Archive for the ‘Julie’s Life’ Category

Who I Am Becoming

The best thing about you and me is our development—our growth. The way we go from oblivious to conscious, or how we hold back manipulation and irritation. It’s also a super cool moment the first time we say “No” and stick the landing. I like the journey piece as well. For instance, my own growth has included getting better at the stuff—like reading about brain-based learning, or going to grad school, or hiring experts to teach me how to run a company.

Growth, however satisfying to you, can feel unfriendly to others. Everyone who got used to the old “you” is invited to re-up when the new you attends the next meeting of your friendship.

Suddenly, you zig instead of zag.

  • “Wait, I thought you hated TV. Why are you letting your kids watch?”
  • “So you don’t believe X any more? I’m afraid for you.”
  • “You don’t seem like yourself lately. Are you okay?”

Anything to ram you back into a comfortable shape for them. The modus operandi is: “I need to get her to be the predictable person whose behavior validates my choices and beliefs while meeting my needs.”

This is how criticism, gossip, and exclusion get going. Sometimes a whole group will send out a red flag: “Look out! She’s dangerous!”

But that’s not friendship.

Friendship says: I see the “you” under all the presenting details and I like her. I want her good. I’m committed to curiosity over judgment, trusting her growth over my need to “fix” her. That’s a huge gift when you receive it—and rare.

Sometimes you will lose people on the journey who don’t get it, or you. Sometimes they even make up stuff to explain the you they no longer understand or accept. That hurts.

My best friends over the last 20 years are those who’ve been fascinated by my growth, not afraid of it. The people whose opinions have meant the most to me are those who are growing too—and aren’t afraid of change or the uncertainty of becoming more aware and honest.

I named some of these people on my personal Facebook page. You won’t know most of them. This particular group is made up of people I’ve met online whose kindness, brilliance, and camaraderie sustained me at critical moments. It’s good to have room to grow and friends. Both.

This post is originally from Instagram and @juliebravewriter is my account there so come follow along for more conversations like this one!

Expand and Include

Expand and Include

Sometimes I feel the world sway under my feet. I knew so many things when I was 22, 34, 41… The stuff I didn’t know came in waves, and like the ocean, the questions came in sets. I’d have one question and it would expand into a series, each one more confounding and nuanced, and even contradictory, than the next.

I was, for instance, a co-sleeping, on demand breast-feeder until my fourth baby broke me. I hadn’t had to test my beliefs to that degree—four kids under 7, a bedwetter, pregnant again, a toddler still nursing, a baby who needed to be attached to my body in order to sleep. I became desperately sleep-deprived.

Broke me, busted up everything I had so smugly known. I looked outside my approved literature and circle of authority because the former answers couldn’t contain my new reality. It felt dangerous and disloyal…and liberating.

And it’s been just like that thousands of times since. A day dawned in my late forties when I saw things differently—that no belief or practice comes pure. No one way solves all the iterations of need. Everything we “know” is contingent on interpretation and context.

In fact, if someone says a thing is 100 percent true, you can be sure that’s context too. It’s a way to get you to pretend you didn’t choose or shouldn’t think for yourself or can’t vary your practice or belief, else you lose membership in the “club.”

I woke up today thinking about how important it is to expand and include. When you run out of options, go outside the safety of what no longer serves. Life gets tight and unworkable when we trap ourselves into rigid systems unrelated to the complexity of being a unique self. We have options. We have choices. We are not alone. We can find well-being. It’s not up to them. It’s up to us.

This post is originally from Instagram and @juliebravewriter is my account there so come follow along for more conversations like this one!

Be a Light

Be a Light

At the end of my life, I wanted it not said upon my epitaph: “Lo, she successfully laundered thousands of loads of laundry.”

Friends: there’s more to life.

Change the checkboxes.

  • Showed compassion for struggle
  • Experimented with a new approach to learning
  • Discovered what doesn’t work for that one child
  • Gave out hugs like it’s my job
  • Enjoyed poetry
  • Expanded my worldview
  • Paid attention to this single amazing day
  • Folded undies like a Kon Mari folding expert (okay, I slipped one laundry item into the list, but at least try elevating the task just for today!)

You’re a blaze of energy and light in someone’s life. Live like it. Assign credit. Grow.

This post is originally from Instagram and @juliebravewriter is my account there so come follow along for more conversations like this one!

The Brave Learner

Enjoy the Peace

Enjoy the Peace

That peace you hear? That’s the sound of your life working. ~Susan Elliott

Years ago, I read this pair of lines by blogger Susan Elliott that knocked me sideways. I paused to consider a new idea.

Did I need chaos, activity, crisis, a problem to solve to feel productive or alive?

What did I experience in moments of peace? Did I welcome the calm as a sign of health or as the eerie stillness before the next storm?

Did I see struggle as a sign of learning?

Did I see ease as a shortcut, cheating, evidence of not trying or too beginner—not challenging enough?

I noticed that with an active household and a challenging marriage, sometimes when the stars aligned and we had a moment of serenity, I’d feel agitated. It’s like I’d be on the hunt for something to fix or a problem to solve or a new challenge to tackle. Instantly struggle returned and I’d be back to striving rather than enjoying.

I took this watchword, then, and said it to myself on the mornings when the kids were happily busy. Why wreck it by pulling out the math books? Enjoy the peace! My life was working!

I said it to myself when I had a blank date on the calendar. I could leave it empty. I could relish the peace.

I said it to myself when there were extra dollars at the end of a month. I could leave them there and enjoy simple abundance, rather than rushing to spend them yet again.

I said it to myself when I successfully took time away from home and no one missed me. I could realize I’d done a good job of preparing them for successful living without dependency.

You try! What signs of peace could you relish rather than rushing to fill the quiet calm with activity and stress?

This post is originally from Instagram and @juliebravewriter is my account there so come follow along for more conversations like this one!

The Homeschool Alliance

Keep Going

I was a part of an online unschooling group years ago. One of the moms asked about how to homeschool as a single parent. Her husband had just filed for divorce.

I offered a few thoughts. The moderator told me not to urge people to get divorced. The original poster responded that it was out of her hands; her husband had already filed and left. I countered that I was merely offering support based on her experience and mine. I received a private message telling me not to comment ever on divorce and to only promote marriage. This was not a religious community. I’ve since learned the stigma of divorce in the homeschool world.

In 2009 (seen in the photo above), I began to live as a single mother. The isolation in homeschooling and religious communities was staggering. For the first time, I felt like a member of a misunderstood class and as though I ought to hide or pretend. It’s taken a decade to become more and more comfortable with the truth of my family in this public space.

The post I shared a couple of days ago about abuse matters. I support the concept of longterm marriage especially when kids are involved. That said, abuse is bad for children. Period. It is more important to prioritize the welfare of individuals in a family than to protect the institution of marriage. It is not our job to make marriage look good. It’s our job to create homes with peace, well-being, and health.

So if you ever wonder if anyone in homeschooling gets it: I do. And those of us who’ve walked your steps are here for you. Totally. No shame.

It took about 3 years for me to remember what happiness felt like. I could see it in others, but I could not feel it as a sensation. The loss of the fantasy, the ideal, the badge of health and family success is crushing. People asked often about my marriage, offering thoughts and prayers. I needed them to ask about *me*—to put my welfare first, to believe me.

Do that for your friends.

My favorite show of solidarity came from one of my married friends. She accompanied me to the courthouse when I had to face the judge for my divorce. I cannot think of a deeper commitment of friendship. Fearless. Loyal.

If you’re in my space suffering, I see you. Keep going.

This post is originally from Instagram and @juliebravewriter is my account there so come follow along for more conversations like this one.

The Homeschool Alliance