Sunday, December 28, 2014

Weekly Intentions

I am loving how this simple task of setting intentions is really redirecting my life. I would encourage all of you who read this to strongly consider adding this to your 'to do' lists. I am finding that I'm definately more intentional about what I choose to give my time to and put my energy towards. Perhaps this is something you'd like to add to your new year resolution list.

We enjoyed a relaxing holiday week filled with rest, time together, time with friends, lots of good food and treats and tons of laughter--my favorite part. Over the passed couple days we've enjoyed the unexpected company of some dear friends we haven't seen in nearly five years and we've picked up without missing a beat--laughing, joking, thought-provoking conversation. Good friends are hard to find.

So how did you week go? Were you able to make the most of your time and energy?

This week beginning I'd like to keep things at an easy pace. Here are the things I want to make priority:

  • Rest & sleep
  • Reading (I have a nice stack of good books)
  • Reorganizing and purging our learning materials and books
  • Setting our whole family goals for 2015
  • Setting personal goals for 2015
  • Preparing for and taking time away (1st trip of the new year)
  • Organizing supplies for handmade goods
  • Creating schedule for starting/completing handmade goods
  • Reevaluating my five streams of income
  • Spending time with friends
  • Meditation and listening time
  • Being fully present--wherever I am, with whomever I am

As the year comes to an end this week, what things will you make time for? Will you be evaluating where you're putting your time, energy, money, etc.? Are you making plans for 2015?

No matter what you're planning, I hope you're giving some dedicated time to it. It's true that what we give ourselves to becomes how our time it used. I encourage you, as I encourage myself, to be thoughtful about it. A short intentional list is more powerful than a lengthly list full of things you're only trying to impress another with--even if that 'other' is yourself.

Wishing each of you all the best as we close out 2014 and open a fresh new chapter, pregnant with possibilities, in 2015. What will you give birth to in the new year?

Be well.

Monday, December 22, 2014

Book Sharing Monday -- Mommy Edition

Typically we share a children's book on our weekly 'Book Sharing Monday' post. Today I'm sharing the books that I'm reading and will be reading over the 'Winter Break' that we're on presently.  I do a lot of reading. One of the things I learned long ago about fostering a love of reading in my children was to let them see me reading.  But not only the books I read to them or the teacher edition books (while planning for them) but books that I'm interested in--fiction and non-fiction.

Today we took our weekly library trip before things close for the holiday and I found a few of the books that have been on several recommended reading lists.

I've already finished one (Sula by Toni Morrison) and half of another (Rainbow in the Cloud by Maya Angelou) and will be getting into the others over the course of the next few weeks.

Here's a list of them in case you're unable to read the titles/authors in the picture above:

Sula by Toni Morrison
Rainbow in the Cloud by Maya Angelou
Too Heavy A Load: Black Women In Defence of Themselves 1894-1994 by Deborah Gray White
A Brief History of Seven Killings by Marlon James
Song of the Shank by Jeffery Renard Allen
Fire This Time: The Watts Uprising and the 1960s by Gerald Horne

What's on your nighstand? What books are you planning on reading during this Winter time? I am always interested in good book recommendations. Do share below. I will let you know how each of them turns out. Have you read any of these? What are your thoughts?

No matter what you're reading, I hope that you, too, are able to find some quiet time with yourself and a book.

Be well.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Weekly Intentions

This week away was just what I needed. At the last minute I wasn't going to go--things got a bit too stressful and I thought it would be easier to just stay put. I'm so glad I didn't listen to those crazy thoughts in my head.

Time away, a change of scenery, quietness, stillness, peacefulness is what my spirit required. I got a bit of that. Rest. Time to read. A bit of laughter. It's what I intended for my week and that's exactly how things went. I was able to recharge surrounded by beautiful views in a mountain lodge. Crisp air, warm sunshine, songs of birds, the rustling of leaves, the view of the moutains--all of these things gave me a bit of calm. As much as I know about nature and how being in it with no real purpose, other than to be, has such a powerful affect on one's well-being, I am always surprised at just how quickly this works. I am thankful for it and intent to do much more of this in the coming weeks and months. This type of healing is what I need on a regular basis.

How did your week go? Were you able to cull out time for the things you most wanted?

This new week starting I have some simple intentions again. (Simple does not necessarily mean easy.)

  • Visit with friends (we have several dates planned for this week)
  • Make treats to share with neighbors & other community members
  • Read
  • Organize things in our home learning space
  • Rest
  • Enjoy my family through laughter, sharing and simply being together
What are your intentions for this week? What things do you want to make priority? I'd love to hear from you and encourage you in it. Why not take a moment to share below?

Be well.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Book Sharing Monday

Today's book is Moses: When Harriet Tubman Led Her People to Freedom
by Carole Boston Weatherford, illustrated by Kadir Nelson

Many of us know the story of Harriet Tubman.  It's one that has been told and retold many times.
What we enjoyed about this one, in particular, was the illustrations.  Kadir was able to convey much of the story in the pictures.  The facial expressions of Harriet, the texture of her surroundings, the colors used--all added to the story for us.

In the end, Harriet Tubman was able to rescue many others from slavery.  She will also be remembered from her bravery.

What books are you reading today?  Link up with us and join in our weekly sharing.  Click here for more information.

Happy Reading!!

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Weekly Intentions

Last week's intentions were met and exceeded.  YAY!

I didn't look at them daily as I've been doing but by Friday I had either walked or run every day. More walking since the children were with me, but I am getting it in.

I've been doing a lot of reading this week and ran across an article, shared by another fellow night-owl, which really encouraged me to go with my body's flow for rest. Yes, I've stayed up later than the initial intention of going to bed early that I set a couple weeks ago but I have felt more rejuvinated this week than ever. I've been able to give myself to some hard, life-changing type of work. I'm seeing that I need this 'dark' time, this 'night' time--where only the glow of the moon and stars are present. Where I can be alone in the silence--alone to think, alone to grieve, alone to hope, alone to dream, alone to grow. There's just something about this alone time--at time. Magical things happen in the darkness. (I will have to share that book, in particular, about the magic of darkness with you.)

Without going into a lot of detail, as this is rather personal, I've been processing through a lot of tough, ugly, heart-wrenching emotions that have come from a few extremely painful situations over the course of this year. This year has pressed me in ways I would have never guessed. I've been stretched and pulled in areas that, quite honestly, I didn't want to do the heavy lifting in. But I'm better for it.  My family is better for it. Those of you who are extended family and friends and/or part of my life--in real life--will benefit from this, too (aren't you excited?). 😄

Another thing I had on my list last week was to LAUGH. I made it a point to talk with the people who not only enjoy laughing but are able to make me laugh. I must say thanks to those who were availabe and ready to laugh WITH me.

How did your week go? Did you meet your intentions? I hope you found the success that you were looking for.

This week is a short list:
  • Rest, daily.
  • Read, read, read.
  • Laugh.
  • Meditate, pray and renew myself in nature.

What is on your list for this week? Are you taking things easy or will you be working towards a goal that needs your conserted effort this week? Whatever it is that you are doing, I wish you well this week. I invite you to share a glimpse of your list below in the comments below. I'd love to hear from you and encourage you as I enourage myself.

Be well.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Thankful Thursday -- Link Up

I am thankful to be able to "be there" for my friends. I enjoy giving. I give in various ways but my favorite is to give in an unexpected way. Over the passed few years my financial standing hasn't allowed for me do to it in the ways I would like so I've had to improvise a bit--be more creative, make things with my hands as well as my heart. Today presented me with such an opportunity. A dear friend is not feeling well and so I have able to make a little care package which included some of my made from scratch 'healing soup.'

I'm thankful for being able to do this today and look forward to the next time I can offer care in this way to another.

What are you thankful for today?

Be well.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Book Sharing Monday

Today's book is Art From Her Heart: Folk Artist Clementine Hunter by Kathy Whitehead and Shane W. Evans.

Clementine (pronounced: clementeen), was a slave on a farm owned by artists.  Remain their after gaining her freedom as a sharecropper.

Clementine was unable to secure art supplies so she used the leftovers the artists left as well as broken things around the farm.

She painted the things she saw and did around the farm.  She was good and starting showing her own work right there at the farm.  An admission fee of $.25 was what she charged.  And people came to view her work.  Others paid for her paintings.  People who saw the value of her work invited her to show in a few museums.

Unfortunately, Clementine was unable to view her own paintings during her exhibition.  She had to wait until the museum was closed to come inside and enjoy her showing.

We've been learning a lot about little known artists and have been amazed at just how many there are.  Have you happen to find out about something you didn't know by reading with your children?  I'm sure the answer is yes!  Would you mind sharing with us?  Comment below and consider joining us every Monday in Book Sharing Monday.  You can find out more here. No matter your decision, keep reading with your children.

Happy Reading!

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Weekly Intentions

I've been laying in bed thinking back over the week that just ended and thinking ahead to what this week will bring. This past week went mostly as planned. There were a few things that I didn't get to on my intention list but I am happy to say that I am not beating myself up about them at all. I was fully present during each of the days and although I did deal with a sudden lack of rest (overly tiredness), I went right on with the flow.

Here are the things I intended to accomplish that I did (yes, focusing on the positive.):

  • Started and completed TWO hat/scarf sets (one more than I intended--YAY.)
  • Reading time for myself
  • Made a list of 'fun' activities to do with the children this week.
  • Contacted three people and spoke about the specifics of community and community building
  • Only ran once this week--but walked three times in addition that it. (smile)
  • Slowed down and enjoyed the moments.
  • Completed one part of our 'making and sending' cards task

I did not get the items I already have to donate up to the donation center nor did I make any time to start the task of weeding out our books--mainly children's books.  I am taking care of the first one today but am thinking that we'll wait until after the season to do the bookshelves.  We'll see.

My intentions for this week beginning today are as follows:

  • Run twice this week; walking at least twice as well.
  • Reading time for myself.
  • Art time with the children (specifically drawing together)
  • Baking cookies for neighbors with the children
  • Getting adequate rest for myself
  • Asking for assistance when I need it (This is something that I need to do on a regular basis. Why not add it to my intention list? As things come up I will practice doing so.)
  • Laugh

How did last week go for you? Were you able to attend do the things on your list?  I'd love to hear about how that went.

What are you intentions for this week beginning? Are you continuing with anything from last week? Are there any tasks or practices that you're adding to your list this week? Are you noticing habits developing around the things you want to add or continue?  I hope so.

This weekly practice of simply writing down and sharing what I hope to do is definitely something that is helping me find and maintain the rhythm I want for myself and my home.

Take a moment when you can to comment below. Should you belong to a community or network in which I do, you're welcome to share with me in person and we can speak further about things then. Either way, I'm wishing you well as you set your intentions and follow through with meeting them.

Be well.

Friday, December 5, 2014

Community vs Networking

I lead a homeschooling community here in my area.  I have done so for about eight years now. When at first it began, it was definitely a networking space. As I got to know other families, mothers specifically, in the area, I used my education background to assist them in making their choice for homeschool.  One of the books I suggested they read as an encouragement for homeschooling was Dumbing Us Down by John Taylor Gatto.

About three or four years after leaving the classroom I read the book. I read it one afternoon while my littles played outside in our back yard. I couldn't put it down and was blown away by all the truth about the system I was trained to instruct in--the hidden curriculum of compulsory schooling. I remember talking to my husband about it all. Even with all our good intentions and adjustments that we made daily--weekly--monthly--yearly, we were still part of passing on the destructive practices taught in school that leave us all disconnected, disjointed and discontent.

Fast-forward to last month, nearly eight years later, when I reread it again for a book discussion within the homeschooling community to which I belong. What jumped out at me during this read had everything to do with community. I've been working and striving for this for a good number of years. Rereading this book gave me better words in which to communicate what I've been building and what makes it different from what we're used to being a part of.

For years I've wondered why so many people are drawn to our community yet are unable to or choose not to remain. Of course there have been lots of valid reasons for this. But at the end of the day, I am often surprised by what I have heard, seen and experienced. Here is what I think about things now. Most all of us, whether we've chosen to homeschool for a year or a few or all the way through with our children, attended school. (Yes, there are those who were homeschooled but there will always be exceptions. I am not speaking about those.) We were taught this "hidden curriculum" of which Gatto speaks in his book. Hence the need to 'de-school' and 'un-school' ourselves.

During my reading and then discussion with other mothers this week, I noted that we are taught how to network. This is the way in which many of us move in the world. We have a network of people whom we know that we can give and receive information. We group ourselves based on these networks--we even call them communities. Take a moment to think about the communities to which you belong. You may belong to a faith community, a school community, a mom's group, a book club, an outdoor club, a traveling group, a buyers' group, a foodie group, etc. You may connect with networks online that are specific to the type of homeschooling you do or curriculum you use, the business you run, the hobbies you have, the music you listen to, the movies you watch, etc.

We are so accustomed to this departmentalization that it's natural to have nice neat places for each of our individual likes, interests, needs, wants, and the lists goes on...  Community, real community, the community to which I speak, is not a network. Many times this networking takes place online so it not only lacks true connectedness but no real personal contact with another. Screens with words have taken the place of the interpersonal interaction we get when being in person (i.e. eye contact, body language, tone of voice).

If I've heard it once, I've heard it a hundred times. Too many of us are busy and engaged in different networks. We believe we're connected an often see this as community. But once we disengage and head back to our homes, we speak about being lonely and feeling alone. I spoke recently with a mother who has a large online following, she stated that although she has a "voice" in that space she lacks real connections, friends for herself and friends for her children. She also shared that she isn't as out-going as she comes across in your blog/vlog. Many of her followers comment but can't offer her any more than that. While she is offering them a service--giving them advice and recommendations--what she actually needs is found in community, not a network.

We are wired to be connected to others. When you feel alone in a crowd it's a sign that you are participating in a network instead of a community.

Here's a list of a few of the things Gatto shared about what a network is. As you read through this list, think about your 'communities' and see if any of these speak to you as they did to me.


  • drain vitality from communities and families
  • don't require the whole person--only a narrow piece
  • center around a specific, rather narrow, spectrum or subject
  • lack any ability to nourish their members emotionally
  • divide people
  • make people lonely
  • what you get at the beginning is all you ever get
  • grow until the individual becomes "lost" in the sheer number of participants
  • competition is its lifeblood
  • friendships and loyalties are transient
  • problems are universally considered to be someone else's problems
  • the end goal is to get out to a better place--to "trade-up"
  • lying for personal advantage is the unspoken standard
  • appear strong but actually weak; seem close-knit yet only loose bonds; suggest durability by usually transient
  • allow for and praise short-cuts
Over the years I've asked those who have been part of this homeschooling group what drew them to it, what has kept them, what has caused them to move on.  This has been very enlightening for me. The group has moved from being a network, to a support group to a community. The numbers have changed as a result. Community demands a certain level of commitment. In today's society, many of us don't have the time to give. There are so many things we want for ourselves and for our children. We've all been trained well in the "hidden curriculum" and so, whether we know it or not, although we may be drawn to the idea of true community, we feel better suited for networks. It's easier to be unknown than known. Easier to drop-in here and there getting quick fixes than investing oneself and resources over a longer period of time.

We often share, among homeschooling families in particular, the tone or vibe of different groups. We've all been in spaces where we've felt judged and/or criticized; unwelcome and even ostracized. We've been on the 'outside' of things and may not have connected well with others who were already a part of the group. Not every network or community is for everyone. This is understood. Yet where are we finding those real connections--the space where we can be fully human--for ourselves and for our children?

Here's what spoke to me, from the book, about what community is:

  • begins with the family
  • requires intimacy
  • allows for the slow, organic process of self-awareness, self-discovery and cooperation
  • requires engagement from everyone
  • must be "all-in"; whole person
  • has authentic relationships
  • requires honesty
  • requires commitment
  • connects people on thousands of invisible pathways
  • is rich and complex
  • can contain people across generations
  • requires accountability
  • is local
  • has natural limits--they stop growing or they die

Since rereading and seeing this information in a new way, I've had several lively conversations with those in a few of the networks to which I belong. Each of the people I've spoken with desires community over a network. We now have better language with which to communicate what we are seeking to share with others who may also be looking for the same.

Networking has its place. One cannot be in community with everyone. There are benefits in knowing who to contact when issues and problems arise; who to reach out to when you need further information; who to connect a friend or neighbor to when they need something. I am not against networks at all. I am simply in need of community more. Community that is local and "in my face." (smile)

What about you?

Perhaps you already have this community to which I speak, and if so, what a rich life you're already enjoying. Perhaps you, too, after reading this, now see better what it is you're in need of, what you're seeking. I would encourage you to go after that. Start with those closest to you--your family and friends. But don't just stop there--reach out to others near you: neighbors, co-laborers, other persons and families in spaces you're already a part of. You may be surprised to find others waiting for your invitation.

Let me hear from you about your thoughts on community. I'd love to read your comments below.

Be well.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Thankful Thursday

I was able to spend the afternoon with my elder-sister-mentor-friend. She spoke so much wisdom into my life today. She listened, as well, offering insight and encouragement. Amid all the hurt, pain and despair she left me with focus, strength and renewed commitment. I am blessed to have her in my life and in my family's lives.

It's much to be thankful for today, albeit later than I normally post. (smile)

I hope today you, too, were able to find things to be thankful for.

Be well.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Book Sharing Monday

Good Morning All!
I hope this Monday finds you and your family doing well. 
Today's book is another book illustrated by Kadir Nelson.
Yes, we just love his pictures.

Nelson written and illustrated by Kadir Nelson

Nelson's beginning were humble yet meaningful.

At a young age Nelson was sent away for school.

In South Africa, where he lived, things were segregated under the Apartheid system. Just like any young children on the 'wrong side' of the benefits of this system, Nelson questioned why things were the way there were.  He was unable to control his anger and sought to bring justice to his community.  He and his friends sought to undermine those in charge by attacking their property.

Although he and his friends were able to remain out of sight for quite some time, they were finally caught and put into prison.

While in prison the people of South African continued to seek justice and equality for themselves.  They protested and demanded that Nelson be released from prison.

That day finally arrived.  Nelson had learned many things during his time away.  His love for his country and people was stronger and he was even more determined to bring equality to all.

These pictures that I've taken of this book do it no real justice.  The words also convey the feelings around this time and story.  We highly recommend this book to you and your family.

Want to link up with us and join in every Monday?  Here's a link with more information about that.  You are also more than welcome to simply add a comment below.  We'd love to hear from you and find out about your reading habits, subjects, etc.

Enjoy the rest of your day.  Happy Reading!!

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Weekly Intentions

This week has been very full--full of emotions; full of reading, listening, talking, thinking and planning; full of reflection.

With the news from Ferguson in, we've sought to make sense out of nonsense. We've looked for hope through all the despair. We've tried to keep perspective while acknowledging the truth about just where things truly stand here in the United States of America.  All while being present with our children, living life, learning, cooking, keeping house, watching nature, doing chores, etc., etc.

I will say, right up front, that my promise to myself about heading to bed earlier than normal each night didn't happen most of the week. There was something that kept me awake most nights, even when I was in bed.  I did get ample rest, though.  After awaking early each morning for personal time of prayer and meditation, I climbed back under the blankets in my bed and slept in most mornings. I even got in a nap one afternoon.  I love that my children know how to care for themselves--this allows for it.  Also, their daddy has been home.

We kept a regular schedule, for the most part. This Monday we didn't have our usual homeschool meet-up so I did some errands that afternoon.  I've completed a lot of the reading that I wanted to do along with additional things--articles about our current events.  I've even found time to blog. I've begun two of the projects I have on my list and should be completed with both of them by this evening--keeping my fingers crossed.  I've also done some work on two of my professional development classes.  I met up with one of the three friends I've been intentional about crafting with and have the other two on the calendar for this new month. (Can you believe it's December already?)

In the midst of all of that, I've been able to give each of my children some individual time where we were able to talk and share and do something they wanted to do with me.  Drawing with The Boy. Reading with my SweetiePie. Talking about life and upcoming events with my PrettyGirl.

I count this week, even with all the emotional changes, a rather successful one.  I am thrilled that a few of my friends have joined me in being intentional about their weeks.  (If you'd like to join in and want a re-cap of where it started, click here.) A couple have shared in the comments section here; others have spoken to me directly or via social media.  What makes all this more than just a list to check off is the accountability aspect of it. Knowing that there are others who matter in my life that will hold me accountable to what I'm setting out to do keeps me mindful.  Although everything may not have taken place as planned, I made sure that I kept most all of the promises I made to myself.

So what does this new week look like?  Well, today is the last day of November. Tomorrow we begin a new month.  The children and I have a little ritual that involves changing the wall calendar and acknowledging the change of month with a new play list on Spodify.  We will do that together this evening since tomorrow morning will be full of getting out of the house.

Here are my intentions for this week:
  • Donate the items I've collected from around the house.
  • Go through two bookshelves and weed books out (for donation).
  • Start and complete another hat/scarf set
  • Reading time for myself
  • Make list of 'fun' activities with the children for this month
  • Make our cards and get them in the mail
  • Contact three people (from list) to talk about the specifics of our community building
  • Run at least three times this week.
  • Slow down and enjoy the moments
I want to continue with some of the things I've already been doing--getting enough rest, meditation/prayer time, being fully present with those I'm with.

How did things go for you this week? Were you able to get through your list? Were there any challenges or unexpected events that kept you from it? How did you adjust?

Let's take a moment to celebrate the little steps we're each making towards the life we want. We are engaging in a powerful, life-changing practice--speaking those things which are not into being.

Now, what are your intentions for this coming week? What plans are you making for yourself and your family? Write them down somewhere where they can been seen by you easily. I encourage you to share them below in the comments section. I would love to know what you're working towards. Your words can encourage the next person reading this post to join us too.

We will check in again with each other next Sunday. I look forward to hearing about your progress.

Be well.

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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