Live What You Know

Learn, Grow, Accept, Appreciate, Realize, Love…Truly Live It All! Make Every Day A Masterpiece and Live Each Moment In Joy! —or— You are Divine. You are All. We are One. Let us Be still. Let us Listen with an open heart. Let us Live what we hear. Let us Love with All of our heart. BE. YOU. I AM. —or— wherever you're at and growing from now.

Category: Unschooling / Homeschooling

Making It So

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My books have long been my best friends. They have always been such a source of inspiration and support through so many phases and circumstances. I love to watch the dots connect as the Universe sends me messages and nudges me towards the perfect messages for me and embraces me in what I call Universe or God Hugs.

I had kind of a tough year last year in many ways and I now know that some of my thoughts and statements had a lot to do with that. Last year I actually said out loud on various occasions something to the effect of…”I’m sad, I have no books, nothing to read…” I even went on to describe that I couldn’t connect to anything the way I used to and that of all the things I tried to read nothing was touching me as it once had.

I know better than saying something like that out loud or even allowing that thought to take shape in my head. It’s like giving that thought power, making it so, sending a wish to the Universe, etc. So, that is what happened in many ways. I was completely out of touch with my “best friends” the books. As a result, I was out of touch with the deepest part of me as well.

I am happy to report that I am a blessed woman these days. My friends are piled up all around me. Some old ones are showing themselves to me in new ways. Many new ones have appeared and blessed me abundantly. I have embraced new types of books and allowed stories to come to me in wonderfully new and exciting ways. I have once again opened the channel that I have always used so well to communicate with the Divine and Unknown. It makes my heart burst to feel the sweet embrace once again.

I have a lot to say about this topic and I know this experience, although lonely, was perfect as it was teaching me so much. But, for purposes of this post, the main thing that strikes me is just to acknowledge for myself and encourage others about declaring things in life to be one way or another. I was pretty darn sure that I wasn’t able to enjoy my reading as I always had. I felt stuck, lonely and uninspired. My health suffered and I was unable to stick to so many of the things I know align with my beliefs and passions for truly Living.

The very limiting thought that I had allowed to take shape in my head and outwardly spoken to a cherished friend, my husband and even my daughter was making itself so in my life because I had declared it as my experience. It didn’t have to be that way. I was even doing a number on myself thinking that I couldn’t connect to my books or any new books anymore because I was meant to be working on other writing projects or something along those lines…I just found all kinds of ways to support that limiting and somewhat destructive thought and it grew and became what seemed to be “real” to me.

Once I figured it out, the channel opened back up again and my goodness does it feel good. Anyone who knows me, knows I love sharing books. It’s kind of like wanting my friends to meet my other friends. All that fun has started again and it is so great. It’s funny, I used to insist that people should read this or that specific book, now I tend to send way too many books to others so they can choose the one for them and their own perfect timing, etc. It’s now like I want to share with them that connection that whispers to them and leads them to their perfect experience they’re meant to embrace. I no longer assume that through any one book they will have the same experience I had, I only love the idea of helping them find the perfect experience for them.

Thank goodness I also read a lot with the kids for homeschool and enjoyed a lot of our learning last year or else I would have gone completely mad. I may not have been hanging out with my best friends, but I was able to survive on other messages and at least learning something… Now that I’ve been open again to the messages that are coming my way through my favorite channel, the new books and old ones are working together with the educational things I enjoy with my kids. It is like everything I enjoyed before about this magical channel for me is now drawing sources from a million more places and the synchronicities are amazing me even more.

An interesting outcome from this experience is that I can now be blessed with multiple messages across a much larger number of sources. I used to kind of only want to read one thing at a time. I was pretty stubborn about this. Now, I have at least four different books going at the same time and the educational lessons on top of that. I let them speak to me more and tell me what the message for me that day is. I have embraced new types of literature and allowed old ones to be read in a different way. In one morning reading session, I often experience the craziest tingle of awe and gratitude and how magical our Universe is as three completely different books put a magical puzzle together before my eyes and delight my soul. It’s a lovely way to start the day!

I am also finding other ways to connect with different types of stories. I haven’t read much fiction in the past ten years having found my shelves overflowing with plenty of non-fiction that held my interest so firm. Now, I’m more open and can see that there are so many ways that storytelling takes shape from the depths of others’ souls that connect just as powerfully to my soul and are equally as “real” as any non-fiction that has been so powerful in my life in the past. The stories are opening my imagination and allowing more miracles to take shape in my life. They are in some ways bringing me back to Life a bit and expanding my horizon for the future.

I know that I held those limiting thoughts about my friends the books. I know that it blocked all that wanted to come through and bless me. I know I suffered in choosing that. I also know that the timing in all of it is perfect and I am now more open, more inspired, more grateful, more ready for a blessed future than ever. It All is perfect. It happens just as it should. All will be well. This opening I am feeling now makes me feel more ready to share from an even deeper level here in this space that has brought me such comfort, healing and hope. I plan to jump back into my writing here and allow myself to share more of my stories…always with the intention of bringing healing to the world through first healing myself and then hoping that can also bring love and healing to others.

Sending you peace, love, joy and gratitude. May you be blessed with all that inspires you and the courage to embrace it today and always.

 

 

 

Wholeheartedly Living Your Dreams — While Fearlessly Co-Creating Even More

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I adore the view from my morning reading chair!

I am so grateful for the ritual that begins the gift called today each weekday in our house. On this day, I felt the warm embrace of a loving universe as I read with my two little ones reading nearby. So good for the soul…my babies happily enjoying literature as a daily habit, my puppy content in my lap, a sweet phone call from my dear husband wishing me a happy day right in the middle of the experience and so many great lessons in literature for me to devour and contemplate. There I sit with a heart full of gratitude as I thoroughly enjoy every minute of it.

The words, images and messages on my chosen cups this day provide a wonderful balanced blessing. I love dreaming big. I have many more things I can easily see myself doing and truly feel called to accomplish in the years to come. Sometimes I get impatient with myself and dream of doing more now or feeling as though I must push harder to make things happen sooner. But, the truth about dreams is that I am already living many big ones now. I must feel what is around me now as deeply as I feel the urge to lay the foundation to create future dreams to come.

A morning reading ritual doesn’t just happen, it is the fruit of many of my dreams that have already come true. Some dreams I had since I was a little girl and some I didn’t even know I wanted until I was in the middle of creating them in unknown territories completely out of my comfort zone. Co-creating these so-called circumstances I find myself in now was no coincidence; they didn’t just happen to me. We can always look around us and be sure that whatever Life we see and feel we are living—we made it so. We create our reality. From the largest to the tiniest detail, we co-created it all and we decide how long we keep the dream alive and/or when we create new ones…big and small. We truly live all that we know and can only dream up that which we truly believe and are ready to receive.

So, the other day I was making the kids’ sandwiches while they finished their morning studies. I had just completed another module in the course I’m taking about creating a conscious business or igniting my visionary ignition switch. All the wonderful information I had just been given about publishing, self-publishing, building a platform and much more was swirling around in my head. I am really enjoying the course and feeling very inspired by it. I also feel a bit pressured by it at times or in need of reminding myself that there is plenty of time and not to worry about it or let it stress me out (the course teachers do a great job of reminding us about this too). It is all wonderful information that will be there for me when I’m ready to use it. A good friend once shared a daily mantra she uses to calm herself. She simply says, “I have plenty of time. I have all the time I need.” I like this mantra. I’ve been pulling it out and using it again lately. Thank you Jennifer.

Anyway, I had a distinct moment while spreading Vegenaise on the kids’ sandwiches. I sort of snapped out of the swirling head stuff. It was interesting because I was truly inspired and feeling quite grateful for the discussion about my passions I had just enjoyed listening to. I know I am meant to hear this great information and I know it will bless me in many ways over the years to come as I navigate my journey through all the things I feel called to do. But, as I looked down at the kids’ four pieces of bread, it hit me how truly great it is to make their sandwiches. I was overtaken with gratitude that they were there in the next room and would enjoy lunchtime with me very soon. I loved thinking of our morning studies and the writing workshop we would do together in the afternoon.

It occurred to me that I could put lots of pressure on myself to get a platform built, get a brand going, figure out how I want to publish, find ways to reach more people, etc. and be sorry if I don’t balance it just right. I could spend the next few years really focusing on that and making it happen. It may keep me so busy that I forget to enjoy making the sandwiches. Then, in a few years when the kids may not be around as much, I could have all those things necessary to pursue my dreams, but I would really really miss making their sandwiches. I may long for the days when I used to do that if I’m not truly present and really indulge in it now. Being here now and somewhere else later is always the way. I just need to balance living the dream and creating the new ones. I have to believe it can be done. I can do it well in peace with Divine guidance and timing if I listen well from my heart. Not from my head.

I remembered with love the days when the kids were learning to write the alphabet. They would sit at the kitchen counter waiting for their sandwiches and I would write letters in mustard on their bread for them to guess. Oh, how that seems like yesterday and a lifetime ago at the same time. When was the last day we did that? How did it stop? Oh, how fun that was! They even asked for that recently and I think I was “too busy” to do it just then. Argh!

Anyway, there is no answer to the exact formula for following dreams. Our soul knows why we’re here and if we let our soul drive our life more than our head, it will work out just fine. All things can and do happen at the perfect time. Of course, balance, trust and listening to the Divine is the answer to everything. So, I finished up making lunch and allowed a space in my experience there in the kitchen where I felt thrilled by the memories of mustard letters, gratitude for the experience of making sandwiches the kids still love to eat with me on this day and comforted by the dreams that live and grow in my heart and the code of my soul each day to keep me inspired through many more versions of me and my day-to-day life to come.

The image above of Snoopy and Woodstock (or Wubberbock as my son called him for years and we still fondly say today) dreaming together is such a thing of beauty. Two unlikely friends, dreamed up and shared from one man’s imagination with so many…what a gift! I see love and acceptance shining all around them, blue skies and possibility everywhere, what a wonderful world this can be and so much more. I love how Snoopy and Wubberbock just go about their business doing what feels good to them at that moment in time. Perhaps that is where the balance finds us.

The beautiful words that held my coffee this day remind me of how our soul might advise us if it could gently remind us where we come from, who we are and why we are really here. May we feel the blessing of truly being here and feeling the miracle that it really is.

May we dream big…while we dwell in a state of awakened
realization of the dreams we’ve already created.

We can balance both.
Love will show us how!

Sending you love and joy on this day and all the days to come!

Giving Up the Roles We Play and the Labels We Assign

“Authentic human interactions become impossible when you lose yourself in a role.”  ― Eckhart Tolle

“Living up to an image that you have of yourself or that other people have of you is inauthentic living.”  ― Eckhart Tolle

Life is not a performance.  We don’t have to play the roles we have been assigned or even the ones we have chosen.  We are much much more than the roles we play and labels we assign.  We can be great at all the things we have chosen to do while we are here, but we do not have to let the roles take us over completely.  In fact, we can do everything much better if we are not attached to the role surrounding it.  We are not meant to be actors inhabiting a role and fulfilling a function in our latest production.  We are meant to experience Life in a much deeper, more meaningful and miraculous way.  Inauthentic living dulls the senses and makes us lose connection to All that is around us as we go through the motions of doing the things we “should” and expecting everyone around us to do the things they “should” too.  Life can get muddled up with roleplaying and expectations if we allow it.  There is another, more joyful way to approach all that we do as we remember all that we are and all that everything around us is too.

Truly Being with each other without playing a role is the best feeling in the world.  It is our true state of being that we all have within reach, no matter what our circumstances look like.  It is where laughter and music come from.  If we are with others primarily as a function or role, we can completely miss the abundant miracles that surround us.  Often in my life as a mother and homeschool teacher I can find myself entrenched in the responsibilities of the role I am supposed to be performing.  It comes from my good intentions of wanting to do a really good job and prepare my kids for life in the best possible way.  However, that intense intention can get in the way of authentically experiencing the moments as they come and turn the whole process into a job instead.  When this happens, it’s a life full of parenting and instructing without allowing in the joy we always have waiting for us.  I am not just a parent and my children are not just my kids.  To enter the joy and help my little ones dwell there as well, I must let go of the role and let Life come to me and them in the way it is trying to.  Then I can truly see the Life I have before me and within me.  There is always a glimpse or glimmer of authentic light shining through in my interactions with my sweet little ones.  When I stop playing the role, I can feel the laughter, hear the sweet voices more clearly and allow a space for authentic interaction to occur.  I can be the best mother I can be by letting go of the role and expectations of it.  I can stop performing to the crowd or worrying about it looking like it should and pleasing all the right people.  I have felt the difference between mothering my children and living in the moment with them.  Life, love and joy are found only in the present moment, not the roles, labels and expectations that our minds like to attach and assign.

Role playing is all around us, it is everywhere and most people inhabit several roles throughout each day.  In my prior work life there were plenty of roles and labels to learn from.  I can kind of laugh at all of it (myself included) now.  Oh, how important all the labels seemed.  Who was who, etc.  With all the titles and pecking order entrenched in the workplace, it is easy to see how people get in the habit of showing up as their role rather than their authentic selves.  There is a lot of fear out there and the fear of not having an important role or label seems terrifying to people, that is why they must hide behind their roles and label others so fiercely.  In our society there is so much pressure to act as we are expected and do what everyone else is doing.  So called success makes all of the roleplaying seem attractive.  No matter what our life situation looks like, we can easily fall into the habit of playing various roles to please a variety of audiences.  This type of living doesn’t leave a lot of space for Being.  This may be a blessing, as it may push us to seek our authentic selves sooner.  We may sense that something is missing and hidden underneath all the masks.  Everything happens as it should and we can all grow from our exact situation.  We can bless each other with experiences as we do.  Sometimes the greatest blessings are tough to bear.  We can only call them blessings in hindsight.  They are still blessings.

We can shift from playing roles and assigning labels and help others do the same simply by Being with each other more.  If we show up playing a role or with a label attached to us in any way, we instantly put a label or role on the person we are interacting with.   It just happens.  We are entrenched in our role and we search for the part they play in our story.  We enter the interaction with all kinds of preconceived ideas and notions and completely miss the chance to truly experience the Being in front of us, the Being within us and the true moment the Universe created entirely.  If we can learn to show up as the Being that we are and create a space that allows others to feel safe showing their true selves in, we can create more authenticity everywhere we go.  We can relate to others from the truest part of ourselves and watch the same essence take shape in them.  We can change the landscape around us simply by setting our intention towards Being rather than roleplaying and labeling.  Soon, we will live in a world without all the roles and labels because we won’t even see them or participate in them anymore.  It can be done.  We can create a more authentic world to live in now.  One moment at a time.

Wishing us all the courage to Be more than our form or function.  Wishing us ample time found in Being that nurtures our souls, spreads love everywhere we go and creates a new earth one interaction at a time.  We are meant to interact with each other from our Being, not our tiny form.  We can bring the Being found in silence to our relationships and everything we encounter.  Peace is meant to be shared and spread.  We can do it!

Sending you so much Love!

Seeing The Greatness Around and Within Everyone and Everything

We just returned home from a magnificent trip to Washington D.C.  I am feeling particularly grateful for many things we saw and experienced there.  I would love to share some of the specifics that touched me and my family, but overall, I must say that I left with deep reverence and immense gratitude for the great many people who have gone before us making great choices and leaving behind great examples of what courage, honor, integrity and good character look like.

When I was researching homeschool and picking the method that would work best for my family, I knew that the Thomas Jefferson Education and classical methods resonated most deeply with me.  I knew the benefits of studying great people throughout history so that when it comes time to make choices in your own life, you have great examples to draw from.  I knew how our Founding Fathers were educated and how I wanted to use that model with my own children.  I went to D.C. with plenty of knowledge about the great people I had studied and read about.  I left with much more than that.  As I left Washington D.C. and thought of all I had experienced there, a deep sense of gratitude for having been there and experienced glimpses of the history of our nation hit me hard.  We saw a  lot and visited many historical places and the feelings that these places ignite within is really quite amazing.  As I continue on the journey of my own growth and evolution and that of mentoring and inspiring my two students as we educate at home, I am certain that the most important thing is the content of our character and that truth far outweighs the importance of the scope of our knowledge.

Knowledge is changing in our world today.  Everyone can access it.  The answers to everything are at our fingertips.  I don’t rest on this fact, we have quite challenging academic goals and schedules.  But, I know who we become is of far greater importance than what we become.  What we can do with our knowledge and what kind of choices we make with it matter much more than how much we possess.  I am so grateful that we have chosen a path that allows us to devote ample time to studying the greatness that has been demonstrated before us.  I believe that we all have greatness in us.  We all have that spark of the Divine.  Some have nurtured it more and made it easier to see.  Some have quietly gone about living from that place and some have shouted it from mountaintops.  I am so thankful for those that have left signs of their Divine spark for us to see so that we can be changed for the better by knowing about them.  I am thankful for the quiet ones too.  It is quite meaningful, heartwarming and fun to study great people making great choices as I nurture my own spark and inspire my little students to do the same.

A few highlights to share…

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We went to Mount Vernon and saw George Washington’s home and plantation.  For me, this was the highlight of the visit.  This man was amazing.  As we are reminded of some of his greatest moments like the defining moment of the Revolutionary War – Washington crossing the Delaware River, we get a deep sense of the fact that this country would not exist without him.  Then, remembering that with his success, the people wanted to name him King and he would have nothing of it, wanting to create something far better…we are reminded just how different this country would be if not for his character.  He did so much to make this a great country, and even more important, he was not swept away by his power.  He stepped down from his leadership roles various times throughout his career, setting an exemplary precedent for those to follow.  The experience of seeing the plantation was meaningful in so many ways…it gives a true glimpse of what it was like to live back then.  While taking in the life of this remarkable man, we still had to walk through the quarters of the slaves and grasp the dark side of history as well.  I left with deeper gratitude and profoundly greater respect for this American hero.  That night the children listened intently while I read to them from George Washington’s Rules of Civility & Decent Behavior In Company and Conversation which he copied at the age of 15 and spent the remainder of his life abiding by.  As they listened so closely it struck me that the assignments they take part in about developing one’s character may have that same lasting effect on their lives…a mother can hope.

I often say of George Washington that he was one of the few in the whole history of the world who was not carried away by power.  — Robert Frost

John F. Kennedy was assassinated on November 22, 1963, we are approaching the 50th anniversary of this moment in our history.  The Newseum, one of our favorite museum stops had a wonderful exhibit that helped us take a deep look at his life, presidency and his death.  This man did a lot for this country and the world and he gave his life for it.  It was a blessing for us to be in our nation’s capital while this historical date was being honored.

I think this is the most extraordinary collection of talent, of human knowledge, that has ever been gathered at the White House — with the possible exception of when Thomas Jefferson dined alone. [Describing a dinner for Nobel Prize winners]  –John F. Kennedy

Speaking of Thomas Jefferson… standing at the Jefferson Memorial and taking in the magnificence of it and the feeling that accompanied being there is really hard to put into words.  What a wonderful moment.

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As our tour of Washington D.C. continued and we found ourselves explaining things to the children and reminding them of historical events, it was lovely to piece our history together for them like a puzzle.  Some good things happened, followed by some very sad things, then more greatness and shinning examples, with sprinkles of darkness and tragedy, soon to return to triumph and honor…  all shaping the world we live in today.

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Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power.  — Abraham Lincoln

Whatever you are be a good one.  –Abraham Lincoln

Abraham Lincoln’s life is a lovely piece of our historic puzzle to explain to children… I particularly enjoy explaining his religion he mentions below.

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Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was a remarkable being.  To stand near the memorial dedicated to him and to read his words on the inscription wall was taking in a very special picture of a man and knowing that you must learn more.  Much more indeed.  That man was filled with so much love.

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“Make a career of humanity. Commit yourself to the noble struggle for equal rights. You will make a greater person of yourself, a greater nation of your country, and a finer world to live in.” (18 April 1959, Washington, D.C.)  — Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

I am indeed very grateful for the meaning and reverence that our trip to Washington D.C. inspired in me.  As I settle back into life at home I realize that, for me, D.C. is simply a place that makes it easier to spot the greatness.  It also makes us remember the tragedy, but it fills you with the greatness.  I believe that if we look deeply into any place we can find greatness and we can celebrate it, we can study it and we can emulate it.  We can see it in people who don’t see it in themselves.  We can help more people see it.  We all have that spark in us and we must nurture it and carry it well.  We can choose what we see in others and we can see greatness.  The more we can see it, the more we can be it.  The more we can be it, the more we can spread it.  Wishing us all the grace of seeing the greatness that is around and within us today and always!

Cultivating a Poetry Practice

As detailed in my previous post, after learning all about Coach Wooden, I read and studied all of his work with a voracious appetite to learn and a grateful heart for the spirit and gift I had discovered.  The thing that Coach expresses first and foremost in most of his work is his great respect, love and admiration for his father,  Joshua Wooden.   As you read Coach’s work, it is quite something to hear about his childhood on the farm and the many life lessons he encountered there.  His parents were a great example of exemplary character through hardships and all life brought their way.  It was quite meaningful to have a glimpse into another time with such amazing people working so hard without complaint.

One of the great things Coach shared was about his father reading to his children at night.  He grew up with no electricity, plumbing, or conveniences.  For their entertainment, his father read to them by the light of a coal-oil lamp.  He read them a lot of poetry and Shakespeare and more.  In Coach’s own words he says, ” The poetry Dad read to us when we were kids instilled a love of reading, English, books and knowledge.”  He also recalls, “Dad reminded me often, ‘Johnny, you’ll never learn a thing that you didn’t learn from someone else.’  Good books help us do that.” 

When Coach graduated from grade school, his father gave him what he called The Gift of A Lifetime...it was a little card that had a very special verse on one side and a list of “Seven Things to Do” on the other side.  He eventually called the seven things “Dad’s Seven Point Creed”… When his Dad handed him the card, all he said was, “Son, try and live up to these things.”  In Coach’s humble way, when sharing about these things, he says he wishes he could say he lived up to them.  He says he tried.  I think we can all see how he more than tried, he soared.  He lived up to his father’s Seven Point Creed and he brought it to so many in a time when it is so needed.

Number four on the list was, “Drink deeply from good books, especially the Bible.”  Coach certainly did that.  His love of books and reading started those nights listening to his father reading.  When I learned of this in his various retellings of it, it hit me deep and it changed me.  I thought of my own little ones and my heart tugged and I remember feeling, “Oh, how I wish we lived in a time when we could do this.”…next thought was something like, “Duh, we can do this now.”  Mad dash to the computer to order poetry books and our family poetry nights began…

We have kept with family poetry nights over the years and we have practiced in various ways.  At first we would rotate turns and let each family member lead the reading and discussion.  Whoever’s night it was would read the poem and then we would all discuss what it meant to each of us.  It was delightful to hear how we would each interpret things in our own way.  It also helped us to understand each other better and see things through the eyes of our loved ones.  We went through a stage of everyone reading each night, as we discussed several poems or at least listened to several.  We began to crave going deeper into just one or two poems again, so we returned to assigning nights.  Sometimes the kids are so enthusiastic, we read more.  We are going with the flow of it now.

Our family poetry practice has been a great gift in our lives.  Poetry cannot be read quickly, you must slow down and give it your full attention.  It speaks to the soul.  It brings meaning to our days.  We are by no means poetry experts, we simply follow our hearts toward what speaks to us.  It has led to so many wonderful works, discussions and experiences.  Often when we’re out in the world, one of the kids will see something that reminds them of a poem…they will begin reciting it and excitedly experiencing life in a deeper way.  It is miraculous.  The poetry doesn’t just stay in the house with us where we practice it…it lives with us all the time and blesses us constantly.  We love reading poetry from all corners of the world, it connects us to more than our lives here.  We have been blessed by poetry in our lives in countless ways.

As the years of our poetry practice are adding up, I can truly see just how much it has added to our children’s lives.  It makes them willing to look deeper at things and try to understand that which isn’t immediately obvious.  It has also developed their love of reading and learning in so many ways.  For my husband and I, it has been equally amazing.  Cultivating a poetry practice was new for us both and it has been the most delightful gift.  The poems have a way of finding us.  We have been exposed to so much more than we expected.  We will keep this family practice alive in our home and hearts as long as possible and continue to cultivate it and go deeper and deeper into our practice.  We are grateful for this gift!

Wishing you a life full of poetry!

From Status Quo To Status No

Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.  –Ralph Waldo Emerson

I have a little saying I love to say to myself and to my friends…or anyone who will listen really.  I say, “Don’t should on anyone and don’t let anyone should on you.”  If someone is discussing another’s choice and wants me to agree with their point-of-view or comment in some way, I like to say, “I don’t like to should on anyone and I don’t enjoy others should-ing on me.”

Sometimes it feels like there is an awful lot of “should-ing” in the air.  It all makes judging others and comparing ourselves so easy.  The technical term for what it brings is what we call “yuckie energy” around our house.  Truly, if you are judging yourself or others or just commenting on what someone should be doing or running dialogue in your mind that tells you that you “should” be doing something, it feels yuckie and it spreads.

Over four years ago, we made the choice to switch to a vegan diet and remove all animal products from our plates.  It was scary and strange and brought about all kinds of expected and unexpected results.  As I look at my life since making this choice, I notice that it was the first time I really chose to go against the status quo and make a big life change that would make some people uncomfortable.  My reasons for a vegan diet are many.  It started with a choice to read a book called The China Study.  From that one choice, many followed.  I kept researching and trying to figure out what made sense to me and what I wanted for my family, etc.  I read and read and read and the reasons mounted.  We jumped and went completely vegan overnight.  I am so grateful!

Obviously this had a major impact on us in the nutrition department and our health and how we live, etc.  What I can now see is that this choice to figure things out for myself and make the best choice for me and my family without worrying or being influenced by what those around me will think (okay, I did worry some at the beginning) changed our lives in many more unexpected areas as well.  This change allowed us to embrace that practice in many more areas of life.  I think this first jump into trying something so completely different from the way we used to live opened us up to life more and made it possible to make other important choices for our lives.  We began making huge steps toward charting our own course.

Clearly, we’re not the first vegans and we are super fortunate to make this choice at a time when it is so easy and becoming much less out of the norm.  Even in the years since we started, it has changed a lot (or maybe we did).  We think its normal now.  Ah, normal.

We have gone on to making many more choices that don’t fit the status quo.  We chose to homeschool/unschool our children a few years ago and that one made vegan seem simple.  Except, now that seems normal too.  In the beginning, it seemed like explaining these choices when someone asked was important and worth the time.  I would be sure to give the most eloquent, educated sounding explanation I could muster.  Now, it’s just normal to me.  I really don’t need to go into these choices much, except to say that we’re happy and it works for us.  If people are sincerely interested or curious I love discussing all the details of both issues, but I don’t feel the need to make them interested or try to convince them of my point-of-view.  It feels nice now.  It feels like being comfortable in your own skin.

I love researching things, implementing new lifestyle choices, trying new things, basking in the unfamiliar…I love taking bits and pieces from all I see around me and creating my own world with my own design…some borrowed, some new, some tweaked.  In the beginning of my newfound willingness to make big choices with big change, it felt like people thought I was judging their choice by sharing my own.  I don’t really notice that feeling anymore.  I may have felt it because I was judging on some level…it is nice to see that slip away.  I remember just not wanting people to judge me.  At this point, I don’t really notice any wasted energy going into worrying about what others think.  I’m just being me.  It feels great…not always a walk in the park of course, but it feels like home.

I love my choices and I love everyone else’s choices too.  I love sharing why I made mine if people are interested, but I no longer think mine are better.  I do like to encourage people to find their own way…but I won’t tell them they “should” do that.  I just like to share that it feels free and wonderful!  When I was a little girl, I was afraid of everything!  Truly!  Even butterflies!  That seems so long ago.  I am grateful for learning to listen to all the messages that come our way to take us from fear to love and open us up to becoming more of ourselves.  Now, the thought of following along and doing things because I “should” is the only thing that sounds really frightening to me and butterflies aren’t scary anymore…they are a magical message about change!

Important note – I am super grateful to those people who feel strongly about sharing the reasons for their choices and helping others make the same ones.  We all hear messages in different ways and those using their voices to bring change are an important part of how we all learn and grow.  I am grateful to those that follow the message to speak loudly about certain things!!!  Someday I may speak loudly about my choices, but for now, it seems my soul is telling me to quiet down and BE a bit more.  Still happy to share, just in a quiet and open to life way.  Actually, quiet is much more challenging for me…so it must be what I am meant to work on at this point in life.

Sending you love and wishing you the courage to chart your own path and listen to your soul…not in a “should-ing” way…just a loving way.

Perception – Lessons For Children of All Ages

Perception is a wonderful lesson for children of all ages.  It is so helpful to teach them to step back and consider different points of view.  We want to raise kind compassionate children and teaching them the skill of looking from various perspectives is a great way to start.  My daughter and I first began talking more deeply (past simple sharing) about perception in preschool when she was dealing with what seemed to her like a mean little girl.  We discussed the other possible options or reasons why it may seem like she is being “mean” and tried embrace other scenarios, etc.  We tried to put ourselves in her shoes and see things from her eyes.  It helped.  In the end, they became friends.  These conversations continued throughout the years.  It also helped me teach her to try not to take things personally and to always look for the good in others because it is always there.

Perception can open up so many things in life and you can take the lessons as far as you are willing to open up your mind.  You can start with simply seeing things from another view-point and take it all the way to the ultimate illusions in life that we all experience.  Ultimately, perception can lead you to constant peace.  For children, just introducing and discussing the concept can free them from a lot of heartache that would stem from judging others and insisting they are right, etc.  Some of these concepts may go over their head at first, but not for long.  I figure it’s like songs written in consciousness, at first they just seem like catchy tunes and then as you change over time you hear the profound wisdom within and it’s like being hit over the head (I remember singing Imagine along with the radio one day and finally hearing the words I had memorized long before, I had to pull my car over I was so awestruck and thrilled to finally understand what was being said).  I figure someday they will have a moment where it clicks and they will say, “Wow, that is what my parents were talking about.”  Sometimes they surprise me and say something so profound I am sure they remember where they came from.  I often wish I was as present as my son, so I am sure we are learning from each other.

My daughter and I have continued these conversations about perception over the years to help her embrace her compassion and willingness to see things from various points of view.  We are a homeschooling family so we can spend a lot of time on subjects that interest us, it’s just one of the many perks.  We have a lovely assignment we would like to share.  This year we saw Wicked at the theatre and knew immediately we could make a great perception assignment out of it.  My daughter already knew Wizard of Oz very well, she had seen the movie several times and played Oz in her children’s theatre production.  Once we saw Wicked, it opened up an entirely different viewpoint of the story.  We loved it and we spent a lot of time on her related essay about perception.  Her essay is below.  She was seven years old when she wrote it.  We spent a lot of time having editing meetings and getting to this final draft.  Another home school perk we enjoy is learning through editing and editing until we get to her personal best version.  From a seven-year old point of view, it is just precious.  It is a great lesson for us all.

Please enjoy the essay below on perception from my kind and compassionate daughter.  I had to include this adorable title sheet she created.

Perception

Perception

            People see situations in different ways.  Perception means how you see things.  This paper is all about how you look at things.  The Wizard of Oz and Wicked are great examples of ways we can perceive things differently.  My fright of the Wicked Witch of the West in Wizard of Oz was equally matched by my love for her in Wicked.

The Wicked Witch in the Wizard of Oz was so scary.  The Munchkins were terrified of her. They were so scared that every time the Wicked Witch came they would hide from her.  She always had this funny and terrifying laugh.  Whenever she saw Dorothy she would say, “I’ll get you my pretty,” and then laugh afterwards.  The Wicked Witch wanted to kill Dorothy and her friends Scarecrow, Lion and Tin Man.  She really wanted the ruby slippers badly and she would do anything to get them.  She was completely terrifying and I felt so relieved when Dorothy melted her!

In Wicked, the Wicked Witch of the West was loveable!  Her name was really Elphaba.  She was born green and everyone was mean to her.  She was smart.  She took good care of her crippled sister Nessa.  She wanted to help the animals.  She tried to do good things but they did not go well for her.  She was totally tricked by the Wizard of Oz and everyone thought she was bad even though she was good.  She just wanted those ruby slippers to remember her sister.

In the Wizard of Oz I was so scared of the Wicked Witch of the West but in Wicked I loved her.  In the Wizard of Oz the story was told from Dorothy’s perception, it made you see things how she did.  In Wicked, the story was told from Elphaba’s perception, throughout the whole show you see her side of the story.  The way these stories were told from the perception of different characters made it possible to equally fear the Wicked Witch in one story and love her in the other.

My fright of the Wicked Witch of the west in Wizard of Oz was equally matched by my love for her in Wicked.  In both shows there was a different way of looking at things.  This is what perception is all about.  In all things in life people have a different perceptions of things.  This explains why people make different choices.  Understanding people’s perceptions can lead us to kindness and compassion.  I want to always remember that people have different perceptions because kindness and compassion are the most important thing in life!

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