"The flow of creativity feels like an avalanche of joy and wonder. Being open to that possibility creates connections with everything." - Feline Dreamers

Thursday, July 29, 2010

I'm That Mom, Too

I came back from the backpacking trip (which was amazing, by the way - more soon) and, after resting and doing tons of laundry, started getting caught up on the blogs I read regularly. And I found that several of my unschooling favorites were taking part in a "blog carnival," called "I'm That Mom." It was started on this blog, inspired by a post on this blog (neither of which I knew about before, but I may have to check them out - the titles alone are intriguing!). If you want to read some of the other "I'm That Mom" posts, look at the comments on the blogs above and start clicking on names. Anyway, here's my contribution...

I'm that Mom who always says yes to impromptu requests for sleepovers, unless there's something important on the calendar that would prevent it - even if it annoys the other Moms that I'm so quick to agree. At this age, my kids are all about being with friends, and I enjoy providing space for them to hang out and play. I work to help make things happen that they are excited about: going swimming, playing sports, buying a new video game, learning a new art.

I'm that Mom who trusts the process of her kids' education, of their lives and interests. Yes, I make suggestions, but I try not to push things on them that they aren't interested in. I trust that they are learning what they want to learn, not what I wish they would. I'm that Mom who encourages kids to be themselves, and to play and explore as much as they wish.

I'm that Mom who is gradually helping our family give up on arbitrary limits. Who am I to tell them when (or how long) to sleep, what to eat, or how much time to spend on one of their passions? I would much rather they discover those things on their own, with me here to advise them when they ask. Many of us in my generation have had to work hard to unlearn our ingrained desire to "be like everyone else," to conform and please others and get along. The reason I like unschooling (as a lifestyle, not just an academic choice) is because it encourages individuality and the gradual discovery of who we are. I am here as a companion and facilitator for my kids, not as their boss or taskmaster.

I'm that Mom who cringes a bit when others criticize or express doubts about her family's way of being, yet doesn't let that get in the way of following this unconventional path. I'm the Mom who purposefully lets go of the negative energies spawned by arguments or misunderstandings. I am learning to just be, in this moment, letting the joy of my life and my kids' lives unfold in ways that are eternally fascinating, whether they involve writing a paper, playing X-Box, or simply sitting in the yard and watching the clouds.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Rites of Passage

My brother, who is in his 30's, just got married. The whole family is very excited for him, both because we had hoped he would find true love and because his new wife is so sweet and wonderful! She also has a daughter who's 19 and it was so touching they included her in the ceremony. Here's a snapshot of the bride and groom, plus my brother's new step-daughter, with me clapping in the background.

The wedding was held here on the family land, and everyone came together to help out. We planned and schemed and cooked and decorated and had a wonderful time. Two of my wonderful friends and their kids came and helped prepare and serve the food. The wedding cake was made and decorated by a hand-picked team of chefs: Mom, Aunt Peg, BlackLion, ElvenTiger, and I. The bride planned a lovely black-and-white theme, with delightful decorations. Of course, the weather was made to order. And the wedding turned out just perfect!

I was honored to be the officiant. Although I've been licensed clergy since 2006, this was the first wedding I've performed. And to have it be such a special one! I had goosebumps during the ceremony (though I managed not to cry - I wanted my voice to be clear for the whole thing).

And now that everything is all cleaned up and put away from the wedding, there's another adventure starting tomorrow! ElvenTiger and I are headed off on a backpacking trip with her Aunt Molly (my sister-in-law). The last time we did a girls-only backpacking trip, I was pregnant with ElvenTiger! So it's a rite of passage for her. She'll have to carry her own pack this time.

Sunday, July 04, 2010

Starcat's Top 13 Spirituality Booklist

As most of you know, I'm an avid reader and self-described bookworm. I love books of many types. But once in a while, a book comes along that just totally sweeps me off my feet. I am reading one right now (see number 13 on the list below), and it sparked the idea for this post.

The category for this list is books that have profoundly affected and influenced my spirituality. Normally I don't re-read very often (too many books, too little time), but several of these are exceptions. These books are kept near for handy reference (when they are not lent out) and are often purchased in multiple copies to give as gifts. I very highly recommend all of them.

Without further ado, here's the list. They are listed in reverse chronological order (from the one I'm reading now to the one I first read, as best as I can recall).

13. Conscious Dreaming: A Spiritual Path for Everyday Life by Robert Moss (Crown Trade Paperbacks, 1996). ElvenTiger found this for me at a recent library book sale. It has rekindled my passion for working with my dreams, which have long been a very rich creative source in my life and spirituality.

12. Old Path White Clouds: Walking in the Footsteps of the Buddha by Thich Nhat Hanh (Parallax Press, 1991). A friend gave me this book for my 40th birthday last fall. I consider myself a Pagan, yet Buddhist spirituality is a strong influence in my life and practices. This beautifully-written tale provides much food for contemplation. I've read a few other books by the same author and they have all been of highest quality.

11. The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying by Sogyal Rinpoche (HarperOne, 1994). While I personally feel that the afterlife appears differently to each person based on their expectations and beliefs, this book has tons of useful and thought-provoking information. I especially enjoyed the sections on meditation.

10. Evolutionary Witchcraft by T. Thorn Coyle (Jeremy P. Tarcher/Penguin, 2004). At at time when I was experimenting with my energy system in new and fiery ways, this book cracked me open even further. The exercises are worth doing.

9. Pronoia Is the Antidote for Paranoia by Rob Brezsny (Frog, Ltd., 2005). I am still working through this book, four years after I bought it. The exercises and writing assignments help keep me focused on the playful side of self-development and change. Brezsny is brilliant and is influencing our culture in wonderfully insidious ways.

8. The Twelve Wild Swans by Starhawk and Hilary Valentine (HarperSanFrancisco, 2000). Another workbook-style text, this one based on an old faery tale. Starhawk is one of my favorite authors and this is my second-favorite of her books (see below).

7. Anam Cara: A Book of Celtic Wisdom by John O'Donohue (HarperCollins, 1998). This one is a gem. It's an intricate weaving of myth, wisdom, philosophy, poetry and connection. It feeds my Celtic soul.

6. Fire In the Head: Shamanism and the Celtic Spirit by Tom Cowan (HarperSanFrancisco, 1993). Early in my study of spirituality, a Native American author advised readers to seek out the magick of their own blood ancestry rather than co-opting native teachings. This book is a lovely text about the shamanic practices of my Celtic ancestors.

5. The Fifth Sacred Thing by Starhawk (Bantam Books, 1993). Before I read this work of fiction, I had read several of Starhawk's non-fiction offerings and loved them. This novel allowed me to vividly see and feel what she was talking about. This is my all-time favorite of Starhawk's writings.

4. The "Unknown" Reality: A Seth Book by Jane Roberts (Prentice-Hall, 1977). The Seth books and philosophies are probably the biggest influence on my spirituality. I devoured all of them, making extensive notes and practicing the exercises. I picked this one (which is presented in two volumes) for this list, but they are all top-notch.

3. Jitterbug Perfume by Tom Robbins (Bantam Books, 1984). A fun and rollicking ride through crazy worlds full of myth, magick, and serendipity. I resonate with this way of experiencing reality.

2. The Temple of My Familiar by Alice Walker (Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1989). She's another of my top favorite authors and this book weaves in many elements of my philosophy of life. And, there are big cats.

1. In the Shadow of the Shaman by Amber Wolfe (Llewellyn, 1989). This was the first Pagan book I ever read and it helped to set me on the very fulfilling spiritual path that I'm still walking today. It's also a great reference to use when creating rituals and celebrations.

If you have life-changing books you'd like to recommend, please comment here!