Transformational Learning

Understanding ourselves and our habits of mind can bring attention, awareness, and intention to our interactions, deepening our relationships. These personal insights can help support us in letting go of those pesky old habitual responses and actions that are not serving us or our highest values and visions for who we are and want to be in the world. Adopting new perspectives, thoughts and actions that assist us in living our best is what transformational learning is all about.

If I want to “be the change” and co-create a healthier relationship with someone close to me, then I see the need to reflect on what has been going right and what can be adjusted in terms of my participation. Through an investigation of the inner narratives I am living in and how they are supporting or are not supporting me I am able to introduce space for growth and change. I do not want to continue with patterns of thought and behavior that are defensive, destructive, and dividing. I want to master instead those that are empathetic, constructive, and unifying.

Beginning not only with myself but within myself, I can look at how I use words to bring myself to life or put myself down. Constantly narrating an internal story that I am not understood or valued prevents me from creating an atmosphere of respect and understanding. It holds me back from living up to my desire to navigate challenging situations with empathy, grace, understanding, and respect. By first treating myself with the qualities I wish to be treated with, I can then treat others truly as I wish to be treated, thus bringing a new way of being to life.

In order to see our personal thought patterns clearly, it is sometimes useful to get an outside perspective. A month or so ago some friends brought up the Myers-Briggs personality test. Jokes were going around about which Star Wars character we each were and which Harry Potter character we were. It was funny, however, I didn’t immediately see any more into it.

Later, I happened upon the Enneagram personality test and thought I would give it a try. It was insightful as well, although, I wasn’t sure what to do with the information. On the same thought-wave as me, one of my friends said she had still been looking at the Myers-Briggs test wondering how it could be useful to her beyond simply reading it for amusement.

The next day, a new episode came out on The Homeschool Sisters Podcast about understanding personality types for use with our families. When we know that someone else (like our child or significant other) has a unique way of expressing themselves and interpreting the world around them, we can then align ourselves in a way that brings harmony to our interactions; we can approach that person with understanding of where they are coming from. Further, having an awareness of our own needs, strengths, and weaknesses that we may not have been giving voice too can bring us to deeper self-understanding, self-respect, and empathy for our own character.

For Spirit to really drive home a critical point to me, another blogger who writes about personality type in homeschooling, shares the idea that we can utilize the Myers-Briggs descriptions for personal growth. Having not only awareness of our strengths and weaknesses but having compassion for ourselves and the desire to harness our fullest potential, we can live more consciously aligned with our highest values and visions, living with the intention to create a better world beginning with ourselves.

Making the world a better place, living in ways that are sustainable, can seem like an overwhelming or daunting task. Yet, if we remember that sometimes the whole world is simply our own immediate surroundings (internal and external), we give ourselves a great deal more power to make effective change. So start small, start inside, and allow yourself to bloom into exactly who you are.

So what’s your “personality type”?


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Reading Up

I had always imagined reading picture books to my kids and having them say something like, “Oh, I see that Max is yelling and stomping his feet when he is mad…I see now that other kids don’t hit each other when they get upset…I guess I won’t hit any more either…I will just yell and/or stomp.”…right?! That’s how it’s supposed to work isn’t it?

Although we talk about feelings, label them in the moment, and recall what “appropriate” behavior to engage in when feeling the feeling, I hadn’t read a book with the kids that had significant meaning or impact on their emotional development or expression (that I recall or am aware of, I realize they are often internalizing and processing without communicating to me about it).

Recently, however, I was surprised while reading a chapter book that I had expected to be too advanced for them. I bought it because it looked funny and I have a mild book obsession. So, I didn’t actually intend to read it to them yet…it was just going to be on my “save for later” shelf…where I have many books living.

Thinking it was going to be one more of those books I read a few pages from and then set back on the “for later” shelf, I started it with the kids one day. We were between books and I was trying to find something fun and engaging (there are a few books I tried and definitely went on the “for later” shelf either because I suddenly couldn’t read further due to content or because the kids weren’t into it).  Now, this one almost landed there after those first few pages. It contained dialogue that I wasn’t sure I was ready to be reading with my kids. My son, however, is more interested in these “advanced” books than I have been ready for. For example, we read Old Yeller and although I left in all the dog and hunting parts I did cut out any text about “Indians”…we just aren’t going there yet.

Anyway, we have slowly been working our way through this chapter book and I was wondering what my kids were getting out of it. Then my daughter rolls into me and says, “that’s hilarious!”…wait…OK new word from the book…and then my son passes gas and says, “holy bagumba!”…(know what we are reading now?!). I love using new words and phrases from books. This is perfect. I’m happy with these. Then my son goes on to say, “Mom, you know why I do terrible things sometimes like hit Ember?”….Terrible things? I had just read that line in the book…Continuing he says, “it’s because I’m lonely.”…also from the book…

I am excited about his revelation for several reasons, 1. my son was able to recognize his underlying emotion which now I can help guide him with, 2. he is listening deeply and communicating about what he is hearing, 3. he is responding to more dynamic material than I expected him to.

Scholastic rates the book we are reading as being best suited for grades 3-8…that’s 8 years to 14 years old. My kids are 5. There is a big difference in development between those years. But what I have found with homeschooling is that when I offer the kids an experience that is developmentally advanced, they absorb what they are ready for at their own level. Of course there are still things I won’t read or do, but for now, this book has been advanced in just the right way for us. By the way, the book we have been reading is Flora and Ulysses by Kate DiCamillo, which is in fact hilarious.

Have you read anything lately that was surprisingly enriching? What was it? I’d love to hear.

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I was watching the bows swing up and down along the violins, watching the conductor dip and swoop his hands, and listening as the orchestra grew loud, soft, fast, slow, in synchronized rhythm. It brought to mind how we synchronize with those around us or fall into dissonance depending on our emotional patterns or thoughts.

There are times when I notice my thoughts are causing me to carry a rhythm that is having a negative impact on my kids. When I am worried or stressed the kids are cranky and anxious, making it difficult for them to settle in on a focused activity. However, if I am peaceful the kids are open and attentive to their desire to play, explore, and create.

In addition to personal moods, they day itself also has its own rhythms. The morning has a different feel than the afternoon or evening. One of my favorite times of day is bedtime (and no I don’t mean after the kids are asleep). As long as I am not trying to brush their teeth or fight on pajamas, the kids can usually be found looking at books, coloring, drawing, or writing. This is a stark contrast to the typical energetic story-driven play they engage in earlier in the day (which I love too).

The relaxed and inward feel of the evening is reflected in our call to quiet activity. Since our schedule is flexible, I often let them stay up so long as they are immersed in this personal calm space.

These various energies or rhythms, whether they are moods or times of day, social or solitary, bring out aspects of ourselves that reflect what is going on within and/or around us. I am grateful that homeschooling gives me the freedom to follow the natural rhythms of the day and take the time to nurture the inner rhythms. And most days we make beautiful music together.

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The Inner Life of Sustainability

Most often I think of sustainability as being solely ecological, relating to waste and the overuse of natural resources such as trees and fresh water. However, there is another aspect of sustainability which is energetic in nature and other consequences such as spiritual degradation.

When I neglect my spiritual side I end up depleting my own inner natural resources. By practicing Reiki (energy healing) I have learned that not only do I have personal energy but I am also connected to “Source” energy (Universe, Spirit, God, etc.). When I forget to connect to this wellspring of energy I end up giving away all of my own personal energy – to work, to other people, to worries, and so forth.

In order to repair my energetic system I first need to stop and reflect on where I am, what I am doing, how it is affecting my own energy, how it is affecting the energy of those around me, and what I can do about it all.

I had a problem in my relationship with my husband that was extremely depleting to my spirit. I could not control it, nor could any words or actions on my behalf change it. I felt trapped. After years of anger and frustration I began to enter a place of acceptance. Yes, it sucked but it was where I was and could see no way of resolving the matter.

In the time I was practicing acceptance, I also began to detach. I gave Reiki healings to my relationship and slowly loosened the reins on controlling my situation. I was surrendering the outcome to a higher power. It was no longer up to me to control what my relationship was going to look like, or fight against where I was. This process was uncomfortable. I had spent years trying to “correct” and “fix” a problem that was not becoming what I wanted it to be.

Then came that radical day where the light was shinning brightly on what I needed to know and do. The nature of the problem was not something I could change to suit my needs or desires. It was time to leave. I stood beside the house, forlorn with what I now had to do, watching my partner yet again walk away from me and towards his next drink.

There was an even deeper shift that happened to me that day. In being shown that I could not personally change the behavior of another, I had invited the energy of Source to guide me in a new direction. No longer did I have to be alone on my path. I had the light on my side to illuminate my world and to heal what was not sustaining me.

I dove right into asking all sorts of new questions from, “Where am I going to live?” to “What am I going to do for an income”, and “Can I keep homeschooling my kids?”.  I immediately had a place to live and actually – ironically – me letting go of control moved my husband into sobriety. He became someone I could talk to, share my concerns with, and ask for help. In his own radical shift into health he became connected to his own deeper desire to be of service to his family. He is supporting me financially, encouraging me to continue homeschooling, and taking the kids on the weekends in order for me to focus on writing, blogging and homeschool planning.

I am trying to allow everything to unfold in its natural order. I am still uncomfortable at times. I still loose my balance. But rather than frustration I reach for peace and reciprocity. And even though I have more questions, I am in a space of healing and energetic openness. I am focusing on becoming balanced where I am so that my actions can stem from this new energy.

Where I thought I needed someone else to change, I found that I needed to change. I had to make new choices, ask new questions, and push open new doors. It can be difficult to be the one to change. It seems much easier to blame another person for the “wrong doing”. But we don’t have to face these challenges alone; we have an incredible source of energy inside of us to guide us towards sustainability in whatever form that takes whether it is farming or relationship building.

Shifting my perspective of sustainability from a problem that exists externally to a change that is needed internally has invited new ways of being and seeing the world. So heed the words of Gandhi and “Be the change”.

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Intentions Bridge Creations

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    To continue the conversation of setting intentions and acting on the opportunities that arrive as I wrote in Follwing a Trail I have a story about a recent connection I made. I had the intention all year to … Continue reading

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Following a Trail

The other day I wrote a post about how to design your own curriculum (Living Curriculum). In it I gave steps for revealing opportunities around you that are aligned with your learning goals.

Well, the last few weeks I have been wondering what kind of environmental project I wanted to do with the kids. We spend a lot of time outside loving nature but I wanted to do something to give back; I was looking for a service project we could engage in. 

I had read an article a little while back about a dead whale found with its stomach clogged with plastic. I said something about it to the kids. We went grocery shopping and didn’t buy anything in plastic, talking about how so much of it ends up in the oceans.  Then my daughter noticed trash on the side of the road as we drove by and we talked about picking up trash sometime. 

Later, I came across an article about the problem of plastic (and trash in general) in our oceans, suggesting trash clean-ups as a way to be environmentally involved

So, you can see, there was an emerging theme in regards to an environmental project. Yet I wondered if picking up trash was enough.

Literally the next morning after that thought, I went outside to wheel the garbage can in. What I found was that somehow my garbage did not end up on the truck…it was all over the street. Obviously I picked it up and reflected on the humor of the universe. Trash pick-up seemed like a valid offering after all. 

That evening, I received an email from a friend (and fellow homeschooler) saying she and her son were signed up for a volunteer trash pick-up event. Need I explain that I also signed up?

The kids are looking forward to this upcoming project and are extra happy to do it with a friend. 

From starting with an idea or concern I remained curious and open to ideas and opportunities around me. By acting on an opportunity that has arrived I am following a trail aligned with my learning goals.

Are you following learning trails in your life? Tell me about them in the comments. I would love to hear. 

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Finding Our Center

With our long summer days coming to an end and the winds of fall arriving, I am wondering how I want to create a new routine. I can feel the restless energy of the kids as summer activities slow down; their bodies sensing like birds the coming change in season and activity.

Since the twins will be Kindergartners this year, we will mostly focus on the fundamentals of math and reading. Our co-op group is thinking about learning Spanish together, we have a piano now which will be central to our homeschool, and both kids have been asking for a Hip-Hop class so we will bring those things into our schedule as well.

I first went through my list and made a classic “Daily Schedule”. Although it covered everything I intended for our days, it didn’t have the feel or connectedness that I wanted it to have.

After brainstorming ideas and writing catchy phrases like, “Jazz it up”, “Space between” and “feeling flat”, I got into a bit of a musically minded mood. Music, aha! That moment when an idea catches you. What if I put music at the center of our day and let everything propel outward from there? Math, Language, Patterns, Reading, Writing, Storytelling, Focus, Skill Building, Habit Formation, Practice, Performance….music could be an efficient tool for integrated learning.

So I’m going to ride it. We will start with music. As we put our attention on learning the piano, we will make connections with our other subjects. As the kids learn to read lyrics and musical notes and play with fractions and patterns, they will be achieving their learning goals in a meaningful way.

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Living Curriculum

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Steps for creating a living curriculum: It’s that time of year when we begin to think about putting our yearly homeschool goals into action. Although I consider myself a year-round homeschooler, the truth is, the summer has a very different … Continue reading

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Skill Building

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Earlier this year, during the spring, neither of my kids (5 years old) knew how to swim without a lifejacket. Last year, my daughter wouldn’t even swim with a lifejacket. Before the subject of swimming came up I would hold … Continue reading

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Synchronistic Teaching Moments

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These moments can feel mystical. Yesterday my daughter (5) was playing a math game called “Shut the Box”. When she plays she will roll the two dice and then ask me a mathematical equation, “Mom, what’s five plus three”. I … Continue reading

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