Monday, March 2, 2009

How much joy can we stand?

Don't waste a minute being unhappy. If one window closes - run to the next window - or break down a door. Author unknown

I keep pinching myself to make sure I am not dreaming. But it is a good thing I know how to dream out loud. In January I was disappointed that I was not able to go to the Ohio
unschooler water park gathering at the Kalahari resort (10 hours away). Some Minnesota friends and I decided we should make our own get together, much closer to home. With a little follow through and planning we did just that this past weekend!

To love others makes us happy. Author unknown

Cliff had school (darn that school schedule anyway) and so he couldn't go out of town with us. Next year he said he will skip classes. First, the boys and I drove to Alex's (water park event co-host) in Byron, MN on Wednesday afternoon. She lives about 3.5 hours from me. We met her and her lovely family last September after she invited us for a weekend visit last summer. She lives on a beautiful dairy farm with her husband and children. She is a very fascinating and strong minded person who has lived many cool lives! I am always so awe struck with her stories.

"Living is learning and when kids are living fully and energetically and happily they are learning a lot, even if we don't always know what it is. " John Holt

The indoor waterpark gathering was planned for the following afternoon into Friday night. And of course a big winter storm, with possible ice, was due for Thursday. Alex and I weren't sure what to expect. So we watched the weather reports and it seemed quite awful out the next day as predicted. But people were still planning on arriving at the hotel anyway. We decided when the snow stopped we would go for it. So I followed her in my minivan. The roads were terrible, but she went slowly, and thankfully we made it. My knuckles were white the entire hour drive.

The real joy of life is in its play. Play is anything we do for the joy and love of doing it, apart from any profit, compulsion, or sense of duty. It is the real joy of living.- Walter Rauschbusch
Over the course of two days, about 60 of us gathered at this really cool Holiday Inn in southern MN with an indoor water park that was perfect for those of us with young ones. It was not a huge place and made it easier to keep an eye on young ones, and just enough equipment to keep most everyone happy. Before this weekend I wasn't depressed, but needed an energy boost. Getting away and hanging out with people who are truly passionate about their children and lives gets me so pumped up about my life again! And the boys appreciate seeing other people who live their lives following joy as well--not just the kids joy, but the parents live their passions, too.

Happiness is a grateful spirit, an optimistic attitude, and a heart full of love.

These people are in love with their children. Unschoolers speak to my heart. They are uplifting and committed to being the best parents they can be. They share their joy with others and don't try to bring anyone down. They are grateful to be with other people who understand them and don't judge their decisions to raise their children in a respectful and loving way. Sometimes it can be difficult to stay true to unschooling principals of parenting and life. So anytime I get the chance to be with true unschoolers, in or out of state, I go for it. I not only learn from the parents, but from all children; including my own.

Perceive and rejoice that life is abundant, that beauty and goodness are amply available . . . that your happiness is in your hands. - Paul Hodges

The people I met this weekend were of all walks of life and very fascinating: I met parents and kids who are involved in musicals, a health care worker at the Mayo Clinic, a stay at home dad who runs a hobby business and travels to trade shows, a mom to boy triplets whose hubby is in a rock band. You name it, these people can do it. I was surprised that the family involved in musicals took time to come to the gathering since one of their three daughters was set to play "Orphan Annie" in a play in the Twin City area over the weekend. They were all so awesome and wonderful to be around. They were all so "normal" and down-to-earth. They were eloquent in their reasons to unschool and passionate about their children's lives. Not that any of this surprises me. Most people who choose to homeschool or unschool are very dedicated to their children. It takes a huge commitment and willingness to let go of all pre-conceived notions about children. Most parents start out thinking they know everything. Then they realize how much they have to learn about being a parent. We don't need to harden out heart, but soften our hearts.

You cannot be thankful and unhappy at the same time.

The main thing I got from the weekend was that re-connection, and falling in love feeling, with my children again. It is something I try to go all out and do on a regular basis. It is kinda like building team spirit. LOL. But we do it for our family vs. sports teams at the moment (it could be both one day). I marveled at them and all the ways they found joy everywhere around them. There's nothing like a kid friendly environment sprinkled with new and old friends to bring out the smile and sparkle in my boys, and me!

The secret of happiness is curiosity. -Norman Douglas

After the gathering Alex invited the boys and I back to the farm for another night before we headed home to Iowa. The kids love it there, and so do I. So of course, we took her up on the kind offer. We did a few art projects and the boys either played a lot of Roblox on-line, Wii, or goofing around with the cats and dog. There was never a dull moment. Gigi (3) and I even had some bonding time. She is a cute little cowgirl princess.
It's the little moments that make life big.

This year will bring many more exciting adventures. We have lots of things coming up and we can't wait to see what else is in store! Next year we will definitely plan on getting together at the wa
ter park again. Everyone else agrees! I'm so happy and grateful we have beautiful friends and family wherever we go! I can go for more joy any day of the week!

With much joy and gratitude,
Heather xoxxo

"What children need is not new and better curricula but access to more and more of the real world; plenty of time and space to think over their experiences, and to use fantasy and play to make meaning out of them; and advice, road maps, guidebooks, to make it easier for them to get where they want to go (not where we think they ought to go), and to find out what they want to find out."
~John Holt~ Teach Your Own


Alex Polikowsky said...

Thanks for the wonderful post !! I loved our weekend too!!!

Snavleys said...

Yes, we need our tribe! One of the many reasons that I struggle with Alaska. What a wonderful "outing". It's been very cool for me to see the growth in you, as I've been reading your blog this last couple of years. Can't wait to meet you in real person and maybe be able to share some of those special occasions with you also:)

Heather's Moving Castle said...

I never thought I'd have much of a tribe in Iowa. But little by little we are coming along. I can't wait to meet you, too, Heidi Snavley!!