When I first heard about Wild + Free, I was thrilled. I felt like I had met my people, my tribe. People who feel that kids should spend a great deal of time outdoors, letting their imaginations run wild as they learn through play and nature. They are also people who have a fierce love of great books, books that make your soul come alive. I have been homeschooling for 6 years and have yet to go to a conference, but I knew this was the one.
I wrote this back in November, but the blog wasn't fully up at that point. I wanted to post it now for two reasons, one, I still need to keep my ideals aligned with reality and two, I love the growth that took place between the two conferences and the vastly different outlook I went into the second one with. The first conference in November filled my heart, but I felt discontent with my life and uncertain of what living wild + free would look like in my life. As I walked into the most recent conference in May, I had a much better grasp on what wild + free meant to me and how I can live that out in my life. I will talk about that towards the end. But first, back to the writing from the first conference.
The conference was fabulous, inspiring, and beautiful.
The speakers as well as the girl time were a breath of fresh air. It was held in Colonial Williamsburg in the Fall, need I say more. It was gorgeous.
I knew going in that there would be an abundance of ladies that live on farms, live beautifully simple lives, and spend an enormous amount of time in nature. They are living my ideal! I wasn't sure how that would influence me at the conference and after the first night I was struggling with how to be content with the life I am living. I was feeling grateful to learn from these women and surround myself with these women living out their dreams. I also felt like a fraud. I want my kids to build forts outside but the closest we get are blanket forts in the living room. I loved chatting with the lady who hopes to travel in a "green" RV. I've thought it would be great fun to pack up and road trip for a year, but I don't see that in my future and I would definitely not be thinking about being green. I questioned if I really belonged. I feel like on a scale of 1-10 where I am living wild + free, it would be a 3. Is it because my lack of focus and drive? Circumstances? Do these ladies all come from a breed of homesteaders/farmers and not suburbanites? I don't even like killing spiders, yuck!
After fully processing my time at the conference I realized that my biggest takeaway was how beautifully unique we each are. So, I spent some time aligning my ideals with reality and gained a whole new perspective on my life. (following wild + free on IG has been a whole other beast)
The image in my head would have us living on land, with a pond, a few chickens, and maybe a goat if I was brave enough. We would spend our days around the fire reading good books and drinking hot chocolate and when we weren't doing that the kids would be frolicking outside, building, pretending, exploring. Learning would come through living and good books. We would have a lovely garden where we gather our food for dinner, eating with the seasons. The children helping me to cook every night. There would probably be a lot less bickering and a lot fewer messes. I highly value the simplicity of a life on a farm, the routine, working with my hands and being in nature. Every person playing their part.
We live in a planned community, in the burbs. We have two beta fish. I homeschool each kid separately, my oldest does most of her schooling on her own and more often than not school feels like a task we are all checking off to move on to "other" things. The kids do play outside a lot, but it is on our well-manicured, fenced-in lawn with a pool and wooden play set. I cook dinner during the week when we are in a routine and I have the mental space to plan, shop, cook, etc. If not, we snack or get take-out. We do try to eat clean/organic, but the garden will have to wait.
The above items are just a fraction of the ideals/vs reality that regularly find their way to my mind.
Ideals are beautiful because they inspire and give hope, but sometimes they need to be adjusted for:
Your current season of life (can I get an amen from moms with littles under 5).
Your family goals
Current finance goals
And so many more
So here is how I have interwoven my ideals into reality
We read aloud almost every night before bed, this is one of my absolute favorite times. We travel a ton and my hubby travels for work so we always try to live within a 30min radius of a major airport. In most places, that does not put us in a country environment. Once I acknowledged that travel is one of our family priorities, I realized how crazy it would be to live on land and have animals. I was then able to let go of that ideal and focus on what we love, travel. Instead of the unrealistic ideal of our kids playing on our "land" and creek, I am going to focus on the fact that they do indeed spend ample time outside. Which is a great thing. There are so many more ideals turned into realities, but for space and time this will have to do.
Fast forward 6 months to the May conference. We had recently moved to TN and although we are still in the burbs and with quite a small yard, there just happens to be a little strip of woods where all of the neighborhood kids build forts. Who knew that living wild + free could happen in the burbs with a super tiny yard. We are in love. Also, we decided to fly our plane out to Long Beach, a flying road trip. I was overwhelmed by the reality that this is our way to adventure, this is our wild + free and I wouldn't trade it for all the farms in the world. When you are able to own your own unique twist on adventure and really live, life and the events therein take on a whole new perspective. I was grounded in who we are as a family, what we love, and how we want to live out our lives. And living from this place leads to a life that flourishes.
There are a host of other topics this brings up, like travel, margin, outside activities, etc. But I will save those for another time…
I would love to hear how you have brought your ideals into your reality. Please let me know in the comments.
For those of you who are at the beginning of fleshing this out, I would love to work with you, just go to the contact tab and send me a message.
I don't know if I'm the only one that feels this way, but I often find myself feeling like I am not enough because I'm not a work at home, stay at home, homeschooling, mompreneur. I admire the women who create beauty with their hands, who have successful blogs, who run amazing coaching businesses, etc. Props to those who are, this isn't to say anything negative about them, and quite honestly, the irony is, I am dipping my feet in the water that may turn me into one.
But, I struggle with the fact that being a stay at home mom no longer feels like enough in our society.
I love being a stay at home mom. I love homeschooling my kids. I love playing a supporting role to my husband. But, I also have this strong need for adventure, to make my mark in this world, and to create something. (Being someone who couldn't pinpoint my strengths and talents for years, I am still in the process of trying things on to see what my sweet spot is)
A little bit about me: I need a ton of margin in my life in order to be able to even function. I am a follower. I am laid back. I love going with the flow and just enjoying life. There really isn't a great point to this paragraph, other than to let you know, you don't have to be type A or incredibly driven to make an impact and be successful in your calling. That just needs to be said.
As with all of life there are seasons, and for about 10 years I was in a season where I felt like I had nothing to offer and where I felt like I wasn't enough. In hindsight, I would tell my younger self, your time will come, you have beautiful gifts and talents and they will bloom at exactly the right time.
But, I didn't have the foresight to see that a season would come where I would have more margin. A season I could spend searching for my strengths, dreaming of what might be created through my life. I spent several years parked in that season. Learning, growing, seeking.
Now that I have more margin and have spent significant time embracing my personality, owning the strengths and weaknesses that God has given me, I have slowly begun to create. Dreaming and creating is life-giving, inspiring, fear-filled, and an adventure. I love having this awakened in me, but I see now that God's timing was perfect. I would have asked to be one of the moms that created something while she had babies at home, but that wasn't for me. I had lessons to learn, growing to do, and I needed the extra margin to focus solely on my family. Any time you add something to your life, something is taken away, that trade off was too much for me.
Are you struggling with feeling like enough in this never enough culture? Are you comparing yourselves to moms who appear to have their act together and are doing it all? Are you hungry to find your God given passions and desires? If so, here are a few steps to start with.
You are enough, right now, in this season. Being a mom is more than enough. You have talents. You have strengths. You have gifts. You can create. You may not know what this looks like now and this may not be the season for it, but it will come.
So for now, start the journey…
I would love to hear in the comments where you are at in your journey and how I can encourage you!
Hey, I'm Julie. I love books, coffee shops, traveling, and exploring. Homeschooling Mama to 4, wife of 15 years. Enjoying the journey and learning to add a bit more of summer into my everyday life.