Don’t Forget to Go Outside!

Go outside at

Here is one of my core beliefs: to improve parenting, learning, and taking care of yourself, make sure you go outside each day.

Let nature nurture.

Fresh air, sunshine, feet and hands in the dirt help cure a lot of what ails us.  

Need help with stress? Sleep? Moods?

Take a walk.


“In beauty may I walk.
All day long may I walk.
Through the returning seasons may I walk.
On the trail marked with pollen may I walk.
With grasshoppers about my feet may I walk.
With dew about my feet may I walk.
With beauty may I walk.
With beauty before me, may I walk.
With beauty behind me, may I walk.
With beauty above me, may I walk.
With beauty below me, may I walk.
With beauty all around me, may I walk.
In old age wandering on a trail of beauty, lively, may I walk.
In old age wandering on a trail of beauty, living again, may I walk.
It is finished in beauty.
It is finished in beauty.” 

― Navajo Blessingway

Play in the dirt.

Lie on the ground and look at the sky.

Breathe deeply.

Smell the flowers, the air, the soil.

Open your eyes wide and look into the distance.

Look for patterns.

Listen for birdsong, insects, the wind.

Let the raindrops wash your tears away or inspire you to dance.


“ Nature holds the key  to our aesthetic, intellectual, cognitive and even spiritual satisfaction.”  E. O. Wilson


No matter whether you go to the backyard, the local park, or the great untamed wilderness, do yourself a favor.

Go outside.


I always love it when research confirms my beliefs and experience.


How well does taking a walk in the woods, up a hill or just in the  fresh air work for you?


Want more about nature as a learning resource? Check out  this post.


Ukulele Unleashes Unbridled Urges

Blue ukulele, glass of wine and daily ukulele music book on deck. Ukulele Unleashes Unbridled Urges by Lisa Nalbone
My daily ukulele.


Or maybe it’s the wine?

The wine has loosened my tongue and inner editor.

But the ukulele and my ukulele group have  unleashed unbridled urges:

to create, to sing, to express myself, to unite with other ukelele players, to uncover the hidden or scared musician wannabee.

Well, ukulele and unschooling.

Thank goodness I  began my ukulele adventure with other unschooling moms.

A profoundly different atmosphere and attitude than previous music learning for me. A combination that urges me to:

  • just go for it
  • try things in new ways
  • not worry if I am strumming impaired
  • find a way that works for me
  • participate at whatever level I am able
  • apologize less and enjoy more.

Oh, I would have been a much better classroom teacher if I had this unschool ukulele experience in my gut and memory rather than my piano lesson memories  of my teacher saying,

“Dear me dear me, it is SUCH a shame. You are my hardest worker but you have NO TALENT!!!” You’ll never do me proud. Tsk Tsk.”


Group of unschool moms playing ukulele

From my uke/unschool friends, supporters and philosophers I know that:

  • I can find joy in trying
  • I can ask for help if I want to
  • I can take classes or go to uke fests if I want, or not
  • I can find all sorts of tutorials online.
  • I can practice as much or as little as I want to choose the amount of progress I want based on what I want to put in.

It is easy to find  a standard to try to live up to if I want, like my favorite of  Iz playing the Somewhere Over the Rainbow/ It’s a Wonderful World medley.

Or , I can happily croon Ukulele Lady on the deck all by myself, without a care as to how any one else would play it.

ukulele, wine and amazing grace music in garden Or, I can do both.

Celebrating choice, uniqueness and collaboration when desired.


Uncovering uniqueness.

Unlearning old messages that no longer serve us.

Uplifting and uproarious.


“You Can’t Build on Broken”

I was awed by Angela Blanchard when I heard her speak at Business Innovation Factory Summit #7.


This morning I was re-inspired listening to her talk from TEDxHouston 2011. My head is spinning thinking about how to take what she’s learned about asset based community development and try it in other situations, and just how powerful that could be.

Blanchard begins by explaining that we’ve been trained to analyze what is wrong with poor people and neighborhoods. We look for all the deficits and problems, designing programs to “help” which are “built on broken” and often don’t work.

Her experience of coming from poverty and finding success has informed her work. She describes her young parents doing the best they could to build a life out of their imaginations, not knowing they were broken. She did not see herself as broken and she does not view the people she works with as broken.

In her work, Blanchard shifts the lens from a view of what’s missing to focus on what is present and strong. She feels this changes everything about how you work with people and how they respond.

Her three major strategies are:

  1. Ask new questions – not what is broken but what is working? Ask individuals:  What do you need? What do you have? What works? What is strong? Look for examples of strength and resiliency and build on what is already working.
  2. Listen – find out what matters most, what individuals are driven to do because they care deeply. When you work with what matters to a person YOU don’t need to try to motivate them, they are already motivated and inspired to act.
  3. Work WITH – since you don’t view the person as broken, you can stand side-by-side and work with them to reach their goals.

Blanchard’s experience using this approach in the poorest neighborhoods of Houston and with groups of people relocated from the Hurricane Katrina is instructive and motivating.  She gives examples demonstrating that when you change the questions, it changes how people view themselves. They can see their potential when you respect that they all have deep aspirations and imagination for what they want to do in their life. They are encouraged and better able to move forward. She concludes:

“ If we can move a neighborhood, we can change a city, if we can change a city, we can inspire a country, and .. we can change the world.”    Angela Blanchard

I’m wondering, can we apply her model to education?

What if we took this approach with our children and our students?

Empowered them and tapped into their motivation?

What if we changed our assessments and instead of looking for deficits we looked for strengths?

Asked them to tell us what is working? What they know how to do and can do well?

What if we really listened and asked:

  • What do you care about?
  • What are your hopes and dreams?
  • What really matters to you?

What if instead of telling our children or students what to do, we stood beside them to help them accomplish their goals and solve problems?

Imagine, could we change our families, a classroom, a school,… the world?

Maybe we should give it a try.

What do you think?

Banish the Blues with Dr. Uke

Ukulele and Frog: Don't Worry Be Happy photo

Today when I saw several posts /tweets about feeling negative, frustrated or stuck, I could relate. No matter how wonderful life is, there is always room to grow.

I’ve been in transition for the past few years, with Dale heading out into the world and the new responsibilities of caring for my mom. Empty nest but not really.

Who am I now that I’m not “Dale’s mom” full time? How do I parent my parent? How does my relationship with my hubby change with no child in the house, but parents in need? What about me and my career aspirations? What do I want to be when I grow up? S**t, I’m over 50!!!

Banish the Blue with Dr. Uke by Lisa Nalbone blue dolphin ukulele in sunset on deck with almond blossoms and What a Wonderful World music.So what am I doing about it?

Learning to play the ukulele!

I call mine Dr. Uke. I appreciate that my playing prescription has few or no contraindications, requires no copays, and is available 24/7.

Learning something new is a great way to get unstuck and battle negativity.

There’s really no downside, except maybe annoying your hubby and friends. And maybe starting to require a budget for building a uke family,music library, or festival attendance.

But, hey, the world needs more enthusiasm. So, join me, on my fabulous, fun ukulele adventure.

If you don’t become a uke master, so what? You still reap the benefits which can start you moving in other areas of your life. It’s a brilliant concrete example of the progress you can make with self-directed learning. Sounds crazy, but now I’m a believer.

In a few short months, my friends and I went from uke newbies to festival attendees. And though we drove off to Reno with some trepidation, as novices with brightly colored ukes, we learned that just doing it pays off.

The uke community and instrument are amazing. All levels of players are welcome and can play together and sound good! I mean, really it wasn’t noise, it was music. (This shocked me as a former  4th and 5th grade recorder teacher!) We realized how far we had come since we started, and were stunned by the progress we could make in 50 minutes of being really challenged. And damn, it made us feel good!!!

Learning a new skill, getting out of your comfort zone, and interacting with different people will increase creativity.

When you add growing confidence and happiness, the combination is incredibly powerful.  It seeps into other areas of your life. I don’t know how to explain it, but I have seen it in action.  Granted my sample size is small. But I figure if I can do it, anyone can.

Concentrating on learning a song is relaxing since you’re not worrying about other stuff.

Singing & smiling are great for your brain & soul  – no studies to cite, but I know it’s true.

It’s EASY to sound good and improve.

For about $50 we bought Kala Makala  soprano Dolphin ukes and added Aquila strings.

There are lots of free online tutorials! We’ve taken a few lessons from teachers willing to give us infrequent lessons based on our needs.

It’s easy to join or start a group. After I started gushing about how much I loved playing,  it seemed like everyone wanted to join in. Surprise!

Do you have hidden uke?

Who knew? There are lots of ukulele festivals to choose from.  Attending a festival and playing in a group were way beyond my comfort zone.  Immersion, more advanced lessons and  intense practice boost skills, confidence, and blisters.

For more details about how we started our group I’ll refer you to my uke buddy’s blog post  titled the Blukuleles – or how to form a  a group to learn anything.


Even if it is not ukulele, DO something. Learn something new. You won’t regret it.

Let me know in the comments what you might do-be brave!