It is human nature to tempt fate. There is some deep seated drive to prove that we are up to the challenge and that we will persevere. Why do I mention this? Well, it’s because I can already feel this post making plans to haunt me later. I’m not even two months into the blog with a jam packed schedule, and here I am getting ready to babble (in 3 parts no less!) about sticking to things. Yep, that’s me baiting fate. I wonder which of us is holding the net…
The big question is: Why do we stick with certain projects, jobs, tasks, etc. while others fall by the wayside? Is it the level of difficulty in completing something? What about it’s relevance in our life? Could it be the level of support we get during the process? What about the final pay off when we are done? The answer to all of these is: YES… well, and no. You can thank human nature and your own psychological make-up for that great big shapeless gray blotch of an answer.
All new things are challenges. All people have different strengths, weaknesses, and interests. When the challenge lines up well with our strengths and interests, we handle it smoothly. If it falls into categories that don’t interest us and force us to work on our weak spots, it can be very easy to give up.
So, what do you do when you are faced with a monster that makes you want to throw in the towel? First, you face it. Identify exactly what makes you want to turn tail. Does this project make you exercise skills (mental and/or physical) that have gone a little rusty? Are you worried about the opinions of others when they see your interest in the topic? Are you concerned that the time you will spend to reach the goal will be wasted or force you to take time from something that is more important to you? Whatever the reason for your doubt, acknowledge it.
Once you have identified the source of your discomfort, look at the project from a post completion view. If you battled and won, would you have gained from the experience? Maybe this gain looks like Passing the History Test, or maybe it falls under the Personal Achievement label. Payoffs come in all shapes and sizes. If you are not absolutely sure of the outcome, I suggest leaving the rose colored glasses in your desk. By example from personal experience: Do not convince yourself that if you finish writing a book that has been giving you trouble, you will magically sell so many copies that you will pay off all of your debts and even make a profit. If you don’t have guaranteed pre-sales and a line of people waiting with money in hand, you may want to bump your expectations down to something closer to “I’ll be able to look for an agent/publisher when I finish” or even “I will have the satisfaction of knowing I accomplished this phase/goal.” In a perfect world, everyone gets the big prize. This is not a perfect world. Trust me, there is nothing like unfulfilled expectation to make the next similar monster task that much harder to defeat.
Now you know what the challenge is, why it bothers you, and what the end result will (hopefully) be. If you look at that list and see something like:
Project: This job requires me to speak fluid Mandarin.
Problem: My foreign language experience is limited to two years of high school French. I don’t know how long it will take to learn Mandarin or how much it will cost.
End Result: I will have to move to a place I don’t want to go and do a job I don’t want to do.
Maybe this is not the challenge you should be focusing on. Let it go. There are plenty of others out there. However, if the end result looks like this:
End Result: the company will reimburse my expenses and give me the promotion that I have been wanting for two years.
Maybe you should face your fears, get a good language program and hire a tutor.
Make your challenges worthy ones. This goes for the easy stuff too. Don’t push a button once an hour for three days if in the end you will have only pushed a button once and hour for three days. That is a waste of your precious time and ability. Find a better button to push. There has to be one out there that will help you pay your bills or save a live, or simply grow your own amazing self! You just need to find it.
So, this week look around and find your monster. Help your kids find theirs. Then take some time to get to know them. Don’t be afraid to look the challenges squarely in the face and tell them to hold still so you can get a good idea of what they really are and why they make you uncomfortable. Understanding is the first step to a successful outcome!
One of Bart’s favorite things about fall is dodging falling leaves as he flies around at night. He thinks it’s really fun to twist and turn around each one especially since the wind moves them through the air in such silly ways. He decided it would be extra fun to celebrate falling leaves in a special way. He made a mobile that let leaves with special messages flutter in the breeze and never fall to the ground! He made one to show you so you can make your own! Here’s how:
What you need:
A branch that you can attach your leaves to later and hang up
Clear contact paper
Construction paper or craft paper
What you do:
1) Peal a piece of clear contact paper away from the backing and lay it sticky side up on the table.
2) Arrange your colorful leaves so that the fronts are pressed down on the sticky contact paper and there is plenty of room around each one.
3) Put a piece of construction paper that is slightly larger on top of the leaves and press it down so it sticks to the contact paper around the leaves.
4) Flip the whole sheet over and trace around the edges of the leaves with your finger. Press down firmly to make sure the contact paper and construction paper stick together well around each leaf.
5) Have a big person help you cut around each leaf so you have a border of construction paper showing the whole way around.
6) Flip each leaf over so the paper side is up. Write something that you like about fall on each leaf.
7) Tape fishing line to the back of each leaf and then tie the leaf onto the branch.
8) Hang the whole thing up where the leaves can flutter!
Bart is planning to give each member of his class a leaf tonight at school. That way everyone can write their own favorite thing about fall on the paper side of the leaf and hang it where they want on the branch! He thinks it will be a wonderful way for everyone to do something special together. Mother Bat mentioned how great this project would make the classroom look too!
Some of you may know that I have been a homeschooling parent for the past thirteen years. We will overlook how old that statement makes me feel, and move along to the fact that thirteen is going to be our lucky number. This will be our last year. My older son graduated 3 years ago, completed a certificate program in audio engineering, and has set out on his own path in his own place. Our youngest has just settled into his senior year of high school through an accredited online program that offers a diploma and is currently looking forward to heading off to learn how to be a helicopter pilot. There really are no words to express how proud I am of both of them. But, I’m not here to gush. I’m here to share a peek into why we chose homeschooling.
When I first started out, it never failed. I would say that I was homeschooling and at least one person within earshot would give me “that look”. It was a look that managed to display distaste, mild outrage, doubt and an underlying desire for someone to just make me stop because that “homeschooling thing” shouldn’t be allowed. I even had one person go so far as to flatly say that I was abusing my children by not sending them to public school.
This negative judgment has slacked off over the years. Part of the reason is because we’ve been at it for so long that it’s obvious we won’t listen. Mostly, it has to do with the number of people entering the homeschooling ranks. Concerns about safety, curriculum, and exposure to negative influences have made the choice to teach at home much more attractive while online and correspondence programs have opened up easy access to outside teachers. This has brought homeschooling much closer to a mainstream educational choice than it once was. It’s nice! I can now say “We homeschool.” in the same tone I say “We eat lunch.” instead of feeling that I might need to spend time justifying my choice to strangers.
That being said, I would like to share our main reason with you. Why? Well, because I’m curious about your choice and your main reason. Between public schools, private schools and homeschooling, there are most likely as many reasons to pick each as there are families making the choice. I think it will be interesting to see you share yours.
So, I have a one word answer for why we first made the decision to homeschool: Time. We wanted more time for our family; more time for activities; more time to travel; more time for life.
When my children rode a bus to school (Mason was in until 3rd grade and Chance was in for the first two months of kindergarten), they left the house at 7:04 in the morning and returned home at 4:38 in the afternoon. There there was homework. Their father worked out of town a lot during that time as well. We were left trying to cram a week’s worth of EVERYTHING into 2 exhausted days. When I realized that there was another option, I did my homework, made necessary plans and then embraced homeschooling like it was a life preserver. Maybe it was. The decision was as simple and as complicated as that.
There have been other benefits that have happily surprised us. There have been difficulties that hit us from out of the blue and caused serious doubt. Homeschooling is a lot like life that way. From the end of the trail, I can honestly say that I would do it all over again if I had to do it all over again. That thought alone makes the bad days worth it and the good ones that much better.
So, now that you know my biggest short answer to my biggest why, tell me about yours. What path did your family find best for your own children, and why was it best? Don’t be shy. Your answer may help someone else find their best solution, and we all need the best solutions we can find because our kids are the ones who will be running the world in all too short of a time.
Being a homeschooling parent for 13 years and an independent author/illustrator makes a person learn quite a bit about a lot of things. Now it's time to pass it on!