Sunday, February 24, 2013

Our Word of the Day is......Compassion

There’s a lot of ‘stuff’ out in the world that annoys me, some of it even disgusts me.  I’m quick tempered and I know that is not a good thing.  I’ve been working on that for, let’s see, how old am I…right, 45, so for about that long.  Seriously though, while I’m still a work in progress, I’ve made strides in my life in not flying off the handle and letting every little thing bug the crap out of me.  Friends would say, so would enemies, that I fail frequently.  They’re right.  I do.  I still can fly off the handle quicker than a monkey can peel a banana…hmm, probably quicker.  I was what was called ‘sensitive’ as a child; would cry (figuratively and literally) at the drop of a hat and not just over things that directly affected me or rather, my person.  No, I cried for the bird that fell out of his nest.  I cried for the child in my class whose purple crayon broke.  I cried for the kid who was tripped and kicked in the hallway because for some reason he was despised by our peers.  I didn’t just cry, be it real tears of in my heart, I always tried to do something to make the situation better.  I bundled leaves and twigs around the little fallen bird in hopes he would survive the winter day while I was at school.  I gave my only purple crayon to the classmate who now had none.  I helped the boy who was bullied up off the floor while yelling at the kid who did it, “Why are you such an asshole?”  And then one day, my compassion died.  It was replaced by anger.  I was angry because of all the bullying I endured at school.  I was angry because I could never seem to make my mother proud of me.  I was angry because the world was a mean, cold, cruel place and I was tormented by it all.  I was only 15 the day I let my compassion die and become replaced by anger.

From that point on I made it a mission in life to arm myself with information, knowledge:  to *know* facts and figures, data, that would prove me right.  With that and my anger, I marched into war.  Life.  I wore that chip on my shoulder for years and years.  I banged my drum against injustice and cruelty and channeled my anger and my intellect, I believed, in a positive manner.  Somewhere along the way, an acquaintance made this remark to me, “You could do a lot of good for a lot of people if you could learn to stop being so angry at the world.”  Her remark pissed me off.  Surprise.  At a certain point, in my early twenties, I finally recognized that I needed some help and sought counseling.  I’ve done counseling ever since, on and off, as I felt I needed it, to give me a sounding board that is safe and positive environment to work out life issues, growing as a person, and finding a calm center.  I recommend it – or something close to it – for everyone.  Having a safe person, who is knowledgeable and has your best interests at heart, to talk to in order to work shit out is something every human being should have.
It is today that I realize that while I’ve not completely let go of all my anger, and my fuse does get lite over real injustice, there is something growing in me more and more as I age:  My compassion.  It’s been a long road in many ways, but I do believe that my compassion has returned.  It may not have blighted out all my anger, but there’s enough there again that it follows so close on the heels of my anger that it makes an impact.  It makes a difference.  I can see now what I couldn’t see at 15 or 20.  It’s ok that I cry over the hurts that exist in the world.  And while anger has its place, what really brings about positive change is positive emotion and that brings me to the word of the day.  That is what the human race needs a lot more of…compassion.  We rant and rage against so much today, in many ways legitimately so, as there are injustices and crimes against humanity taking place every second in every part of the world.  But being human is difficult.  It is the greatest thing to be….but come on, it’s hard.  We are a make-up of our upbringing, environment, experiences, successes, failures, tragedies, triumphs, genetics, personality, and emotions all packaged up and thrown into the chaos that is the world.  That is A LOT to handle.  We need a little slack.  We need a little leeway.  We all need a little compassion.  And what do we have to do to get what we need?  Give away what we need.  Send it out there and the Universe returns it manifested.

So, while the guy who cuts me off in traffic may very well be a jerk, I’ll be thankful I didn’t have an accident and show a little compassion for him.  Maybe he’s late for a job interview it took him 6 months to get after being out of work for a year.  When the woman serving me behind the counter is treating me as if I’m a problem instead of a customer, I will smile and nod and tell her I hope her day gets better and that I hope there’s a  little happiness sprinkled in her day.  And when the, apparently, closed-minded, bigoted person tells me on the internet that I am wrong for what I believe and for what I stand up for, I’ll show compassion for him too, because it must suck to be so oppressed by your own fear that you must lash out at others who are different than you.

Being compassionate won’t stop me from seeing the inappropriate humor in life, speaking my mind or standing up for what’s right.  It will, I think, deepen my perspective of why I speak up and how.

~Mari B.

Friday, February 15, 2013

A Little Something....

I know it's been a while since I've blogged.  A lot is going on right now as we try to get all our ducks in a row preparing for hubby's departure.  The weeks tick off on our calendar and as they do the realness of his leaving grows more and more in my heart.  I worry.  I always thought I could handle it if he left on a remote - and I'm sure I will - but I'm not as secure about it as I thought I would be.  At first I worried mostly about all those things he handles, that I never have, around the house and such.  Hubby is quite the handy man.  Then I worry about Punky having her father missing from her life during a very important time - the beginning of the transition from girl to young woman.  Now, I also worry about me.  My husband is not a social, party type of guy.  He's a homebody.  I enjoy social engagements and usually get my fill with my friends while he's happy to stay home and look after the hearth and Punky.  So, it's not so much that I'll be missing my 'date' while he's gone.  Of course I'll miss the 'daily life' sharing that we do, that's to be expected.  But what finally struck me the other day, what I realize is what I am going to miss most, is the thing that convinced me he was 'the one' for me in the first place.

After we had announced our engagement to friends and family, I remember an evening when some girlfriends asked me, "How do you know that he's the one?"  What I said then, that was very true, is why I worry now about being apart for a year.  I said, "My entire being is calmer, happier, and more content just having him in my life."  He doesn't have to be right there with me in the room, we don't have to be 'doing' something together - just knowing that he is circling in my atmosphere, brings me a sense of security and peace.  Knowing that he will walk through that door, at some point in the day, gives me peace.  Knowing that if I need to speak with him, he's but a phone call away, gives me confidence for dealing with whatever the day is bringing.

Having him more than 5,000 miles away isn't in my atmosphere and my peace is shaken.  I haven't been sleeping well.  I've started grinding my teeth in my sleep (an old childhood issue) and as a result my jaws ache all day long.  It's the stress.  At first I thought, of course I'm stressed, we have so much to get done before he leaves!  But, I realize it's not what we have to get done before he's gone that's stressing me out.  It's that he is taking my peace with him.

Two years after we had started dating hubby joined the military and for the next four years he was stationed 7 hours away from where I was living.  We did the 'long distance' relationship.  Obviously, we survived it (although I'm not trying to make it seem as if it was easy) and married 19 years ago.  That's the longest I've gone without him in my daily life - but we had frequent visits and even more frequent phone calls.  We also didn't have a home together and a child together at that time.  This time, this distance, will be different than that.

This is what is going on right now, and I've blogged about it already a couple of times.  I don't want to bore people with this issue and so I just haven't been blogging.  There is nothing else right now that occupies my mind long enough to think about it or write about it.  This is what I have inside me right now.  So, I'm a little absent from my blog.  I only write about it again to explain why I'm absent and maybe also in hopes that if I get it out, if I call it by it's name, I'll begin to deal with it easier.  I don't know.

On a completely different topic, I am reading a fantastic book about homeschooling called 'Free Range Learning'.  I recommend it highly!  The only down-side to it is that it's making we realize how 'wrong' I've been doing this homeschooling thing for the last 3 years and it stresses me, a little, wondering if it's too late to change directions at this point in Punky's education.  Which, is just what I need right now.....more stress and discord, right?  But it's a very interesting read and in an effort to use the time hubby is gone in productive, useful ways, I do believe Punky and I will try a little experiment based on what I'm reading in this book.

So, I'll have that to blog about......which will be much more interesting, I'm sure, than my whiny, pitiful blogs about missing my husband.

~Mari B.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Home Schooling: Learning to Live With Doubt

There was that one question I had never heard anyone else ever voice; the one question that I found myself asking with more frequency.  Is homeschooling the right choice for me?  Wait, wait….homeschooling isn’t about ME, the parent.  It’s about her, the child!  It’s doing what is best for HER.  That is after all what we moms (or dads, if that’s the case) are programmed to do, right?  We do whatever it is that is best for our children – at least the best we can given our current understanding of what is best.  Wow.  That’s a mouthful of a thought, but I think I’m digressing.

I ‘spoke’ about it briefly on my facebook page, the doubts we face as homeschoolers.  I was referring to not just the doubts we have about if we are doing the right thing for our children, but also to the doubts that I, at least, have about if being a homeschooling parent is right for ME.  I thought perhaps I was alone in wondering about that, but the fans showed me I wasn’t.  Even those who didn’t experience the same doubts understood why others could.  In many ways it’s a story old, but true:  homeschooling parents are nothing (relatively) new.  I don’t think there is one among us today or from all the days gone by that don’t have moments of doubt.  Are we teaching them enough?  Are they learning enough?  Are we using the right curriculum?  Is it right to not use curriculum?  Is the method we use right for them?  Oh, on and on….the questions that run through our brains are endless in their variety, I’m sure.

Posting the query on the Inappropriate Homeschooler’s facebook page was the first time I’d ever expressed that doubt out loud. Oh, there had been times when I had hinted around the question with things like, “I’m not sure I’m the right one to be teaching her”, or “Some days are so hard, I feel like homeschooling may not be the right path for us.”  THOSE sort of comments were acceptable amongst the homeschoolers, I knew, because everyone expressed those types of thoughts here and there, now and again.  Those doubts were always met with the sort of pats on the back and shows of encouragement that we all need from time to time to get us over a bump in the road or through a rough patch.  Those doubts merely expressed our concerns over are adequacy as teachers, homeschooling parents, learning coaches, whatever we call ourselves.  Those were normal, acceptable, and even expected from time to time.
That’s not what I was talking about though.  I was talking about how I had dreams of a life I wanted to live – that I was living – when I got bit by the ‘have a baby bug’.  As a side note, I was bite very late in life by that bug.  Up until age 33 I never had any interest or desire to have a child.  NEVER.  I certainly didn’t expect to get bit by the bug shortly after turning 33 and getting pregnant 1 month later.  I was thrilled, of course!  Honestly.  Not just lip service.  I have delighted in Punky from the moment she looked into my eyes and there is nothing I love in this world the same way I love her.  I kept her out of public school for Kindergarten because I was not yet ready to deal with having her away from me all day…..and she has a late birthday so she was turning 6 a short time after school started that year.  She was the age most are when they head off to 1st grade!  To stay my sadness at having her gone all day for 1st grade, I was the room mother.  I was at the school two or three days a week, at least, and doing all sorts of stuff for her teacher and the class!  I loved it.  I did.  She loved it!

Once 2nd grade rolled around though, I was fully prepared to ‘get back to my adult life’.  I was beginning to look for interesting employment outside the home and I was writing again in hopes to get back into freelance work.  Hubby was deployed at the time so I had all day to make my plans and pursue these dreams.  As frequent readers know, we didn’t make it through October of Punky’s 2nd grade year before we pulled her and began homeschooling.  I put away my dreams again, and dived into learning how to homeschool.

It’s not that I question the rightness of homeschooling every day.  But, I do question it at times.  I no longer worry or have doubts about homeschooling being the right choice for Punky!  While it is true I do still worry over if I’m doing enough for her in her educational journey, I know homeschooling is right.  I am not a patient person.  I have control issue in some areas.  I am a fairly selfish person.  I want what I want when I want in the manner I want it.  If I want to read, I want to go read.  If I want to get laundry done, I want to get it done.  If I want to watch a show, I want to watch a show.  If I want Chinese for dinner, I make (ok, get) Chinese.  But having children doesn’t lend itself all that well to ‘getting what I want, the way I want it, the moment I want it’.  Homeschooling is a lot of wonderful things. A LOT.  But it also puts me back in the role of ‘full time parent’. 

That sounds horrible doesn’t it?  **Nodding**  I know.  But it’s honest and I think it is the truth.  Public schoolers send their kids off to that institution five days a week for all day and while that doesn’t stop them from being parents, it isn’t an immediate parental role they assume during those five days.  That is not true for the homeschooling parent.  And, for the homeschooling parent, who had dreams of stepping back out into the world and pursuing her own dreams, especially when facing a particularly difficult day, week, or month in homeschooling those dreams seem to beckon or even taunt.  It may just be me.  Nonetheless, this doubt has been pressing at me with more frequency than usual.
 I wonder if it isn’t the upcoming deployment of hubby that is making the doubts more regular and pressing.  I will be alone with Punky every day for 365 days without any immediate, present support from hubby.  There won’t be that break in the day when we call out “Daddy’s home, Daddy’s home!”.  There won’t be those extra set of hands to help in any way, especially for those situations where I can’t seem to get Punky to understand something and so Daddy steps in to help.  It’s now that I find myself wondering, if she got on the bus each morning and I went off to my work would coming together in the evening be better?  We would have all day away from each other and so there’s less chance of getting on each other’s nerves and without having Daddy coming home to break up the day, I fear there will be a lot more ‘getting on each other's nerves’ in the coming year.

There’s not a darn thing I can do about that aspect though.  He is deploying in less than a month and that, as they say, is that.  So, now to figure out what to do with all the other doubts I have………and in the meantime, learn to live with them.  I do believe this requires continued faith on my part; trusting that I am where I am meant to be and that the Universe is unfolding as it should – no matter how messy or chaotic it appears.  Perhaps that's the only answer there ever is:  Learning to Live with the Doubt - until Certainly presents itself.

~Mari B.