Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Stuck in Traffic on the Information Superhighway

oh. my. heck.

I have been away from my blog for a few months, and it's all so different now. like a completely new era in tech land. so far I have spent the past 18 minutes simply trying to remember how to a) turn on the computer; b) get it to talk to the internet; and c) log into my blogging account. unfortunately, I somehow have two or possibly three google-related accounts which apparently are not allowed to talk to one another, so I have a crazy time simply trying to decide who I am so my trusty old blog can recognize me.

last summer I set out to be a contributing writer for a neato Christianity-meeting-culture website (at least I think that's still what we call it). I contributed two or three times, then fell under the homeschool bus. today I suddenly realized I should probably withdraw from the contributing team--which sent me into a panic that I need to start contributing STAT! or my relevance as a writer will have officially withered and died.

yes. I use melodrama here, to make a literary point. in short, I am having an identity crisis.

I never have defined myself by motherhood; choosing instead to remind myself and anyone listening that I am MORE than the sum of my offspring. in the past five years, I have grown to identify myself as a spiritual development writer. yet my job description consumes me: homeschooling mama of three diverse creatures for whom I am the primary influence. together we stand at the launch of a great homestead experiment.

A Pinch Point in Escalante National Park, Utah
I'm at a pinch point. I know the river opens up to a wide cove, followed by the wild ocean; but not until I pass through the narrows. and the narrows are speaking loudly to me.

wilting lily 
fragile flower (hey--at least my inner critic compares me to flowers)
you love writing, therefore it's time to stop. 
this is always where you stop when about to really get the hang of something. 

since the speaker/writer conference I attended last summer, I have followed a dozen or two of my new friends as they grow their blogs, guest post all over the internet, and develop their ideas into really well-reasoned content. meanwhile, my portion has been to spin in place, trying to figure out my next steps.

in the positive column, I have been invited to speak my heart to two different groups; I have written a 5 part small group study on the Levitical law; I developed and taught 3 different classes at church, a total of 6 or 7 times; and we have gotten through at least 75% of a school year (never mind that we are 90% out of time). so there's that.

but my first love, the writing? thbbbbt.

i've lost my stride.

I know too much about building my audience, honing my message, and the importance of social media as a tool for my message. now I fear to post anything because I can't figure out my focus, can't figure out how to migrate my blog to a better platform (haven't tried, for that matter), and don't know that anyone really cares what I talk about anyway. do I even want to blog, when my greatest high comes from speaking to a live audience?

apparently my stride has also, in turn, lost me. because this whole login challenge underscores my efforts to start over in a strange new world. and I wonder, do I really want to come back here? do I really have anything to preserve? because maybe if I just turn off my computer, my blog, my facebook, I can get to the real business of living.

gardening. moving. having parties. learning about horses. playing in the dirt with my kids. reading books. without the constant feeling that I ought to be talking about this.

only, then who would I share all my melancholy thoughts with?

I guess you're stuck with me. because me without a melancholy outlet is probably an over-wound person, not fit for serious company.

this concludes our broadcast day. I'll be going to bed now, hoping for a less melancholy tomorrow. thanks for listening.

and last thing? I'm really fine. just working my way through that tight place, looking forward to the rush of salt air when I get to the wild ocean.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Not a Tame Lion

I grow weary of the wait; the highs and lows of real estate try to tug my emotions with them like a yoyo. My courage falters and I wonder how many more times I can clean my house while trying to keep a rein on the hope in my heart.

This past weekend brought us a Friday night showing and open houses both Saturday and Sunday. Friday's show resulted in an offer--wow! But by Saturday night it was withdrawn, an obvious fishing expedition to see if we were ready to give the house away. I want to cry heartbreak! betrayal!

But I bet I am not as near the end of my rope as I think I am. I think of a character from CS Lewis' The Horse and His Boy: of Bree the magnificent-yet-lazy warhorse who thought quite highly of his physical ability, only to discover at a critical moment the ability to reach even deeper and overcome an unbelievable obstacle. Upon reflection, he realized his laziness had limited his abilities; and that it had taken an external motivator (in the form of Aslan the all-orchestrating lion sinking claws into his rump) to help him accomplish his best.

I don't know my best, but I sort of really deeply hope my motivator to accomplish it is not to weather a third lengthy experience selling a house that won't move.

Another line that repeats often throughout the seven books of Lewis' Chronicles of Narnia, and echoes through my head these days, refers to different characters' ability to call Aslan at will to help with their problems: He's not a tame lion. You just can't control the element that controls the game board.

Over and over I come up short against this reality: that I can not wield God and prayer like a weapon to do what I want, on my time table. I can't make God sell my house no matter how much I grovel or give him all the credit or even challenge him to catch me as I fall.

Because every time the response is different than I expected. I demand God make himself known through his speedy and powerful orchestration of my experience. Instead he leaves me to marinate in my situation until I have no pride left, and have grown wary of phrases such as "In the Lord's time" and "God knows best".

Funny thing is, he always does provide. And I have lots of life experience to point to that illustrates this. Truthfully, I've even seen some pretty amazing ways he has provided. But with the selling of real estate, I keep finding myself wishing he would do less character building and more showing off.

But I guess that's the inner longing for a perfect world, meant to draw my heart away from this earthly plane and upward toward eternity.

Whatever happens, I don't want to be the player who pouts her way through the game; because I have a good feeling that a little perspective will show me the winner. A little time will bring this process to its natural end, and this whole uncomfortable transition will only show itself in my rear-view mirror. So one more time, I hold my head high, take the next step, and wait another day.


Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Teachable Moments

I started the homeschool year with the idea that my philosophy of education fits with a model termed classical: involving the systematic use of memorization, dictation, narration, and copywork to organize the assimilation of knowledge across language, history, and science. The trivium seemed an efficiently appropriate way of presenting this type of education through the three stages of grammar, logic, and rhetoric. It all made so much sense.

Only real life happened. My primary student entered the homeschool arena due to her non-traditional learning style. And we have had quite a journey. As a non-traditional learner who learned how to cope by organizing information, I find my fragile organizational abilities tested by the effort of trying to find the order in my child's world. Or impress the order upon her.

Here at the end of the year, I start to recognize our group learning style may tend more toward the opposite end of the spectrum, toward the philosophy of unschool. Or perhaps the two are not so far apart as I once understood. Today, for example, we probably had a terrible day by classical standards; but I think it was a pretty stellar example of unschooling in action.

We did spend twenty minutes before lunch discussing the First Triumvirate, the three-person ruling group that formed the beginning of the Roman Empire in 60 B.C. But one of those rulers, Pompey, was known for getting pirates under control across the Mediterranean. Did you know that in a single 40-day period, he destroyed 1,300 pirate ships? We found that impressive.

To commemorate, we declared the rest of the day Pirate Day. So the kids built a giant fort in the back yard. In the face of an imminent thunderstorm. And spent the rest of the afternoon alternating between the fort and catching tree frogs at the pond down the street. Which has nothing to do with pirates whatsoever; but when Rooster brought home a gloriously huge wolf spider, I had him look at it and observe it. Which counted as a science lesson. Check.

Meanwhile, I finally roasted the Thanksgiving turkey today, to make a few more meals for my freezer. I don't understand my obsession with filling that space, with four weeks to Moving Day. But there I was, preparing a bird for the oven, and the kids suddenly crowded around to see what they could see. And one asked about all the different anatomical parts, while the other asked for a bone at the end, "Because I always read about people sucking the marrow out of the bones, and I want to see if it's really all that great."

Conversation then turned to what we will do once we move and get chickens. "Our chicks will grow up and have baby chicks then we will eat the momma and daddy birds and play with the chicks until it is their turn to grow up and get eaten."

So much for worrying about whether their "fragile constitutions" will comprehend the difference between pets and food. These kids make me proud more often than not. And again, I can chalk up that entire conversation to learning.

I am fairly sure we will find ourselves challenged yet well suited to the requirements of running a homestead. We may already have a running start between the 12 quarts of spaghetti sauce I put up over the weekend, and the six turkey-based dinners I am assembling tonight and tomorrow. We probably won't eat all that before June.

Now I suppose I had better get packing so I can be the right kind of ready for that day when it comes. I wonder what kind of educational experience we can roll into packing boxes tomorrow?