We have made a little haven out of our home. We are all Introverts and on the Autism scale (minus my husband.) Years ago I decided homeschooling was the best option for our family. Not only did it minimize sensory overload, but it enabled us to proceed with life in our own way. We are able to have more boundaries, less conformity, and embrace our Autism and Introversion as gifts. It's beautiful...and it was hard work to get to this point.
When we dropped out of church several years ago, we often would cave into other's expectations, belief systems or we simply missed our old routine and would find ourselves back in the building for about two years on and off. Yet, it never felt quite right. Finally, we stuck to our decision and stayed out. It took another three years to not wonder if we were proceeding with the right choice when Sunday came along. Now we LOVE it. Beliefs aside, having that family time, the morning of rest, the full day to pause or relax, is the highlight of our week. Feeling nature, the comforts of home, and the quiet atmosphere is it's own form of awe, worship and belonging.
The same process happened with homeschooling too. My kids were out, back in for a year, out, and back in for three weeks, before we finally went into "permanent." Transitions are tough and dealing with a new adjustment...even if it is better for the individual or family, can often feel "wrong." That feeling is often just the brain adjusting, a new habit being formed, and the angst that comes with new patterns. I hated homeschooling the first year. I needed to change facilitators to one who suited our laid back family, and find our groove. I needed support from my family and supportive reading materials. I had to fight for all these things. But now, I do not have to "fight." The pattern is now a natural part of our living.
Our children are protected but well socialized. They are surrounded by those who love them, those who understand, and the comforts of a house that suits their specific interests. It's a Hobbit Hole in many ways. With tended gardens, comfortable blankets, low lights, classic stuffies, magical books, and not many interruptions.
I am well aware of the fact that children need adventures and that their adulthood will be fraught with different environments. But for now, they need their haven. Their simple life. They learn quietly with guitar, yoga, voice, dance, karate, swimming ect. But even the way we choose to do most of these things is unconventional. We find family who want them to learn for learning sake. We find dance teachers who believe it is about the love, the rhythm, the way the body moves, instead of about competition, exams and being the best. We find flexible programs that are not rigid in practice. While discipline is important, it is instead learned through tending gardens, plants and living things that require constant time and attention. They have a balance of magical playtime, reading, working, chores, friend time (only 2-3 good friends are needed in life) integrated school and learning about themselves. They see their differences as gifts and struggles. My youngest asked his aunt, out of the blue, if she had Autism. Trying not to smile she replied, "I don't think so buddy..." He pauses, "Well do you have OCD?" she replied, "I'm not too sure." Quietly he ponders, "Well do you have ADD?" "No." "Well, what about Aspergers?" When she still answered no to that he said with exasperation, "Well what ARE you?!! I am lucky. I have ADD at least. Why don't you have anything to explain you? Who ARE you?" We laughed. I was so relieved when she was smart enough NOT to say, "I'm just normal." With wisdom not often found in a twenty year old she replied, "I might have one of those. Everybody has something unique that they are. You are lucky to know how your brain works and why you behave certain ways. Even people who do not know about brain wirings deal with other things in life."
I believe there are MANY varied ways to live out the simple life. It can be done within schools and churches too. For us, it could not. But for other personalities, it can. It's mostly in mentality. To live parallel culturally instead of counter culturally or in the current mono culture which values economics and competition (See my library and click on the book MonoCulture by F.S. Michaels.) Living simply is not just the current concept of home grown foods and moving to a farm. That can be what it needs to be for some, but living simply can be done in many ways. It can even be done with "stuff." Our house has what it needs and what comforts us. We have a rule; "Whatever is lovely or needed belongs in the house- whatever does not bring maximum comfort, joy or basic need goes out." Stuff does not imply conforming...but it can. It all depends on the mentality. Which is why reading books similar to Monoculture or The Magical Child or Freakonomics...or anything that thinks outside the current box, is crucial to the journey.
Our family is living in optimal freedom and peace. Of course we have our share of struggles. We can suffer depression, financial strain, living month to month, discrimination and relational issues from time to time. It's not a utopia. But more often or not, I look around, and am filled with gratitude. It suits us RIGHT NOW. I can not worry about the future, but I need to fight what is filled with the best mixture of peace and freedom NOW.
I hope each of you finds your version of the simple life. Enjoy the song. It's our Autumn bliss:)