Archive for the ‘existere’s philosophy’ Category

The prodigal daughter.

September 17, 2013

I haven’t disappeared.

Rather, things are changing. I don’t know how to explain it, because on the surface nothing has. Except, I suppose, the kids are now officially home educated, which is quite a big deal – and also not, because it means we just carry on as we are.

I’ve opened a new blog. I’m tired of being anonymous. I want pictures with heads on, I want you to know what my name is, I want to connect more easily with people.

I don’t have any posts on the new blog yet, but will direct you folks over to it when I do. I’ll probably keep this blog, too.

I don’t know. I’m half decision making, half just living in the now. More immersed. But as winter comes, so does a different rhythm.

I AM on twitter under my real name. I’ve linked to it from my existere account, which is now private. So you can find me there, or alternatively, leave a comment below with your email address and I will give you my new twitter handle.

I’ve found it hard to go from a fast paced twitter life with lots of friends to trying to rebuild a community for myself, but decided it was harder to keep the same account but erase all references to anonymity.

I find NOT being anonymous sort of tricky, because it has been so easy to talk about poop and mooncups and penis infections, but I’m finding my way.

I miss you guys.

What I just posted on Facebook. (30/365 ONE)

June 19, 2013

I remember how I felt that evening two years ago when I walked fifteen minutes without any assistance. I dubbed it ‘the summer I would learn to walk again,’ and after two years full time in a wheelchair, and still on crutches every day, it seemed a big task.

I developed symphysis pubis dysfunction during pregnancy, and I still have it – along with the resultant arthritis – today. But I haven’t used a wheelchair in a year, though I’ve had a handful of days where I couldn’t walk. I’ve only used crutches on less than ten occasions.

Today I start a new goal – thirty minutes of walking every day for the next 365 days. Walking can be substituted with a DVD, class, etc. I may have to be flexible in cases of severe relapse or illness, but would prefer to swap walking for meditation or stretching on those occasions.

These thirty minutes have to be separate from whatever other activity I may have done that day – like walking miles at the seaside today and being sore before I even went out this evening!

I’m doing this for head space, for time to rediscover me, to work on my next novel, to explore my neighbourhood, to get more healthy – and I guess, I’m doing this because I’m just so grateful I can. After being told I may be in a wheelchair for life, after finally coming close to coming to terms with daily, chronic pain, I can walk. I don’t want to forget how amazing that is.

Ever.

So here is where you come in. I’m posting this publicly because I need support. I know my motivation will flag and I will want to give up. I need likes and comments and support. I won’t flood your news feeds and I will never write a status this long again, but I WILL post every day.

Today is day one. I walked for 33 minutes, 2 mph, for 1.11 miles.

Chicken pox is my beer.

May 20, 2013

Yes, you read that right. Chicken pox is my beer. It makes me lose my inhibitions and live an awesome life.

We are naked in the front garden, running around in wild circles, waving at neighbours, making a nest for our Angry Birds. We are dancing unabashedly to the Moto Moto song, singing along that we like them big and chunky.

We are running up to the bath, empty two litre bottles (from my new sparkling water addiction, as I have not had Diet Coke in months now. Sob.) in hand, and that bathroom echoes laughter and science and splashes. Pouring into big bottles, hitting them on the sides to make water erupt upwards, working together to hang out, music pumping in the air.

We are on a pirate ship, Snort’s new-to-him bed, looking at maps and searching for treasure. We are wearing our pajamas to the drive thru, just to get out of the house and get a treat.

It’s silly, really. There is no reason every day cannot be like four days of holiday time. We have no school, no work, and no obligations that can’t be skipped. But for me, I think the chicken pox gives me a permission slip to just live like we want, with none of my guilt attached. It is a glorious reminder of all that unschooling/autonomous education/life can be, if only I relax and just let go now and then. When we follow the sun, when our days stretch before us with nowhere to go but here, we find new and exhilarating ways to fill the time.

We cut straws and stick the pieces in playdoh to make Angry Birds. We read books and nap in the afternoon to the soundtrack of Phineas and Ferb. We sit in the garden and look at ants, we call people up just to say hello, we trace out the spots on his body¬† like he’s a dalmatian or the night sky, covered in a thousand stars.

This first round of chicken pox brought joy and peace to my life.

You’d never know he was ill. Snort was his normal self, just covered in spots. Two nights were hell on earth, but the rest of the time was a welcome break from what has increasingly become an overflowing schedule. Now we are in limbo, waiting for the second outbreak of The Pox to hit our house. I don’t think it will be as relaxed or illness-free, somehow, mainly because Coconut is a very itchy child in general.

But I will not forget the lessons I’ve relearned from this first bout.

This week will be a reminder that we don’t HAVE to do anything. We CHOOSE to do things.

I’ve felt so overwhelmed by the amount of invitations to various playdates lately that I’ve literally stopped responding to texts and messages. I will get back to them all, but never did I imagine a life where we would have more social commitments than all those ‘socialised’ school children. ;) My friends remind me I am a part of this family, of this journey, and if it is too much for me, then I deserve a say. I am grateful for all the people we know, all the choices of activities we have. I never thought it would happen like this, so quickly, and I am delighted and surprised by it.

But I am also grateful for last week, for that one hiatus where no one expected to see us, where we had nothing but time and everything to do with it.

Home education ‘school trips’

May 9, 2013

We are lucky to live in one of the best places in the country to home educate – there is a huge and varied population of home educators, including more than a handful of mamas from Country A. We have home education classes/groups/social meet ups available every day of the week, with everything from drumming to rock climbing to ….well, anything you can imagine. If it doesn’t exist, you can create it. We also have regular family meets on weekends throughout the year, a large not back to school picnic in September, and lots of other stuff going on.

Including trips.

Now, we have avoided the trip circuit as I felt the kids were a bit young, but now they are a great age. We went on our first trip yesterday. These are basically the equivalent of a school group having a field trip, and yesterday we visited a working farm. We were so not what those farmers expected.

Our children were not all one age. There were kids there from babies through to teenagers. Our ‘uniform’ was whatever individuals were comfortable in. We didn’t stay in strict groups and keep quiet.

The bit that made me laugh was the opening tour. None of our children are trained into staying in a neat, orderly group. As individuals and families, we are all very used to doing our own thing. So while some people stayed right with the farmer, a few children would be looking at nearby stuff. Whenever we moved locations, our group strung out into a huge, rambling, evolving thing, as children asked questions of each other, the adults, and the farmers. It was fantastic. A day that really reinforced our decision to home educate.

And we get to have every day like this, if we want, not just once or twice in the year. That’s awe inspiring to me. We can do what we want….whether hours of play at home, or out exploring the world. That is empowering.

On a side note, we met our first real live person who appears to replicate school at home. Of the hundreds of people I’ve met, no one uses a curriculum or makes their kids sit round the table for formal lessons. This seems a more common approach in Country A, where this lady was from. It was interesting to chat with her….albeit while Snort was covered in blood from a trampolining incident!

These trips will further open up our world. Because most home ed families are fairly autonomous, they give us a chance to meet people we might not otherwise know. An interesting thing is the influx of three and four year olds who would be starting school next September – people new to the idea of home educating, and lots of new potential friends for the kids. Coco made a particular friend of a four year old boy who apparently liked being bossed around, and they stuck together like glue all day. Snort played with older boys, got upset with them, and the six year old ringleader came over to sort it out with him, so he and Snort ended up playing together for a long time.

The flexibility of ages, interests, and abilities means that getting together with large groups of home ed families is always enjoyable. Even when your kid is bleeding everywhere – the immediate concern and support of other parents and children was awesome. It’s a group of people who are ultimately very accepting, and we are a collection of individuals accepted and celebrated for our quirks and joys. And I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Next week, assuming chicken pox doesn’t hit us up, we have our second trip ….to a fire station! TMD is so excited for the pottery class in the morning and the fire station in the afternoon she’s taken the day off work! I really hope we make it, but suspect the pox are on the way. Soon.

Where I come from.

April 19, 2013

My heritage is in listening to medical stories over dinner. This heart attack, that injury. Words spinning and dancing in the air, describing microwaving blankets to heat the up for boring night shifts. How the full moon makes everyone crazy. What this doctor said to that nurse, and always, the quiet thread of lives she has saved.

My heritage is in music, his stunning ability to sing and play the saxophone and just about any instrument he tried. Long walks in the woods, no place to go, all the time in the world to waste. Board games and letting me put make up on his face.

My heritage is lying in a bed while her older hands lightly trip across my skin, scratching my back and weaving stories together, telling me my future, the future of my sister. Sitting by her kitchen table, eating long johns and cheap hamburgers. Sitting in the dust, feet over water, fishing and listening to the rhythm of the world.

My heritage is in his books, his silences. Reader’s Digest condensed novels handed to me like some people offer seven year olds candy. Big bowls of popcorn, almond praline ice cream. Hose nose shines from my mother’s face, my sister’s.

My heritage, too, lies within myself. Hours alone in the woods, in fantasy worlds, climbing over fences into areas that were off limit. Endless filled notepads, playing with little people on my bookshelf and creating worlds for them, composing music during other empty hours and being absorbed and whole.

Figuring out what authentic means. Motherhood and me-ness. Just being.

April 18, 2013

I read a status update on Facebook by an unschooling page I follow. It was essentially all about how difficult it can be to support others, to inspire them, and always have to push your own dreams aside. That it is okay to never achieve your dreams if you help others. The line that really hit me was something like, ‘Sometimes I feel I will always live on the edge of a black pit, helping others climb of their black pits.’ That resonated. Strongly.

The author finished the post by saying hey, that’s okay! This is the good life.

That bit didn’t so much resonate.

Parenting requires, no, DEMANDS more squashing of self than I could have ever prepared for. Of course, I transform, I submerge myself with abandon into this new life, mostly. I want my children to be more courageous and creative than I am, and I feel that I play an instrumental role in allowing them to explore, to be who they are, to experiment and wonder. I want them to be curious and engaged and philosophers. Scientists. Artists. Literary giants.

I don’t begrudge them these things. Sometimes I question myself and my own motives, wondering if I am already trying to live vicariously through them. I pull myself back. No one deserves that pressure, we all need to be our own selves in the most authentic way we can. And that doesn’t come from other people telling us how to live or what to think.

So this status update made me angry, and made me sad, and made me THINK.

Then a lone sliver, a wisp as white and frail as anything else, floated across my mind. That one of my happiest and most fulfilling times in life was at camp. And my job, my life, was about inspiring children, young people, and adults. To help foster an environment where children could play and learn how to be themselves and take risks in a supportive environment. My life was all about helping others, and fuck, was I happy.

But I can’t lie. The campers at that place fucking loved me, and that fuelled me. I was able to be more fully, authentically me there than I had ever been anywhere else. The crazier I dressed, the weird impulse to shave my head, the outrageous singing and making a fool of myself – the more me I was, the more people loved me. And so, of course, that sweetest of lessons helped me grow and be joyful.

I feel on the cusp now, but it isn’t the same cusp I know and am old frenemies with. This cusp has that black pit on one side. I don’t know about the the other side.

The grand dreams, the feeling of factual endless possibilities, I don’t think it is there anymore. Those things may actually be in my own black pit. I think of my best friends I’ve known fifteen years, longer. How we all started with big dreams, and the certainty they would come true. I’ve watched people’s dreams deflate, and I’ve mostly felt sad about that. Because I know what we are all capable of.

But now a quiet voice says, find a third way. You don’t have to always give of yourself so constantly and consistently, this is a season in your life. When that voice is pushy, it asks uncomfortable questions about what sort of model I am being for my children. When it is melancholy, it asks what sort of life I am living for myself. Can I look up to me?

How am I so good at inspiring others, at believing wholeheartedly what I say, but then I sit here, in my tattered and comfortable slippers, perched on the edge of a black pit?

Maybe it is the time to look for an overgrown path. It’s small, dusty. Meandering. I’m not sure where it leads, but I do know it is away from that pit.

Or maybe it is still the time to sit here. Trying to rest and regroup when I get small moments, stretching my neck and checking my supplies. Casting my eyes about for that path, debating if I even want that path, or something else. I’d like my black pit edge to have a stream for my feet to rest in, but then I don’t want it to be too comfortable.

So I sit here, helping my children be and believe in themselves.

While I wonder who I am. That old me, who is still in Country A, laughing in thunderstorms and driving golf carts wildly? Eating ice cream in the summer twilight?

The impossible me who was brave enough to move across the world for true love?

The new and older me, who is often achey and short tempered?

I think I’m all those, but I feel I’m something else, too. Maybe my dreams have shifted, maybe I don’t want to chase them, maybe I’m just taking a breather. Maybe it’s easier to try to forgive myself for not trying at this moment in time. Maybe it’s okay to not know. Maybe it’s fine to let the sun warm my back, to sip water, to extend a hand to others. Maybe it’s not my time. Not yet.

Maybe it will be, soon.

Dancing can be awesome as dancing alone. It doesn’t need to teach us to read or multiplication.

April 10, 2013

I’m hiding in the bathroom for a possible two minutes of peace before we leave for ‘dance class.’ I think it’s a fairly relaxed group that focuses on creativity, not learning steps, which is great. Going with Jazz and Lauren, which is even greater.

I’ve heard good things about this dance place, but have to say I was given major cause to roll my eyes at the description. It reads like its up for inspection, listing all the things your child will gain. Okay, fine. The bit that was a bit ridiculous was literacy and numeracy skills. Really, can’t dancing for dancing’s sake be enough? Must we prove to the letter how educational everything is?

I hope it’s on there to look good. Like a bit of the old one, two, three, one, two, three…..as opposed to games or dances created just for literacy and numeracy. I’m all for learning in creative ways, but I’m also all for arts and creativity with no apologies or excuses attached.

Ode to Plants vs Zombies

April 9, 2013

People say, what does home education look like? What do you do? For us, we are child led. Of course the kids are only 3.5, but we have no plans to try to recreate school at home as they get older.

What does child led mean?

Well, they like Plants vs Zombies, Snort in particular. The game itself offers a child a chance to learn strategy, use maths (storing those suns to buy plants, people!), basic reading (‘It says a huge amount of zombies are going to attack,’ says Coconut), develop memory skills (all those fucking plants, my god), talk about emotions (Why does that potato guy look sad? etc), and have fun. The fun is the incentive and the reward, as well as the fact that all three of us often play together all snuggled up in one chair.

But the spin off activities have been adding to the great fun. I’ll write some of them here, but hastily add that I did no lesson planning, and actually most of these were child inspired. I often follow their lead and am pleasantly surprised by how accidentally creative we are, and how many subjects actually branch off from one hobby.

brains

Coco loves medical stuff, and always has, and the whole zombies eating brains thing has prompted ongoing discussions about brains. The skull that keeps them safe, the different parts of the brain and how they have different jobs, how the brain interacts with muscles, etc. and then obviously quite a lot of science spin off stuff from there!

drama

Snort can do a wicked impersonation of a wide variety of the zombies from the game, and we often have fun physically acting out the game. Some of us are plants, some zombies, and sometimes we just sit back and watch Snort perform.

art

Using a deep lid of a cardboard box, we lined it with green felt for grass, and TMD helped the kids make trees and other plants so we could build our own Plants vs Zombies set.

gardening

Snort almost shat himself with joy when he saw chili pepper seeds at the shop. Now we have planted chili peppers and tomatoes, along with some potatoes that we have been chitting for a few weeks. Lots of talk of how plants grow, etc, which is also science, of course. Photosynthesis for the win!

exercise

Yes, I jest, but the ten minutes of zombie exercises the other day were truly awesome.

taste tests

Waiting for the chili peppers to grow is agonising, so we had some chili peppers delivered with our shopping last night. Hence having a taste test of green and red peppers this morning at 7:30 am. Snort, king of not trying vegetables, was keen to reassure us that Coco was wrong, that his mouth would not be on fire. Ha. One absolutely GIANT bite directly into the middle of a green pepper promoted a facial expression that is burned into my retinas. He deigned to lick the outside of the red one, hammed it up, and then watched with interest as I fanned my mouth and gulped milk.

I’m sure there’s been lots more related stuff, but these are the first examples I could come up with in a limited span of time.

Stay tuned for a possible upcoming ode to Angry Birds, which is promoting an ongoing explosion of creative thinking, crafting, and physics. I never thought I’d let my kids play video games this young, but am seeing them as a valid and fun way to spend some time, and seeing the continuous outpouring of creative learning is winning me over.

I need to remember how much I appreciate these 2.5 hours.

April 5, 2013

I dreaded it, this day called today. Coats and sweaters and shoes and hats and backpacks and a walk through the cold to the doctor. Loading kids in and out of cars as we shopped for compost and short style underpants.

But all the things I would have missed!

Standing on the path outside the doctor’s, making our shadows do various body shapes from gymnastics. Watching them form and dissolve with the shifting clouds.

Snort’s exhuberation at finding chilli pepper seeds at the shop, so we can grow plants like the ones in Plants Vs Zombies. The stupidly fun trying on of Spiderman crocs, as the kids chat with with a random lady and we sit on the floor in the middle of the aisle. Buying an insane amount of balloons for TMD’s birthday.

A morning out of the house, only errands and standing in lines and putting coats off and on. But also so much more.

Today. Our reality.

April 3, 2013

Some people are making perfect crafts out of all organic materials. We are pretending to be zombies as I lead my zombie babies in exercises – reaching for brains, arms falling off, facial grimacing.

Some people have four year olds giving piano recitals. My kids are naked except for a Spiderman mask and a superhero cape, standing on their kitchen chairs, dancing wildly to whatever song they hear.

Some people serve huge, homemade meals with fruit and veg of all colours of the rainbow. We are covered in flour and salt and making cookies at ten in the morning, pyjamas still on.

Some people are painting delicate pictures onto perfectly smooth river rocks, keeping them in wicker baskets in their minimal toy rooms. Our lounge looks like preschool in Crazy Town, rope nets and feather crowns and six hundred toy cars waiting around every corner to make you trip.


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