Nature school rules

As kids and parents everywhere get ready to get back to school—whatever that might mean in households and communities across the continent and beyond—we’re getting ready to publish Dawn Again, by Doniga Markegard. As well as being a memoir of Doniga’s time as a wildlife tracker and regenerative rancher, it is also a love letter to a nature-based education.

 

Doniga was fifteen years old and rebelling hard when she finally found her way to the Wilderness Awareness School near her home in Washington State. Attending high school through WAS changed Doniga’s life for the better (you can read more about that here), and the experience continues to ripple and reverberate through her adult life, and into the lives of her children, all of whom are also students at their local nature school in San Mateo County, California. And Doniga has kept her hand in, too. She’s an instructor at Riekes Center for Human Enhancement, bringing what she learned in nature school to a new generation of students.

Because Doniga is passionate about nature education, she’s looking forward to celebrating the launch of Dawn Again with an interactive Facebook Live event on Wednesday, November 1. We’re inviting nature school administrators and parents to take part, as well as anyone who’s curious about a nature-based education and whether it’s right for their family. The event is called What Comes After Nature School?, and it’s free and open to all who are interested.

The details:

What: An interactive Facebook Live event called What Comes After Nature School?

Who: Doniga Markegard, regenerative rancher, nature school graduate, author of forthcoming memoir Dawn Again: Tracking the Wisdom of the Wild

When: Wednesday, November 1 at 5pm-6pm PST 

Where: Online, wherever you are! It’s all happening on our Facebook page

Why: To hear about Doniga’s nature school experience, the ways in which it prepared her for college and her adult life, and why she chooses it for her own children now, and to have your own questions about nature education answered

We look forward to seeing you there!


Golden days

I’ve written before about how we celebrate good news, here at Propriometrics Press. Well, the emoji strings were flying thick and fast Saturday night, as news broke that we had won not one but TWO gold medals at the Foreword Indies Book of the Year Awards.

Three of our books were nominated for Health Book of the Year: Diastasis Recti and Movement Matters, both by Katy Bowman, and Eat Well, Move Well, Live Well, by Galina Denzel and Roland Denzel. Movement Matters was also nominated in the Essays category. Much to our delight, Movement Matters won the gold medal for Essays, and Eat Well, Move Well, Live Well picked up gold for Health.

Here’s how that news was received in our virtual office on Saturday:

 

Once we’d cleaned up after the confetti cannon, frolicked for a while in nature, and consumed all the virtual champagne and tacos, I had a chance to ask our winning authors what it meant to them to win a Foreword Indie.

“Although I’ve written many books, I still think of myself as a sort of blogger-turned-author,” says Katy Bowman. “Most of what I write is on the internet—in short bursts on social media or in the occasional article. And even though I write about the importance of movement to our physiological, social, and ecological models, my books have always been relegated to FITNESS categories, making it challenging to spread the idea that movement is critical to our bodies, lives, and planet to anyone but exercisers. Movement Matters won Best Essays! In a contest open to essays on all topics, with judges who are into books, and who are not necessarily into movement or exercise or fitness or even health! I’m excited because it means Movement Matters is accessible—interesting, even—to those outside of fitness, which is the most critical step in bringing the idea that movement matters to the world.”

Roland Denzel echoes that sentiment. “We’re honored and thrilled to have been nominated,” he says, “but overjoyed to have won. It’s wonderful to be recognized for our hard work, and when it’s by people outside of the health and fitness industries, it’s even better. This is the audience we’ve always wanted to reach and help, so when they appreciate our work, we know we’ve succeeded.”

And finally, I asked our editor in chief, Penelope Jackson, what went through her mind when she heard the news two of our books had won gold—especially in light of how new this company is, and how small our list is. She resisted the urge to reply in emoji strings and celebratory gifs (for once), and instead told me: “What I thought of first was all of the hours Roland, Galina, and Katy put into writing their magnificent books; all the time I and our other editors spent working with the text; the time Zsofi spent designing and laying them out; all the time you, Steph, have spent managing distribution and sales and printing. So much of the work that goes into a book travelling from an author’s mind to a reader’s hands is invisible, and that’s why these awards are meaningful. They are a recognition of all that uncelebrated labour. We know how special and brilliant our authors are, and we know that every minute of our work has been more than worth it—I’m so glad other people see it too.”

Emoji tacos and champagne for all!


Mother of all gardens

My mother has always been a gardener. Together, she and my father turned our suburban corner lot into a glorious green place, where we grew most of the vegetables our family of six ate in the summer, where we composted our organic kitchen waste (long, long before composting was trendy, or even understood by our friends and neighbors), and where we kids spent summer evenings picking stones out of the soil, and summer mornings harvesting endless rows of beans, cucumbers, and tomatoes so my parents could pickle, can, and otherwise preserve them.

Years passed, and our yard went through many phases, growing and changing as our family did. The huge garden gave way to a swimming pool and my parents continued to grow a few tomatoes and other favorites in raised beds my dad made. After he died, those went fallow, and then gave way to grass.

But this year, my almost-seventy-year-old mother decided she’s ready to grow some tomatoes again. There’s a decently sunny patch just off the deck in the backyard, but it was terribly unkempt, filled with raspberry canes and spring onions that had gone rogue from other parts of the garden, and a rhizome-spreading visitor from next door.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mom wanted three planting boxes, and a stone pathway she could use to get among them to do her work. So, on a recent visit in advance of Mother’s Day, my spouse knocked together three nice planters, and Mom and I got busy with shovels, rakes, and brute strength. We pulled out an old planter, dug out bags and bags of that invader from next door, harvested some spring onions and some nearby rhubarb, dug out and moved rocks that were in our way, and got the area ready to become a new garden.

This made for two day’s worth of bending, pulling, pushing, grasping, squatting, single leg squatting, reaching, and twisting, lots of barefoot-on-dirt time, and tons of fresh air. Not to mention the time spent hanging out with each other, working side by side, or resting on the deck, drinking water and congratulating ourselves on our hard work.

Mom wanted a path she could feel comfortable stepping down onto, and walking over, while she goes about her planting and weeding. Something that would provide both stability for her less-sure moments, and enough texture that she can continue to challenge her balance and give her bare feet some lumps and bumps to navigate.

My mom has just started reading Dynamic Aging, and while she doesn’t see herself climbing trees like Joan, Joyce, Shelah, and Lora, she is absolutely interested in aging well, maintaining the mobility she does have, and even gaining more if she can. She’s even getting back to her composting roots, albeit on a smaller scale than our garden’s earliest days.

I’ve been working to #stackmylife more consistently, and this project really lent itself to that philosophy: I moved more, and moved more of me, racked up some barefoot time, spent time with my mother, took care of a little patch of the Earth, enabled my mom to move more, and move more of her, and to divert some organic waste to her own backyard to feed the soil that will eventually feed her (and me, if I’m lucky!). Also, that’s Mother’s Day gift-giving done and dusted. A pretty efficient use of two mornings, I must say.

If you’re still looking for a gift for your mom, or for one you know, we’ve sorted some of our recent books into helpful piles for you! Find what you’re looking for at your favorite online or bricks and mortar book retailer, and Happy Mother’s Day to all who mark it!

 


Dynamic Aging on the move!

What a day! It started bright and early, when Katy Bowman and her Dynamic Aging co-authors appeared on The Today Show. It was a terrific segment, focused on so-called super-agers…folks who keep their bodies and minds nimble well into their seventies, eighties, beyond. Three of Katy’s four co-authors were featured, sitting on the floor, squatting, swinging, climbing at the park, and just generally being awesome, as they are. You can watch it all unfold right here.

Of course, we love to point out that though we think Katy’s co-authors are super, there’s nothing so different about them—except their habits. They’re not genetically superior in any way (that we know of!), but they’ve spent most of the last decade learning Katy’s Nutritious Movement philosophy and moves, and putting them into practise daily. The great news about that, is that anyone can do what Joan, Shelah, Lora, and Joyce have done. You can, I can, we all can. Totally inspiring.

Then, once the segment had aired all the way across the country, we were delighted to note that Dynamic Aging climbed into the top TWO books on Amazon. Out of, like, more than thirty-three million! Which occasioned many notes back and forth among the Propriometrics Team to the effect of: TWO! TWO! TWO! Excitement makes us a little monosyllabic, it turns out.

And most amazing of all are the comments we’re seeing on social media, about what this book means to those who have read it, and the excitement with which a whole new crowd of readers are embracing it. In a day that’s been full to the brim with incredible moments, it’s the moments in which we realize that Dynamic Aging, a book we really believe will be a game-changer for so many people, is actually going out and finding its intended audience that mean the very most.


Today tomorrow!

California, here I come!

It’s been an incredibly exciting time around the Propriometrics Press offices! We’re delighted to share the news that Katy Bowman and three of her four septuagenarian co-authors will be on The Today Show on Friday, March 31, sharing what Dynamic Aging looks like in action. Katy and her co-authors spent a day with Maria Shriver in Ventura, California, right after Dynamic Aging launched, and you’ll be able to tune in and see the result of that on The Today Show during the 8 a.m. block. If you can’t make it to a television set, you’ll be able to stream the segment afterward, right here. We’ll share some video of the episode if we can to make it extra easy for you to find!

And if you’re looking to get your hands on a copy of Dynamic Aging, we’ve made that easy to find, too!


Body of Wisdom

Over the past few weeks I’ve been starting my days in a new way: reading Katy Bowman’s Movement Matters. (And that’s not happening just because I’m managing social media for Propriometrics Press).

The thing is, I love big ideas. And even more than that, I love big ideas that I can bring to bear on my life in tangible ways. I still find it astonishing that a book can deliver a person up to all that. But then again, I believe in the power that books have to open minds and seed meaningful change in our world.

I’m a pretty active person. I also work at jobs that have me staring at screens and tapping lightly on keyboards a lot of the day, so getting to use my body to experience the world became, and remains, vitally important.

The place I currently call home, Halifax, Nova Scotia, affords me some of the lifestyle that balances out my screen time. It also happens to be a port visited by numerous cruise ships, mostly during the gorgeous fall we often get. And it was on one of those autumn mornings that I took the long way to work, through one of our city’s most expansive public parks, which leads down to the North Atlantic Ocean.

I walked through some forest, down to the water and along the coastline for a bit, then past some shipping yards as I worked my way back to our mid-size city streets. En route, I passed a kind of ocean parking lot: where cruise ships from around the world anchor and where tourists disembark to see what they can see.

Chalk it up to the fact that I had been reading #MovementMatters, chalk it up to how everything was sparkling in some very beautiful morning light, but I was noticing things I hadn’t noticed before: like the road signs for pedestrians, the signs for cars, the parking lot full of cars, and the fact that I was the only pedestrian around at that time. And in the background? A cruise ship that had—what was that?—a giant plastic giraffe on its upper deck, wearing a bright pink life preserver. And looking down to the other end of the upper deck, a huge, and I do mean huge, screen. Think Jumbotron you can see from miles away. At sea.

It occurred to me that we may not have intended this in our dogged contemporary pursuit for more “leisure” time, but from my vantage point that day, it sure looked like we’ve reached a level of confusion about it all.

How did we get here? I blame the giraffe in the pink life preserver.

OK, blame might be too harsh. I love giraffes. But I’d argue that our cruise-ship friend, and even the cruise ship itself, is a fantastic symbol of where we all find ourselves. If I hadn’t read Katy’s book, I’m not sure I would have found the language for this, but I think I have some now: we’re getting it backwards. We’ve traded our natural tendency toward movement for epic bouts of sedentarism. And hey, I love relaxing as much as the next person. But I’ve noticed (you, too?) how relaxation doesn’t really do the trick after a long day of doing nothing, physically, already…

I always wondered if I was a bit odd (affirmative!): not really loving the gym, opting to walk to and from grocery stores carrying heavy bags, eagerly volunteering to help friends move or paint rooms in their houses. (Katy calls this “stacking your life.”) I’ve always loved using my body in the service of human living, and I realize I love the communal effort, too. And now, as I do even less sitting in chairs, add more movement throughout my day as often as I can, turn away from screens to look more at the sea and sky, and talk with our organic farmers who feed us so well, the more I don’t crave “leisure” as much as I crave connection with the world we all live in and with the people in it.

I used to dance tango a lot (and when I get back to it, I’ll be trying it without the high heels. Thanks, #WholeBodyBarefoot). It was my first profound lesson in the power of connecting with my own body, attending to the cues of another body, and witnessing the ability of the human machine to pick up on a great deal of non-verbal information—from music and rhythm to microscopic moves emanating from my dance partner’s lead to listening to my own intuition. While embroiled in a tango that sometimes would work really smoothly for a few seconds, a beautiful thing got created that was much, much bigger than the two of us.

So, I’m a believer in the sheer awesomeness of the human body and what that means as we move about planet Earth. I’ve got my own batch of gathered evidence. But it’s Katy’s #MovementMatters that has offered me not just a new vocabulary, but a new, dot-connected way of understanding the world.

What we do with our bodies matters. And that extends way, way beyond my immediate space. I feel the responsibility and the thrill of that. And I also feel tapped into a source of clarity about what being a human connected to the world means. Based on my own experience, it’s the moving of my body that delivers me back to that clarity when a lot of the signs and signals around me are saying something different. I’m happier, yes, but I’m also trying to be a better citizen. And it starts with a simple calf stretch in the morning. Amazing.

I love this line from Katy in #MovementMatters: “When striving for an evidence-based life, consider that your most relevant evidence is your body.”

To that I’ll add, without putting too fine a point on it: Vive la révolution!

(Giraffes welcome).

By: Tracy Picha


By the Book: Eat Well, Move Well, Live Well

It’s October, and here on the eastern edge of the continent, that means changing leaves, frosty mornings, and earlier nights. The urge to cocoon is strong—but the season also offers amazing opportunities to be outside, a literal farmers’ market’s-worth of fresh, amazing produce, a deep desire to batch-cook soups and sauces, and, if we’re being honest, a to-do list as long as my arm.

We’re readying new books for publication this fall, getting our spring list in order, and dreaming of future projects to share with you, too. It can make for long days in the Propriometrics Press office—and it’s work that we love, so it’s easy to lose track of everything else while our noses are to the grindstone.

Which is why I’ve been making a few minutes every day to really think about the wisdom contained in one of the books we’re bringing out this fall. We published Eat Well, Move Well, Live Well on October 1, and authors Galina and Roland Denzel will hold a launch party for the book on October 15 in Orange County. We’re pretty excited about that. We worked hard on this book all year, and we’re pumped that it’s available now in stores and online. That part is all great. But one of the true perqs of this job is getting to dive deep into inspiring material every day. With Eat Well, Move Well, Live Well, it’s the four key chapters identified by the Denzels as the ones readers should start with: The Sunday Food Ritual, Tame Your Sugar Monster, Walk More Today, The Dynamic Office.

It’s fitting this book is published in October, a perfect time to fully explore what these lessons have to offer. That Sunday Food Ritual chapter is about finding the time—making the time—to commit to setting yourself up for healthy food success all week by spending an afternoon or evening doing some batch cooking. img_2701In the example the Denzels give, you make a simple slow cooker pork pot roast with vegetables, which gives you enough for Sunday night’s supper, and two more suppers later in the week. Just the words slow cooker pork pot roast make me want to hit the kitchen—and thinking about having three suppers done and dusted in one go fills me with glee. Chilly October nights seem like a perfect time to get into this habit.

And I’m ever mindful that the holidays are approaching, with all their sugary delights, so October also seems like a good time to find a way to tame my sugar monster. There’s an abundance of fresh fruit to be had—plums, peaches, apples, pears, there are even still strawberries in my farmers’ market most Saturdays, though I’m sure there can’t be many strawberry Saturdays left. img_2705I’ve been savoring that fresh fruit as it comes in, and doing my best to can and preserve as much as I am able for the long winter nights to come. And with the cooler temperatures here, both day and night, Galina’s advice to sip a sweet-tasting herbal tea like licorice or rooibos feels like exactly the right thing to do while I contemplate my relationship with sugar, and why I want to be in charge, rather than letting sugar run the show.

And then there is the glorious exhortation to Walk More Today. It is the constant entry on my to-do list. No matter how much I walk, I can always walk more. This morning I kept my regular weekly appointment with a couple other writers at the central branch of the public library, downtown. Then I walked part-way home with one of the writers, stopping in at our local bookstore on the way, and chatting about our work as we went. We split off in different directions and I loped along, drinking in the impossibly clear, impossibly blue October sky, the heartbreaking reds and yellows and oranges of autumn leaves, the feeling of the sunshine on my skin, the expressions on the faces of the people I passed as I walked, and the company of my own thoughts. img_3457I concentrated on my gait as best I could, and then I just let my attention wander. I thought about the project I’m writing, and about the work awaiting me in the Propriometrics Press office. I returned to my desk feeling refreshed and nourished by my time outside, spent walking.

Speaking of my desk! I loved Roland’s chapter on The Dynamic Office. When I had a full-time media job, I sat for years and years, until finally one day I rebelled against the sit-down culture and made my own stand-up desk. Then I stood for years and years. Then I quit that job, and came to work for Propriometrics and started doing my work sitting on the floor, or lying on the floor, or while walking to the store, or standing in the kitchen, or—well, you get the idea. I’d do my work wherever I could, in as many different positions as I could. But not everyone has that kind of flexibility (if you will). Maybe you have to sit at a desk, and if that’s the case, Roland offers ideas and advice to make your desk time more dynamic, and, importantly, to make your non-desk time more dynamic to counteract all that undynamic desk time! fullsizerenderHis advice to keep a log of your daily time spent sitting was also world-rocking. I thought I was pretty dynamic—but there are always more ways to move.

And on that note, it’s time for me to get up, stretch a little, maybe get a cup of licorice tea, and walk to the store to get some supplies for supper for tonight and beyond. Sometimes the Sunday Ritual is really the Wednesday ritual. But as the book says, it doesn’t matter when you do it, so long as you get it done!


Beyond the Book: Tips for Summer Homeschooling

ocean beach

I know, right? Who wants to think about homeschooling when it’s hot as h-e-double-hockey-sticks? Turns out, you can help your kids cool off…and teach them a little something at the same time. Sneaky, huh? Our author Alison Bernhoft has been thinking about this. You can read Entropy Academy, her memoir of a homeschooling family, while the kids while away a hot afternoon with a little surreptitious science. Read more from Alison, below!

“Who goes out in the midday sun?
“Mad dogs and Englishmen”
This little couplet runs through my brain every year when the temperature in SoCal inches towards 100 and I recall the land of my birth. There, in the halcyon days before the climate went berserk and triple digits invading Buckingham Palace became almost commonplace, something quite extraordinary happened: pretty much any time the sun put in an appearance, no matter how brief, every piece of turf, no matter how minuscule, was instantly covered with sweating bodies roasting painful shades of reddish pink, slowly turning as if on an invisible communal spit. “Carpe solem” might be their motto: seize the sun.
Let us now leave my ex-countrymen, and turn instead to the suburban back yards of the US where the cry rings out, “I’m too hot, Mom, it’s too ho-o-t, Mom, MOM, I said, ITS TOO HOT!” (As if the current heatwave had been entirely mom’s idea . . .) Here are a few of my favorite things to do with hot, crotchety children:

  • Set the little ones loose to “paint” the driveway, the flowers, and each other with paint brushes and water.
  • Put two buckets of water on the grass (or any thirsty ground) with measuring cups, empty yogurt pots, plastic toys, and ping pong balls (hold them underwater and let go – whose will shoot highest into the air?)
  • Buy some cheap synthetic bath sponges, hold them underwater, then SPLOSH! Wettest game of catch EVER!
  • Give each child a 2-liter soda bottle full of water, and see who can empty theirs fastest. Is it quicker to twirl and shake the bottle or simply hold it still?
  • Teach them a little anatomy. Where does blood flow closest to the skin’s surface? Fill a bucket with cold water and give each child a wash cloth to dip in it. Have them slosh the wet cloths on various body parts – knees, shoulders, feet, the back of the neck, tummy . . . Eventually, help them notice that a wet cloth on the back of the neck is a dynamite cooler-offer. Why? Because blood flow to and from  the all-important head all passes through the neck, where veins lie close to the surface. Can they make an ice-filled sock cooler that will stay tied around their necks as the ice cubes melt in a delectable, icy trickle?
  • Think ahead: put containers of your own devising filled with water in the freezer overnight (just for fun, add a little oil to one and see what happens.) Melt them in the sun, in shade, in water. Which is fastest?
  • For a grand finale, have everyone dip their heads into the bucket, then SHAKE like a mad dog.
    But please, whatever you do, stay out of the midday sun!