Tuesday, September 30, 2008


aside from not doing much -er, if any at all- work lately in my own head, life is practically perfect.

we (and by we I mean those of us that are lucky enough to be free to truly enjoy our days) have had glorious weather. i think of it as the Great Mother's way of bestowing blessings upon us - since we were never scorched for long periods this summer Autumn was a surprise to most of us. She's giving us time to get used to the idea, and is easing us out of summer, I think.
so we acknowledged her gift yesterday and refilled the pool. one more time.

life has been filled with friends and play.

gallivanting with determined stomps.

explorations and discoveries.

the morning is perfect with an early morning cup of coffee to ward off the slight chill - to be followed in an hour by glasses of iced tea.

our home is in acceptable shape, the outside lists of chores are getting shorter, everything is humming and whirring as it should be.

everything outside my open door whispers and chirps encouragement and promises.


on the side

mumbled jumble.

I've been living my life on the Outside.
Which to me means parenting on automatic pilot (though thankfully my "auto pilot" has come a long way in four years, and is mostly one I can trust, as long as I'm not operating in an angry or stressed state), living life with lots of action, reading lots of story books (mine), and spending loads of time with friends.

A couple of things occurred to me last night - as I was talking the ear off my friend. [ahem] Again.
One is that I haven't been writing because I've been getting through things in conversations, instead. Poor friends. :) Two - an introvert living as an extrovert is an interesting experience. I don't mean that I don't regularly experience these periods in my life - I do. What I mean is that I sort of feel cheated. Like I'm being superficial, I guess.
I like doing the work to get down deep into something. I can't explain the process, other than it's just a matter of organizing thoughts.

My focus in the last few months has been "I'm not the parent I want to Be."
Duh. Way to go about manifesting something, Steph.
My friend slapped me upside the head yesterday and said "You're focusing on that, instead of doing the work and changing it."
Focusing on what I don't want, what Is, and therefore creating more of it.
Just as if I didn't know better.

So I came immediately (after her statement) in my head -not out loud- to "But I don't know how to Get There. What work do I have to do?"

God, I'm an idiot.
I'm such an idiot.

I know the answer as well as I know my own Self.

I've just been too busy living on the outside, the underside, and on the side to sit still for a moment and Listen.
When I was finally still last night, I remembered.
That is, re-membered.

Something I've even written before.

You cannot Get There. You can only Be There.

So that's it, isn't it?
I can only choose well-being in this moment.
I can choose happiness in This moment.
I can choose kindness in This Moment.
It is in This Moment only that my life, my love, and my existence lies.
Everything else is formless - all the Ago's, all the Tomorrow's, and all the Next Times.

They're ethereal, vague, and shall never come.

In all moments -
I cannot Arrive - I can only Be.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

good morning

I Took It as a Sign

Someone sent a band to my house,
And it started playing
At five in the morning.

I took this as a sign
God wanted me to sing!

Then the moon joined in
And a few of the tenor-voiced stars,

And the earth offered its lovely belly
As a drum.

Before I knew it,
I realized
All human beings could be happy

If they just had a few music lessons
From a Sweet Old Maestro
Like Hafiz.

Hafiz (1320-1389)
From I Heard God Laughing: Poems of Hope and Joy

things i am happily contemplating

and possibly getting ready to write about:





divine contentment

In Gratitude

Things that are making me happy right this minute:


divine temperatures

a sparkly clean refrigerator

a sparkly clean pantry

the thought of baking cookies today

the thought of baking pretzels today

the cleaned-off mail desk

cool sunshine

remembering and experiencing Well-Being.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Galveston, O' Galveston

Life's interesting around here - the fridge is on the brink, the new truck has been in again for repairs, got news today that they're not fixing my camera, the big tellie stopped showin' us pictures last night.

But in Galveston? The house still stands. Uncle Dean (my beach bum uncle that's a shark-tooth gatherin' Pirate) is safe with Daddy, Granny and Aunts et al are all Just Fine in Houston.

Alright, then.
All is right with the world.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

magick is afoot

I'm not sure what or how.
But I know I have a clean kitchen.
And a sparkly patio table on this utterly perfect day.
A couple of bags of Lady Grey tea are cooling in the pot, waiting for ice and honey.
Trev's watching and teaching Prehistory.
Maddie is puttering with the physics kit.

Something Delicious This Way Comes, methinks.
How happy.

The Pop-In

I had a thought about a year ago that I want another (or two) pop-in friend. I have one, Sam. And she's a good one, though I don't see her much. And she never knocks. Just comes in. And she loves me even if my house is in a disastrous state.
I love all of that.

I want more of it.

I love what it means to me.

You love me no matter what, and I'm coming over when I want to.
I love you and wanted to see you, and if you're embarrassed about the state of your house then get over it.
Where's the rag so I can clean this spot off your cupboard?

But it's even more than that.

It implies I always feel welcome.
It implies You are always welcome.
It implies I trust you.
It implies I know you.
It implies I always love you.
It implies I never judge you.
And, beautifully, I know I am never judged by you.

There is something to Just Being Yourself.
Not only because as far as I'm concerned, Who the hell wants to pretend to be something they're not?
But that when you are yourself freely, not to impress or annoy anyone, just Being, then it's certainly a quicker way to form friendships, isn't it?
I mean, if you don't put yourself out there, then how can you be accepted for Who You Are?
Rejection comes sooner too, certainly, but isn't that a benefit, also? Better in the beginning than when you begin to trust someone.

Maybe it's just me.
Maybe others find greater satisfaction in steady, polite, acquaintanceships.
But not me.
I want it all.

I want The Real Thing.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008


Last night we had our very first meeting.
Not the official, "Welcome to SpiralScouts!" meeting, but the "let's do this" meeting.

We (the two other founding Leaders and I) discussed not much on the why, but many things on the where, the how, then when, and the what.

I'm very happy to be a part of it!

I love that it's for boys and girls, learning together.
I love that it's international, with no emphasis being on one country or people being Better than another.
I love that the focus is on the Earth, its habitants, and the individual and collective Growing Spirit.
I love that the initial idea was formed from Pagan beliefs, but that the organization welcomes all folks - religious, and not, and the tone of the Circle (the small local group) is set according to the beliefs and desires of its founding families.

I'm also very excited to be a scout leader!
To plan fieldtrips and bake sales and car washes, to come up with ideas for volunteer work, and to feel the spirit of the Circle develop and grow.

It will be a few weeks yet before we're official, but we're on our way.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Unschooling Part Two: The Rules

It's the oxymoron thing again.
Are there rules to not having rules?
To some folks there are.
I guess all things considered, it can be decided moment to moment, based on the family's needs. Which is probably how most folks try to do it.
Unless they don't.
It's all good.
Unless it isn't.

I received an email the other day/week from a stranger (Hi Marcela!) about unschooling, and homeschooling, and the what and how of us doing it.
Was funny to hear that a few miles north and several miles west of here (on the west coast) things are looking very familiar!

When I first read about Unschooling I was intrigued.
For a number of reasons.
It sounded right, first of all.
It sounded free.
It sounded healthy.

Somewhere there in the beginning (among my browser bookmarks of preschool curriculum, what your three-year-old should know by now lists, and does your child measure up? quizzes I found a list made up by someone (I've always thought it was Sandra Dodd, but I've never been able to find it again) in the very beginning of their unschooling process.
A checklist.

A checklist that looks like

Reading - books, magazines, newspapers, websites (fiction,
nonfiction, poetry, drama, essays, articles

Doing - cooking, swimming, dog training, babysitting, volunteering,
working, singing, acting, music, math

Making - art, crafts, building, sewing, weaving, beadwork

Watching - tv, movies, videoes, live theater, demonstrations, exhibits

Listening - tapes, radio, music, audio magazines, lectures

Talking - speech, discussion, explaining, directing, instructing,

Visiting - museums, zoos, fieldtrips

Thinking - planning, analyzing, imagining, plotting

This list really helped me to see that living life - breathing, playing, and exploring - is spectacularly educational.
Not too much after than that I started to think of school as not only "not terribly beneficial", but perhaps (definitely for my children -child, there was only Trev, then- and me) as "detrimental".

So the swing began.

With the evolution of my opinion on what is "knowledge" and "education", other things also started to happen.

Like asking "Why?".

"Why does it have to be that way?"
"Why, when it's of no great benefit to anyone, other than "the authority"?"
"Why do you say no?"
"Why is memorizing it in a book better than tripping in a wooded glen, discovering truths for yourself?"
"Why wouldn't a child be encouraged to say "I don't like that!"?"
"Why not study Egypt when you're four, if that's what you're interested in?"
"Why not let them get thrilled about math by playing a fun monster math cd (all day if they want to)?"
"Why not (happily) let them draw with chalk on the wooden back door?"
"Why not learn about astronomy when the children are seven and three?"
"Why is it disrespectful when a child says "I'm hungry now!"?"
"Why not let them hang upside down from the swingset, even if they're two, if they are strong enough to get up there in the first place?"
"Why is it bedtime before you're tired?"
"Why not cake for breakfast?"

Just because things have always been that way does not mean that it's the best way.

Unschooling teaches us to think.
To reconsider.
To question.
To ask questions.
And even to level the playing field, as I've found out lately.
Much to my surprise.
(Turns out my children feel perfectly comfortable asking anyone What It Is They Want To Know, be that "Why?" of a grandparent or of a passing by Aviary worker.)

So what then?
What comes after the bending of the parental mind?

The fun stuff.
The How.

Start a new group, if there isn't one you like in your area.
Connect with others. Some same, some different.
There's craft circles.
Nature club.
Project Wild.
Culture club.
Book clubs (with homeschoolers, or at the library).
Anime clubs.
Game night.
Math clubs.
Park days.

Be inspired. By everything!
By a National Geographic article.
By the Farmer's Market.
By a youtube video.
By reorganizing a bookcase. Which so often happens to us!
By entering the grocery store at the other door, and walking the rows backwards. (er, by direction, not walking backwards. :) Unless you really want to.)
By a hula hoop. (Thanks so much for the grand Hula hoop, Aub!)
By art supplies, by music, by cloud watching, by magnets, by birds, by your backyard habitat, by walking on the beach (sigh), by bubbles and by moonbeams.

The law of Unschooling is to Be Open, I think.
Open to field trips.
To sleeping outside.
To trying something new.
To answering the thousandth question of the day.
To two more (extra) library videos.
Open to stopping off at the memorial of the Japanese pilot who was trying to be the first person flying around the world.
And the World'd Largest Ball Of Twine.
And the (so boring to me) World's Largest Quilting Exhibit.
Be open to the possibility that learning happens everywhere.

That's the rule, I think.
The particulars are up to you (the Collective Your Family You).
The how often.
The with whom.
The "how far?".
The "to what extent?".
The "when can we again?"
The "ooof, let's get outta here."

One thing I know for sure...
The more you pay attention to it - the how it happens, the when it happens, the wherefore it happens, the more you see it happening, and the more fantastic it becomes.

Life becomes magical.
Life becomes magic.

Unschooling Part One: The Natural Law

A friend asked me a couple of weeks ago how we got to certain comfortable positions in unschooling. And then a stranger asked another question - totally unrelated, but still a question of "how?".

While it feels strange to have people ask me - me!- such questions, I do feel that I have a couple of things to offer.
One - access to smart and intuitive Mama's who witness and understand self-directed learning (and whom will hopefully respond with comments and advice);
and Two- I've asked lots of questions of this life myself, and have come to a few conclusions.

I remember writing - God, when was it? Sometime around a couple of years ago, wait, let me do just a tiny bit of research so that I can get it exactly right, admittedly my sense of time is terribly unreliable rather extraordinary.....it was Feb of 2006.... a post to local unschoolers about "radical unschooling seems to be something of an oxymoron, is it implies there are rules to "not going by the rules".

Since then we- dh, the babes, and I- have had a hell-of-a-lot-of, stomach-full, heart-full, and head-full of learning and growing.

Sometimes, amazingly, it just turns natural.
Really, it does.

I'm not entirely certain how to explain it.
something to do with...

family dynamic.
the individuals.
the unit as a whole.

What I mean tastes something like

"I want icecream." at 9:15am. (something Maddie would say.)
"Uh... are you hungry? D'you want pancakes? Sausage? Eggs? Cereal? Cantaloupe?"
"Nope. I want icecream."
"Alright, then. One bowl of icecream coming up."

That's what it looks like to me.

It's honoring every one's needs.
It's honoring her hunger, as well as her need for nutrition by offering healthy and filling foods that she loves.
It's honoring my need to feel I'm a good Mama by offering her cantaloupe and scrambled eggs for breakfast.
It's offering my Self to help her get what she needs. (Which is what all Mama's do.)

If Eric were to enter this particular scene, if it were played out with him rather than with me, it would be imperative to honor his needs.
He might have been witness to Too Much Popsicle Eating the day before.
He might have cooked a dinner last night (a meal on which we all agreed) that no one even touched, or thanked him for preparing.
He might be feeling that he has no control over his life in that moment.
Icecream for breakfast might irritate the hell out of him.

The beauty of time and life passing by is that eventually we come to a place of Wisdom.
More expeditiously, certainly, if we pay attention.
If we are Mindful.

Just by being and living we come to know our selves and each other better.
Just by living our lives with certain intentions we grow, and become more comfortable with certain ideas. Decide our ideals.
Just by honoring our selves, our spouses, and our children we become more aware of our needs and our reactions, and the reasons for them.

Life -and family life- just happens naturally.

Of course there are moments - sometimes days, and sometimes even weeks!- when we don't handle things as graciously as we'd like.
Sometimes I dislike myself immensely for reacting a certain way, or feel embarrassed for functioning on reactionary auto-pilot for long stretches.

And then I'm reminded that life, hearts, and heads just flow.
Not that life happens to us (without our having anything to do with it), I don't mean, but that It Is What It Is.
I think we can erase a great deal (and make remarkable steps into the future) just by doing what my friend Julie does - "Hey. I handled that badly. What I could have done is....."
(My own approach to this wisdom would also have to include verbalizing my feelings about the situation at the time, and then "I handled it poorly, what I should could have done is....")

Living in a home where everyone is honored, everyone feels just as important, everyone is free to have an opinion, and everyone feels safe to express themselves just makes it happen.
That doesn't mean that everyone always speaks with a reverent tone.
It means that questions - by and of every individual - are all part of the family relationship.
"Why do you feel that way?"
"Do you need something from me?"
"Can you stop doing that?, it's driving me mad."
"Can I have a turn first?"
"I feel you're being unfair!"

Sometimes it comes from the youngest. Sometimes the oldest child. Sometimes it comes from those who sometimes fancy themselves as grown-ups. Great age doesn't mean there are less mistakes made, certainly.

So we've come a long way on this particular path.
In the beginning I read on all the ru lists.
I tried to follow the do's and don't's.
But eventually living life with intention and love moves us toward deeper inquiries and further introspection - leading us to greater understanding of our selves and each other.
I think you come to a certain place in time -- in, of, and with Wisdom, and with care and thought, that it just happens naturally.

It just does.