Monday, October 30, 2006

Emily Carr and the philosophy of learning

On my mini-vacation to Vancouver before Thanksgiving, I went to the Vancouver Art Gallery and saw their Emily Carr exhibit. (It is true the always have Emily Carr stuff there but this was an exhibit of her lifetime of work in the whole downstairs of the gallery. Of course I had learned about Emily Carr in high school. About all I could remember is that she was a painter and she was from BC and there is an art school named after her…So I was interested to go and learn something about her. Alongside her work, they had many Haida and Tsimpsian artifacts that inspired her work. They had the gallery laid out so that you followed her work in chronological order.

Confronted with the body of her work, I was quickly drawn in. Mostly because I could see and feel that she had the same love affair with the north that I do. She captured the mystical landscapes, the haunting, quickly vanishing aboriginal presence – the memory of greatness… (before European contact there were 100,000 Haida in settlements around the Haida Gwaii [Queen Charlotte Islands] by the early 1900’s there were 600 left…). I could tell that she too was touched to the depths of her soul by the beauty of that land, that it changed her forever. It re-awoken that yearning in me for my northern home – for the rugged, overwhelming beauty of the Skeena River valley. When I looked at her paintings, I had that same, reverent, wild ecstasy that I felt out of doors where I grew up. Man is just a mere fleck on the face of the earth up there.You can feel the power of nature, of the elements, of the seasons, of the earth. And she captured the sense of loss of the guardians of that magical place, the tragic waste and the misunderstanding of the nobility of the west coast natives by the early white settlers and missionaries. I can understand her passion to preserve it, to capture some feel of it. And my heart ached and I missed my home…I loved the Emily Carr exhibit. I brought home some postcard prints of my favourite paintings and an art calendar for next year to hang in our homeschooling room.

So you want to know what ‘unschooling’ is? (well maybe you don't but I'm going to tell you anyways....hehe) This is what it is. In school I learned what I was taught about Emily Carr but I did not EXPERIENCE Emily Carr. I did not know that she understood a part of my soul, that she felt similarly to how I feel about the area I grew up in. Now I have learned something about Emily Carr and I am very interested in learning more. My appetite has been whetted. The philosophy of ‘unschooling’ is that any learning that is not personal and meaningful is only an illusion. Sure, we can memorize facts and regurgitate them. But that day in Vancouver, I connected with Emily Carr. As a homeschooling parent, this is the type of experience that I seek for my kids, without and expectations. Perhaps a far better word to describe ‘unschooling’ is ‘child led’ learning. We follow no curriculum in this house, we strive to follow our hearts and I strive to support my children in following their interests and passions. And I have learned to trust that they really do learn all the important things when they want to and then they learn it quickly and there is no struggle between us. Like Andrew. His printing didn’t improve since he left school at the end of grade 3. I worried that no one would ever be able to read his scrawl. Then one day this summer, he left me a note and his printing was beautiful – like an artist. So all those hours kids spend doing ‘penmanship’? Unnecessary for him (and I would guess for most). When he really wanted to print neater, he did.

Anyways, there is my experience of Emily Carr and a bit of my holiday that I wanted to share with you...and my explanation of how we homeschool… in case you were wondering ;-) I was just going to tell you about seeing Emily Carr but it just illustrated how we really learn so well... you got the full meal deal...

Sunday, October 29, 2006

I Am Amazing - the workshop

So my workshop yesterday was brilliant. 4 brilliant women attended and it was just so awesome. It felt SO good to do that again. You know, I really am a good facilitator/counsellor. Why don't I do more of that? And I got a chance to think about that yesterday...

We talked alot about beliefs. Those deep - even unconscious - beliefs that we hold that we would never consciously choose or agree with. And we talked a lot about moving past simply recognizing it but actually changing our limiting beliefs. It was a wonderful, enriching day. And it happened thanks to Monique, who made sure single-handedly that there was more than just me and her there! People shared and enjoyed what I had to share. And I got to think a lot about how amazing I am and what my beliefs are that hold me back from being who I could be and doing what I could do. While preparing, I found this wonderful website that was so inspiring to me. She's another woman from Vernon, mother to young children and I thought, why aren't I doing that? I could do that... A very good question... why aren't I doing that? Sharing who I really am - what I am passionate about - what I deeply believe. That fear that who I am, really am at the core of myself - is not okay. But I am okay - more than okay - I'm amazing!

I lasted 2 days on 25 peeps... not quite hall-of-fame material. It was silly while it lasted and thanks to everyone who 'clicked' on me! They encouraged me to try a more 'attention-getting' photo and try again... I think I'll pass...

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Wasting Time....

I have been having this dull feeling lately like I am wasting time. That I am not using my time to the fullest. Sometimes I feel like I am stuck, spinning my wheels, never quite able to make it to the next level. Actually, I know I am wasting my time. I know I spend hours everyday wasting time. Its true, I've been 2 years without cable tv and that has stopped me from doing THAT to waste time. Now it is the computer... I have this strong feeling that there is SOMETHING that I am supposed to be doing... I am not sure what... but I think if I stopped wasting time long enough, I would figure it out. Something bigger than canning peaches, tomatoes and applesauce (not that that isn't important, too - it is) but something in the world.

I came across this most beautiful website today and I thought, why aren't I doing THAT? What keeps me from really presenting myself this way - from really, truly believing in myself this way? Something in me is terrified of success. It is time to face the dragon. Eyeball to eyeball. I really am amazing. Why am I so afraid of that? Why don't I do what I know I need to do until it is either too late or almost too late? Why? Or maybe it doesn't even matter why. I just need to stop. I am breaking out of these shackles. I can feel it. I am emerging...

It is very timely for my workshop at the Inner World School this Saturday. I really need to hear this and focus on this myself... Come and join me. Its really going to be great...

Topic: I am Amazing

You are amazing, incredible, beautiful, intelligent, compassionate, generous, wonderful. Do you believe it? Do you feel it? What keeps us from living a life that is incredible, compassionate and wonderful—that we feel passionate about? We are often operating from beliefs deeply, unconsciously held that we would never consciously agree with. Spend the day learning about how to uncover these beliefs and change them and affirming all that is wonderful, amazing and magical about YOU!

Date: Saturday, October 28
Time: 11:00am—4:00pm
Cost: $50 ($5 for members)
Facilitator: Andrea Clarke

To register e-mail or call 250-503-5416

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

25 Peeps

Okay, so it might be a little crude... Nevertheless, I am on with a link to my blog with the same picture that I have on my profile. I will manage to stay on 25p if people click on me and follow the link to my blog. So, I probably won't last long as I can't compete with boob shots but check me out while I am there... and click on me....

A Treat!

Well, I had such a treat this week! On Monday I got a call from Jordan asking if he could come that night and stay at my house as he had some work to do in Kelowna and Vernon and bring Sarah and Adriel, too! Well, of course I said YES! And so they blew into town and into our home. It was just so nice having them here and getting to see Adriel. I don't know if I ever met such a happy baby!? He never cried not even once, the whole time he was here. He is so smiley and talkative! Thank you so much, Sarah, for bringing him to see me!

For me, my siblings are divided in half. There is the first half that goes down to Laura. With them I had normal sibling relationships - we fought and we played and they bugged me and I bossed them and we got on each other's nerves. Then, after a 3 year break, came Jordan just before I turned 12. And it was different. He was just so sweet and cute and he never bugged me or got on my nerves. I can remember holding his little hand in mine as we went for walks. I thought he was the cutest, sweetest boy ever and it is true that I was not all that keen on Martha's arrival as how could anyone possibly beat the sweet cuteness of Jordan? But of course, Martha was sweet and cute and I loved her and then there was Evan who I adored like my own child. I used to send them little presents of balloons and pencils from BYU when I went and I missed them terribly. And then when I lived in Richmond, I used to have them over for sleep overs. And they were just so much fun. Really I have never minded being the biggest sister to so many siblings. They are each so lovable in their own way, I truly wouldn't trade any of them in for any other experience.

So it was so fun to have Sarah and Jordan here - having a sleep over after soooo many years. All grown up and handsome and beautiful. I dragged out old pictures they made me and the chunks of wood that Jordan nailed into a plane and gave to me and I am sure I bored them with all my reminiscing and talking about who looks like who. But they graciously indulged me.

What a treat!

Monday, October 23, 2006

This Week's Happy Song

Okay, in the spirit if lightening up, here is this week's happy song. I mean, how can you listen to Crash Test Dummies and NOT smile? I can't.

Here On Earth (I'll Have My Cake)

by Crash Test Dummies

Some folks say that life is just a veil of tears
Not me man I can't pack enough into these years
I don't care if it's spring summer winter or fall
Make no fuss about the seasons, 'cause I like 'em all

Here on earth I'll have my cake
Gonna eat it too, make no mistake
'Cause if it's a question of to be or not to be
I'll put on my boots and go see what I can see

My grandpa, well a good Christian life he led
Worked like a dog just to put a roof over his head
He said that when he died he'd get his reward
'Cause heaven's a place where you don't pay room & board

When I die, I hope I don't die too slow
But slow or quick, I hope heaven is the place I go
Old St. Pete's gonna serve me my pie in the sky
And I'll say "Pete, a side of ice cream, if you don't mind."

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Funny Stories From My House

Story 1 - Getting Babysat by Big Brother

Okay, so I am helping Rhiannon clean her room and I ask her how her brother was at babysitting her the night before. She says he was good and then tells me some stories about their evening and happily tells me that instead of reading her a bedtime story (as I had admonished him to), he promised her a slurpy instead.... I don't think she was supposed to tell me that...

Story 2 - The Bathmat Saga

So, my family has this thing about bathmats. They seem incapable of picking them up when they are wet and hanging them over the edge of the tub or the shower door so they dry thoroughly and don't get all moldy and stinky and so they are dry for the next person or so you don't get your socks wet when you unknowingly step on them... Anyways, Dean was stepping in for a shower and was straightening out the thoroughly damp bathmat in front of the shower, left there by Andrew. I tell him to hang if over the shower door when he is done so it can dry. "Hang it?" he says incredulously like it was such a weird and unheard of thought. "Yes, over the door" and he agrees.

That was yesterday. This morning I step into the shower after Kaetlyn. And there is the bathmat hanging in the shower from a little hook. Yes, I mean inside the shower. Obviously Dean had hung it there. And what is even weirder is that Kaetlyn had showered WITH the bathmat hanging IN the shower. And this is not a bathtub with a shower head above. This is a little shower stall. Isn't that kind of gross? To shower with a bathmat? Now the bathmat was really wet. I gave up and put it in the laundry....

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Lightening Up

New shoes are always symbolic to me. They symbolize stepping in a new way in the world. Shoes symbolize my personal power - how I move in the world and new shoes symbolize a refreshment of all of that. I have been wearing the same brand of runners for the last few years since I began walking again. My last pair are very worn out... So I decided to get something different. So, at Sport Chek yesterday evening, getting Rhiannon's soccer cleats for indoor soccer, I saw a wall of discontinued shoes. I tried on many different pairs. After all my knees have been through, how my runners fit is really important to me. I fell in love with these Adidas ClimaCool Revolutions. They are so comfortable. And the cool thing really works for my notoriously hot feet - there are vents in the bottom and when you walk, gushes of cool air push up on the sweaty bottoms of your feet. (I highly recommend them to fellow BFS sufferers)

So, enough about the shoes. As I walk freshly into my life with my 9.6oz runners, I am endeavouring to 'lighten up'. It is easy to get bogged down with all the 'stuff' of life. Winter is coming - less daylight, less money. Erin is struggling - really struggling - in Montreal. I'm struggling to get classes going at the Inner World School. So much stuff always going on with my family. We're still not unpacked fully from moving. My house is not how I want it. And I worry. (I had a birthday card once that said those born in July are not worriworts.. that is so not true of me!)

So time to lighten up. If I'm not having fun, there is no point. And happiness and joy allow me to flow with my life. Life is meant to be enjoyed. Worry and negative thinking only gets me stuck. Stuck, and it takes all my effort to do anything. I am so grateful to my friend, Bozenka, who is a good enough friend to kick me in the butt sometimes and tell me I need to lighten up.

So I am stepping lightly into my new life.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Shadows in my Kitchen

Well, I now have 21 quarts of tomatoes, 21 quarts of peaches and 19 pints of applesauce and innumerable pints of salsa and a whole bunch of jam and jelly and many bags full of dried fruit (read plums) and 36 bags of frozen fruit. I love the way my cold storage room is looking! And I have about 50 lbs of green tomatoes left to go and an apple orchard that I have hardly put a dent in... I actually had to buy more pint size jars last night.

Kaetlyn has spent a lot of time in the kitchen with me canning tomatoes, making salsa and freezing plums. I don't think she knows how much it means to me that she is there with me. There are shadows in my kitchen when she is there with me. Just as clear in my mind as this kitchen is the kitchen in Terrace where I learned to can beside my mother and my grandmother. I remember when they taught me how to blanche tomatoes and peaches to get the skins off.

Is it any wonder I see the Okanagan as some kind of mecca? Every year at the end of August, beginning of September, my dad would drive to the Okanagan and come how with loads of fruit. I can remember our garage full to over flowing with cases of peaches and tomatoes and cucumbers. I would eat and eat peaches. Like an addict. And my mom would can and can and can. A years supply of fruit and vegetables. My paltry 21 quarts is nothing to what she used to do - she measured hers in the 100's... And we worked together, my grandmother, my mother and I. The pressure canner going constantly all day with one load or another. I can remember we used the deep fryer full of water to blanche the vegetables (I use my pasta pot).

And I love the sense of continuity as Kaetlyn and I work together and I teach her how to blanche peaches and tomatoes and how we taste and season the salsa together. I can blissfully caught in the line of women I am decended from with my daughter in line after me....

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

If My Life Had a Soundtrack - the sounds of my soul

Well, I am still wallowing under a mountain of fruit. Everyday I find new ways of processing plums and cooking zucchini. Thank you whoever left that most delicious zucchini loaf recipe. Everyone LOVED it! I'm going to try to make some more today. After I make some apple sauce... and some apple butter.... while I frantically get ready to go to Vancouver on Wednesday. It is hard to leave all this produce. I worry about it being any good when I get home. What if someone comes and picks all the apples? And I also have another batch of tomatoes to can... And suppers to make for my family while I am gone... and bread to bake and muffins to make to take with me...

But anyways, here is my next installment in 'If My Life Had a Soundtrack'

I have been thinking about the music in my life - music that I have loved. Some of it would have to be children's church music. I started teaching music to children when I was 12. Every Sunday. I was the Jr. Sunday School choirester before they changed all that. Then I was the Primary choirester in Prince George and Richmond as a young wife and mother. And again in Sidney. I spent a total of 7 years teaching music to young children. I loved it. I loved the kids and I love singing and I loved sharing my love of singing. There are some of those songs that have stayed with me - ones that express joy. When I am really happy, nothing quite expresses what is in my heart like 'Lift Up Your Voice and Sing' or 'I Think the World is Glorious'. And none quite express my yearning for and my faith in spiritual connection like 'How Firm a Foundation' or 'A Child's Prayer'. These are songs in my life's soundtrack. A repeated theme.

When I was 18 I heard Cat Stevens for the first time. My friend Karine Towers, who knew my love of poetry, played him for me as I drove her home one time. And for my first year away from home at BYU, I had this song on my first tape to play on the 'ghetto blaster' I got for my 18th birthday. I love Cat Stevens' music - because of the lyrics. HIs searching for meaning in life echoes my own. There are many of his songs that will be in my life's soundtrack but this would have to be the first one. I still love it as much as I did the first time I heard it.

On The Road To Find Out by Cat Stevens
Well I left my happy home to see what I could find out
I left my folk and friends with the aim to clear my mind out
Well I hit the rowdy road and many kinds I met there
Many stories told me of the way to get there

So on and on I go, the seconds tick the time out
There's so much left to know, and I'm on the road to find out
Well in the end Ill know, but on the way I wonder
Through descending snow, and through the frost and thunder

Well, I listen to the wind come howl, telling me I have to hurry
I listen to the robin's song saying not to worry
So on and on I go, the seconds tick the time out
Theres so much left to know, and Im on the road to findout

Then I found myself alone, hopin' someone would miss me
Thinking about my home, and the last woman (one) to kiss me, kiss me
But sometimes you have to moan when nothing seems to suit ya
But nevertheless you know you're locked towards the future

So on and on you go, the seconds tick the time out
There's so much left to know, and I'm on the road to findout
Then I found my head one day when I wasn't even trying
And here I have to say, cause there is no use in lying, lying

Yes the answer lies within, so why not take a look now?
Kick out the devils sin, pick up, pick up a good book now

from Tea for the Tillerman