The first post of the year is coming fashionably 14 lovely days after the longest January in human history departed. Being a person who is sometimes overcome with OCD, I began the year (2021), with a detailed schedule of what to blog about each week, and a basic list of goals to complete within the month of January. I’m happy to report that the small goals section of my Journal for the month of January is entirely ticked off. The larger more detailed sections of my January Planner though, has been sorely neglected. As the weekly deadline reminders that I set in my phone went unfulfilled, I began to ponder what was going to need to change, and in a podcast I have been listening to about minimalism in families, it came to me.
I’ve read about writer’s block, and fully understand the concept, but as an entirely chatty, full of ideas, and constant minded individual, I never imagined that I could draw a blank on what to write about. Coupled with the topics being laid out , I should have been good to go when it came to those weekly blog posts I so gallantly endeavoured to post weekly to this blog. Why did they even need to be weekly? Because it’s uniform, and average, and that’s what other bloggers most often adhere to as a minimum. I thought that was best.
Well those who know me personally know I have never set out to do things the conventional way. Rather, I tune into my own rhythm and navigate based on observation, research, intuition, and even impulse. But one must also tune into those around us, we all have our own rhythms and making decisions that jive with the whole family is something that’s important to me. So this is where plan B is born. Time is valuable. I’ll say that again, TIME IS VALUABLE! Your time is worth something. For myself, I place great value on my time, and I’ll talk about that more another time, but this is where I needed to slim down on screen time for myself. I was getting distracted and wasting time. Technology is a particularly versatile tool, scrolling Facebook can be relaxing, and informative, but it’s not a good use of my time, and the information shared there is notoriously unreliable anyway. I want to do better.
Seasonal Journaling is already something I have been quite taken with. My oldest son and I even created phenology wheels this year, and have been filling them in as the seasons continue on. A favorite Charlotte Mason quote of mine, “NEVER BE WITHIN DOORS WHEN YOU CAN RIGHTLY BE WITHOUT”. In Canada each month brings with it a season of it’s own. We have seasons that would be more appropriately named Cold, Arctic Freezing cold, Almost spring, Just kidding Winter again, Spring that feels like winter, Almost summer but you need an umbrella and parka, summer thunder and lightning season, sun-tanable weather month, Instant cold sweater pumpkin spice and knit sweaters month, real pumpkin spice and your costume better fit over your snowsuit or your getting frostbite month, Snow is coming and you weren’t prepared month, Cold again. So you see, there’s really a lot of room here to follow the rhythms of the seasons and reimagine yet again the parameters we set out for ourselves, and think outside the box. I decided to amend my schedule, and write daily instead of semi-weekly, and post a longer more detailed and quality article monthly instead of weekly.
Outside the box? The way I see it, the “NORM”, or what we perceive to be conventional, is the box. To get outside that box, (the one we create for ourselves), we must expand our thinking fundamentally. What’s the right thing to do? That answer always depends on the perspective. The right thing for one, might not be what’s right for another. When we view our own decisions from more than one perspective, we are better able to make informed and appropriate choices. And it all comes down to choices doesn’t it? There’s often more than one option that could be the right thing, but it’s your final choice, and the reason behind your choice that makes it right for you. So when you’re navigating the everyday, and choices arise, take note, and reflect on WHY you made that choice. Not, What makes it the right thing to do. What made it right for you? Reflect on your reasons, and decide if those reasons are serving you. Are you making decisions based on better conforming to what others are doing or traditions that hold no true meaning for you personally, or are you making choices that you can confidently stand by, that will reflect your values and core beliefs? Would you be proud of your kids for making those decisions in their future?
An example of a decision most of us make every day now is the choice to pick up that mask and cover up half of our face, and walk around breathing like Vader all day. Personally Masking up feels so very unnatural to me, “Darwin (1872) was the first to suggest that [facial expressions] were universal; his ideas about emotions were a centerpiece of his theory of evolution, suggesting that emotions and their expressions were biologically innate and evolutionarily adaptive, and that similarities in them could be seen phylogenetically”. Before the pandemic came down like a hammer on life in 2020 as we knew it, if someone told me I would be wearing a mask daily for more than a year and encouraging my kids to do so I would have ended the conversation there because you’re crazy and that’s not even a reasonable request.
There’s a huge BUT coming here though. COVID-19 is a first. This is a virus that was (intentionally or accidentally) engineered in a lab and released on the world like some kind of sick experiment. My Choice to wear a mask in public and encourage my kids to as well is the right choice. It might be for you too. Most of us are likely making this same decision. Mask up. Now let’s explore why I choose to wear a mask. There are a few factors. Obviously there is what’s socially acceptable right now to take into consideration.
I read an article recently about a man in abbotsford walking up to a till to pay for his groceries ….pause for dramatic effect…wearing only his bare naked… face. The headline was something like “Deranged anti-masker removed from store”. I can’t find the article now, but when I read the article it sounded to me like the “deranged Anti-masker”, was just a regular dude who didn’t wear a mask for personal/medical reasons, and the customers/employees harassed him, when he argued back they kicked him out of the store without his groceries. LIKE….WHAT??? I don’t even want to ruffle feathers with the unreasonable kind of sheeple who believe they are better than someone who can’t wear a mask, or that it’s any of their business.
Would you point out and shame a person in a store line up who’s immune compromised and never been vaccinated who could possibly carry any number of infectious conditions? You are vaccinated, you don’t even need to know. It’s highly unlikely he will ever come into contact with most of these things, because of herd immunity. In simple terms, the herd is immune, so if nobody around him has it he’s unlikely to get it.There are many many people walking around in our population who are unvaccinated. I don’t mean Covid-19 vaccinated, but measles, mumps, chicken pox, hpv, flu. A Canadian Study showed that “2.4 per cent of two-year-olds are estimated to be unvaccinated, with Atlantic Canada having the lowest unvaccinated rate at 1.3 per cent, while British Columbia had the highest at 3.9 per cent”. Do we make those people wear a big red badge over their clothing for everyone to see, so we can avoid getting those things from them? NO? Right, that’s because, it’s not our business, illness is a natural occurrence, it would be cruel and alienating, there are exceptions to the rules, and if you are vaccinated, you are protected from those things.
Let’s apply this to the mask situation. Are you wearing your mask? GOOOOOOOOOOD. Now mind your own business. But in all seriousness, if you’re wearing your mask good and tight…for some of you, you’re wearing two masks, you’re doing the best that YOU can do to curb the transmission. So if this mask is so great and it protects you from the virus, there should be no reason to spend any time managing what this “deranged anti-masker” was doing, because it doesn’t affect you. Paul, “Do not waste time arguing over godless ideas and old wives-tales, but spend your time and energy in training yourself for spiritual fitness”.
So back to my decision to mask up and shut up,
- That’s what’s socially acceptable at this point in time, if we choose not to wear masks there will be judgement and stigma. Even legal problems at this point. Wearing a mask will make others feel safer (whether they are or not is irrelevant). I want my children to know when it’s time to conform, and when it’s time to stand apart. This is a conform or die kind of scenario according to the media. We’re doing what we must to be allowed to continue on as functional members of the community. We’re being respectful.
- The unknown. There is so much unknown about this virus that if there is any shred of chance masks will help to curb transmission, then we are going to air on the side of caution, I teach my kids that safety comes first, well now is the time to lead by example and show those kids that we do, what we gotta do.
You might be saying to yourself right about now, well, she’s a loony bin. It’s true I’m an optimistic skeptic. And maybe you’re right I could be completely off the mark. But you probably made the same decision. Your choice will differ from mine only in the reasoning in our own minds. You may simply choose to wear a mask in public, because Bonnie Henry, or Justin Trudeau, or whoever your source of talking head in government is. That’s what is right for you. You value the leadership being offered, and trust in what they tell you. When you turn on that news channel, when you scroll those good old trusty reliable facebook feeds, you’re conditioning yourself. Little by little you’re letting these things into your mind. What goes in must go out is the saying, and that’s true for so many things. It’s true that the food you put in your body directly reflects your ability to function at a high level. When you choose your news sources and decide what’s of value for you to be reading about on facebook or engage in conversation about, I encourage you to take a skeptics point of view. View the information from more than one angle and inform yourself. It’s valuable to know both sides of the story after all, so you can be an informed decision maker. I’ll talk about this at the end of this rant a little more. Ponder what it means to condition yourself for a second. What are things you ingest into your mind’s eye every day, that have a direct impact on your mood, your decisions, your actions. Your Rhythms. These Rhythms that many of us follow without even thinking about, because they’re naturally occurring within us, are easily interrupted. This is where stress and illness can come into play. They interrupt your rhythm, throw you for a loop, you’re affected unwittingly.
Below are a few examples of life rhythms, Waldorf education follows rhythms.
Your personal core values differ from others, and that matters, we all need to pay more attention to that. We ALL have different values and rhythms. What are your core values? Have a seat and write them down. When I did this, I felt a weight lifted. There are many things we take into consideration when making decisions that really should have no bearing on your own decision making process. Things like the opinion of someone you don’t know. Things like fear. If you’re letting fear navigate for you, you need to jump ship. Take that cold plunge, give your head a shake, and think about what matters to you. We all, are living through an unprecedented time in history. We don’t know how long this simply hard time will last, we all need to make decisions that allow us to continue living our “best life” as the internet people proclaim so sassy like.
So If your dream is to travel the world and you feel the need to go now, if there is no legal restriction where you are and you feel safe, I encourage you to be extra safe, but do what’s right for you. If your dream is to do something that you feel you can’t or shouldn’t for whatever reason, no matter your hindrance, I encourage you RIGHT NOW, to think of a small first step. And go from there. One step at a time, work towards your goal. Don’t compromise your happiness. If you want to become a gymnast but your local gym is closed, look outside the box, find a personal trainer, if the problem is money, find someone on the internet who is freely teaching what you want to know. Youtube is a beast, it’s full of advertising and rabbit holes of videos you didn’t even know were a thing. But it’s also a wealth of knowledge.
Almost anything you want or need to know is out there with a detailed tutorial of how to do it and examples. If your dream is to learn to sew for your family, or to learn jujitsu. You just have to have the mindset that you’re worth it. You are worth the effort you put into yourself. If you have kids, that time, money, effort, energy and did I say the more time that you put into bettering yourself and expanding your knowledge and wellbeing, the more you will be able to offer your children. You can’t pour from an empty cup. Put your own oxygen mask on before helping others so you CAN help others. When your children see that you are leading by example putting in the hard work they may not appreciate it now, but down the line, those kids will have a better understanding of the world. A value for hard work, and they will come to appreciate in their own due time your efforts are in love. Educating yourself and following your own happiness in balance with your responsibility as a parent is setting a great example for your kids. They’re always watching.
One way I have loved to balance my education and career with family and parenting is that I work in a field Early Childhood Education where it’s really easy to have my kids involved in my work. Today my husband took my oldest son to work with him. He had a short maintenance job on one piece of equipment, and Odin was able to hang around and watch dad safely, while really enjoying himself. If you can’t involve your kids in your work, it’s important to still talk to them about your job, involve them intellectually. Kids have these amazingly elastic minds, and they’re thirsty for more knowledge. As their parents they idolise us, they want to do what we do and be involved on some level. If your job is for example bank teller. You have a 2 year old who can’t come to work with you, but you can still talk with them about what your work involves. Show him some coins and talk about how you count money at work, even exaggerate the vault doors, and the crazy customers. Excite your child. They may not be able to be involved, but you’re filling that gap in their mind about what you are doing all day when you’re away working hard and they may be missing you. It can bring them some peace.
And as the seasons of the year go, so will the seasons of life. This here and now, is a season. We are living in the season of the SARS-CoV2 Pandemic, just as generations ago our elders lived through things like, the plague, the spanish flu, Cholera, Small Pox, as long as humans have lived in community with each other, there have been devastating pandemics. And this too shall come to pass. We might not be able to change our circumstance in an instant, , but we can always make our next right choices. We can as Emily P. Freeman preaches, “Do the next RIGHT thing in Love”.
When I was a student studying Psychology and Sociology at TRU (and no I didn’t last long in those programs), I learned about circadian rhythms and how different everyone’s sleep patterns are, It was probably one of the most interesting things I learned about during my time studying there, and the professor was involved with some kind of sleep study at another university so I was able to really learn a lot from her. Embracing rhythms Daily, weekly and Seasonally has been something I’ve considered a lot since Odin was born, and we have schedules and written routine, and we loosely follow those in alignment with the sort of flow of the day, and the individual circadian rhythms within our family between us all, I have observed such differences, and it’s my sort of constant duty to marry us all together to harmoniously follow a routine that works for everyone but is also flexible and individual for things like extra time working on projects, maybe working on a lego creation through supper, because my sons focus on the project is something I actually admire, and want to encourage in him. Sitting at the table without toys is our regular dinner hour routine, but we’re glad to make exceptions when they are appropriate.
Maybe I’m a hardass, maybe I’m lenient, I hope I land somewhere in the middle. It depends on your perspective. Some of you out there are going to disagree with my shall we say contrary values, but they might still be valuable for you to hear. It’s so important in this day and age to value diversity in literally every facet of life. Diversity in our food, diversity in individual style, diversity in culture and opinion, diversity in the way we educate kids, diversity in the way we adults seek education. We need to seek out what syncs up with our own rhythms of life.
The January Goals:
I have long believed that we must take action to see results. For me this often entails making lists and ticking off the tasks as I go. Seeing intentions convert to results, means staying mindful of the bigger picture goals, while going about the everyday. It means making every day decisions based on the cold hard fact that your goal will become reality.
For example: The floors in our home were atrocious when we moved in. We didn’t have the time to replace them before moving in, so we sanitised and cleaned. I have always known that those floors needed to go, it was my goal before the house even belonged to us, and one day it came to me that instead of staring daggers into the carpet every time I entered the room, I should act on my goal. So one day when the kids were out of the house, and the baby was down for a nap, I probably should have been tending the pile of dishes in my sink, but instead, I went to town on that carpet and pulled the whole thing out myself. Insert flexing arm icon here and sexy red dress dancing woman icon here. It was as bad as I knew it to be, and I was so happy to have that carpet, a source of filth in our house GONE. At that time we didn’t have the money to replace the floor, but a clean subfloor was a sunny alternative to the old carpet. At that, I was happy enough to wait until we could save for the flooring installation. It turns out though that bare floors were an eyesore to my husband and a few months later the floors have been replaced, it looks great, and most importantly it functions for us so much better than that old carpet did. Bringing us back now to that first action. If I had not felt so inclined to tear out the carpet myself, and put in the dirty, sweaty, effort, I would still have 70’s brown stained carpet in my living room and I would be spending time and energy hating that old carpet instead of acting toward my goal. All actions have consequences, positive or negative or even neutral. Making even the smallest act towards my goals, will usually start the ball rolling.
I’ll share here that my goals for this month mainly involved bringing myself back to reality. I’ve been on this unpleasant health bender since having Dawson in June 2020. He was a pandemic baby who packed a punch. He surprised us when we found out about him a few months after beginning my new full time job, enrolling the kidos in their programs, and full time online school, and practicum. He came into the world a month ahead of schedule, the same day I finished my last exam before graduation, and his presence in our family is a game changer and a gift.
My body blessed us with three sons, more than I ever imagined possible, and there is no but. I AM eternally grateful for them. Pregnancy and breastfeeding took its toll on me, and I accept all the aches and pains gladly, because it means I have the honor of being their mama. I’ve been told that God knows better than we do what we can handle. He wouldn’t give us a challenge without purpose. I sometimes wonder if that’s why I have boys, there can be only one bold female in this household.
Some of my goals this month were geared toward setting up routines for the rest of the year. And that involved a lot of trial and error. Going forward into the coming months, there are many yet unmade decisions, and lurking questions, But I feel that we have set ourselves on good footing for a year of firsts and prepared ourselves as best we can for a successful season.
I’ll end with a quote Authored by: Jennifer Lee who’s magical work as a screenwriter for disney inspires me.
Be Kind. Be Well. Be Wild.
David Matsumoto and Hyi Sung Hwang. (2011). Facial Expressions. Retrieved from: https://www.apa.org/science/about/psa/2011/05/facial-expre
The Canadian Press. January 2020. Retrieved from: https://www.ctvnews.ca/health/national-public-health-data-finds-vaccine-rates-for-kids-fall-short-1.4778017
Emily P. Freeman. (2020). “Do the next RIGHT thing in Love”
Lynn Seddon. Raising Little Shoots Phenology Wheel guide. Retrieved from:https://raisinglittleshoots.com/phenology-wheel-guide/
Jennifer Lee. (201). Retrieved from: https://www.nytimes.com/2019/11/07/style/jennifer-lee-frozen.html