Posted in Enjoying the Simple Things, On Life, On Parenthood, Thinking Out Loud

Learning in the Silence

learning

 

I actually wanted to post my images from the gardens, but somehow all these words came out instead.  I’ve decided I will make that a separate post.  Since I have been a way for a bit, I wanted to explain what we’ve been up to and where I have been… both mentally and physically.  The older you get, it seems, the more you truly start to understand things that SERIOUSLY would have been so useful when you were younger!  This year and especially this summer has been a great time of reflection and growth, I believe.  Even though I wish I could always be writing or conversing, I cannot complain about the silences as they have been essential for me to truly reflect on what matters most.

 

First of all, today we are hoping to go out to a different garden location.  Today is the only day with cooler temperatures as the rest of the week will be in the mid to high 90s F.  I’m not afraid of warmer weather, but the warmer it is, the brighter it is which means it is more difficult to take photographs.  As I’m still learning about my camera I’m always messing up and somehow taking photos that are too bright or those that are too dark.  Here, you can be pounded down by the heat of the sun one moment and the next second a cloud will come in and you are drenched in darkness.  I’m am always trying to fix the settings on the camera and still get them wrong.  I am a work in progress 🙂  Beyond that, I also have noticed that a lot of times the extreme heat causes me to rush my photos, which makes it harder to actually get a good one.  I’m always in a hurry to click and then run for a shady spot 🙂  So, today it is!

 

As you may have noticed, I have not been on much since the end of school.  We started the summer off taking time away from the computers.  It was actually something nice to do because since our schooling is all online, we are almost always attached at the hip to our computers.  I seriously get to the point where I don’t want to see one!  After taking some time off, I am now enjoying time online as well as a lot of time offline.

 

We have not yet gone hiking although we did get a shorter walk in the woods last week.  We were going hiking but the weather did not cooperate.  Last night we finally hooked up my son’s new trailer bike to take it for a spin.  We started late, so we didn’t go far but it was a nice trial run.  My son is attached to my husband’s bike on his own bike and let’s just say that kiddo is still used to using training wheels.  He kept leaning from side to side, especially if he was pedaling.  Fortunately 🙂 the bike trailer would not fit on my bike because initially my husband installed it incorrectly, otherwise he might have caught me off-balance.  The trial went well, so I am hoping that we start biking as a family more.  Even on the hotter days, it usually does cool down in the evenings.

 

Aside from enjoying my time off, I am also rather happy to be back.  I have missed not writing or posting and when I mean not writing, I mean at all.   It’s not a bad thing as I know that if I get a thought in my head that needs expression, it will force its way out anyway.  However, I miss these conversations as it is as much of a conversation with myself as it is with you.  I tend to think out loud when writing… there is a little voice in my head that recites every little word I write.  And I don’t know about you, but I truly find that I learn a lot about myself when I take the time the listen to my own thoughts.

 

Anyway, I know it has been quite a long time and I apologize, but I know the importance of what I do in life is way beyond what I can ever write.  As much as I love writing, I know that the most important job I have been given is being a mother and I have the added blessing that I have been able to homeschool them… so teaching them is equally as important.  It is not enough to just teach the the basics (although they are also incredibly important) but I also know my job is to prepare them for college and then for later life.  We spend time learning how to best take notes, but we also talk about how we should treat others (often using current world events as examples).  We discuss, communicate, and reflect with one another and allow each other to see the world through our unique eyes.  I find that not only the children are growing and learning… but so am I.

 

I have found that the most impact I can make in this world is through teaching, supporting, loving, and being there for my children and I guess at this point in life, I have found that this is more than enough for me.  Anything else is just icing on the cake.  And as the years have passed, I am also finding that I only have a few years left with the kiddos (at least at this stage in life), so these very moments are incredibly important to them as well as to me.  I want to live without any regrets.

 

My oldest is graduating high school next year and now my two youngest (who need most of my help) are going into higher grades which means more assistance will be required than the last year.  My next youngest is moving into tenth grade, so in two years she will also be graduating.  She is still working on her writing, by the way and has been published… twice this year!  You cannot imagine how excited I am for her.  She is really talented and writes from a rather mature perspective despite being younger.  I have always wished that I had been more supported in my youth with my writing, but now I have the chance to make a difference for someone else and I could not be happier that she is finding the value in her own voice.

 

My youngest daughter has been having eye issues… they are not focusing properly… so she doesn’t see well most of the time and that makes it hard because I was hoping to tutor her over the summer.  We’re still trying some things with her doctor to see if we can come up with a solution, but right now she is using a different prescription and her eyes are slowly adjusting.  That might fix all of the problems or only part of the problem and unfortunately, we need her to wear the glasses for three months before we will know.  That means she could still be struggling when school starts… but some things just take time.  My youngest guy still wants to grow up to be a superhero.  You could not imagine my thrill when we went to the store the other day and found t-shirts that said on them “superhero in training.”  I could not help myself and bought him one.  He was over the moon and wore it proudly.

 

Oh, that reminds me of something that happened recently that was rather adorable.  We went to visit a friend recently who has a younger son, Adam.  I believe he is 4 or 5 now.  My son played with him while the girls talked.  When we drove home, he told me in amazement, “You would never believe what I found out mom!  Adam is also a superhero!  He told me!  His name is Superhero Adam!”  He was so thrilled to have actually met another superhero in flesh and blood.  Even thinking of it now makes me smile.

 

Other than that, I am slowly working on learning how to just ‘be.’  I think, with the way the world is… and the fast rate at which the world moves requires us to relearn that sometimes.  I’ve been learning a lot about myself in the process and perhaps I am looking at myself a little more kindly and that, in turn, also requires me to do the same for others.  It’s hard to explain, really… but we think we know what motivates others or perhaps it is just that we are so darn quick to judge… and yet, we really have a hard time grasping why we are the way we are… or why we do the things we do.  I mean, we love to sit in the illusion that we know… but I’m not all that convinced.

 

As I am learning to reflect and take time to breathe, I am really becoming aware of my own humanity as well as those around me.  I know, it may sound strange… but what I mean is that being human means to make mistakes.  We often jump quick to an excuse whenever we make a mistake but we are often less willing to make an excuse for others when they do the same.  We are so much less forgiving but we insist that others should be moreso for our own mistakes.  I don’t know… and perhaps I am only talking about my own experiences, but it has truly been a useful lesson.  It’s not to say I would not make similar mistakes in the future… but the more I learn about myself and the way I am motivated… the way my past has molded who I am… my quirks and everything else… the more I realize that there is so much more to the people around me than I had ever imagined.  In the end… I hope that it makes me more sympathetic to the others, or perhaps at least see their actions through a different lens, even if we may disagree.

 

(c) Sumyanna 2018

Posted in Enjoying the Simple Things, Letters to My Children, On Life, On Parenthood, Thinking Out Loud

Positive Change & Loving Your Struggling Learners

Struggle (2)

 

Sometimes, when you’re not happy with the way things are, you need to ruffle your own feathers.  You need to sit in your discomfort for a moment or two (and sometimes longer) to formulate a plan.  I’ve been unhappy about the way things have been going with school, but I just haven’t had the time to assess, plan, or position myself on better terms.  I guess some things just take time to evolve into a solution.  No matter how long it takes, I am always grateful when I learn something new and work towards a solution.

 

These past few years (okay more than just a few of them) have been difficult.  There is nothing more difficult than trying to instill within your child confidence when they have learning difficulties.  What is more difficult, is to push forward despite how difficult others can make your progress.  The world has not evolved much in terms of helping people with learning disabilities.  At least in my case, I have not seen it.  Schools often don’t even check your child unless you are adamant.  I spent years asking for help and they just pushed it aside and said, “Your child is not working hard enough,” even though you could see they were working much harder than others.  Others would assure you they would grow out of it… it is just a phase.  Yet others would say you are a worrier.  There is nothing there.

 

To add to that problem, even when you do have a diagnosis, the schools do not have a plan laid before them.  They have no “in this situation, we will do this and the next step is this.”  They have no framework or guidelines to help them meet the needs of your child.  Unless you are adamant (this is a main theme here) your child could be lost on your own – so don’t close your eyes, or trust blindly.  At least… this has been my experience.  When your child’s learning plan says they are supposed to get extra time to finish work… they often do not assess why your child has extra work to begin with.  They do not try to assess the ability of your child’s teacher to plan a lesson that only truly requires an hour for an hour’s allotment.  Sadly, I only see this because even though we have a relationship with a school, I am the children’s primary teacher.  I cannot imagine how much more difficult it can be when you don’t know if your child is getting what they need.

 

I cannot tell you how many times the children have been given more than two hours of work but were told it should only take one.  I cannot tell you how many times the kids have worked on weekends, trying to get caught up.  I cannot tell you with enough emphasis how hard they work, how much they strive, nor how much they feel they are not good enough because they are told this is only one hour’s work when truly it is not.  I can only say with assurance because I have done the work with them.  I have brought it to the attention of our schools (we have had this happen in all of them) and they simply said, “Your child has extra time to turn in assignments.  It is fine with us if they take all weekend.”  At the end of the day, I don’t think it should be okay.  However, you are definitely fighting an uphill battle.  No one listens.  No one understands.  No one cares, unless it is their own child who is struggling.

 

My one child has a meeting each week with a specialist to work on her learning difficulties.  At some point this year, it seems they have come to the conclusion that my daughter is doing just fine this year and there has been no enthusiasm to teach her.  Instead, they fill that tiny 30 minute slot with “what would you like to do?”  The problem is… learning is never ending.  Each and every year that creeps silently upon us is growing in expectations as well as difficulty.  Yet instead of realizing what the school’s job should be (which is preparing my child for next year and the next and the next) they sit in complacency that she is currently on-task, so our job is done.

 

The problem is, I could easily point out places where help is needed.  I could easily point out things they could be doing.  I could easily point out ways that they could prepare her for difficulties that can and will come along down the road.  Dyslexia is not something you can be cured from.  Dyslexia makes many tasks difficult for a person.  A Dyslexic can learn many things that will help them down the road, but the battle is always there.  It is never silent.  All you can do is to help them each step of the way and over time, they can and will do well.  The problem is, schools will often do as little as possible, in as little time as possible, and quit as soon as they can.  At least, that is my experience.

 

I have not given up.  I have not given up on my child and I will not allow her to accept that this is all there is.  I will continue to be that bump in the road when needed and although I may be limited in my ability to make requests, I will make them for as long as I can and with as loud a voice as I can, because enough is enough.  For goodness sake, we have known about learning difficulties for so long now that you would think that the education system would at least already have built a framework, a guideline, a map of what path should be expected for these children.  They should know how to meet these children’s needs.  They should know they need extra help.  They should know it is a process and expect to assist these learners during their pursuit of knowledge.  Instead, it is a mad race to get an IEP or any other form of classification of these learners requiring help moved to a more comfortable position of forcing these students to bargain if they can get a time extension.  Why?  Because it takes less effort.

 

I don’t always blame the teacher, by the way – although I have met those that scoff at the idea of a child having a learning disability.  I’ve had others laugh when asked for extra time to submit homework when the law clearly states my child is required to have it.  Many do try and a few other golden gems truly understand a child that struggles.  It is not that they hand my child a grade on a silver platter, but that they work with them, they try to understand their strengths and weaknesses and find other ways for my kids to show they understand the material.  And while I’m ranting, by the way, I do want to state that my children are not given anything on a silver platter at all.  Most of the time, they don’t even ask for less work, they don’t ask for extra tutoring or assistance, instead… they work longer and harder.

 

What I find difficult is that there is so much more that could be done.  Even with my child in high school, I have asked for some resources (for example, with growing their vocabulary).  I told the school I did not mind paying for it.  They look at me, and at each other and scratched their heads.  They did not know of anything.  So again… it is what it is, until someone ends up caring enough to make a difference.  For my younger daughter though, I think there is so much more that could be done at this stage and it is unsettling for me to see everyone act like it’s no big deal.  She’s doing so well… She’s doing as good as her peers… but I work with her each and every day.  I see he struggle over words she does not know.  I saw her cry last week when I asked her to read to me.  She was too embarrassed, because with science materials the language is usually more difficult than regular text.  Sadly, though, it goes unnoticed.

 

There is no one helping her learn spelling rules to help her internalize some of the mystery that permeates the English language.  Instead, she is given a list of 25 non-related words to “memorize” each week when there is spelling practice.  And despite the fact that she really struggles because she is diagnosed with Dyslexia… there is no one bothering to teach her any of the rules.  You just get the list and are supposed to “get it.”  However, everyone who knows anything about Dyslexia knows that this is the very problem Dyslexics have… they don’t “get it.”  So who is supposed to help her?

 

I would like you now to imagine Super Mom running into the room, cape flying at the back.  Except the problem is, poor mom also has another child who is also going to school, but in First Grade.  She also has to teach him.  It makes the job of Super Mom a little harder.  Besides, she has to cook, clean, drive people around, set up appointments, schedule school days, and the list could go on and on…  So yeah, life can get a little busy sometimes.  It’s not a complaint by the way, because there’s no place I’d rather be.

 

This past week we have been trying new things.  We’ve been burnt out for so long, we barely know how to breathe.  What we are doing is working, but we are not completely done with the renovation project we call ourselves.  This week, for the first time in years… we took off on Wednesday because the weather was in the 80s F.  We did not stress over not doing school.  We just went and took our time.  We enjoyed ourselves.  See… sometimes (okay all the time) the world wants to convince you that you have to always rush at a mad pace to achieve success.  You cannot stop.  You cannot do anything beyond sit and get your work done.  Umm, I disagree.

 

Last week I devised a schedule for myself and the kids (only the younger two, the older two are pretty self-sufficient).  My biggest mistake was buying into the BS that my daughter (with Dyslexia) needs to be more independent in her work.  In other words, they expect her to do most of her work alone.  The problem is (with this new model of learning) is that even in regular schools today children have a teacher that teaches them the lesson.  They stand at the blackboard and engage their minds.  They ask questions.  They explain.

 

In the homeschool model that is often sold through public schools, you can just plug your kid online and have them absorb the material that way.  They don’t need a teacher.  There is a lesson with a teacher once a week or twice a week and that’s it.  Everything else is explained by a computer program.  The problem is… the program does not always explain in a way that is understood.  They do not allow the child to ask questions.  They cannot always assess where the child is lost or assess ways to help them understand.  This year I started my days working with my son in the mornings.  I left my daughter to do her lessons online (alone) and I would catch up with her later in the day.  The problem was, it took her all day to get finished and often she did not completely understand things.  Then, I would have to go back and re-teach her.  Strangely enough… I am learning that kids can get lost in this system.  Despite not understanding, you could still “make lucky guesses” and get good grades or at least passable ones.  Besides, lessons that a long time ago (back when I roamed with dinosaurs) took many weeks in learning are now consolidated into one week or often one day.  That’s it… wait for it to return next year.  And somehow we are wondering why our kid’s test scores on state testing are so low?  They are not learning… because to understand means to really absorb what is being taught.  How can you absorb something taught in only one or two days?

 

So this week I made my schedule revolve around my child with Dyslexia.  I spend an hour on each subject and I teach her everything… just like I used to do a few years ago before we started this school (and we have done this haphazardly when she has needed the support all this time).  The schedule is not completely set in stone… we are flexible, but I am learning the importance of being a little more rigid in my expectations and it is working out for us.  When she has classes with her teachers, I then turn to my son to teach him in the same manner and when she is done with her work for the day, I complete his work with him.  In between, he does assignments that only require him to do an online game or lesson, this way he isn’t spending all day waiting for me.  We get done rather quickly this way.

 

In my lessons with my daughter, I model for her how to take proper notes (because notes, at this point, aren’t required).  I have designed a way of taking notes that is especially helpful for my children with learning difficulties (and this year my oldest child has improved upon that in her own note taking).  This prepares her for college and also for understanding how to figure out what is important enough to take notes on (skills she often struggles with).  I have also decided to push away from the computer and we do her math classes in front of a large whiteboard where she can write out all her answers.  This allows me to see what she understands but also to point out everything that is happening in the math problem, step by step.

 

The funny thing is… this approach is taking less time.  All of the kids, as well as myself, have ADHD.  It is easier to get distracted.  It is easier to put off things you don’t want to do.  And somehow, with this schedule… it forces us to be there at a certain time, and to focus on it in the proper manner.  I don’t leave the teaching up to the computer… it is just a supplement.  I know what is expected of me and I know I can focus on what she needs.  In the afternoon, while I am focusing on my son… she has open study hall.  We usually have all of the work requiring me done.  At that time, she focuses on lessons online (like typing) that she needs to complete on her own.  If she still has work left over from the morning that we have already discussed… she will most likely be able to do it on her own.  If not, I am there for her.  It seriously has opened up a lot of free time for us.

 

First of all, I want to schedule in a few more breaks in the day, but next week is busy because of some meetings we have with school.  Later, it is my hope.  Then, I want to spend an hour or so teaching her specifically for her Dyslexia.  Her brother promises to tag along in the lessons to make it more fun for her (she is not alone) and he is learning reading anyway so it is a win-win.  I am also starting to schedule time for us to all be more physically active.  Last week, more regularly than in a long time, I was able to work out on my own, clear my mind, and take care of myself.  It was rather nice.  I want to do the same for them, scheduling walks, bike rides, and the like.

 

So change is on the horizon, and it is all good.  With those thoughts, I have been able to allay the stress that usually builds up when I cannot spend time doing things I enjoy (which includes writing on my blog).  I know it is for a good purpose and nothing thrills me more than taking care of these guys.  I know my time to enjoy the things I love will come.

 

© Sumyanna 2017     photo credits: my darling son

 

I know this was a long one, and I actually did not set out to rant or even to talk about this subject.  Somehow, writing is like medicine… it brings out what is on your mind, even when you aren’t specifically trying to think of it.  These things have been bothering me lately as I truly want to be the best support to my children and find sometimes the ways they are taught are not conducive to truly learning.  If you have reached this point in my writing… all I can say is thank you so very much for caring enough to read my lines.  Writing is my medicine.  It is the best way I to get to know myself.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in Enjoying the Simple Things, On Life, On Parenthood, Thinking Out Loud, Uncategorized

Technology has gotten the best of me lately…

technology

 

I’m not one to usually come across as not caring.  I usually try pretty hard to be understanding, to reciprocate, to be there for others.  I don’t think of that as a bad thing, although some might.  It’s just the way I am.

 

Recently it has been a whirlwind of change.  Well, maybe not a whirlwind to others… but only to myself.  Over the summer my camera broke, which has left me without the view I am used to.  I’m not complaining… even though I know you have heard this before.  It’s just a fact.  I have used my phone but the pictures are way too crisp and clean for what I hope to achieve.  My daughters camera is a point and shoot.  I swear that thing takes forever to focus on the right image and almost always focuses on everything except what I was wanting to focus on.  To me, no matter how disappointing it can be… this is life.  Sometimes, you just can’t do what you want to do or do it the way you want to.  You have to learn to adapt.

 

This is not to say that my camera is long gone.  We finally got a chance to order a cleaning kit – it is sitting right here on my desk, waiting for me to use it.  I am hoping for sooner than later 😉  So we are working on it.

 

Actually a bit before my camera died, my daughter dropped my phone on the garage floor.  It did not survive.  I was without a phone for a bit because we wanted to buy a particular kind.  Once that arrived, I was happy to once again be reunited, but my phone was not the same anymore.  For some strange reason, that darn phone has “family safety” on it.  I went into my account and deleted family safety, but it still blocks certain things… namely blogs.  Nothing has been changed on my phone from the previous phone, no one installed family safety, but there it is.  We are still trying to figure that one out, but my husband has been a bit busier than usual at work, so we haven’t had a chance yet.

 

To understand how that impacts me, you would have to know how I work.  I already know I’m not normal… that’s okay with me.  Way back when we started homeschooling, I knew that if I wanted to be successful, I would have to keep the distractions to a minimum.  You know… people call and chat forever, not realizing that you are busy or you go to see a math video with your 1st grader and end up spending hours watching old clips of I Love Lucy together.  And while I consider that time well spent, things still need to be done.

 

I am a bit practical.  I know these things waste time, but aside from just realizing that – I try to contain that distraction.  So years ago, I had my husband install a software program on all of the kid’s computers that block things that easily distract them.  If they want to play games – they can, but when all their work is done for the day.  Since I was their primary teacher, I also needed to block distractions – so I gladly gave up my access to all things distracting to be a better teacher.  I know many would say, “Have some backbone!” and to that I can only reply, that’s exactly what I was doing 🙂

 

It can be a pain sometimes, but I find it incredibly rewarding to achieve the things you set out to achieve.  I feel that success in anything will always come at some cost.  So yeah, I don’t have unfettered access to the world wide internet, and that’s okay by me.  I allow myself an hour a day to spend on the blog and at those moments I can access anything I want – but my blog is usually my main choice of reward.  Some days that really sucks because it will lock me out before I get a chance to finish and then I have to wait for the next day.  Other times (and they have been more prominent lately) I don’t have any free time at all.    That’s just the way it is.

 

I know… I’m strange.  I think (or at least I hope) that each of us make choices that help us be more successful in life and I do believe that this has helped our family immensely.  No matter the strange stares or the odd looks.  I will continue to be me, no matter how strange I might seem.  I just feel that life is too short to spend all of my time distracted.  I remember the days when children played in the streets and people were out in their yards, tending to gardens.  People, back then, spent more time – together.  Is it really so strange that I wish we had more time together?

 

Anyway, that leads me back to my problem.  I don’t read other blogs on my computer – but on my phone.  With that gosh darn glitch, I have had a hard time reading anyone.  It is not because I don’t want to spend time – I actually cherish the time I am able to read and I miss all of you terribly.  The problem is, if I use the browser on my phone, it blocks all blogs.  Okay, got that – so download another browser.  I did.  Problem is, it allows me to read, but after I spend time typing up a long comment, it will sit there and never add the comment to the person’s page.  At first, I assumed it actually added the comment, but I just couldn’t see it.  Unfortunately – nope.

 

I’m still working on this and hoping to tie my husband to his desk chair long enough to fix it for me.  I have no idea what else to do to the phone that I haven’t already done.  Family safety is not the program, by the way, that we use on the computers.   We don’t use it at all but a long, long time ago my husband did try it.  As far as we know it was deleted and the account on my phone I deleted myself.  Ugh.

 

So yeah, I’m a bit of a mixed up lady these days and who knows what will happen as we keep getting more and more technologically advanced!  Sorry for all the rambling, but I just wanted to explain.  I have truly missed seeing everyone and although I can “see” anyone’s blog that I want, I really hate seeing but not supporting my other bloggers out there.  So I send you my deepest apologies – I am telling you that I truly have missed you – and I hope things will get worked out soon.  In the meantime, thank you so much for supporting my oddities.  It means more to me than you will ever know.

 

Sumyanna 2017

Posted in Enjoying the Simple Things, On Life, On Parenthood, Thinking Out Loud

Just When You Need Motivation

Believe

 

Yeah, I know – I’ve been gone a while here and a while there.  Things have been busy.  Well, it is not a bad thing for sure, but I have also missed being online at least for my own sanity.  I have two kiddos that I homeschool that are high school age now and they have been keeping me busy.  The younger two are a full-time job on a daily basis, so that is to be expected.  So mama time – is just a fantasy that I hold in my heart right now, and sometimes there is a glimmer of hope in a few seconds here or there.

 

In one way, it is good for me having the two older kids in high school.  They do most of their work on their own and in some cases, even help each other out when the other needs it.  They do sometimes need help though and that’s alright by me – we often figure out things together.  So lately I’ve been helping my daughter who is Dyslexic in her writing course.  She does not need a lot of help, but she sincerely needs a reminder “you can do this” as often as possible.  She is actually a really good writer, but she always second guesses herself.  She wanted to stretch her skills and take a writing course and so far she had done very well – but it helps to have a “brainstorming session” with me to help her gather her ideas and when she writes, I try to help her to visualize herself in the story, either as a character or as a bystander so that she can use more important details in her writing.  So far it has gone well, and the results have been fantastic – but wow, no rest for the weary!

 

In another way, there is a heck of a lot of preparation that goes into getting the older two ready for college.  Not long ago, I was able to find a conference for one of them to attend in their choice of careers.  It went over so well that I am trying to line up experiences for the other kiddos (even the younger ones) in the hope that something just makes things click for them.  It is not always an easy task to find yourself or to figure out what path you want to take when the world just seems full of possibilities.  So having these experiences, I hope, can help them start to figure things out.

 

Perhaps it helps to understand that as a kid, I was rarely encouraged.  I’m not trying to make this a sob story, I am way beyond that now.  I just like to think of it as a point of reference for me and a worthy education at times as well.  I think of all the things that I missed out on.  I cannot help but imagine what might have been if things were different, but I am also rather happy where I am now (hope that makes sense).  I wrote even back then and actually participated in competitions (even moving as high as representing my state in a few competitions in high school).  Sadly, I never knew much about the world outside of school and home.  I never even knew to look up writing groups or find ways to attend conferences… nothing.  Of course, back in those days things were different than they are now (as my son likes to say, were there dinosaurs when you were growing up?).  Nowadays, everything is a click away.  You just need to know what to search for.

 

So, I am taking advantage of that change in times in the hopes that I can provide something for my children that I feel I really missed out on.  Mind you, despite the lack of encouragement – there never was a question that I wanted to be a writer someday and I really don’t mind if the only writing I am able to do is on my blog.  It just took me like eons to figure out that you can be a writer all on your own without anyone giving you a certificate 🙂 and I’m really glad that I have this opportunity.

 

Ahhh, I do have to say I do like some of the changes that have come over us.  Technology does have its benefits.  Were it not for the internet, perhaps I would never have been brave enough to even call myself a writer.  Fortunately, spending time with other writers and like-minded people has helped me see my own value as well.  Instead, I have learned to feel more comfortable in my own skin as a writer and I have no doubt that I can write.  Trust me though, when I say I am not overconfident to the point that my head will swell.  But let’s look at it from the perspective that many of us are afraid to say those words.  I used to be that way too.  We somehow feel like we have to have our names in lights and our faces on the back inner spine of a book in order to have achieved something.

 

As I was saying… when I was growing up, I was never encouraged.  My family did not even know I wrote (even though I banged on that typewriter all the time and spent time in competitions – but they were during school trips).  They just didn’t take any interest.  They still don’t know that I write now, but that is another story for another day.  Anyway, the most important thing in my life somehow escaped their attention.  When I was in high school and in college and said I wanted to get an English degree, I was told “writer’s never get jobs.”  I was equally told it was a waste of time and that I would never amount to anything, so why bother?  But I cannot help wondering, what would have happened had someone said “Try!  I believe in you!”  How many times have all of us needed that voice?

 

Now, there were certain teachers that did encourage me to the best of their ability, especially the one who encouraged me to take up the pen in the first place.  The sad thing is though, that they can only do so much and most assume you live in an encouraging environment.  So for me, I never found out about scholarships or attended writing groups or conferences.  I just wrote and kept my voice to myself.

 

I am happy to say though that despite the lack of encouragement, I have never lost my love for writing and I doubt that I will ever tire from the desire to express myself even when I have limited time.  There were times I had to spend working on things I did not love and there were times when I have had to put my writing aside – but I always come back to it.  I need to – as sure as I live and breathe.  It just somehow makes me whole.

 

So yeah, I take my job pretty seriously for encouraging and supporting the kids as much as I can.  And yes, it is a busy undertaking, but I know how important it can be.  Some of my kiddos are certain about what they want to do and others are just as equally uncertain.  One is certain she wants to be a writer – but has trouble knowing what that means for her.  Will there be opportunities?  And for me, as a mother – I don’t want her to waste her time trying to find reasons she should not.  I want her to find reasons she can and if there are no paths for her, then she can make one.  So I feel it is my job to find ways to let them see what is out there and to see what they are capable of in the hopes that just like my teachers did for me… I can encourage their first spark toward something they love.  I know they won’t ever forget it – just as I have never forgotten the same and what a precious gift to give.

 

So if you notice my absence sometimes, know that I am most likely okay.  If I have not visited, know that I will try once an opportunity arises.  I have missed you to pieces, dear blog family.  I know people will say, don’t bother with the blog… but I do this for me – and as much as homeschooling keeps me busy, I need my time away… writing or taking photographs to feel sane and anchored to the ground.  I have finally matured enough to not feel guilty for having needs too.  This is where I wash away my fears, allow myself to drown in my tears, and pull the sunshine out of the sky when I need it most.  It is the one place that I am free to hear my own thoughts and where I am closest to my dreams.  As a writer, I could not ask for more.

 

Now there is one last thing I want to share with you.  I know that I’m not special.  What I mean by that is – I know that I am not alone in never hearing words of encouragement.  It is a sad fact that I have known many and I am ever so grateful that they believed enough to share a part of their hearts so bravely.  It is not easy growing you own courage!  I just want you to know – I’ve got your back.

 

It’s like I tell the kids all the time, there are so many people who achieved greatness and perhaps many of them were never even celebrated – but they mattered.  What they did mattered – even if they only touched the heart of one other person in some way.  Of those who were later celebrated, in their day and time they were discouraged, told they were dumb, told they had no talent, told they would never amount to anything and all I can say is darn it, I’m glad they didn’t believe them!  For some miraculous reason – they just held on to their dream.  They were fortunate that in some way they were able to pull through the muck and mire, they were able to bring forth the courage no matter the naysayers. In some other cases, there was someone behind them – pulling them or pushing them forward with words of encouragement.

 

At the end of the day, you need to realize (as do I) that these same people probably had the same fears that we do.  They probably struggled with wondering if they were good enough, talented enough, or worthy of dreams.  They probably wondered if the naysayers were correct and maybe they should stop wasting their time.  I mean, what is the point anyway, right?

 

The question I have to ask myself – and you have to ask yourself – is how will you ever know if you aren’t willing to try?  And most importantly, we must learn from those who came before us.  What would have happened had those people – those celebrated for their greatness – never had someone (perhaps even themselves) say that they could?  The loss would truly have been ours and you cannot imagine where we would be without their influence.

 

So, even if it is a little voice in your head, listen to it.  If you are fortunate to have someone else willing to believe in you, show them just how right they are.  Cherish that they are willing to hold your hand.  And if the only encouragement you have is this very blog post, then by all means take it!  I give it willingly.   I believe in you.  I believe in you – and if you believe in yourself, you will be amazed to see what you can accomplish.  Let no one steal away your opportunity to dream.  For what would the world be without you?

 

© Sumyanna 2017

 

Posted in Daily Post Prompt, Enjoying the Simple Things, inspirational, On Life, On Parenthood, Thinking Out Loud, Word Prompt

The Priceless Beauty of Every Moment

 

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Each moment is priceless.  As the days stretch into years I think I have learned that more than anything.  I cherish the simple moments, watching my children grow and learn.  I feel blessed that I am able to spend most of my day with them.

 

Homeschooling is a challenge.  Don’t ever let anyone tell you it is easy.  Unless you are doing nothing to help your children learn, it is a difficult job but one that is incredibly rewarding.  When they struggled, I struggled to find ways to help them learn.  When they succeeded, I was there to cheer them on.  I cherish that, more than anything.

 

My earliest influence was… hands down… my grandmother.  She taught me to love learning.  She also taught me that learning was a lifelong journey.  She taught me to seek creativity and self expression and to do the best job I was capable of.  She died when I was rather young, but she left her imprint nonetheless.  I guess those moments, by her side, were the beginning of my journey as a homeschool mother.  I just did not know it yet.

 

Not long after having my first child, I learned about homeschooling.  I admired the hard work and enthusiasm my friends who homeschooled showed toward their children’s education.  I also admired how close-knit they were as a family.  Not only did they learn together, but they grew together.

 

I took the bait and it was (at times) a difficult road, but one that I do not regret for one moment.  It means never being alone in your thoughts (or perhaps just rarely if you can get the bathroom door shut before they barge in) 🙂  It means not having the time to pursue the things that you cherish.  It means not having the time to do the things that you want to do… for yourself or by yourself and sometimes it means not having time at all for anything.

 

I have learned to take all this in stride, because seriously, those things are minor compared to the things I have gained.  Every moment with my children is priceless.  It does not matter if it is watching my young son sprawled out on the floor, playing with his cars or train sets.  It does not matter if it is helping my younger daughter struggle through math problems that seem impossible for her.  Sometimes, it feels impossible to me to – because one thing I have learned while homeschooling is that we all think rather differently.  That is not always easy… learning to understand our differences, but it is my job to find that one thing that will tie all those lessons together and carve them to make sense for my children.  Even that struggle is priceless.  Gaining understanding of one another is a gift.  Learning to help each other achieve is another.

 

At times, I feel guilty when I am not around.  I cherish my blog more than anything.  I swear my heart begs me to write, get out in nature, or just breathe fresh air and I often I just can’t.  I have had to learn that delicate balancing act called life.  Sometimes I can juggle the ball of my needs, but more often than not, I have to juggle others before my own.

 

I have no intention to leave, mind you.  I have more than enough desire within me to write.  I just always struggle with being able to say “I will be here on Monday” or “I will be able to post three times a week” or even “I will be able to do the things I strongly desire to do” because I can’t always, no matter how bad I want to.  I don’t want it to sound like a complaint – it isn’t.  Life is just like that and truly every moment in between those spend doing the things I love… I am cherishing them too.

 

So in a way, this is an apology, or perhaps just a recognition that I cannot always do the things I hope to do.  I guess it is a good thing – recognizing our limits, trying to find ways around them when we desire something out of reach.  I always hold on to the hope that if there is every something out there for me, that I shall find it.  I try to remind myself the priceless beauty that life has to offer in every second and in every breath.  It may not always be what we want, or perhaps life will just take over and seemingly keeps us from our dreams… but always know that as long as we keep struggle to find them…

 

they will find you.  I honestly believe that.

 

(c) Sumyanna 2017

 

Written for The Daily Post Prompt: priceless

 

 

Posted in Enjoying the Simple Things, inspirational, On Life, Thinking Out Loud

Learning to Find Value Within

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Look outside yourself at the beauty that surrounds you, but never look outside of yourself for confirmation of your own value.  At caterpillar does no look at itself and find itself lacking because it cannot fly.  It lives and breathes its own kind of beauty – stretching forth and existing as only it can.  A butterfly does not look at a caterpillar and find itself lacking because it cannot crawl upon the ground.  They cannot be compared, nor can their own individual beauty be ignored by open eye.

I have found more value – in the silence and I have learned to find value within my own heart, for I know I am willing to see more than most are willing to admit.  It is okay to be different – to be fueled by dreams and to love every waking moment, even when things are not easy.  It is okay that despite the despair and shouting that surrounds me, I choose to find ways to celebrate what is good and upright.  I will not apologize for being me – for how else can you see me fly if I am not willing to show my wings?

(c) Sumyanna 2016

Posted in Enjoying the Simple Things, On Life, On Parenthood, Thinking Out Loud

The Blessings of Motherhood: Holding my hand, while I hold yours…

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Mother was someone I never knew.  It was not that I did not know my mother, but that she was never interested in fitting the mold.  Mother, for me, was instead an ideal, a shadow of a figure that I held in my head all of these years.  When I met someone who mothered me in some way, I molded my perceptions of what a mother should be after her.  Time and time again, I would find others who helped me and I would hold images of them in my mind.  I would take the parts I cherished and redefine what a mother was.  It was not to say that the whole of each person was not wonderful or beautiful… it was instead that I was reaching out for a definition, an understanding of who and what a mother was.

 

I, like most girls, grew up hoping that someday I would be a mother without really thinking about the task.  I grew up assuming that I, just like everyone else, would someday have a child of my own.  I never really thought about the consequences or the hard work involved and I guess that is a good thing.

 

I started out knowing nothing, and for nine months I carried around one of the four greatest blessings I have ever known.  Over that time, I have read countless books, I have cried, I have rejoiced, I have made mistakes, I have been amazed at my abilities, and my – I have grown.  Truthfully, my children have taught me how to be a better mother.  I have learned, through them, their various needs, strengths, and weaknesses.  I have learned to live with them and value our time together.  At the same time, I hopefully have taught them the same.  There is no easy roadmap to follow and along the way I have definitely make mistakes.  However, I have always tried to allow my children to see that I am human.  I don’t want to hide my errors or lack of foresight.  I don’t want to hide behind that “I am an adult and you are just a child” stance that I have known firsthand.  I don’t think they learn anything from that… and as adults, when they make mistakes, will that be their common outcry?

 

Instead, I want my children to know who I am.  I want them to know that while I do make mistakes, that I always strive to be my best and do my best.  We all fall short of that goal, sometimes too often – but to share that journey with them is a gift.  I feel they know me better, and perhaps they realize we are not that very different from one another.  There is no disconnect between parent and child and that is something (at least as a mother) that I cherish.  This does not mean there are no consequences if they refuse to clean up their messes or that we are such buddies that I am still not the parent, but instead it just means that we understand one another as two uniquely different human beings.  Not only do I want respect from them, but I also give it.

 

I could not say that my path is the right one for anyone except me.  I just find myself incredibly blessed for the many people who came into my life at an early age and taught me how to nurture the heart of a child, how to cherish who they are as an individual, and how to teach them that parenting is not only about punishment for offences, but that it is about teaching that all of our actions have consequences.  There is a huge difference.  Not only have people from my past helped mold who I am today, but my children have made a huge impact.

 

In the beginning of parenthood, I wasn’t as open minded.  I tend to believe we all (at least first) fall into what we know.  I tried the same methods used on me as a child and I quickly realized that they were not an answer to any problem that we might come across.  It may be a way of dealing with a situation, but the outcome was what I was concerned with.  What were my actions teaching my child?  What would they walk away with from this?  Slowly, I evolved.  I started to listen to myself more, I tried to remember my own struggles growing up, the experience of not having a voice, the sadness of feeling misunderstood.  It all helped to mold who I am – not only with my children, but with others as well.

 

I have experienced such growth while being a mother, I am completely amazed at the process.  Here I am, intending to help mold someone else’s life and all the while I am helping them grow, they are helping me grow as well.  Truthfully, motherhood is a blessing that should not be overlooked (although as a job… it often is).  I truly do believe that people who make an impact in our lives should ever lose the chance to hear it.  I have told them how grateful I am for being in their lives.  Even today, they don’t understand but I do believe, when they become parents, perhaps they will realize the truth of my words.

 

I know that today is Mother’s Day… but for me, the beauty of this day would not be properly celebrated if I did not chose to celebrate the reason I am the woman I am.  I just hope that all mothers out there realize just how fortunate they are.  Motherhood is a game changer.

 

I want to thank my children for every bit of love and generosity they have shown me.  Even when times were tough, we have always worked together as a team.  I want to celebrate all of the smiles and tears and I want to celebrate how far we have come.  Most importantly, I want to say to them, “I love you more than you could ever imagine.”  I could not be the woman I am today, the mother I am today…  without you holding my hand as I held yours.

 

© Sumyanna 2017