Pamela Llano Zesty Mom
Autumn arrived and the change of seasons has brought with it the first rains we’ve seen in months. My thirsty trees and plants are soaking up the love in the same way they soak up the first warm days of spring. They were ready for this.
And I’m ready too. Although the flooding gutters, muddy driveway and dropping temperature remind me that I’ll have plenty to do to get ready for the winter that’s coming, I’m still committed to enjoying the change of fall while it’s here, along with all of the other changes in my life.
In some ways, I’m as thirsty for a new season in my life as the dry foothills around me are. I often think that nature seems to roll with change so much more easily than we people sometimes do, but really, it’s a process on all sides. Just like the trees don’t have to be ready for freezing nights just yet, I don’t have to stress that I might not be completely prepared today for what might come two seasons from now either. All I have to do is know that change is coming, know that I am equipped to deal with it and soak up all the wonderful rain that is refreshing my soul right now.
Looking back at the changes of the last few years, I feel like I’m no longer a sapling dependent on outside stakes to keep from snapping in the wind. I have a much stronger trunk, the kind that knows how to bend and flex in storms. I have sturdy roots, have been pruned and can carry heavy loads. I also produce beautiful flowers, comforting shade and nourishing fruit. And I know that I’m still growing.
So, today I’m enjoying that the air smells clean and fresh. I’m ignoring the lack of firewood and slightly leaking window because the bigger picture is that I’m in a warm and cozy home with my children, a pot of soup on the stove, bread in the oven and plenty of movies and board games. Today, I’m soaking up all the blessings in the midst of change.
And I'm looking forward to seeing what the next season brings my way.
How about you? Any changes on the horizon?
The season officially changes to autumn this week, and the busyness of fall is in full swing for my family. Life is full of so many good things, that I'm lacking in time to write...so, it must be time for another episode of Wordless Wednesday.
Since the trees show the change of seasons before anything else around here, trees are my theme today.
Yes, I realize I'm kind of blowing the whole 'wordless' part, so without further ado, and for your viewing pleasure, here are some of the beautiful things in my world these days....
It’s only the middle of September, and despite the fact that (according to the calendar) it’s technically still summer, most of the kids near me have already been back in school for almost a month.
My own kids are no longer immune to the busyness of fall, although we're still blessed with a lot more flexibility in our scheduling than most. In my opinion, it’s one of the biggest advantages being a homeschooling family~ freedom.
The early mornings of rushing around, the late evenings of finishing up externally driven work after a long day that was directed by outside forces, those do happen for us sometimes, but I’m really, really thankful that they are the minority. Most days, we have time to enjoy being together and alone, to work, play, create, build and learn as a family and as individuals.
Since both of my kids are involved in charter school programs in different capacities, as well as sports, music and dance, we no longer get to completely choose when we ‘begin school’ for the year in the way that we did when they were younger.
And since I am working so much, I don’t have the same number of hours available either, but even so, I still know a gift when I receive one, and the time I have had, and still have with homeschooling my kids is definitely a gift.
We get a lot of questions about homeschooling, what methods and curriculums we use, and what a day looks like in our lives. The short answer is that every day is different, and that most are really fun because we tend to follow our passions. Learning goes beyond our home or any curriculum or class~ it’s happening all the time and everywhere we go. The world is our classroom.
We don’t follow any single method or curriculum, but pick and choose from the abundant resources that are available in this wonderful world we live in, take what suits us, and leave the rest. Most people would be amazed at how much can be learned and retained when a person is operating on curiosity and interest.
And it works. My kids are thriving and happy, and so am I. I’m learning too, all the time, right alongside them, as well as on my own. And I love it, which is not the feeling that comes to mind when I look back at the coerced hours of instruction and compliance that went beyond my full childhood days at school and into my nights via homework. While many people imagine that replicating that process at home is what homeschooling looks like, I can tell you that it doesn’t have to look like that at all~ it certainly doesn’t for us.
We are well aware that learning can and should be fun. So should life for that matter!
The full explanation of what we do and why is longer than I can address in one post on a sunny afternoon when I need to get out and enjoy the day with my family, but I’ll surely write more on it later. For now, I’ll just share some pictures of what our school looks like.
For most of us, life comes with enough challenges all on its' own. We’re going to get plenty of hard stuff thrown at us to deal with, without our wanting it or having to go looking for it. Yeah, yeah, I know...we grow through the tough stuff. And there seems to be no shortage of opportunities for growth in life.
So, trying to figure out exactly why people find the idea of making up their own challenges to be enticing...well, it's always just plain baffled me.
Sit up challenges, squats challenges, blah, blah, blah. I like the idea of being fit, but I have enough trouble remembering to walk the dog.
Elsewhere in life, who cares if a kid wants to wear a superhero cape to the store or mismatched socks to class or even have blue hair? Is it really necessary to challenge it?
No one has ever been able to explain to me why on earth a person would choose to wash dishes by hand when there is a perfectly good dishwasher right there under the counter? Is there not enough housework?
And don’t even get me started on a manual transmission. Why? Just why?
Some things are simply way more work than they need to be. And I for one don’t feel like I need any more work.
When life makes you watch people you love get sick and die, and other people just walk away, and when you have to start over and figure out a whole new way in the world, well, in the midst of stuff like this, who in the heck needs another round of difficulties?
But, I’ve started to realize that once in awhile, there are times when it makes sense to choose a challenge for yourself. There’s a power that can come with stepping up on purpose rather than just because life threw you into a storm, and it’s kind of nice to have some directional input on your personal growth.
And sometimes, it can even be fun.
This past weekend, I had the chance to take on some marvelous challenges~ I was an adult leader for a group of 27 teens for an adventure weekend at Mother Lode River Center. And what an adventure it was.
Our day started with team building and trust activities before we could move on to the high flying adrenaline stuff. Some of the teens were anxious to get to straight to the zipline, but for me, the challenges started right there when the facilitators suggested that we adults keep quiet and not offer suggestions, ideas or reminders but rather just let the kids work out everything on their own. In other words, we were supposed to just keep our traps shut. For me, not talking was much harder than scaling 40 feet up a tree and jumping off of a platform.
For the most part, I managed to keep my trap shut, and I’ll admit that it was pretty cool to watch the kids work together, try different strategies, find leadership amongst themselves and ultimately come up with their own solutions.
Interestingly, one problem solving activity resulted in me literally dropping the ball solely because I was looking ahead and behind me to see what the others were doing rather than watching what I was doing. I’m always seeing metaphors in life, so that was one that really made me think “hmmmmmmm” in a not so flattering, albeit enlightening way. Perhaps I need to be a little more in the moment and pay attention to my role in things instead of worrying about everyone else?
Before we could go on to the big fun, I also got to be a part of a trust fall with a little 12 year old who weighed about half as much as me. I was slightly terrified that I would crush her, but she held her ground, and we both made it out without injury. It was tricky because I didn’t want her feel like I didn’t trust her, but seriously, I could’ve flattened her if she hadn’t paid attention.
The first real action came in the form of hoisting each other over a 10 foot straight wall with no hand or footholds~ just people working together to push, pull and shove their friends over, and standing by to catch them in case the attempts failed. One of our youngest kids almost had a panic attack, but then, when he was ready, stepped up and scaled it like a ninja. I actually got teary eyed with all the cheering from the group and his smile of accomplishment.
That little scared guy was the first one to run to head of the line for the big stuff. This included:
* a catwalk consisting of a log strung about 20 feet off the ground~ all about finding balance
* a tightrope style contraption that required 2 people to work together to get across~ teamwork is totally necessary on this because you cannot do it alone
* a climbing wall~ this one is totally independent~ you gotta find your own strength and people can offer suggestions, but no one is helping you
* a zipline~ just plain crazy fun. My happy screams may have shattered a few car windows in the area.
* and the biggest of all was the Leap of Faith.
Now, this fit perfectly with the metaphors that seem to reflect my life these days, especially since I’m working on Learning to Leap and all.
This involved climbing up stakes in a tree to a little bitty platform 40 feet above the ground, and jumping out, attempting to catch a trapeze. In my case, I took a breath, closed my eyes, and leaped. It felt awesome to just jump, even if I couldn’t see where I was going.
I would love to do it again sometime, and this time with my eyes wide open, but for the time being, I’m just happy I leapt, because that was the lesson I needed~ to jump blindly and trust.
The kids all seemed to grow, and bond, to push their own personal limits, and most of all to support and encourage each other through it all. It was an amazing thing to witness, and I know they all had a heck of a lotta fun in the process. And I’m pretty sure I got just as much out of the deal as they did.
So, what do you think of self imposed challenges? Do you try to steer your growth, or just roll what life throws? I'd love to hear what has worked and what didn't work for you in the comments below.
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Who is Zesty Mom?
I'm an Artist, Writer, Funschooling Facilitator, Empowered Living Advocate, Wanna-be Organic Gardening Foodie, Travel Loving Life Explorer, Former Goat Herding Chicken Lady, and Full Time Mamacita Extraordinaire to a Couple of Cage Free Kids.
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