The State of Things

Westmoreland County, Virginia

Westmoreland County, Virginia

So it appears that I am living a cliche. That person who starts feeling like she is coming into her own during her 40s. But I guess they call them cliches for a reason. 

I feel like lots of things are shifting and percolating. In a good way. In a way that has me excited even though I am not sure where these shifting things are going to take me. So here is where things stand right now, for what it is worth. 

This summer was a fascinating time of a lot of growth for me. The boys decided to stay in Virginia with their Dad so they could do things with their friends. So I hung out in Ocean City for about 2 months, mostly on my own (Kyle did come down twice). Yes, me. Ms. Extrovert Extraordinaire. All on my lonesome. I plan to write more about things that came up during the summer, but let's just say that I have finally truly accepted and embraced that my stress/anxiety/emotional state comes from where I am on the inside and has nothing to do with my external situation. As I have been telling friends, I had the same level of stress, just nicer scenery. 

I was recently hired by Julie (a la Brave Writer) as a homeschool coach for the Homeschool Alliance.  I have been a member of the community since it was started and am really in awe with what she is creating there. A safe place to share our worries and struggles. A non-judgemental environment which trusts that each person is on their own path and can find what approach makes sense to them. And best yet, gives them tools for figuring that out.

I'll write in more detail about it later, but for now, I have to admit that it is kind of exciting to have an actual job (albeit a relatively small, part-time one). And one doing something that I truly love...exploring how our kids learn and what makes people tick. You didn't think homeschooling was just about what curriculum to use or how to teach various subjects, did you? is about so much more than that. It is about our relationship with ourselves, our relationship with our kids and about exploring our own thoughts and beliefs about what makes a "good education.". I am thankful that Julie has created a place to explore these questions and that she has invited me to be a part of that. 

I am currently being blown away by Elizabeth Gilbert's Big Magic. Yes, I know. Another cliche. I have a history of finding the right book at the right time (see here and lots of others here) and yes, this is the right time. I've never seen myself as "a creative". At least not in the traditional artsy sort of way. Yes, I have had hobbies (looking at you rubber stamping and cross stitch) but even my photography does not go much beyond something that I really enjoy. I am about as left-brained as they come. 

But there is something that does excite me and make me come alive. And it is something that I discovered and have started coming into my own through homeschooling my kids. Basically all that stuff I mentioned about pondering relationships and what makes people tick. I love discussing it and writing about it and sharing my experiences and hearing about others' experiences. So I'm excited to have more time and a place to explore that...especially in regards to creativity.  And I am giving myself permission to spend time on it without feeling guilty about doing too much "navel gazing". 

Jason has pretty much transitioned into full responsibility for his education at this point. He is enrolled full-time at Northern Virginia Community College and plans on transferring to a four year college after one or two years. Some points of this transition have had me freaking out a bit, but mostly it has been extremely rewarding and awesome to watch. Now the fun part of documenting his high school experiences in a way that makes sense to a college as well as navigating that whole process begins. 

With Jason mostly on his own, Kyle and I have been having lots more one on one time. Whether he would say that was a good thing, I'm not sure.  He has discovered the benefit of having an extroverted brother when you are introverted yourself and have an extroverted mother. But we are figuring it out. It is fun and different to have one kid to focus on. I'm enjoying it. 

I am exploring positive psychology a bit as I love what science is learning about how we experience happiness and feel that these lessons are just as important as more academic ones. I have read The Happiness Advantage: The Seven Principles of Positive Psychology That Fuel Success and Performance at Work and Happier: Learn the Secrets to Daily Joy and Lasting Fulfillment. I have also been working through the Coursera course A Life of Happiness and Fulfillment. I'm thinking about doing an introduction to positive psychology at the VaHomeschoolers Conference in April. 

I am also diving headlong into the The Wheel of Time series by Robert Jordan and have just finished The Eye of the World. If you like epic fantasy, this is a good one to lose yourself in. 

And finally I am working on weaning myself out of the day to day operations of VaHomeschoolers. I have been on the Board of Directors for 10 years now and it is time. I still want to be involved with certain aspects...writing and presenting at the conference, helping new homeschoolers. But it is time for the next generation of Virginia homeschoolers to step up to keep this wonderful resource going. 

Unfortunately this is not proving to be easy because several other long time key vounteers have stepped down as well and we have not been able to fill their shoes. We are currently 3 board members short, are still missing key volunteers for the conference (registration and speakers among others) and have way too many other needs to go into right now.

This is on top of the fact that we have always run the organization fairly short staffed, with very dedicated volunteers pulling most of the weight. This is not fair to these volunteers, but we can't do anything about it without more homeschoolers stepping up and making a commitment to doing what it takes to keep VaHomeschoolers running. So we are doing our best to keep things functioning, but we are also having to prioritize what we can and can not do. Having to do my best at letting go of the outcome and trusting the process. 

So yeah. Lots of changes. Lots of things in the air. Lots of excitement about what the future holds. Which is a good feeling (and not one that I have always had). For now I will take it.