Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Getting over "What will people think?"

One of the more difficult parts of adult life is getting clear about your path and following it. There are pressures from loved ones who have their own vision of who they thought you would be and how they thought you would live. These are good people, people who love you, or they would never even bother to invest so much energy in hoping and planning for you. If you decide to actually stop and look inside yourself, to really know who you are and what you really want, you may find that your path takes you somewhere your loved ones did not envision and cannot understand. 

There is considerable work involved in coming to know who you are and what you want. It can be difficult to even find your own inner voice. The voices of loved ones can live inside our heads and get so tangled up in our thoughts that it can often be confusing. Which of these voices are really your own? Life can become so hectic that it is difficult to find the time to untie the knots. 

Once that small voice (and it is often small in the beginning) can be heard, you will want to know whether this voice is making any sense, whether it is safe to let this voice out into the world. Are there others who want the same things? Have others been successful in achieving these goals? What struggles have others encountered on this path? There may be a lot of reading and conversation involved in this process of discovery. 

Once you have heard this voice clearly and done some research, it may feel safe to declare an intention, to let your true inner voice be heard, to take the first step down your own path. You may think the hard part is over. You might at this point expect or at least hope to be celebrated. You have worked hard to get to this place and it feels so good to finally know what you want and to be moving in the right direction for you. 

It is really very likely that this is where it gets harder still, because those people who truly love you and truly have your best interests at heart, they may think you have lost your mind. In a way, you have. Within your mind, you have shed layers and layers of voices that weren't yours but had been guiding your life for some time. 

You have found your own voice and it is taking you in a new direction. Though the voice starts small, it grows over time and demands to be heard. It can't be ignored any longer without some serious consequences to you. So, how you do make decisions that are right for you and get over what other people think? This is still a work in progress for me, but here are my thoughts so far:
  • Be patient and gentle with your loved ones. They wouldn't worry or be obnoxious in the way that only worried people can be if they did not love you very, very much.
  • Good facts are your best weapon against fear. If ever you feel your confidence slipping or feel fearful that you are making a big mistake, learn more! Ask yourself, "What are the facts about this?". Once you have good facts, you can make an informed decision about whether to make an adjustment.
  • Find a community of people who understand your path. If you are not able to find a real live community of people in your own area who are walking your path, then find some local people who at least respect you and the path you are on. Then look online for others who are more like you. An online community is far better than no community at all. Even if you just read about people on a similar journey, you can gain so much.  
  • Focus on your joy. If you are creating a life that you love, do your best to keep your focus on that joy and let go of the things you cannot change. Some important people in your life may never understand or approve of the choices you make. Only you can know what is best for you. Live the life you love and enjoy it!

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Books as Inspiration

One of the things I most look forward to in winter are our days sitting by the fire reading good books. When the weather permits, we want to be outdoors, but when it is too hot, too cold, too wet, etc., we love to read good books. I find it interesting to observe how the kids take ideas from these books and use them in their play.

One winter we completely got lost in the Harry Potter series. Even the long books we finished in just a few days. We just could not put them down. I remember watching my son and his friend, dressed in black cloaks, casting spells on one another in the backyard. Harry Potter inspired their play for quite some time.

We devoured everything written by Rick Riordan in a short period of time, as well. Once we had read all of his books, we wanted more, so we picked up the original stories from Greek and Egyptian mythology. Backyard play became a fight against mythical monsters.

The girls love their Fancy Nancy books. The ideas from these books brought a spa into our home. In between folding laundry and making lunch, I often get to have a foot massage, manicure and a hair style.

These books have also inspired my oldest daughter to plan "fancy nights". She creates a guest list and menu for the evening. She decorates and picks out fancy clothes for us all to wear.

We read the Madeleine L'Engle books about time travel, which inspired this creation:

I have been amazed at the many ways good books have inspired my children's play. It had gotten so I could almost predict the themes that would crop up in their play based on the books we were reading. But because there is never a dull moment here, lately my kids have been inspired by books in unusual ways.

My girls made this creation to hide their creative projects from one another:

This book tower was made while I was reading to the kids:

Monday, March 11, 2013

A Special Kind of Learning

When I was in college I was fortunate to take a study abroad trip. We spent six weeks in Florence, Italy and six weeks in Paris, France. During weekends and breaks, we had the opportunity to travel on our own some as well. Our class went to churches, art museums, historical sites and other points of interest. Our professors were there to explain to us the significance of all these wonderful places. I have since traveled on my own and grew to appreciate how fortunate I was to have a tour guide. But more than anything, I learned so much from being there. I still remember what those places smell like, how smooth and cold was the marble, how damp and chilly were the churches, how friendly and relaxed were the Italian people, etc. I remember even then having the realization that this was a really special kind of learning and feeling pretty sure that I would always remember what I learned on that trip. And I believe I have.

I also became aware on this trip that different people approached travel in different ways. There were those who moved quickly from place to place, took their pictures, bought their postcards, checked items off their list and moved on. And there were those that stayed a while, settled into a place, got to know it before moving to their next destination. I did some of both. I can remember what each feels like. I can remember the short weekend trips, rushing to accomplish a lot in our days, hitting the highlights, taking my pictures, buying my postcards, and crashing out early with feet so sore I could barely walk to the bathroom in the middle of the night. Ah, but the places I got to stay and really experience! These feel like old friends to me because I had the time to really get to know them.

All of this came to my mind as I was thinking about parenting and homeschooling. It helped me clarify some priorities:
  1. I want to provide rich experiences for my children so they can enjoy this "special kind of learning" I enjoyed during my study abroad experience. I want us to learn through doing interesting things so that the things we learn are relevant and memorable.
  2. Rather than approaching learning as a long list of items to check off the list, I want to take time to really experience and enjoy each thing we do. I want to keep a sane pace and a simple schedule to hold space for this to happen.