Friday, December 3, 2010


Hey, I wrote this several months ago, but still find it interesting and relevant. The only difference is that I now have a couple babysitters and Joran participates in 2 outdoor classes, one of which I drop him off at for 4 hours. I'm so thankful for Joran's enjoyment of these and the regular playdates we have.

Since we don't go to school, playdates are how we do most of our socializing. We get together with other homeschoolers and unschoolers, and also a few friends who are not full-time school, yet, and we really appreciate that they make time for us, too. Hopefully, even after school is in full swing, we can still have afternoons together here and there.

Playdates work well for Joran. He's always seemed to play best one-on-one. While living in Geneva, we tried a few classes with Gymboree and Little Gym, and Joran always complained about there being too many other kids around. Several times, he teamed up with just one other and they did their own thing during the class. Other times, he even managed to get the whole class to follow his creative direction over the instructor's. One time the instructor just looked at me, after deciding to go with Joran's Volcano Adventure, and said, "Well, he certainly is a leader." People are constantly commenting to me about his creativity. So, as his parent/life facilitator, I try to do more of what seems to work and not force anything that I think is a good idea when Joran clearly dislikes it.

Living this lifestyle only becomes tough when I don't get my own tank filled and end up feeling exhausted keeping up with my children (okay, mostly Joran). Can't say I'm sure what to do about that. It would help to find someone who can play well with my kids while I go off to have peaceful time on my own. I haven't gotten to that, yet. Kind of waiting for a magical manifestation, a Fairy Godmother of sorts. This is another reason why playdates work well. By this time, Joran is comfortable enough to stay at a playdate without me. Good idea.

I've noticed that Joran seems quiet and may play by himself when he first goes to a new house, but as he gets more comfortable, his more exuberant nature comes out. He may even start to test limits of me and others. At home, he tends to feel a little territorial. With boys, he must feel competitive, because I often get the impression that he is trying to show off. He seems more competitive with boys closer to his age and more willing to give in to boys a year or more older than him. Things can get very rowdy when his guy friends are over.

With girls, he's more sweet and gentle. He likes to show them his house, his toys, his books, but there's not the sense of competitiveness. It's the same with Jasmijn; sometimes he doesn't want her around, but he's mostly caring, playful and watchful of her. We go through phases.

As for Jasmijn, she loves playing with Joran, and sometimes gets into playing with others, but will mostly do her own thing or hang out with me. She's definitely "easier" in the sense that she doesn't demand my interaction as much as Joran did at her age or does now. They are so different!

Jolene =)

Friday, November 26, 2010

Thanksgiving Snow

Thanksgiving snow is pretty unusual in this area, but John is in his element. For me, I stay inside and just come out to take pictures, but it sure is fun to watch them having fun.

Working hard on the first snowmen of the year.

I can hardly believe it, either, but Joran was pushing this snowball around on his own. It got even bigger and started to roll down the hill towards the house before he stopped it!

Of course, Joran wanted an alien-like snowman. He said the twisted willow branch was the snowman's pee-pee. He's 5 1/2 and fascinated with all types of potty talk.

Snowball at mommy!

Now for a real fight!

A couple of hummingbirds are sticking around for the food we leave, making sure it's thawed for them each morning. I see them more now in the snow than in the summer, when there is so much more food around. Now, they only have one place to go.

Potty training -- I know it has nothing to do with Thanksgiving or snow, but it's notable, and a cute picture! Jasmijn runs around naked most of the time, sometimes with a shirt, sometimes with just shoes. She loves all of her various shoes -- girl after my own heart!
We are thankful for:
our beautiful, warm house
a gas fireplace and a wood-burning stove
lots of indoor entertainment
a passionate, creative family that laughs a lot
the telephone
the newpaper and all the ads
a bouquet of flowers
the internet
brisk, pine-scented air
our rooster
Facebook (where you can see more pics)
everything, everything, everything!
Jolene =)

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

No Rules

There are no rules here.

We're trying to accomplish something.

~Thomas Edison~

Monday, November 15, 2010

Teaming Up

I love this! Two beautiful children against the backdrop of the environment we love!
Joran and Jasmijn are becoming quite a team. The other day, "Jazzy" refused to hold my hand while out running errands, and would only hold Joran's hand. Joran was proud to lead. He has on-and-off days with her, sometimes wanting to play with her all day, and sometimes wanting to be left alone. She copies everything! He suggests some action, and she jumps to it. He teaches her every bit of "toilet talk" that he knows. It's great to see them loving eachother, in any case.

I did say she copies everything!

So funny the way Jasmijn just doubles over in laughter!

Teaming and scheming again...

I don't think Daddy can move on these hardwoods now.

In other news, I am also doing well, though gaining more weight than the other pregnancies and feeling some discomfort, but the exhaustion and nausea have lifted... mostly. I haven't felt motivated to garden as the weather has turned cold and my body disagrees with all the bending, squatting, pulling and loading. I've looked into hiring help there, but haven't given in, yet, preferring to do things myself in my garden. And in my home. We now have 2 homeschooling babysitters, so I'm getting more time to relax and have peaceful moments. Well, I don't always relax. For example, I've taken to cleaning my own home again, which I find very comforting. I get to all those cobwebs and the little pockets where dust and crumbs can hide for ages, and it feels like I'm clearing corners where energy has gotten stuck.
Speaking of cleaning and clearing, I'm studying ho'oponopono, the ancient Hawai'ian problem-solving technique. It's really simple and pretty much all about taking 100% responsibility for everything in my experience and then "cleaning" it by filling it with love. No special exercises, processes or extensive studying. The key phrase, which is like the ho'oponopono mantra or meditation for cleaning, is "I love you. I'm sorry. Please forgive me. Thank you."Just saying "I love you" works, too. I can speak this to The Divine in reference to the problem, recognizing that everything I experience, even if it's just on the news, is a reflection of a subconscious program, which I share with the people who are directly involved with the problem. No one is at fault, but we are all responsible. We are all One. "I love you" is becoming background music to my life. It's so simple and lovely, I don't know how else to describe it.

Jolene =)

Friday, October 22, 2010

Blissful Day!

Meditating on a sunny summer morning, 2010

What a wonderful day it was (yesterday)!

We started out with Wilderness Awareness School, where Joran gets to romp through the woods with 13 other children and 5 instructors. He played memory games with native plants, created a medicine pouch, collected lichen, steeped lemon balm tea over the outdoor fire and found the flavor delicious, and came home with a small chunk of beeswax, which I can't get enough of -- delicious smell.

While Joran was in class for 4 hours, I was connecting with my new Wilderness Awareness community and walking slowly through the woods with Jasmijn. The smells of moss, woodland soil, and even centipedes were delightful. We marveled over the many different types of dirt under the trees and meditated on seats of log, root and stone.

After class, I was going to drop off one of Joran's classmates with her mama, but then her mama called and offered to meet us at a local park with food, so we settled in at the playground and enjoyed the entire warm afternoon until dusk!

We all came home so relaxed and John built a fire in our stove. Joran and Jasmijn each took bubble baths and our neighbor, Liam, came by for a little more playtime, but Joran was so relaxed that I hardly heard a peep from them as they focused on new Lego creations. Ahh, the sweet life!

To finish off my day, I found an e-mail from Joran's OT, who was expressing her understanding for my concerns and willingness to revamp our sessions. The better it gets, the better it gets!


Jolene =)

Monday, October 18, 2010

Mommy Never Gets Frustrated

It sure is fun playing with you, Joran!

Joran and I have our fair share of head-butting, but the other day, I got notice that I'm doing better than I thought.

We were in session with Joran's occupational therapist, who often tries to get him to do things he doesn't want to do. In an effort to get him to bend to her will, she said something along the lines of, "It would make your mommy and I so happy if you did this. You don't want me or your mommy to be frustrated, do you?" Joran's quick response was, "My mommy never gets frustrated!" (Jolly laughter bursts forth from my belly!)

Thanks Joran!

And just for the record, we also think it's kind of "weird" (Joran's description) that the OT is trying to get Joran to follow her directions because "it will make us happy" (emotional manipulation?). I really try to respect my children's freedom, which I consider to be their birthright. I feel that by going to this clinic, I have gained a better understanding of Joran's behaviors and needs so that I can support him to a more joyful life, fully allowing who he is to shine. So, I'm frustrated with this new development of pressuring Joran to work on certain tasks that he is very resistant to. To me, the resistance is a sign that he's just not ready. I'm concerned that pushing him to do things he's not ready for will ultimately errode his self-confidence. So, we're in the process of reevaluating the need to continue this therapy.

Overall, we're chugging along at a nice clip over here. And wishing you all much happiness!

Jolene =)

Sunday, October 10, 2010

The Fungus Among Us

Polypore, shelf-like mushroom growing on fallen tree

I will never forget this mushroom! We were out with Nature Explorers, a class provided through our local homeschool support center, focusing on mushrooms that day. Joran was having a tough time navigating his emotions, social anxieties, etc.... This included lots of screaming, shouting and general grumpiness for a period of time. It was an interesting practice for me in staying centered while he worked it out. Sometimes Joran takes his energy out on me, pushing, pulling, shoving, angry words, etc..., but I was not willing to do that with him this day. He started taking his frustrations out on the forest instead. Much appreciation to the forest from Mommy for that!

After a bit, the group stopped and circled up to listen to the instructor's story of the day. We sat apart while Joran continued processing. It was pretty easy for me to just hang out on a fallen log while Joran did what he needed to do. Jasmijn wanted to explore, too. As I was just chilling and glancing around, Joran found the Polypore mushroom in the picture above, attached to the log I was sitting on.

My astounding discovery about this mushroom was that it can bear the impact of a raging 5-year-old boy! Joran was jumping on the mushroom like it was a springboard, with as much force as he could muster, certain that he would break it off. It never happened! Pretty soon, he realized that this was a pretty cool tough mushroom and started studying it. The energy exerted and then the focus the mushroom attracted from him was just enough to shift his attitude back to positive curiosity, and we got back to following the group, finishing up the 2-mile hike, and even enjoying another relaxed hour with a classmate and his mom, picking blackberries, hunting bugs, hiding under trees.... Thanks Polypore!

Parenting is a practice. We'll never get it done, it's constantly unfolding. We're constantly growing, understanding ourselves and our children in new ways.

In our culture, worrying about our children is part of being a "good parent." I'm learning that this is a flawed premise. We try so hard to help them that it just leads to overprotective, paranoid parenting. When we can't figure out how to help them, we feel powerless or angry that they are not cooperating or behaving the way we want them to behave. It's actually better for me, and therefore, better for my children when I remain centered, stable, happy, even when they are way off balance.

The day with Nature Explorers provided a perfect example. So many factors collided for Joran during those two hours. Joran wanted to play with a couple of the boys, but did not know how to join in or feel confident in following my suggestions. Once we started on the trail, Joran seemed aloof, wanting to do his own thing, not gather near the instructor with the other children. We found a cool bug, and while Joran was looking at it, another child grabbed it to show the instructor. Joran felt so angry about this and started talking about revenge. He doesn't normally take this out on other child, but instead turns to me with complaints and acting on his frustrations.

So, one thing piled up on him after another. Another student got a lot of attention for finding a frog. Everyone gathered around to hold the frog, but Joran tends to back off when there's a crowd. He wanted to see and hold the frog but didn't feel comfortable squeezing in or waiting until the commotion died down. He liked the idea of looking for another frog, but wasn't willing to initiate a search. He became obsessed with the idea of finding a frog, but more focused on the fact that he didn't have one, he was not willing to search on his own or stick close to me to catch one if I saw one. As the group continued through the forest, Joran escalated to screaming, shouting, starting to push and pull me, but I would not participate with this. He redirected to stomping, kicking and pulling on rocks, dirt, decaying wood and plants.

Through all of this, I focused on staying connected to well-being. I know Joran is also fun, curious, highly intelligent, loving and powerful. I held these beliefs in my mind as we kept moving along. I also reminded myself that I could choose happiness no matter what he was doing. Having fun in nature comes naturally, so I kept looking for frogs, enjoying the beautiful trees, feeling good about my own strength and agility, laughing about the adventure in it all. There I was, 7 months pregnant, toddler riding on my back, slipping in the muddy pools populated by frogs, and perfectly happy!

It feels good when I don't make my son responsible for my feeling of well-being. I'm also glad that my belief in myself as a good parent doesn't depend on his happiness. Most of the time, I have no idea what we look like to other people. So, another big part of my practice includes letting go of attachment to other people's opinions. In any case, I find that many times, what they think of us is yet another figment of my imagination.


Jolene =)

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Into the Woods

Our Labor Day visit to Cannon Beach, Oregon

We took our wagon to pull the kids around, so Joran could sit sometimes, too. It was such a great idea over a stroller. Sometimes, with Jasmijn's help, we didn't get very far, very fast, though.

Recapping the day's explorations. Still much to discover.

What successes we have had this month! A few months ago, during the summer, I pledged to myself to begin more activities that would fulfill Joran's needs and my own. Not an easy task with such different personalities, basically boiling down to his desire to stick with familiar situations, away from new people and environments, juxtaposed to my desire to socialize and build a broader community network. But I was determined!

One of the challenges was to make the right choices without input from Joran, knowing that we might have to push through many awkward moments in order to find the right activities and people. It may seem strange not to ask him if he wants to take a class or go to a new playdate, but I've learned that he will always give a negative response until he understands what the experience is. He has no way of understanding the experience until he's tried it, and he often needs to get over social anxieties before he can truly have fun. The question for me is to what extent do I push him to engage? I have to ask if I am pushing him to do something that he's genuinely not ready for, or am I pushing him to do something he will love once he gets over his anxieties.

First, we met a wonderfully wise occupational therapist who answered a lot of my "why" questions. She taught me why Joran needs so much BIG, full-contact play. She taught me why he resists certain activities whether it's about being around other people or about using certain muscle groups. And she showed me how I can facilitate and encourage getting his needs met at home and out-and-about. She's given me the gift of understanding, where I was previously confused about Joran's behaviors. Now I can just BE with Joran, allowing and accepting of so much more. Now that I feel so trusting of his behavior, I am able to focus more on getting my own needs met, also.

Next, we started going to a local gymnasium for open gym trampolines, tumbling, sliding, etc.... Joran loved the open gym and I got to meet up with other moms. I was always right there on the gym floor with him, and there were never more than 10 people there (usually 6), so even though there were always different people, Joran was able to avoid what he needed to avoid and enjoy great fun otherwise. Being "open gym" also meant that he could follow his own pace, not the instructor's agenda.

Seeing how excited he was about open gym inspired me to sign him up for the trampoline/tumbling classes, because open gym was going to change schedule once school started. I love that I can make these decisions and know that there are always options. After a couple classes, it was pretty clear that the class demanded too much structure. Joran needs freedom to guide himself in a safe environment and to navigate away from social interaction when he becomes overloaded. We were able to transfer our class payment to use on future open gyms. Lesson learned, problem solved.

Then came the best decision ever! We started Wilderness Awareness School. My biggest concern was about leaving Joran in a class by himself -- would I be able to attend until he was confident there on his own? I don't believe in leaving my emotionally overwhelmed child in the hands of someone who is a stranger to him, no matter how confident I am in this person. If he needs me, he needs me, and I believe he'll go off on his own when he's ready. So, I was pretty happy to hear that they invited parents to attend the first 4 classes. I felt this would be good enough for Joran.

The first day was emotionally exhausting for me, which is no surprise. There were over 20 people there, and a lot of the early time was spent indoors going over safety and procedures. Boring stuff for my 5-year-old, even when it's presented in a "fun" way. He really wanted to leave, would not speak to anyone, including other children, and would not participate in the program at all. Finally, we went out on an adventure through the woods, so this was more fun, but by the time I got everyone back in the car, I seriously needed some TLC. Fortunately, Joran and Jasmijn fell asleep right away.

In the next 2 weeks, Joran started talking with both instructors and children, and even playing away from me, going on little adventures into the woods with another adult. During the 3rd class, he was okay with me going for a 20-minute walk and meeting up with him and the group later. The success of this wilderness class was not just about the choice of activity, but also about the instructors, who have been fully understanding of Joran's needs.

The final test was yesterday during the 4th class, when the children were expected to leave on an adventure without the parents. Joran had said he did not want me to go, and his behavior was reflecting that, but I was amazingly calm and open. Most of the children went off on the adventure, and Joran still refused to part with me. One of the instructors talked with him for a while, pulling out all kinds of creative ideas and soothing words, and what it finally came down to was that she challenged him to a race to the pond. She declared that she didn't think he could beat her, even if she were running backwards! Ah-ha! Joran was off and running, and didn't look back once as I watched them round the bend. Backwards running over a rugged forest path is also good for laughs!

When I returned 2 1/2 hours later to pick up Joran, he greeted me with a running hug and exclaimed, "I did everything for myself!" He was so proud and confident and happy! Even when he tried to put on his "tough guy" attitude later, he could not hide the twinkle in his eye or the smile on his face.

Luckily, I've also learned about Bodily-Kinesthetic Intelligence through an advisor/teacher at a local homeschooling support center. One of the things I read was that bodily-kinesthetic learners feel compelled to express all of their thoughts and feelings through their bodies. This explains why living with Joran can feel like a full-contact sport. I've learned why Joran loves to be dragged around on the floor, have pillow fights, snuggle up in his cacoon-like swing, crash into a pile of pillows, fall, tumble, and stumble onto the floor, into a wall, and into another person and so on. And finally, with this knowledge, it felt easy to understand and be patient when he needed to crash into me, shout, climb around the car, spin around, or fall on the ground after his big day on his own at Wilderness Awareness School.

So, what have I gotten out of all this, personally? Lots of time with other moms, a few new friends, and a more fun home.

I also have to shout out a big "Hooray!" for Liam, our 6-year-old neighbor. He and Joran run wild together, usually outside, and otherwise creating big adventures indoors.

Life is good!
Jolene =)

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Openness in the living quality of basic energy. -- Pema Chodron

Every pregnancy is different. With Joran, our first child, it was easy to feel excited, confident in my ignorance. With Jasmijn, I so headstrongly desired a second child and a homebirth, despite our unfamiliar life in Switzerland. My confidence was like a steel blade, cutting through any doubts, ready to face any challenge.

Now with the third pregnancy, I have lost my resolve. I seem haunted by unfamiliar fears almost daily.

How will my health stand up? What if this child has special needs or just doesn't sleep well? How will I manage to make it through each day if I'm not sleeping well or my body doesn't recover quickly? What if John is not available? Who will help me? What if something goes wrong? Why do I feel so sick this time? When will it end? Goodness, Joran is growing up so fast! Does he miss me too much? What if he feels abandoned and isn't getting his needs met? Will Jasmijn hate me for constantly having another little one in my arms? Am I going to sink into some sort of psychotic depression, unable to function on any level?

The doubts are like little monsters lurking in the shadows of my brain. Someone send me a spotlight! Oh, Jupiter, pierce these demons with your lightning rod! Rather, I should be praying to Juno... it's more likely that Jupiter got me into this trouble in the first place!

So, how do I get myself out of this conniption? I bring myself back to this moment, trusting the well-being in the greater picture of life, feeling the space and openness all around me and in my own body. In that space is all room for joy and health... and all is well. No matter how this day goes, tomorrow brings a new chance. No matter how this moment goes, the next blink could hold my awakening.

A good time to go to the garden...

Jolene =)

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

U-S-A! U-S-A!

USA wins against Algeria in the 91st minute! 1-0
Oh, say, I can see the World Cup on the horizon!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Breakfast and Bunnies

Sausage and eggs at our table, always with toys everywhere -- why are there toys in every room, in every place?

Finally a close-up picture of one of the many bunnies in our garden. They're a bit of a garden hazard, but cuter than the slugs.

Bunny eating fallen rose petals.

A bouquet from our garden: lilacs, roses and sedum.

My mother was wondering why there were not more photos of Trudy (Oma) on the blog, so here are a couple. The reason I have so many photos of Gerard (Opa) is that he is always calling out for attention: "Look at this! Look at that! Take a photo of me!" Trudy is more reserved.

Trudy feeding the hens.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010


I'm going to paraphrase an inspiring message from Scott Noelle's "Daily Groove" newsletter. You can get the newsletter, too!

When most people think of "responsibility," they think of an obligation or burden they must fulfill. When acting "responsibly," they might do something they don't really want to do, but they do it because they believe it's "right." In my opinion, this can leave someone in a hole of bitterness, judgement and hierarchy where they are either feeling superior for doing the "right" thing or feeling guilty for not living up to their "responsibilities."

Scott calls this the old, dominator world view. A new-world-view definition of responsibility is using your ability to respond creatively to a situation, each person in partnership with the other. As parents, we often feel a sense of duty and obligation regarding our "responsibilities," but in this new view, everyone can win and have fun! In the new world view, everyone is 100% responsible and enjoying the creative process!

Just wanted to pass it on!

Jolene =)

Saturday, June 12, 2010

To Change One's Life

I copied this delightful quote from a friend today:

"To change one's life; start immediately,
do it flamboyantly, no exceptions, no excuses."
William James

Friday, June 11, 2010


Family excursion, July 2009

I'm counting my blessings today! Apparently, according to Yahoo news, the sun will be storming in the near future, which may affect our technology systems. How amazing that we have created all of this! Then again, there is no reason to be amazed at all. If you believe that we are all one, as I do, then "we" are all God, or whatever you want to call it, and I can't imagine that God would be amazed at any of it. In my mind, God would be smiling, laughing, loving it all, loving us all and having fun, but not amazed.

Yesterday, in the latest Time magazine, I read the Dalai Lama's response to a question about how he remains faithful and optimistic when there is so much hate in the world. He said, "I always look at any event from a wider angle. There's always some problem, some killing, some murder or terrorist act or scandal everywhere, every day. But if you think the whole world is like that, you're wrong. Out of 6 billion humans, the trouble-makers are just a handful." I love that he calls them "trouble-makers" as if they are no more than a few kids acting badly in school. The statement also reminds me of an earlier post of mine in which I described seeing life as just a movie, another form of entertainment. And I always retain the choice to walk out of the theater, go see another movie or even produce my own. There are so many perspectives on life, and I am so happy to have the ability to see this life from many different angles. For me, it makes life more fun, more fulfilling, less serious.

We are here to enjoy life and make the most of it, according to our own desire -- I see no other purpose. Right now, I'm watching the wildlife in the yard, and none of them seem to worry about their "purpose" in life. I think the way humans do it actually takes away from our purpose in life. How can we actually be fulfilling any purpose in life if all we're doing is worrying about whether or not we're fulfilling our purpose? Good. I'm glad that doesn't make any sense to you either.

I have faith in the basic goodness of people. We all want to contribute. Those who commit acts that are hurtful to others must must be living in pain, filled with unmet needs. I have compassion for them in this sense, and I think that they would also choose a more humanitarian path if they were not hurting so much.

I have faith in the basic goodness of myself. When I hurt someone else, it is because I am hurting. I've gotten into the habit of asking myself what needs I can take care of for myself whenever I feel like lashing out at someone else. Sometimes a need can be satisfied by talking to the other person, sometimes it can be satisfied regardless of the other person's involvement. I love that flexibility and the intuition that helps me take the most productive path. And when I don't, I love that I always have new opportunities!

So, rather than feeling amazed at all of the blessings in my life, or instead of feeling overwhelmed with emotion, I am feeling full with happiness that there is so much abundance! I am so very glad for the diversity of gifts shared among us humans!

Finally, I truly appreciate the time to write all of this while my children are sleeping peacefully. I think I'll go take a shower while I have the chance.

Jolene =)

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Photos of April-May 2010

We managed to get a dozen garden projects done in April during Gerard and Trudy's visit.

As usual, Joran has his own projects in mind.

White-washing fence, creating gravel paths and new garden beds.

The dirt arrives.

Earl and his tractor helping with excavation for the greenhouse.

And time to enjoy it all.

5 eggs/day and they make delightful pets, too!

John's brother Maurits with girlfriend Mariska visited us for 3 weeks.

Jasmijn loved Snoqualmie Falls as much as our guests, who knew of the falls from the popular TV show, Twin Peaks.

Jasmijn really bonded with Mariska, so happy to have a new "auntie."


We just got back from the LIFE is Good Unschooling Conference in Vancouver, WA, and I have a lot of thoughts. I can break it down to 2 main take-aways from the weekend:

1. My perceptions of what goes on for Joran internally can be wrong. Joran is very introverted around people he does not know well. Even when we go for playdates with friends he knows, he can be pretty quiet, internally focused, playing alone with whatever toy interests him, or just sticking by my side for a while. Yet, he loves playdates and wants to go back to see friends again and again. Likewise, when we go someplace that is fun for him, he spends a lot of time in silent observation. Many times, he is grumpy and disagreeable or just quiet and unhappy-looking, often expressing a desire to leave, and I think he hasn't gotten anything from the experience, I feel upset that he's not more easy-going, communicative and able to show enjoyment for things most kids outwardly enjoy. But then, hours or days later, he will talk about what thoughts he had and what fun it was.

We arrived at the unschooling conference Thursday, but John wasn't able to join us until late Friday, so I had 2 days with the kids, spending a lot of time in the hotel room because of Joran's personality, getting out of the room mainly because Jasmijn and I both enjoy exploring and a couple times because there was an activity Joran and I thought he would enjoy. We walked around through the conference area a lot, and I saw things I thought would be fun for Joran, but he didn't think so. We also saw a couple kids he knows well. Joran was quiet and serious during all the walking around and even the two activities he wanted to go to. He would hardly look at or speak to the friends he knew. Many times, he complained and pushed on me to go back to the room. My assumption was that he was not enjoying anything... until John arrived.

Joran talked all day Friday about seeing Daddy, and as soon as John arrived, to my surprise, Joran babbled on and on about the things he'd done and seen, and he wanted to show Daddy the whole conference. So, in that moment, I did a clear readjustment of my perceptions. It was so obvious to me that Joran experiences life in a very different way from me, and even from most other children I've seen. In Joran's lifetime, I've found many ways in which he is "atypical," and this was one more addition to my list.

I feel a little more relaxed to realize these things. I feel okay that Joran doesn't express enjoyment like I do. I can trust that he's getting what he needs out of an experience and I can still take care of my own needs, even if he seems unhappy in a situation.

The conference experience with Joran also had me thinking about people I know who seem unhappy, negative or pessimistic in some situations. Knowing that Joran probably seems this way because of stimulation overload, not being able to process all of the sensory and mental stimulation in a "typical" way, I am more understanding of others who seem unhappy and uncomfortable in new, unfamiliar situations.

John understands Joran's introversion, being similar himself. John has also learned the benefits of adaptability and communication, which he uses in his career and in personal relationships. As Joran matures, he may see the benefit in developing these skills as well. If he doesn't ever feel the need to do so, it's his life, and my hope is that I just raise him with the sense that he has the power to make the choices and changes in his life that are right for him, for I believe that we are all the makers of our own lives... "no matter how small," in the words of Horton, the elephant.

2. My second key take-away was that no matter where I go, I will always have some sense that I identify with the moment and the people around me... and some sense that I don't fit in at all. Maybe this comes from having grown up in so many different places, exposed to so many types of people. Perhaps it's the influence of having been raised in a multi-racial, multi-faith, multi-politic family. It's probably also a result of the part of my personality that wants to find common ground among all people and avoid conflict.

Wherever it comes from, this aspect of myself, this ability to identify while never really feeling that I fit in, has left me searching for most of my life for that place where I do feel that I fit in. However, it occured to me over the weekend to just accept that I don't "fit in" anywhere despite being able to identify with many stories. Instead of searching for an "answer" to a "problem," I can see it as a gift that has allowed me to feel great compassion, to mediate conflicts, to listen in ways that make others feel understood and accepted. Acceptance of this aspect of myself opens me up to the realization that there is a place where I do feel I fit in completely: that place is right here inside me.

Wishing you your best life!

Jolene =)

Thursday, April 8, 2010


Opa in the snow

I call a "snow day." I woke up to someone doing cookies in the cul-de-sac. I'm a little worried about my seedlings and cringing at the wet cold, because I don't like to be outside in it. Give me warm, sunny days 360 days/year and I'll be fine.

The birds are so cute, poking around the woodland edge and in the lawn. Hey, there's a robin. And the chickens are huddling and scratching. Now that the sun is coming out, the bugs must be waking up. John and I have seen hummingbirds already, too. I just put up the feeder 2 weeks ago! There goes the boy chickadee, chasing the girl! Wow, what a beautiful home, what a beautiful life! This is just what I imagined when we were back in Geneva! And I get to sit here and write while watching it all!

Jolene =)

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Breathing for Pleasure

Do flowers in a meadow believe that they are flowers...
or do they believe they are the meadow?
And when the sky looks at the Earth, what does it believe about itself?
Can I look at you and believe that I am anything different?

I believe that the inner work of the parent, rather than the outer work on the child, lies at the core of successful parenting. Am I radical? What is life as we know it without: punishments, rewards, "good job," time out, "because I'm the Mom," naughty or nice behavior??? Gosh, if I let go of these beliefs, Santa Claus would vanish! Or maybe, like Santa Claus, they are all illusions. Illusions of control.

Letting go scares the bejesus out of my little me who scrapes and claws to grasp onto reason, and be right about it, too. Big Me laughs at little me and scoops her up in those All Knowing arms, whispering reassurance that letting go is the only way to joy. Letting go is the only way to fully connect to my children, my spouse, my neighbors, my family, all of the people I love... all of the people... and to remember that we were never separated at all!

Today I am letting go of ever feeling helpless victimhood, letting go of needing to be right, letting go of guilt, letting go of anyone elses idea of me, letting go of anyone elses journey. Today I promise to do all the things I ever dreamed of and to live for those dreams in every moment. Today I promise to let Joy be my guiding light, and to shine, shine, shine!

Blessings to all!

Jolene =)

I am the light I believe myself to be!

Friday, March 26, 2010

Always Something

There's so much going on lately, externally and internally. I wish I would remember to jot down notes, so I could blog about all of it. John said to me the other day, "I see you have not blogged since mid-February..." Blah, blah, blah! Oh, yes, all I'm doing all day is sitting around with my bon-bons in front of the TV! So, here I am blogging, because John made me feel guilty. My grandmother would be so proud.

I'm not going to include a lot of pictures of the garden, because it mostly just looks like a lot of dirt, still. Things are just starting to bloom, I've rearranged a lot and planted several new plants from friends, from Costco and from local nurseries. I did get this magnolia, which somehow speaks to my soul's memories of the deep south. The scent is heavenly and the blossoms whisper of purity and passion.

I want to create a magical garden. I think I'm off to a good start with a mix of delightful, romantic, whimsical and airy plants. A slight breeze brings enchanting music from our chimes, and I finally put up our gorgeous bell from Arizona along with a hummingbird feeder. Yes, we have hummingbirds here. Mostly the Scarlet Rufus, I think it's called. We call it "Ooh, look at that!" And there are white butterflies and large buzzing bumblebees, little chickadees (nesting over our front door), the coos from our doves, the clucks from the chickens, the smell of the pines... and the dirt! Wow! The smell of real earth makes me feel so strong and healthy!

Jasmijn and Joran are growing as fast as the plants. They are so fun! Joran now has a weekly playmate, which gives me a chance to garden, clean house, read, watch TV, make calls... and blog. Jasmijn is not used to her, yet, but hopefully John and I will get some dates soon.

Oma and Opa arrive next week from The Netherlands. Oma will stay for 2 weeks and Opa for 4. We'll spend a lot of time at home and get jobs done around here, and we'll probably make a trip to Walmart, their favorite American store. We'll take them out to eat, they'll share a meal and not be able to finish it together. Everything's bigger in America!

My latest revelation started about a month ago. I had a spectacular moment of seeing my life as a movie and feeling like it was just entertainment -- I could enjoy it or just walk out and go to another movie... or make my own movie. It was so freeing! Sometimes people talk about "forgiving" hurts from the past, and I suppose that was what this moment was, but it felt more like just letting go. It seems that if I were to forgive someone or something, I would have to judge it first, so this "letting go" was more like letting go of judgement, therefore there was not even any need to "forgive." Wonderful! Self-exploration is a trip!
Best to all!
Jolene =)