Monday, April 25, 2016

Authentic Living

I still find myself looking for the mountaintop experiences in life. We've had those unexplainable moments where the stars just seem to align and the miraculous occurs. Difficulties seem to just float away and obstacles are removed.  There is a natural desire to continuously reach and search for these moments to avoid the pain and suffering of life.  In The Places that Scare You: A guide to Fearlessness in Difficult Times by Pema Chödrön, I am reminded it's in the ordinary moments where authentic living comes.

Even in homeschooling, we can find ourselves looking for the perfect teachable moments or signs of giftedness that will transcend the ordinary moments of everyday living. Magical experiences are wonderful and refreshing, but we can't live our entire lives in some spiritual state, disconnected from the uncertainty of this world. We're looking for security in a world filled with pain, suffering, and disillusionment. Many homeschoolers get caught up in finding the perfect curriculum, class, and co-op. All this in the hopes of preparing and protecting our children from the insecurity of living.

Everyday joy is watching the bluebirds build a nest, discussing who would win Superman or Batman, comforting a sick family member, or hitchhiking across the universe with Arthur Dent and Ford Prefect. In these moments, we're building a foundation of memories on. We need to consciously decide to face each day with joy. Each day is a brand new day for us to embrace with peace, joy, and calm regardless of the circumstances.

I'm understanding I don't need to avoid any situation.Why is it so hard to accept nothing is permanent? I have problems combining the inevitability of death with enjoying life. If it's all so fleeting why get up each day and try. Chödrön says it's this impermanence that frustrates us (page 26). Everything we do as humans is an attempt to stop change. I look in the mirror, see gray hair, and buy a box of dye. I step on the scale, notice a few pounds, and decide to diet. Botox, wrinkle cream, and facelifts are all part of the fear of change. I know I don't like things to change. I want my house, activities, friends, and family in SC. So, I distance myself from making friends or even considering my new location as home. I've staunchly refused to buy a house here because this is not my home. I know I'm dwelling in the past, wishing for what use to be. How can I enjoy the present when my thoughts are stuck in the past? This is exactly why we need to face each day with joy. This is a brand new day for us to embrace with peace, joy, and calm regardless of our circumstances.

Authentic living doesn't really take place in the high moments. Nor in the comfortable times. It's in the valley where we're tried and pushed beyond ourselves. Christian thought has the valley as a place of death. Death doesn't need to be physical. It can be death to any thought, idea, or action that is keeping us from experiencing the joy of the present. We're constantly changing. I'm not even the same person today that I was yesterday, much less a year ago. But, it's freeing to realize we don't have to fear the uncertainty, change, pain, or discomfort that comes from living.

Living is much more than the pain we try to avoid. It's a combination of all our experiences: the good, bad, and ugly. We just need to lean into the discomfort. How does homeschooling/unschooling bring you out of your comfort zone?

Friday, April 1, 2016

March Wrap Up

We've taken a much needed break. I've collected boatload of interesting youtube videos, podcasts, and projects to share with the kids. We're spending time volunteering at the county educational farm, sitting on cows, playing video games, and starting our garden.
We managed to catch up on Wolfblood, finish the first three movies of Harry Potter, and celebrate one birthday. As always, some sport is going on. We completed recreational basketball, and have started practice for travel team. My daughter is practicing for her first ice skating competition. My youngest son started 4-H archery, and the middle son is preparing for a dance performance.

We purchased one of those Smithsonian Institute science kits, and surprisingly the triops are hatching. My daughter was out of resources about orcas, so she picked this kit up from Michael's.  I'm hoping she'll get to take one of those marine educational field trips. We squeezed in a nature scavenger hunt this week. Bluebirds are visiting our box, and the cherry tree is in bloom. Toss in a few books, boardgames, band, and Bible study for a full week to end our break, which has been for a couple of weeks. We don't take extended Christmas breaks or holidays. My youngest found a deer shoulder bone at the educational farm. My oldest finished building a couple of model airplanes.

I'm gathering our material for the evaluator in late May or early June, possibly testing for the oldest child to prepare for ninth grade. We're anticipating a college sports career, so next year will be a lot more formal for eligibility reasons. Although, we're hoping for at least one credit this year. Initially, I was bemoaning the forthcoming restrictions to our homeschooling, but I decided to focus on the positives. The next four years are planned. My son prefers an outline to guide his studying. I realized within those restrictions there's a lot of room for choice, projects, and living books. My son is a hands-on learner, and I've found a wonderful website at for applicable projects. Plus, he's learning to meet guidelines and using education to reach his goals. I want him as prepared as possible for the path he's chosen to follow. He's my guinea pig. I foresee one or two of  his younger siblings playing college sports as well. We're looking forward to the high school years. I'm just a little saddened to see his homeschooling coming to an end in four years. My main goal is to treasure this time with him.

Now, our pressing goal is to catch up on the TV series The Flash and finish the rest of the Harry Potter movies. Hope you had a wonderful finish to your Spring Break.