Live What You Know

Waking up is more than it seems. You KNOW more than you've ever been "taught"! You chose to be here now. Make yourTRUEself proud!

Tag: unschooling

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!

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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