Where Am I?

Testing, testing…Is anybody still out there in blog-land? I feel like I need to apologize for not being here myself. But supposedly, you’re not supposed to do that, at least according to the blogging gurus. Well, I gave up doing things according to them a long time ago. SO…..sorry I’ve been AWOL! There are reasons, and I want to explain.

Last time I posted, I was getting ready to go to the AmblesideOnline retreat. I thought I would come back and be able to write a post about all I learned. But life got so busy that I just haven’t had the time to do that. But I can say that it was an amazing time. I am still processing and recalling to mind some of the things I heard and learned at the AO Camp Meeting. I am so grateful that I had the privilege to attend!

One of the main reasons I have not had time to get back to blogging again is that at the retreat I started working with some new podcast clients! I am so blessed to be able to serve homeschool veterans Angelina Stanford and Cindy Rollins with their new podcast The Literary Life. They needed someone to build a website, create show notes, and help with other behind the scenes technical work. My husband is taking over their audio editing after Episode 4, but I plan to start doing it myself as soon as I am able to afford a new laptop. It is such a joy to get to work with these two amazing women, not to mention getting to listen to their content before anyone else! 😉 And getting to bless my family by contributing to our finances is a gift, too.

Another thing that is taking up more time these days is homeschooling and building local homeschool community. My son has taken some local enrichment classes at the nature park in our town this spring. We try to attend park days with other Charlotte Mason families a few times a month. And now the kids are both in swimming lessons a couple of times weekly. Plus, I am trying to start a Charlotte Mason moms’ fellowship and study group in our part of Middle TN. Real life community always takes precedence over online life, so I have to make time for that.

But as with many good things, there is a downside. In this case, the more time I spend working online for other people, the less time and creativity I have left for my own blog. Since both of the podcasts I am currently working on drop early in the week, I can no longer keep up my commitment to Wellness Wednesdays, even on a monthly basis. I hope that in some future season, I can come back to that, but right now I just can’t. I am also going to take a break from posting our monthly memory work plans. I have a good year’s worth (maybe more?) of those in the archive, so I feel like it is time to move on from that for the time being.

My hopes is that I can continue blogging on a sporadic basis, and probably most of those posts will be about our homeschool or Charlotte Mason/classical education or books, because those are the areas in my wheelhouse in this season. I hope that if those things interest you, you will hang in there with me even in these quiet times. So, all that to say, if you’ve been wondering where I am these days, that’s what’s going on! See you here again, maybe soon!

Retreat, Refresh, Regroup

This week I have been in eager anticipation of the AmblesideOnline Camp Meeting retreat that is taking place this weekend. Even though the retreat is taking place a mere 30 minutes from my house, I am eager for this opportunity to get away from the normal routine of daily life. Being the first time I have ever left my kids overnight since becoming a mom, I do feel a little bit giddy and yet anxious at the same time. I know they will be fine with their dad here manning the ship, but it is still a big first for this momma! It has been a long time since I was on a “girls’ trip” and slept in a bunk room, but I think it is going to be such fun! And goodness knows, I need a little more fun in my life right now!

As a homeschooling mom, I feel a pretty heavy responsibility for the well-being of my children. After all, I think, who else is to blame but me if they don’t turn out okay? I know I shouldn’t carry around all that weight, since I am not the Holy Spirit, and my kids do have free will, no matter how perfectly I might parents and teach. But the point is, I know I need a break and a chance to be refreshed and to regroup now that we are a few years into our homeschool journey. It will be so good to spend some quality time with other moms who understand each other and have similar goals and passions.

The part I am most looking forward to (besides not having to cook or clean for two whole days!) is gleaning wisdom from older homeschool moms who have the perspective I do not. These women have the long view, and I need them to remind me that this is a journey, not a quick walk around the block. I might not see the fruit today or tomorrow, but someday I will be able to look back and see that despite my imperfections, I have been exactly the mother my children needed. And God will use even my mistakes and missteps for His purposes.

So, here I am on the eve of retreat, going over my packing list again, trying to decide how many books I really ought to take, pondering whether to make a batch of flourless brownies or peanut butter cookies (or both!), and wondering what knitting project I want to start and take along to work on during talks. And I am looking forward to this gift of time to retreat, refresh and regroup. I will be back here next week to give you a report on how it all goes!

March 2019 Memory Work Plans

Here we are, marching into March already! I must say that February simply flew by around here, excepting the part of the month in which it seemed to rain for a week straight. (We did get over 13 inches of rain here in Middle TN in February, so I didn’t exactly imagine all that water!) I had to scramble to get this month’s memory work in order for today, though to be honesty, we won’t actually use it until next week. No need to start a new batch on a Friday, in my opinion! But I wanted to get it out semi-on time for you all anyway. I do want to apologize that this month there will not be a free printable, though. I have been thinking about the fact that several of the texts I am using this month are not technically in the public domain, even if they can be found online. So I am just going to link to what I can and leave it at that. I hope you enjoy learning some of these songs, hymns and texts along with your own family this March!

March Memory Work:

Prayer: a Morning Collect from The Book of Common Prayer
Hymn: What Wondrous Love is This
Folksongs: Leatherwing Bat, My Bonnie Lies Over the Ocean
Poetry: Spring by Harry Behn
Scripture: Colossians 3:12-13
Catechism: Questions 13 and 14 from the New City Catechism (children’s version)
Motto: Family Way #8 from Our 24 Family Ways

Why Can’t I Write About the Books I Love?

Earlier in the month I finished reading The Good Earth by Pearl S. Buck, and I have been wanting to write some of my thoughts about it ever since. The book moved me and has given me much about which to think, so it should be easy to write a post on it. Every time I think of it, however, the words just will not come.

Why is it so hard for me to write about books that I love? This is certainly not the first time I have struggled with the words to express how a book has impacted me. When I read My Antonia I had a similar struggle, and Watership Down is another book that I thought deeply about long after but could not find a way to put those thoughts down in black and white.

Perhaps one reason I have trouble writing about the books I love is that I don’t have a literary education, and I am not sure of the terms to use to talk about them. I feel somehow to discuss themes and structure and setting and all because I have no formal education in these things. All I know about literature has been picked up from places like the Circe Close Reads podcast or the Center for Lit podcast. Otherwise, my only qualification to talk about books is that I just love them so much.

And because I love books, I have trouble talking about them. It is almost as if the thoughts and feelings that I have about stories that I love feel too close and personal in some ways for me to express. Books have a way of getting to my heart in a way that other media don’t, especially fiction. The characters and settings somehow become a part of my personal experience, and I have a hard time telling others about that experience, even when I really want to do just that.

Reading The Good Earth was an incredibly moving experience, being part of the intensely human story of Wang Lung, the farmer, and his family. I felt like I was there watching his life unfold through all the trials and successes, the joy and the immense tragedy. But how can I tell you all my thoughts as I process this book? I hope that one day I will learn how to write about the books I love.

In the meantime, I will just have to content myself with recommending you read them, too! So, go get your hands on a copy of The Good Earth, and be prepared for a heart-wrenching story of the human condition. You can await my next report, in which I will likely have another book that I have come to love deeply and can’t find words for, because I have just started reading Willa Cather’s O Pioneers!, and I’ve already been feeling swept off my feet!

Wellness Wednesday: Healing the Mind in a Distracted World

Welcome to the February installment of Wellness Wednesday here at Tuning Hearts! This month I wanted to dig a little deeper and write about some of the things I have been learning as regards healing the mind in a distracted world. Those who have been following me for a while now know that in October I started taking an extended break from social media. Since then, I have also been reading a few books on the topic of internet and media usage, distraction versus deep work, and the control we have in maintaining our mental and physical health.

Three of the most influential books for me on this topic have been Switch on Your Brain:The Key to Peak Happiness, Thinking and Health by Dr. Caroline Leaf, The Shallows: What the Internet is Doing to Our Brains by Nicholas Carr, and Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World by Cal Newport.

In Switch on Your Brain, Dr. Leaf gives a compelling argument from neuroscience research that we actually change our brains physically as we think. When we think positive, true and worthy thoughts, our brains grow new healthy tissue and send signals to our bodies that actually help us stay physically healthy as well. Conversely, when we dwell on negative or toxic thoughts, our brains make unhealthy connections and weaken, even changing our DNA to release disease and dysfunction in our bodies. It’s truly fascinating stuff! I found her ideas on taking control of our thought lives and choosing what we tell ourselves and what we allow to get “stuck” in our brains (and therefore, in our bodies) truly encouraging and challenging. I have not yet tried the “21-Day Brain Detox” method that she recommends in the later portion of the book, but I am definitely going to in the near future.

Going along with that idea of choosing what we let into our minds, when I read Carr’s book The Shallows, I was struck by how easily we let media of all sorts determine what we think about. It was rather sobering. As much as I appreciate the ease of the internet, I do see how much it can be a detriment to my own mental health, and I know I’m not the only one. The fast pace of the internet alone is a real threat to our ability to stay focussed on one thing at a time for a long period of time. During these months that I have been off social media, I have seen my attention for reading books grow a good deal. Yet, I still feel that pull to check email, news headlines or a homeschool parents’ forum to which I belong. Even just picking up my phone at random spare seconds throughout the day shows me how distracted I have become since I started using a smartphone. It is something I know I will always be working on now that these devices have become a seemingly inseparable part of our daily lives.

Cal Newport argues for kicking some of this constant connectivity to the curb in Deep Work, particularly as it relates to creatives and professionals. This book was a little harder to apply to my current life as a stay at home mother and homeschool teacher, at least as far as the practical rules of tuning out distraction in order to work in a professional setting. But the principles of clearing the clutter of connectivity from email, social media and the like still do apply. I can choose to focus on my children and my work here at home and my inner thought life instead of allowing the virtual world to encroach on my mental space and energy so much of the time. And I have found that when I keep the media distractions to a minimum, I do make more time for my creative pastimes and have a greater capacity for stillness and quiet.

To sum it all up, if we want to have better mental health (which is interconnected with emotional and physical wellness), we need to reduce the time we spend scrolling and increase our awareness and intention toward our thought life. I know that just being more alert to where I am placing my attention and how much time I am spending in distracted activities has been helpful to my state of mind.

How about you? Do you see a connection in your life between mental health and distraction and/or internet usage? I would love to continue the conversation in the comments!


Want to link up? I would love to read your thoughts on your own health and wellness journey! Follow the instructions below to join the link-up and share!

How to participate:

  1. Write a post on a topic related to wellness, and add your link to the list below.
  2. Grab the Wellness Wednesday logo graphic below and put it in your linked post, also with a blurb mentioning and linking back to that week’s link-up.
  3. Please stop by at least two other participants’ blogs and leave a comment on their Wellness Wednesday posts. This doesn’t take long, and it is really encouraging and helpful for building community and continuing the conversation!

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