I can’t believe that a year ago my daughter Gia was still struggling with schoolwork.
Oh my goodness, what a tangled mess we used to live in. She hated standard curriculum, would zone out if I suggested movies or educational videos like those her sister was using. She was staggering, literally staggering, through a few programs we’d found and she would often make herself sick by giving herself pressure to do things that felt so un-natural to her. Often I would suggest unschooling to her, but this worked against her desire for structure, for routine.
We know we both work well with routine and rebel against it at the same time.
I relate so much to my girl. We look a lot alike, but more we learn alike. I was home-schooled off and on when I was growing up, and the concept of sitting and memorizing what people told me to, without any explanation why, without any dramatic build so I could feel it in my soul… it was like pulling teeth!
But last year we started the grade 7 Oak Meadow curriculum with my girl, and it all changed.
Because of the program, we’ve watched her develop in confidence, focus, concentration and self awareness. She’s come into her own understanding, whereas before that she often felt lost in the middle-child- shadows.
Last week her grade 8 curriculum arrived, and I know I will be diving in to share with you the new developments as she embarks on this last year before the “High School” topics (after grade 8 Oak Meadow does full high school topics, which are no longer divided up in years, but subjects only.). We actually chose to get our girl the curriculum a grade behind her “registered” year, as the information in this curriculum is so vast and varied I wanted to make sure she felt confident as she dove in.
It It worked. She doesn’t feel “behind” anymore as she now just sees it as years rather than grades.
Anyway, I wanted to share with you a few in depth observations I’ve had about the grade 7 program before I start to get excited about grade 8…
I know it’s going to happen!
The grade 7 is divided up in 4 books/subjects and also came with a teacher’s manual which we both found helped a lot. There was also a plethora of fiction and non-fiction paperbacks to support the material in the curriculum. My daughter started off scheduling her days with different topics… Monday, Wednesday and Friday for some and then the rest on Tuesdays and Thursdays… but this soon changed.
She fell in love with the world history and decided to go full steam ahead. Therefore she worked on World History and English together… (as in this year the material supported each other) and then did Science and finished up with Math. The subjects were as followed:
I’ve always loved History, but I’ve always seen it in a timeline, a progression of time where one thing happened and then another. I never realized how limiting this is… especially when you consider all the different things that happened all at once in various places around the world! We’ve been creating a tunnel vision on culture, sticking to a timeline that was relevant to our own perspectives. This is what impressed me so much with the grade 7 World History, and why I think it made such an impact on my daughter; it moved through concepts rather than time.
Take the industrial revolution, which was a major theme. From learning about Romans and Egyptians, the curriculum seamlessly took her through the Renaissance and into the 1800s and then into the age of flight and modern technology. She went from studying ancient philosophy to asking how television and information overload affected her own mentality. At first my linear mind would get baffled, asking how they would fit in all what they were trying to cover, but it all built upon themes rather than time. How organic! Then, my daughter’s creativity was encouraged as she did various projects from a stop motion presentation of Henry VIII, to a project on cars, (which she actually loved to do). She created flags, maps, wrote essays and poetry all to support the knowledge she was absorbing rather than memorizing.
My kids have always embraced English as a topic, so at first my daughter felt like it could be quite a breeze working through a grade 7 English. She read the required books in lightning time and wrote the projects in conjunction with the World History. What she wasn’t expecting was to make such leaps in her writing. Essay writing has always been a bit of a struggle to implement with our homeschooling. Often my girls have done the required reading, but then the projects and essays would fall to the wayside. I’ve been so eager for them to have a true essay writing skill, since I know how this can affect them once they go into University or pursue their post education. Oak Meadow’s English did just the job. My daughter now has a fuller grasp of how to relay information, how to break down topics, questions and use language to convey meaning. It was amazing to watch the transformation in her work.
I think my daughter’s unschooling years created a strong foundation in her science without her even knowing it. From her time of living on our homestead she’s consistently been learning about erosion, climate, water, ph balances, energy sources and weather systems as well as biodiversity, habitats and the living Earth, all which were topics covered in this year’s science. However, this grade 7 curriculum was able to put it in easy to flow through mini sections with nice little test questions at the end to help her feel confident in the information. The exercises were kept creative, with stories to be written, interviews and research to conduct and it was really created with the concept that life on the planet is fascinating, exciting and important to understand for everyone who lives on it. I think my daughter had an interesting push me-pull me reaction to the science as she didn’t know how much science she already understood and at the same time, she was surprised how “NOT BORING”, real science is. The study of life, how things work, how everything is connected and how things rely on each other at the deepest of levels… it really is magic! (and I think that excited her.)
So when my mother homeschooled me she used to always say that “as long as I had a grade 7 math” I’d get along alright. Well, finally after working through the grade 7 math with my daughter, I can finally get along! (haha!)
My brain has rebelled against math my whole life and when I knew my daughter was the same I have to admit, I was slightly panicking at the idea of working through this subject with her. The rest of the curriculum was pretty independent, we’d touch base, but really she was able to complete her projects mostly on her own. (As a work at home mom who is also homeschooling a reluctant 8 year old, I appreciated this SO much!) But the math we decided would be the one we sat and did together. Both as nervous as the other we were so happily surprised when we could actually understand the tasks at hand. We would use her boogie board to figure it out before putting our answers in and the easy to follow answer key in the back helped too.
There was only one problem my daughter experienced… I was so excited to finally be understanding grade 7 math, she had to ask me to stop from working out the answers. Sigh! (But I think that it's a good sign that she got me to stop. Awhile back she would have done anything to get out of doing it herself!)
I so wish I’d had a curriculum like Oak Meadow growing up. It has the perfect combination of creative projects, inspiring self contemplation (so the student feels they are self developing as well as learning facts) and concrete learning, so a student feels they are moving forward through their school years.
I really would highly recommend it to anyone who is looking for balance in homeschooling.
Right, now on to grade 8!
Oh and if you want to learn more about Oak Meadow you can learn more through their website. You've never met a more helpful staff who are always ready to answer your questions. (Oh, and I happen to know there's a great Valentine's day sale coming up, so keep your eye out!)
The Canadian online Homeschooling conference started this weekend. (you can still register, simply visit here for info. It’s on for a full week, has incredible resources, seminars, learning opportunities and offers on. It really is a chance in a million. I'm so happy to see it being put together as it has been!)
Whenever I see an event like this, with such a range of curriculum choices and perspectives, I am reminded how happy I am to be home schooling my children during this time.
I myself was home-schooled a lot of my childhood (have I ever told you that?) and my mom was left with very little choice to what programs I could be enrolled in.
Back then it was workbooks… really, really boring workbooks which left no room for imagination what so ever. My children are shocked at my stories of standing in front of the basement door which had a multiplication table poster hanging on it. I would recite and recite with tears streaming down my face.
We worked through some interesting approaches with what was available, I must admit:
My older sisters trying to teach me about the planets by using balls in our living room. My mom buying a set of Harvard Classics telling me that if I read them all my education was done. Oh, then the famous time I had to take my GED at 16, as the agreed way to get me into the College Theatre Program I’d set my heart on...
It was the biggest, boring-est workbook to date!
But apart from being bored, I often felt restricted with the subconscious belief that I had to go through a back door to succeed or cheating a system.
I often felt like I wasn’t getting something.
That I just couldn’t grasp certain things.
As I continued my education, going through College and University, that disappeared, but I knew as I overcame certain stumbling blocks, that homeschooling was a wonderful opportunity, but it needed better tools in place for parents.
I want my kids education process to set them free not hold them back. (I got accepted into the theatre program by the skin of my teeth. My math scores were shameful.)I want them to be able to move through exams, essays or life experiences with a confident flow, not because they are so used to doing them, but because they aren’t afraid to make mistakes or to learn how things work.
I have 3 kids and each one learns completely differently, as I’ve often mentioned. But one clear element remains the same;
The mission here is to learn how to learn.
. I don’t want them to feel intimidated to make a mistake, to have to make a certain mark, I want them knowing that mistakes are gifts, because (as all scientists know) they give us knowledge of what works and what doesn’t. Mistakes are as important as successes.
My 8 year old went outside in the snow yesterday and built a snowman for an hour and a half… alone. This is new patterns for him and I’m excited to seeing him exploring them. When he came in, I shook off his wet clothes, handed him his hot chocolate and told him… no reading practice today unless he wanted to. He didn’t.
“I build snowmen for schoolwork.” He laughed. “I have the best life.”
At 8, I want him living creatively, productively and knowing the satisfaction of learning something new. I want to see him playing to his hearts content… which since his sisters are older he’s always struggled to find the rhythm to. He learned jingle bells on the piano the other day and it was like a light going on. He still forgets what fun is found in learning. Same as the other day when he did some reading practice, he was so satisfied to see the new reality that he can actually read, having been stuck in the pattern of thinking he couldn’t.
This has been so re-occurring in my children’s individual journeys through home schooling. The concept of “schoolwork” is often seen with negative connotations and that creates a block around how they learn.
At one point with my second daughter we actually stopped using the term schoolwork, instead it was called Pineapple every time we had to do it.
She was so much like me when I thought boring workbooks was the only way my kids would learn. She would just lay on her book and cry.
But then, as I've mentioned, we discovered Oak Meadow, which fits her like it was custom made. We put her a year “behind” so she could get a strong, confident start in the program and she is like a different girl. She’s confident, she’s honest and upfront, she doesn’t hesitate in mistakes anymore or feel like she has to reach for a brass ring.
Rather, Oak Meadow has allowed schoolwork to transform into Learning… and that is the life process, right?
(by the way, Oak Meadow is sponsoring one of the days on the homeschooling conference and I think they may be having some nice treats to go along with that… and I can’t recommend the program enough!)
Our eldest girl… oh she dreams of high school.
Well actually I think as she gets older she’s starting to see the bigger picture of University and other adventures… but still she’s eager to jump into life. She sometimes starts to spin about opportunities missed by walking the home-school route. And yet, I always remind her, homeschoolers are sought by Universities for their ability to self regulate and learn. She has the ability to be building her blog at the same time as working on her algebra. She loves to push herself and now her interests and passions are being thrown into the mix of her educational pursuits. Music and blog writing has made the “schoolwork” list, helping her remember that “work” doesn’t always have to be things that we don’t like. Pleasure, learning, work and
I’m interested to see how she works with teachers who expect her to get things right, as in how they want it, rather than how she knows she can learn it. She was working through core-curriculum work, but I love watching how she suddenly finds different solutions to problems and learns things quickly, ready to bounce off to the next adventure.
Homeschooling has truly allowed my kids to grow confidently, self aware and with a joy in actual learning. Also, I’ve learned so much along side of them.
Actually that’s another thing about homeschooling. It has taught me that I don’t have to stop learning as well. There’s no expiration date on knowledge. (And thanks to Oak Meadow, I think I finally understand grade 7 math!)
Enjoy the Canadian Online Homeschool Conference and, feel free to comment and let me know what your greatest take away was! I'd love to know.)
I often talk about the law of attraction and, although, manifestation can have different connotations for different people, we all manifest daily, within each moment.
It’s just that we can live life more consciously and aware than we often do.
When we set an intention, we hold a thought, an idea, of something we would like to experience, or a shift in how we feel or live.
This intention has a feeling space, and when we use our imaginations to actually FEEL that feeling, our spirits, our hearts and even our cells within our bodies, don’t know it’s not actually happening.
Have you ever played an imaginary game with your child?
It’s so funny, because I so often resist playing pretend, and I don’t do it half as often as I wish I did… but when I do, when I actually get involved in a game with my kids, oh there’s nothing better. My son and I used to have a game where we had a magic car that would time travel and turn into whatever we needed. We rescued animals and saved the world on numerous occasions. The amazing thing was within that moment, there was always a moment, when we both just let go of our current perspective and lived within that game. We both would see the animals in danger, we both felt the adrenaline of excitement as we pulled them into our car for safety.
It’s the same when I write.
11 years ago I wrote a novel. I still work and re-work it and its sequel, one day they will make it out into the world. But what is amazing is how alive the characters are in my mind and heart. They are so dear to me. I love how they live, how they work as a family. I love how they communicate and share their home. Strangely enough, shortly after writing the book, similarities started to appear within our own lives and those of my characters. Even now, after all this time, my husband and I will laugh when something from that book “comes true.”
It’s not that it was planned that way. I didn’t visualize the story with the intention of painting out my own life, rather the FEELING of the stories and characters, the energy the books carry, held. It was like they became part of my signal that radiates out, and since I visit it often, sometimes it becomes my own.
There’s a great quote by Ralph Waldo Emerson:
“We become what we think about all day long.”
And this is really what I want to talk with you about today. Because the resistance I feel in playing an imaginary game with my son, or writing a story, comes from the resistance to focusing in on one energy feeling space. Like standing on the edge of a diving board, hesitating to jump, I can often resist diving into full focused experiences in life.
We live in fast paced worlds, we are all in information overload, and we are being bombarded by the different stories that are fed to us. We have our phones, our Facebook feeds and our full lives. We rarely hold on to a feeling space of one thought or story for more than a few moments. We jump from focus to focus and to-do lists items like they are hot coals and we’re worried we’ll get burned if we focus on one thing for too long.
So, when do we create our stories?
When do we become what we think about, when we think about everything?
We set New Year Intentions and consider them set, but I want to encourage you to visit them every once in a while. I’ve been visiting Thrive as my word of 2018 often, and really asking myself to dive deeper into my personal feeling of that word. How does it feel within my parenting, my marriage, my work, my spiritual practices?
My meditation practices isn’t just about trying to calm a scattered mind, rather I’m aiming to focus in on feeling the vibration of how I want to FEEL. Thrive isn’t a word, rather it’s a story.
My story and I’m exploring myself as my own character and how she navigates through life.
The other day in the facebook group I was telling everyone about the concept of 17 seconds.
It only takes 17 seconds of feeling a focus to allow it to take hold and grow into a following thought.
It’s surprising how difficult this practice can be with a modern day, over active mind. Abraham Hicks introduced the idea into their teachings of the law of attraction years ago and it’s one my husband and I use regularly.
(Jeff, my husband, actually created a mp3 tool awhile ago to help with maintain the focus without thinking of the actual 17 seconds time frame.
It’s a simple triangle ting which is struck every 17 seconds over the course of 10 minutes. The goal then is to simply hold focus from ting to ting allowing it to build in your imagination and vibration. It made the exercise so much easier.
I mentioned it on the group because I was finally able to get the MP3 tool over to my website for you to download for $1.99 if you wish.)
So, if we hold a feeling space, sparking it by using our imagination and experience, for a short of period of time as 17 seconds, then the energy is strong enough to attract more like minded thoughts. If we hold it for 4 sections of 17 seconds, so 68 seconds, then it starts to appear in our physical reality and it becomes part of who we are.
I never know if this sounds too simple or too difficult. How do you find the focus you wish to experience? How do you know what to give energy too? As scattered, information overloaded people, how do we decide?
Here’s a couple of steps how to find focus and how to dive off of the spiritual diving board.
1) Go simple. Go general.
This isn’t about castles in the clouds, this is about simple feeling spaces of Relief, happiness, and fulfillment. One of my favorite spaces to visit when I want to give focus to a feeling is a wood over in England. No specific wood, it just feels like an English wood. I walk through it, sit by a stream and feel myself relax and be present, for no other gain than because it feels good.
2) Set aside some time, or put post-its around to remind yourself, to practice holding focus for 17 seconds.
If you are doing dishes and see the post-it, 17 seconds of having soapy hands while you imagine something that feels good does the trick. 17 seconds is too short of time to not have time for… and each 17 seconds that passes with you holding specific focus, is being built upon anyway. You might as well do it consciously.
3) If you decide to grab the Mp3 tool, even just starting with playing the ting in the background helps.
I sometimes keep it on while I work, as it draws my attention back to my thoughts. On days I can’t find focus, I simply listen to the ting, much like breath focus work, and follow the vibrations of the triangle, until I can’t hear them anymore. Once I find focus then I can start setting intention with finding a feeling.
4) Journal, write, brain dump.
And then write your feelings out some more. It all starts with awareness to how things feel, so that you can consciously choose how you wish to feel by focus.
5) Allow yourself to play.
Imagine, daydream, and stretch out of the day to day. No harm can come from playing and experiencing different things through the power of your own mind. Our children do it all the time, why shouldn't we?
My life has become so much deeper since I started to allow myself to dive deeper into the intention of my focus. You are allowed to interrupt thought processes to refocus to things that feel better.
You are allowed to pursue feeling relief and feeling good. Because when we feel better we allow ourselves to be the parents we want to be.
As parents, we can observe our children, watch their behaviors and mannerisms and basically try to guess how they truly feel about something they are experiencing. Sure we can ask them honest questions, but deep down, we know there’s a chance the answer being given is the one our children assume we want to hear.
Often our children might not know their inner truths themselves.
In my own experience, it is only in the still of the night, when all is calm, that I can quietly feel my way to how things are unfolding for my children and if there’s any new ways I can support them.
Early on this year in one of these moments, I suddenly found myself feeling the need to help our, then 13 year old, daughter, Gia, and I’m so glad that once we acknowledged the issue, we were able to allow in such a glorious solution.
January 2016 was a strange month in our homeschooling journey. She’d pushed herself through some painful lessons on line before Christmas the month before, had plowed through a workbook that had given her no joy. Our Gia is our natural joy-lover. She has always loved to have fun, to create, to play… and to explore the world with a passion. I’ve struggled in meeting this need over her years of homeschooling, since I’ve never been fully able to break the belief of schoolwork being something you just “had to do” and not enjoy. But, for Gia, this had to be different.
Her older sister has always loved the challenge of pushing herself, of the challenge. She was teaching herself to read by the time she was 3 and now at 15 finds university courses exciting. Gia, who’s only 10 months younger, has always been pulled between her natural tendency to play as a process to learn and the pursuit of changing her natural ways of learning to “catch up” to her ambitious sister.
I was becoming more and more aware of how this inner battle was affecting Gia’s confidence and sense of self, and so, with that I reached out to Oak Meadow.
10 months later, having just completed her grade 7 curriculum in the program, Gia will admit to feeling completely different
. The other day, as we were discussing 2017, she described the year as the one where she woke up and became sure of herself. Not only did she complete her year’s work (something that usually has had to fall to the sidelines for her own sense of sanity) it also helped her gain the focus and clarity to launch her own stop motion Youtube channel, where she’s now helping other kids all over the world make their own movies in this patience demanding artform.
We decided that it was important to wrap up the year properly, and as a final project for 2017 Gia has written a review of the Oak Meadow Grade 7 curriculum to share with you. It’s really exciting for me to have her here, expressing in her own words what I’ve been trying to articulate for awhile. Anyway, enjoy!
I’m Gia and I’ve been homeschooled my entire life.
Up until this last year, I’ve felt very unorganized and I didn’t like schoolwork. I always felt so stressed when trying it and I often ended up quitting a curriculum, meaning I would only do schoolwork in little batches. If I had a workbook or more traditional curriculum I felt that they gave me the information and gave me the questions I had to answer but they didn’t explain it in a way I understood so I never knew what I was doing.
Oak Meadow’s grade 7 curriculum has kept me interested all year. There were days when I’d think I wouldn’t be interested, but then when I got into it I would enjoy it. Ever since starting Oak Meadow I’ve become really confident in my writing and essays. I feel like I’m where I’m supposed to be with my age, which I was struggling with for awhile.
It understood me from a level that no other curriculum did. Other curriculums taught me like I was at school and made me extra stressed. I never absorbed any of the information, but Oak Meadow met me on a more personal level, using examples from real life and allowing me to write stories around the topics, so I feel them rather than just have to memorize facts and data.
What was my favorite project?
I was so proud of my automobile project, which was kind of surprising. I really pushed myself and made a great presentation of the information. I learned about how the automobiles changed over time and about the fuel through history. I never thought that was something I would be interested in, but I was!
What was my favorite topic and what did I learn?
My favorite topic was World History, which was also really surprising, since I’ve never been interested in history. I liked the structure of it. I liked how I would read about something, then do a project about it, and then go back to reading more in detail. It kept me interested and really built upon the topic.
The last project was really cool. I went back through the whole curriculum and reviewed all the projects. I got to pick out influential people from history and expand on them. I picked Alexander Graham Bell and Thomas Edison, because the project was how the world be without their work and they made such a difference in the world we live in today.
The Grade 7 English section made me feel more confident in my writing since it had a section on writing mistakes and what they were and why people got afraid to make mistakes. They gave guidelines on how avoid the mistakes and I became a lot more confident in using those guidelines. I looked back at all my work since the start of the Grade 7 year and I could see myself get significantly better.
I read a number of books with the Grade 7 curriculum, both fiction and non-fiction. My favorite fiction book was Summer of The Monkeys, which was a fun book. (a few of the other books were quite serious and sad, which I don’t usually read because they make me uncomfortable. I usually avoid them, but I still read the ones offered in OM.) My favorite non-fiction book was the one on Amelia Earhart, because I learned a lot about her and now I feel quite educated in her life story and in early flight.
I now know the life cycle of stars!
I loved how I was able to write stories in the Science Curriculum as well, as that’s a really good way for me to learn. Whenever I write my stories I really felt I followed the guidelines of the curriculum completely and that makes me feel really proud of my work.
(I’ve never felt proud of my work in any other curriculum! When I completed a project in this year of Oak Meadow it made me feel so satisfied.)
I’m still finishing the math section, because I fell a little behind in that topic so I could really dive into the World History and English curriculum which was exciting to me. (I love how I didn’t have to go in order, I could work topic by topic if I wanted to.)Math has always been a struggle for me, and although Oak Meadow helps me understand it better than other workbooks. I still have to take it slowly. I do love how they offer the workbook with the test and practice pages separate from the guidebook.
What I learned about myself?
In some projects I feel I didn’t put enough energy in them, especially in the beginning ones. It was like I didn’t quite get how it worked, but then it clicked. I think I needed to be reprogrammed, because I had to change my view of schoolwork as a painful thing I had to do into a learning experience which could actually involved learning stuff and being interested instead of being in constant pain!
The Grade 7 curriculum also made me more independent when using it. At first I didn’t feel confident enough to take the lessons into my own hands so my mom helped me plan everything out each week, but gradually I was able to do it all by myself, planning out and scheduling out each week. It made me feel so much better in what I do now and gave me life skills for planning and organizing. I now use those skills in other things that I do, which makes life so much easier. (I can’t stand it when things aren’t organized, which I didn’t want to admit until I started to work with Oak Meadow. The grade 7 curriculum gave me the tools I needed to really shine.)
I would suggest Oak Meadow to anyone who is having trouble with schoolwork that follows a core-curriculum, because it reprograms the mind to be open to learning in a fun and interesting way.
Gia is 14 years old. Feel free to visit (and subscribe to) her youtube channel where she artistically (and patiently) creates and shares her Ever After High Stop Motion videos as Everstone Studios.
NOTE- As a Canadian, I can totally understand the extra stress of dealing with shipping and the exchange rate... that's why I was so excited to find out that Oak Meadow is having a boxing day sale to include Canada. The sale offers 10% off everything in the bookstore (including curriculum) + $1 shipping!
Use the code: 2017BoxingDay
,This week we finally put our tree up and it was so exciting to see how our three children really dove into it this year.
At the same time, I had to do a little bit of inner work to really release the outcome and allow it to flow.
You see, I have this box of Christmas decorations which we’ve been lumbering around with us for the past 15 years.
They’ve been carefully gathered and collected over our family’s childhood. Many of them were bought in the UK from when we lived over there when our girls were small.
There are the few things that were gifted to us during a particularly broke time.
There’s even a small angel decoration that I made for my husband’s and my first Christmas together. (We were “in-between” countries, not knowing where to settle so not really wanting to buy a lot of things. We had a small apartment and at the last moment I decided we needed to decorate for Christmas after all. The little angel’s face was done with embroidery thread and her body was ribbon found in the bottom of a sewing basket. Her head was literally the blower of a bubble bottle, covered in material. Every year I hang her on the tree with fondness.)
Over the years our box of decorations has been bashed around as it traveled from place to place with us.
Not only that, many a time I’ve stressed about its wellbeing, begging my husband to do check ins on its care. There was the couple of Christmases it had been left in storage and I would mourn the little angel or special trinkets that wouldn’t be on the tree that year.
There’s even been late night panic attacks where I’ve planned fire escapes and wondered how to get that box of decorations out from wherever it was stored.
At a certain point I’ve had to ask the magic question of “why?”
Why? Why was a box of decorations so important?
I think a lot of it comes from my own childhood.
Last week my sister, my niece and their children all came out for a pre-Christmas visit with my parents and my crew. It was a lovely visit, with lots of connection, fun and celebration. One of the festivities was surrounding the decoration of the tree and the house, which was done with great fanfare.
I mostly sat and watched as my children and their cousins rustled around hanging everything up, but I also had some time to go through the box of ornaments. I was also given a box of angels, singing in a choir, which had always been my responsibility to set out. I did my traditional job in my usual set-up.
The old tree topper angel, who was around when my parents first got married had been retired years ago, but is still dug out in memory and placed on the piano and there’s a sense of tradition, stability and cherished memory that surrounds the tree and home, which I know was the intention all along.
I know that this is why I guarded my box of holiday memory making paraphernalia with such committed certainty. I wanted my kids to know that secure routine. (no matter how stressed I was getting in getting it to them.) My parents had maintained this tradition so well. Surely I had to fill their shoes.
And so, it was with great bewilderment when I heard the excitement from my kids as we went to Walmart the other day when they exclaimed in excitement…
“CAN WE HAVE NEW ORNAMENTS THIS YEAR?”
My fashionista 15 year old then added…
“And can we just have an aesthetic tree… all color coded?” to which the other two full heartedly agreed.
I felt that tightening in my chest as if my box of ornaments were tugging on my heartstrings.
But I sighed them away, and said “let’s do it.”
The box of red balls were decided on, with silver tinsel to add. The excitement filled the air and as a family we stayed up late stringing the ornaments and strategically hanging them on the tree.
I sat back a few times in wonder, as I saw our three darlings working, laughing and decorating together. They felt empowered and excited to be creating new traditions. They are different than I had been growing up. They have a different perspectives and outlooks. They need different things than I had needed growing up.
So, we bought new stockings to replace their old ones and my box of ornaments still sit, mostly unpacked downstairs.
Except for a few things… like our first angel, who was given a special spot of honor. (Luckily her ribbon was red so she fits the decor.)
Now, you might be thinking, what are you doing Christina? The ornaments were important to you! Don’t sacrifice them.
But here’s the thing. I’ve done a lot of work on myself this year and I can honestly tell you…
The IDEA of them was important to me.
I wanted my children to have memories of joy and security and laughter… and I’d assumed that was found in a box. When I saw the fun and connection that came from the joint, new effort, there was no comparison to how it felt. It was so easy to release my box of clung on to ornaments.
My ornaments were merely a box of “shoulds”,
a preconceived notion of what was important, rather than an experience which was going to create the feelings I wished for my family. My kids had no attachment to them whatsoever, and when I was able to shift to a place of connection and presence, I found that I didn’t really either, and actually when I let them go, and released it all to the joy of the season and decorating in a go with the flow, present way… well not only was it more fulfilling and aligned… my goodness our tree is so much prettier this year than ever before!
Do you have a box of “shoulds” either in your basement or in your own heart and mind that feel like they actually keep you from the joy you wish to create for your family?
Hey, I was surprised to find this little nugget of a box. It’s a journey of constant digging and rediscovery for sure, but the relief is amazing. (I’m looking at the beautiful tree as I write this right now. Its a great feeling to appreciate it’s newness, rather than having to constantly be adjusting the old ones, or regretting some breakages etc.)Life is about that journey of release and allowing and growing with our kids.
One of the best first steps to take, especially at this time of year, is to look back at the year that's been and release it, learning and growing from what's been. You can then give intention and direction to the year that is in creation. I love this practice and in order to help you work through this information,
I've created a special FREE workbook, you can grab that here...
I hope it serves you well and launches you into a 2018 full of authenticity and presence for you and your family.
SHINE ON and HAPPY HOLIDAYS!
Christina shares her personal experiences as a Spiritually Aware Parent as well as tools and tips which will help a parent's journey.