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!!


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