unschooling

Why Am I So Afraid of ‘Hard?’

What do I have against hard? Ever since my daughter was born, all I’ve been looking for is easy – the path of least resistance. I’ve shunned hard hard. So what is it about hard that I’m so afraid of?

My dear husband makes my life harder in many ways. I’m a neat freak, he’s…not. I love veggies and tofu, he… doesn’t. I’m a saver, he’s…not. But sharing my life with him is so worth the ‘hard.’ There has been so much joy and healing and fun and unconditional love because of him. And it’s only the beginning.

My daughter makes my life harder too. But she is so unbelievably worth it as well. Owning a home makes my life harder but it’s worth it. Being a stay-at-home mom, in many ways, makes my life more difficult, but it’s also worth it. Breastfeeding. Cloth diapers. Co-sleeping. Trying to get my daughter to nap on her own. Cooking unprocessed, whole foods. Eating low sugar. Self-care. Exercising. Meditating. Creating memories. All of these things require substantial effort and make my life ‘harder.’ But they also, in many ways, make it much easier at the same time. And they’re all things that I have chosen consciously and created within my life. And they are all worth it. And somewhere along the lines of exhaustion and fatigue, I’ve forgotten that hard isn’t a bad thing. I’ve forgotten that just because the path is hard doesn’t mean it’s the wrong path for me. If I’m presented with a hard path and an easy path, the universe isn’t telling me to take the easy path just because it’s easier. Giving birth to my daughter was hard but so worth it. So worth it, in fact, it didn’t even register as hard. It registered as a challenge but one I was happy to meet. And somewhere along the line I have stopped being happy to meet these challenges. All I want is easy. All I want is effortless.

Sometimes I think about my life if I had never gotten married and had children, almost as a fantasy. And when I’m in a dark place, so weary,  tired and run-down, it seems like a wonderful fantasy. But thinking about it now when I’m only slightly weary and exhausted, it just seems sad and devoid of the chaos and mess of life. This life that I have, that I have chosen for myself and created consciously, it’s hard but I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Mission San Jose

It is time for me to stop choosing the easy path simply because it is easy. Sometimes that will be all I can do and that’s okay and forgiving myself for that and being gentle with myself will be the hard part. Because even when I take the easy path there is always a hard part that goes with it. So no matter what I choose I’m taking the easy/hard path or the hard/easy path. Writing a book while being a stay-at-home mom to a rambunctious 1 year old who doesn’t seem to want to sleep without her mom next to her will be hard. But it will be so worth it. Unschooling my daughter for the next 17 years will be challenging but it will so be worth it. Making time for my self care is freaking hard but it’s worth it. And making time for dates with my husband is hard but worth it. Making time for friendships and family is hard but worth it. It is time I stopped running away from hard.  It’s not something to be afraid of – it is something I have chosen consciously, to create a life full of love, chaos, fun, mess and even challenge. Because an easy life, though seemingly wonderful at times, is boring for me and not the life I will choose for myself. This is the life I choose – time to go live it.

Open Letter to An American Teenager

One of my teenage relatives was recently having a rough time of things.

This is what I would say to her (and my high school self).

Dear Teen,

I’m going to tell you something you don’t want to hear and already know: life isn’t fair. And sometimes, I think, a teen’s life can have extra bits of unfair-ness. First, there is school. Don’t even get me started on school. You can read about why school sucks here, here, and here. Then there is the fact that you’re almost sort-of an adult but not really. You are given tastes of freedom and independence but none of the trust or respect to go with it. “Be an adult. Stop acting childish” but also “Listen to me. Do what I say. You live under my roof, you have no rights.” This is in addition to the pressure and expectations of everyone around you: friends, teachers, parents, relatives, your church, your culture, the media, etc. And as the cherry on top are all of the ‘normal’ things in life that suck: trauma, abuse*, hardship, death, etc. What I’m trying to say here is that, generally, a teen’s life can really suck. And when your life has a tendency to suck, you tend to have a few bad days (or weeks or months or…).

This is for those times. The bad days. First, I’m going to give you some advice my mom gave me (yes, parents do actually know something from time to time): you can’t change anyone but yourself. Another gem from the old lady: what other people think about you is none of your business. And lastly: don’t compare your insides to someone else’s outsides (this includes the crap people post on Facebook). These three statements have profoundly changed the way I look at myself and the world. 

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© 2016 Angelle Conant. All Rights Reserved. 

Secondly, when I’m having a bad day, I know it’s time to get back to the basics:

  • FOOD :  Am I eating often enough? Am I eating good, healthy foods? How can I prevent ‘hangry‘ moments?
  • WATER : Am I drinking enough water? How can I always have water accessible to me?
  • SLEEP : Am I getting enough sleep? Is it good quality sleep? How can I improve the quality of my sleep?
  • MOVEMENT : Am I moving my body almost everyday? Is it enjoyable? If not, how would I enjoy moving and strengthening my body?
  • OUTDOORS : Am I getting enough time in the sun (and therefore, Vitamin D)? Am I getting enough time in nature? How can I get outside more?
  • MEDITATION : Am I spending enough time alone? Do I make time to deal with my big emotions? Do I make time to get in touch with myself and figure out who I am and what I want? Do I listen to my inner wise voice?
  • SELF-EXPRESSION : Am I making time to express myself in a way that feels true to my soul? Even if I’m not going to share it with another living person, it still needs to be expressed.

What I’ve just listed is essentially radical self care. And contrary to popular belief,  caring for yourself is not selfish. It’s like they say on an airplane: you have to put your oxygen mask on first before you can help anyone else put on theirs. And let me tell you – self care isn’t easy. Change takes time and you will fall off the wagon. Be kind and gentle with yourself and just get back on. And don’t be afraid to ask for help or get creative.

And if all else fails, get some perspective: read a book, make a list of what you’re grateful for, help someone else, give back, focus on what you do have. The world is so much bigger and more beautiful than high school and you are stronger, wiser, braver, and more resilient and powerful than you know. Hang in there – I promise you it will get better.

Oh, and one final thing:

YOU ARE VALUED.

YOU ARE NEEDED.

YOU ARE ENOUGH.

YOU ARE LOVED.

All my love,

Angelle

*If you are currently in an abusive situation, I urge you to seek help. Please call one of the hotlines on this page. You will get through this. You will survive.

Top Unschooling Blogs

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© 2015 Angelle Conant. All Rights Reserved. 

One of my good friends is looking into unschooling her son and asked for more information about it. My husband and I knew we would unschool before we even had kids and will definitely be doing so with our daughter. These are, in my opinion, some of the best unschooling blogs out there (in no particular order).

1. Freedom to Learn: on Psychology Today. Usually very evidence based. A while back he did a survey and analysis of adults who had been homeschooled/unschooled. Very informative.
Latest post: https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/freedom-learn/201507/k-preschool-teachers-last-stand-in-war-childhood
Survey post #1: https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/freedom-learn/201406/survey-grown-unschoolers-i-overview-findings
Another survey post: https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/freedom-learn/201202/the-benefits-unschooling-report-i-large-survey

2. Unschooling the Kids: blog by a fun, unschooling family in Italy. It’s mostly the mom who posts but the kids and dad also post too. They’re also working on an unschooling book.
Latest post: http://unschoolingthekids.com/2015/07/11/great-websites-for-homeschoolers-unschoolers-and-in-fact-for-everybody/

3. Verde Mama: this is a unschooling mom and her 3 daughters. She does mostly pictures which I kind of love because I’m a visual learner and it really gives me a sense of what everyday unschooling would look like.
Latest post: http://verdemama.blogspot.com/2015/07/june-days-part-i.html?m=1

4. Penelope Trunk: work at home unschooling mom. I used to read her blog for about 3 years – there is a lot of good info here. She uses a lot of studies and science. Be warned: she is very frank. She’s not afraid to overshare or offend people (which is part of the reason I like her. lol)
Her website: http://education.penelopetrunk.com/
If you look at her menu under education, she has things like ‘why I homeschool,’ ‘Curriculum or not,’ etc.

5. Yes I Can Write: this is by someone who was unschooled. I just recently added this blog to my feedly but the content I’ve seen so far looks good.
Blog: http://yes-i-can-write.blogspot.com/?m=1

Unschooling info: http://yes-i-can-write.blogspot.com/p/new-to-this-blog-new-to-unschooling.html?m=1

[OCTOBER 27, 2015 EDIT: After having this blog in my feedly for a few months now, I can tell you with certainty that she has great content.]

6. Beyond Moi: this is by the founder of theleakyboob.com and her husband. This is not actually a homeschool blog but they do homeschool some of their kids and most of what they talk about aligns with unschooling, i.e. trust your kid.

Latest post: http://www.beyondmoi.com/circumnavigating-the-media-black-hole-as-parents-part-4/

Extra:

Mr Money Mustache: this is a finance blog I read and he just decided to homeschool. See the post below:
http://www.mrmoneymustache.com/2015/02/16/if-i-ran-the-school-things-would-be-different/

If you have any others that you think are great, please post it in the comments – I’m always looking for new content to add to my feedly! 🙂

Cheryl Richardson is Right

I just received the most recent newsletter from Cheryl Richardson entitled , “Why we need to rethink a college education.”

In it she says:

“The world is changing. We need to give children the permission and guidance to find a new way to gain the skills and experience necessary to build a good life, not just a successful career.” Yes, yes, and yes. Unschooling at its finest.

I’m not sure I could have said it any better so I’m linking it here.  Enjoy!

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