1. Tell us about yourself
Hello!! I'm MJ :). I'm a momma, a wife, an introvert with a love for learning. I'm a wanna be writer working hard to find some sensibility in the variability that life throws our way. I stay home and unschool my 2 dark-haired, dark-eyed sun babies (8 and 6), who are the greatest teachers that I have ever known. The man I married I've known since I was 16. I knew then there was something very special about him. Yet, I never predicted we would be here, 24 years later, happy and turning grey together. I am the luckiest woman I know.
We live an active, unschooled life in central Florida with our 2 rats Remy and Spud. None of us started out as unschoolers, and that is a large part of our life unfolding and unfurling. The floodgates opened as we turned our backs on traditional and mainstream thinking. Everything changed, how we parented, how we perceived our children, how we perceived ourselves, our reconciliation and understanding of how we were raised, and our understanding of learning and how our children learned. I cannot even begin to tell you how profoundly our lives have changed for the better. Profoundly. We have only just begun to reap the benefits of the life we have decided to lead and that is what I love to share on my blog. So with peaceful parenting in one pocket, and unschooling or life learning in the other, we have set out to give our children a life filled with unlimited opportunity.
2. Do you have a grand plan?
Grand plans have changed many times over the years. But our current plan is to sell our house and move out of Florida. We seek a place that feeds us spiritually as well as fills our need for diversity and cultural richness. We love the green, the trees, the forests, the mountains, but as unschoolers we know we want to be able to feed our minds as well as our souls. As far as personal growth plans, I just want to keep creating, keep writing, and keep doing the things that keep my passion fires alive.
3. What gets you up in the morning?
I have a wonderful life to wake up to. I have everything I need and all that I could have ever wanted, so waking up is joy every morning. I am not blinded to how my life could have been, and I have not forgotten where I have been. The terrible storms I have traversed in my life were hell, and I don't ever want to visit that place of despair again. Self hatred, shame, anger, depression, addiction, I have reconciled all those things with hours of self- healing, on my own and with help. For anyone ever having to deal with any of these things, either individually or all at once, there is light on the other side. And it's true what they say, "what doesn't kill you will make you stronger." Much stronger. But the journey never ends with the conquering of one personal demon. Where there is one, there are more to follow. This is when purpose through people, passion, and creativity come in to play. By filling my life with these things, there is little room for despair.
4. What does a typical day look like?
Soy latte first, always, then blogging and writing, which I love. After that, my children and I plan our day. I make suggestions, and we talk about ideas. They tell me what it is they would like to do and then we do our best to compromise and make things happen. I strive to find the interesting and joyful things that we can learn from. Many days we are out of the home all day, other days we never leave home.
When we are home, we are reading or listening to books, trying a new game, playing with puzzles, practicing multiplication, writing in journals, practicing our letters, practicing our reading, cooking, doodling with pens, playing computer games, exploring through a microscope, aiming at an archery target, learning about animals, swimming in the pool, trying to catch bugs, hunting for fossils, looking up history facts, watching Mythbusters, Dirty Jobs, How It's Made or Brain Pop. When we go out, we are visiting a factory, farm or nature reserve, going to the beach, going to summer camp, going to co-ops, going to plays or performances, going on a road trip, going to museums, visiting friends, going to the library or bookstore, going to the science centre or herpatarium. My own needs are important in our days as well. I make time to create whether it's to knit, sew, crochet, draw/doodle, art journal, and I read. To ignore my own needs would be a big mistake and a poor representation to my children on importance of fulfilling our passions. So everyday is about making it work for all of us. We each give a little, we each take a little. The point is we all are getting something, and we all are helping each other get that something. We are a team.
5. When you experience a setback how do you pick yourself back up again?
The biggest setbacks I experience are usually emotional. Either I didn't get enough sleep, or didn't eat well, or my hormones are loopy. On these days I have a shorter fuse and know I have to be gentler with myself and my kids. I make sure not to plan too much on those days and let the kids know that I am feeling "off". I might stay away from the computer too, as too much screen time tends to make me feel worse than better. Then I try to focus on my kids. No matter how bad of a day I am having, my children usually can help me snap out of it. When I look at life through their eyes, everything is much simpler. I am guilty of overanalysing, and over inflating issues. The kids bring me back down to earth and remind me that by staying in the present moment, things are never as heavy as they seem.
6. Who or what inspires you the most?
My children inspire me and my husband inspires me, of course. But I think the greatest source of inspiration I receive lately are moms. Mothers of all ages, stages and places. Every mother I know works hard everyday at giving their family the best that they can give.
I am so grateful to all the women who have committed to sharing something that they have learned on their journey in parent and person hood. Without their experiences most of us would be pretty lonely out here.
7. We all have bad days when we doubt ourselves and our abilities. How do you get through yours?
I have learned a lot about ego in the past several years. Ego is that voice inside that tells me that I have to do and be more, that I have to receive attention or be recognised, or that I have to be perfect. Ego, many times is that voice of doubt and fear that says "What are you doing?? You can't do that, you don't know what you are doing!" Sure I have doubts about what I put out there. These are the thoughts that push me in a corner and make me feel small. Yet I have learned that I have a choice in whether I listen to these thoughts or not. There has to come a point when I ask myself when I will be enough. I can decide today that I am exactly how I was meant to be, imperfect perfect in every form. Or I can succumb to the self defeating thoughts leading to a self-fulfilling prophesy. There is so much freedom in accepting who we are now, exactly as we are, and loving every inch of ourselves inside and out. Once I accepted this about myself, I have no desire to be anyone else but me, and only do the best that I can do. Ambition takes on new meaning when this happens. It no longer means having to be better or achieve more than anyone else, it just means doing better for myself and for sheer passion and joy of it.
8.What do you feel are your greatest achievements and why?
My greatest achievements are overcoming the demons I mentioned earlier which included an eating disorder and exercise addiction. Everyday I thank the universe for my life and for the gifts that my struggles have given me. I have not looked back and I regret nothing. My marriage is my second greatest achievement. My husband is my rock and my best friend. There is no other person out there that gets me like he gets me. He will own my heart forever. Third, my relationship with my children. This was a hard fought battle that involved looking at my own ingrained beliefs that I had developed from my own childhood. Our children are mirrors that reflect our own imbedded hurts from our past. I never imagined my life with children to be like it is now. They are my best friends, my inspiration, my joy. They have taught me how to be a better mom and a better person. They, too, will own my heart forever.
9. Tell us what you think constitutes a "Super Woman" and list 3 key ingredients for success.
A Super Woman is I think, quite opposite from that woman flying in a cape. There is no bravado, no cheering crowd, no recognition or key to the city. Super women are the grunts in the trenches doing what needs to be done to keep things going. Most super women I know are moms working hard everyday to be better for their children and their families. They are modest yet strong, humble yet unyielding, knowing what's exactly right for their own family. Super women aren't afraid to make mistakes. They ask for help, knowing that most successful people always had help. Super woman accept the bad with the good, knowing everything has it's own time. Super women never lose sight of that little girl inside, remembering that she has needs too. Super woman are ever changing and ever evolving, knowing that stagnation is not an option. They walk a delicate line between seeking joy for themselves and everyone they love, yet still remembering to savour the precious minutes that go by.
If I had to pick ingredients to super woman success, they would be these:
- Strength of character/Integrity
One last thought...
In a world that is constantly trying to separate each of us from the other, either by the way we look, by what we have or don’t have, by what we can or can’t do, I say look for the things that make us more alike. We all want the same things, we all need the same things - love, compassion, kindness, and connection.
Thanks so much Zoe!!!
Thank you MJ! You can find MJ over on her blog, Wander Wonder Discover.
Do you know someone who fits the bill of Super Woman? Even yourself - don't be shy! If you would like to take part or recommend a friend, please send a message with the details to me at giveanearthly at gmail dot com.