More on Ritual: 6 Favorites that Make Our Lives Better

In my last post, I wrote about a prayer ritual from my husband’s religious tradition that I do every day. Since then, I’ve been thinking more about the role of rituals in my and my family’s lives. It’s kind of funny that I’m writing about this, because I used to hate the word “ritual.” It conjured up vague but frightening images of biblical animal sacrifice. Or something. Either that, or it was synonymous with routine, which I used to equate with boredom and rigidity.  Either way, I had no use for it.

I love the word “ritual” now. This was a gradual change, and I never noticed or thought about it as it was happening.   Without ever planning it that way, I keep adding rituals to my life one by one, and now they are my spiritual container, my guideposts. Initially foreign and even a little bit forced in some cases, with time and repetition, most of them have become part of me now—as comfortable and familiar as a favorite pair of broken-in shoes.   They are reliable reminders to focus on what really matters. On the harder days, they help me hang in there. On the best days, they create more joy in our lives.   Continue reading

The Gift of Ritual

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Sometime during the year after Boy 2 was born, depression snuck up on me. I had experienced several bouts of it since adolescence, but it took a while for me to figure out what was happening since it came on gradually and I had some legitimate stressors to pin it on. Once I finally accepted that it was more than just situational stress, I got some counseling.   Just as important, I thought about lifestyle changes I could make—more exercise, a regular meditation practice, etc.  I was talking with my husband, Gurpreet, about that and he said very definitively, “You need to do prayers.”   Continue reading

Decluttering Brings an Unexpected Mother’s Day Gift

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I’m in the midst of a massive decluttering extravaganza via the KonMari Method. So far, I finished the clothes category and I am completely sold on the process outlined in the book. My reluctant husband was inspired to do his clothes after seeing my results, and we have gone from filling two closets to sharing one. And we both have room to spare in our dressers—we could probably share one and move the other one out if we wanted to. We are both finding it simple, easy, and pleasant to get ready in the morning.

I haven’t had time in the last week to tackle another category, but I have been doing small things to stay in the mindset. Continue reading

What I’ve Learned from Our First Year Homeschooling, Part 2: Hmmm…This is a Lot Like Midwifery!

 Boy 1 making a comic book

Boy 1 making a comic book

“Certainty does not propel me—wonder does.” –Persephone Brown

Structure and freedom. Routine and flexibility.   Finding the right mix of these elements for my son (and for me!) has been my greatest homeschooling challenge. By “challenge,” I mean I have agonized over this and at times felt overwhelmed with self-doubt and uncertainty.

After 7 months of living it on top of 6 months research and preparation, I think I have finally come up with some preliminary answers to the question, “What homeschooling approach is best for my child and our family?” The short answer is: eclectic and evolving. Continue reading

What I’ve Learned from Our First Year Homeschooling, Part 1: FAQs

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This post also ran on KiDOinfo: Connecting Families, Rhode Island and Beyond on April 27, 2015

“Decide what your truth is.  Then live it.”  -Kamal Ravikant

We are in the 7th inning of our first year homeschooling Boy 1 (age 8). We are taking this year-by-year, and who knows? A brick and mortar school may again be the best choice for our family at some future time. For now, though, this has been a great decision for us, and Boy 2 will be home next year for kindergarten as well.

Since we started this adventure, I get a lot of questions about the challenges of this educational choice and lifestyle. Many of the things people understandably assume must be really hard have not been big issues for us.   The most common questions I get are some version of the following:   Continue reading

The One Thing I Want for My Children’s Lives

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This spring, Boy 1 (the 8-year-old) will start a new class for homeschoolers. Once a week, he will go to a 12-acre farm and do everything from caring for horses to fort building to creative writing. I was so thrilled to find this opportunity for him. Between activities organized by our homeschool organization and other extracurricular stuff, he already has several short, focused group activities along with free play time with friends.

I was looking for one more thing: a place for him to be with a consistent group of kids for a longer stretch of time working on varied projects—ideally in a semi-structured, nature-based environment with a whole-child approach. Continue reading