Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Release. . . what it "should" look like

Our foster daughter Allie turns 18 tomorrow.  Despite her painful, tumultuous exit from our home, and through many ups and downs, she will celebrate the day as a part of our family.

A year ago, my hopes for this day were warm and rosy, though grounded (I thought) in the difficult realities of raising a foster teen.


Six months ago, I had no hopes at all for this day; only worry, sadness, and a nagging sense of failure.  Her presence with us now, though still challenging and loaded with baggage, is nothing short of miraculous.

Monday, June 6, 2016

A homeschool routine that nourishes

In my last post, I shared about the ideas and philosophies I have been studying and working to incorporate into our family's journey.  This includes our homeschooling, but is really about our life rhythm, and applies far beyond what some would call "school."  My goal was a merging of ideas that would help me reorient our daily life so that it gave priority to the things we value as a family and established a more restful pace.


poetry tea time

The routine I have established has worked beautifully for over 4 months now.  The most convincing proof is how we felt approaching our usual June break.  Most years, I'm dragging us all through the last few weeks of May, and often we just give up and quit somewhere near the end.  This year, however, we have had such a nice rhythm and adequate periods of rest (see Sabbath schooling) that we were able to finish strong.  Don't get me wrong - we will still take the month of June off, and the kids and I are all definitely looking forward to that.  But we're not dying, crawling through these last few days devoid of joy or enthusiasm.  That, folks, I call a win.

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Rest




original photo by John Goode

I’ve had the question above pinned to the edge of our memory work board for at least eight months now.  The question, aroused by a variety of sources, bothered me because I was pretty sure the liturgy of our day did NOT wholly reflect what we value.  I felt it was crucial to our well being as a family - when the routines of our day don't match who we are, rest is not found - yet I couldn't figure out how to address it.

These things take a lot of mulling-over time, it seems.

We first have to clarify all our terms in this context, particularly liturgy.  The dictionary definition is this: a rite or body of rites prescribed for public worship; or: a customary repertoire of ideas, phrases, or observances.

Rolling those two definitions together in the context of daily life in general (and the home in particular), I understand the word liturgy to refer to the rhythms, habits, and practices around which we order our day.  What comes first?  To what do we give the most time?  For what do we carve out space, no matter the chaos of any particular day?  And what do we squeeze into the fringe hours and sometimes drop all together?

Liturgy.

Next we need to know what we value in the first place?  I cannot know if my day is ordered around what I value if I don't even know for sure what my values are.

I’ve always been heavily influenced by the philosophies of nineteenth century classical educator Charlotte Mason.  Last summer and fall, I spent a great deal of time immersing myself deeper in her ideas.  Principles like "Education is the science of relations," and "We allow no separation to grow up between the intellectual and 'spiritual' life of children," have been swirling around in my head ever since then.  During the 2015-2016 academic year, I also started studying the concept of Leadership Education, also known as Thomas Jefferson Education, which has its roots in (among other things) the idea of mentoring students along a path to maturity.

Discussing these philosophies in detail is beyond the scope of this post, but please do contact me if you'd like resources for further investigation.

Early this year, I added to the brain swirling when I participated in Sarah Mackenzie’s Master class, Focus and Align.  In this class, Sarah walks you through clarifying your end goal, your vision for what your student will be like when they leave your home, and how you and they will reflect on their education and life.  (This class is available inside the membership section of Read Aloud Revival site.)  This class has helped me mesh together the things I have been studying and desiring for my home and my homeschool into a more coherent vision.  Near the end of the class, Sarah helps her participants create a "Rule of 6," in which you get crystal clear on the values that will govern your home and life.  (The Rule of Six idea was inspired by this blog post by Melissa Wiley.)

You know by now my inclination for choosing words that are powerful to me and using them as overarching goals for my life.  This rule of six business is really just another spin on the "one word" strategy so, of course, I love it.  Also of course, I couldn't settle on just six words.  I managed to get Mr. Cyrus involved in mulling over these ideas, and this is what we came up with.

Cyrus Family Values



original photo by Ronan Shenhav


The meshing of these ideas has helped me reorient our daily life so that it flows more authentically from who we are as a family and as homeschoolers, and allows us to truly live and learn from a place of rest.  All the details on that in the next post.



Other posts in this series:






Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Release





Part of my self-care work this year involves releasing the story I have been carrying around about what defines a good mother. My inner story is (still) far too focused on results and control - control of my productivity, the state of home, and my children's attitudes and behavior . . even control of my own behavior.  A good mom keeps a reasonably ordered home.  She always rises early enough to meet her children when they wake and she never hides in bed until she hears banging or screeching.  A good mom usually responds with gentleness and cleverness to her children's "mal-adaptive" behaviors.  She does not allow herself to become overwhelmed by typical childish behavior and throw her own version of a tantrum.  A good mom has children whose behavior steadily improves over time (ha!).  A good mom does not hide in the bathroom with chocolate and text her husband that he'd better get himself home in the next twenty minutes if he wants said home to still be standing.

Ahem.

Saturday, March 19, 2016

A Roadmap to Abundance?






From part one of this post, found here:
"I want more of that.  A year without perfectionism, without striving.  A year in which I live and move from a state of rest.  In which I more fully grasp my salvation in Christ, my worthiness apart from anything I accomplish or mess up."

Here are the words I settled on to guide my year, which I am posting in March just as a friendly little sucker punch to the recovering Type A Perfectionist in me.

Monday, February 29, 2016

One Word - 2016

My word for 2016 is. . .I don't know!

insk0r via flickr

When I got married, one of my bridesmaids gathered quotes and advice from the women at my bridal shower and put them into a book for me.  Many wise words fill those pages.  The card that has stuck out the most is the shortest - three words, written in my mother’s distinctive, left-handed cursive.  Actually, it was just one word repeated three times, from a woman who knows me so very well: Relax. Relax. Relax.  This card and her words have come to my mind often these past two months as I have pondered my guiding word for 2016. 

(Yes, this is my “one word for the new year” post (or at least part of it).  Yes, I know it’s almost March.  However, it’s not quite March, and last year, it was well into March before I got my “one word for the new year” post even drafted.  So I’ll call this a win.)

Sunday, December 13, 2015

A year in review


Every year I make a photo album for our family.  December is the best time for such things because of all the sales, and I like to have the book ready for sharing when we visit family at Christmas.  This year, I mostly forgot about it until the last minute, so I spent last weekend wading through well over 1000 photos, choosing layouts, and adjusting margins.  It's a lot of work.  It's also full of remembering and reflecting, which are generally things I like to do.

However, I didn't consider how the changes in our family would impact this project until I opened up the "Winter 2015" folder.



Photographs can make life look peachier than it really was at the time, I know this.  But they also reveal the beauty that was missed while we were too caught up in the details.

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