Raising Global Guardians: Ecologically Conscious, Positive and Kind Children

Shaadee Mae Hippie in Disguise Plant dyed organic clothing

I have avoided writing this post, because I had hoped the Global Guardian Project would get the funding it needed without having to ask my loyal blog readers for help. But I need it, I need your help. We are now in the last 16 hours of our crowdfunding campaign and are not at our fundraising goal. We need your help to get there. Every dollar donated is invested into the project to create global sustainable education capsules and curricula for families and educators.

You can donate as little as $1 dollar. Starting at $5 you get a reward gift sent to you. Gifts include things like beautiful original art prints, world maps and digital magazines (you pick what gift you want). Please help sustain the work of the Global Guardian Project so we can keep our research and outreach going, in our collective effort to raise a generation of children who will be ecologically conscious, sustainable minded, kind leaders and positive changemakers.

I have written a lot about the Global Guardian Project on this blog, in the interest of keeping this post short I won’t go into more detail. I recommend you visit the Indiegogo page for our crowdfunding and watch the video we put together.

If you want to know more about the Global Guardian Project, please read my posts here, or ask me a question in the comments:

You can also learn more at the Global Guardian Project website.

Please help fund this project. If you don’t have $1 to spare, please share the link to the Crowdfunding campaign with friends.

Thank you very much.

On Marriage Equality and Explaining Gay Marriage to My Children

Marriage equality floral heart love hippie in disguise

Life is busy and there’s just so much news out there that I’m not always on top of the key things happening around the world. So, I didn’t realize until recently that there was a vote happening in Australia on marriage equality. We’ve had marriage equality for about 15 years here in Canada, but I know there are many countries that don’t, so I wasn’t entirely surprised that Australia didn’t. What I was surprised (no, shocked) to learn was that marriage equality was being put to a vote. Like, a fundamental right – equality – is something that should be decided based on the popularity of the idea, rather than being a basic entitlement in life. What’s more, as someone who has worked with elected politicians, I was highly unimpressed that the Prime Minister of Australia – a world leader – didn’t have the leadership skills to do what is right, instead he chose to put fundamental rights to a vote. In politician speak this means he is too weak to make a tough decision that might disappoint his base so he went the route of “letting the people speak.” It’s sad and weak, and certainly not the behaviour of someone worthy of leading a country. But I digress.

So, I was chatting about the vote with a friend, and my kids (age 6 and 12) overheard the person say something to the effect of : “Well, gay marriage wasn’t always legal here.” My children stopped what they were doing and, stunned by this, Sen (my 6 year old) asked in a very confused tone: “Marriage wasn’t always legal?”

I said, “No, honey, gay marriage wasn’t legal at one time in the past.”

Remaining confused, he elaborated on his perplexity: “So, no one could get married?”

Then, Ronan, my older child added: “I’m so confused. I thought there was always marriage.”

I realized in this moment that my children don’t know the term ‘gay marriage’. Marriage of any kind is marriage to them – there is no marriage and gay marriage. They, in fact, thought that their dad and I were in a gay marriage, you know, like a happy marriage. To them, saying that gay marriage wasn’t allowed was the same as saying marriage wasn’t allowed, because they had no sub-categories of marriage types, marriage was two people getting married; end of story.

So, here’s the thing, in our parenting style and among our community of friends and family no one uses the term ‘gay marriage.’ It’s not an explicitly intentional omission, it’s just that we don’t really care or need to describe a union beyond the over-arching terms ‘marriage’ or ‘partners.’ I realized how beautiful this accident was because the children had no notion of there being subsets of marriage. Beautiful because, often times, when you start to distinguish groups and subsets from each other hierarchies emerge, norms are established. The simple lack of a descriptor before marriage shaped their perception and worldview on marriage. And what a beautiful perception they have.

The way we use (or don’t use) language is so important and shapes what we think, what we see as possibilities and what we see as boundaries. Language should free the imagination, not imprison it. It should open the heart, not enclose it.

Back to the story. So, I had to explain what gay marriage was to them. Basically, I explained that it meant that the two people getting married are of the same sex (which usually, but not always, aligns with their outwardly expressed gender). Meaning the definition of gay marriage came down to body parts. To which they reacted with complete confusion, astonishment and bewilderment, because why would the union of two people who share a life be described based on body parts you have no control over. Essentially, it came down to this: “That makes no sense and is totally unfair!”

I agree, guys, I agree.

So, once the idea of gay marriage set in for them and then the idea of people voting on whether to allow it started to process in their minds, their protests started. Rightly, they couldn’t believe that a country would leave it up to citizens to vote on who can get married, isn’t that fundamental right? Isn’t love a good thing? Don’t we want to be inclusive? Don’t we want to show people we care for them? Yes, yes, yes, all the yesses.

Children need parents to teach them things like how to cross the street safely, how to set an alarm clock and how to make their beds (so far my kids have 2 of those things perfected). But they absolutely do not need adults to teach them what is right, what is moral and how to be good people. Children innately know how to be good, they know how to be compassionate, kind, loving, trusting, and what’s more, they want to be these things. I see so much parenting and cultural conditioning that undoes this perfect state of mind children are born with. Adults need to turn to children, the younger the better, to learn how to live a good life. Because I’m pretty sure with a child’s perspective on life and love, this planet would be a peaceful, loving place, where marriage is always just marriage.

Danielle Chassin Hippie in Disguise Shabana Buwalda

Unpacking, Owning and Leveraging Privilege

Danielle Chassin Hippie in Disguise Shabana Buwalda

Photo credit: Shabana Buwalda

I have the privilege of Caucasian skin tone

I have the privilege of Canadian citizenship

I have the privilege of roof and shelter

I have the privilege of mental health

I have the privilege of physical health

I have the privilege of a conventionally abled body

I have the privilege of literacy and language

I have the privilege of education

I have a privilege of geography

I have the privilege of stable employment

I have the privilege of 5 physical senses

I have the privilege of stable family

I have the privilege of heterosexuality

I have the privilege of species

I have the privilege of not knowing my other privileges

I want to say that I have the privilege of being a woman and mother, but these are not privileges in the sense of the word ‘privilege’ here.

Instead, I will cast them this way: I have the immense benefits that come from being a woman and mother, of mixed ethnicity and Indigenous descent. While these are not privileges in the contemporary sense and certainly not in every space, place and forum, they are gifts for the awareness, compassion, understanding and open-mindedness they cultivate and require to survive and thrive in spite of these dimensions of being that are unjustly devalued. I own and cherish these aspects of myself that bring challenge and struggle, but I also own my privilege. I have to admit, own, and dismantle the unfair benefits I reap from my many privileges. I have to leverage my privilege to the benefit of others, not myself.

Unchecked privilege permits us to look the other way, to be silent, to be too tired or too busy to act. Please understand that if you feel as though you can dismiss this, then you are privileged.

I am privileged. Let’s stop being afraid to say it! I am privileged.

But, let’s be afraid, ashamed and embarrassed when we do nothing with our privilege but serve ourselves. I can’t change most aspects of my privilege, but I can change how I use and leverage it.

Privilege is a form of domination. While it is impossible to exist outside domination (power relations) – and, all of us, in one way or another, dominate someone or something — we need to recognize, call out, and awaken ourselves to domination. We need to dismantle it whenever we can. We need to shift and share power. (For those of you afraid to share power, please remember: Power is like love. When you give it away, you don’t have any less of it, in fact, sometimes it grows.) Don’t be afraid to share power, be empowered to.

The fact that we can’t step outside domination, does not validate any and all forms of domination. Do not let anyone persuade you to think that because domination is ever-present that it is also necessarily right or justified or that it can’t be diminished. I dominate grass when I step on it. I dominate flowers when I pick them for art-making and home décor. I dominate pears when I choose to kill and eat them for my own survival. These are not the same as other forms of domination, but they are domination and I have to admit and own that. (And, one of them is absolutely unnecessary). I have to ask myself how I can shift, share or relinquish power in these and other instances? My relationship to the pear, should awaken and inform me about my relationship to all others, human and non-human.

Once you’ve checked your privilege (is it white privilege? it is religious privilege? is it gender privilege?) please remember this is only the beginning. Acknowledging privilege is step one. It’s not a test you pass and then you’re done. It is ongoing: it is daily work, attention and care. Does that sound exhausting? It can be. But you know what? When we all work together, we can do hard things. Let’s support each other in the work of unpacking and dismantling privilege.

So, you’re working on deconstructing your white/male/religious/… privilege? Great. You’re not done. Next, please acknowledge that you have many dimensions of privilege and work on the rest of them. One of the biggest blindspots in discussion of privilege is species privilege. We must as a species acknowledge and dismantle the unfair advantage we take from nonhuman animals, plants and ecosystems. We are not better or more important than them. We simply aren’t. If that makes you uncomfortable, sit with that. Privilege isn’t all fun and games.

Finally, please don’t wait for the perfect time, place or way to start talking about privilege. Perfection is an illusion and excuse. We need to challenge cultural expectations of perfection and flawlessness, so that we can move forward, do the work and make important, overdue changes. Please do not let perfection paralyze you on this topic, or in life in general.

What are your privileges? And will you leverage them for the benefit of others?

And, please, feel free to tell me which privileges of my own I’ve not woken up to. But it’s not your job to educate me, I know.

Danielle Chassin Hippie in Disguise Shabana Buwalda

Giveaway: Global Guardian Project Subscription and Wall Art

Hippie in Disguise Global Guardian Project Wild and Free Children

One year ago, my friend Rebecca launched the Global Guardian Project, a not-for-profit organization committed to helping parents and educators raise ecologically conscious, environmentally educated children. GGP is involved in a number of education and outreach activities, but a main component of their work is producing a monthly interactive e-magazine (‘capsule’) for parents and children that teaches how to respect and protect the planet.  The e-magazine is interactive, because in addition to articles, lessons, interviews, recipes and other written content, there are also videos, podcasts, art project downloads and worksheets for homeschoolers; in total every capsule has over 50-pages of activities and educational content. Although the e-magazine is aimed at educating children, many adults have said they love to read the capsules and have learned way more than they expected from them. With each capsule focusing on a different country, worldschoolers have found the capsules really helpful for digging into local learning while travelling.

Here are a few sample pages from the Israel capsule (click to see an enlarged image):

In addition to the monthly capsules, GGP also publishes special topic capsules that can be bought individually, for example: global recipes, zero waste living, honey bees, American National Parks and more.

This week, to help Rebecca celebrate the Global Guardian Project’s first birthday, I’ve teamed up with her to *giveaway* a 6-month subscription to the Global Guardian Learning Capsules and your choice of a beautiful 24×18 world map wall art print from the Global Guardian shop. All Global Guardian maps are original art work by Rebecca and are amazing to use in combination with the learning capsules, as children learn about countries, plants and animals from all around the world, and see and learn how to locate them on the map.

global guardian project world map homeschool curriculum

You can read more about Global Guardian Project *learning capsules* in my post here. In a nutshell, the Global Guardian Project creates educational materials focused on global stewardship for families and children, home educators and anyone who loves to learn about the world and help make it a better place. Each month subscribers receive a learning capsule by email focused on a country and its wild life. To date, 12 capsules have been published covering: Brazil, Rwanda, India, Canada, New Zealand, South Africa, Colombia, Argentina, Israel, Sri Lanka, Sweden and Thailand. Future capsules will feature other countries including Egypt, Japan, Australia, England and many more. Each capsule includes beautiful photography, facts and information about the country, it’s wildlife, global change makers, young activists and inspiring people, recipes, vocabulary and much more. There are also art projects and free digital downloads, podcasts, videos and guided meditation recordings.

Join the Global Guardian movement and raise more ecologically conscious, compassionate children. If you don’t win the subscription, please consider buying a subscription and support global education and outreach related to sustainable, peaceful living. Global Guardian Project has just introduced a pay what you can model, so you can get the monthly subscription for as little as $6.99 per month. Use code HIPPIEINDISGUISE to get 10% off too!

To enter the giveaway:

  • Subscribe to the Global Guardian Project email list here, you’ll get no more than one email a week, often less
  • Leave me a comment on this blog post, on my Facebook post or my Instagram post about the giveaway, to let me know you added your name to the email list
  • For a bonus entry: “Like” and comment on the Instagram giveaway photo
  • For a bonus entry: Share this blog post
  • For a bonus entry: Share my Facebook post about this
  • For a bonus entry: Repost my Instagram post about this with hashtag #ggpXhippieindisguise

Contest closes Sunday August 13, 2017 at midnight (Pacific Standard Timezone) and is open worldwide. Good luck friends!

UPDATE: The winning name was drawn and the winner contacted for their prize. Congratulations Rhiannon!


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Waiting for the Right One: Our Essentia Organic Mattress

essentia organic vegan sustainable natural memory foam mattress hippie in disguise flower rose sculpture

essentia organic natural memory foam mattress hippie in disguise

We recently got a new bed mattress and to honour this special item (simple things are special to us) we bought some flowers, a rare indulgence. I had planned on letting the children cover the bed in petals and bounce around, since we’ve never owned a mattress that has bounce I figured they would enjoy that. But, my little boy, Sen, had other plans. The photos that follow depict the making of his “flower sculpture”, which turned out to be the most perfect, organic way to appreciate our new mattress (which happens to be made from plants and infused with essential oils). The dried flower sculpture now sits on the shelf above our bed.

Please enjoy the photos and I hope you’ll read my post about how and why this mattress came into our life and why I feel so strongly about it as a product. But first, let’s start with the back story.

essentia organic vegan sustainable natural memory foam mattress hippie in disguise flower rose sculpture

About 8 years ago an Essentia mattress store opened in Ottawa, the city we live in here in Canada. At the time we were sleeping on a 5-year old terribly uncomfortable futon mattress (I cannot overstate this enough). Being environmentally-minded consumers, we sourced and had custom made a futon made entirely from recycled cotton t-shirts and wool, we were assured it would be comfortable and last 10 years. But from day one it was uncomfortable. It was lumpy and slanted — I always felt like I was going to roll off the bed — a bit of an unnerving feeling when you’re trying to fall asleep. We figured it would take some time to settle and, besides, we weren’t about to waste all the materials, effort and money that went into the mattress. Months went by and the mattress never improved…it really only got worse, much worse. Being students and young parents we had no money to replace the mattress so we made do, which we are pretty good at doing. (Did you read my post about how we’ve been eating our meals at a desk for over 15 years, because we can’t afford to upgrade to a bigger, sustainable option? Ya, we make do.)

The point of the story is that after 5 years with the lumpy futon we were more than ready for a new mattress, but wanted to make sure we bought one that was ethically and sustainably made, and much more comfortable. After years of bad sleeps (I’m talking waking up every hour of every night from discomfort), we were ready for a good night’s sleep (and to reap all the health benefits that come from good rest).

essentia organic vegan sustainable natural memory foam mattress hippie in disguise flower rose sculpture

Essentia mattresses are certified organic, plant-based (vegan-friendly!), biodegradable (!!), and ridiculously comfortable. After we walked into the store, laid on a few mattresses, we were sold on them. We decided that when we had the money these would be the mattresses we would invest in.

Years passed and our finances never really improved, so we kept sleeping on the lumpy futon. The slant in the mattress got worse. The lumps became more accentuated. It got to the point where we would take turns sleeping on our love seat because it was more comfortable (despite the obvious fact that we couldn’t stretch out on it).

My sweet sister (who is generous beyond words) caught wind of our sleeping woes and gave us a synthetic memory foam mattress topper for our futon. Many people I know use these memory foam mattress toppers for extra comfort, as they add a nice layer of supportive cushion to a mattress. But, being the health nut that I am I didn’t want to get one as I’ve read terrible things about the off-gassing, since the foam is synthetically made with chemicals and treated with fire retardants. Basically a toxic cocktail you sleep on 8 hours a night — not something I was itching to do (no pun intended).

I didn’t want to say no to my sister’s generosity (and she had let the mattress topper “breathe” for a while at her home) so we accepted the kind offer and looked forward to a good sleep. The topper was quite comfortable, but when we woke up in the morning my daughter was covered head to toe in hives, she was visibly swollen and in a lot of discomfort. She is not the allergic sort of child, she has no known allergies and is generally in good health and has a strong immune system, though she does have very sensitive skin. I quickly googled “foam mattress allergy” and found a tonne of photos of people covered in the same rash. I researched further and found that many people have terrible reactions to memory foam. So, we took the mattress out of the bedroom, disposed of it, and that was the end of foam mattresses for us.

Then, a few weeks later I happened to get an email from Essentia asking if I would be interested in reviewing one of their products. I couldn’t believe our luck! As a rule, I always so ‘no’ to any product sponsorships unless I already use the product (or want to use it but can’t afford it), so this was perfect: I received something I had wanted for 8 years in exchange for an honest review.

essentia organic vegan sustainable natural memory foam mattress hippie in disguise flower rose sculpture

essentia organic vegan sustainable natural memory foam mattress hippie in disguise flower rose sculpture

We got ourselves a Stratami Queen mattress and our sleeps have been truly blissful ever since! I can’t say enough good things about the mattresses and pillows that Essentia makes. There is nothing green-washed about their products, they are fully  organic, plant-based, sustainably made and (amazingly) biodegradable — so even after the mattress is out of use it can fully decompose, rather than hanging out in landfill indefinitely!The mattress comes in fully recyclable packaging too. I have not come across anything near as environmentally-friendly and comfortable in my research. Click here to read their certifications and eco-standards, it’s a long, impressive list.

essentia organic vegan sustainable natural memory foam mattress hippie in disguise flower rose sculpture

essentia organic vegan sustainable natural memory foam mattress hippie in disguise flower rose sculpture

essentia organic vegan sustainable natural memory foam mattress hippie in disguise flower rose sculpture

Essentially the mattress is made from rubber plants (hevea milk) and is the world’s only all natural memory “foam” mattress. It has that crazy comfort of synthetic mattresses, without the off-gassing that makes you sick over night or over the long-term. As well, the mattresses are guaranteed for 20 years, which is hard to come by with mattresses these days. The mattress is covered in an ultra-soft organic cotton cover (I didn’t believe it was cotton, it was so soft!), which you can remove and wash, if required.

When we laid down to sleep that first night on our new mattress, our little boy, Senny, got into bed first and smiled, but a curious smile. He said: “Mama, I can’t believe I’m saying this but, I don’t think I’ll need a snuggle to fall asleep tonight. The bed is snuggling me!” Senny is such a snuggly child, he needs snuggles more than anyone I know, but he felt on this mattress like he was being snuggled just right. He drifted off to sleep and woke up in the morning super happy and ready to bounce on the bed!

essentia organic vegan sustainable natural memory foam mattress hippie in disguise flower rose sculpture

essentia organic vegan sustainable natural memory foam mattress hippie in disguise flower rose sculpture

essentia organic vegan sustainable natural memory foam mattress hippie in disguise flower rose sculpture

If you happen to live in a city with an Essentia store I recommend you make a visit, the staff are very helpful and not at all pushy (Big thank you to Alana at the Ottawa store who let me ask every question under the sun and happily answered them all). Normally, I dislike shopping with my children because I can tell they are bored being stuck inside a store, but when we visited the Ottawa store, I had to force them to leave after over an hour in the store! They had such a good time lying on the beds and relaxing, they said “Mama, seriously, you can stay at the store as long as you want! We want to lie on these beds forever.” I don’t know if there’s any science behind it, but the mattresses seem to calm my children down. (Essentia also sells direct online if you aren’t in a position to visit a store).

Although I would have liked to have a comfortable mattress sooner, I’m glad we waited to get an Essentia mattress because it is ethically and sustainably made and I know I won’t have to replace it for a very long time, if ever. When Matt and I first got together we made a pact that we would always buy things that last, even if it meant waiting longer to be able to buy something of quality. Long-lasting things are more sustainable for the planet and ultimately cheaper in the long run. Waiting to buy things also teaches you a lot about what you can live without, and while we lived a long time without good sleep, it’s not something I would advise. A good sleep is something that gives back in terms of health and quality of life, and is worth investing in.

essentia organic vegan sustainable natural memory foam mattress hippie in disguise flower rose sculpture

essentia organic natural memory foam mattress hippie in disguise

Matt has a whole list of reasons why he loves the Essentia mattress that are different from mine. He’s high-performing athlete competing in elite and pro cycling races almost year-round, so for him the mattress is about good recovery from training, getting deep sleep so he can perform again the next day. In addition, as someone who has long suffered from insomnia, his mind was blown by the fact that the mattresses have a signature smell (from the essential oils and plant ingredients), so that people can develop a strong olfactory association with their sleep space and fall into a sleep that much more quickly. He thinks its pure genius, and I have to agree with him.

All in all, we are thoroughly impressed with the mattress and will surely be investing our money in another one for our kids — so we can get them out of our bed! But for the time being, it hardly seems fair to not let them sleep on an Essentia.

You can follow Essentia on Instagram @essentiagram

You can visit their website and online shop www.myessentia.com

In the News: Art, Life and Creative Intention

Hippie in Disguise Danielle Chassin Makers Post

“I don’t call myself an artist, but I make art my life. Art is a creative act, infused with intention, that speaks to beauty and displays imagination. That said, it is impossible to define art. Art is always changing, evolving, growing, and there are innumerable ways to express ourselves creatively.

I like to think that there is an art to living, that we can live in such a way as to make our lives artful. This is about living with intention, creatively. Art is not always beautiful, but it often speaks to beauty, or rather, our expressions of beauty, because beauty is inspiring. To say a life is art is not to say it is perfect or beautiful, but to say that it is created with intention, in dialogue with the concept of beauty.

Life is creative in every sense of the word. To create is to make something material or immaterial that is new. With every action, every idea, we create our circumstance, chart our future. Through our connections with others we create and evolve together.

We can choose to live artfully, as though our lives are our art, meaning to live with creative intention. This is how I approach life and conceive of art. Life is art. It is our greatest work and most lasting impression.

— an excerpt from “Art, Life and Creative Intention,” The Maker’s Post, Volume 3

Last summer I was asked to contribute to a journal called The Maker’s Post. A beautiful print volume sharing the stories of artists, makers and creatives across diverse disciplines from furniture making, to pottery, food styling, fashion design, culinary arts and more. To say I was dumbfounded by the request would be an understatement. I don’t consider myself an artist, a maker or creative. I mean, I do make things, I do create, and, art is a big part of my life, but the title ‘Artist’ has never felt accurate. And yet, a life of intentional creativity is what I strive for on a daily basis. I decided to explore this idea and the notion of living artfully and submitted my work to the journal.

To my delight, the issue was published in late in 2016 and is now available for purchase — and it includes my submission! The journal is available in print (for order and shipped to your home or found in select stores in USA) or digitally. Please visit their site to get your copy and support their work. You can also find them on Instagram @themakerspost.

If you aren’t sure yet, here are a few more excerpts from my piece:

“Life isn’t always beautiful, it’s most often imperfect, frequently a struggle. I find comfort and optimism in recognizing the small, but significant, beauties in my day. For me, I most often see this in my children, in their sense of wonder, imagination and naivete, but I also see it in the beauty of the natural world. I decidedly try not to seek beauty, but to recognize the beauty that surrounds me. Seeing, appreciating and recording the beauty of ordinary, everyday moments. Through documenting the plain sight beauty of things my creative intention is to offer a simple, but optimistic, view of the mundane. A life of beauty is available to us.

I am often criticized for capturing only the beautiful moments in my day. As though this is a deception. I disagree. Documenting the beauty that many people do not see is how I create with intention. It is a message about observation, simplicity, gratitude, and small joys.

Artful living: to ‘do art,’ or to ‘live art’, is an embodied way of engaging the world. It is an acceptance, and even a celebration, that we are embedded and connected in important ways. How we live matters in very real and fundamental ways. What we create, whether material or immaterial, matters. My creative intention is to communicate gratitude for life as it is. Striving and struggle only create conflict; gratitude instills peace.”

In Volume 3, you will also find over 20 articles and interviews to inspire your creativity and passion for the arts and life.

The Makers Post Danielle Chassin Hippie in Disguise

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So Good In Every Way: Travel Photo Challenge

Gloucester Mass Nico Nico CLothing Hippie in Disguise

Travel Photography! Let’s go!

This week I’m guest judging a photo challenge put on by my friend Ali of Incredibusy blog. The photo challenge is for her So Good In Every Way project, also known as #SGIEW. The photo challenge theme is : Travel. So, if you’d like to join in and run a chance at winning a prize, then please add the hashtag #sgiew_travel to your Instagram photos. Check out the amazing entries so far: #sgiew_travel on Instagram.


You can read more about the Global Guardian Project here (on my blog) and here (on their website) – – essentially it is an education and activism project that produces monthly digital multimedia magazine (including podcasts and videos, art project downloads, interviews, country and animal profiles, maps and educational curriculum for children aged 4-13) with the goal of teaching tomorrow’s generation to be positive changemakers and support sustainable living.

To complete your entry add the hashtag #sgiew and #sgiew_travel to at least one of your photos on Instagram and kindly follow the photo challenge hosts:

Your photos should feature ‘travel’ in some way, whether a local or international trip on a train. However, I know we can’t all afford to travel, nor is everyone physically able to do so, so please consider travel in the broadest sense of the term. I am a big fan of creative interpretation!

To complete the entry make sure to visit the Global Guardian Project website and add your name to their email list (in the pop up window on their homepage).

Global Guardian Project will send you a free copy of their India Capsule as a thank you — that’s a $17 USD value, so basically everyone gets a prize.

If you don’t win the subscription but would love to subscribe anyway, use the code: INCREDIBUSY at checkout and get 10% off!

Contest closes Monday, March 20, 2017. Nine images will be selected for a feature on the So Good In Every Way Instagram account and one winner will get the prize!

Good luck everyone!


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The Baby Bird and the Snail: Nature Storyboarding Acts of Kindness

Collected natural treasures nest story of bird and snail

Today is International World Wildlife Day, last year I shared some ideas about how we can help conserve and protect wild plants and animals. I hope you’ll read that post when you’ve got the time.

This year, in honour of World Wildlife Day, I am sharing a story Ro wrote and storyboarded when she was 8. It is a story of a baby bird who lost her mother and made a new friend, the snail. The image she created that inspired the story is shown above (my photo, her arrangement).

During the warmer seasons, when snow and ice do not cover the ground we are always picking up little pieces of beauty as we walk about the city from one place to another. We are, as many of you know, pedestrians by default. Being walkers, slowly moving through the city, we always come home with a variety of pretties: feathers, shells, pinecones, flower petals, and so on. One day when we came home Ro decided to story board with the treasures. Ever since she was quite young she had played with a felt story board, which she loved. On this summer day, she decided to translate this activity into a new context using natural treasures. To begin, she used some white chalk to make a framed background on our porch and then went to work creating. When she was satisfied with her creation she called me over and shared her story.

The beauty she had created visually, and more significantly the beauty of the story itself, was so touching I had to take a few photos and transcribe the story. It’s been 3 years now, and finally, the right day has arrived to share.

Here is Ro’s story:

The Baby Bird and the Snail

“One day a baby bird’s mother went out as usual to find food, but did not return. An accident took her life.

The baby bird was heartbroken and cried in the nest for many days.

Others heard the cries and figured out what happened, so they began bringing gifts of food and beauty to sustain the baby bird.

The nest became surrounded in gifts, but still the baby bird did not emerge.

And so, a young snail decided to risk it’s own life and go into the nest to comfort the bird.

The bird was so touched by this (risky) act of kindness that she realized others cared for her and that she would have a friend to go through life with.

The end.”

I hope this story will touch your heart, inspire acts of kindness and connection across species and ways of life, and that you’ll be inspired to create beauty with natural, sustainable materials.

Today is World Wildlife Day, so hug a tree, kiss an animal, and love all life. Find, make and share the beauty of the natural world and simple acts of kindness. Raise yourself, raise others, raise positive change. Together we can raise a generation of global guardians.


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Raising Compassionate, Globally Conscious Children

Hippie in Disguise ro and sen Chassin Rideau Canal

Environmental Consciousness. Social Change. Mindfulness. Global Compassion. Minimalism. Holistic Living. Arts. Adventure. Education. Inspiration.

These are words that drive me, that I try to knit together in the way I live and in the way I raise my children. They are also words that perfectly describe the Global Guardian Project.

Last August I wrote about my friend Rebecca‘s new idea: The Global Guardian Project, a digital multimedia capsule for children and families that teaches about the world, global stewardship, sustainability, plants, animals, social and environmental activists, and lots more. The capsule is basically an interactive digital magazine for families to help learn more about the planet, country by country.

The intent of the Global Guardian Project is to expose ourselves and our children to the wide world of not just nature, but the intricate connections between human cultures and the ecosystems that support us, with the ultimate goal of helping us raise the next generation as global guardians, stewards of the planet.

Hippie in Disguise Rideau River Ottawa

With this in mind, the capsules are designed to educate, but also to inspire action. That is, to cultivate a greater caring for the earth and all its inhabitants and to inspire us to take small (and big) actions to improve the health of our planet for the collective good. The capsules were initially very popular with homeschooling and worldschooling families, as they cover a lot of science, geography, art and language curriculum, but they have also become popular with families seeking more enriching digital (“screen”) time and others just interested in learning more about the world. I should mention that while the capsules are digital, they can easily be printed, so if you are not keen on screen time then you can read the capsules the old fashioned way: on paper.

  • What is a learning capsule? Picture a digital magazine that is interactive, with videos to click and watch, art and activity downloads, links to TED talks and other resources, as well as beautiful photography, original art and lots of educational facts and information, interviews and more.

After receiving my first capsule I got even more excited about the project, there is really no resource like the Global Guardian Project out there. The multimedia format is unique and engaging. The content is interesting and inspiring. But most importantly, the core mission of the project: to raise a generation of global change makers by teaching children about how to care for the earth is so critical and close to my heart that I knew I wanted to be involved in helping the project grow. As the weeks and months passed I found myself suggesting ideas, writing content, working with contributors and generally being an all-around cheerleader for the project.

After noting my enthusiasm and my tendency to write a lot (sorry, for this long introduction, by the way..) Rebecca asked if I would like to be the Guest Editor for the upcoming capsule on Canada. To say I was excited would be an understatement. I said yes, though I invited my trusted writing (and life) partner, Matt, to plan and edit the issue with me. I invited some great thinkers, artists and friends to help out too: artist Erin Wetzel, nutritionist Kylah Dobson and permaculture farmer Zach Loeks. Together, with the team of Global Guardian Project regulars, we put together an amazing interactive digital magazine.

Global guardian Project Homeschool Curriculum Canada Animals Plants

And….the issue is now available for purchase from Global Guardian Project’s website either as a single issue (“a la carte”) or as part of their monthly subscription program. If you subscribe, you save considerably, and you get the advantage of building on learning each month, especially with the world map activities. As well, you can cancel at any time, even after one issue.

Here’s a little preview:

Each capsule is comprised of:

  • Over 60 pages of facts and information covering the country basics like size and geography, endangered animals and how we can help them, indigenous plants, related vocabulary and definitions for new words like (fossil, aerodynamic, habitat and so on), book reviews, and much more.
  • Videos showing children taking action in their local communities, for example by helping turtles.
  • Healthy, local recipes and demonstration videos
  • Profiles of activists, ecological leaders and inspiring people from the featured country to inspire action
  • A podcast guided meditation appropriate (and fun) for children and families
  • Art projects and downloads, such as colouring sheets
  • Map projects and other interactive activities
  • Lots more!

I hope you’ll consider buying one for yourself or someone in your life. While the capsules are geared to children (ages 3 and up), homeschoolers and teachers, lots of adults have been saying they enjoy them and have learned a lot from reading them. If you know Matt, then you know he has a knack for finding really cool facts and stories about natural phenomena. Keep in mind, the capsules make a great last minute gift for any occasion, since there is no delivery time.

  • You can buy the Canada edition ($16.99) or subscribe to the series for $13.49 per month, using my discount code HIPPIEINDISGUISE.
  • If you subscribe by January 14th, 2017 you will receive the Canada capsule, if you subscribe after you will get the Sri Lanka capsule, since a new capsule is released to subscribers on the 15th of each month.

You can read more about the Global Guardian Project here, you can visit their website here, find them on Instagram @globalguardianproject. If you sign up for their email list you’ll get a free mini capsule about Ocean Life. Why not try it out?!

Any questions, please leave a comment below.

UPDATE: The Global Guardian Project is currently crowdfunding to support the project. Please consider supporting the work, as little as $1 will help! Crowdfunding ends October 20th, 2017!


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Minimalism: 7 Best Books to Inspire and Inform

Minimalism Books Kinfolk Hippie in Disguise

One of the most common questions I’m asked is what books I recommend to help people jump start their minimalist journey. I usually reply that there is a lot of great free web content and discussion groups on Facebook, but inevitably people want a book (or two or three) to get them going. In addition, sometimes it’s nice to read things the good old-fashioned way, that is, on paper instead of off a screen. On account of the nature of my work, I spend a lot of time in front of screens, so I really enjoy my time with a book in my hands. If you aren’t interested in buying books, the ones listed below should be available in local libraries (although they are popular, so there may be a waiting list).

So, if you want a few books to give you a dose inspiration, but also tried and true strategies to move you toward your minimalist goals then here are the ones I always recommend:

Simple Matters: Living with Less and Ending Up with More by Erin Boyle

simple matters by erin boyle review by hippie in disguiseThis book is a great mix of motivation and techniques. Boyle shares her personal story and strategies in a way that is humble, practical and inspiring. What I really like about Boyle is that, for her, minimalism is centred in sustainable living, so her strategies are mindful of how to discard things in a responsible way, where to source good quality ethical items (with lots of resources and references). It doesn’t hurt that the book is also beautiful and has gorgeous photography. This book will help anyone, but for sure it is great for parents and small space dwellers, especially. Buy the book here.

The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing by Marie Kondo

life changing magic by marie kondo review You’ve probably heard of this book and seen it in every book store and magazine shop around. It’s an international best seller and has been translated into dozens of languages. Overall, I like the book. For a book about organization it is written in a very compelling way, Kondo tells about her own organization struggles, shares life stories and examples from clients, which makes the book quite enjoyable to read. The book is motivating in the sense that Kondo really relays the benefits of having less and keeping our lives simplified in terms of material things. My main criticism of the book is that Kondo does not address how to discard things you no longer wish to keep in an environmentally-friendly way. She refers to the use of garbage bags quite often. Let’s hope she meant to imply that these garbage bags (filled with household and personal items) should be donated to charity organizations and shelters, or responsibly delivered to recycling facilities, because it would really be a shame if de-cluttering homes led to a massive growth in landfill. Buy the book here.

Spark Joy: An Illustrated Master Class on the Art of Organizing by Marie Kondo

marie kondo spark joy reviewThis follow up book to Life-Changing Magic (above) helps people understand what Kondo meant by her concept ‘sparks joy’, that is, how to figure out what gives us joy and how to apply this to de-cluttering. While I didn’t personally struggle with Kondo’s concept of ‘spark joy’ in her first book, it is a common complaint that people didn’t really know how to figure out what their own ‘spark joy’ felt like or was. The book also elaborates on techniques for discarding and organizing, focusing on different areas of the house and categories of things. The illustrations are both useful and beautiful. Buy the book here.


Everything That Remains: A Memoir by The Minimalists

There are parts of this book that really made me roll my eyes, but at the end of the day the book is quite inspiring and is a worthwhile read. The book charts the journey from the high-powered corporate lives of two friends, marked by conspicuous consumption and crippling debt, to lives where the two chose to start over and pursue simplicity. The book effectively makes the case for why minimalism and simple living is a smart, healthy lifestyle choice. If you need motivation or want to motivate someone else this is a good book for that purpose (as a side note, if you are looking for a book that might motivate the male folk in your life, this is a good one). Buy the book here.


Clutterfree with Kids: Change Your Thinking, Discover New Habits by Joshua Becker

clutterfree with kids by joshua becker review

This is the book for people asking: How minimalism is possible with kids in the mix? Becker is a minimalism guru (with children) and has a gift for relaying the why and the how of minimalism in inspiring and understandable terms. The book offers strategies for de-cluttering with kids, by helping motivate kids and make them excited about minimalism. At its core, though, the book is about reframing our lives so that stuff is not at the centre; so that consumerism is not our tied to our identity. In doing so, family life is re-centred on experience and connection making it easy for everyone to buy into a life with less stuff. Buy the book here.


Simplicity Parenting: Using the Extraordinary Power of Less to Raise Calmer, Happier and More Secure Kids by Kim John Payne

simplicity parenting by kim john payne reviewAnother book for parents or parents-to-be, this book is not about de-cluttering things, so much as simplifying life by minimizing schedules, stuff, exposure to media and “adult” ideas, to help children and families thrive. This is really a book about simple, minimal lifestyle, from a holistic perspective, and will certainly inspire and motivate you to keep less stuff around, but the book takes a broader view than simply de-cluttering the home of material things; it is about the overall power of less. The book has been very popular, has a cult status in some parenting circles and has led to communities of interest worldwide. In my interviews with inspiring parents and minimalists, again and again they cite this book as influential in their life. Buy the book here.

Zero Waste Home: The Ultimate Guide to Simplifying Your Life by Reducing Your Waste by Bea Johnson

zero waste home by bea johnson reviewIf you are looking to minimize the amount of garbage you produce this book is for you. It is my go-to resource (I still refer to on a weekly basis), to solve zero waste challenges. The book makes a compelling case for us to consider seriously reducing the amount of garbage we make, but also provides practical tips on how to do so, covering all aspects of life and work in a way that is not intimidating. Buy the book here.


Any questions or suggestions, please leave a comment below!


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Have you subscribed to the Global Guardian Project yet? These are monthly learning capsules for children and families to learn about global stewardship. Each month features a different country’s wild life, landscape and challenges, and includes art projects, activities, meditation, recipes and more! Use my discount code: HIPPIEINDISGUISE for 10% off, you can read more about it here