Saturday Afternoon Picnic

Does it seem too cloudy or cold to head outside? Don’t let the weather hold you and your family back because the benefits of nature are too many to count!  Think about the last time you spent with your family or friends outside.  It doesn’t require toys to keep the kids happy.  Men can talk and go deeper than football.  Women?  Well, we always need time to talk more! Our spirits are lifted.  It is scientifically proven over and over that nature brings happiness especially during times of pain.  This includes physical, mental, and emotional pain.  Check this out:

“This (healing in nature) is nicely demonstrated in a now classic study of patients who underwent gallbladder surgery; half had a view of trees and half had a view of a wall. The patients with the view of trees tolerated pain better, had fewer negative effects, and spent less time in a hospital.” http://www.takingcharge.csh.umn.edu/enhance-your-wellbeing/environment/nature-and-us/how-does-nature-impact-our-wellbeing

marc-foot-in-hammock

Some of our greatest memories have been outside with the kids.  I found that the children fight less, their faces glow as they discover new things, and tend to complain less.

Last year, we were living in the jungles near Vietnam.  We made a date as a family that every Saturday we would drive out somewhere new and have a picnic. This became our favorite day of the week.  It wasn’t easy because every time, I had to cook from scratch.  Where we lived, we had no grocery store to pick up bread but open markets with basics.  So on this day, I got up early to start the dough and make bread.  The bread I made became a family favorite.  I cooked up bacon crispy and stir fried peppers, onion, and garlic.  I than crumbled this into the dough before the second rise.  And, as always, cooked the bread in an iron skillet to insure good heat distribution in our really bad stove!  What came out this day was moist rolls with delicious bacon crunch inside!  Made for a picnic favorite!

callie-picnic-in-jungle

How long has it been since you’ve enjoyed a picnic?  Is it cold? Pull out the fleeces and find some open space.  I promise your family will never forget it.

How Do You Think Your Kids Would Do On A Long Trip?

Superman can truly express his powers in wide open space:)
Superman can truly express his powers in wide open space:)

 

How Do You Think Your Kids Would Do On A Long Trip?

Check out the posts on http://www.becomingminimalist.com by Joshua Becker. He has some great advice and perspectives on living on less!

5 Best Hidden Places in Southeast Asia

The Top Attractions in Southeast Asia Most People Don’t Know About

There is no reason to stay on the tourist path in the beautiful countries of Southeast Asia.  The peoples of Southeast Asia are friendly and willing to help accommodate you especially when you head off the tourist track.  Over our years traveling most of the countries of Southeast Asia, these 5 are our favorite off the beaten path places we’ve been.  Next time you travel, get the whole experience, get off the trail!

  1. Mondulkiri, Cambodia

waterfall

Definitely a favorite for us is Mondulkiri Province is located in East Cambodia and only recently traveled by tourists due to the recent highway opening.  A 6 hour taxi ride from Phnom Penh, there is so much to explore from hidden waterfalls with heights of 20 meters to jungle treks alongside elephants. A definite get away to unplug and enjoy nature.

2.  Lampang Thailand Thai Elephant Conservation Center (www.friendsoftheasianelephant.org)

injured-elephant

In Chiang Mai, we took the bus on an hour drive to the conservation through the beautiful hills when I was 9 months pregnant with my first!  They take excellent care of their elephants and operate the first elephant hospital in Thailand with injured elephants from surrounding Laos and Cambodia.  On our visit we saw a baby elephant missing a foot from stepping on a land mine. Quiet a site for a pregnant mom! Support their work by clicking the link above.

3. Inle Lake Myanmar

the-inle-lake-burma

Stepping out of time and going back 100 years, Inle lake will ease you into its life of simplicity as you experience life on the water.  Watching boat drivers steer with their feet, children run and play on narrow decks in front of their crowded homes, and floating gardens as far as the eye can see. Difficult to get to but worth the trip out! We headed that way with a small baby and enjoyed every minute of it but bring warm weather clothes as it gets chilly at night.

4. Luang Prabang Laos

laos

Our journey took us on a canoe ride down the Mekong to this beautiful quant town of Luang Prabang Laos. Like no other place in Southeast Asia this town is sophisticated, elegant, with a romantic feel. We only spent 2 nights until we journeyed down to Vientiane but wish we had stayed longer as it was our favorite town in Laos. Laos can be traveled on a budget or 5 star whichever your style (or wallet) will do!

5. Scuba Cambodia

Last, but not least is a personal scuba favorite.  We recommend Scuba Nation divecambodia.com for this underseas journey.  Cambodia is not known for great diving but you would be surprised.  Great on the budget and many places to explore.  You may even spot an octopus, whale shark, schools of barracuda, spotted eyed eels, spotted blue stingrays, and more.  One of the best locations to go is Explosion Reef Koh Tang Cambodia where unusual marine life spotting is common and the water is clear. My son Eli went scuba diving or the first time when he was 10!

Whichever journey you choose, don’t forget your coffee! If you’ve never tried civet coffee, you are missing out! Looking for an unusual Christmas gift? But, make sure you buy from a trustworthy source as many advertise that it is civet coffee but they are not.  Here is a trustworthy brand:


Well this ends our journey today but there is more to share. Sign up to learn more about our travels and share here to tell us about yours!

Angkor Wat Discovery

Siem Reap is like no other Asian location.  From Pub Street nightlife to remote jungles filled with wildlife and hidden archeology including Angkor Wat.  These temples still have much to be explored hidden in jungles for centuries. Even the architecture and designs of the explorable temples are not well understood.  Today, we want to feature one.  I am asking you and your opinion on this wonder yet to be explained by archeologists today.

callie-big-tree-angkor

Ta Prohm is a temple built in 1186 A.D. It is one of the most famous temples thanks to Angelina Jolie in Tomb Raider, and the fact that it is the most photogenic and interesting temple due to the trees hundreds of years old integrated into the walls of the temple.  But today we are interested in one carving in particular.  The carving pictured below can be found on an interior wall of the Ta Prohm Temple.  This carving appears to be a stegosaurus.

angkor-dinosaur

Please comment below and tell us what you think! Did the Khmer people see a live stegosaurus? Do you think they found the bones? Could it be a picture from stories of generations old?  All comments are welcome.  Your opinion matters. Go!

Surviving My Nervous Breakdown

Two years ago, I experienced what I would call a nervous breakdown. You might wonder why I use a term so antiquated to describe this experience but it is actually a perfect label. You see, I was afraid of labels. If I had seen a doctor, being that I am a nurse practitioner, I know that they would have diagnosed me with Generalized Anxiety Disorder and Major Depression But, I refused to be diagnosis because I knew this would not last forever. I would overcome. I did overcome. Slowly, painfully, at times unwillingly, I beat this monster who invaded my mind so quickly. Sharing these experiences is not easy and this is my first attempt. For this day, I’d like to share about the first 3 months. This is what I would call the survival phase.
Survival phase. Briefly, I’ll describe the triggers and my condition. I endured rejection from close friends all at once and was already under tremendous stress. I consider myself to be resilient and strong so I felt ashamed and disappointed in myself for not “just getting over it!” This guilt of course created more pain for me. After going through counseling with some of these friends, I began experiencing panic attacks for the first time. I went night to night enduring these attacks. Unable to eat, sleep, or think about anything else, I felt as if I was truly “falling apart.” I felt like a nervous wreck. Anxiety and living a nonstop panic attack describes these first 3 months, the first phase, survival phase.

ann-comtemplative-in-boat
There were many pieces that came together during this time to get me through including God, my husband, and my mom but there is one that I want to talk about today. I spent late nights searching through Google in panic and a book listed on a random chat stuck out to me. Hope and Help for Your Nerves by Claire Weekes. I read the first chapter and my jaw dropped. She understood me, finally, someone describing me, my nerves, my pain, my inability to function or think like myself! I downloaded this book and read it. It was the first thing that I could read and comprehend during this time. Now, 2 years later, I can say that I have read through that book over 5 times with highlights all the way through. The most significant first lesson I received from her book was that my “feelings of anxiety were simply a strange feeling with no great medical significance.” Therefore, I needed to be “prepared to accept and live with it for awhile.” This was opposite of what I was trying to do. I was trying to fight, find anything to cure, my heart beaten rapidly in fear of not ever being healed. But she was telling me to accept and live with it? Honestly, it seemed impossible. Yet, I knew deep inside that she was right. The more that I could accept the feelings of anxiety and panic, the quicker it would fade away (I hesitate to use the word quick because I now know that this is a long process).
For me, that was the goal of phase 1 survival. To stop fighting but sit quietly allowing these feelings to come and go. Opposite of my nature but vital for my survival. I did begin to sit quietly and, with practice, feel the anxiety without fear. I came to realize that the feelings were bluffing me because that was all they were feelings that come and go.
I don’t know where you are at today in struggling with anxiety and depression. I do hope by my sharing my own path, that I could help you on yours. I once read that anxiety is like being at the bottom of a well and needing help to get out but only one who has themselves climbed out of that well is capable of helping another come out. I’ve climbed slowly out of the well. Can I help you? Will you share about your phase 1 experience?

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