Sunday, July 31, 2011

this is how we do it

I've been thinking
…and thinking…
and thinking…

ever since I wrote my post on learning, naturally.

Ever since the comments thread raised some interesting issues.

And actually, ever since I began homeschooling.

Who are we

as homeschoolers

and learners?

Where do we fit? With what philosophy do we align ourselves?

These questions go to the core of how I live.

Because the thing is,

I don't fit.

I don't ever Absolutely align.

I get close, but there's always that part of me looking out saying, But that looks lovely too, just past the self-drawn fence, the invisible wall.

That was me in childhood. In school and in university. I never quite did things consistently. I was never the Same for long. There were dreams to chase, boys (wrong and right) to follow, ideas to have, plans to change, travel to do, so many meandering paths to walk/run/skip down!

And that was me as a parent. Of babies, toddlers, school-aged children. I never followed a single, simple path. Sometimes I baffled friends and family. Some of the simple paths would have been lovely, looking back, but I couldn't see them then.

So now I am here. We are here. On this particular, unusual,
complicated (but oh, so beautiful) path.

We are homeschoolers. And I've found that doing things the Same As Anyone Else is both


and unnecessary.

All I know, all I can know,

is how we do it.

All I have to measure that with, is


Us feeling out what is good and right and true to us, and following that.

When it doesn't feel right—when it doesn't bring Joy—we stop.

And, as I was thinking, and thinking, and thinking on this,

a picture came into my mind.

This is how we do it.

We learn by leaping.

We leap, we launch, we fly.

When we're up there, amongst the clouds, with the view so fine, we say,



Want to go here?

Or here?

Or here?

Sometimes we fly together. Launch ourselves straight ahead, at that one bright speck in the distance (or just in front of us).

But sometimes one of us starts flying, without looking back,

starts Doing and Living and Learning, on his or her own.

The rest of us sometimes See how wonderful that is,

and come too.

Which is how our sewing adventures began.

With one small girl saying,

I want to sew something.

And so she leaped.

Into her adventures in felt. And embroidery, and learning blanket stitch. And making birds and dragons, and owls. Then clothes for her toys, made of paper, cardboard, felt, fabric. And sewing more animals and learning to knit and saying how great it would be to have a sewing machine. And saying, I want to make toys and sell them at the market! And designing, and sewing, and making and making.

In the meantime, I did some asking, some talking, and lots of dreaming.

Which brought us to two weeks ago, when my friend and I were having a chat. It went a bit like this:

     I said, Howabout your boy joins writers workshop?

     And she said, Howabout I do sewing workshop for your boy and girl
     (and my boy too)?
     Together we said, Now wouldn't that be a lovely, creative, energy exchange?
     Yes! we said. Wonderful!

And it was settled. The kids were thrilled.

My girl's leap

led to not one, but three kids

(and two interested, excited adults),

setting off down a long, lovely

path of learning that, so far, has covered



sewing machine parts,

measuring, estimating, pattern making, buying,




finding out how sewing machines work

learning to make buttonholes,

report writing,

and more and more sewing!

We have so much further to go! The kids are part way through their first project, and now

so many new projects are popping up,

like seeds sprouting after the earth has been freshly dug

and planted, and watered and sun-shone.

And in the meantime

and meanwhile

another path opened up last weekend…

A doll-making workshop at the art gallery! YUM.

With this amazing artist

and some of her beautiful dolls.

We were so happy, making dolls all afternoon, sewing our little hearts out.

And afterwards?

My girl began a new, different doll at home.

The two of us were inspired for days;

my girl making the body, me covering it,

and the two of us making the arms and legs…

and then my girl decided she wanted to make a cape for it, 

and my friend cut out a template for her so that she could make capes any time she wanted

and then…

And then, 

and then…?

I was reading a flyer from the fabric store.

$200 off a brand new sewing machine for VIP members only!

Well, howabout that: I am a VIP member of that store. And we have a Visa card—we totally can buy this machine! ("Afford" is another question, for people who think about questions like that).

Which led two kids, one mama and one dad on a path yesterday afternoon

to this beauty.

Which is our next adventure.

All begun

with a single leap

by a single girl.

Leading to

all of us flying.

All of us



loving everything that we've learned, 

and loving how we've learned it.

We learn by leaping.

It's that simple 

and that beautifully complicated!

Just how we like our lives

to be.




  1. Using a sewing machine is one of the things that's on my want-to-learn list. Your delight learning paths sound glorious!

  2. ditto on not following any certain path. love the dolls!

  3. How lovely, thrilling really. I sometimes think, wouldn't it be easy to follow one path, all laid out, not so much wondering and wandering? But, of course, learning and rethinking, and ooh, what about that over there, is the beauty of creating your own path...and meeting so many others on the way, unafraid of making it up as they go along too :)

  4. We don't fit the labels 100% either. Life just isn't a "one size fits all affair"
    I love these projects Helena! What a wonderful homeschooling adventure :)

  5. So beautiful Helena!! Like you, I never really fit into anywhere. But oh I wanted to! I wanted to be like certain people and be a part of certain groups, and I tried! I guess we all go through that at some point, pushing through the unreal to find the real. When I stepped off the public school and traditional path, I think that's when I realized that I no longer had a map to guide me. LIke you said, just feeling. And I worked hard to listen and trust that feeling- intuition. Soon, different was normal, comfortable at times and uncomfortable at others and that became okay, too. Then when someone comes along and says "hey, you need to get back in that box, this is the only way to do it", I feel something else-faith, firmness, and a greater resolve knowing I have no intention of getting inside any box. No one can launch out of a box, yes?

    When we have worked so hard and so long to find out who we are, and then realize that we are truly free to be that person and live and learn our way, a way that feels right and good to us, then there is no need for any one else's map. We make our own.

    It's wonderful watching you and your children make your own. The sewing, the writing club, the math passions, all of it, just beautiful. And the dolls are adorable!! And yay for the new sewing machine!!!

    XX OO

  6. Beautiful, Helena. Learning looks very much like that at our house too. The energy of one draws the others in. Life is never boring with so much to learn!! I love your illustration and the beautiful work you and your girl have been doing together. Just lovely and so inspiring. xx

  7. SIGH! all things coming together, for now, for good. love it.

  8. I'm sorry, but I cannot get that 80's (90's?) song out of my head now: This is how we do it, do it.... (rappity rap) something rappy. I'll have to ask Pat. He'd know.

    I am trying to be more like that this year. Flying and leaping and not worrying about where we will land because ANYthing learned is a day spent well.

  9. I think we don't want to label ourselves here either, which is fine as long as we don't label others too, especially if they want to be labeled lol. What an awesome artist you have :) We did some work with felt last week too. I always forget to take photos!

  10. I like the idea of moving ahead without a map, that is how I often feel. It can be quite scary, going against the grain, and feeling our way. Groups and labels give us a bit of stability, I suppose, so learning to live with that uneasiness can be hard for some of us (me). Seeing the joy in the leaping is a great reminder of why we are feeling our own way.

  11. YES! I think sewing is awesome. How wonderful to have sewing time unhindered by school time :)

  12. Ok those dolls are just adorable. I love the illustration and words you used for your 'leaping'. So poignant and lovely.

    Kei is taking a sewing class this fall. She is beyond excited.

    This post is wonderful.

  13. Lovely!!

    The dolls are so beautiful... my kind of sewing!

    And absolutely "the joy of the thing" is an excellent gauge of how things are going!


I love hearing from you! Thank you for your heartfelt, thoughtful responses—they lift me, and give me light.