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Friday, September 18, 2015

Letter to the Misfit Homeschooler

Hello Dear Friend,

How are you? I am hanging in there. I am feeling my misfitting very much this week. Do you find that there are some weeks you simply feel it more than others? Why this week more than others? I don't know. Maybe Venus or Mars are in retrograde or something. Maybe Uranus started to show it's true colors. I have no idea!

This past Monday, I just felt lonely as hell. I mean REALLY lonely. Hubby has been traveling a lot and I am home alone with the girls and dogs all day, by myself. Do you know what's like to be surrounded by no other adults for weeks on end? To not have any close friends to go hang with? To have your days and nights consumed by other people's mental illnesses? It. Is. Exhausting! Not only physically, but mentally and emotionally as well. Add to that, I am not part of a church and we live in the Bible Belt. Not a great thing to not do around here. I have nothing against church. I simply have something against people using religion to claim bigotry and judging others is okay because of religion.

All this week, I kept seeing all these beautiful posts of other homeschooler's kids who are so advanced. They are taking college courses in their young teen years. They are reading at age 3. They are traveling the world, taking in all the culture and sites and sounds, learning more than any text book could teach them. They are trekking through forests and mountains, doing expeditions on boats and learning from experts. They are engrossed in books like Pride and Prejudice.

Yep. You got it. We don't fit..yet again.

Here are MY signs that we are misfit homeschoolers:

  1. Neither of my kids are headed for a National Honor Society Membership.
  2. Neither of my kids are going to be part of Mensa.
  3. We don't go to church & are not religious while living in the Bible Belt.
  4. My youngest is "in" 3rd grade and reading at a preschool level and writing at a preschool level.
  5. My oldest is a "senior" and writing at a 4th-6th grade level and reading at a 6th-7th grade level.
  6. We spend more time driving to and going to therapy sessions (psychiatrist, therapist, occupational therapy) some days than doing any educational work.
  7. We have no set schedule (see 6 above).
  8. We don't have a ton of friends (see 3 above).
  9. We don't get invited to parties very often.
  10. Both my kids have mental illness, one more than the other. 
  11. Both my kids have severe learning disabilities.
  12. Both my kids have severe social anxiety, which causes them heartbreak.
  13. We don't live on a farm and we don't homestead.
  14. We don't start our day with prayer nor do we end our day with prayer (but I sure do pray throughout the day!!!)
  15. Both my kids are the most amazing people I have ever had the pleasure to meet and raise.
  16. Both my kids are individuals and I allow them to be such.
  17. Both my kids are outstanding people who have their own thoughts, wants and personalities which I encourage.
  18. Both my kids have passion and want to follow those, not be stuck in a box told what to do.
  19. Both my kids think for themselves.
  20. Both my kids have overcome more than I can even put on this page.
Do you share any of these tell-tale signs? Do you have any of your own? I'd love to hear them. I know I don't fit in. I know sometimes it is lonely and sometimes it hurts. But, in the end, if fitting in meant losing my self, which I have fought so hard to find and maintain, then I will be lonely and hurt because those are authentic and true.  How about you?

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Dear Trust, You Scare Me

Dear Friend,
I've been homeschooling for 5 years now. But when I speak of homeschooling, I am not speaking of sitting at a table, text books spread and open for the next lesson to happen lead by me. Ok, sometimes that happens but not normally. When I speak of homeschooling, I speak of life learning. I speak of unschooling. I speak of autodidact learning. That sounds fancy, doesn't it?
Autodidact learning means that the person is self-taught. This quote is from Autodidactic Profiles:
"Millions of people pay a king's ransom for college tuition to learn what is free for the taking when motivated by a compelling desire to learn. In the movie Good Will Hunting, Will (played by Matt Damon) chides an arrogant Ivy League student for paying a fortune for an education that would be free but for the price of a library card. Although this is absolutely valid, very few people believe it. Instead they are convinced the knowledge they could acquire on their own is secondary to paying a lot of money to an institution which will attest that they have, even if they cheated their way through the process."
I will be honest here, it is beyond frightening at times to believe that children will learn when not presented with a structured curriculum. I fall into this category about every March. I was raised in public school. I was indoctrinated to think that worksheets and games which give us scores on how well we do is how we know we are learning. Honestly, I do believe there is a point to them. BUT, here is the catch: my kids do the ones they are interested in.
I can hear you groaning right now. me. The whole point of autodidact learning is to TRUST.
TRUST your child.
TRUST they are learning what they need to learn when they need to learn in.
TRUST they are going to want to learn.
TRUST that they want to become absorbed in their learning.
TRUST that worksheets and games and textbooks may not be how they learn.
TRUST that you will facilitate what they need for their learning.
TRUST it will be harder than handing them a worksheet or book because now you have to be involved.
TRUST you can do it.
TRUST it is easier than having to grade tons of papers and walk around with a really heavy tote bag full of files for you to grade during their latest lesson (although I do sometimes envy those parents because they look so important).
Every year, in the late spring, the girls and I sit down and talk about the following year. We pull up the World Book Encyclopedia Typical Course of Study and talk about what they are interested in learning. For me, this is an outline to begin from. It helps us organize our thoughts and explore different topics we may not have otherwise looked into.
Honey Bunny, my 17 year old, never thought about taking a class on psychology until we discussed it based off of that list. She also hadn't really thought about anatomy. She is enjoying both right now. Honey Bunny enjoys online classes, text books and the structure those provide for her. She enjoys knowing what is coming next. She enjoys being in control of her learning insomuch as she is in control of what she learns and reviewing for approval the classes I have facilitated in discovering.
Boo Bear, my 8 year old, on the other hand, is a free thinker and free floater. She does not like to have any sort of structure. She likes to craft..and craft..and craft. Right now, her entire world is about crafting doll items. She is severely dyslexic and has dysgraphia. We work closely with her occupational therapist, her tutor and her test administrators to make sure she is getting the education she needs (learning how to read, write and do math) while still embracing her passions.
You see, autodidactic learning isn't about letting your children play all day in the sandbox or hang out on a Minecraft Server all day while you eat bonbons and watch soap opra's. It's about truly being INVOLVED in their lives. It's about being an integral part of their lives so you can help facilitate further learning. It's about knowing what they are interested in, even learning about it yourself, so you can help open their world to new possibilities and thoughts. It's about helping them connect the dots and get from one place to another.
Autodidactic learning is not about being the authoritative parent, but instead it's about being a guide and a friend. It's about holding their hand through the journey of life like you did when they were little. It doesn't stop just because you have started homeschooling. No, it's about continuing to hold their hand and learning about the wonder of the world through their eyes.
So, whether you call it unschooling, radical unschooling, autodidactic learning, child-led learning or whatever phrase works best for you....the truth is it all boils down to one thing: TRUST in yourself and your children.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Letter to Homeschool Parents

To All My Homeschool Parents Out There,

Thank you for sharing with me your updates on your gifted child. I say this with honesty, not any sarcasm. I am genuinely happy for you and your child who is duel enrolled in college at age 14. I am genuinely happy for you that your child is doing a super job at maintaining a 4.2 GPA, is president of a club and vice president of another. Yes, you are doing a great job raising the next potential leader in this world. Hat's off to you and please take a bow.

Now, for the rest of us, I want to take a moment and say this: You Are Also Doing a Bang Up Job!!! Keep it going!

For those of us who homeschool because we have children with special needs, you are doing a great job! Keep it going!!! I know some days are tough, tougher than others, but you keep going! High five me!

For those of us who homeschool because we have a child with mental illness: Congrats! You made it through another day and they are still with us on this Earth! High five me!!!

For those of us who homeschool because our child has learning disabilities: Congrats! You are on the way to breaking their secret code! Keep up the good work!  High five me!

For those of us who homeschool because we don't like the way the public school is run: Congrats! You made another choice! I hope it is is all you have ever dreamed of! High five me!

For those of us who homeschool for religious reasons: Congrats! You are raising a child in the way you feel best with a moral compass for them to rely upon as they grow!  High five me!

For those of us who homeschool because we just feel like it: Congrats! You decided to follow your parent's saying of: "If everyone else was jumping off a bridge, would you?" No! You decided to say NO to the bridge jumping! Good for you!!! High five me!!!

And for those of us who homeschool because we have gifted children: Please keep us updated on their progress. Maybe, someday, we will be able to post similar things.

But for today, I am simply happy to post the following:
Honey Bunny has been clean from cutting for 6 months!
Honey Bunny hasn't had an emotional break in a year!
Honey Bunny is learning how to make her own meals and regulate her own water intake!
Honey Bunny is maintaining a meaningful relationship and learning communication skills!

Boo Bear is learning how to break the code for reading!
Boo Bear is learning how to subtract!
Boo Bear is learning how to find her own sense of self!

Today and every day is a success!!!! I have two children alive and engaged in the world around them!

Hat's off Homeschool Parents!  We are ALL doing a great job!!!! High five me!!

Sunday, August 30, 2015

The Art of Changing from Fear to Love

Right now, in my life, I feel scared. My marriage is about as exciting as vanilla pudding. It's been 9.5 years and we've drifted apart during those years. We are like passing ships in the night, the dark of night. It isn't bad. It Time to work on that. I FEAR I will fail my marriage.

Boo Bear has severe learning disabilities and will need tutoring and occupational therapy. I have no idea how to handle this at all. I feel like a fish out of water. I feel like I've failed her. I feel like I have no way of coping with her needs because everything I read about how to handle learning disabilities is so counter intuitive to who she is as a person. I keep reading things about strict schedules and regimented follow through and follow up. Boo Bear doesn't thrive like that. It's why we have chosen to keep her home, so she could thrive, yet all this mumbo jumbo says to do it the exact opposite!!! I FEAR that I will fail my daughter's education.

Honey Bunny is doing well. Yet, I still FEAR. I fear she will relapse. I fear she will not be able to handle the responsibility of becoming a young adult and what that means in society. I fear she won't be able to hold a job because of her PTSD/anxiety. I fear she won't have a plan for her life for the next 2 years and she will still have me driving her around, playing on her iPhone looking at cats on Tumblr and waiting for others to fill her internal gaps.

I FEAR making commitments to classes because what if we can't make them.
I FEAR my business not bringing in money.
I FEAR my business bringing in money because that means more responsibility on me.
I FEAR I am not where I am supposed to be in life.

Oh man, I am operating out of FEAR again. Have you been there? Are you there right now? As you can see, I am. I'm sitting here fearing and fretting away. It's not a good place to be. Actually, it's a downright horrible place to be. It's not even productive IF I stay here.

But, staying grounded in fear is NOT my way of being. You see, to me, staying grounded in fear is a cop out. It's a way of saying "I don't have to deal with any of this simply because I fear it." By doing that, you get stuck in the muck of fear. If you don't own the fear, you can't get past it and you also can't get through it and own the success of doing so.

So, what's a person to do when they are kept up at night and up early before the buttcrack of dawn because of fear? LOVE it. Yep, in the place of fear, place love. Unconditional love...for yourself.

Let me go back and substitute the word LOVE for fear and have a different outcome. Let's see how things change....

1) I FEAR I will fail my marriage... becomes... I LOVE my marriage will succeed.
2) I FEAR that I will fail my daughter's education... becomes ... I LOVE that I will succeed with my daughter's education.
3) I FEAR she will relapse...becomes...I LOVE that I trust her to trust herself.
4) I FEAR making commitments to classes because what if we can't make them...becomes... I LOVE making commitments to classes because we will make them.
5)I FEAR my business not bringing in money...becomes...I LOVE my business bringing in money.
6) I FEAR my business bringing in money because that means more responsibility on me...becomes...I LOVE my business not bringing in money because it means I have more time for my family.
7) I FEAR I am not where I am supposed to be in life...becomes...I LOVE where I am in life right now.

You see, replacing LOVE for FEAR completely changed the outcome of each sentence. It completely changed how things are viewed.

Operating from a place of love is hard. It's easy to get lost. Self-doubt, life changes, doubt from others are all interruptions in the way of life. It's easy to get wrapped up in fear because it is a known entity. It is seductive. Fear is sexy. It truly is. It's that excitement that occurs when we are little with that monster in the closet or under the bed. It heightens our awareness. It brings about feelings of stimulation and makes us aware of even the smallest details in our world. Now, granted, they aren't positive, but they are sexy. They are real. They make us feel alive. And, best of all, society endorses it. Society understands working out of fear. Society understands and endorses all our fears. It provides therapy and medicine. It provides movies and music to back up our fears of abandonment and isolation. Society recognizes the sexiness of fear and capitalizes on it for us. We are surrounded with fear. Advertisements are based on calming our how do we learn and remember to move out of love?

Moving from a place of fear to a place of love isn't easy. It's not as easy as saying replace one word and it's all better. No. It's much more complicated. It requires the same focus as fear, but it's more exhausting. It requires the same heightened awareness, but not of our senses but instead of our motivations. It requires INNER awareness. It requires INNER motivation. It requires maturity.

To operate from a place of love rather than fear requires a moment to moment recognition of where we are physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually. The truth is, most people don't want this. They want to be able to blame others for their fear because in blaming others they are released from ownership and don't have to be aware. They can disconnect and move on with their life. Their life will be unhappy, but that is their choice.

I lost my way this summer. I began to operate out of fear rather than love. I feel it. I see it when I go back and read through my posts. I have felt so out of synch with myself that I feel like I lost the joy of summer. I lost the joy of fireflies and full moons. I lost the joy of listening to my children laugh. I lost the joy of a glass of red wine while grilling a steak and sitting by the pool. And all by choice. All because I chose fear instead of love.

Well, I officially have another month of summer left. At least about 3 weeks of it if memory serves right. It looks like I have some memory making to do in the next few weeks. Looks like my homeschool fears just have to wait and be turned from fear to love. It looks like my marriage has to do a 180 from vanilla pudding to at least vanilla pudding with some rainbow sprinkles on it for now. It looks like I have to stop fearing and start loving!!!

What fears are running your life? What fears can you change from fear to love? Are your fears fact based or are they simply imagined? What can you do right now to change even just one of those fears from a fear base to a love base? What is your new reality going to be once that happens? Keep me posted.....

Saturday, August 29, 2015

The Truth

It's been five months since I last posted. I have been trying to get my gluten free business up and running. Wanna check them out? Homemade GF Meals and Gluten Free GPS. I had hoped in finding something for me, I would find myself again.

Want to know the truth? I didn't. What I found was more stress; more pressure; less of me. I am frustrated, sad, more broke because let's face it starting a business isn't free. My already tentative marriage due to life interruptions it is even more so, my kids felt side lined and I feel sidelined. So, now what? I truthfully don't know. I want to throw in the towel and then keep thinking:

"If I do that, what have I taught my children? That when things don't go your way, you simply give up and walk away?" 

Man, I don't want to do that.

But I also don't want to keep going the way it is going. I am unimpassioned. I am bitter. I feel it in my face. As I sit here writing this, I feel like I am sucking on a lemon. I am not excited. I am not thinking about the next dish I am going to recreate. No. I am thinking about how much money I have invested and not gotten out of it. I am thinking of how I am failing. I am thinking of.... homeschooling.

Oh come on, you knew a tie had to come there somewhere, but it's true! How many of you sit there, reading this, thinking to yourselves:

"I've invested so much money in this curriculum/events/classes/etc. and they aren't getting out of it what I wanted them to."

I know I have. I'm raising my hand, albeit sheepishly. Yep, we unschool and buy curriculum. Oxymoron you say? Blasphemous?! No, not at all because unschooling means you follow your child's passion and their wants. It is THEIR want to have curriculum. Personally, I hate it. I feel pressured by it. I feel like I am failing if I am not schooling them by the curriculum while I have purchased it.

But the truth lies in who truly owns that? I do. Not them.

Honey Bunny is doing great this year! She is clean from cutting. She has a steady boyfriend. They are working on what it's like to have a real relationship, not just teenage lust. She is doing her classes without being asked. She is thinking about her future. She is investing in herSELF.  Sure, she's still 17 with PTSD/anxiety/depression, but we are working on the right meds and the right therapist. I finally see hope in her future. Her future isn't what others see as their typical teen future, no college in sight, but damn it she is alive and she is looking forward to having a future. I'm okay with that. I'm better than okay with that. I am ecstatic! :)

And Boo Bear? Well, she's my challenge right now. She has gone for occupational therapy testing and psychological testing and educational testing all in the past 2 weeks. Why? Because something is wrong. I pretty much know what it is, but without the diagnosis, I can't get the help we need. Turns out, she has Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD). She basically feels like she's in a free fall almost all the time, which is why she seeks physical touch from someone or something all the time. She's looking for her "seeing eye dog" is the best I can describe it. She needs someone to help ground her. We will be working on skills for her to be able to do so for herself over the next few months. Perhaps, I will be able to sleep on my own again or with my husband again. It's been 8 years. I think I'm ready.

She also has severe dyslexia and dysgraphia. Dysgraphia is an impairment with written instruction. Basically, she can't write. She also has issues with "orthorgraphic coding" meaning she can't remember what letters go into what word. My poor little pumpkin tries so  hard to read and to write and simply can't do it. At age 8, she now feels the difference and feels like she has "failed." It is heart breaking.

She wants to learn about the Classics this year, and the differences between Creationism and Evolution. She wants to learn about the Middle Ages and Renaissance, especially the fashion aspect of it. She wants to learn how to speak Spanish and how to expand upon her mathematical concepts.  Yet, in a cruel irony, she can't read or write. She tries, she really does, but ends up in tears and frustration. (Exactly how I feel about starting my businesses again!)

So, what's a Momma to do? We've hired a tutor 4 hours a week to work with her. I am going to read everything to her. She is going to narrate her answers back to me. We are going to do a lot of one on one work. Am I looking forward to it? Honestly? No. I was looking forward to her being able to be more independent so that while she was working, so could I. But that is not what is going to happen.

You see, for her to become more independent she has to become more dependent. For me, that means remembering that life is like an arrow in archery. One must pull back before they can go forward.

So, for now, I must table my business and my personal growth for the growth of my child. Do I like that? Not really. There is a part of me that is crying out: "What about me?!!! Why don't I matter? Why do I always have to give up something for someone else to flourish?!"

But I also know that I wouldn't be happy turning my back on my child and moving my SELF forward because ultimately, being her parent IS my number one job. It's the one I get the most fulfillment out of. It's the one that speaks to my heart. Being a parent, and a homeschool parent to boot, is what brings me the most self awareness and love and growth.

Perhaps, what we all need to do is stop for a moment. Do it, just for a moment dear Reader, and think about what truly brings you self fulfillment. Think about where your true values lay. There is no wrong answer. There just is your truth. Your inner truth.

My truth is the world says I should be independent and have a business to show my girls that being a mother doesn't mean you give up on your dreams, but my inner truth is much more simple than that. My inner truth is simply I want to be the best parent possible, even if that means putting myself aside for them to grow; for their growth is truthfully where I experience the most joy and growth for myself.

What's your inner truth? Does it lay truthful to your world? Are you living in harmony with yourself? Are you doing one thing, but feeling another? I wasn't. In the beginning of this article, I shared with you I've been living contrary to my truth. Perhaps, that is why things are not going how I wish them to. I'm not being truthful with myself.

Starting today, I am going to be truthful to myself. If I can't be truthful to myself, how can I be truthful to others?

What are you going to to today? What are you going to change?

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Getting Things Done vs. Spending Time Investing

Want to know what I hate? I truly hate waking up to a messy kitchen. To me, that is the worst way to wake up. How does that picture invite you to have a nice, calm start to your day? How does it say: Come and make a cup of coffee, sit and relax?

It doesn't. To me that kitchen says: Girl-you slacked off last night and didn't do what you were supposed to do. Get your butt in gear and start cleaning right now.

Man, I hate starting my day that way! Granted, it was a choice to not do it last night. I was tired and just wanted to take a bath. So I did. I took a long, hot bath and I snuggled with Boo Bear and I sat with my husband. I didn't tackle the kitchen.  I left it. I made different decisions, although I knew it would be there for me in the morning.

So why is it that we make decisions which we know are going to bite us in the butt later? I truly don't know. I'm sure there is some science behind it and someone has done a psychology thesis on it. I'm sure there is a lot of mumbo jumbo in there about risk analysis or something...but let's talk about making choices of Things vs. People for this article. Granted, these are just my opinions, and we all know the saying about opinions. Everyone has one..just like a....... belly button.

So, which do you value more? Getting Things Done or Spending Time With Loved Ones? There is no wrong answer -for you. Again, it is your opinion. Growing up, my Mom was more concerned about getting things done and spent more time cleaning and picking up than spending time with us. I have about 1 handful of memories with her. This isn't good or bad. It just is. I am not angry about it. I do not resent her. She and I are great friends now. She made those decisions based upon her wants and needs, with her history story behind it.

You see, we each approach our present moment with the scripts and movies of yesterday playing in our head, for better or for worse, it is what it is. We react to something in the present based off of an experience from our past. We plan for the future based upon experiences from our past. I mean, let's be honest here, who hasn't ever sat alone in their car preparing for a conversation with someone which we thought for sure was going to happen and we wanted to be prepared only to be shocked when it didn't happen like we planned?! We've all done it. If not, please do so later today so I don't feel like such an idiot. :)

Getting Things Done isn't bad. It has a sense of accomplishment. Dishes in the sink? Do them and they are done. Dirty clothes? Wash them and they are clean.  There is a beginning, middle and end. For now, let's pretend those two things do not actually constantly go in a  rotation as quickly as they do (at least in my house).

Spending Time With Loved Ones? Oh, that can be exhausting! It means not doing what has to be done and more piling up on top of whatever is still there! It means investing part of ourselves. It means being vulnerable. It means-risk.

Ah, risk. Something we all fear in our relationships. Risk of being hurt. Risk of being rejected. Risk of being told we aren't good enough. They are all pretty much the same thing.  When we don't spend time with one another, because we are hurt, we don't realize that we are allowing that monster to grow. The monster called: Fear and Insecurity. It is easier to hurt another than it is to risk hurt to ourselves, so we go about our days saying how we don't like so and so and how so and so does this and that...without ever stopping to examine whether or not we've invested in the relationship with so and so.

You see, without investing into the bank account of a relationship by Spending Time Together, the relationship can't weather the hard times. All relationships have hard times. We are human. We have good days. We have bad days. Sometimes, those days add up to weeks or months or years at at a time. If we have no deposits in our emotional bank account with those in our lives, when we have those bad times, our accounts become overdrawn and we become resentful, fearful, angry.  We decide we don't want to spend time making emotional deposits into THAT account because it hurts right now.

We don't often stop to think:

If I spent time with so and so and put those good deposits in, then we could withstand the bad.

Nope. We just keep moving forward, Getting Things Done rather than Spending Time Together because that is safe. That has a beginning, middle and end. It has a measurable result.

For just a moment, imagine a relationship in your life that needs some emotional deposits. In our world, it is Honey Bunny and Hubby. Oh man, for the past 4 years they have not been depositing goodness into one another's accounts, only approaching each other with distain and contempt. Only seeing the negative in one another and approaching all interactions from a stance of fear, rather than love. I'd finally had enough and asked them both to work on it, if not for themselves but for me. They both love me and this dynamic puts me in a bad spot. I have to chose my child over my husband or vise versa. Not healthy at all.

Want to know what they did? Rather defensive and brusk, they went off to play video games at Dave and Buster's last week. They went on a date. A Daddy/Daughter date. Want to know what happened? I didn't hear from either of them for 3 hours! No one was tattling on the other. No one was telling me what a jerk the other was. They shot things up. They ate. They...laughed! They made that emotional deposit into the other's emotional bank account. They Spent Time Together rather than getting things done.   They both came home so happy and joking with one another. Can you imagine if they do this weekly how big that emotional bank account is going to grow? How big that love and inner relationship will grow so when they do have butthead moments, the relationship will be able to weather that storm?  It gives me such hope.

It's why I chose to Spend Time Together rather than Get Things Done last night.

What are you going to release from getting done today to invest in a relationship that needs a deposit? Think about it. Let me know. I'd love to hear.

Monday, March 2, 2015

Letting go of the Expected...

It's another Monday morning just outside of Charlotte, NC. My prior neighbors in and around Boston and NYC are battling the elements of snow and ice.  I'm looking out on a land of mud, fog and naked tree branches. It's like late March/Early April in New England. The time when you can feel nature beginning to stir, yet it still looks all...blah and ugly.

As I sit here this morning, coffee just finished, kids still sleeping, husband off to work, dogs quietly resting, I am thinking how this scene reminds me so much of life. Usually, right before sometime amazing happens, life becomes rather: blah. You can feel the underlying tension. You can see the want for growth and change, but it has yet to happen. That's the moment when most people give up.That's the moment when people lose their dreams. That's the moment when the work just seems too much; to continue in the yuck and for what?Nothing is happening that you expected.

Perhaps, you've been in this place before. Perhaps you are there right now. Maybe you're struggling with a New Year's Resolution to change your eating habits and aren't seeing the change you expected. Perhaps a relationship with a loved one isn't going the way you expected. Perhaps your work isn't going the way you expected.

Do you notice something in the last three sentences and how they ended? The words "you expected." Ah. Take a moment and think about those two words.


According to the dictionary, expected means:
past tense: expected; past participle: expected
  1. regard (something) as likely to happen.
    "we expect the best"
    synonyms:anticipateawait, look for, hope for, look forward to; More
    • regard (someone) as likely to do or be something.
      "they were not expecting him to continue"
    • believe that (someone or something) will arrive soon.
      "Celia was expecting a visitor"

      Let's discuss this for a moment. First, why are you living your life in the past tense? To live your life in the past tense means you miss out on the here and now. You won't get to enjoy now until the future, but the slight of hand here is since you didn't enjoy it in the here and now, you are unable to enjoy it in the future.

      Why are you holding others to your expectations? Who made you the one to whom those expectations are to be held against? Are you in control of it all? Are you omnipotent? I'm not. Sometimes I wish I was and then I realize that the duty to do so would be beyond my comprehension. :)

      If you remove expectations from your life, you can remove much disappointment. What?! I know you're shaking your head at me going: Girl, are you CRAZY?! If I remove expectations, then how will anything get done well? How will I be able to hold someone to a level of quality if I don't expect it? Girl. You HAVE gone crazy!!! 

      No, I haven't gone crazy. Think about this for a moment. If you remove what's expected from your dynamic with a relationship, you will then enter into each moment with that person in the here and now. You won't be approaching them and looking at them with the lenses of the past, reacting to things that have happened in the past and projecting them into the present/future thereby creating a self-fulfilling prophecy. 

      Can you imagine that? Imagine a world where you entered into the relationship with your spouse without bringing forth all the old baggage into the here and now. Imagine if you thought of their actions without negative intentions. 

      Imagine if you approached your relationship with your child in the here and now and not with fear of the future and fear about what decisions they may (or may not) make. 

      Imagine if you approached your boss/job with no prior pre-conceived notions about their negative responses but instead met them today with an open mind, open heart and lack of fear.

      You see, when you let go of the expected, you make room for the unexpected - which can lead you down the most amazing path. Now, I'm not saying don't expect an abuser to not abuse. In no way am I suggesting you enter into a relationship based upon abuse and expect them to do different. I've been there. I know that one. That won't happen. 

      I'm talking about relationships which are based upon the basis of a mutual care and respect for one another. Can you imagine how that would change your interactions? Can you begin to fathom how your world would change? Can you think about how that would feel? To live in a world, for yourself, where you approach the exterior world you live in from a place of interior peace, love and giving rather than fear, tension and self-protection?

      When you change how you view the world, you change your interactions with the world. 

      Today, my dear Reader, approach one relationship you have in the here and now. Approach a loved one consciously, not with the past in mind during an interaction, but in the here and now. Listen to what they are saying. I mean REALLY listen. Don't be thinking about how to react to it. Act with it. Be WITH that person. Approach them with love, compassion and an understanding that the past was at the past. Let it go. Do this over and over. Day after day. Over time, and probably a short amount of time, you will begin to see the relationship shift from one of distrust and fear to trust and love. 

      I'd love to hear from you after you've done this experiment.  If need be, do it with yourself. There is nothing wrong with taking yourself on as this experiment's project. Maybe that's who most needs your loss of fear and criticism. 

      Today, my dear reader, decide to become the rose buried beneath the snow and hold strong and firm to the belief that you are meant to bloom and be beautiful. We are all beautiful.

Thursday, February 12, 2015


Life is a funny thing. As soon as you think you have it figured out, it changes on you. In reflection, it's sort of like a babies sleeping pattern. As soon as you feel you have it manageable and you are getting more than a few snippets of sleep at a time, they go ahead and change it up on you again; always keeping you on your toes!

Recently, that has been my life. In the past month, I have started a new business. I truly don't know how it's going to go. I've done the research. I've done the ROI. I've run the numbers. I've invested time, energy and finances to it. I've also had to TRUST things will work out for the best.

You see, TRUST is something that is difficult for so many of us to actually have and practice. We are taught NOT to trust ourselves, our children, our spouses. Oh sure, we talk a great game: "Of course I trust my spouse." and then we find ourselves sometimes doubting in the dark recesses of our minds, in the middle of the night, while they are away on yet another business trip.  "Of course I trust my child." Until they follow a path that isn't congruent with what we had imagined for them. "Of course I trust my life will turn out as it should be." Until a curveball comes our way and we are knocked flat on our arse, trying to figure out what just happened.

Let's be honest, Reader, how much do you really TRUST that your life is on the path that it's supposed to be? Right now, that's all I have to fall back on. I have to trust that things are going to work out the way the Universe/God/Goddess-whatever you identify as the Higher Power to be-intend it to be.

So back to starting this job started by simply sending out a pretty email to a few friends with a concept idea. I already menu plan for my family for three meals a day, why not make that into a business? Sure, there are tons of options out there, but none that are dairy free, corn free AND gluten free.  A friend saw the email, passed it onto another friend who happens to run the Gluten Free and Allergy Awareness Events across the country. They loved the idea! The business was born.

It's not my first time around this block. It's my 4th start up. The other 3 were semi-successful but life has always interrupted them, curveballs thrown and caught and life has taken on another route. This time, things aren't perfect but they ARE going well. Let me share....

I started because Honey Bunny was stable. The most stable she had ever been. (Notice that past tense there?) No cutting for 10 months. No anorexia acting up. No bipolar breaks. Two weeks after starting the business, she cut. Two day later, she cut again. I had to decide whether or not to allow her addiction to cutting to control my dream of starting this business. This is where Whole Life Unschooling comes into play.

She and I sat down together and talked about how her choices were impacting the family and the decision to stop the business. I have always put my kids first. I admitted to her that her safety and her life are more important than any business.  She admitted she didn't want me to stop my dream. She told me that her addiction was her struggle and that if I allowed it to control my life, if I gave up my dreams when the going got tough, how would she learn to pull through them? She would only learn, from me, to give up and give in when things got tough.

Read the last sentence of that that paragraph again.

Wow! Did that open my eyes. To be honest, I wasn't overly productive that week on the business but I was more so than I would have been. Together, the honesty and TRUST that we have in and with one another is why Gluten Free Homemade Meals meal planning business is going forward.

A few days later, Boo Bear came to me and shared she didn't want to be homeschooled anymore. She's bored. She wants more friends. She wants more to do each day. The business was taking time away from her and she didn't want me to stop going after my dream when she could help me find other solutions. Again, I had to TRUST my child to know her wants, needs and ability to communicate it to me.

Together, we found a wonderful agile learning center 12 miles from our home. She'd visited it once before a year ago, but wasn't ready to attend. Now, a year later, she is ready. She is doing her test visits there this week. Yesterday, she came home and was in tears. She was frightened with my not being there. I held her in my lap, let her unwind, allowed her to tell me all her fears and about 30 minutes into her unloading, SHE began to come up with solutions to her fears.

Boo Bear, at age 7, was able to TRUST HERSELF that SHE would be able to come up with solutions to help combat her fears. She dictated her fear and the solution to me. I wrote them for her. I TRUSTED that she knew what was best for her. I didn't step in. I didn't offer to solve it for her. I trusted that she was the expert on her. If Boo Bear didn't want to return to the school, so be it, we'd find another alternative. She shared knowing I trusted her to make the decision which is best for her allowed her to work through it and determine she does want to return and attend. She has a good time there. She has friends. She has a community.

So, where does all this leave me? Well, kinda trusting in the universe. Last week, I saw a request for gluten free bloggers to receive new gluten free products, review them and post their reviews. I entered. What did I have to lose? I had a feeling it would turn out okay. I TRUSTED in myself and my inner intuition.  I don't  really have a foodie blog here. You know that. I'm here talking about my kids and our journey, which just happens to also involve being gluten free. Sure, I could make that my focus, but I don't.

I woke up at 5am to a purring dog (yes, you read that right, the puppy, Major Muttly, purrs us awake. It's the cutest thing). I started a cup of coffee and decided to read my emails. I mean, who reads their emails before coffee at 5am? I just felt compelled to. Like this little voice was saying: "Go ahead. Start your day." So I did. I TRUSTED my instincts.

And there, in black in white was not only my acceptance of the product for review but also I will be receiving 2 boxes to give away! And best of all, this big time blogger...GF Foodie...LOVES my blog! What?! Are you kidding me? I just sit down and write from my heart. That's all I do. No planning. No calendar. Just me, a cup of coffee, some toast, a sunrise and a keyboard. That's it. I just...wing it.  Anyway, back to the awesome gluten free product boxes..I can't wait until they come to see what's in them!  It's a Love With Food by G-Free Foodie box.  It will be like Christmas in February or March!

And guess what else is on the calendar? Next week, the kids and I are driving to south Florida to do our first trade show. Will it bring in business? I don't know. I hope so. I TRUST it will. Then there is another one the month after. And if those two go well, and bring in business, one a month for the rest of the year if I so chose.

Dear Reader, I ask you this as I wrap up my early morning thoughts:

Where in your life do you need to practice more trust? In yourself, your decisions? With your children? With your spouse? With your life?

Today, as you ponder this question, look over all the wonderful things in your life. Give thanks for them. If one comes your way which isn't so pleasant, give thanks for that, also. Why? Because without the rain there is no rainbow. TRUST things will turn out the way they need to be for YOUR life and those around you.

Trust. A small word attached to such fear. Release that fear and let go!

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Unschooling & Business

Wow! Has it been a busy month! January flew by faster than geese flying south for the winter!  During the month, the family and I decided to start a new business adventure. I happen to specialize in gluten free, dairy free, corn free recipes. It's my passion and it's something I have done for 5 years. On a whim, I decided to see if there would be interest for meal plans with recipes and a shopping list, which I do for my family anyway, on a monthly basis. Boy did I hit a gem! Within 3 hours of sending out my original test email to friends and family and Facebook friends, I was approached to participate in a nationwide tour of Gluten Free & Allergy Wellness Events. Wow! Guest speaker spots, webinar spots, a table, etc. Thus began the flurry of the activity of starting a new business.

There was a website to design. New software to research, purchase and learn. There was information on how to register for an LLC in my new home state of North Carolina. There was learning how to input the recipes, format them, figure out the right layout for the shopping list. There was discovering what is the best flow on the website, creating pages, taking photographs of the meals as we tested and prepared them, uploading said photographs and linking the pages. And then there was reality: I am the mother of two kids with a large age spread (9 years), I am training a puppy, have another older dog, a house to maintain, a husband who also needs attention and laundry! Oh my gosh, WHERE do all these clothes come from!!!!!????

So, you get my life in January, yes? How does this all relate back to unschooling? Easy. You see, as Whole Life Unschoolers, we see learning as a life long adventure. It's not just for my kids. It's for us as adults too. I didn't go off to a class to learn about how to research recipe programs. I figured it out on my own. I didn't take a class on how to design my website. I researched it on my own. I didn't go to a class or an attorney to file my LLC paperwork. You guessed it, I figured it out on my own.

This is how we live our lives. We figure things out as we go. It's not that difficult. My kids live in the real world. I hear so often how are my girls going to know how to operate in the "real world."  Let me ask you this, dear Reader, how in God's creation will sitting in a room, behind a desk or at a table, with people all the same age, with the same experience levels with 1 person telling them what they should know, is going to prepare them for the world we, as adults live in?

The adult world is varied and vast. We interact with others of ALL ages. We do not live in a cubical of only like age people. If you work corporate, you do not only associate with others within a 12 month basis of your age. You speak with everyone from children to elders. No one gives us a laid out schedule of our time, we have to figure out our days ourselves.

That is what my children do, with our guidance. They figure it out. How is my starting the business affecting my family? To start with, it was Hubby who pointed out all the ways doing this will be educational to the girl. This, coming from a man who thought Whole Life Unschooling was poppercosh before he was home with us for 18 months due to unemployment. Hubby pointed out how this will be a great education in economics, entrepreneurship, budgeting of time and money, actual start up application, photography, reading, math, history, etc.

What is the family learning along this journey?
1) Hubby is learning, first hand, how much I really do around the house because he is having to pick up a large majority of it. He doesn't know how he's going to work full-time, keep the house picked up and clean, dishes done, laundry done, dogs walked and trained and keep the meals going on a regular basis over the weekends. He was so overwhelmed after only 5 hours, he retreated to bed!!! I had to come in and gently speak with him about how it is best to ask for guidance and assistance. It make me frightened when he retreats to bed after telling me to go for it with the business. Together, I showed him ways to accomplish the daily goals without being overwhelmed, how to laugh through it and how to feel proud of it rather than overwhelmed. Sunday was much better, even with the Superbowl!
2) Honey Bunny is my photographer. She is an excellent photographer. She is also helping me plan our "costumes" for the trade shows, assisting in the road trip planning with where to stop and enjoy the drive to South Florida and helping me with the financials - observing and seeing how a budget is important. She has been taking a Dave Ramsey's Personal Finance course and is learning, first hand, how credit works, how it best to operate off of cash, and how having a savings account is important and allows for choices without having to pay interest on those choices. She's also teaching me all about social media! Her boyfriend is even doing my data entry on the website.
3) Boo Bear is helping me with the recipe creation. She is creating her own recipes to test, writing them down as we go, working on her reading and fractions in the process. She is also reminding me when to stop and go enjoy the sunshine, listen to the birds and partake in the smaller enjoyments of life.
4) The dogs? Well, they are reminding I can't sit for too long at the computer and I must go out to throw a ball, walk them and get moving. It's easy to stay at the computer and work all day long when one is excited about what they are doing.

For us, this is a family adventure. It's not just Mom out here on my own, doing this by myself. For us, living in community with one another, on an equal basis with a say in what happens in their lives as well as my own, is what works for us. Mutual respect, listening, caring and allowing THEIR gifts to shine through is what is going to make this work. I'm not telling Honey Bunny what she has to do. She has stepped forward and offered. I'm not telling Boo Bear what she has to do. She has stepped into the kitchen and made up recipes on her own. Yes, at 7 I trust her in the kitchen. She takes professional cooking classes, why shouldn't I?

In the end, Whole Life Unschooling is about adding to our lives, about expanding our horizons and encouraging one another's growth through the venue of love, not fear. Am I fearful this will all be a flop and a waste of time and money? Sure I am. Am I going to allow my fear to control me? No. Because even if the business concept turns out to be a flop and a bust, look at how much more we learned along the way!

Life is learning. Embrace it. See it. Love it. Enjoy it!

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Three Secrets To Budget Friendly Multiple Food Allergy Diet

It's a new year. 2015. It has been 2015 for about a week and a half. Have you changed anything drastic about your life? I haven't. I'm attempting to go without grains, nightshades and sugar which adds to my already restricted list of food allergies of gluten, corn and dairy. Both grains and nightshades make my stomach feel weird and I get seriously bloated, and sugar I know I'm sensitive to. But the question often asked is: "Are you making your family do the same?"

No, I'm not. My family does follow the gluten-free diet simply because cross contamination for me lands me in the hospital. Eating gluten causes Honey Bunny's brain to swell and have suicidal urges. The link there is about the gluten-brain connectionYeah, that's not a great one with a teen who already has other challenges. For Boo Bear, gluten contamination results in migraines. Not right away, mind you, but about an hour later. She is in severe pain, crying and miserable. And Hubby? Well, he gets the trots. Believe it or not, even our dogs are gluten free! Baby loses her fur when gluten is in her diet and Major? Well, he's never had it so I don't know.

But am I asking my entire family to go corn, dairy, nightshade and grain free? No way! Unless those foods bother them, I see no reason to. They DO bother Boo Bear and she is going to try it with me.
We will see how she does.

So, how does one Momma help their family regulate what is "safe" to eat? Easy. I meal plan. And when I talk about meal planning, I am talking about a month's worth of meals for breakfast, lunch and dinner. It takes me about 2 hours a month to sit down, plan it out, make sure I have the left over recipes used and try to keep my grocery budget about $600-$700 a month. I've been able to do it for $400 but that was when we were eating mostly beans due to unemployment and had assistance from food pantry lines for produce and meats due to a special donor in my old hometown in Connecticut.

The best resource for me is Emeals. I LOVE this site! It is a pay for subscription site. The options it offers are amazing! Every Wednesday, I get an email with 7 nights worth of dinner, recipes and a shopping list!! They offer everything from Paleo, Gluten Free and Vegetarian to Budget Friendly, Kid Friendly and Diabetic! I save thousands every year using this service! They have recently added a lunch and breakfast menu but I am unable to use them because they are not as diverse as their dinner options.

I also use Supercook when I do in-house shopping. What is in-house shopping you ask? It's when I go shopping in my pantry, freezer and fridge. I do this about once a month. I print out a shopping list from a pre-made grocery list and use it as an inventory list. Rather than write everything down I do have, I just check off what's on the list, notate if I have something additional, and from there hop on over to Supercook and put in what I have. From there, Supercook goes out to the net and finds recipes with my ingredients on hand and lets me know what I would need to add! It's like having a personal chef in my kitchen helping me make up my monthly menu. Who wouldn't like that?

I then open up my template for an entire month of meal planning from The Good Old Days Farm and type in my choices.  It works best when printed because typing it is a bit awkward, but I make do. It isn't really made to be typed in. I kinda force it to happen that way. I have girly handwriting and can't make my writing fit in their nice little boxes. Come to think of it, I've never been able to fit inside a box. Goes to figure...

As I'm writing up my monthly menu, I am making a weekly list of what I need to supplement. I get my meat from a local butcher who offers grass fed beef and grub and peck fed chickens for $4.25 a pound. It's a 30 minute drive for me, but worth the savings. I also attempt to visit a large farmers market which is open all year round about 45 minutes away every other week, and when there buy mostly the $1 bags of fruit or veggies about to go over or bruised and use those to make things like apple sauce, sweet potato chips and pickles with smaller cucumbers. To fill in other things, I use Aldi's and buy responsible priced organic produce.

My kids and hubby don't suffer. We have a house full of fruits and veggies, homemade chips and some store bought chips, we have cookies in the house or I use making cookies and a math lesson in fractions or a science class in chemical reactions. We make gluten free bread about once a week. That's usually gone by dinner. We have well balanced meals. We have variety. We have colorful plates of dinner and we even eat the D word...dessert. Can you believe it? All without dairy or gluten or ... corn. And they taste good.

Lesson here is it IS possible to eat a restricted allergy diet on a budget. You just have to be more creative. Feel free to share below what other tips YOU have on how you save money on groceries.

Happy Shopping Everyone!

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Parental Sex-The Good, The Bad and the Hysterical

Since I've touched upon the subject of teen sex, I thought I'd bring up the subject of Parental Sex. You know, that thing you did to have kids. Remember that? Remember the moments of excitement, new panties and bras? Remember when having sex was an adventure of finding new places and ways to make your partner's toes curl?  Yeah. Me, too.

It's like a foggy memory right about now. Now it's totally different. We've been together almost 9 years. In that time, we've transitioned from mid-30's to mid-40's. Our bodies have changed. We've gone from having elementary aged and infant aged children to teens who want to have sex, and some are probably having sex more than us, and an elementary aged child. We've gone from new panties and sexy bras to some dingy, ugly panty thing I found at Walmart 3 for $1 and a nude bra which has lost it's shape somewhere along the way from being tossed in the dryer among a dozen teenage girl used towels.

And let's discuss sex. I mean, really discuss sex.  Anyone else here find being discovered by their kids more upsetting then having your parents catch you as a teen?! I call it: "Batman Sex." That is sex done with 1/2 your clothes on, if not more, the TV on in the background of some boring sitcom with canned laughter. You keep the old pj top still on just in case someone of a younger age walks in on you. In addition to the 1/2 clothes on, there is also the blanket over the body thing like a cave. You sit on top of him, or he on top of you, and you pull those damn things up almost over your head, creating a "Bat Cave" where no one can see what you're doing. You have sex so fast that he finishes way before you because it's been weeks, if not months, since your last session in the Bat Cave and your ears are open, listening for any feet which may come your direction for which you instantly hop off of one another, pull up your bottoms, and sit up in bed watching TV like nothing was happening, only to be asked for a cup of water from a very capable child who loves to climb on the counters at any other time of the day but right then.

Or, even better, the kids are out of the house. You can have sex with the lights on, naked, and be loud. So exciting! You are finally childless and you spy the dishes in the sink. You know no more will be made for a few hours so you begin to think about all the things you could be doing while the kids aren't home, such as straightening up, dishes, laundry, dinner prep - heck, maybe even another night's dinner prep, and hubby is like: Come on, Bat Girl! I'm READY!  So, you leave the dishes to go into your room. You quickly disrobe and begin laughing-hysterically.

There is my middle aged husband, belly paunch from needing to lose 30+ pounds, standing there in all his...glory...and there I am in my dingy underwear trying to feel sexy. doesn't happen. I just begin to laugh. I can't help it. We look so pathetic! Then, we start to try and make out but I'm still laughing between kisses. Our bodies are like jello. We are jiggling all over. I mean his moobs touch my boobs and I laugh. I can't think of anything more scary than seeing me naked! I've seen myself looking down into a mirror. I know what I must look like when I'm on top and man, that shit is scary! I swear my entire face/neck just slide to the tip of my nose. I think I'm having a sexy type face when he bursts out in laughter and asks me if I have to pee. He tells me the best way to stop the teens from having sex would be for them to walk in on us because it would scare the hell out of them!

At this, we both laugh hysterically, he finishes and I'm still thinking about the dishes that have to be loaded in the dishwasher, the laundry that needs to be switched over and how my entire body, which used to be firm and feel sexy, has become a jello wrestling match all by itself.

We shower, put our clothes on and share a cup of wine, exchanging sweet nothing glances about the silliness we did a few minutes ago. We know it may be weeks or months before we are alone again.  He knows I have on fresh but dingy undies again. I know chances are he didn't grab a fresh pair of boxers.

The kids come home and life is back to normal. But, later on, I sneak into the closet and exchange my current shirt for my Batman shirt and we both laugh hysterically.