Thursday, November 27, 2014

Thankful Thursday

Good Morning!
I have so much to be thankful for and for that I am grateful.
I'm especially thankful for warmth.
For my children
For anticipation of newness 
For possibilities
For friends who care and invited us to dinner today (big smile)
For neighbors who look out for us
For being able to give to an elder-neighbor-friend
For my partner
For my mother and father
For my siblings
For my grandmother
For my aunts and uncles and cousins
For my communities
For stillness and meditation
For slowly but surely finding my tribe!

For singing birds
For sunshine
For fresh fruit
For good food
For music--good music that speaks to my soul
For good stories to read and re-read
For laughter and cheer even in the midst of pain

What comes to your mind today that makes your heart swell up with gratitude?  I bet you have a long list too.  Care to share a few? Oh, come on, it will just take a moment. :-)  I'd love to hear from you so comment below.

Wishing you a day full of peace, love and hope.

Be well.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Community Building

Unless you've been living under a rock, or have the privilege/luxury to do so, you have heard the news from Ferguson, MO. There are many thoughts and feelings I could write well into the night about.  I will spare you all of that, for now.

I want to take a moment to write about one thing: Community Building.

I read a comment on a social media site of a friend.  She wrote,
"How do you defeat an unjust system? You rely on it to the least extent possible. How do you do that? By relying on each other to the greatest extent possible. Did you get that?"

And I, too, ask, "Did you get that?"

Over the passed several years, I have sought to be about what I'm looking for.  I have talked and hoped and dreamt about it and have been searching for others who are looking for the same. I have been in search of the communities we often speak of from days gone by. The ones where you knew your neighbors. You could go next door to ask for an egg or a cup of sugar. Everyone looked out for everyone else's children. Men-folk did the fixin' of things and mothers always had something good to eat to share. Things weren't always easy but everyone had what they needed and when they didn't others were willing to share what they had so everyone had enough.

We've lost a lot of that. I'm sure you can list along with me reasons why this is the case. We no longer live close to family and friends. Our jobs/career choices lead us to places outside the community we wanted to live in. Times are hard and we can barely provide for our own let alone someone else. We don't have time to do that with all the things we're involved in (in other places/spaces).

I think these are valid. I know there are many more. But I believe the main reason for all those reasons is this:  We've been chasing someone else's dream.

Sit with that for a minute or two. Take a moment to really think about that and all that it means.

What are your dreams? Are they truly yours or are they ones you've been told to dream? Conditioned to dream? 

I recently started writing out my intentions here on the blog and invited you to join me.  Several of you have (Yay) and we're seeing first hand how simple this can be in getting the ball rolling.

Community works much the same way. When we find people we can do life with everyone can benefit.

Unfortunately, this type of community just doesn't happen anymore.  Especially if you're attempting it with people who you're just getting to know. This community building takes time, energy--from all involved, and resources.  It takes risking and trusting and being open to getting hurt in the process. It requires honesty--showing up as who you are; not simply sending your representative.

Too often, in many of the spaces I belong, we do a lot of talking, wishing, hoping, dreaming and not enough trusting, risking, asking, acting, moving--bringing things into being. If you always have a reason or excuse as to why you can't do it or what you need to get first before you can do it or how things need to be for you personally before you can offer something to someone else--we will continue to be in a place with no real community ties.

What I have learned from what has taken place in our nation over the last few days via the media (yes, I realize it's all a show), social media and from listening and talking with people around me is that if we really want things to be different we are going to have to do it differently.  There are ways of being that we already know work. Our elders have taught them to us or at least tried to. We may not have valued them then but we can reach back to that knowledge and pick it back up.

It's going to be hard work--there are no shortcuts to this kind of community building.

'Living simply,' 'being green,' 'living off the land,' 'unplugging'--all of these are ways of reconnecting ourselves to what our grandparents knew and lived daily. (If you're a millennial, perhaps it's your great-grandparents?) You purchased a few things that were needed and you made or grew everything else--or you knew someone who did and bartered with them.

I'm hearing over and over again that our money is where our power lies. If this is true, then shouldn't we be spending it differently? Wouldn't budgeting be worth our time? Why aren't we spending it wisely and within our own community? I know. These answers aren't always easy. I'm rethinking my choices now, too, and looking to make better choices myself. I know I have a certain level of skills and a good amount of talents. I personally several others who do as well. If we decide to put what we have together, our resources will automatically multiply.

Side note: I see, all to often, that we run in droves to the dominate culture to [re]acquire many of these skills. (To list a few: gardening, canning, cooking, sewing, quilting, knitting) We invest our money in classes and workshops in which they show us what many of our parents and grandparents already knew/know. Might I suggest that if we must spend money, we spend it with those from our own community first? There are many mature adults who would love to share their skills with you and your children, if you'd only ask.  Yes, another reason why community building is vital for our future.

Another friend I've spoken to over these passed two days said that she has been hesitant about this level of community because there are "so many people" out there that just "want to take what you're offering" and have no intentions of giving back.  Sadly this is true. We have been groomed into 'consumers at all costs'. Typically when we show up into a space we want to first know what it's going to cost us and then what we're going to get out of it. This way of thinking doesn't translate well when we're looking to build an intentional community. We'll never fully reap the benefits from it nor will we make the connections with others that are meaningful. If we change our perspective and ask instead 'Does this community match up with what I want for myself/my family?' followed by "What can I bring and add to what is already here?" We will probably move closer to what we're hoping for and will receive more in return than we can tangibly show.

Community building is tough, sometimes lonely, work.  But the rewards totally outweigh the hard work involved.  I guess this is why I continue to do so.  I have found success in some spaces; others, not as much.  But this type of investment is what is required.  This is the change that I see that can have lasting affects on our community, our children, our future.

I am even more determined to connect with and draw others into this intentional community I am seeking to grow. You may hear from me personally over the next few weeks. It's important to figure out just how we can all work together, what resources we have, what skill-sets we bring and ultimately what our dreams are for ourselves and our children. Not every community is for everyone. However, we can be of encouragement and support to each other. We can tell the truth. We can honor each other with our wisdom and insight. We can listen. We can share. And ultimately, move forward together.

Be well.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Book Sharing Monday

It's Monday again and that means we have another book to share with you and your family.  As I shared last Monday, we have been learning about little known artists with our homeschooling community.  Here's another one we found at one of our libraries.  It's Harlem's Little Blackbird: The Story of Florence Mills by Renee Watson, pictures by Christian Robinson.

As a young child, Florence enjoyed music.

At this time in history, things were segregated.  Florence and her family and friends were unable to enjoy the shows and performances.

She imagined being able to sing on a stage and seeing her name in lights on Broadway.  Her dream did come to fruition.

Her singing career didn't last as long as she had hoped. She still gave of herself despite this.  She spent time caring for sick children in hospitals (singing and reading to them) and giving food to those who needed it.

My children noticed that being famous isn't the most important thing. Although she "faded" away in people's minds, she did a lot of good that should be remembered.

What are you reading with your children today?  Have you found something you'd like to share with us?  We enjoy reading and love recommendations.  Why not join us--more info here.  You are also invited to leave a comment below.

Happy Reading!

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Intentions Review/Preview

If you have been with me this week, you know that at the top of the week I wrote out some specific things I wanted to put my energies toward.  You can take a moment to read them here if you're just joining me today.

I'll wait. (smile)

There is something about writing things down and then putting them out there.  Whether it's a private journal page or a public blog--getting those ideas, thoughts, plans out of one's mind and onto paper gets things moving forward.

My goal was to not just write them down but also share them so that I would have some sort of accountability.  I also wanted to honor the promises I've made to myself.

This week I have been successful in completing several of the tasks I set out to do.


  • gotten up earlier each morning and spent time alone in meditation and prayer.
  • made time each day to read--for myself.  
  • read three evenings with the children (two of them, they opted to read to each other)
  • made time twice this week for writing on my projects
  • identified the projects I want to work on and gathered the needed supplies to make them happen.
  • worked on one of my professional development classes twice this week.
  • made it to bed most evenings by 11pm. (This is huge, if you know me.)
  • connected with each of my friends and have plans on the calendar to get together with each of them.
  • been more present with my family this week.
No, everything didn't happen exactly as I had thought--nothing is life really does, does it?  But I felt more empowered this week. I felt more like myself.  I have been clear with my family about these intentions and what that involves from me and what expectations I have for them making room for this--some things are new, others just haven't been in place for a while.

I'm learning that being able to articulate these intentions and expectations has assisted me in setting new boundaries within my home.  Everyone is now old enough to do their part and each of us needs to see how each one is needed in making things run smoothly.  This example that I'm setting is not only good for my well-being but also for my children to watch and mimic.

This practice at home is strengthening me and allowing me to continue in setting and maintaining healthy boundaries in other places with other people.  I can be 'all-in' without 'giving it all.' And that is growth.  I made some requests in a community that I am typically a 'giver' in--something that I don't often do.  Whether or not I was heard (which I believe I was) doesn't matter as much as it was for me to make the request.  Boundary setting is a powerful thing.

For this coming week, I am setting these intentions:
  • I will continue in making my rest/sleep a priority.
  • I will make time each day for personal reading.
  • I will be present with my family.
  • I will seek the best time for my personal growth and development classes.
  • I will find time within our schedule to create those hats and scarves.
  • I will continuing in awaking early for personal time in meditation and prayer.
This week will not be our typical week. We will celebrate one of my favorite holidays--Thanksgiving.  Not because it has anything to do with Pilgrims and Indians, but because it's a time to reflect on what has been, what is and what will be--and be thankful.  It's a time to be with family and dear friends.  It's a time of abundance, sharing, giving and showing gratitude.

We will also not be meeting with our homeschooling community or seeing the people we typically see over the course of the week.  My intention is to slow down a bit, too, and enjoy the time we have together.

What intentions did you make last week?  How did they show up for you over the course of the week?  Are you going to continue in them or make some adjustments?  What are you intentions for the coming week?  How will you use your time?  I'd love to hear from you so take a moment to comment below.

Be well.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Our Week in Review

This week went by quickly.  I guess because of how I've reshaped myself in it.  (I'm making time over the weekend to reflect on the intentions set for this week.)

Monday was spent with our homeschooling community. We are reading a few books together over the course of this year. A few of us completed the book, Calm and Compassionate Children: A Handbook by Susan Usha Dermond. Our discussion was centered around the importance of preparing our environments for our children and all that entails. With that being the focus, I made it a point to be early so as the purposely set up our space. We changed how things usually flow so the everyone would take note of it.  It worked. Many of the comments made during our sharing time spoke to each of the things we intentional adjusted.  Then we encouraged one another to try some of the things mentioned in the book in their homes--one or two.

As far as my children are concerned we spent time learning more about birds and sharing what they'd learned so far with their peers. They also got time to play and talk freely. The treat during their time together was watching a movie together before our time was over. (This was not a typical Monday for sure.)

Tuesday is typically my 'recovery day' from being out of the house all day on Monday. It's also the day the children take it upon themselves to study further and get into the things they enjoy doing most. We passed by the library to drop off and pick up books and over all had a pretty calm day.

Wednesday we ran a few errands in the morning before meeting some friends for lunch. As I am never always sure just who will be joining us when I invite our friends (different schedules and commitments), I decided not to share with my children just who they'd see. They were all pleasantly surprised to see some faces they hadn't seen in awhile along with those we see regularly. A great time was had by most (I say most because the little one in our midst spent a good bit of time in tears.)

During errand running, I was able to secure some yarn for the gifts I'm making this season. I caught a sale too--which makes it even better.

Thursday we celebrated the birth of my eldest daughter. She has been with us now for 12 years. The day was full of music, some dancing, cooking and baking, opening cards and gifts and speaking to dear ones on the phone.  We did do more study for our bird unit and worked on our 'Gratitude Garland.' One of the rituals we do around birthdays is taking a 'Last Day as [age]' Photo Shoot the night before the birthday. Then on your birthday we do another photo shoot to start the new year.  I started this years ago when things were getting crazy with moving and unpacking and not having time to scrapbook or record things as I'd wanted to. Also, since we don't take 'school pictures,' I wanted a way to document visually each of their ages. It's something they look forward to each year. So do I.

Friday has been, well, much like most Fridays. We're glad it's here as it's the beginning of the weekend--time for rest, rejuvenation and whole family time. We've been working on completing our list of chores--everyone has their specific jobs and then jobs they do in pairs. We also have a few 'entire group' chores to get to as well. I put on some music and we danced as we cleaned--which made cleaning time move along quickly. We completed our tasks today in just an hour.

I've been in the kitchen as I got a hankering to cook.  We'll be enjoying an early dinner of acorn squash, sweet potatoes, black rice with coconut milk, black-eyed peas, corn and green beans.  Oh, and some corn bread.  Yeah, I don't know just want got into me--perhaps I'm just hungry.  It smells so good.  So, I'm going to end now so we can enjoy it.

Here are a few pictures that capture some of the things I just shared about.

Our 'Prepared Environment' at the Rec Center

Lunch with friends

Yarn I snagged on sale

Working on Bird Lap-book

Lego construction

Researching Blue Jays

drawing a dragon

Birthday Photo Shoot
Photos by HeatherJamesPhotography

12th Birthday Cake

Preparing fruit to put in our morning smoothie

Making the leaves for our 'Gratitude Garland'

This post is linked up with Weekly Wrap Up over at Weird Unsocialized Homeschoolers.  You can find out more about linking up yourself here or read the blogs of those who link up weekly.

Hope your week was filled with fun, learning and together time.  I'd love to hear from you so comment below.  If you're hopping over from the link-up do say hello. Thanks.

Be well.


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