Postcard 8: Surf school

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When we take long trips like this one, we largely focus on free experiences. Because four to six weeks of paid entries would crush our budget in a hurry. So we spend our time exploring roadside ruins, hidden ancient sites, mossy forest trails, and other free-to-see locations and experiences.

Despite this strict and mindful budget, we did have a small fund set aside for memorable experiences we otherwise wouldn’t have had.

My choice? Taking a ferry, then renting bikes for the day for exploring one of the Aran Islands. Indeed, it was a highlight of the trip for me. By the time time we caught the ferry back to Ireland proper, my face hurt from smiling. So much fun.

A priority on everyone else’s list: surf lessons.

Both Pete and Sage wanted to surf the last time we were in Ireland, but stormy seas caused by the leftovers of a tropical hurricane scuttled their hopes. This time, the weather was gorgeous, we had the time, and even Lupine was in.

So we aimed our rental car to the nearest waves, asked a few locals at a parent-child surf club who they would recommend we hire to teach us, then connected with Seamus McGoldrick (Sligo Surf Experience) for a couple of hours of surf lessons.

I opted to watch from the beach to capture a few photos of their adventure, and set this experience aside as one for Pete to share alone with the kids.

They spent the morning practicing on the sand, then raced to the sea to try out their new skills. And they had a blast.

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I’m not sure when I’ve seen these three work and play so hard, smile so big, or sleep so deeply as they did after yesterday’s adventure. And now all three (of these landlocked midwesterners) are dreaming of the next wave.

What is your child’s best education?

I have a new blog post over on Happy Healthy Family this morning.

Here is an excerpt: 

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My kids have never attended school in their lives. Nor do we “do school” at home. You’ll rarely find us around the table, pencils in hand, math and science books piled high. You’re more likely to find is in the woods or the creek, the kitchen or the workshop; our curiosity alight and full of a love of learning that was rare in my own childhood but a constant in my life today.

This might make you think that my answer the question above would be: The best education for your child is interest-led, project-based homeschooling! Obviously.

EXCEPT THAT IT’S NOT.

Because this is my family’s right path, right now. It has nothing to do with a singular “best” option or something that’s a good match for anyone else.

AND JUST LIKE HOT SAUCE OR HEAVY METAL, YOGA OR PET SNAKES, IT’S NOT FOR EVERYONE. IT’S NOT SUPPOSED TO BE.

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I’m over on Happy Healthy Family (the LüSa Organics Blog) talking about choices in education and following your child’s lead and your own heart.

You can find my thoughts here.

 

Caterpillar to butterfly

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Remember my little friend, Buddy, the monarch caterpillar? He emerged from his chrysalis!

I found him on a walk a couple of weeks ago on a milkweed patch in the path of the country mower. So I brought him home and set up our butterfly house, and we’ve been obsessively watching him ever since.

He formed a chrysalis a week and a half ago, we’ve been watching closely for days, awaiting his emergence.

Lupine noticed on Wednesday morning that the wings could be clearly seen, folded tightly behind the transparent membrane. We marveled at him for a long while, then stepped outside for only a moment. When we returned, we found him fully emerged!

Needless to say, we were awestruck.

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We watched as he pumped and opened his wings, then rested and dried them, while hanging suspended from the ceiling of the cage.

Finally, it was time to set him free!

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My mom was visiting, so she gathered with the four of us to witness his maiden flight.

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(Last photo courtesy of Lupine.)

I refer to Buddy as “he”, because a friend taught us how to determine gender on a monarch! See those two black spots above on the lower wing in the photo above? And the delicate (thin) black lines throughout? That told us that he was a male, and not a female as we had been guessing all along.

So “she” became “he” in an instant, just after emergence.

The things we learn, side-by-side with out kids! Next up we’re raising Luna moths. A friend gifted us a few luna babies that we’re raising with great excitement. Much to our delight, these amazing chrysalises jiggle and vibrate when you set them down.

They. Are. Incredible.

And a tiny bit creepy.

I shared a video on my Instagram highlights if you want to watch!

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And after that? We have a Polyphemus colony that’s happily munching on oak leaves in our kitchen. Another gift; same friend. This bundle of big fat adorable caterpillars will turn into these beauties.

Needless to say, I’m geeking out on this as much (if not more) than my kids.

Sometimes people ask us when we have our last day of school; do we take the summer off from homeschooling?

Not really. I mean how could we? Life is learning, and our curiosity just won’t quit.

So we don’t have a “first day” or a “last day” of school–not this year, and not ever. Because honestly, we couldn’t stop learning if we tried. And why would we ever want to, with this magic in our kitchen?

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A few postscripts (and a couple of handy afflinks) follow:

1. We were dumbstruck by this podcast and, weeks later, still talk about what we learned from it often. I hope you enjoy!

2. The zippered butterfly tent that we’re using in the photos above we picked up a few years ago. It was a part of this butterfly kit that we really bought just for the house. (Though raising the butterflies that came with it were fun, too.) A friend had one and her butterflies seemed to do so much better than ours did when raised in a makeshift house or gallon jars. Maybe it’s just that I fret about them injuring themselves less in this soft-side tent.

3. And if you’re new to lepadoptera or just looking for a good field guide to caterpillars, this one is a good place to start.

Happy caterpillar hunting, friends!

Aeriel silks at home

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Lupine started taking aeriel silks last year. (I shared her first performance with you along with my reflections on the profound value of this practice for her here.)

Her teacher is amazing: tough as nails (like nothing my kids have ever experienced) but unbelievably invested, committed, and loving to the kids in her care. It’s the perfect temperament for something like this, which requires the kids to be safe but to also feel safe. I can’t imagine a better combination than Francia.

And since Lupine attended her first class, she’s been aware that having a silk at home would not only improve her skills, but also be a ridiculous amount of fun.

With that in mind, every dollar she was gifted or earned during the past year (mostly from her play dough business) went into the bank, earmarked for a silk.

Finally, she had saved enough, and waited long enough to be certain this was what she wanted. And – at long last – she bought her silk. (She chose this kit since it included the hardware she needed as well and this basic mat since it’s good enough for basic protection, and she won’t be doing drops at home. afflinks)

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There was a bit of a bump in the road after her silk arrived, when the color was not what we expected. As online ordering can so often go, what we got didn’t look one bit like the photo. It happens.

So the classy raspberry silk she expected arrived in full-on no-apologies hot pink instead. We decided to sleep on it (the keep-or-return decision, not the silk itself), and lo and behold, that crazy color grew on her. She decided that hot pink forever was better than waiting another two weeks for raspberry.

With a dusting of snow still on the ground (and more in the forecast) we searched the house for an appropriate(ish) indoor site. Then together, she and I found a stud in the kitchen ceiling and installed the screw eye.

And she was off.

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A quick sidebar here: our house is small.

Really small.

And our kitchen – already doing double-duty as the place we cook (and do a pleothra of other kitchen-things) and serving as our makeshift family room – became our aeriel silks studio as well.

It was a little nuts, but a lot of fun too. How could it not be?

But, yeah. The house is feeling smaller than ever with her dangling there between the wood stove and the oven as I attempt to cook dinner.

Finally, yesterday, the last of the snow had melted and the thermometer was on the rise. When it hit a balmy 52 F, it was time. (Click on any photo to see a full-sized version.)

Lupine corralled Pete in the workshop and convinced him to help her hang the silk in the big maple tree in the yard. With the help of an extension ladder and our bag of unused climbing gear, they set to work.

They began by taking her horsie tire swing down, a gift from my dad on her second birthday. Seeing it laying in the yard as her silk was slowly lifted into position? The poetry was not lost on me.

And before long her silk was in the air, and so was she.

As a mom, aeriel silks is a lot like other parts of my parenting journey.

We beam at their skills, cheer on their efforts, marvel at their strengths.

And we do our best to not make that terrified gasp sound loud enough for them to hear.

Make no mistake, it’s serious internal work to watch your baby hand from her ankles five feet off the ground with no safety ropes, suspended above a mat that’s only 2″ thick and probably 1/2 the surface area it should be.

(Because: gravity.)

But like teaching a teenager to drive (something else we’re embarking on at the moment) or trusting that your kids will make safe choices when we’re not by their sides, it all an exercise in letting go.

In trust.

In allowing.

And so we do.

We trust her teacher, her knowledge, her skills, and her strength. We trust the tree roots, it’s branches, and the hardware and knots that hold her.

We trust all of these things and more.

Both here, as she dangles suspended in thin air, and – yes – as she sets off on her own out into the world.

Love, trust, allowing…

Repeat, repeat, repeat.

Prairie burn!

The kids and I hurried home from town last night, arriving to see the hillside above our house already in flames.

That’s a good thing, I assure you.

Pete, two neighbors, and two other area prairie enthusiasts were already at work, burning fire breaks and raking debris to prepare our shared prairie for a prescribed burn.

(All photos are expandable. Click to see a larger view.)

The project began many weeks ago, and truly culminated last night in this long-awaited burn.

Pete, our friend Alan, and our next door neighbor Jeff had spent the past many weeks working tirelessly to restore an expanse of goat prairie (that spans our and Jeff’s land) that was being slowly but steadily covered in juniper trees. Invasive honeysuckle was waiting in the (wooded) wings.

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Alan, who lives just up the valley from us a couple of miles, (pictured here in green) has been champing at the bit to restore this prairie for some 20 years.

His delight was evident – and contagious.

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We’ve done prescribed burns with Alan in years past, burning pastures and bottomlands below our barn. But this time was different.

This was an ecosystem built by fire, but one that had not been burned (in Al’s estimation) for 75 years.

We know that the original homesteaders grazed sheep and goats here (old fences still remain, tangled in the forest at the ridge-line), but other than that it’s been abandoned, largely due to it’s steep slope and shallow, rock-strewn soil.

With the junipers gone, it was time to give the prairie one last push toward health.

With fire.

Moments after we arrived, Sage was “voluntold” (as he good-naturedly put it) to grab a water pack and work a firebreak. Lupine and I skirted the edges, keeping our eyes peeled for any sparks or embers jumping the boundary. (We had lived that experience before, the four of us and Al, and never wanted to do so again.)

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This burn, thankfully, went according to plan.

The excitement in the air was as thick as the smoke, and this remnant scrap of prairie was lovingly – yet dramatically – coaxed back toward health.

From a homeschooling perspective, we couldn’t have asked for more. It’s been a couple of years since the kids were involved in a burn. (Look at how young they were during this one!)

And they jumped in with enthusiasm.

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It was impossible to stop smiling.

The very real sense of community; the feeling of being true stewards for the land; the knowledge that hard work pays off; the contagious spirit of volunteerism – all of it came together as the sun slipped behind the smoking hillside.

I went to bed feeling grateful for good neighbors, old prairies, and no surprise gusts of wind.

What a night! And what a project.

Croissant-schooling

Croissant-schooling: the power of interest-led learning in homeschooling. #homeschool #unschool #interestledlearning #homeschooling

As homeschoolers, I love incorporating everyday tasks and real-life-learning into our children’s education. We are afforded a luxury of time together, and there is space for this kind of work, for them to learn the things that will serve them when they set off on their own into the world.

With this in mind, my kids have been stepping up to prepare meals since Sage was only 9 or 10 and Lupine was 6. Does it mean less work for me, since I don’t need to cook? Um, not usually. But is this piece of our homeschool an important one that will infuse them with life skills to carry with them into the world? Absolutely.

They research recipes, plan the meals, help with the shopping (when time permits), and prepare the food. I help as needed, more when they were younger and less all the time.

And each week when I ask Lupine what meal she wants to prepare (normally just a day or two before) she gives me the same answer: croissants.

I am not a pastry chef. The idea of making croissants is somewhat paralyzing to me (Croissants? People actually make those? At home?) And so each week I am a total downer and explain to her why croissants won’t work on a random weekday when we’ve had lessons or need to run to town or have other pressing tasks on our agenda. It’s just too much of a time commitment during an already busy week. If I’m honest, this answer is 3/4 of the truth. The other 1/4 is my fear of her attempting something that seems so epic and overwhelming (for both of us).

But this week, she was on duty for a weekend meal, something we don’t usually do. When she said croissants, I knew there was actually time!

And – at long last – I finally said yes.

You can imagine her excitement.

She set to work on Friday for her Sunday meal. (Ignore the fact that she’s wearing not only the same outfit but the same pajamas in every photo in this series. Ahem.)

There was a huge block of butter to bludgeon, something called a “poolish” (poo-leash) that I had never even heard of for her to make, a dough to create, and then so much careful folding, rolling, and refrigerating to tend to.

This went on throughout much of Saturday.

I did nothing to help besides buy all that butter.

And then, at long last, on Sunday it was time to bake! Triangles were cut, rolled, and egg-washed, and then the oven was haunted until they were baked to perfection.

The excitement was palpable.

Because honestly: how often do we – as adults or as children – take on a project that is utterly devoid of instant gratification, something that stretches us beyond our current knowledge and comfort zone, but something so worth the effort and the wait? Not often enough, I say.

And when we do take those things on? They transform us. We see what we are capable of.

We shine.

(Almost as though we’ve been egg-washed.)

And with much jubilation, we sat down to a very French, very elegant lunch. (Pajamas were even exchanged for clean clothes for the occasion.)

And? These croissants were outstanding, you guys. They were something beyond my wildest expectations. Flaky and crisp and buttery and amazing and made by my favorite 11 year old.

She did that. On her own. At 11.

That’s what determination and hard work – when rooted deep within you – can do.

All of this, of course, got me to thinking about how interest-led learning works. Sure, I could have dreamed up a project such as this for her, but that, I expect, would have been a whole lot of hard work for her to endure rather than to savor.

Do you sense that difference? That’s the shift that comes when motivation is internal rather than external.

By creating this project, this meal, this masterpiece from her own heart and desire? Now that’s when the switch gets flipped and learning comes to life. That’s where we are lit ablaze with a love of life, of knowledge, and of discovering new parts of ourselves we haven’t explored.

That’s where learning truly happens.

Croissant-schooling: the power of interest-led learning in homeschooling. #homeschool #unschool #interestledlearning #homeschooling

For those with a budding French baker at home, get your PJ’s ready! I have recipes to share. Lupine’s croissants were made mostly with this recipe. However, due to our love of all things British Baking Show, we also dabbled in Paul Hollywood’s method as well. (Usually when the primary recipe was vague.)

Edited to add: In the true spirit of homeschooling, Lupine crunched some numbers this morning and would like to report that the six simple turns of her tri-fold dough resulted in a whopping 729 layers of butter in those glorious croissants! (6 to the power of 3.)

Yay, croissant-school!

What about your family? What have you learned alongside your child, fueled by their own curiosity or passion?

Making bitters

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Lupine and I spent the morning prepping two small, personalized batches of digestive bitters. We enjoy drinking them in either carbonated or still water before meals, boosting our digestion and giving us something to sip on while we cook. I've been dealing with some persistent eczema since fall, and I'm certain that better digestion will be key to healing that from the inside out.

If you're looking for inspiration for crafting your own bitters, our ingredients lists (sans quantities, since we measured nothing!) is below. Mine also contained a pinch of dried elecampane root that I neglected to add to the list.

I suppose this can also serve is a working demonstration of what unschooling or interest-led learning looks like, since the whole project was learning-by-doing, and as a bonus Lupine decided this was the opportunity she's been waiting for to practice her cursive. (She asked me to practice mine, too, and I happily obliged.)

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If you need more than this rough list, my basic how-to can be found in Taproot WEAVE (along with the knitting patter for the green and purple hats that several of you asked about from my Instagram over the past week or so). That issue is almost sold out though, so don't wait if it's on your wish list! 

Edited to add: Taproot WEAVE sold out in a hurry. If you're looking for another resource for DIY bitters, this book looks promising! (Afflink.)

 

 

What magic is happening in your kitchen this week?

 

Forge is a noun: thoughts on project-based homeschooling

Today the kids and I (and a few homeschooling friends) are packing up and heading to The Bodgery, our favorite neighborhood makerspace.

Except that it's not exactly in our neighborhood, being over two hours from home. That's how much we love this place: enough to drive two hours each way to get a chance to play.

Because unreasonable drive or not we wouldn't trade our membership for anything.

This is where we spend a day or more at a time a couple of times a month, working with wood, metal, and fabric, creating whatever we can dream of.

And despite the fact that we skip spelling and math and creative writing on the days we are here, it's very much central to our homeschool.

Creative, free form making has been a key component of our homeschooling rhythm since our kids were old enough to wield a glue gun or swing a hammer. And when you add the community of a makerspace like the Bodgery to the equation it gets just that much better.

The kids are inspired by other people projects—from fine woodworking to motor-controlled go carts; delicate needle work to 3D-printed prosthetics—and make connections with mentors and makers in the community.

Why including "making" in your homeschool? Below are my thoughts on the value of project-based learning for our family. Written in 2015, it applies as much today (if not more) than it did when I first wrote it. 

Forge is a noun. Thoughts on project-based homeschooling

Forge is a noun. Thoughts on project-based homeschooling.

Forge is a noun. Thoughts on project-based homeschooling.

Forge is a noun. Thoughts on project-based homeschooling.

Forge is a noun. Thoughts on project-based homeschooling.

Forge is a noun. Thoughts on project-based homeschooling.

Forge is a noun. Thoughts on project-based homeschooling.

Forge is a noun. Thoughts on project-based homeschooling.

Forge is a noun. Thoughts on project-based homeschooling.

Forge is a noun. Thoughts on project-based homeschooling.

Forge is a noun. Thoughts on project-based homeschooling.

Forge is a noun. Thoughts on project-based homeschooling.

Forge is a noun. Thoughts on project-based homeschooling.

Forge is a noun. Thoughts on project-based homeschooling.

Forge is a noun. Thoughts on project-based homeschooling.

Forge is a noun. Thoughts on project-based homeschooling.

Forge is a noun. Thoughts on project-based homeschooling.

Forge is a noun. Thoughts on project-based homeschooling.

When I was on the brink of turning thirteen I'm pretty sure I only knew that "forge" was a verb that had something to do with your parent's signature, and "quench" was how you satisfied your thirst after a long bike ride.

And a blacksmith? That was someone you saw at Old World Wisconsin on the fourth grade field trip. Not a real person in the real world. And certainly not me.

But around here, life (and learning) is a little different than it was when I was a kid. And I mean "different" in a really wonderful way.

Because as positive as my public school experience was growing up in the '70's and '80's, for us this is school: my kid with a red hot piece of iron and a hammer on a June afternoon.

Our homeschooling mission is to dig in and do whatever we're imagining.

Even if on the surface it doesn't seem "academic".

Or "practical". Or "realistic". Or even possible sometimes.

That thing you've been dreaming of? Whatever it may be? Yeah. That. Let's get to work on it. Today.

 

Make a plan and make it happen. That our homeschooling path.

A model train layout based on the history and geography of the Driftless region, a small wooden car that runs on a lawnmower engine, lots of from-scratch candy making, fresh baked bread, a peroxide-powered rocket, a battle bot, a tree house, and a blacksmithed sword are all on Sage's current project list.

Will he finish them all? Probably not. But will he learn a great deal along the way? Absolutely.

So yes, he could spend his time sitting at a desk memorizing facts and taking tests. I'm certain there are things he'd know more about if he did. But are they the things that he is driven to learn about? Are they the things that would feed his insatiable hunger for knowledge?

I am certain they are not.

Instead, his time is spent literally fanning the fires in his blacksmithing forge as he figuratively fans the fires of his passion for knowledge.

The forge may not look academic, but it is feeding his love of learning each and every day.

And instead of constantly seeing how he compares to his classmates in any given subject, he sees his own dreams taking shape by the power of his young hands.

 

We learn by imagining, planning, and doing without limits. 

We learn through our passions and interests; through trying, failing, and trying again.

Sure, we sit down and crank out some spelling words or practice our cursive now and then, but that is the exception, not the rule. Instead we learn – not by constantly looking at where we fall short – but instead by believing in ourselves and knowing we can do whatever we put our minds to.

It's learning with not only our heads, but also our hearts and our hands.

And for us that's learning of the best possible sort.

Two new cloaks

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Since we rethought the arrangement of our house and added space for all-day-every-day making, the kids have been working tirelessly on sewing projects of every sort. Not for Halloween, mind you, but for everyday (Lupine) and for LARPing (Sage). 

Within three days of the sewing machines coming downstairs not one but two new cloaks were complete.

And I didn't sew a single stitch! As a bonus, I was thrilled to see Sage mastering the serger for his wool cloak, made from a couple of upcycled blankets he picked up at the thrift store.

Mad skills, these two.

As Lupine is a bit more willing and eager for photo-documentation of her projects (and I have yet to corner Sage in his wool cloak for pictures), you'll have to take my word for it that his is equally fabulous.

Lupine's project did't cost a penny, involving only a retired bed sheet, a gifted roll of sari ribbon, and some buttons from my great grandma's button box. Since we didn't have a pattern, she improvised the body of the cloak and the closure and I helped her sketch a pattern for the hood. I think the result is fabulous! 

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I was also assured that this long and flowing cloak is totally appropriate attire for tree climbing. Ahem.

This creative space has been a game-changer in so many ways and a day doesn't go by that I'm not grateful for it. Now I just need to schedule some time in there for myself to get some sewing attended to. (Someone has a birthday coming up, and I'm at a loss for ideas. Surely sewing will be involved!)

As for the kids? I can't wait to see what they make next.

 

P.S. Inspired to get your own kids sewing? You might enjoy this post from way back in the archives. 

 

When we grow up

When I was 15 a well-intentioned woman in a business suit told me, "Someday you'll grow up and have to get a real job and wear a suit." 

I laughed.

"Mark my words," I told her, "I will never have a job where I need to wear a suit."

She was unconvinced. I was not.

I forgot entirely about this conversation for a decade. And then, as a naturalist working at a field station (my very first job out of college), I stopped mid-stride on the trail, remembering. I was walking through the woods, so happy, so grateful, listening to a pileated woodpecker weaving through the branches overhead. The sun was streaming through the trees. I was at work! In the woods! This was my life.

And standing there in my t-shirt, blue jeans, and hiking boots, I remembered her words. "Someday you'll grow up and have to get a real job and wear a suit." 

Or, maybe not.

What if instead we gave our kids the message that whatever it is they love can be a central part of their world - yes, even in adulthood? What if we encouraged them to find their passions and discover their joy now, instead of arriving in adulthood lost and wondering what makes their soul sing?

I thought of her comment again yesterday, as I sat in knee-high muck boots beside a campfire on a Wednesday morning. (I was here on Monday, too, possibly wearing the same clothes.)

I am a homeschooling parent, a writer, a photographer, a teacher, and a small business owner of 15 years. And still – no suit. 

I think of her comment and how my own kids would feel as they move steadily toward adulthood to get the message that "someday you'll need to suck it up and live that life you don't want to because that's what growing up means." 

But does it? 

What if instead we gave our kids the message that whatever it is they love can be a central part of their world – yes, even in adulthood? What if we encouraged them to find their passions and discover their joy now, instead of arriving in adulthood lost and wondering what makes their soul sing?

I think that message would fall on hungry, welcoming hearts.

All that I wanted at 15 (or 9, or 40) was to be a photographer. And now I take pictures everyday. That was my singular dream from 4th grade onward, and now it is a part of my daily joy. 

Am I the exception or the rule?

And if I am the exception, why?

What if instead we gave our kids the message that whatever it is they love can be a central part of their world - yes, even in adulthood? What if we encouraged them to find their passions and discover their joy now, instead of arriving in adulthood lost and wondering what makes their soul sing?

I hope my kids land on the same side that I have – knowing and living their joy.

And so yesterday, instead of talking about suits or futures or jobs they won't love, my kids and I headed back to the woods.

Like everyday this week.

Because October and childhood only lasts so long.

What if instead we gave our kids the message that whatever it is they love can be a central part of their world - yes, even in adulthood? What if we encouraged them to find their passions and discover their joy now, instead of arriving in adulthood lost and wondering what makes their soul sing?

What if instead we gave our kids the message that whatever it is they love can be a central part of their world - yes, even in adulthood? What if we encouraged them to find their passions and discover their joy now, instead of arriving in adulthood lost and wondering what makes their soul sing?

What if instead we gave our kids the message that whatever it is they love can be a central part of their world - yes, even in adulthood? What if we encouraged them to find their passions and discover their joy now, instead of arriving in adulthood lost and wondering what makes their soul sing?

What if instead we gave our kids the message that whatever it is they love can be a central part of their world - yes, even in adulthood? What if we encouraged them to find their passions and discover their joy now, instead of arriving in adulthood lost and wondering what makes their soul sing?

The first thing my kids do when we get into the woods is take off their shoes. They stalk quietly barefoot through the leaves, they listen, they are still.

They are building forts right now, one dug into the cool forest floor and the other woven of invasive honeysuckle we have cleared. I pull garlic mustard and listen to woodpeckers in the branches above us while they work.

On this day we built a campfire, then began carving spoons from a freshly felled hickory. It was delightful and if we had brought lunch I doubt we would have headed home before dinnertime. Sure, back home there were other lessons and tasks to attend to, but for the morning anyway, nothing was more important than this.

What if instead we gave our kids the message that whatever it is they love can be a central part of their world - yes, even in adulthood? What if we encouraged them to find their passions and discover their joy now, instead of arriving in adulthood lost and wondering what makes their soul sing?

What if instead we gave our kids the message that whatever it is they love can be a central part of their world - yes, even in adulthood? What if we encouraged them to find their passions and discover their joy now, instead of arriving in adulthood lost and wondering what makes their soul sing?

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What if instead we gave our kids the message that whatever it is they love can be a central part of their world - yes, even in adulthood? What if we encouraged them to find their passions and discover their joy now, instead of arriving in adulthood lost and wondering what makes their soul sing?

What if instead we gave our kids the message that whatever it is they love can be a central part of their world - yes, even in adulthood? What if we encouraged them to find their passions and discover their joy now, instead of arriving in adulthood lost and wondering what makes their soul sing?

What if instead we gave our kids the message that whatever it is they love can be a central part of their world - yes, even in adulthood? What if we encouraged them to find their passions and discover their joy now, instead of arriving in adulthood lost and wondering what makes their soul sing?

What if instead we gave our kids the message that whatever it is they love can be a central part of their world - yes, even in adulthood? What if we encouraged them to find their passions and discover their joy now, instead of arriving in adulthood lost and wondering what makes their soul sing?

Barefoot, dirty, and smelling of woodsmoke, they learn. They discover and explore things that they love. They learn to value silence, stillness, and nature. They ground themselves in the quiet wonder of the woods.

And me right along with them.

Will my kids grow up someday, put on shoes, buy suits, and go to work?

Perhaps.

But only if it is the thing that speaks to their hearts with the clearest song. Because if I have done my work properly, they will both grow up knowing the value of hard work, yes, but also the value of people and feelings and forests and joy, and of following their own path – not the one they are told to take.

 

I may have earned more dollars in a business suit, but at what cost to my heart?

Because life, I believe, is about so much more than just paychecks.