The Free Little Girl Inside

Today, I watched two adorable little kids playfully skip, jump and dance right in front of me. I was waiting for my daughter at her ballet class. The two little dancers were quite oblivious to my observations and they went about moving their bodies in any old manner, while giggling approvingly at their own attempts at dancing. They were abandoned and full of joy.

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I thought of the much older class of ballet students inside the four walls I was waiting outside of. Indeed the much more serious affair of instruction about structure, technique, posture and control, for the older blooming dancers, was equally worthwhile to observe. However, the contrast made me smile and sent my thoughts to how the two scenes both hold true for the life of an adult woman like me. I paused to remember the playful little girl dancing and leaping merrily on the edges of the woman that I am now and the one I hope to be. I paused to remember the free little girl alive and well on the inside of me.

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I love the places of playful exploration that little kids get to enjoy as they get introduced to the world of dance. The stage where there are no expectations placed on them, but only the freedom and permission to love the tripping over of their little feet and the out-of- balance-but -oh-so-sweet attempts of their three year old selves. When you are young you are allowed to try and it is quite ok not to get things right.

Grace meets you at every turn and you can fall and trip, while the fear of failure with its intimidating glares, never captures your attention.

I must confess that I live within the tension of the little carefree dancer and the woman who knows more and has learnt a great deal over many years. I would like to think I have taken some leaps of faith and I have yielded to the process of strengthening my core through replacing old lies with the brightness of truth. But, it is a strange and curious thing that while I do my best to jump, skip and dance, many times I find that all that I can master up is an awkward, out-of -balance display of my own limitations and my own clumsy feet, while trying to stay grounded in a world that I have very little control over.

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I am learning just how much I need the strength and loving embrace of my loving  Father  in heaven, who holds me steady in his arms and always smiles when I walk into the room. I prefer to spend time with Him. I breathe in deeper and better when I surrender and come into that secret place where it’s okay to be the clumsy, unpolished dancer in the making. For I am welcomed as I am. I find that the longer I stay here, the stronger I feel and yet the more like a child I become.

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To keep the fearless heart of a child, while growing and flourishing into maturity is the challenge we can all relate to. My encouragement to myself and to you, is that if we get utterly lost while meandering along the road to becoming the more striking, sophisticated and serious dancer on life’s stage, I hope that we remember: there is always grace waiting to embrace us and we can always lean back and find the free little girl inside.

Kickstarting Our Homeschool Year 2018/2019 : Steps towards Restful, Relational and Rich Learning.

This is our 6th year of homeschooling life in our home. I am hoping that with time I am learning more about what works in our family and what leads us quickly down the path of hurried, anxious and frustrated homeschooling. This usually starts with me as the mom/teacher and then trickling down to the children, until we are all taking turns sniffing our tears from sheer exasperation and left wondering why on earth we are still doing this homeschooling thing. Aaah! but you see, each year I think I grow little wiser, and a little okay with not checking all the boxes.

First day of school and Coop Day!

I have learnt the painful way,  that the fastest way to drain the life out of our homeschool fire is to load our early days with heavy logs right at the onset of the year.  Yes! A sure way to kill the passion for an awesome year of learning is to try to create pinterest-worthy expectations of myself, my kids and what a purchased curriculum resource can deliver to our homeschool. I have learnt that it helps to start with a clear idea of what you want the year to be, and specifically what words will capture  the essence of  hopes you carry in your heart for the year.  For me, I know that  I want a homeschool year that is Restful, Relational, and full of Rich Learning. Not one that is rushed, and ” heavy laden with much toil”! When we are restful, cultivating relations with each other and with great ideas, and making room for the colors and textures of meaningful learning, then we are no longer pursuing learning as a list of to do’s, but rather the pursuit of all things True, Good and Beautiful.

Morning Time, observing and drawing fall leaves while listening to a story about Courage

To kickstart this year of restful, relational and rich learning, I am taking deliberate steps to cultivate habits and attitudes that I believe will get us moving into the right direction. This is not an exhausted list, it is merely one that I have identified after honest reflection during the summer break, taking into account where we all are at as a family and where we want to be.

1) Practice healthy rhythms that steward time well and nurtures body, soul, and mind. Sleep early. Keep first things first. Dust off the gym shoes. Eat well. Drink tea. Create. Mind your own business.

2) Remove distractions in order to stay connected, present and content. Set a time for everything, and aim to be faithful with the hours dedicated to homeschooling. Look into each others eyes instead of at the screen.

3) Keep learning time simple and sweet, while encouraging natural inquiry. Smile and laugh a lot! Take breaks. Allow life to happen in all it’s imperfect little ways. Record the silly questions children ask, take note of the tough ones too, see the clues hidden in their questions and the door of opportunity to go on rabbit trails.

4) Engage all the senses in learning, play, sing, touch, talk, taste, go and see places, discover, explore, take time to smell the roses, get hands dirty, listen, be silent, create, examine, live the life of learning, do it like you are having a long conversation with all the many facets of life.

5) Encourage responsibility and ownership of children’s own learning. Set goals and clear milestones to be celebrated. Build up with your words everyday. These a beautiful, unique people who really matter.

6) Take time to reflect and capture memories of the year’s learning journey. Take pictures, write journal entries, reflect and take note to stay grateful. Model this habit of reflection with the kids.

I hope these simple intentional practices will give as a good start towards a year of restful, relational and rich learning. I know that it will take courage to pursue these because these days it take courage to live from a place of rest and trust, rather than from the empty flurry of activity, that is fueled by the fear of failure, or the subtle dread of not being good enough. And I believe I can be courageous because we do not walk this path alone. Our heavenly Father has promised never to leave us, nor to forsake us. He carries our world in His hands, and sets us free to dance our way into the rest that comes from Him. It’s going to be a great year of learning. I hope it is for you too.

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I Take Myself Way Too Seriously: Staying ON! the Social Media Grid!

I think I take myself way too seriously! And sometimes I get a little OCD about small things. Seriously, going off the social media grid sounds like a really noble idea, but honestly it’s a bit much! I am already suffocating under my own self induced agony. Enter wisdom and grace please!

I am a stay at home mom of three, homeschooling 2 and managing an entire household “The Gifts of Imperfection” by day and “ The Children of Ashton Place” by night. I have enough on my plate! And in all realness I am a pretty intentional woman, who has the wisdom and grace to make different choices about what I give space for in my time.  Doing that is more realistic than my previous cut and dry approach!

So for all those who were keen to find out if I would survive being off social media, the short answer is, we all will survive without it, but what purpose do I actually want it to serve!  So that’s it! The shortest experiment I ever engaged in!

Going off the Social Media Grid. My 9 month experiment! Will It Work?

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I have loved social media!I have loved simply knowing, feeling connected with friends and satisfying my curiosity about so and so and not missing out on those weddings, baby showers, graduations, trips and moves overseas, that I would definitely not have known about had it not been for instagram and facebook. Social media has kept me from boredom and  has cushioned the effects of moving to a new country. But is all this sense if connectivity actually real? Is it an inescapable part of life or have we bought into a lie that we are all actively part of sustaining?

I do not like the time and attention that has become the currency of social media and the feeling that unless an event in my life is shared and celebrated, it loses it’s value and place. I feel like the commodity of intimacy, connection and privacy, are being assaulted within me (drastic statements, I know). I feel a tug on my heart to abandon myself into the ocean of discovering what life would be like without any social media. I am curious about the effect it will have on me and life in general. Perhaps you have asked yourself those questions. Well for the next 9months I am going to be the guinea-pig!

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I am going to conduct a very, very real life experiment of going off Facebook, and Instagram, Twitter and my Youtube channel for 9 WHOLE MONTHS! I like the number 9! This decision has not come easily. I feel like I am the worst candidate of the kind of person who is not on social media platforms. Logically, I really should be on facebook and instagram etc. I love connecting with people and I hope to share more of my songs with others, as well as being a simple encouragement and a champion of family life, education, creativity, and the pursuit of intimacy with God. But I will not know what role it’s taking in my life until I remove it.

Here are some of my genuine questions I hope to answer as I go off social media:

  1. Will I miss out on what is happening around me. Information, Events, Opportunities, Memories? And will this be to my detriment? 
  2. Will I loose a  sense of community? The inspiration, ideas and sense of support from some of the pages I belong to? 
  3. Will I simply overburden myself with the punishment of not being on social media? Am I simply being Idealistic? 
  4. Will I be  forgotten? And will anyone notice my absence? Will it matter? 
  5. Will I have meaningful ways to share my thoughts and celebrate life events? Or do the masses matter?
     
  6. Will I be bored? All my life be bland?
  7. Will I  miss out on opportunities for connecting with people? If I run a business will I miss out on marketing and clientele?

Here are the steps I will be taking on this 9 month journey:

Step 1: Tell everyone I will be leaving social media a few weeks in advance.  Done!

Step 2: Request all my photos and video data  from Facebook and download it onto my computer.  Done!

Step 3: Deactivate account. Have to keep deactivating every 7 days.  Find a couple of friends to keep you accountable! Hubby will do the weekly deactivating for me.  NOPE! DELETE THE ACCOUNT IS WHAT I WILL DO!

Step 4: Begin to journal on wordpress for extra accountability and sharing insights.

Step 5: Share learning and insights at the end of 9 months and make final conclusions

Step 4 is what I am starting to do right now!

Wish me luck! Let’s see how this will turn out!

 

 

 

 

Gratitude Challenge: The End That Inspires Great Beginnings

Our Gratitude Challenge was an intentional attempt to catch all the tiny drops of rain falling over our lives on a daily basis. We have been counting our blessings one by one and the end of our challenge perfectly aligned with the end of the school year. We have much to celebrate and be thankful for!

So we got together and created a gratitude display of the highlights of this year so far.

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This was a tangible and creative expression for us as a family. We reflected on our school year and family and found pictures, words and inspiring hymns and quotes. I had picked up some pine planks that someone was getting rid and the ideas sprung from that. I used gift wrapping to modge podge every second plank. And then glued on small clothing pegs to hold the gratitude reflections.

What we ended up with was a display that we can hang up and keep adding to throughout the year.

I am also using the gratitude board to inspire me for preparing for our family learning life in the upcoming school year. We will carry occasionally use the question prompts from our gratitude jar and use it throughout the year.

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For now our heart is full of gratitude and thanks for all that we are as a family and for the journey that we are on. I am going to put up my feet with some wonderful good reads over the summer, while ensuring that I am making time to rest, reconnect and revive for the new school year.

I am confident that gratitude will continue to inspire us to move wholeheartedly into all the new things ahead of us.