Audible does this really cool thing to help get the ball rolling once a new audiobook is released. In short, the author and narrator get some promo codes to give away as freebies. So, I have a few to give! Just drop a line and let me know which of my audiobooks you would like and I’ll get back to you with either a code or to let you know I’m out.

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Unschooling Field Notes 1

We are five months into our unschooling journey, and life is much improved. Dare I say superb. The freedom I feel in each day is refreshing. Our schedule has totally opened up, and we are all experiencing more free time as well as an abundance of quality time together. The learning going on with no effort at all to plan for it is just astounding. They are leading the way, and I love it.

At first, it felt like long tentacles from a ginormous black octopus were beginning to recoil away. Those tentacles threaded into cracks and crevices throughout our lives. They were dragging us down. As they receded, we discovered the ability to breath unrestrained again just like summertime. We feel the freedom and creativity of being ourselves and simply enjoying life with no deadlines or schedules except the ones we set for ourselves. We are enjoying realization of a whole new existence where we are calling the shots. It is, quite simply, liberating.

Still, at the edge of my consciousness is a somewhat annoying persistent thought about the upcoming proof of progress we must file with the school administration by August. Sometimes I catch myself imagining that black octopus is just bidding time to pounce and wrap us all up again. I know it sounds dramatic, and I know it’s just a fearful thought, one that I consciously I kick out. Many times I’ve soothed myself away from the scary idea that we’ll be challenged for trying to get away with something and then be required to justify ourselves. It seems like a ridiculous thought since previous generations have won the fight for the right to homeschool for many of us.

Lucky for us in Virginia it seems pretty easy to homeschool. The trickiest part seems to be proving educational progress annually. There are a couple of ways outlined as options to demonstrate educational growth and progress. Families can do good enough on a nationally normed standardized test of their choice (place in or above the fourth stanine) or have an evaluation letter from a qualified individual (a licensed teacher or someone with a master’s degree). If progress is not found to be good enough, the homeschooling family gets a year of probation to continue homeschooling then try again next year to prove adequate progress. If progress is still not good enough, there will be intervention and the kids will have to go back to school. I have been advised by local homeschooling gurus to “just test out” because they say it is the easiest and most objective way to jump through the required hoops. I have a problem with that because standardized testing is one reason I wanted out of the school system. Also, having done more traditional homeschool with my son in the past I know how quickly learning time turns to rote memorization and uninspired lectures while running through a checklist of what to learn so as to do well on the test…a frustrating waste of time for me and my kids to be sure.

So I have settled into the idea that we will show progress with a letter that I write reporting on the progress of each of my kids for this first year. The reason I can write the report is because I have a master’s degree and regulations do not stipulate that the evaluator cannot be the child’s parent. This seems a bit risky but I’m sure it will all work out. After all, I am with them all day every day being continually astounded by their questions and creative ways of thinking. As a supplement to the report, I am also keeping an Evernote portfolio about each kid and their interests and activities throughout the year. Those Evernote portfolios will likely become their portfolio blogs as they advance. The kids are very interested in building their own portfolios already. They love that we are collecting photos, videos, links, and audio recordings of what they are focusing on and creating. So do I. The portfolios will serve a purpose similar to a scrapbook too. The kids enjoy looking back at what they’ve done even now, and it solidifies their learning as they do so.

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There are powerful people around us all the time. People who either help us create the next part of our life story in a powerfully positive way or people who help us rehash our old story. Relationships are about the potential of the next part of your story. Through your relationships you become more of who you are. Much of the juice of life comes from interactions with others too. Different teachers and mentors come into our lives through our relationships. Even as we live our lives and have our experiences, we can maintain a fundamental view of others as people with the potential to connect meaningfully with us. Through times of connection, we all learn something new about ourselves.

It’s human nature to look to others to make us feel good. One of the best feelings ever happens when we look into someone’s eyes as we laugh with them. It’s so easy to appreciate the moment when that happens. But remember, no one else is responsible for how you feel. Would you even want them to be? I don’t care to be that dependent on anyone. I don’t control how others feel and no one but me is responsible for how I feel. Remember that. Maybe it will help you as it has me. We all can steer our emotions in a direction that feels good. To do so, we must monitor what we are thinking about and focusing on and exercise intention and discipline in that regard.

You are worthy, and your perspective is valid. You have a unique point of view and it matters. You matter, whether anyone else recognizes that in any moment or not. Do not be dependent on other people’s opinion of you for your own happiness. That being said, strive to make appreciation the whole point of your interaction with others. That appreciation will strengthen you, even though at first glance it might feel like something you are doing for someone else.

Your Surprising Responsibility

Of course, you can see the benefit of everyone being happy. You can certainly focus on how you would feel if everyone were happy. You can even intentionally notice happy people. You cannot, however, assist a single person to feel different unless he or she allows it.

You have the best chance of enjoying your relationships if you focus on one main priority: Your number one responsibility is to feel good. Feeling good is powerful. That is the place you must start for improved relationships. You are a positive influence and a force for good when you feel good. You will bring people up all around you when you are feeling good, and people will benefit from being around your positive energy. But remember, they are not your priority. They can, and likely will, come up to meet you at your higher vibe. That’s superb, but it must not be the main priority. Put on your own oxygen mask first!

You can be an example of a person who focuses on the positive as you go through your life feeling good and in your personal power more often than not. You can act on your inspiration. You can send positive vibes to people who are unhappy. You can intend a better life for them. You can trust in their ability to find happiness the same as can for yourself. You can know that it’s possible for all people to find their way to some happiness at some point. You can help others notice something positive to focus on if they choose to cooperate but remember you are not responsible for how others feel.

Feeling good is a natural way of being. You feel bad by focusing on something that makes you feel bad. Now that you know this secret to a good life, take notice when you are feeling bad and intentionally change your focus.

Let Them Create

When we blame others as the reason for our unhappiness, we can quickly lose empathy for them. Once that happens, we subconsciously give ourselves permission to treat them badly, or just generally have a negative vibe concerning them, and a cycle of negativity begins. This is not a good foundation for enjoyable relationships or connection with others.

Instead, realize that other people are simply having a different emotional experience, and that is to be expected. Everyone is coming from unique perspectives. We all have challenges that take time to recognize and to learn from. Instead of pointing out the idiocy you see in others, change your focus. Don’t comment on it under your breath or encourage others to focus on something negative. Free yourself up to focus on something you do like. That is the beginning of something powerful.

We can learn to be more patient with ourselves and with others.

You can’t change others, but you can change your thoughts and feelings about them. You must clearly understand that you cannot control how others feel. Why would you want to? Don’t push against them when you can be doing something so much more beneficial to yourself. When you release them to their own creations, you free yourself up to focus on yours. There is no more joy in this world than focusing on what you want and creating it.

Control Your Focus

It is imperative to be disciplined about where we focus in order to have satisfying relationships.

Don’t let your mind wander to those things that you find annoying about them at the moment. Instead, cut them a break. Have a general statement at the ready when you begin to go off in a negative direction about someone. Say to yourself, “I’m sure they’re doing their best,” or “Easy does it, focus elsewhere.” The important thing is to release yourself from going on a long dialog about how they suck.

Control your focus to feel good. It’s the only thing you do have control of. You can’t control others or at-the-moment situations you find yourself in, but you can control what you think about and give your attention to.

You can create a new and improved experience with people you consider yourself “stuck” with too. Just start a new habit of appreciating their strengths. Notice and remember what you liked about them when you first met them. Get clear on what you want to see in them. What you like about them. Look for the smallest indication of it and truly appreciate it.

Believe in those around you. Believe in the best of them to see more of it. Do the same for yourself, and do that first! Every accomplishment and thing of beauty comes about because somebody believed in somebody.

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Life Improved: Health

Can you appreciate the idea of wellness as a natural state of being? Remind yourself throughout the day to relax, allow, and enjoy.

What can you appreciate about your body? Even as you are out and about working or having fun, there is so much your body is taking care of without you needing to direct it. Your heart beats, you breathe, your muscles work, your feet take you where you want to go. Your eyes see, your ears hear, and on and on. Your body is amazing!

Your needs are unique. Maybe what is promoted to the general public will feel great for your body, maybe it won’t. That doesn’t mean anything is wrong or amiss with your body. It just means that now is the time to learn what works best for you. Some factors to consider – sleep, diet, exercise, stress, fun. Most importantly, when you identify something you can do that helps you feel good, stick with it! Integrate it into your daily self-care ritual. Make it a habit that runs on autopilot for you.

Often unhappiness about body appearance comes about after comparing ourselves to others. So don’t play that game. To do so is to take the first step toward the portal for an ego trip that turns anxious mind loose. Instead of starting off down that dark rabbit hole, remember, you are unique, incomparable even.

Whatever you like about yourself, appreciate that specifically and often. The most important thing is that you feel good. Take it easy on yourself. Pay attention to your emotions and do something about it when you notice you aren’t feeling good — change your focus! Be open and expansive about allowing yourself to feel good.

You Are Where You Are

Your old story may not be helping you. What do you repeat in your head about yourself and to others? Are you thinking and talking about what you like about yourself? Are you retelling stories about your struggles? If so, now is the time for a new, more positive story.

It’s not easy to let go of how you’ve been thinking but if you want different results, it’s worth the effort. You are where you are, but at anytime you can start again. It doesn’t matter what happened before. What matters is what happens next, and your results going forward are directly related to feeling good now.

The easiest way to improve your body is to accept where you are with an understanding that all can be better. Stop beating up on yourself. Be hopeful instead. It doesn’t have to be a struggle. You can move forward with inspired steps pulling you through instead of by pushing yourself forward with the force of will alone. You can feel good about what you are doing, and the improvements you are making. Try it. The difference will astound you!

Create habits of thinking where you catch yourself feeling unhappy then say to yourself, “Things are as they are and feeling down doesn’t help me.” Then proceed to talk yourself up, or visualize yourself up to a happier feeling, or imagine how you want to feel. Most importantly, know that things are improving. Feel enthusiasm regarding the good feelings coming to you.

Know that more health and wellness is coming to you when you can feel good even if only for a little bit at first. Each time you practice you will become better and better at feeling good and recognizing inspiration to take the next step towards what you want.

Die Only Once

Let go of anxiety and worry. It’s not motivational. Instead, it tends to stop any momentum you do have. Worry, anxiety, and fear don’t help. There are far better ways to spend your time and energy.

Often changing your outlook makes all the difference. Much more is good than is not good. Keep your mind on the good and what you are creating going forward. Do your best to change your thinking so that you can feel good to great most of the time.

Most of us have been taught to ignore our emotions, or to control our emotions, or that emotions are uncontrollable. Unlearn those ideas! Tuning into how you feel is crucial. Use your emotions to adjust your focus to feel better. Emotions point us to what we are thinking and where we are focusing. That’s it! Don’t give emotions much more meaning that that. They simply let us know to change focus when feeling bad, or to focus on more of the same even figuring out how to bump it up a notch when feeling good. There is always another level.

Feeling better is always the goal. What you are thinking influences how you feel. What you focus on and how you think about it directly affects how you feel. So periodically throughout the day, take note of how you feel. Doing so is like taking a measurement that helps you adjust your focus and your thinking so that you feel good…and feeling good is of utmost importance.

Simple Tools and Tactics

  • A happiness collection can be helpful. Make your own scrapbook of happy things which can be an actual book or a web-based collection, such using Pinterest or Evernote. Gather your favorite music, poems, song lyrics, pictures, and videos. Write out or speak reminders of your happiest memories and visualizations of good things to come. If you notice you are feeling down, go to your happiness collection and pump yourself up a notch or two. It can be a great distraction that can help stop negative momentum and maybe even turn it around.
  • Realize that feeling overwhelmed is often due to thinking too far ahead or thinking about things you can’t do too much about right now for whatever reason. The cure for overwhelm is to reign in your focus. Switch to a general knowing that it will all work out. Allow yourself to feel comfortable and confident about where you are now in the process. Recognize your achieved progress as persistent small steps in the right direction at the right time.
  • Feel the future, it’s so easy! Imagine the flow. Feel the momentum and the perfect timing. How do you want to feel in 10 years? How about next year? How about tomorrow? How about now?
  • Make a want list. There are many beautiful things all around you. Lovely things to want, lovely people to meet. Did you know that it is good to want? Life would quickly become boring if you had everything you wanted all at once. Keep making your want list, it pulls life through. You still have stuff you want, and that’s good, great even! What we want comes to us in stages throughout life. So make your list. Keep track of all the things you want to experience. While you are at it, list how you want to feel too. All that you want is on the way to you as long as you can feel good about what you want. Careful that you aren’t aching for what you want. The challenge is to enjoy wanting. Make the want list game a daily practice and you will find yourself feeling good more often and life improving. Be patient and let all that you want come to you and have fun choosing along the way. Care enough about yourself to control your focus. Imagine how you will feel when you have what you want and choose to feel that now. Get jazzed about all the experiences you want to have and what you want to create and go with that feeling as long as you can for a few minutes each day.

Improved health begins with knowing it is possible and believing you can tap into that kind of abundance. Then move to some visualization. See yourself in those shoes and feel it in your body as if you were already there. Daydream just for fun. It’s so fun to play with ideas of what you can choose, what you will create going forward. Enjoy dreams of all that you want. Savor how it feels to play with those ideas. It’s good work for improving health! Play with these ideas daily to establish good momentum for improving health and wellness.

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Pay attention to what you’re focusing on. This one thing can do wonders to increase your satisfaction in life almost immediately.

First understand that what you focus on affects how you feel.

If what you’re thinking about makes you feel bad, it affects your energy level in a bad way. It lowers your vibe. If you’re thinking about something that makes you feel bad, you will quickly start to feel stressed or tired or just generally have a bad attitude.

On the other hand, if what you’re thinking about makes you feel good, it affects your energy level in a good way. It raises your vibe! It doesn’t matter if what you’re thinking about it is true or not. What matters is if it helps you feel good.

So, for example, use this to enhance your career. If thinking about the weekend makes you feel good, then spend a few seconds periodically daydreaming about your free time. But if thinking about the weekend makes you feel bad because you want it to be the weekend now, or it makes you yearn for the weekend, then avoid thoughts about the weekend. Choose to focus on something that makes you feel good instead.

Here is another example. On an old episode of Dancing with the Stars, Olympian Evan Lysacek was being coached by his dancing pro Anna Trebunskaya. Evan was a top notch technician but was not good at showing emotion in his dancing. Anna asked him, “What makes you happy?” Evan mumbled something about cars then said as his face lit up, “my baby nephew!”

He then proceeded to show his coach cute little videos of his nephew on his phone. He was smiling and laughing the whole time. Anna capitalized on that reaction and brought it to his attention. Long story short, he danced like a whole new man in that week’s competition. Even more importantly, he now knows a trick (shall we say, a Jedi mind trick?) for something to focus on when he notices he is not feeling as good as he could.

You can do the same to enhance your life. Gather some “go to” thoughts you can use to switch your thinking when you notice you’re dragging. Keep a list of thoughts you can try to change your focus when necessary. Maybe it’s a favorite memory, a song you love, or silently reciting a list of who loves you. There is always something you can focus on for a few seconds to raise yourself to a more positive vibe. Find it and focus there to notice a new perspective on life nearly immediately.

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