Thursday, December 27, 2012

It's Almost Time for a New Year and a New Theme

Ringing in 2013

Our homeschooling isn’t the only thing that will be getting an overhaul for 2013.

In 2012 our homeschooling life, our life in general really, was a mad dash from one thing to the next.  I was involved in a Homeschool Co-Op, in a leadership position, that took considerable time and effort.  Punky was involved in 4H, art classes, tennis, swim team, acting classes, performances, classes at the library and the local museum as well as ‘easy’ things such as Park Day.  We were B-U-S-Y.  It became too much for both of us, really.

I realized that I had reached an age where I didn’t need or want to be on the GO-GO-GO, nor could I mentally handle it the way I did when I was in my 20s and 30s.  Punky, thank God, has enough of her father’s personality that while she’s a social extrovert (like me), she also enjoys her alone, ‘down’ time as much as her busy, go-go time.  It was time to ‘let go’ of a lot of activities and commitments and so instead of making New Year’s resolutions, I embraced a theme for the New Year.  Simplify.  That was my 2012 resolution.  In many ways, I was successful.  I let the Home School Co-Op go, which was a huge weight off of me.  In our homeschooling life, we gave up the things that weren’t furthering our objectives or that Punky no longer truly enjoyed.  We withdrew from art class, acting class that she had outgrown, tennis, swim team, and the classes at the local museum.  We don’t make every Park Day anymore either.

True, we picked up a few new activities, but only ones that truly met with Punky’s ambitions.  Our 'schooling' life (outside of instructional lessons) revolves around all the things needed to further Punky’s life goal of being an actress on Broadway.  She takes voice now and will begin dance in January.  She began auditioning for the local theatres and was involved in three shows (which takes up a LOT of time).  These things, while they can be exhausting, are thrilling and purposeful and neither Punky nor I have developed any resentment or dread over shuttling here and there for these opportunities.  I think that makes all the difference.  If you are involved in something that you dread, it’s not the right thing in which to be involved.  We are happy with that in which we purposefully choose to participate.

2013 is fast approaching and I was contemplating what the New Year theme needed to be.  While the homeschooling schedule still needs a bit of tweaking, and that is one of the goals for 2013, I realized that those things that really require change are not tangibles. 

2012, while ‘simplified’, was an emotional year on so many levels, in so many ways.  To be honest, I feel quite beat up by it.  Oh, don’t get me wrong – there have been wonderful adventures!  My husband received a well-earned promotion, Punky performed for the first time on a real theatre stage, and I launched this blog and subsequent facebook page – which is a wonderful outlet for me. But there have been emotional challenges out the wazoo:  waiting to see what our future holds with the military,  my husband receiving deployment orders that will take him away for us for one year,  my parent’s failing health and all the issues that go along with that, as well as my own personal, emotional challenges.

 I’ve been blessed this year with true friends who have stood by me, helped me, and supported me through it all (even my mistakes and misdeeds).  I’ve been rejected and cast aside by others who I thought were friends, in a very hurtful, yet totally high school locker room manner.  While I’ve been fortunate enough to find a small, like-minded secular homeschooling community (finally), I’ve dealt with my share of difficult situations that arise as a result of my being me and residing in the Deep South.  There has been a time or two, during the year, where I broke down in tears for feeling as if EVERYTHING was a struggle, that there was so much working against me – be it circumstances or people.  (I would expect that there are even those who know me that may be reading this blog post and thinking to themselves either ‘serves her right’ or ‘she brings it on herself’.)

 While reflecting upon my 2012 goal of ‘Simplify’, and even reading some articles on the topic, I stumbled upon an article that listed simplify as the first step for a life lived at peace.  After serious reflection, I realized I had my theme for 2013……PEACE.

Peace in my personal life and peace in our homeschooling life.  I will let peace be my guide.  If it makes my stomach clench in distress, and I have control over it, it will be changed or it will be OUT.  Now, one of my ongoing, personal struggles is between my natural personality and a state of ‘Zen’.  I’m not good at that shit.  I wish I were.  I wish I were all calm, and deep, and wise.  I’m not.  I’m hyper, reactive, and a dumbass most of the time; bitchy some of the time.   
So clearly I need to make peace with some things in order to have peace in my life.  Those things that I don’t have peace about, and I can control, I will focus on changing in 2013.  Those things that I don’t have peace about and I can remove from my life, I will. 

So, here’s my list of changes (or removals) that I will be making in 2013 –

The Year of Peace.

I enjoy writing my blog and running my facebook page.  The fans are great!  If you are one of them – thank you for coming along on the inappropriate ride!  My personal facebook page, however, has become a source of distress too many times and that is where some changes will be made.  Those who weren’t for me in 2012 will not be coming with me in 2013.  Others, that I don’t have a close relationship with, will be set to restricted status.  I’m treating my personal facebook as I do my home – and not everyone gets invited into the house, if you know what I mean.

I will be letting go of ‘long-term future planning’.  It doesn’t bring me peace, in fact most of the time it adds extra distress to my life.  Our circumstances:  being a military family, homeschooling, and having parents who are sick and live far away involve so much that is beyond our control that every time I ‘plan for the future’ and the fates coitus with that I’m distressed once again.  I can’t change the fates, so instead I’m going to stop the planning.  We will go with the flow – making the best decisions we can, when we must, with the information we have.

I’m letting go of the notion that I’m not enough (or in some cases too much).  I am exactly what I need to be in this moment in time.  I am the mother and teacher that Punky needs, the wife my husband needs, and the friend that my friends need or want.  I’m the person I need to be for me.  Changes and growth come with experience, true.  I am no longer going to beat myself up over the fact that I can’t be it all or have it all. I am letting go of the fact that I make mistakes.  Once I realize the mistake I’ve made and done what I can to learn from it and/or rectify it – I’m letting it go.  Anyone who can’t let go of resentment toward me for past mistakes will be put to pasture.  I’m not going to waste the precious time I have left on this planet agonizing over the mistake I made or the fact that someone can’t forgive me and let it go.

Which leads me to, I’m giving up on people who don’t make any effort.  That means those who don’t seem to care about me or my life, those that require me to do all the work to maintain the relationship, and those that can’t or won’t do what they say they will (time and time again) - these people stress me out and hence, no peace.  Those people need to go!

I’m going to start saying ‘No’.  Now, this may seem odd.  I’m inappropriate, so what would I say no to?  Well, first, I have standards – some things are beyond inappropriate – but that is not what I’m referring to.  I actually have a problem turning people down, turning people away, or not letting people ‘in’.  That’s going to change in 2013.  Folks are going to enjoy the view from the cheap seats until I have had a chance to assess their character.  No more believing everyone is honest, kind, caring, understanding, or forgiving.  No more accepting people for who they are to the point of letting them screw with me and my life.  Very few people actually reciprocate the kind of acceptance I give and I’m going to value my assets a lot more than I have.  I’m a good friend to have.  Yes, I may be reactive at times and speak harshly or without thought (and I’m working on that) and that can be hurtful to my friends.  However, I love unconditionally, I am without judgment, and I am honest.  I am there for my friends, day or night, whenever they need me, in any way they need me.  I believe in ‘deep ties’ and if I care about you, I’ll turn my life inside out to be there for you and help you.  That shit is valuable.  I’m going to learn to realize how valuable a friend I really am, despite my flaws. 

There are other ways I am going to work to have peace in my life.

I am going to focus on managing expectations.  This is two-fold.  First, I’m going to worry less about ‘meeting the expectations’ of others.  I am going to be honest with myself and others about what does stress me out and not worry if they think it’s silly, weak, or stupid.  If I can let go of my worry of other peoples expectations then I can say, “No, that won’t work for me so I won’t be doing that – or doing it that way.”  It’s just not worth it anymore.  I end up acting like a big ole’Bitch when I’m put into a situation that I didn’t want to be in the first place and it’s my own damn fault for letting it happen because I wanted to please someone else or meet someone else’s expectations or needs. But more importantly than that even, I am going to focus on keeping my expectations, about everything, more realistic.  This is actually a big one for me.  A lot of unrest in my life is a result of my own expectations.

 Which leads me to….

I am going to let go of my ‘negativity bias’.  I am such a ‘the glass is half empty’ kind of gal.  I am going to focus on the part of the glass that is half full.  Now, how?  I’m going to keep a gratitude journal.  I’ve always scoffed at this type of ‘New Agey’ action, but I have come to realize that it is true that the only way to be more positive is to focus on the positive and the easiest way to do that is to WRITE down the positives so you’ll remember.  I will be teaching my brain to focus on the positives, the daily things – no matter how small – about which to be grateful.  In keeping with this, I will also no longer allow myself to be purposely exposed to difficult or negative people, those who constantly bring me down or undermine my efforts to improve my life. If they are unwilling to understand my current goals then I will be better off without them. 

In my daily walk in order to have less stress and more peace I will:

1)  Do less each day.  I will focus on three important objectives for the day and those will be my ‘To Do’ list for the day.  If it’s not on my 'To Do' list, and it’s not an emergency, it will not be attended to that day unless I have the free time and emotional energy to do so.

2)  I will only make commitments that reflect what is important in our lives.  I will no longer commit to ‘fillers’ or obligate myself to those things that I have no real interest in pursuing.

3)  I will leave S-P-A-C-E between appointments, commitments, obligations, and activities whenever possible.  I am no longer capable of rushing from one thing to the next and it’s time to be honest about how stressed out it makes me to do so - stressed out to the point that I act like a big 'ole Bitch.

How I will incorporate this into the homeschooling aspect of our lives is actually simple– in theory, anyway.  To have a more peaceful homeschooling experience we will:

1)  Commit to accomplishing three educational goals a day.  Anything else accomplished is a bonus.

Yes, that’s it.  That will be the BIG change we make in 2013 regarding our homeschooling.  My ‘To Do List’ in homeschooling is always a page or two long.  We never get it all done.  In fact, we never get half of it done.  It stresses me out.  It makes me feel unaccomplished.  It’s time to stop being an idiot about it.  It’s time to set realistic goals.  We have a clear, attainable objective – Punky wants to be in the Theatre, now and as a career.  I WILL be the mother who supports her dream, no matter how ‘big’ or some would say, ‘unrealistic’ that dream is.  We are a homeschooling family – which allows us the freedom to tailor-make our life.  It’s time we acted like it. 

So now, instead of writing out weekly lesson plans, or objectives, I will write them out daily.  The night before I will sit down and list the three educational goals for us to accomplish the next day.  The next night when I sit down, I will evaluate what was accomplished, enjoyed, and learned from completing that day’s goals and use that to set the next day’s three educational goals.  We will homeschool day-to-day.  Period.  No more stressing out for me… or for Punky either.

There it is… all written out for me and the world to see.  I’m going to print it and then live it for my ‘Year of Peace’ in 2013.

~ Mari B.


  1. HOORAY!!!!! Thank you so much for writing all of this, Mari Beth!! Am going to print this out and study it more this weekend (after my visitors return home), but I really love what you have written here! You are an amazing person to know.

  2. My resolution was to not make one. I think to hard and always feel like I'm failing my grandios expectations!! I do enjoy the making 3 goals a day, I'm vulnerable to depression in the winter and anxiety as the result of always failing my expectations, I should really monitor them more in a realistic manner. Thanks for that!

    As for your daughters theatre dreams, unless she isn't good at it (many kids just aren't meant for it) there is a way to make that dream come true. I been in theatre for 9 years (backstage) either as a head of wardrobe, costume designer, wig/ hair stylist or child supervisor and with working with children actors I'd say also look for tv roles in commercials, music videos and such, they are rarely big roles but they all add to getting experience and gives you a bit of money to pay for more classes. Theatre camps are good IF you get into the good ones and it's not necessarily the most expensive one. Some small local theatre here charge an arm and a leg for a really shitty program while our large professional theatre charge the same for a fabulous program that actually attracts an audience and teach the child valuable skills.

    Right now we're doing the Canadian première or Elf the musical and I have 11 kids from 7-13 years old to care for ranging from zero experience to having reoccurring roles on TV. Something else to consider is that most director have A LOT to think about so they often go lazy when they pick actors and will stick the the ones they know, so if she can do a great performance, be super fun to work with and follow proper backstage rules, it will be 100 times easier to get in next time.

    As for doing this for a living, I will say that 97% of actors don't work full time cuz it's really hard to line up work perfectly and the more versatile you are with language, dancing, singing and acting, the better your chances are. I would also guide her into working with food, catering and such is the go to job for actors between gigs. My child second home is the theatre, my partner and I both work there and she is obsess with dancing and talking to people from a stage at 16 months (I'm still holding on to my dreams of her becoming a scientist or something but we are aware that her surrounding will have an impact on her as she grows up and does half her homeschooling from the theatre. So if by any chances she does pick acting also when she is older, I will also work on back up plans for either a small home business on the side (I'm very crafty and hope to share those skills) or the food industry so she can have something to fall back on in between gigs. If she can be financial stable without the theatre she will have less chance at making desperate moves that could hinder her career or her in general. The adult actors live a life of drinking and partying as most travel to much to have children and what else do you do in a new town.

    So this is a view of the world of theatre in a way most people don't see unless you live in it. Hope it can help you prepare her better for the real world. It is a hard life but also fulfilling to many when they get the role they really wanted!

    Here is what our backstage life looks like with kids!!


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