Saturday, March 15, 2014

Critical Mass

Critical mass is one of my favorite terms to throw into conversations from time to time to describe periods of intense stress or the general messiness of life.  I always thought it was kind of a funny statement, meant to make one step back and look at the situation for what it is and not get so wrapped up in it.

There is some weird karma that dictates stuff like this, don't you think?  A quiet day humming along nicely when out of the blue the phone rings, someone simultaneously presses the doorbell button, the dogs fly to berserk mode, cats scramble for cover, the dishwasher decides it's finished and starts beeping, and the teenager is yelling from his room that the Chihuahua pooped in the corner......again.

These interludes can last a mere couple of minutes to several weeks or longer.  That's just the way life plays sometimes and one must tell oneself that the topsy turvy will right itself eventually.  I used to be seriously affected by critical mass, but have learned to chill out and let it play out to its own rhythm and be more of an observer rather than a participant.  Try it - it's good stress management!

Critical mass is upon us once again for the next few weeks to months.  Some of this is self-inflicted, some came out of the blue.  I am doing surprisingly well!  So is Max.  Any general routine of homeschooling has left the building, but learning is still occurring on many different levels.  We are in the process of selling our house, moving to another one and preparing a third property for the market.  I almost always bite off big chunks and try to chew through them, sometimes having to spit some stuff out!  All of the real estate stuff was planned, albeit a bit impulsive, which is not unusual either.  We are excited about moving to a much quieter location with some space around us and lots of wildlife to study on.

In the midst of the packing and purging, I found out about a pretty good-sized mass lurking behind my uterus, shamelessly acting like a little dictator.  This coming week we are sending in a team of highly trained experts to take out the offending character and try to restore some normalcy to my system, for which I will be most grateful.  Now that the little beast has been discovered, a lot of symptomology makes perfect sense in retropect.

I started down the road of worry with respect to the teenager, wondering what, if anything, he might be learning during this time of distraction.  I shouldn't have even turned in that direction because he is clipping along on his own learning adventures as usual.  We've been learning about mortgages, titles, septic systems and leach fields.  We've measured spaces and converted inches to feet to see what will fit and what has to go.  He's been sketching up different ideas for his space and has plans to construct an outdoor area for the cats.  He's utilizing his awesome Tetris skills in packing up his belongings.  He's also doing a fair amount of cooking!  He has big plans for some archery practice, some trampoline time and exploring the woods.

In between he is still wondering and pondering, researching, practicing, growing.  This week he looked up state statutes about an issue important to him and wanted to engage in a debate about the law.  I suggested he write letters to those who have influence over such issues.  We attended a showing from the Banff Mountain Film Festival for two nights and were wowed by the determination of the filmmakers to get their messages heard.  What I see time and time again is that if he cares about it, he will unleash a learning strategy about it.  The beauty and rhythms of unschooling I am learning to trust in.  They are amazing!

When I'm back on my feet we will resume a math strategy using Khan Academy.  I've also selected several books we can read while I heal and put them all in a box that is set aside from everything else, marked "Mom and Max fun stuff".  Decks of cards, games, books, magazines.  I am secretly looking forward to a little rest after the surgery and hanging out with my kiddo, adjusting to the new surroundings.  I am also pumped about taking out a dictator :).


Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Thoughts About Being Busy

It seems that nearly everyone you talk to is "busy".  I hear comments such as, "this has been a crazy week!", or, "it's really coming out of the woodwork now", or, "I am so far behind".  I have been thinking about the commonality of these statements and how they seem to be the norm in many people's minds.  It makes for a good thoughtful study in what people prioritize or how they conduct daily life; I find all of this fascinating.

One of the reasons we chose to homeschool was to try and avoid the mad rushing about to get to activities, get homework done, practice the instrument, finish the book report, study for the test.  Mornings were a thorough drag when we had to be at the school building by 8:30 a.m.  The days clipped by so quickly and we felt disconnected from one another.  I do not miss the 'corporate' schedule at all and am sincerely grateful for the quiet time we get to spend at home without the perceived pressure of appointments/tasks/lists.  Homeschooling allows family members a great deal of freedom to live out their days in whatever manner they choose.  That quiet time also allows for plenty of reflection about what is important.

Now, having expressed all of that, I feel the need to tell you how busy we've become (and what we are doing about it)!  Just kidding.  Yes, the last two weeks have been unusual mainly because we're taking steps to move to another house and sell this one; busy under those circumstances is a given!  It's part and parcel of moving and I'm accepting it as the temporary status quo.  This too shall pass and we'll hopefully assume the more relaxed routine we've come to enjoy in a few weeks.  The move is worthwhile because we are motivated to downsize, purge, clean out and start fresh.  Stuff is overrated!  Clearing out the clutter has been liberating.  You should try it if you haven't ever gone on a clutter-purging rampage.  Craiglist and Freecycle have served this quest well.  Freecycle's mission is to keep things out of the landfill and that's something to be respected.

On top of purging, packing, parceling and planning, I have learned that I have a pelvic mass that is going to need to come out, sooner rather than later.  Yesterday I was rather wigged out about the entire ordeal and didn't function very well.  Today, after a good night's sleep, I have felt better able to make arrangements and keep moving forward.  The next few weeks will be 'different', but I'm confident we'll manage with the help of friends and family as needed.

I could complain about how busy the days have been, how buried we could feel with so many things to do, how worried I could get about having surgery, how worn out we could all become, but I am not going to that place.  I'd rather take one morning or afternoon or evening at a time and do what we can do and be happy with the process.  Someone said to me today that a life based on what gets done is not a life that should be pursued.  It's much more about learning and growing and spending your time immersed in activities you enjoy, hanging out with people you want to be with.  Unschooling suits that mission so well and I'm very glad we've been running with it.  

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