Living Life & Learning!

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Surprising Side Affects of Unschooling

When we embarked the unschooling life four years ago, little did we know how many parts of our life would be affected and made better by that one small choice to step away from the conventional idea of school and schoolish learning.  Every year since 2013, we have shifted one aspect of our lives that has cascading beneficial consequences to many other aspects of our lives. Much of these changes were made as an outcropping of our deschooling process.  And for those of you who see the word deschooling and think that I am talking about ridding your kids of their schoolish ideas, know that the deschooling I speak of is that of parental deschooling, which is far more important and a "key log" that must be identified, investigated and removed for unschooling families to ever experience unschooling "flow." 

Our family's choice to unschool began as a reaction to my sons' challenging school experiences.  For all intents and purposes, they both were successful in school - their challenges were common among their peers and their ability to conform to school was not an issue.  But there was something off, something that felt wrong to us.  When broken down, at the core was the recognition that a government institution had somehow infiltrated our family life and wanted to dictate to us how we must live our lives for the next 12 years.  An institution that, itself, had changed little in 100 years of societal evolution wanted us to willingly adopt strategies and methods of interacting with our children that ran counter to the choices we had made as parents.  It did not take long to decide that we had to part ways.

Little did we know that one choice, to leave school behind, would have such profound implications on the trajectory of our lives.  In the years since we left, we have shifted our mindsets to joy over sadness, health over sickness and constant improvement over stasis.  All because we chose to question conventional wisdom and follow a different path.

Choosing JOY is really about learning to look for the positive side of most things in life, even in the harder times, even when its easy to focus on the negative.  I chose to shift the way in which I looked at situations in my life.  Instead of focusing on those things that were not being done, I chose to look at what WAS being done.  I gave up many of the "have to's" in my life and I shifted my focus on what felt right at that moment.  I became much more accepting of having a messy house. I allowed myself to spend entire days playing Minecraft with the kids.  I reacquainted myself with my creative side and did crafting projects that brought me immense joy.  I also made sure that I cleared the way for my kids to experience the same.  In doing so, over time, we came to a place where most days were pretty darned joyful, we looked to the "joy" barometer before signing up for any activity and we found that most of the time, just staying home and engaging with each other was the best place to be, what maximized the joy for everyone.
It's funny how such a small mental shift can have such large impact on our lives.  Over time, our family has seemed to blossom, parents and kids included!  Our kids know inherently what lights them up and what tamps them down.  They fervently fight to move toward joy and rarely stay unhappy for long.  We all enjoy each others' company and there are few conflicts.  Conflict has no place when everyone's needs are met.

Living joyfully easily opened the door to wanting to ensure a healthy life over the years.  When you have a joyful life, you realize that you want to be at your best to embrace all that is presented to you. Where years of living in a world of "requirement" had left me unhappy and at an unhealthy weight, I chose to move toward fitness and health.   I began working with personal trainers and eating more mindfully, losing 40+ pounds over the last 2 years.  For the first time in my life I felt strong and capable of pretty much anything.  My body shed pounds and inflammation, I learned what foods bothered my body and what foods fueled my workouts.  Over time, I fundamentally changed the way I live, eat and celebrate.  It's been such a wonderful learning experience for me.

Getting healthy illuminated a path towards personal improvement.  As I learned from a few years of high intensity exercise, a strong mental game is required to push yourself to achieve your goals.  In the last year, I've learned how to meet a fitness challenge, break it down into smaller, digestible chunks and find a way through to the end with the ability to "kick it in" in the final few minutes to finish strong.  Honing my mental game has given me the ability to tackle so many areas of my life including choosing what friends and energies I'll allow into my life, recognizing that no one deserves to dampen your shine and has allowed me to manifest the passions I want in my life easily, with little effort.

The world is our oyster and our family is ready for the challenge!!  I can't wait to see what the next few years brings!!