Posted by: Tracy Barsamian Ventola | November 23, 2015

Staying Put.

k and l at the park.JPGIn some ways, it’s been a tough fall.  Our two original homeschool family friends have announced their decisions to move.  One family’s headed home to North Carolina at the end of the year.  And the other is planning their adventures in Vermont.

I wouldn’t trade one second of my friendships with either of these mamas.  Every minute of the past two(ish) years in their company has been a gift.  They taught me so much about parenting and how to better care for my family.  They were my ambassadors to homeschooling.  I am so grateful.  Though I am so happy for them and the dreams that they’re following, their leaving is difficult.  Because of all the joy they’ve brought into my life, I am so sad to say goodbye.

But while these friendships change shape…and become more long-distance than daily…something wonderful has also happened this fall.  We’ve made lots of new, wonderful homeschool friends.  Some families are new to homeschooling and some are just “new to us”!  My healer extraordinaire is always saying that we just need to trust that the universe will provide exactly what we need, exactly when we need it.  And this fall, for the very first time, I’m starting to believe it.

The other HUGE (certainly related) lesson I’m learning this fall is the power of staying.  Staying as opposed to leaving.  Staying put – exactly where I am.  Staying is not my strong suit.  I dream about moving all the time.  I dream about new and improved lifestyles.  A move to Cambridge to live the urban life.  We’d all wear black and be super-hip.  We’d ditch our cars and walk everywhere.  We’d just call (these new fangled!) Ubers whenever necessary.  Other times I dream about moving to Montague and living this hippie-homesteader kinda existence.  But here’s the thing.  Wherever we move, I’ll still be me.  I won’t change.  My new surrounding won’t make me different.  To quote Jon Kabat-Zinn, “Wherever You Go, There You Are”.  I only read about 25% of the book and although it’s not a page turner, I do think the title sums up one my major life lessons perfectly.

And actually…things are really good right exactly where I am!  I’m happy.  Happier than I’ve ever been before.

And we already did this whole move in search of a new lifestyle thing.  We moved much closer to the city, much closer to the action.  We left Sharon to go to the Waldorf School, but also because I just did not feel like we fit in there.  And while it was true that we didn’t match the larger Sharon demographic, we had carved out a beautiful little cozy community for ourselves.  We had made wonderful friends there.  Friends with whom we will remain in touch forever.  But I was so focused on what I didn’t like…on what made me uncomfortable…that I couldn’t fully receive that amazing gift that was being offered to me.  The universe was giving me exactly what I needed, exactly when I needed it.  But I couldn’t receive it.  I couldn’t even see it.  Instead, I searched for something new, hoping that the perfect place would fill me up.

And ‘ya know what the irony is?  We don’t really fit into Arlington either!  Arlington is much less diverse than Sharon, so we actually fit in even more poorly here!  So what am I going to do?  Take my family on a moving tour of New England in search of some mystical needle in a haystack town that will be so perfect that it will solve all our problems?

Here’s the thing.  What if it’s not about fitting in, but rather it’s about being comfortable in my own skin?  Being my true, authentic self.  I am not my most authentic self all of the time.  I try to be!  But sometimes I lose my confidence and fall back into my “smaller to fit-in self”.  That’s my challenge:  to be my authentic self all the time.  Not to find this perfect place that will make me feel so comfortable that I’ll become a happier, more complete person.  And so, I am making the commitment to stay.  To stay put in Arlington.  And to love the hell out of my wonderfully imperfect town!  I am going to appreciate my beautiful neighborhood full of some of the most sincerely kind and generous people I’ve ever met.  I’m going to notice every day all the ways my home is charming and sanctuary-like and appreciate its proximity to the library, awesome restaurants, and the 77 bus to Harvard Square!

The reality is that we have to drive to find our homeschool community.  And the reality appears to be that there is a lot of turnover in the homeschool community.  Those are two really hard things.  But at the end of the day, we love homeschooling way too much to even consider a more mainstream path.  And instead of searching for a fictitious town where all the families are Pagan homeschoolers, we’ll stay here.  And we won’t be the same as all our neighbors.  Instead we’ll focus on being our most authentic selves, as that appears to be a far more direct path to happiness than moving.

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