In pursuit of our passions

On Friday I handed in the final assignment toward my Post Graduate Diploma in Education (Guidance and Counselling). I’m feeling pretty proud of myself for completing it because it’s been pretty hard slog some of the time, what with home schooling three kids as well. But I made it. These types of achievements always make me reflective, and I’ve been doing a lot of that over the past two days. Last night I was lying in bed thinking about how this feels like a really long time coming, even though I only started this particular course of study a little under three years ago. I could look back across the years and see that really, this path started when I was a child, I just had no idea.

There are two strands that run through my life, stronger than all the others. One is my love of writing, and the other is my natural ability to be there for others. I was always the ‘buddy’ at school, never the aggressor, but never passive either. I was the confidant, the friend when you needed it, that person you could trust never to say anything, trust to still look you in the eye and respect you afterwards even when you weren’t sure you could respect yourself. I started my ‘career’ in counselling more officially when I trained to be a peer support person at school, and that unofficial role has followed me through life. I do it naturally, I find it hard not to. I strive to see the good in everyone and to help them see their way through the rough patches, see that they can move on, move forward. But that was just something you did in your spare time. It wasn’t a career. I was just a ‘good friend’ and there isn’t a job for that. Not one that would make me any money.

I can recall writing stories non stop as a child. I remember always going way bigger with my ideas than anyone else in my class, always being the one who spun the tale, invented the backstory and characters for games played with cousins across long summer afternoons. As soon as we got a computer I started using it, spending an hour or more writing novels as soon as I got home from high school. I can still feel the nervous excitement at printing one out and passing it to my art teacher to read, seeing that encouraging expression on her face which said she really wanted to like it but thought she might not, and then witnessing her genuine response when she handed it back and acknowledged that I actually had a good story there.

I have always told stories. But, I was always by everyone told that I could never make a job out of it, it could only ever be a hobby, so I better pick something else.

I never know what that was. Well, that’s what I believed anyway. I was told that the things I loved, the things I was naturally good at, passionate about, driven to do, were not good career choices. They were hobbies, or things to do on the side. I was not to put my future in the things that I love. My choices were not good enough. I had to pick again.

Is it any wonder that I’ve never had a real career? I left high school and enrolled in business studies through the local Polytech because my high school guidance counsellor saw that I was good with maths, so I should do business. For lack of a better idea, I did as he suggested – everyone was so proud. I HATED it. I finished the year out, even though it was painful and I was miserable. And then I quit and got a job at a supermarket. Which I also hated. I moved to Palmerston North and did a Diploma in Design and Multimedia, which was great fun, but not really my thing. I never had the flair that others had. My creative passion was words, not images. I cross-credited my business papers towards a BA and planned to major in English and History. I could be a teacher. I’d loved learning at school, had an amazing history teacher who really challenged me and helped me thrive. But it was all pretty dry, and I soon put it on hold as life fell apart for a bit.

I picked it back up again, and after my father commented that I’m always helping people out maybe I should get a degree in that so someone would actually pay me for it, that I opted to switch my double major from English/History to English/Psychology. And it was okay. I finished it. Graduated. But psychology was too much science for me, and not enough about being with people. Not ground roots enough for me.

I had kids, and I think that’s where things really changed for me because I began to understand that I didn’t want any of this for my kids. If they had a passion, I wanted them to follow it, but in order for that to happen I had to SHOW them the way. I began to write more seriously. In the days when they napped it was pretty easy to keep at it. I got some stories published. I won an award for my editing. I raised some funds for charity. I made the short list for a short story award. I’m actually pretty good at this thing I love so much, this thing which keeps me going even in my darkest days. And the kids can see the books on the bookshelf to prove it. They can see the award sitting on my desk. More importantly they can see the fire in my eyes when I talk story, when I engage with their worlds, when I want to hear what’s going on in their heads.

And then a few years ago I decided that I finally wanted to do something about becoming a counsellor for real. I started some training through Lifeline, but it was just after things started to go sour for Ivy at school, so as much as it crushed me I opted out of that – for all the right reasons if you ask me. However, it spurred me to enrol in Uni again and now three years later I am finished.

I can’t go out and work as a counsellor right now. I’m too busy home schooling after all 😉 But I have some invaluable tools, and I plan to do my Masters further down the track, and the kids have seen this example of their mother, following her passions, working hard, really hard, to achieve something. And the grin on my face, the pride shining in my eyes, that will stick with them. I can’t wait to attend graduation next year.

I want, so badly, for them to know that it’s okay to pursue their passions no matter what they are. I will never be the mother that says ‘no, that won’t make you any money’, or the one that says ‘you need a backup plan’, or any of the other lines I heard a million times. I’m going to be behind there, cheering them on, helping them make the right choices to get to their goals, and I know, without any doubt, that they’ll have this all figured out a whole lot earlier than I did. It doesn’t matter if they don’t earn a massive wage, because real happiness cannot be found in a large bank account statement.

So much to blog about…

IMG_20140728_124504765_HDROver the next few days I am going to try to attempt to catch up on blog posts. I’ve just copied over all the photos from my phone to my computer and there is heaps I never got a chance to put up! Seeing as it’s school holidays and we’re out and about a little less (everything is just SO busy during the school hols and none of us enjoy that). Hopefully I’ll be able to keep on top of things from here on in – I have just two and a bit weeks until my last assignment is handed in and then I’m FREE. I can’t wait to just be a mother and writer, and leave the student days in the past. I’ve learned so much, but it will be nice to have a smaller workload.IMG_20140925_105358203

I thought, however, that I’d put in a couple of pics here to skim over a few of the events of the past 4 months or so, which should leave me with just a few posts to do 😉IMG_20140728_124144710

1404001945208Someone turned four – she had a dinosaur birthday for the second year in a row, and I imagine there will be another one next year! lol We made an epic triceratops pinata, after it met its end, Nati was pretty gutted and we’re going to making a smaller one for her to keep at some point.1403907087918

1405402073283Someone else got taken to Phantom of the Opera! I’ve been dying to go since I was a kid, and have lovely memories of singing along to the record with my mother. Ivy has loved the movie since she was little, so it was pretty amazing to be able to experience the live show for the first time together. Not sure who enjoyed it more – me or her!IMG_20140717_185726105

IMG_20140925_110657748We’ve had lots of nice bush walks, trips to the park and beach, and just, in general, been enjoying life. Lots of library visits, catching up with friends, learning a vast range of things.IMG_20140714_113258149

It’s been possibly the best winter we’ve ever had, in large part due to the fact we’ve been out and about so much – we even had a few trips to the snow (put that’s a whole other post).

Approved!

Well, the letter has finally arrived. Our application to home school Ivy has been approved!!! I think my hands shook for a good five hours – starting from when I saw the Ministry of Ed header on the envelope.

There have been a million emotions and thoughts swarm over me since then, and I think that the reality of it all is still sinking in. Above everything I feel relief, and excitement, and joy – especially when I see how happy Ivy is about it all.

On Friday I took her in to say goodbye to her classmates, and while I cried the entire time, she took it all in her stride. Clearly pleased that she wouldn’t be attending school any more, though admitting that she will miss her friends. They know where we are though, and have our number, so it’s not the end of friendships, just the end of shared school times.

Afterwards we stopped in at the hospice shop and picked up a tall cabinet for storage, and so now our study room is looking pretty organized. I finally feel like our long wait is over and I can move again!

Calm Before The Storm

Or is it the storm before the calm?

Hi, and welcome to our new blog! We sent off an application to home school our eldest, three weeks ago now, and so are currently waiting for approval to come through. She is miserable at school, and desperate for the exemption certificate to arrive. It’s been a good lesson in patience for us so far, though I can say that everyone in the family will be relieved when we can officially begin home schooling.

It was not something we intended on doing. I’d never had a strong desire to home school, though over the two and a half years since she turned 5, it’s cropped up in my thoughts many times. I just wasn’t sure I’d be able to cope. It wasn’t until we’d gone through several other options, trying to figure out what was wrong, that it struck me that in fact the problem was simple.

She didn’t fit in at school.

Sure, she has friends, and she can do the work for the most part. She isn’t a bad kid, nor does she have behavioural problems. But she was miserable. Having to sit down for most of the day, not being able to move or listen to music, or follow her own rhythms was stifling her creativity and her passion for learning. She became depressed.

And that’s not okay by us. So the simple solution was to quit traditional school, and do things in a way that would suit her, build her up, improve her confidence and sense of self worth.

So here we are. On our way to becoming a home schooling family, and happier for the decision. She is doing her best to stay balanced while she waits, though it’s hard on her and us. I’m trying hard to be patient, though that’s never been a skill of mine. I know we have a long road ahead of us, and it’s going to have its ups and downs, but we’re really excited to make the change and can’t wait for our journey to begin.