A ChoiceI recently started an online teacher licensing program (so that I can teach at the fabulous homeschool enrichment program that my kids participate in, which is part of the public schools), and in searching for a school to do my field experience, I discovered that a local charter school doesn't require a license to teach there. I applied for a full-time teaching position. This would mean putting my kids in school, but I wanted to explore the possibility. I got called for an interview. We talked on the phone about the pay (not great but way more than my current mom salary) and how I had to start Monday to undergo their three-week training program so that I could learn exactly how they teach everything. I would be expected to follow things exactly their way. Now, on the one hand this would make life easy. Just connect the dots. Just do what they say. And my kids, too, would just do what they say, since I wouldn't be able to homeschool them. The school said they could accommodate my two kids. They would start at one campus and then move to the one at which I would be teaching when there was room. They didn't see this as a problem.
I debated long and hard. A job. We could get out of debt. My kids would experience school. I'd get my field hours done. I'd get my license, and then we could go back to our life as it has been forever (in terms of my children), playing all day, homeschooling, sleeping in, and the awesome community of homeschoolers of which we are a part. It would be a huge change, but we could get used to full-time school and getting up early and homework and uniforms and maybe even changing campuses just when they got settled.
I turned down the job.
The Power of NormalIn discussing it all with my husband, he said that he would like me to take the job. He's tired of being broke. (As, of course, am I.) He also said, however, that there is a "core" of what I am doing as a homeschooling, working-from-home writing, teaching mama that is really strong and powerful that he values.
That nailed it on the head.
It named not only why I turned down the job, but why I keep doing this even when I need a break and am broke (ironic, eh?). It also named the core of my writing, which I feel very passionate about but have struggled to name. My writing doesn't really seem to fit in any one category, and I haven't been sure how to categorize it. It's green spirituality, gardening and spirituality, psychic and earthy, but not wholly Pagan. Nodding at this "core" gave my work a central gravity, even though I couldn't quite name what that was. We were on to something. But was that something worth giving up a job, a normal job with a paycheck? I've long dedicated myself to this path, trusting that the money will come when it needs to and that it will pay off for my children, my soul, and maybe even the world. But a real job was awfully tempting.
I felt really stressed and conflicted all day. Had I made the right choice? Here was my chance for a NORMAL life. Sometimes that normal life sings such a powerful song. It's hard to be so fringe and different sometimes. A friend of a friend who is Catholic, who breastfed her seven children till they were toddlers, and who homeschooled them all, said that the hardest thing to do in terms of not being normal was homeschool because you do it the longest and people misunderstand and doubt it the most. My most fabulous acupuncturist, when she learned all about me, didn't question my alternative healing choices or spiritual beliefs or crunchy lifestyle, she questioned my homeschooling. It's growing in numbers but homeschooling is still misunderstood and weird. It's not supported. It's doubted.
BUT. It's also awesome. Homeschooling is about teaching my kids that they matter. Their interests matter. Their efficacy in the world is a real thing. Their heart and soul have a place in our family and in the world. And we get to learn that message by sleeping late, playing, hanging out with friends, reading books, and going places we love like the library and the science museum.
I thought on my husband's words - the core of what you do is really powerful.
That - yes, that is why I made my choice. And it was the right one.
Engaged LivingA few days later, these thoughts floating around in my head, I asked my husband, "What would you call that? That core that makes homeschooling powerful, that is also what my writing is about. It's why I went to all those schools [massage school, Naropa University, and Creation Spirituality University, plus my MFA, plus now my teaching license...]. It's who I am and how I live and what I do - but WHAT is it?"
"The phrase that comes to mind," he said, "is Engaged Living."
Engaged Living is living my life the way I want to, taking ownership of my choices. I know the core of me and the tapestry I weave with all the different things I do and paths I've taken. God knows it, too. But it can look like I've done a million things and can't commit to one (I also almost went to herbal school and midwifery school and library science school, by the way). When we are struggling financially because I am not earning money because I am living this weird life that doesn't fit (but might earn money some day??), it doesn't feel strong. But it is engaged with what is real and core to me and what I believe in.
This names it, and brings it all together, and also, is my message to you, dear reader.
Engaged Living is the life I wish for you through all my books, whether you are growing a garden or holding a chicken or honoring the earth each day with simple rituals and activities or trying to homeschool your kiddos. So I have changed the name of my blog (I finally have a platform! Woot!) to Engaged Living: Digging in to Your Best Life with Clea Danaan.
Welcome! And happy autumn... it's just around the corner. A great time to take the next step in YOUR engaged life.