Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Valentines Day is for Love

So.... here are some things that I love.
I've been inspired by a couple of blogs.... one that was 'tagged', and another was a reminder that a good way to keep abundance in your life is to acknowledge all the great things about your life... so here are some things that I love...

naked babies

little hands....

giant puppies

ancient grumps

this corner of my home

my work table

this chair next to this window

my shelf of magickal herbs

these skis, just because they make my husband happy

Friday, February 09, 2007

Evolution Part III

"Heroes are never followers.... they're either raised Free, or they break the strain." Naomi Aldort

I think my new answer to questions such as "But if you raise your children to be free, how will they get along with others, and how will they deal with The Real World?"
Is going to be "My children will most likely not be satisfied being followers, just as I am not, they'll want to blaze a new trail." or "My children are not satisfied with being followers, they are leaders. At least of their own lives."
Which is all true. I can see it already. Just as I'm sure it's in all children, until it is driven from them. I don't suppose my children with their ingenuity and free spirits and love for life are the exception. I figure they are good examples of what all children are like.... but how I foster them, how they are treated.... as if they are respectable rulers of their own lives will enable them to see that they have the tools, wit, and power to bring into their lives all that they desire. Instead of just saying to my children (as I was told, but never believed) "You can be anything you want to be" I will have actually (indirectly) caused them to believe it, as they have already proven it to themselves over and over again.

I'm adding this post to Evolution because I've managed to make another shift just in the last day or so.

I'll start by saying that I've been going back and forth with the cartoon network thing, it has caused me some distress and concern. I considered going to Always Unschooled (a huge international group) to hash it out, and get insight from them, but after consideration I knew that what I needed to do (as is so often the case) is to put my concerns to Trevelyn, and see what he said about it.
I started worrying about it again because Naomi Aldort said something about children's brains developing, and how television is so fast-paced that it makes it difficult for children to be entertained by other things.
Now while I completely respect her opinion, and I think this might be true for a lot of people, I'm taking it as counsel, but being guided by my own insight as well.
However, I do believe that the early years are of the utmost importance for development, and I want to provide my children with the healthiest environment possible.
So I went downstairs where Trev was sleeping (we slept downstairs last night) and told him about what I had learned. That a child's brain development was really fast at this age, and that I was concerned that watching CN for 100 hours a day was detrimental to its productivity.
I asked him what he thought about that, and he said "not good" So I said "I don't have a problem with tv in general, I know you get much enjoyment out of Magic School Bus and dinosaur shows and Animal Planet (he's fascinated with animals and biology in general, and gets much enjoyment and information from these shows) and I don't want to take that away from you, but how about we limit how much CN you watch? How about everytime you're a bit bored, I'll try to come up with lots of ideas of fun things to do." He was satisfied with that solution.
He watched Scooby Doo for a half hour today, and I came up and said "How about when Scooby Doo is over we find something fun to do?" And he said "Okay", and we headed outside to play on the swingset for a while.
He went back to the tv a while later, and I gently reminded him of our discussion (I was careful not to be accusing or judging) and asked him if he wanted me to bring up the microscope and some slides, or if he wanted to look at the creatures in the blocks with the microscope or with the magnifying glass, of if he wanted to play with legos or Lincoln Logs, and he said he wanted to look at the blocks with a magnifying glass and build with Lincoln Logs. So we brought up the stuff from downstairs, and everyone played happily for a long time.
I think in the future it won't be necessary for me to come up with suggestions, but for now he's sort of stumped, and he is a creature of habit, so he is not coming up on his own with lots of ideas. I will of course be a temporary inspiration when my children are in need of it!

I am wondering if they're coming down with something, Maddie was really clingy yesterday, not like her, and Trev is sorta moody and easily frustrated today.
I am happy to report that I did not lose my cool, even when he threw Maddie's peanut butter sandwich remnants out of the kitchen because he either sat on it or stepped on it, not sure which. I didn't even scold him, usually I would have at least said "hey, that's not cool", or whatever. I just picked it up and put it in the garbage, and it was shortly forgotten.
I was thinking at the time how some would say "that's just encouraging him to misbehave in the future" or whatever, but it's just not true. My children have already experienced enough freedom and repect that they just are not inclined to just be destructive out of hand.
I'm not saying that being destructive has no place, there are lots of people who like to watch buildings be dynamited and felled, or watch cars get smashed by the big things in a junkyard, and so forth. And to experiment with breaking and destroying can certainly be fun, I only mean that he's not likely to destroy something that's important to me because it's important to me. If he were, I would take that cue and find out what was going on with him that he was so angry about.

Another huge step that I've made very recently is the one on Trust. I was telling Eric it's like I've been practicing RU all along, but I've done it anxiously and hedgingly, not with my whole heart and soul. Listening to Naomi the last few days has convinced my doubting head that it's the right thing to do -not only the right thing to do- but the most beneficial for my children's learning. My heart already knew it, but my head is that of a school kid, and my head has to deal with parents and neighbors and fellow homeschoolers and society in general.
Here are a few pertinent conclusions I've come to.
It's perfectly fine with me if because my children are raised in freedom they grow up to be unsatisfied to be 'worker bees', or "sheeple" as they are often referred to in unschooling circles. The world is not lacking for such people.
My children will learn to be respectful to others by being raised in a home where they are respected.
To the observation "I'm thankful my mother made me do xxx, without that I wouldn't be who I am today," I ask "Where/what might you be instead if you were unlimited?"

Something else that has been brought to my attention - and that's patronization. Which I am totally guilty of in my deschooling and learning to parent unconditionally process.
Previously I had thought that the right approach to any and all interests was to drop everything (in eagerness) in order to feed the inquiring mind, but I have since learned that it is patronizing. For example, if Eric wanted to know something from one of my books and I was so happy that he was curious about it that I dropped everything, and went to him gushing and rushing, it would have made a much bigger deal out of it than was necessary. It would probably embarrass him, and certainly make him uncomfortable.
If my son asks me "where do giant tortoises live?" and I say "Let's rush out to the library and get a book on the Galapogas Islands", I very well might kill the desire to learn, as I'd be force-feeding him (patronizing). It will depend, of course. It depends on if it's a 'passing interest', or one more serious than that. Just as if Eric asked "What was that you quoted me last night from that book?" and instead I hand him the book, and say, "Oh, here! I'm so glad you're interested, there are many other tasty tidbits in there, too!" Not what he was looking for. Give them the credit to know their own minds, and know what is interesting to them. And not.

One last note regarding a well-rounded education. I know it's a great concern for the general public, and even fellow homeschoolers are eager to cover all subjects, to give a well-rounded education.
So the question begs asking... are devoted, brilliant, passionate people Well-Rounded? I believe the answer is absolutely not. People of passion -surgeons, poets, dancers, musicians, teachers, scientists, lecturers- are just not well-rounded people. They are people that are consumed with their passion. They have chosen one thing and they do it well. They live and breathe it. They probably have a few other interests, of course, but as Eric and I were discussing, what brillant person is simply a jack-of-all trades? I know of no outstanding people that are just "well-rounded".
The point is not to insult people that are not consumed by only one thing, but that being consumed by something is hardly harmful. People are free for the entirety of their lives to learn and grow, they only need have the desire to do so.
It's that desire to stretch and grow that I intend to nourish in my chilldren.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

On Behavior

I've been rolling this around in my head for a few days.
I'm considering the consequences of misbehavior.
I don't mean false consequences, as in punishment, but the true consequences.
When Trev and Maddie have an altercation, or when I see Trev revving up with his hands at her neck and himself shaking and growling (I've seen something like this once or twice), I could assume that he is ch0king the life from his sister. But he never is. Though he looks like a hyena with teeth bared, really he's being very careful and quite gentle, and in complete control of himself.
When I race into the room because she's fussing or crying (almost always it's a temperamental cry, not an "I'm hurt" cry) I often react first, sometimes accusing in my head, "what did you do to her?" sort of thinking before I even find out what's going on. Never have I found my son to just be acting out of malice. She's bugging him (I can understand this, people bug me too sometimes), or taking stuff from him, or trying to get him to play when he doesn't want to, etc. Every time I find out the reason for the upset, there is always a valid reason.
So the first key is to always find out Why? before making assumptions, however silent they may be.
The second part of this is my physical actions when such an event occurs. When I assume she is hurt (which she hardly ever actually is, usually she's just angry that he's demonstrated that he's stronger and bigger) and I go in and "Oh, poor Maddie, are you alright? Look, Trev, she's hurt," in an attempt to manipulate him into feeling remorse or regret, it reeks of subterfuge, and is certainly ineffectual parenting. My thinking in this was to soothe the hurt child first, and to exemplify empathy for others, but it doesn't feel right, and I think the one that might need the empathy is not the one that I first suppose.
What I need to do it get it together even more quickly, first assess if she's truly hurt, and if not, I need to go directly to Trev and comfort his needs, make sure that he's not feeling powerless and like he doesn't matter.
I'm learning that misbehavior, even seemingly harmful, is just self expression. There is a need there that is simply not being met.
I'm not discounting Maddie's feelings, but tots are absolute experts on getting their needs met, and I truly have no fear that she will be left feeling not cared for. The child has no concept (hardly ever) what it means to feel unimportant. She may feel impotent from time to time due to her size and other physical limitations, but her emotional needs are almost always immediately met. Babies reign supreme in this category.
And I can't think of even once when Trev has truly hurt her, they adore each other tremendously. If he does hurt her, it's on accident, and he is immediately consoling her and loving her. So I'm not too worried about her. Besides that, if you've met the child, you know that she is not one to suffer in silence.
So I'll be working on this particular area for the next while.

Another huge one for me is going to be what binds all unschoolers, and all faithful people everywhere.... trust. It's so easy to trust, and have comfort in this way of life when Trev is discussing bacteria and asteroids and the life cycle of the frog, and so hard when he's watching Pokemon and My Gym Parter is a Monkey.
I don't know why. I think that will be one of the benefits of this blog, though... I'll be able to go back in a year or two from now when I'm having trouble with a particular process, and think.... "Oh yeah, I was all worked up back then about xxx, but had I known that he was really doing was xxx (resting, growing his body instead, internalizing the info, getting ready for a huge spell of learning, collecting info on ___, etc) then I never would have had a moment's doubt", and maybe that knowing, that hindsight will aid me in the future.
Experience, don't you know.

Today in Naomi's lecture, she said "So the question becomes, knowing all of this, what do we do? What do we do as parents to provide that very little person with the utmost supportive opportunities to fulfill their need for growth and to gain experience -life experience- as themselves?" (not the lessons 'the adult' feels are neccesary.)
I'll certainly be listening to this next bit with open ears.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

February 6

Snagged this from The Natural Child.
Quote of the month is...
"Play is the highest form of research."
Albert Einstein

Sunday, February 04, 2007

February 4

I've ordered Raising Our Children, Raising Ourselves from Amazon. I've been wanting to read it for quite a while, and it's one of those titles that the local libraries don't carry, so.....

Things have been really mellow and peaceful the last few days. It's been one of those blessed periods in which I'm totally in love with my family. Find them adorable, irresistable, and infinitely enchanting.
I'm not sure what happened, but after reading on that blog the other day (the one I mentioned in my last post, Cristine's blog) I've just been feeling much more at peace. Is it that whole idea of being kind and patient with myself that I should credit? Maybe so. Whatever it was, it was instantaneous, and certainly heaven sent. Maybe it's the combination of all the work I've been doing on it, and (my head) chose that particular minute to shift, instead of all of the other likely ones!
To a small degree I find it strange to read others' truth or processes and find epiphanies in them. That's probably why I don't care for religion. I've never been one to be inspired by another's "lightbulb" moment. Although I may reflect on it, or respect it, I certainly don't take it on as my own truth. Who does? Except that there could very well be something in there for me, it just may not be what the storyteller found so moving. The exception to this is those I find an affinity with, such as friends, who may be going through something similar and inspire me to have a different take on the matter than I might have on my own.
Alternatively, I was listening to Wayne Dyer the other day (I love him) and he said something about that he had no doubt that he had just as much to learn from speaking to anyone in that room as they did from him. I started thinking about that, and I think that's true. And it made me feel more at ease about listening to a stranger's notions. (I've always been to rebellious to be much of a follower.)

On a more ridiculous note.... Trev is sitting a few feet away (in the den) watching Scooby Doo on cartoon network. Now Why, I ask you, am I relieved when he's watching Scooby Doo, and irritated when he's watching something I'm not familiar with? Sheesh. Although I should say past tense, I've managed to get over my ill feelings toward cartoon network.
I knew from the beginning that what I should do is watch with him to see for myself how objectionable the content really was. The few I actually watched, like last night, this girl was talking about being a bully, and she said something about when you're mean to others it's really because you feel small on the inside, and so you feel the need to hurt others, and she said it kindly and with empathy. "Huh", thought I. A couple of days ago Trev comes in talking about karate, and jumping and leaping. Hmm. Another exposure that had nothing to do with me. Another day, maybe a week ago he started talking about his power, and how he had a lot of power inside him to change things, and even in his hands.
(blink) "Yes, that is certainly true, Son. You have much power." I can't deny That, I live and breathe this philosophy.
Today I see him setting out his hands when we're at the store, using the power inside his hands to close the (coincidentally automatic?) doors.
"Are you using your powers to shut those doors?"
Hmm again. Know that I believe for all I know, those doors were not working until my son closed them.
Now all of this comes after I've begun to get over my resentment for wasting away life by CN watching. But I'm not so certain that he isn't learning some things of value. Hi might be filing them (valuable insights) away for future reference.
How amazing!
Besides that, if he watches CN only for the next 14 years, and does nothing else, he'll probably know a hell of a lot about animation, just as reading has led me to self expression and love for the written word.
I've decided if that's his truth, so be it.
I'll just keep asking him if he wants to visit this or that museum, or if he wants to check out this human skeleton. I'll keep reading to Maddie, and he'll always be welcome to join in on the snuggle. I'll announce that I'm doing xxx experiment because I want to see if x or happens or y. I'll keep saying "on Tuesday", and he'll keep figuring out how many days that means. He'll ask me obscure questions, and I'll keep answering as best I can.
Yup. Organic Learning.

One other thing I've been considering is my personality difference from some of the ways that I like so much. Don't get me wrong, I'm not bashing me, and I don't think I'm obnoxious and over-bearing. It's just that I sometimes see people in public, or have certain people that I respect (Julie V and Danielle Conger come to mind) and can't help but wish that that utter gentleness was a part of who I am.
But I'm not. I'll probably always grumble "Oh, for God's Sake", while rolling my eyes.
Or at least think in my head "jack-ass!".
But oddly enough, I take some sort of warped comfort in the fact that a CSI episode was once about murder in a Buddhist temple, and the remaining living monk said something about that he didn't drive because he could't refrain from getting angry while driving. I took great pleasure in that, I can tell you!
I've begun to be resigned to the fact that it's more my style to grumble outrage or comment with an absurd observation than to accept things blithely with grace. Patience and utter gentleness are just not a big part of who I am. Maybe in a few (loads) more lifetimes.
Thank Goddess for reincarnation! :)

I take solace in the fact that a mentor (WD again) was a much less gentle, enlightened being than the one I perceive today. As were so many others, no doubt, until they found amazing grace. Er... enlightenment.

And that's all I got fer now.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

On Kindness

Today I was remembering a line I had heard, probably of some movie that went something like... "Now my Dad had been in a bad mood since 1942...", or something. Maybe it's from A Christmas Story, I'm not sure. That's not exactly what was said, but you get the point.
Anyway, I was thinking today that that's pretty much what I've seen of myself, lately. Seemingly always irritated at best, or in a tirade at worst.
The thing is, I know better. I know that what you put your attention on grows. I know that your thoughts make your reality -As you think, so shall you Be. I know that your reality changes if you simply "Treat yourself as if you already are the person you'd like to become.", as Wayne Dyer says. Got it. I'm one of "those" people - tarot card reading, crystal-holding, spell-casting, trickling stream meditating, positive thinking fruitcakes. No, not fruitcakes, I don't like fruitcake, how about.... cheese danish. Yes, that's it, I'm a metaphysical cheese danish.
And I've been in a perpetual bad mood for ... more than the last few minutes.
This post is part of my process to shake it off once and for all.
Melissia - bless her again - sent me a post asking me if I'd be interested in a project that would suit a full moon. I hadn't heard of the particular project, so I went to the page from whence the article came. It was from a blog that I have now included on my blog favorites.
In it I was led (serendipity at work, certainly!) to a post entitled "How to Survive a Bad Day", (I substituted year, because I am feeling very melodramatic) in which she talks of a little man in her head who carries a clipboard, wears a cape and resembles Richard Simmons going around and swatting all of the nasties (bad happenings and thoughts) and shrieking "“Oh! This is just AWFUL! You’re ruining EVERYTHING! Don’t you know we’re all supposed to be POSITIVE now?!”

Except mine doesn't swat at the nasties, he (and he's big and mean) blames me and makes sure to let me know that I am at fault. I let them in. I let them stay. I help them to grow and flourish. I even encourage them to bear fruit!

Now... this is where the change starts taking place.
I've (and you, too, no doubt) have been reading for years that "you can't love anyone until you love yourself".
Right. Got it.
I'm selfish enough that I "get" taking bubble baths or meditating or buying a new book, or time hashing things over with my parenting (mostly ru) friends online is paramont to my growth and sanity.
I've also heard umpteen times of "playing those old tapes", which I often scoff at, it's a no-brainer, "psh, put them to rest!"
Not realizing, until I went into some of the more dank tunnels of my mind today that kindness was what was needed on the forefront of this particualr battleground. (Again, thanks to that same particular post.) Not kindness to others, but to myself.
By way of not listening when I hear "now you've ruined everything," and then possibly putting that same blame onto someone else, although not necessarily consciously. Causing the day to be put down as "a total loss".
And flailing around in dismay when the opposition comes up, and "getting hooked" by the nasties.
How to get around that?

The answer for me, in this particular place and time, is to be kind.

I've been reminded that I need to allow time for new thoughts and patterns to emerge.
I have a need for stopping the accuser.
And even for shushing, however gently, the recriminator.
Kind to myself. Funny thing is, just by thinking that thought, I find my thoughts and reactions to situations around me considerably more gentle.
Pretty amusing that it would happen that quickly.