On Trusting Our Kids (and Their Candy)

Halloween Booty

This is the candy Zeb got from two trunk-or-treat events and one night of trick-or-treating.

Or I should say it’s all the candy he has left.

From Friday through Tuesday he probably ate another grocery bag full. Because of all the sugar in his system he ate little else during that time.

Was I worried? No.

Okay, for a minute there on Tuesday I began to wonder. And we certainly had a discussion or two and offered him plenty of other foods.

But mostly I just waited.

Was it hard? Yes. Even though I trust Zeb to find his own limits and listen to his own body, that little Bad Parent voice tends to chirp up and ask “What will other people think?” I’m pretty proud of how well I told that voice to shut it’s trap.

Because no matter what common parental rules dictate, I know a happy, healthy child will not choose candy forever.

I know my child rarely chooses to eat that much candy. I know all humans will experiment with their own limits. And I know Zeb needed to experiment with his own.

And sure enough Tuesday evening he put his pillowcase of candy away and hasn’t touched it since.

He has instead requested and had all the food his body thrives on:

  • salmon
  • cod
  • nearly a gallon of grass-fed raw milk
  • tomatoes with sea salt
  • lots of water
  • oatmeal
  • green smoothies
  • grass-fed beef
  • (Oh, he also bought himself a hot dog at the park, but said it didn’t really hit the spot.)

Halloween is fun. Candy is fun. Sugar is fun.

And our kids should have fun.

They should also be allowed to decide and learn for themselves their own limits. And we should be okay with those choices, even when they don’t match our own choices.

Our kids don’t have to have our own value system or beliefs. It doesn’t always need to make sense to us. We don’t even need to be comfortable with all their choices.

We just need to trust that they will do what makes sense to them.

Because they always will.

What’s been your experience with Halloween candy?

Unjobbing: What It Is and What It Isn’t

I’ve thrown the word “unjobbing” around here a few times. Like unschooling, it’s a word we use that, at first glance, does little to really describe the idea.

Just as unschooling doesn’t mean uneducated (nor is it against school or always done outside of school), unjobbing does not mean unemployed. Nor is it really against jobs or always done outside the presence of a job.

Instead, unjobbing is more about how you do what you do than what you actually do.

Unjobbing is about making a life instead of just a living.

Instead of living for work, we work to live (and to learn and grow and experience). We love what we do; it brings us fulfillment and it enables us to do some pretty wonderful things. But it’s not all we do. It’s not the only focus of our life.

Unjobbing is often used synonymously with entrepreneurship, working for oneself. But I think the greatest downfall of entrepreneurship is the insipid ideas and lessons we learned as children that still linger in our ideas around our work.

Just like deschooling, dejobbing has its place.

Unschooling and Unjobbing (Deschooling and Dejobbing)

If you look at unjobbing like we look at unschooling the definition becomes clearer. It’s obvious to see that the same paradigms linger over us long after the school years are past.

You could say that having a job (or which job you have) is a choice and school isn’t. Except that school is a choice, just one we fail to see.

And like school, we often fail to see our jobs as a choice, too.

Most working adults, just like concerned parents, don’t realize there is another choice: when you’ve been taught a lesson for 13+ years, you come to see it as the only way of doing things.

Adults are just grown kids, continuing to believe the same lessons we learned in our youth:

Obligation

A sense of obligation to people that don’t even matter to us is taught at a very young age. Extrinsic motivation and meaningless accolades (grades, rewards, punishment, guilt, praise, admonishment) feed our desire for approval and attention and our fear of ostracization. Those lessons linger long after we’re grown and we continue to feel obligated to have “a real job”, to work hard and to be grateful for it.

Hard work and gratitude aren’t necessarily a bad thing. Unless we’re doing something that is meaningless to us.

Life is not meant to be lived for others.

It’s meant to be fulfilling by our own definition. Obligation doesn’t do that. Loving what we do, knowing our reasons for it and loving those reasons does.

Competition

Likewise the environment of competition sets us up to compare ourselves to our peers. Who is “passing” or “failing”? Who has the more expensive designer shoes? Who has the hotter girlfriend? Who’s a nerd, a jock, a punk, a slut? Who has the most friends or the highest or lowest GPA?

Just putting that many similarly-aged and -interested people in one room creates an environment of judging, competing and comparing.

In order to stand out amongst the crowd you have to either do better than the others or act out against it. Both are a form of competing for attention.

That competition plays out in our adult life as we try to keep up with the Joneses’. Most of us get stuck always trying to get ahead, get a raise, get a bigger house. (The rest tend to resort to drugs or alcohol abuse, complete disregard for others or a total withdrawal from society.)

We compare and base our value off our neighbor’s value – or what we perceive it to be.

Sadly, while we compare what another family may have we rarely compare what they don’t have. We may see the bigger house and nicer car, but we rarely take into account the extra work, the disconnection, the dissatisfaction.

So as we run to keep up we find ourselves overworked, disconnected and dissatisfied and can’t understand why.

Worthiness

Perhaps the biggest elephant in the room, our sense of worthiness is so strongly tied to our salary it’s a wonder Big Pharma hasn’t created a disorder for it and patented a drug already.

Our sense of self-worth strongly relates to the words used to describe us (or other children around us).

A lack of compassion or attention, an unfulfilled need for validation, even things like “good boy” or “bad boy,” “that’s not nice of you”  or “she should be ashamed of herself” and so on, all plant seeds in our young minds that germinates into self-doubt and fear.

Only if a Superior deems our actions as okay are we to be considered worthy.

And thus we become performers, doing something that doesn’t resonate with us, all for the external validation we crave.

And it’s not just those that have a job that are affected. In fact I’d bet just as many entrepreneurs suffer from these hurtful lessons than anyone else.

Unjobbing vs Entrepreneuring

I’ve been an entrepreneur since I was 19 years old. For seven years I owned my own mobile massage therapy company, contracting upwards of 20 or more massage therapists, yoga instructors, estheticians and nail techs for bodywork and treatments in homes, hotels and at conventions. I made good money, enjoyed what I did and had big goals for the future.

And I was miserable – we were all miserable.

It took several years to realize that no amount of money, power or job satisfaction alone can fulfill me. I worked for myself, but that didn’t keep me from being overworked, disconnected and dissatisfied.

Many entrepreneurs mistakenly think the key to happiness is the freedom to work for oneself.

But no amount of independence can make you free when your mind is still shackled to the same ideas passed around Corporate America or Corporate Education.

And that’s what happens to a lot of entrepreneurs: we’re driven by the same sense of obligation, the same competitiveness and sometimes a whole lot more of need to prove ourselves. We carry forward those same lessons of our youth, except now funneling it into making a lot of money.

Don’t get me wrong – making good money is not a bad thing.

But I’ve met too many entrepreneurs (*raising my hand*) who become consumed with their businesses and forget why they work for themselves to begin with.

Will The Real Unjobbing Please Stand Up?

Which leads me to unjobbing, what it is and what it isn’t:

Unjobbing is not about loving your work, although that should probably be a piece of the puzzle.

Unjobbing is not about working for yourself, although most unjobbers do.

I’d argue that unjobbing isn’t even about making a life instead of a living, although it’s certainly an important part.

Unjobbing is about changing the way we think of and view our world.

Unjobbing is about letting go of the obligation, losing the competitive drive and determining our own self-worth.

It about questioning what we take for granted, finding truth among the bullshit and deciding for ourselves what has value in our lives.

It’s about deschooling our adult minds and living outside the status quo, giving ourselves the same freedom we give our unschooling children.

It’s not job satisfaction, it’s life satisfaction.

It’s purpose and passion and following our interests.

Our work either becomes our soulful purpose and contribution to the world, something we feel passionately about and something we feel drawn to do.

Or our work is something that provides what we need to do the thing(s) we feel is our soulful purpose and contribution to the world, enabling us to continue something we feel passionately about or drawn to do.

Either way it’s not a “job”. It should never be something we loathe or put up with for a paycheck. It’s one aspect – perhaps the biggest or the smallest – of one entire life.

Our Unjobbing Journey

Even though I’ve worked for myself for the past decade, I still had a lot of dejobbing to do. Most of it was done around the time that we took Zeb out of school and I began unschooling my life right along side him.

I reevaluated my business and quickly found the meaning and the meaninglessness. It didn’t take much time to decide to sell the company. I worked for another year in my own private practice, seeing clients 5-10 hours a week. (The paradox became that I was working less, making more money and finding fulfillment in new areas of my life.)

Justin’s dejobbing/unjobbing journey has been drastically different. So much of a man’s value is tied up in his ability to provide for his family that even when Justin is providing for our needs (not just monetarily, but our need for time with him as well) he still worries that it’s not enough if his work doesn’t consume 40-80 hours of his week.

He’s written privately about his process over the past year of losing his job and transitioning into working for himself. It’s been a challenge, albeit a fascinating one. Perhaps someday soon he’ll revive his blog and share it with you.

The past year has brought us to a very different perspective.

We don’t want to work hard through our best years only to retire, exhausted and physically incapable, decades from now.

Nor do we see retirement as something we’re likely to ever do. We love what we do and we plan to continue doing the things we enjoy our entire lives, expanding it or changing it organically.

We don’t view work as a necessary evil either. Nor do we think we need to stick to one thing.

We’ve found doing several things – like writing this blog, running the new website, and offering our mobile services – to be much more enjoyable. We can follow our own inspiration, our own passions and we can allow them to evolve as we do. No more stagnancy. No more boredom.

Our work reflects the evolution of our minds and our lives.

We’re entrepreneurs. We’re unjobbing. We’re unschooling our whole lives.

Want some more reading on unjobbing?

This is obviously just one person’s perspective on what works for us. There is plenty more out there to draw inspiration from. A few favorites:

So…what do you think about unjobbing?

This is obviously a big subject and one I’ve barely even skimmed the surface of, so stay tuned for more posts on the topic in the coming months. And feel free to ask questions in the comments below or send me a question directly: theorganicsister at gmail dot com.

Unlock. Unleash. Unschool!

The past several months of offering coaching for unschooling and mindful parenting have been amazing. I’ve connected with so many parents, learned a lot about the common challenges people face (and the diversity within each experience) and so enjoyed inspiring parents to tap into their own unconditional love.

I’ve spoken with unschoolers, homeschoolers and public and private schoolers, all amazing parents undergoing some pretty amazing transformations and needing a bit of support.

Something else I’ve discovered, though: 30 minutes is not quite long enough and 60 minutes is sometimes too long. A little like Baby Bear, 45 minutes seems to be just right.

So I made some changes:

  • For starters, I changed my button. For some of you it may have updated on its own. For others you may need to grab the code again from this page. Or keep the old one if you prefer. 😉
  • I’m now only offering one session length and one package of four calls, each 45 minutes, each still with email support. This has changed the pricing a bit (which won’t affect those of you who have already scheduled). But…
  • I’m also offering the Honor System via the Paypal Donations button found to the right. If you need support and your budget doesn’t allow it, just email me. You can pay whatever you can afford (even if that means nothing). Likewise, if you can afford to pay a bit more it will go towards someone else’s session. Again, this is on the honor system. My time is important to my family, too, so hopefully this will work out for everyone involved.

Why am I offering this? Because it’s needed. Talking to a friend on the phone, someone who will meet you where you are and help you get where you want to be, is important. And not everyone has that.

And I’m offering it because I trust that our needs are always met when we meet the needs of others. I was lamenting my inability to volunteer my time in some capacity while traveling when I realized just how silly that was.

I do have time to volunteer. Granted it might be slightly more interrupted, or it might be while we driving down the road, or maybe while I’m making dinner. But I do have time when I remember to make time for what matters.

Unschooling matters. Mindful parenting matters. Inspiring others matters.

This isn’t a handout. It’s the offer of support. Something we all need. And something we all need to do more of.

Overachievers, Vilifying Interests and Owning It

Running For His Badge

Zeb took a serious interest in the Jr Ranger Program offered through our National Parks while we were in Indiana. Our first park and his first badge has come from Lincoln National Park in Southern Indiana. According to his age, he was required to finish five pages of the program and a list of tasks that included hikes, visiting the living memorials of Lincoln’s Boy Hood Memorial and watching a short film.

We were excited to see him so eagerly embrace and accomplish something that not long ago would have caused him to panic, bringing up negative memories of school papers and the pressure to perform. He was gung-ho passionate and an unstoppable answer-figuring machine.

That’s likely why I was taken aback when the ranger called him an “overachiever” because of his finishing more pages than necessary for his age group.

The term “overachiever” has such a negative connotation to it. Despite knowing it was only a playful conversation on the ranger’s part and in no means meant offensively, it set my thoughts swirling anyway. Because let’s face it, overachiever is not much of a compliment. And here was my son, excitedly devouring something of interest to him and being labeled for it.

The True Definition of an Overachiever

According to Dictionary.com, the definition of “overachiever” is a simple one: to perform better than expected.

At first glance it doesn’t seem negative (I won’t even broach my feelings on the word “perform”). But its implications and the manner in which is it generally used certainly does:

  • First, the definition itself implies someone didn’t really expect much from you. This likely means they don’t see you possessing any number of positive qualities: intelligence, motivation, or persistence to see something through, to name a few. This is sometimes a general statement (i.e. many adults don’t really expect much of teens) or it could be related to subject matter (perhaps the material seemed above your capability level). Either way it doesn’t say much for you, if you are the person in question.
  • It can imply the subject matter may not have been interesting in the first place. We simply don’t expect much from a person who is doing something we ourselves think is boring or pointless. And when they do, we’re not going to believe it had to do with passion; we’re going to blame it on pretention. Which leads me to my next point….
  • It smacks of a personal attack. Let’s get real: When the term “overachiever” is used, it’s commonly a way to call a person a brownnoser, a kiss-up, a teacher’s pet or say they are a pretentious show-off or a know-it-all. We tend to put these types of people in the same category as tattle-tales, whiners or liars. Why? Because a passionate pursuit of anything feels really alarming, even threatening, especially when we lack our own passionate pursuit. Which is why….
  • It’s too easily used to vilify a person or their passions. Every person I’ve heard called an overachiever was simply a truly interested person. They loved the information they were acquiring and they ate up anything they could find on the matter. They went above and beyond what they were required to do because unlike others, they actually loved what they were doing. This is why overachievers are seen as threatening. Passion sets a pretty high bar and for someone uninterested, who the hell wants to rise to a challenge they dislike? Who wants to do more of something that bores them, or that they downright hate? And who wants to be reminded of the fact they are doing it in the first place?

Badge and Cert

Vilifying Interests

We, as a culture, tend to vilify interests. We tell bookworms to get their nose out of a book and jocks to pick one up. We tell nerds to get off the computer and dinosaurs to get with the times.

We label energetic kids as ADD but don’t allow them to focus on the video game that is holding their attention. We call interested kids overachievers then get upset when they aren’t achieving the goals we set for them.

We pull them away from their games, their friends, their activities, and their interests because we feel they’ve had enough, done too much or need to do something else.

We don’t allow them to specialize; we only allow for superficial dabbling. Not too much of anything, just a little bit of everything. A sampling, a smattering, but let’s not get greedy over any one thing.

The honest truth: We don’t like passion. It scares us. Plain and simple.

Passion is a threat to our carefully contrived societies that rely on the mindless droning on of things we loathe. We insist on insisting that life is meant to be hard. That we were meant to work, not play; dread, not enjoy.

And as adults we keep ourselves stuck there, feeling guilty when we have wild, hilarious fun doing what we love.

It’s a Suffer vs Laughter mentality and it’s a lie.

We know a passionate person will continue to seek passion. But we’ve been told passion leads to self-absorption, laziness, pride, selfishness, and that doing what you love means neglecting all else. And things like that lead to murder, rape, theft…a complete breakdown of our social fabric.

Do you get it? We’re told to disregard our passions, even dislike life, for the betterment of society.

We’re told to be miserable so that we can all be happy.

But passions don’t break us down; they fill us up. They fill us with joy and when our hearts are full our cup overflows with generosity.

We simply cannot give what we do not have. Without a true passion of our own, we can’t support the passion (or heartache) of others. We can’t give freely of ourselves when we have nothing worth giving. We can’t convince the depressed there is reason to live without first seeing it ourselves.

Without a fulfilling passion, we can’t create a social fabric free from the fear of torn edges. Without the passionate pursuit of life, we simply can’t justify its purpose.

First Jr Ranger Badge

Owning the Overachiever

Oh, yes I’ve been called an overachiever. I’ve even owned a little shirt with a gold star on the front that proudly proclaimed Overachiever across my chest. And I couldn’t be more pleased that my son is seen as an overachiever as well.

Why am I so happy over what I clearly just spelled out as being not only defined as but implying a negative?

Because I propose a radical new approach to the term overachiever.

I propose we own it. Take it back. Redefine it.

Overachiever: A person who loves something more than you do.

You can’t get much more simple than that. But it also can’t be more exact. There will always be someone who loves something more than we do. And in no way, shape or form does that mean we should vilify them or their passion.

  • Zeb overachieves on Jr. Ranger programs, Age of Mythology and fart noises made with his knee. He loves it more than some kids do.
  • I overachieve at photography, making people cry happy tears and drawing analogies between crazy experiences. I love it more than some of you do.
  • Justin overachieves at motorcycles, making things with his hands and rolling his boxers up into a thong. He loves it more than most of us do.

The world is made up of a diverse and vastly unique spectrum of people. We’re not meant to all be the same and there is room enough for us all to be different.

It’s time to embrace our pretentious, self-absorbed passions for overachieving in our own area of expertise. It’s time to one-up each other in our radical displays of showing-off.

And when we’re filled up, lit up, seeping with passion and aching from laughter, we’ll have no choice but to pour that overachieving love back into the world.

So tell me, are you an overachiever? And at what do you overachieve?

Whole Life Unschooling: It’s For More Than Just Kids

Always Running Ahead
Zeb: always running ahead for what he loves.

Always Talking to Giraffes
Justin: We watched him watch this giraffe for a full 20 minutes.

Always Reading The Signs
Me: They waited for me while I read every sign in the place.

There are so many definitions to unschooling. You can find them everywhere and they all do a perfectly fine job of explaining unschooling.

And yet, knowing full well how to define unschooling, I’m still not happy explaining it.

Why?

Because most definitions describe unschooling as a movement, a form of education or a belief on how we raise children. Our short answer usually sounds a bit like this:

Unschooling is hands-on, experience-based and interest-led learning. The world is our classroom and everything in it our curricula.

Oh, but it’s so much more than that!

That answer really only describes how our child learns. It doesn’t describe how we live, how we view the world around us, how we strive to treat one another or parent organically or what any of this looks like.

Unschooling As A Life Philosophy

We believe in unschooling as a whole life philosophy, not only a method of parenting or a view of the natural learning process.

It’s a method of living; how we view and approach life. We unschool ourselves, our relationships, our jobs…recently I’ve even begun unschooling my body. And it’s radically changed (and still changing) our lives.

To us unschooling is not only about our children, it’s about all of us. It’s about our life.

Unschooling your whole life means…

  • Seeing no division between child and adult, regardless of ability or experience. All should be treated with the same equal respect and consideration.
  • Trusting all people of all ages are natural learners, born with an innate curiosity and an earnest desire to learn, even if it requires a bit of excavating for some of us to rediscover.
  • Knowing that all people are inherently good. A learning curve on societal rules or boundaries, or a personal struggle due to past history does not make them “bad”. We all do the best we can with the tools we have.
  • Thinking all people, regardless of age, have a purpose and that that purpose may seldom, or often, or never, change. And the best determiner of that purpose is the person in question.
  • Believing in the wildly passionate pursuit of interests, supporting those interests wholeheartedly, and trusting when an interest fades.
  • Disbelieving that interests are only valid if they come with monetary or status gain. We do things for the love of what we do and trust how our needs are always met.
  • Not condoning the subjugation, squashing or criticism of individuality or diversity. We allow for difference of opinion, we see the underlying needs of others and we validate their particular experience.
  • Not creating division between various subjects or activities. All of life flows in and out of all of life. The subject of “math” doesn’t exist but we find numbers and patterns in everything.
  • Adamantly disagreeing that life should consist of unenjoyable work, that we should always follow all the rules or do things the same way everyone else does them. Feverishly questioning anything that tells us otherwise.
  • Trusting in ourselves first, each other next and all others last.
  • Respecting the boundaries of others and ourselves.
  • Taking responsibility for our choices and our life. It’s all about authenticity and empowerment.
  • Seeking our own life and not settling for someone else’s. Supporting others who do the same.
  • Building off our individual interests, creating a rich, diverse and engaging environment in which we can all thrive equally.
  • Respecting one another’s personal Truths or choices. But drawing definitive lines where the boundaries of another are being crossed.
  • Standing up for the little guy, especially the one without their own voice.
  • Knowing that life is good. Messy. Imperfect. Wonderful. Sometimes heart-wrenching. And loving it anyway.


How can you possibly explain all that in one short answer? It’s impossible to describe what this looks like when someone asks. Because unschooling is just life and although you can define life and you can explain it, it’s still something that must be seen and experienced to fully understand.

I Am Not Broken

Posted and Zeb

Mapping

I had a dream on Monday night that I was explaining to a physical therapist what was hurting by describing the one thing that was not hurting: my toes. I woke up from that dream with stiff, aching toes.

I’ll be honest. I’ve been utterly failing at my attempts for body compassion. For the past week I’ve been in so much pain that I’ve had a difficult time loving this crooked frame. I’ve been angry and exhausted with it. And those old burdens of feeling broken and hopeless have resurfaced. Feeling those aching toes stirred up such bitter resentment. Of course my flipping toes hurt. Because that’s my body for ya.

It rings a bit of parental expectations, those sneaky little thoughts that tell me my kid should be doing this chore, should be playing outside right now, should be quiet when I’m quiet. After all, I do all these wonderful things for him, shouldn’t he reciprocate?

And my body…it should be able to keep up for more than an hour at the zoo without dragging my legs, should be allowing me to hoop outside right now, should quiet its complaints when I’m trying to rest. After all I’ve been feeding it good foods, telling it its beautiful, trying to make things available to it…shouldn’t it reciprocate?

Body expectations: I’m throwing all these things at it for the sole purpose of getting what I want from it.

I’m manipulating it. Bribing it. Placing heavy expectations on it. This is not acceptance. This is not unconditional love. I’m not unschooling my body…apparently I’m deschooling my relationship with it.

Monday night was nearly a breaking point for me. Exhausted from pain, I was being a total bitch. Just downright shitty. I could hear my words and my tone and it broke my heart. I was empty, giving all my energy just to stay upright and I had nothing left to give my family. It was not authentic. It did not feel good. But the very best I could do was to exile myself, get my mouth away from my men.

I was hating myself and Life in that moment, not just for the pain I was experiencing, but for the pain I was inflicting.

The next morning I made a call to a local Egoscue clinic. With Justin’s support, we dropped a large chunk of money on this very particular kind of “physical therapy”.

I had been resisting this for a long time. I was resisting giving my body the only thing I thought might make a difference for two reasons: money and my own feelings of hopelessness. “It’s too expensive and I’m past the point that it can make a difference anyway.” I can’t help but see the correlation between my body resistance and my parental resistance. So many excuses and none of them made sense once I embraced what I feared embracing.

Over and over, the therapist repeated “Your body can heal itself. You’re not broken.” Broken…the very word I flung at myself, the very word I carried through my days, that wore me down with hopelessness. I’m not broken. My body just needs my attention.

Two days of therapy and I’m almost embarrassed to say how good I feel. Embarrassed to admit that I put this off so long.

Embarrassed that part of me is afraid to let this go.

Oof, there’s some radical authenticity for ya. I have for so long had an adversarial relationship with my body. And in two days and slightly under four hours of corrective exercises, I’ve had almost no pain. No stabs slicing through my knees. No dull aching across my lower back. No heaviness in my legs or numbness in my arms. I’ve had practically none of the symptoms that have so long defined my body, and more recently defined my every day.

And without those definitions I have nothing but the my own truth left to see.

And it’s embarrassing. I have to face the disappointment I’ve had with my body, face the way I’ve spoken to it or about it. I have to face treating it as a hopeless case, but also face treating it as if it owes me something. I have to let all that go and I have to have the courage to embrace this body without expectations, without bitterness, and with complete acceptance that it neither defines me, nor can I define it.

Disability can not define my life. It just can’t. I want to see my body’s capabilities as exactly as they should be. And it’s not my job to criticize it. It’s my job to fall in love with it. To praise it. To take it and live out loud with it. Just as it is.

And I don’t know how to do that. I don’t know how to live without that definition of broken. But I think….oh Gd, I hope…I’m going to learn.

Strewing Life at the Parthenon

Zeb and the Parthenon

One of the key efforts of an unschooling parent is something usually referred to as “strewing”: keeping interesting things “strewn” throughout your home that may be of interest to your child. It’s one of the ways often described to create a rich environment and it’s one of the habits I thought we might miss on the road.

Strewing generally leads to lots of cool stuff rotating around the house…cool stuff we have neither the storage to carry, nor the actual counter/table/floor space to place. “Stuff” simply has no spot to occupy in a 22 foot RV. So strewing has taken on a different look for us now. Instead of things, we strew opportunities: people, places and experiences. The world is truly our classroom…or at least the contingent 48. 😉

Zeb has had a serious interest in mythology ever since being introduced to a video game just a few months ago by some new friends we made on the road. Through means I simply don’t know he can now recite both major and minor gods, what they rule, who they married and their children, as well as many of their stories.

When the Percy Jackson movie came out I knew we had to get it for him. (We keep all our DVD’s in a large CD folder and throw away the cases; we love movies and this ensures we always have space for our regular movie nights.) If you’ve seen it you know that one scene is portrayed right here in Nashville: the Nashville Parthenon! Duh! Of course we had to go!

Zeb and Athena

Zeb really loved it, although he was disappointed there wasn’t more there. Not much of what we saw was new to him, but it was fun anyway. And he hasn’t stopped talking mythology all day. 🙂

Some cool information Zeb wants to share (and me, too!) with his fellow mythology lovers:

  • Nashville built the Parthenon as part of their Centennial celebration to highlight their being referred to as The Athens of the South, due to their high number of universities.
  • It was originally built from plaster in 1897 and meant to be a temporary structure. Other monuments were also built and later deconstructed but the Parthenon was left. When the plaster began to deteriorate the decision was made to reconstruct it out of cement, a 10 year project that began in 1921.
  • As soon as we finish the Harry Potter series, we’ll be starting the Percy Jackson books*!
  • The Lightning Thief* was not actually filmed on location, nor was the Athena in the movie anything like the Athena in Nashville. And the lady at the front desk was obviously pretty miffed about this. 😉
  • Zeb *loves* the computer game Age of Mythology*. It’s fun, captivating and full of cool information.
  • Youtube has some cool videos for you visual learners who want to know more.
  • Despite lots of Greek Mythology love, his favorite god is Thor, the Norse God of Thunder.
  • And right now we’re getting ready to read the stories in this kid’s book* my aunt loaned us!

What are your kids loving right now? Any other mythology lovers out there?

*Disclosure

Body Compassion

Winnebago Rest

This is the post in which a very depressed state of being gets more deeply accepted and channeled into a place of compassion. I hope.

Physically speaking, my body is not in a very good place. Scoliosis leads to lots of chronic conditions and major spinal fusions leave you very few corrective options. I’m recently dealing with increased nerve impingement and degeneration and just learned of an increased risk for osteoporosis. All of this has made it difficult for me to play, hoop, or sleep comfortably; to sit, stand or walk for too long.

Being very much a “fixer” and an avid learner/researcher, it’s been incredibly frustrating to find so few solutions to the problem. (Exercise, yoga, chiropractic…even massage has caused problems.)

There have only been two things that have made a significant impact on both pain and energy:

  1. Gluten-free foods
  2. Grass-fed meat and dairy

The first is not easy to stick to on the road. The second can be difficult to find; we’ve used sites like LocalHarvest.org and farmer’s markets but with less luck than we hoped.

But it dawned on me recently that if I’m not careful, and maybe even if I am, I’m going to end up in a wheelchair within a decade or two. Needless to say, such a thought is enough to knock you down a bit. I spent several days in a serious depression while I processed and talked through my fears and struggles.

Then I read Ronnie’s words on unschooling her body.

Love my body. Love where I live. Love what is. It sounds like unschooling. I could unschool my body.

Wait. Unschool my body? What would that look like?

If I were going to unschool my body…
I would make lots of cool stuff available to it (gear and hikes and massages).
I would spend time with it.
I would have fun with it and do things it enjoys.
I would enjoy it.
I would provide it with a fun and colorful variety of foods.
I would feel good about it.
I would feel good.

I would not disparage it.
I would not feel ashamed of it.
I would not compare it to other bodies in negative ways.
I would not abuse it.

And I absolutely would not let society or any individual tell me what it should be.

I got to thinking about this, about treating my body with compassion, treating it as I would treat my child, with compassion and trust. Instead of focusing on or pushing it towards what I want it to be, simply loving it for what it is…

What might that look like for me?

  • I would regularly point out its strengths.
  • I would show my appreciation for its abilities.
  • I would view its pain with loving compassion.
  • I would actively and insistently seek out the foods it needs.
  • I would be gentle and not push it to do things.
  • I would slow down to its pace.
  • I would find things that made it feel good.
  • I would spoil it with love.
  • I would smile when I see it.
  • I would seek out activities it would enjoy.
  • I would listen intently to it.
  • I would accept it and love it unconditionally.
  • I would validate it and the other people it affects (like my son and husband) without making anyone wrong.

Can I do this? Can I love myself and my body with the same unconditional love and acceptance, giving it everything it needs without excuses or resentment?

Ronnie’s words have been my guidance over the past week as I make my way toward a more authentic relationship with my body, one that is aligned with the way in which we choose to live with each other. Just like our family relationships, there have been less than authentic moments. There have been times of frustration, and even downright body neglect.

But there have also been successes: a new pillow has made for a very happy neck in the morning, almost no gluten has decreased my low back and knee pain substantially, more water has left me with more energy. I was even able to share in the water park fun yesterday while still honoring my bodies limits. And my dear sweet hubby has been instrumental in making sure I’m taking care of me.

But mostly, I’ve been changing my perspective.

I’ve reminded myself that whatever may happen down the road, I need to live fully and authentically in this moment right now. I can’t fully control what the future holds or what this body may be capable of, but I can fully live without regret. I can enjoy everything it will allow me until that’s no longer an option.

Rejoice in the things that are present; all else is beyond thee.  ~Montaigne

What about you? Can you love your body like you love your child?

Wanna chat?

boy jumping in air

I’ve been having a blast with the coaching thus far. I love connecting with parents, hearing their stories and helping them to process their experiences. I love brainstorming over ideas and offering techniques. Sometimes we just need someone on the outside to tell us what we already know; sometimes to tell us what we can’t see. And nothing is more exciting than being a part of a parent’s “breakthrough moments”. 😀

It’s been a blast and I’m very happy to have begun it. That’s why I’m very excited to share this:

Hip Mountain Mama is offering a giveaway of my coaching services on her blog! You can check out our interview and enter to win here. Good luck!

Playing, Parents and Podcasts (On My!)

It seems like everywhere we go is better than the last…or maybe our excitement is simply renewed with each turn of the key?

We’ve been chilling in DFW since last week and despite the humidity (can I overstate how much it sucks?) we’ve had a blast with the unschoolers in this area. If you’re looking for a hoppin’ mindful parenting community, this is the place!

We were told of the Whole Life Unschooling Meetup and planned our arrival to coincide with their park day last Thursday. I’m SO glad we did! The whole tribe was amazing and we enjoyed the discussion group as much as we enjoyed swinging like monkeys.

Zeb Swinging 2

Tara Swinging

We met LeeAnn and her kids there and Zeb and Seth hit it off immediately. We made plans for ice skating with them on Tuesday. That lasted about 20 minutes before the boys had other plans. They all set up their laptops and played Age of Mythology for the rest of the afternoon. 🙂 I wish we had had more time with them!

Starbucks Gamers

Thursday night we boondocked with Sarah and Chris Parent and their kiddos. (Yup, the same Parent’s from Discovery Health’s Radical Parenting!)

Parachute Bouncing

Sadie and Sarah

We totally clicked with them. They are getting ready to hit the road full-time this summer, so we talked non-stop about transitioning and deworking and RVing. Then we talked some more about unschooling and family and neighbors and on and on…Then they joined us for not one, but TWO potluck dinners at our campsite where we met up again with the Happy Janssens (they can’t get enough of us). And we hooped and laughed and chatted and played.

Seriously, I think I’m in love with this family. Sarah and Chris are such inspirational parents, and just wicked cool people. (Wah! I didn’t get any photos of us together!)

I can’t wait for them to get on the road so we can see each other again. There has been talk of a gypsy caravan. 😉

Sarah also does a rockin’ podcast over at Humans Being and we had so much fun doing a live interview with her! Be sure to check it out!

Podcasting


Current Location: Hanging out in a campground outside Dallas and watching the weather. We’ll either head into Louisiana tomorrow or hunker down and wait until the rain blows over us this weekend. Until then I’ll be plenty busy practicing my new hooping tricks! 😀