have to wait somewhere.

This isn’t just a local tip for in the car, it is a traveling must: keep a soccer ball with you in your backpack for fun anytime. My 12 year-old even juggles in an empty corner while waiting for the luggage to appear at the airport and always attracts more fun.

My friend and artist T Duryea (@TinaDuryea) inspired me to communicate this simple yet powerful tip with with her recent post on Facebook showing children in Rome playing football in a piazza. She said, “You don’t need a perfect pitch to learn how to play. All you need is a ball.”

I noted, “We travel with a ball wherever we go and always find friends.”

Tina replied, “Rebecca, what a great idea when traveling with kids! The global language is ‘football’ after all.”

If you love soccer and haven’t seen the documentary, Pelada, about two U.S. soccer players after university traveling the world in search of pick-up games, I highly recommend it. The film will inspire you to be open to pick up and discovering the simple love of the game wherever you may be, whether in your own or another country.

Pelada inspired my family’s continued practice of bringing a soccer ball with us wherever we go, and we’ve found pick up with kids and adults not only at home, but also:

  • On a Mexican beach
  • In a park in Rome
  • Outside the football stadium in Malta
  • At a Luxembourg youth hostel with a traveling German soccer team
  • On road trips around the United States

Here’s to the love of the game, amateur or professional, young and old, that connects us wherever we go (and remember to bring a ball).

About Rebecca P. Cohen

Rebecca P. Cohen is author of the book, 15 Minutes Outside: 365 Ways to Get Out of the House and Connect with Your Kids (Sourcebooks), the digital excerpt The Best Outdoor Activities for Families: Wintertime, and inventor of Rebecca Plants Curiosity Cards. Rebecca’s work has been featured in Better Home and Gardens, Parenting, Redbook, Working Mother, Family Circle, Backyard Solutions, and Rebecca has appeared on live morning news shows around the country. Continually inspired by nature, the potential of all children, and world travel, Rebecca is writing a children’s book series to be published later this year. For more information visit RebeccaPlants.com.

Bookmark and Share

Get Curious and Plant with Kids

May 13th, 2014

April and May are my favorite months to start sprouting vegetable seeds, and one of my favorite activities is planting peas with children.  It started several years ago when I would do this activity with my own kids’ classrooms, and now I’ve taught over 5,000 students, from pre-school to middle school, how to sprout and grow sugar snap pea seeds.

Supplies:

1. One cup per child

2. Newspaper (1 “half” page for each child)

3. Sugar snap pea seeds (2 for each child)

How to Plant. First, crumple up your newspaper inside the cup. Second, place a pea seed on each side of the cup (just for room to grow) between the newspaper and the cup (you could use one seed; I prefer to have two seeds as a back up!). Third, water the newspaper with about a quarter cup of water (basically, so the newspaper stays moist).  If there is standing water in the cup, that is too much; simply pour excess water out.

How to Maintain. Place the cup on a sunny windowsill where you can see the cup each day and have your child touch the newspaper to see if it is still moist.  When you notice the newspaper is drying out (likely every 3 -4 days), have your child squeeze a wet paper towel over the newspaper to re-moisten it.  Your pea seed should sprout in 3-7 days.  Within 2 weeks, your pea plant will start to climb; place a stick in the cup for support.  Within 6-8 weeks, the plant will produce flowers from which the pea pods will start to grow (the best sight of all!).  The newspaper with the seeds can be transplanted at any time to a sunny location into soil in a container or in the ground (peas grow at 40+ degrees Fahrenheit) and 6-8 hours of sun.  Keep soil moist, but allow water to drain.  Determine how often to water by checking soil daily with your finger (an inch+ down in the soil where the roots are).  Kids love to do this!

My book, 15 Minutes Outside: 365 Ways to Get Out of the House and Connect with Your Kids has many activities for fun and easy planting with your kids.  Here is a quick reference index of some activities for you:

  • p.19 “Explore the Plant Lifecycle with Your Kids”
  • p.36 “Sunny Science with Newspaper”
  • p.51 “Build a Raised Vegetable Bed”
  • p.53 “Plant Peas”
  • p.63 “How to Plant Vegetables in Containers”
  • p.65 “Make a Perennial Garden”
  • p.87 “Plant Your Summer Vegetables” and “Turn Your Vegetable Garden Over to Your Kids”
  • p.179 “Harvest Your Own Seeds”

No matter how you explore the plant lifecycle, give you and your child permission to experiment and have fun!  Some experiments work and some won’t, and you learn each time.

Why do I keep planting with kids?  Kids are fantastic, intelligent, and curious sponges.  They are fully present in whatever they do.  Every child deserves to learn the life skill of growing food, and planting sugar snap pea seeds is such an easy, inexpensive science lesson with a sweet result at the end.

About Rebecca P. Cohen
Rebecca P. Cohen is the go-to spokesperson for outdoor activities any time of the year.  Rebecca is author of the book, 15 Minutes Outside: 365 Ways to Get Out of the House and Connect with Your Kids (Sourcebooks), the digital excerpt The Best Outdoor Activities for Families: Wintertime, and inventor of Rebecca Plants Curiosity Cards. Rebecca’s work has been featured in Better Home and Gardens, Parenting, Redbook, Working Mother, Family Circle, Backyard Solutions, and has appeared on live morning news shows around the country. Rebecca has been a proud ambassador of the Seeds of Change Sowing Millions Project and featured as a spokesmom for the National Wildlife Federation’s Be Out There movement on PBS Wild Animal Baby.  She has inspired thousands with her public appearances and community and school events, and motivates still more to follow their dreams and passions as the host of Wish It, Dream It, Do It! radio. For more information visit RebeccaPlants.com.

Bookmark and Share

Lessons from a river

March 20th, 2014

Whatever you want the weather to be like, there is a message for you in experiencing nature the way it is. Two years ago, I moved to Colorado from Virginia, where normally now the first daffodils would be coming up. Instead, snow is lingering a little too long for some on the east coast.  Our second Spring here in a western mountain town, I am also missing the daffodils, which come up in May when the snow is finally gone, just before glorious Summer begins in June.

But what about Spring?!  A recent injury prevented my preferred activities of yoga and snowshoeing, and instead I had to…walk, and experience day-to-day a new kind of Spring.

I’m only allowed forward movement.  Isn’t that a nice metaphor for life?  Instead of a treadmill, I opted for brisk lunchtime walks on our town bike path.  Sunny days, grey days, good weather, bad weather.  Forward motion has not only been making my knee stronger, but my mind as well.

Walking along the river in the last month:
1. I had to accept the external elements and move forward regardless
2. Deciding to take a step forward and keep moving (many times to stay warm!) gave me more energy
3. I have to be present to slick spots or other people along the path
4. And then, while briskly moving forward, I relax, still progressing in flow
5. I notice sights, sounds, details of nature, even the days when I am moving against or with the river’s flow
6. And sometimes, I give myself permission - I choose to stop - and be ok with non-movement, embraced by the stillness

A moment in nature anywhere, even if it is not in-your-face beautiful, is an awakening if you are willing to take it in.

It was during my walks that I decided to publish later this year the first of a series of children’s books that have been nudging me for months.

The injury? That was no accident. I read recently a quote that said, “Things don’t happen to you. They happen for you.” I needed this time of literal forward motion for not only healing, but also awakening.

May you discover Spring within - transform what is happening to you into what is happening for you and use it to take a step forward in your amazing journey of life.

About Rebecca P. Cohen
Rebecca P. Cohen is the go-to spokesperson for outdoor activities any time of the year.  Rebecca is author of the book, 15 Minutes Outside: 365 Ways to Get Out of the House and Connect with Your Kids (Sourcebooks), the digital excerpt The Best Outdoor Activities for Families: Wintertime, and inventor of Rebecca Plants Curiosity Cards. Rebecca’s work has been featured in Better Home and Gardens, Parenting, Redbook, Working Mother, Family Circle, Backyard Solutions, and has appeared on live morning news shows around the country. Rebecca has been a proud ambassador of the Seeds of Change Sowing Millions Project and featured as a spokesmom for the National Wildlife Federation’s Be Out There movement on PBS Wild Animal Baby.  She has inspired thousands with her public appearances and community and school events, and motivates still more to follow their dreams and passions as the host of Wish It, Dream It, Do It! radio. For more information visit RebeccaPlants.com.

Bookmark and Share

What do you value in travel?

October 5th, 2013

Last December, I received the first royalty check for my book 15 Minutes Outside: 365 Ways to Get Out of the House and Connect with Your Kids. That moment also happened to be the deadline for Peg Mulqueen’s Yoga and Surf Retreat in Costa Rica. The check I received happened to be the exact amount that I needed for a week of outdoor yoga in paradise. I held up the check and exclaimed, “Costa Rica!”.

As soon as I got to Costa Rica, I thought, “I want my family to see this.”

I don’t know about you, but life according to a school schedule and an educational experience that is not able to afford my kids experiential learning as it relates to the rest of the world is really cramping my style.

In travel, I value authentic connection with the locals, food, and to discover the things the people who live there love. Peg Mulqueen takes her group to the OSA Penninsula (south west of Costa Rica) to share a private property for approximately 30 people with a chef for every meal, clean and delicious eating of what is in season, with spa services by the beach and private surf instruction. Oh, and did I mention that the OSA Penninsula was named by National Geographic magazine as one of the most biodiverse places on Earth? I’m sure the Galapagos is great, but I want my family here first.

If this picture of a bright purple and orange crab isn’t enough, imagine colorful red, yellow, and blue macaws flying in groups overhead the property every day and knowing where they are first by following the sounds of the crackling, crunching of nuts on trees on the property.

I am still dreaming of taking my family to this retreat in Costa Rica; and you know what? I’m done dreaming.

I’m looking for 7-10 other families who are tired of just another resort where you could be anywhere and who want to spend their precious vacation time with family-friendly adventure around the world.

The plan is, no matter where we go, to have a resident naturalist and educator, including language lessons for all – participate in as much or as little as you’d like. If your kids have to miss school, we’ll make sure the assignments get done. I’m ready for my kids to make lasting friendships in other parts of the world and with a perspective that helps them authentically connect to others and the nature around the globe.

So, do you want to join me? If you have wishes for travel with your kids that go beyond traditional hotels and tourist traps and want to experience a sense of place and nature as the locals do, contact me. I’d love for your family to authentically connect with the next place I’ll travel with mine.

About Rebecca P. Cohen
Rebecca P. Cohen is the go-to spokesperson for outdoor activities any time of the year.  Rebecca is author of the book, 15 Minutes Outside: 365 Ways to Get Out of the House and Connect with Your Kids (Sourcebooks), the digital excerpt The Best Outdoor Activities for Families: Wintertime, and inventor of Rebecca Plants Curiosity Cards. Rebecca’s work has been featured in Better Home and Gardens, Parenting, Redbook, Working Mother, Family Circle, Backyard Solutions, and has appeared on live morning news shows around the country. Rebecca has been a proud ambassador of the Seeds of Change Sowing Millions Project and featured as a spokesmom for the National Wildlife Federation’s Be Out There movement on PBS Wild Animal Baby.  She has inspired thousands with her public appearances and community and school events, and motivates still more to follow their dreams and passions as the host of Wish It, Dream It, Do It! radio. For more information visit RebeccaPlants.com.

Bookmark and Share

Identify the essence, then repeat

August 29th, 2013

We all have those moments of perfection from our best vacations – what if we could bring the essence of them into every day life?

Rather than a specific place on a map, there is a feeling that exists in touching the depth and breadth of a moment – a way of being in an experience that has a magical effect.

I’ve been traveling a lot lately, and the latest travel sprints have had moments of contrast and clarity to how I want to experience the world.

In collecting recommendations for future trips, I asked for a friend’s favorite spot from summer travel:

“Somewhere deep in the sea, after a long swim where you can hardly see the shore”

I was surprised – and fascinated – by the answer: not a specific place, an experience.

My friend’s answer got me thinking about the qualities that create the essence of my magical moments when traveling; the best have spontaneous and authentic connection to others and to nature. I love new experiences and I’ve been curious if I can bring that excitement of travel into my every day.

After yesterday’s discombobulated shift in routine to the first day of school, this second day offered a welcome spot in my schedule, and I decided on a whim to head out the door for a lunchtime bike ride…Spontaneity

I headed down to the bike path that runs through town along the river, enjoying the sunshine, breeze, and the refreshing sound of the water…Nature

And, with every person I passed, we shared a grin at the gorgeous day and experiencing it…Authentic connection

As my son’s former teacher reminded us yesterday, “It’s Summer until September 21st!”. There is a lot more Summer fun to be had. So guess what I’m doing this long holiday weekend? A camping trip to the Grand Canyon with my nine year old, just him and me. I thought of it today and just booked the campground – we are ecstatic - its our kind of spontaneous experience in nature, together.

What about you?  We each can reconnect with that feeling of summer – remember your best experience and identify the qualities that made it so special. Create your own personal metaphor capturing the essence of moment, and invite those qualities into your daily life.

And thank you A Mighty Girl for an awesome back-to-school review of 15 Minutes Outside, also reminding us that we can savor the feeling of Summer everyday.

About Rebecca P. Cohen
Rebecca P. Cohen is the go-to spokesperson for outdoor activities any time of the year.  Rebecca is author of the book, 15 Minutes Outside: 365 Ways to Get Out of the House and Connect with Your Kids (Sourcebooks), the digital excerpt The Best Outdoor Activities for Families: Wintertime, and inventor of Rebecca Plants Curiosity Cards. Rebecca’s work has been featured in Better Home and Gardens, Parenting, Redbook, Working Mother, Family Circle, Backyard Solutions, and has appeared on live morning news shows around the country. Rebecca has been a proud ambassador of the Seeds of Change Sowing Millions Project and featured as a spokesmom for the National Wildlife Federation’s Be Out There movement on PBS Wild Animal Baby.  She has inspired thousands with her public appearances and community and school events, and motivates still more to follow their dreams and passions as the host of Wish It, Dream It, Do It! radio. For more information visit RebeccaPlants.com.

Bookmark and Share

Embrace possibility every day

June 18th, 2013

I am a beginner again.  All at once, I am tired at the thought of the road ahead and at the same time exhilarated.  Yet, I am curious and excited enough to push forward.

The first five years of my business, I learned yoga from Peg Mulqueen, and my journey in yoga was an amazing metaphor for what was happening in my life.  Peg taught me how to breathe and lean into things that I never thought were possible on the mat, which helped me manifest even more of my personal goals.

At a crossroads with new creative projects that require me to dream and take action, I serendipitously found that I was missing my teacher, someone who can see where I am ready to leap even when I am afraid.

As input to future projects, I have been reading, The Absorbent Mind, by Maria Montessori. Montessori discusses how a child learns through joy, curiosity, and life experiences.  Adults are no exception - we just have to sometimes remember the essence of when we loved to learn.

I find that time outside - for kids and adults - provides that sense of openness, curiosity, and wonder which connects us to the joy of learning.

Since attending Peg’s yoga retreat in Costa Rica (daily outdoor yoga = heaven!), I have been drawn to my yoga mat every morning.  The week of yoga opened a creative door for me that I leveraged while I was there, but without a teacher I found I wasn’t pushing myself beyond my comfort zone when I returned.

On and off the mat, I have been wanting the courage to consistently take action from a place of possibility, embracing the joy of learning.

“I need a Peg!” I told my yoga teacher in Costa Rica.

“You don’t need me; you need a community of practice,” Peg smiled.

Three months later, having sought out yoga in Tel Aviv, Cincinnati, Arlington, VA, Washington, DC, and Philadelphia as a way to ease jet lag and maintain my well being on the road, my teacher was right (of course).  I needed to seek out teachers and a community that I wanted to be around and lovingly push me forward even though I may resist at the start.

With every new place, pose, and teacher, feeling like a beginner takes patience and compassion for yourself, and remembering why you are doing something in the first place.

My current goal is to make every day better than expected.  So far, so good.  And I have to thank yoga for that, opening me to a place of possibility with every practice that allows for magic to happen.

About Rebecca P. Cohen
Rebecca P. Cohen is the go-to spokesperson for outdoor activities any time of the year.  Rebecca is author of the book, 15 Minutes Outside: 365 Ways to Get Out of the House and Connect with Your Kids (Sourcebooks), the digital excerpt The Best Outdoor Activities for Families: Wintertime, and inventor of Rebecca Plants Curiosity Cards. Rebecca’s work has been featured in Better Home and Gardens, Parenting, Redbook, Working Mother, Family Circle, Backyard Solutions, and has appeared on live morning news shows around the country. Rebecca has been a proud ambassador of the Seeds of Change Sowing Millions Project and featured as a spokesmom for the National Wildlife Federation’s Be Out There movement on PBS Wild Animal Baby.  She has inspired thousands with her public appearances and community and school events, and motivates still more to follow their dreams and passions as the host of Wish It, Dream It, Do It! radio. For more information visit RebeccaPlants.com.

Bookmark and Share

Let’s Get Outside in April

April 5th, 2013

Does your spirit need a lift?  Take your kids outside.

In a transition to Spring that has been hectic for me and my boys hopping from activity to activity, its simple outdoor time that keeps us grounded and connected as a family.  In my new hometown of Steamboat Springs, Colorado the last 48 hours have brought such amazing and simple joys with my kids that can be done anywhere:

1. Playing ‘Pooh Sticks’ (racing sticks) in rushing water from spring rain
2. Skipping rocks
3. Bringing a ball to a playground, inspiring new friends and games
4. Planting sugar snap peas

April is Let’s G.O. (Get Outside) month.  I encourage you to enter your zip code to find an event near you or create an informal event with some families for time outside.

In celebration of Let’s G.O., I will be planting sugar snap peas with other families at two events in my town:
1. Saturday, April 13th 4pm-5pm MT at Little Toots Park (next to library)
2. Saturday, April 20th 10:30am-11:30am MT at Legacy Ranch (Rt 40 S before Rt 131 on right).  Raised bed clean up through noon!  Limited parking; carpool with your friends.  Optional: bring an extra shovel or rake.

All events rain or shine. Supplies will be provided.  For more information, or directions to Yampatika’s Environmental Learning Center at Legacy Ranch, contact me.  Attending both events is encouraged, but not required. Sugar snap pea seeds will sprout within 7 days and can be brought back to Legacy Ranch to plant in-ground and will be ready for harvest in approximately 8 weeks.

Each Spring, I am amazed time and time again of the power of planting seeds together. Planting only takes five minutes, and the daily excitement and learning of watching seeds sprout and grow lasts for months!

Sugar snap peas love cool spring temperatures of 40 degrees Fahrenheit and up.  Its as simple as grabbing a clear cup from your kitchen and placing two seeds in moist newspaper instead of soil on a sunny windowsill.  Additional instructions are at the bottom of p.36 of 15 Minutes Outside.

Let’s Get Outside in April - and at least 15 minutes outside every day.  By stepping outside, possibilities open up that allow for unexpected joy and the sixty minute minimum that we all need.  You and your family will be energized, connected, and glad you did.

About Rebecca P. Cohen
Rebecca P. Cohen is the go-to spokesperson for outdoor activities any time of the year.  Rebecca is author of the book, 15 Minutes Outside: 365 Ways to Get Out of the House and Connect with Your Kids (Sourcebooks), the digital excerpt The Best Outdoor Activities for Families: Wintertime, and inventor of Rebecca Plants Curiosity Cards. Rebecca’s work has been featured in Better Home and Gardens, Parenting, Redbook, Working Mother, Family Circle, Backyard Solutions, and has appeared on live morning news shows around the country. Rebecca has been a proud ambassador of the Seeds of Change Sowing Millions Project and featured as a spokesmom for the National Wildlife Federation’s Be Out There movement on PBS Wild Animal Baby.  She has inspired thousands with her public appearances and community and school events, and motivates still more to follow their dreams and passions as the host of Wish It, Dream It, Do It! radio. For more information visit RebeccaPlants.com.

Bookmark and Share

A thank you to teachers

April 2nd, 2013

My mom is retiring this year after almost thirty years in teaching!  In appreciation of teachers’ dedication to our kids, here are some fun and easy ways to bring learning outside from my book, 15 Minutes Outside: 365 Ways to Get Out of the House and Connect with Your Kids, which I’m touched has a loyal following of educators too.

1. Plant seeds. My favorite are sugar snap pea seeds for their engaging example of the plant lifecycle and sweet taste at harvest.  There are so many ways to sprout seeds, including using moist newspaper instead of soil for easy classroom clean up.  Peas can be planted outside when temperatures are above 40 degrees Fahrenheit.

2. Make bagel bird feeders. Tie twine around a half a bagel, spread shortening on the bagel, and dip in bird seed.  Want to get creative with your pantry?  Chop nuts, grapes, apples, and sprinkle corn meal instead of buying a bad of seed.

3.  Plant patterns. I did an outdoor lesson with a kindergarten class learning patterns.  The class voted on a patterns of orange and purple pansies.  Then, the children had a planting day where they each had a plant, organized themselves in the pattern, placed the flowers in the pattern and then planted!

4.  Plant milkweed. Watch the butterfly lifecycle in action by planting what monarch caterpillars eat!  Native to North America, milkweed returns every year (a perennial) and it attracts migrating orange monarchs to lay their eggs in the Summer.  By Fall, tiny monarch caterpillars will eat and eat and eat, form their chrysalises, and transform into butterflies just in time for the start of school.

5. Learn about temperature, clouds, and states of matter. Any subject can be taught outside, and a 15 minute daily walk with your class is sure to resonate with whatever you are teaching, anytime of year.  Want to connect with other teachers getting kids outside?  Become a Natural Teacher or sign up for Rebecca’s free newsletter, Learn Outside.

About Rebecca P. Cohen
Rebecca P. Cohen is the go-to spokesperson for outdoor activities any time of the year.  Rebecca is author of the book, 15 Minutes Outside: 365 Ways to Get Out of the House and Connect with Your Kids (Sourcebooks), the digital excerpt The Best Outdoor Activities for Families: Wintertime, and inventor of Rebecca Plants Curiosity Cards. Rebecca’s work has been featured in Better Home and Gardens, Parenting, Redbook, Working Mother, Family Circle, Backyard Solutions, and has appeared on live morning news shows around the country. Rebecca has been a proud ambassador of the Seeds of Change Sowing Millions Project and featured as a spokesmom for the National Wildlife Federation’s Be Out There movement on PBS Wild Animal Baby.  She has inspired thousands with her public appearances and community and school events, and motivates still more to follow their dreams and passions as the host of Wish It, Dream It, Do It! radio. For more information visit RebeccaPlants.com.

Bookmark and Share

Happiness is…

February 10th, 2013

You can fill in the blank for yourself, but I learned one answer for me last weekend.

To me, happiness is falling and still having fun.

I’ve been reflecting lately on a quote from author Paulo Coelho in his book, Aleph:

“Traveling is never a matter of money, but of courage.”

The “traveling” Coelho mentions could mean getting on an airplane and exploring new places, but I’d rather think of traveling as the way in which one approaches every day life.  We can think of each day as an adventure, throwing our hands up in the air with nervous glee at unexpected twists and turns, or we can try to force structure and safety and expected outcomes, rigid and afraid.  Either way, there are going to be times when we fall.

I’d like to think that if I approach every day as a new adventure, the experience of falling might actually be the opposite of devastating.  Regardless of whether I fall, I’ll probably have more fun.

Last weekend, I experienced the surprising joy of falling.  On two occasions on the slopes, I flew out of my skis, and laughed hysterically the whole way.  I don’t think I had ever been so happy to “fail”.

I learned downhill skiing as an adult, of course not a prerequisite for winter fun by any means (as my eight year-old likes to remind me there are countless ways to have fun in winter outside; sledding, building snow forts, or exploring just to name a few).

What I have noticed with skiing is that you need to be completely present at every twist and turn.  In my almost two decades of not being an expert skier, I’ve had plenty of days that I have been worried about falling.  However, I can count only on one hand the number of times that I have fallen.  Why have I been torturing myself with worry?

Last weekend, for some reason I wasn’t worried about falling - I didn’t care if I did.  I was smiling and humming, and listening to the “woo hoo”s and “oh yeah!”s of myself and other skiers.  We were present with the adventure.

When I flew out of my skis, I had been attempting something new:  entering knee-deep powder, once in a turn and a second time over a bump.  Both times, my shins hit the wall of snow and my skis stopped, but my body kept going with a face-plant in the cold snow.  Instead of being embarrassed, I was elated and alive and belly laughing.  Of course I was glad not to be hurt, but I’m sure the fact that I wasn’t afraid to fall had a lot to do with how I walked away from it and kept on going.

Later that afternoon, on our last run down the mountain, a line of a dozen five and six year old downhill racers zoomed past my husband and me, one by one leaning forward in race mode with knees bent and poles back.  Clearly, these children approach life as an adventure and haven’t learned to think otherwise.

Here’s to approaching our every day with a little more ‘traveling’ and adventure, so that when we do fall, we are laughing the whole way.

About Rebecca P. Cohen
Rebecca P. Cohen is the go-to spokesperson for outdoor activities any time of the year.  Rebecca is author of the book, 15 Minutes Outside: 365 Ways to Get Out of the House and Connect with Your Kids (Sourcebooks), the digital excerpt The Best Outdoor Activities for Families: Wintertime, and inventor of Rebecca Plants Curiosity Cards. Rebecca’s work has been featured in Better Home and Gardens, Parenting, Redbook, Working Mother, Family Circle, Backyard Solutions, and has appeared on live morning news shows around the country. Rebecca has been a proud ambassador of the Seeds of Change Sowing Millions Project and featured as a spokesmom for the National Wildlife Federation’s Be Out There movement on PBS Wild Animal Baby.  She has inspired thousands with her public appearances and community and school events, and motivates still more to follow their dreams and passions as the host of Wish It, Dream It, Do It! radio. For more information visit RebeccaPlants.com.

Bookmark and Share