Caravan Sonnet


Twenty History Lane

Today I am so very excited to share with y'all a project that I have been working on for a very long time. Over the last couple of years as I have healed my heart and passion has been stirred to return to teaching and to helping to change the world of high school students. This never died during my fight for my health but as I have begun the process of healing the dreams of teaching and seeing history (specifically the 20th century) come alive for high schoolers intensified. 

Over the past several months these dreams developed into a conceptual basis to form a new company called Twenty History Lane which I am so excited to share has officially launched TODAY! Below is information from the Twenty History Lane About page so you can see more about the company! Thank you so much for your support and excitement about this project! You can follow along on Twenty History Lane's social media pages here: 

Thank you so much again! 

So what is Twenty History Lane (or TWL as it is affectionately nicknamed)?

TWL is a collective of 20th century history re-imagined for high schoolers + those that teach them. We provide practical + unique 20th century study aids for high schoolers and innovative +creative teaching aids for those that teach them in the following history subject areas:


Through a variety of study aids + resources for the student and an assortment of lesson plans + teaching tools for high school teachers we strive to inspire each person to engage in 20th century history in new ways. Many of our resources are free, while others are kept at a minimum cost so as to encourage students + teachers to meaningfully engage without worrying about associated costs. Both high school students + teachers can find these aids + resources in our shops (Etsy Shop and Teachers Pay Teachers with ourTeachable school opening soon!)

Each month TWL will focus on a certain decade or particular subject. Listed below is the 2018-2019 school year curriculum:

July 2018: Launch + Introduction to TWL
August 2018: 1900-1909
September 2018: 1910-1919
October 2018: 1920-1929
November 2018: 1930-1939
December 2018: World War II + Holocaust Studies
January 2019: 1945- 1949
February 2019: 1950-1959
March 2019: 1960-1969
April 2019: 1970-1979
May 2019: 1980-1989
June 2019: 1990-2001

Throughout each week on our blog TWL will provide thought provoking, creative, helpful, and interesting facts through our blog. Our blog schedule for each month for the 2018-2019 school year is as follows:

Mondays: Leaders, Court Cases, or Book of the Month Intro/Recap
Tuesdays: AP USH, US History, or US Government focus
Wednesdays: Middle East History focus
Thursdays: AP EURO, AP WORLD, or World History focus
Fridays: Travel Stories

Throughout the year the TWL blog will also share about unique opportunities for both students + teachers in the 20th century history field. You can stay up to date on these opportunities by finding out updated information for students HERE and for teachers HERE.

TWL is also committed to giving back to the community through The Novel Garden. Each month there will be a book of the month to read that will coincide with the time frame + focus that is being highlighted. If you choose to purchase the book TWL will match book-for-book purchased and donate the books to local children's hospitals, shelters, libraries, + group homes. All you need to do is send us an email with a confirmation of receipt of payment!

about the founder
Rebecca VanDeMark was a high school history teacher for seven years teaching AP EURO, AP USH, AP WORLD, 20th Century World History, 20th Century Middle East History, and US Government (Honors + Regular). Teaching creatively to make History come alive and to inspire students to make a difference in their worlds is a passion of Rebecca's that goes beyond the classroom. 

Rebecca holds a Master of Public Administration, a Bachelor of Arts, and graduated with a Graduate Certificate from the prestigious Summer Academy on Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law in Women + International Human Rights Law from American University's Washington College of Law. Rebecca has also completed additional coursework in the Master of Legal Studies program at West Virginia University. She has participated in numerous continuing teaching education programs including the Supreme Court Institute for Teachers, various AP Board workshops and programs, worked as a Match Grant Coordinator helping to resettle asylees, trafficking victims, and refugees in the National Capitol Area, and interned as a graduate student at the National Organization for Women. 

Rebecca has volunteered with Adopt-a-Platoon since 2005 and in her community in a variety of ways and holds professional affiliations or memberships with the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, the 9/11 Memorial, APSA, Supreme Court Historical Society, Women in Government, and Women in International Security among others.

Rebecca is the author of six books, a freelance writer and blogger, and speaker. She is currently in the process of obtaining her VT teaching certification and plans to pursue her PhD in History with an emphasis on Holocaust Studies. 


What Exactly Does it Mean and Look Like to Work as a Blogger?

Since I started writing on this little space in January 2013 (you can read my very first post HERE which just makes me smile), the world of blogging (or as I affectionately call it), "bloggy world" has changed significantly. When I started in 2013 blogging for me was a way to reach out to the world beyond being stuck in my bed due to illness and to keep friends and loved ones informed of what was going on with my health. 

Ironically I really didn't talk about being ill (except in some general terms) for the first couple of months on the blog. When I finally did share in March of 2013 (in VERY brief details) about my health it was because there was a rumor going around that I had Cancer and I was sharing that I didn't have that diagnosis because former students were concerned (and at the time we were not aware that this was part of my health journey to wellness). 

It's crazy to actually read back those first few months of this blog. I see so clearly that I was yearning to reach out and to grab life, despite being completely bedridden and unable to eat. But at the same time, there was a beauty to it. Not in the fact that things were "hidden", but in the fact that blogging was more about telling your life story and details than what some imagine it is now. At the time bloggers would spend so much time connecting with each other, leaving comments, sharing stories, and really building a community. This makes me smile but there was actually at one point a "big blogger/little blogger" group and my "big" was amazing. I made so many friends during that time of life and it was all through this thing called blogging. 

But as the years have passed (and many of those friends don't currently blog at all or as often or as much as they used to), there was also a shift in what blogging looked like. It went from sharing a lot about your life to sharing more about your purchases, your trips, or your career. I don't think this is a bad thing, but I do think that it is a shift that has left people confused on how you can be a blogger as your job. This conversation actually came up a couple of weeks ago with someone very important to me and I was a little stumped on how to exactly explain what it means to work as a blogger. I struggled with words and tried to explain but walked away thinking- what exactly does it mean and look like to work as a blogger?

Definitely not with this person, but with others I have been told that it must be nice "not to have a real job". I have also been told that I must sit around eating ice cream, look at instagram all day long, while writing about traveling (and probably assuming that I binge watch TV all day long). To set the record straight: ice cream is not part of my diet, anyone who knows me knows that I view my phone as a way to keep in touch with loved ones and the IG part is a section of my job, and while I do write about my travels for work, I really don't like TV at all. hahaha. *smiles*

And honestly, I think that I can speak for 100% of those that view blogging as their job that none of those things are even close to the truth (aside from the ice cream - I am kidding hahaha!) But there are a lot of questions that I receive and today I thought I would share what it is I actually do for the blog as my job.

Besides being an author and an Etsy Shop owner, and (being about to announce a new company that I have been working on for months), running this blog as a job takes an incredible amount of time and discipline. My days start very early as I work with brands and companies that are in different times zones and based out of Europe and then can finish very late due to collaborations with companies on the West Coast. 

Each day I will read through different contracts, write new ones, and negotiate contracts before me. I am in constant communication with a variety of different brands and social media influencers. I write tons of emails, have phone and skype conferences, engage in interviews, and return (on a typical day) up to 200 emails on various topics. I manage 3 specific social media platforms for this blog and starting July 16th will manage a total of 8 with the new company I am starting. 

I have written articles on blogging, contributed to conferences on social media influencing, spoken on the topic of marketing for a conference, and complete all of the marketing for the blog by myself. Some bigger bloggers do have a social media team, but at this point I do not have that so every single responsibility of being an entrepreneur falls squarely on my shoulders. Caravan Sonnet is a for-profit blog, so I deal with all of the budget related to the blog, all of the ins and outs of payments, and file taxes. I photograph and edit thousands of pictures and on average one blog post, after editing several drafts (depending on the content) can take anywhere from 4-6 hours. Some of the more detailed posts of the blog can take sometimes up to 8 hours to complete. I pitch jobs, I deal with the "yes's" and the "no's" and enjoy each moment of it, despite the wild ride it can be. I balance current writing responsibilities while planning future trips, work on brand building, and work to deliver quality content that is unique in a world that has hundreds of thousands of blogs. I am constantly taking classes (online and in person) to help learn new things and improve my writing and photography skills. I also take business classes. I write blog posts weeks and months out and work to build a community with my readers and social media groups, because relationships are important to me.

I don't say any of that to say that my blog is some perfect blog, but instead to share and hopefully give some explanation of what it means and looks like to work as a blogger. I hope that this helps a bit with understanding! When I look back on where this blog has come from 5 and 1/2 years ago and think to the future... I think of all of the things that are to come. Some try to say that blogging may be a dying art or hobby, but I truly believe that blogging as a job is only in its infancy phases. There is so much yet to explore and learn and grow. It's truly exciting to think about! 

I also want to say this space has been a blessing to me. A complete blessing. I have processed and written and grieved through a serious illness, I have dreamed and shared joys of the future, and most of all have grown up here. Thank you to each of you who continue to read this blog and all of your support in this journey. I hope you have a wonderful Friday and weekend friends! 


#whenthealphabetrunsgreen book chapter - all about stevia

Every few months it seems that the internet explodes with research that has been done about stevia and its affect on killing Lyme Disease.[i] In 2015 there was a study done at the University of New Haven that brought this discussion into the forefront of mainstream talk as a possible cure for Lyme.

The study (that was conducted in test tubes) showed that the stevia leaf extract wiped out Lyme Disease in various forms. The study was performed in test tubes and petri dish situations but there has not been any extensive studies done (thus far) on how this would work in humans. Like many areas of promising Lyme treatment concepts there is the need for clinical trials.

Despite this, there were several points that were interesting that came out of the study that Lyme patients may want to consider if they are thinking about using this in their protocol to get better:

1)       In the study there were four different types of Stevia that were tested. There were were liquid ones (3) and one that was a powdered form. Interestingly researches noted that it was the alcohol extracted stevia that killed the Lyme bacteria, not the powdered form.[ii]
2)       When compared against certain antibiotics that are often used to kill Lyme Disease the Stevia seemed to out perform them.[iii] Again, this was in the use of a test tube, not in a human trial.

So what does this mean for those who are fighting Lyme and would like to see if Stevia would be a potential cure? Like everything with Lyme Disease it is first important to discuss with your doctor your consideration of using Stevia in your protocol.

Second, it is important to once again clarify that that the study was done in a laboratory. Laboratory research is extremely important – especially to the advancement of science and research, but there is still the lingering question of how patients will respond.

“The good news is that Dr. Richard Horowitz, author of “How Can I Get Better?" An Action Plan for Treating Resistant Lyme & Chronic Disease,” is currently conducting clinical studies using combinations of antibiotics with and without stevia for his patients with chronic Lyme disease. Dr. Horowitz says, “No one is claiming stevia is a cure for Lyme disease. The research that I am doing in my office on stevia as a biofilm buster also involves using it with tetracyclines, rifampin, Dapsone and other medications/herbal protocols to hit different forms of borrelia. I am having success with that protocol.”[iv]
As we wait for all of these studies to continue and clinical trials to happen, many Lyme patients (including myself) have used (under the direction of a qualified Lyme doctor) Stevia in our journeys to health. I don’t view it as a “cure all” at this point simply because of the lack of conclusive research done in humans, but I am glad that I spoke with my doctor and added it in (under their direction) to my protocol. I do believe that this has truly helped me live and heal from Lyme Disease. Like many Lyme patients my doctor gave me a schedule of how to use Stevia in conjunction with other treatment that I am doing. If you haven’t tried Stevia yet and are thinking about it, I would strongly suggest consulting with your physician and doing your research.

*Please note that the #whenthealphabetrunsgreen book chapters are part of a special offering of 20 free chapters from Rebecca's upcoming book, When the Alphabet Runs Green, which will be available on December 6th on Amazon and where books are sold. These chapters may NOT be reprinted or reproduced without the written consent of the author. ** To read additional chapters from #whenthealphabetrunsgreen please find a special page HERE

If you are interested in purchasing another one of Rebecca's Lyme Disease Books Please click on the links below:


When The Alphabet Runs Green- Releasing Tomorrow (20 chapters for FREE!!)

Happy Wednesday y'all! I hope that you are having a great week! Well today brings a bit of a change of news that I am so very excited to share! As y'all are aware, my new book, "When The Alphabet Runs Green: Practical Tips from A to Z for Living Well with and Healing from Lyme Disease" was set to release today but over the last few months I have made some changes to this release and kept this a surprise which I am so excited to share about today! 

Starting tomorrow (and every Thursday after that for the next 20 weeks) I will be releasing a chapter for FREE here on the blog. These 20 chapters are things that I believe that any Lyme patient (or their loved one) should have free access to. While there are additional chapters (many of them!) in When the Alphabet Runs Green book, these in the book form along with these 20 free chapters will be available for purchase in print form on Thursday, December 6th. 

By making these 20 chapters available for free I hope will bring awareness, provide practical help and tips, and start a deeper discussion on how to live well and heal fully from Lyme Disease! 

So Pass the word! Starting tomorrow here on the blog for the next 20 Thursdays, I will be sharing 20 chapters from the book! 

On Thursday, December 6th "When the Alphabet Runs Green" will be able for purchase where books are sold and on Amazon. Thank you so much for all of your support of all of my books! I am truly so blessed by y'all!

*Please note that the #whenthealphabetrunsgreen book chapters are part of a special offering of 20 free chapters from Rebecca's upcoming book, When the Alphabet Runs Green, which will be available on December 6th on Amazon and where books are sold. These chapters may NOT be reprinted or reproduced without the written consent of the author. ** To read additional chapters from #whenthealphabetrunsgreen please find a special page HERE

Simple Secrets to a Healthy & Happy Lifestyle

The term ‘healthy and happy lifestyle’ means a lot of different things to a lot of different people. To some, it means being super serious about working out, eating nothing but greens, and never letting a drop of coffee, alcohol, or sugar-based liquid pass their lips. To others, the happiness part of the equation is the most important, and the focus is on eating what you want, with the only exercise taken involving getting up to turn over the TV.

For the rest of us, however, we probably lie somewhere in the middle. Not everyone wants to be a super fit athlete. And the vast majority of us want to lead healthy lives. The good news is that by following some simple suggestions, it’s more than possible to improve your health, feel better about yourself, and lead a long and happy lifestyle long into the future. Let’s take a look at everything you need to know.

The importance of the individual
OK, so let’s get started with you. Be honest - do you put aside proper time to look after yourself? Whether you are a high-flying career woman, a busy mom, or a stressed-out student, it’s important to give yourself a break from the norm and put time aside to look after yourself. The reality is that if you don’t give yourself time to recharge, refuel, and repair, no one else will either. We all lead busy lives, but taking care of yourself has to be a priority. Do so, and you will find you are more productive at work, a more able parent, and a brighter spark at school.

Tailor-made solutions
If you are thinking of working out or going on a diet, don’t believe everything you see or hear. As Club Fitness points out, if you want to get fit, you need to work with a gym that helps you achieve your personal health and fitness goals - not the targets of someone you saw on the TV, your neighbor, or your work colleague. It’s precisely the same principle with dieting. We are all different, and at various stages of our fitness journeys. And the reality is that there is no one size fits all solution - you have to find a tailor-made plan that is achievable and workable. A personal trainer can help, or you could learn everything you need to know yourself. There is plenty of information and lots of tools online to help you build a picture of your current fitness condition. And once you start learning new techniques and workouts, you will find you are inspired to do a lot more.

Catch some zs
Sleep matters a lot more than you might think. And the quality of sleep is even more critical. Getting enough shut-eye is crucial to your health, as it gives your body the chance to heal itself from the day’s stresses and strains, while at the same time it gives your brain an opportunity to evaluate and assess what it has experienced. Lack of sleep could make you physically ill, and can also be the cause of all kinds of mental health issues. At best, you will be far less productive, happy, and focused until you catch up. And finally, let’s not forget that when you are tired, it can often mean you will crave unhealthy food during your waking hours, which is neither good for your health, or your waistline.


Morning matters
Once you start to go to bed a little earlier, you will often find you can wake up earlier, too. And as much as it is tempting to turn over and go back to sleep, why not embrace the day ahead, look it in the eye, and take up its challenge? Early mornings are a great time to ensure you get an excellent, energy-creating breakfast. You might be able to fit in a workout, too, or a dog walk. And even if you don’t feel active, just relaxing on your own before the world wakes up is a fantastic opportunity to gather your thoughts for the day ahead.

Exercise and activity
As we mentioned above, the morning is a great time to workout. But if you can’t get up in the mornings, or just don’t have time to get your physical activity in before work, it’s not an excuse to skip it altogether. Everyone should be taking at least half an hour of reasonable exercise every day as a bare minimum. Doing this will keep your health in good order, and reduce your chances of developing nasty conditions like high blood pressure, heart issues, and even stroke. Not to mention the benefits will have on your immune system and your overall physique.

Diet and nutrition
The food you eat is perhaps the most critical part of living a healthy and happy lifestyle. So when it comes to your overall diet, it’s essential that you are eating nutritiously and fueling your body in the right way. Consume the right amount of vitamins, keep an eye on additives and preservatives, and make sure the majority of your meals is made up of vegetables and fruits. A lot of people make out that eating healthily is tough - but once you get started, you will find the opposite is the case. You don’t have to starve yourself of treats, however. It’s just a simple question of moderation that you need to consider.

Water, water, water
Your body weight is 60 percent water. So it’s no surprise that we see water as being a giver of life. Drink plenty of it, and do so regularly - don't wait until you feel thirsty. By that stage, you are already dehydrating, so aim for around eight glasses of water a day at regular intervals, dependent on your size. Proper hydration will help you feel better, think clearer, and perform better in sport, work, exercise, or even reading. As discussed in a previous blog post, it’s also great for keeping you looking young and healthy, flushing out toxins, and keeping your body in the best possible shape.

Hang out with good folk
Believe it or not, the people you spend the most time with will have a significant impact on your personality. Hang out with people who drink a whole bunch at the weekends? You probably will, too. Spend time with people that worry about illness and the world around them constantly? You will, too. It can be incredibly awkward trying to live a happy and healthy lifestyle when there are people around you that encourage you to do the opposite. In most cases, it’s not because they want to drag you down - it’s just that by not doing ‘the usual’ you are seeking to invalidate them. It can be tricky, but if you have friends that are a bad influence, you might want to reassess your relationships. Meeting up with positive people can be a remarkable help in achieving your health and fitness goals, for example, and can also help you get on better at work and accomplish more with your life.

Cut out the stress
According to research, stress is an increasing problem in the modern world. And make no mistake about it, it’s not something you want to experience. Stress can cause many health conditions that could end up being the death of you. It can also start causing havoc with your relationships at home and at work. Sure, stress can be tough to avoid in life, but if you feel it is getting on top of you, don’t be shy about visiting your doctor. Which brings us to our next point…

Regular medical visits
It’s a proven fact that people who visit their doctor more often tend to suffer from fewer serious illnesses. Arranging regular check-ups with your physician will ensure that if you do get anything serious, it will be picked up at a very early stage, at which there is far more chance of a full and straightforward recovery. Even diseases like some cancers can be treated relatively easily, and have excellent prospects for a full recovery - if it’s caught before it takes hold.

Slow and steady wins the race
If all this sounds like you need to change everything about your life right now, it couldn’t be further from the truth. The reality is that slow and steady will always be a better approach than diving in headfirst. Taking on too much change is impossible, and is also one of the most common causes of failure. It will be too difficult to continue, and you will feel like it is impossible. You need to set yourself achievable goals if you want long-term success, so take baby steps, instead.  

OK, so there you have it - some simple rules to follow if you want to have a happy and healthy lifestyle for the future. As we discussed above, taking on these things one step at a time will help it feel a lot easier. Try it out, and I guarantee you will be feeling better, more productive, and possibly even younger before you know it. Good luck - and good health!

This may be a contributed post but all of the thoughts I agree with and match the tone of my blog .


A Walk Through Cologne Square // Germany

Happy Tuesday friends! I hope that your week has started off well! Back in June I shared that on our 5th day of our Rhine River cruise we had the amazing opportunity to spend the morning cruising the Middle Rhine River. (You can read about the first part of our scenic cruising HERE and the second part HERE!) Then we spent the afternoon and early evening exploring the beautiful city of Cologne, Germany. (You can read more about a walk through historic cologne HERE.)
As we made our way to the Cathedral we walked through cologne square where our tour guide spent some time sharing about the different buildings. 
One of the things that I never tired of on our trip was all of the amazing architecture that had been preserved throughout the different centuries. 
Isn't the architecture so unique?
I loved seeing this area of Cologne and learning more about the history of the buildings and hearing the stories of this city on this tour. It was truly fascinating! 
I hope you enjoyed this brief tour of a walk through Historic Cologne! In my next post I can't wait to share more about the Cologne Cathedral and its unique survival during the bombing of World War II. The Cathedral was absolutely magnificent! If you are interested in reading more about our Basel to Amsterdam cruise on Viking, you can click on the links below: