September 2nd, 2015 § § permalink
Sunrise on the beach where my family is living temporarily
This is the definition of the sea I found in the dictionary:
the expanse of salt water that covers most of the earth’s surface and surrounds its landmasses.
While it is a tangible definition of the sea, it seems limiting to me. The sea is so much more than salt water that covers the earth. When I contemplate the ocean I feel its:
Powerfulness and its gentleness
Demand of Respect
Metaphor for life
Ability to showcase the most beautiful sunrises
Ability to hold Secrets throughout time
Ever Changing tides, waves and disposition
Labels and definitions are limiting. How can we really define the ocean and what we experience of it? We can try but it pales in comparison to the deep experience of it.
When I am at the ocean I feel free. Free from worry, concern or anything other than the present moment. The ocean demands it from me and I comply without resistance. I see that the world is big, the universe is even bigger and that all of life is in flow, whether it be stormy or calm. It is the expansion of life itself.
The ocean teaches me to weather the storms in life with grace and suppleness. I learn to allow the storms without resisting them, like a tree bending with the wind. I sit still in the calmness too and imprint the present into my being-ness. Much can be learned from both the calm and the storm, if only we listen. Nature is the great teacher if we pause and heed it’s whispers.
Easy to do at the beach? Well, yes it is. But nature is everywhere. We are part of it. So no matter where I land, I always want to remember to watch nature without labeling it and breath in all that it has to demonstrate about life.
September 1st, 2015 § § permalink
There have been so many moments in my life that were a struggle. Struggling against what was in front of me. Wishing it weren’t so. Wishing it was another moment. Wanting something better. Wanting things to be different. Becoming reactive to all that wishing and wanting.
We have been taught that if we embrace what is in front of us, nothing will ever change. Embracing what IS, we think, will keep us stuck and unhappy. I used to think that if I didn’t struggle, I would never get anywhere. Never accomplish anything.
Nothing could be further from the truth.
Fighting against what IS keeps us stuck. Ha! Imagine that.
My family is living at the beach right now. Have you ever been caught in the undertow of a wave? The worst thing you can do is struggle in that situation. The more you struggle, the more you get caught in the current. The more you relax, the easier it is to float to the top and. . .breathe. Spending an extended time at the ocean is reminding me of this in so many ways.
Whatever comes my way I am reminded to embrace it, invite it even. For it is here to show me something. And the less I struggle the more I float. The more I am able to breathe. . .Right action always comes from that calm place inside. Accepting what IS does not mean that changes don’t happen. Accepting what is – as if I invited it myself – allows me to take action from that calm core that we all have access to.
Life is not meant to be a struggle, despite what we are told. Life is meant to be easy. When I find myself struggling I try and remember to accept what is. Accept what is in front of me, no matter what it is, this very moment, so that life can become easy again. So that I can make choices that resonate with the life I want to live.
August 25th, 2015 § § permalink
We quit! Yep, my family just keeps quitting. Quitting has really gotten a bad rap over the years. Of course, we’ve always been told that we should stick with people, places and things, even if we don’t like it! A winner never quits, right? We’ve been taught that quitting is bad and staying and sticking with everything we try is good (and safe), even if it feels bad to us.
Have you ever stopped to ask yourself why you are sticking with something? Especially if you don’t enjoy doing it. . . or owning it or. . . being with it? Why do we continue to live lives that don’t really serve us? Why do we stick with things and people that we don’t really enjoy? Is it because it feels comfortable? That we think we should? That someone will be disappointed if we don’t? Or is it that we delude ourselves into thinking it’s the safest? These are the questions my family has been asking for the last several years. One thing we are discovering is that life is short. And happiness and enjoyment are our top priorities.
So what have we said NO to? What areas of life have we called quits on? Read on. . .
We Quit School!
9 years ago my husband and I quit sending our kids to school. A year after that, we quit trying to “teach” our kids and let them follow their interests, with our help and encouragement of course. And you know what? They know how to read, write, do math and are pretty darned good citizens of the world. The’ve learned HOW to learn – learn anything they like. And they’ve kept their thirst for learning intact by learning what they’re ready for when they are ready. Not only that, they KNOW themselves. They know what they like, they know what they don’t like and they know how to quit when something doesn’t serve them.
We Quit Eating what the Government Suggests!
We know our bodies better than anyone! And everyone is not the same. We cut out sugar and most grains and started feeling better and healthier. We stopped buying most processed foods and try to buy local when we can. Farm fresh eggs and bacon for breakfast every morning is so delicious!! And healthy, I might add.
My Husband Quit his Corporate Job
My husband has a passion (and wonderful gift) for technology. He was a technology director for a major corporation making six-figures, but he didn’t feel fulfilled or get to work in the areas he really enjoys. So he quit his corporate job a year ago and is pursuing his passion for working with Mac products and servicing small businesses who use them. He loves what he does now and gets to work from home and be his own boss! A lot of the work he does can be done from anywhere. We’re looking at other avenues for making money where-ever we are. This took a huge leap of faith on both of our parts, giving up a secure salary for uncertainty. So far, the net has been waiting for us every time we jump into the unknown. We couldn’t be happier with the decision to work for ourselves.
We Quit Health Insurance
This was kind of a byproduct of quitting the job, but when we looked into private insurance which would have cost us over $1,000 a month we elected to go without. We try to keep a cash fund for medical emergencies (put the $1,000 we would have spent on insurance into savings) and we take VERY good care of ourselves. We don’t run to the doctor for every little thing. We pay cash to doctors that we like and who promote wellness (of course these types of doctors don’t even take insurance) We’ve had one emergency room incident since not having insurance and were surprised that cash paying customers get DEEP discounts. Didn’t even phase us to pay the bill! We may elect to get a catastrophic policy sometime in the future but that’s as far as willing to go when it comes to health insurance. Changing our lifestyle has made us FEEL so much healthier and health begets health. A happy day plus nutritious food really makes for a healthy body. Plus, we put the focus on being healthy and luckily so far we have been.
We Quit Paying a Mortgage
After 16 years of home ownership we sold our 2,500 square foot home. And we ditched the realtor and did it ourselves, saving us $8,000. Selling your own home is so simple and my husband will be contributing a “how to” post in the near future on how to sell your home “by Owner” and even how to get on MLS without a realtor. Home ownership was great while it lasted but we’re ready for some adventures that require us to be tied down with less “stuff”, so this made total sense to us. It’s been a week since we handed over the keys and we haven’t looked back! Plus, with the equity we received, we have a very secure nest egg in place.
We’ve quit other things too. Like:
- * Trying to live the “safest” way
* Living for what others think we should do
* Caring what other people think
* Doing what we’re “told” is best
There is so much uncertainty in this lifestyle, but if you get down to it, nothing in life is ever certain, including a six figure income. We decided that life was too short to do a lot of things that didn’t bring us joy. Do we ever have to do things we don’t want to do? Of course! That goes without saying. But we’ve minimized those things and we focus on living lives that are inspiring and uplifting and that make a difference on the planet.
We are currently living in the question of where we want to be next. For the moment (or the next two months) we are renting a house on the beach and enjoying every minute of it. Yes. We’re working here. But it’s work we enjoy. And we’re playing and laughing and enjoying life a lot. We don’t know how long we’ll stay here or where we’ll go next, but we do know that in this moment . . .in this most precious moment which is Now. . .All is well. And for us, that means EVERYTHING.
August 23rd, 2015 § § permalink
Many years ago (nine to be exact), my family started questioning the norms of life. It started with schooling and compulsory education. Our oldest boy, Cameron, was in first grade and our younger son, Caleb, was getting ready to start kindergarten, but already attending a four day a week preschool. I was missing them. Cameron was having trouble in school. He hated it really. Bullies, Boredom and Bad Lunches. So, long story short, (if you want the long version of our school drop out phase read the whisper link) I heard a little whisper that said, take them out of school and keep them at home. I did. That was the beginning of freedom for our family.
As we began our homeschool journey we slowly started questioning everything else: Food, Religion, How Human beings Learn, Spirituality, Work, Home ownership and everything in between. We began to ask ourselves, “Why do we do the things we do?”
We discovered that most of what we were doing was because we were conditioned to do it…send kids to school, work jobs we didn’t like, buy the nice house, etc. The things we did weren’t really things we WANTED, they were what we were SUPPOSE to do. And we did, for many years.
This questioning opened up the world for us. And this new category on my blog (Stepping Into Freedom) will describe our journey and where it has led us. And you will walk with us as we decide what comes next. Because we don’t know. The possibilities are ENDLESS!
If you’d asked me ten years ago where I would be….I would have never in a million years guessed that we would be “homeless” living in a rented beach house indefinitely and figuring out what we want to do next. You see, we just sold our home of sixteen years and are currently staying at the beach in hopes of figuring out what comes next.
Do we want sell everything and travel the world? Should my husband try to keep building his business which would require us to move back to our hometown of 16 years? Should we live at the beach? Should we buy a “tiny” (or maybe not so tiny since there’s four of us) house? We’re living in the question of life and are ready for anything. Won’t you come along with us?
Tomorrow I will share what led us to our state of “homelessness” and why we are now living at the beach. A deluxe beach house, I might add that we managed to manifest out of shear intention. Hope to see you tomorrow! In the meantime, I’ll be sitting in my new office on the beach.
October 16th, 2014 § § permalink
The first full version of Minecraft was released in November 2011 and since then has taken the world by storm. In less than three years, this game has grown by leaps and bounds. Currently, Minecraft has upwards of fifty million users and is growing at a rate of about 17, 000 new ones every day. Chances are, if you have a child, he’s been exposed to Minecraft.
Despite the popularity of the game, many parents express concern over the amount of time and energy their children spend on Minecraft. Much like the parents of old, who were appalled at the youthful fascination with Elvis Presley, the Beatles and Rock and Roll, they are resisting the hold that Minecraft has on their kids, to no avail. Minecraft is changing the way kids interact in the world, how they learn and how they communicate. Minecraft is a springboard for a change that wants to happen. Like a tidal wave, there’s no holding it back.
With that in mind, perhaps we can investigate what the attraction is and how Minecraft might actually be the tool that your child needs to learn and grow in these ever changing times.
Many of us are so concerned with our child “learning” something that we lose sight of what they already know and are building upon through play. I have observed my own children and countless other children (myself included) as they play Minecraft and have come to the conclusion that the spectrum of learning opportunities is vast. Let’s start with the basics – the 3 R’s, something we all want our children to be proficient in.
If you ask a kid whether they would rather play Minecraft or study in their reading, writing or math book, what do you think the answer would be?
I think we all know what the answer would be. And maybe they are onto something.
I’ve watched my two boys excel at reading playing Minecraft. How can this be?
It’s simple. They’ve found a useful reason to learn to read or to extend their reading skills. It makes sense to them. The motivation to read emanates from their desire to advance in the game.
Websites like WikiHow and various blogs possess valuable information on how to build structures, make tools, set up servers, fight monsters and more. If reading words is the only thing standing in the way of a child getting that information, he will learn to read and do it quickly, perhaps with a little help from Mom or Dad.
The multiplayer worlds are a huge part of the Minecraft experience. On multiplayer servers kids communicate, often through chats. In order to keep in the conversation, they must know how to read. Again, they are motivated. There’s no forcing or coercing to read. They just do it.
As a result of playing Minecraft, my sons have gotten interested in a variety of topics such as biomes, survival, primitive tools and gemstones. We’ve made many trips to the library to find books on these topics. With the reading skills they’ve gleaned playing Minecraft, they are super readers and inspired to read books about the real things in life that correspond with their game.
My boys never liked journaling or prompted writing. I tried it with them. They weren’t having any part of it. But Minecraft has awakened their inner artists, inspiring them to draw pictures and write stories about their experiences in Minecraft. . They’ve used online animation programs to create Minecraft stories and shared them with online communities. Spelling has improved immensely because they want to express themselves so that their stories are understood. As time has passed and confidence in their writing skills has increased, they aren’t as resistant to writing anymore. Their writing skills have flowed into all aspects of writing including using email, Facebook , writing letters and making homemade books.
Multiplayer servers rely heavily on the chat section. And believe me, the kids want to communicate. Their writing skills improve on these chat sessions because they have the desire to be heard and to express themselves. The way they do that is through the written word. Minecraft provides lots of practice and practice, as they say, makes perfect.
One of the greatest adventures in Minecraft is building. In order to build elaborate cities and structures, you can’t help but be exposed to math concepts. I’ve witnessed kids figuring out how many blocks it would take to build a massive building, doubling, tripling and even quadrupling that number in their heads and going on to build a visually pleasing, symmetrical building. I’ve never used flash cards with my youngest but the other day he found a set of multiplication cards and asked me to call them out to him. He got every one of them correct – without ever doing worksheets or working from a textbook. He’s built so many things in Minecraft that he’s taught himself.
I’ve seen kids figure out how many minutes they have until “night time”, average the amount of food needed to go on a mining adventure, divide supplies evenly among players and estimate an area needed to build a city. The math concepts are all around them and they can’t help but learn them if they want to be successful at their game.
Kids are ready for the changes that are taking place in the world. Whether they realize they are learning or not is beside the point. They are learning. And they’re enjoying it while they do.
We as parents have the opportunity to connect with our kids, play Minecraft with them and look at their game as something more than just a game. Watch for the three R’s while they play. Notice what skills they are acquiring. Listen to them talk about what they are doing there. And relax, knowing that their desire to play is much more than play. It’s learning in the making.
To read more about the benefits of Minecraft, please check out my other articles: What My Kids are Learning While Playing Minecraft, Minecraft Birthday Party, More Minecraft Love
Subscribe to get updates on Minecraft articles – Coming soon!
This article was first published in “The Homeschooler” magazine in their Winter 2013 edition. Learn more about The Homeschooler magazine here.