Nepal is beautiful. I could not have dreamed up a more wonderful country. The hills and mountains go on and on and on as far as the eye can see and yet still further, all green and bathed in rain. During my trek, I found myself happy, at one, and in touch  with my mind, soul, and being. I felt like the scarf in the Nepali song resham pririri. I got to learn a lesson I’ve learned before and a lesson I am still learning: the lesson that it’s about the journey not the destination. And my, what a magical journey it was with all the admirable, strong adventurers I spent time with on the trail.

Nepal continues to amaze me every day in the little village just outside of Duhlekel where I have settled in to find community.

I've met a friendly family. They are completely divine. I almost cried when I met my little brother and the first thing he did was teach me how to write Michael and Alyssa in script (my American parents' first names). Today is my second day staying at their home and today the mother dressed me up in Nepali clothing, did my hair/makeup, and gave me a tika (bindi) for my head before sending me off to the neighbor's farm to dance.

This amazing family has given me the Nepali name Radha. Some believe she is the symbol of love, and some believe she represents a sad, impossible romance. Everyone believes she is to be honored.

My brother (9) loves to take pictures with my camera and my sister (4) draws on everything I own. There is no sense of privacy, no toilet paper, and we eat with our hands. But please don’t get me wrong - this is very much a culture of respect, care, cleanliness, and hospitality, where guests are treated like gods and goddesses.

I am currently sitting on my bed with my new brother, Amrit, and sister, Amrita, listening to them sing; I feel like part of the family. The language barrier is confusing, but we laugh, drink tons and tons of hot tea, and live a merry life of love in our cornfield.

Although this is just the beginning, I already fear the end. I feel true bliss in this mindset and reality of growth and exploration that is travel. I am reminded every day that we are all truly just walking each other home. Home can mean many different things to many different people at many different times. But for now, to me, it is a small wondrous village in Nepal.

 ~ With care, Radha

Exploring spoken word


For the past two days I challenged myself to write spoken word poetry. The experience was phenomenal. I feel inspired, motivated, capable, knowledgeable, and empowered. However, that’s not what I want to talk about. I want to tell you about how difficult this was. I set out writing passionate poetry filled with zest, feeling, emotion, and excitement. Everything was going great! I wrote all day, I felt challenged, I felt growth, I was ready to take on anything. Then I decided to head to bed (let me tell you that I am not very tech savvy). I shut the computer I had borrowed, and went to sleep. When I awoke, I discovered pain and hurt and a new lesson that fate had planned for me to learn through trial and error. When writing in wordpad, you have to click save! This was a hard lesson to learn and I had a very tough day today, but I have taken away so much from this challenge. Today I wrote short poems about loved ones, compassion and grief, the medical industry, and positive energy. One thing I know now is that spoken word poetry is best written when you have something to say, when you feel the need to express yourself, when you have thoughts to share. I have taken a lot from the past few days, and I have a newly found love as well as the resources to share my values, strengths, weaknesses, and aspirations. I have had a long journey and am now ready to rest, but this time I will press save.

Other personal challenges included cooking 33 over-easy eggs and designing a health pledge for fellow homeschool students.




“People are fed by the Food industry, which pays no attention to Health, and are treated by the Health industry, which pays no attention to Food.” – Wendell Berry

I feel that food is such a great subject for conversation because everyone can relate. Each and every individual has a journey with food and a story to tell. This is my story of how I came to accept my current relationship to food and what I envision that relationship to become.

In 2013, I started experiencing daily abdominal pain, and was experiencing a lack of energy and motivation. I spoke with Isabelle Benarous, a practitioner of the art of German New Medicine; the belief that emotional and mental stress or trauma impacts one’s physical state. To quote Dr. Ryke Geerd Hamer, the originator of German New Medicine: “Through the millennia, humanity has more or less consciously known that all diseases ultimately have a psychic origin and it became a “scientific” asset firmly anchored in the inheritance of universal knowledge; it is only modern medicine that has turned our animated beings into a bag full of chemical formulas.” My experience with German New Medicine has helped me to gain more understanding of the psychological  aspects of my own health.

In October of the same year, my father, Michael, passed away after battling melanoma. He was very involved in the health food world and made a huge impact on how I perceive the commercial and sustainable food industries. He also helped shape my view that being present, conscious, and aware of what you’re putting into your body affects you in the present moment and in the moments to come.

My father is relevant to my abdominal pain because I believe that the digestive tract is connected to your mental and emotional state. This belief is grounded in my own experience. While processing and feeling the pain and loss of my father, I developed an intolerance to gluten. I feel that my gluten intolerance directly stemmed from processing the loss of my father. Although some might see this as a negative consequence, I perceive this as good fortune because I feel that it improved my ability to be aware of my own health, as well as that of others, by making me think and rethink how my physical well-being, mindset, and lifestyle relate to digestion and food.

I strive to be healthy, and that can mean many different things to different people. Generally, we as a society define health in ways that are complex, varied, and often contradictory. For example: there are so many different beliefs about what is healthy, varying from plant based diets, protein heavy diets, to no specific diet at all! I recognize that every body is different and there is not one healthy way for all of humankind. Each individual’s journey will be completely different and have many things that impact their diet and lifestyle.

My personal definition of health focuses less on diet and more on lifestyle and mindset. My perception of health is what feels good to my body, is nurturing, and enables optimal physical capability, as well as what I feel promotes wholeness and connectedness to my body and overall being.

My vision of an optimal and healthy relationship with food is: eating what makes me feel my best, living in an environment and community in which I grow my own food organically, making Reishi, Chaga, and honey tinctures, as well as incorporating nettles, local herbs and fresh roots into my diet. I want to converse about and research others’ relationships with food and their beliefs. I want to strive to be open and listen to different ideas and theories, incorporating what I find and what I feel resonates with my body, belief system, and personal theories.

I feel that this mindset connects me to my father, and is a part of the knowledge, experiences, and insight he’s shared with me. Like a tree, my relationship with food has roots, a trunk, and branches. My roots were gained from conversing and spending time with my mother and father. I consider my trunk to be my mindset, lifestyle, and personal beliefs. Finally, my branches are the knowledge, personal growth, and wisdom I can share with the world.

My Inspirations for developing this page and sharing my story are Michael Canann, Arianna Kosel, Joel Malkoff, Ariel Wygant, and Tabi Musselwhite.


Hello Reader,

My name is Catherine Canann. I am a young homeschooler. Thank you so much for taking the time to read this. As you know, every day I have a unique challenge to educate myself. Today, that challenge was to write emails to strangers in Denver who we would like to connect with, and to set up dates to meet which work for both of us.

I am passionate about voice, so I reached out to connect with an opera singer. She replied, saying she would be in NYC during the time I would be in Denver, but was open to speaking with me over the phone. I am very excited to converse with her, as she is a person who has successfully pursued my dream career, and I am overjoyed to have gotten such an effective and positive response.

I am so grateful I got to participate in this challenge, as I gained the knowledge and capacity to write an email which achieved its goal. I hope you write an email to someone you admire because it is a great way to put yourself out there and possibly even get positive feedback.

Being a tree

My emotions are like the rise and fall of waves as I set out to describe my journey through a self directed challenge. I take into consideration my passion and goal. I am passionate about community and family. I want to create a supportive group that is inclusive and acknowledges all people. I want to create space for this value because the experience of people caring for each other, spending time together, and working together to create and be productive gives me a feeling of connection and wholeness. It’s like a tree planted in earth, growing strong, its branches reaching out and creating shade. Creating a continuation of posture, impact ripples outward to the world.

My goal for this challenge was to be a tree by creating a venue for gratitude, especially as I get ready to leave Paonia. I wanted to create a space of acknowledging and expressing the way my time in Paonia has also been like a nourishing foundation tree. Dave, a fellow homeschooling student, who celebrates Canadian Thanksgiving, inspired me to create a community Thanksgiving. To do this, I invited neighbors to a special dinner and asked them if they had materials they could share to create a special Thanksgiving. They gave me fabric to make into tablecloths and runners and items for center pieces. I also made my own dish out of the left overs from other cooks in my kitchen. One of my goals was to only trade and use recycled resources to decorate the venue because this brings the community together.

As I sit here looking at the festive tables and awaiting the food the rest of my friends have worked hard to prepare, I feel accomplished in my goal of providing a space for community and for gratitude. All that remains is for us to gather in the shade I’ve provided. I feel as though I am a tree. ~ Catherine Canann


Counter Argument

  Among a group of homeschoolers today we challenged ourselves to effectively argue the opposing positions on two subjects we had strong opinions and intuition about as a group. The topics we discussed were whether there should be more or less standardized testing in schools, and whether the moon landing truly happened or was a hoax. We started out by writing down the reasons that we so strongly believed in our side of the argument, and then pulled out our computers and did lots of research to back up those opinions.

We decided as a group to take a walk to reflect on our personal thoughts and the reasons that we believed them. On our way back we explored how culture, religion, community, and family can impact our personal thoughts and beliefs. We sat back down with an open mind and worked hard to put ourselves into the shoes of someone who had opposing opinions. As a group we searched the internet, filtering for .edu and .org sites. We collected information that we gathered into a compelling argument to present to our leader, mentor, and support, Blake, who took our original data and beliefs and used it to argue against us in our new position.

We put up quite a fight, and got really into it, arguing with Blake to the death of our own opinions. It created a nourishing and educational environment to open our minds to both sides of opinion on these subjects. In conclusion we learned to argue and we created a space that helped us grow into better individuals promoting our opinions and bringing them into the world.