Wandering with my eyes and heart open, searching for pieces to add to my own personal big picture.

Tag: homeschooling

How To Read A Book: New Read

Four straight months of daily posts, you guys. That’s a personal record. And now I’m facing a dilemma. Do I keep going? Part of me loves habits, the other part loathes them.

Should I keep writing daily? Yes, I believe so, but what? Posting about what I’m reading doesn’t seem to be catching anyone’s eyeballs or interest, but it is what I love and that’s why I started this blog in the first place. I wanted to share my daily thoughts about the books I read. I learn more than what the author originally intended when I read. Every book I read triggers new ideas and memories, links one thought to another, and pushes me forward. How do I do a better job of conveying those ideas here?

Should I change my posting schedule? For the past four months, I’ve been posting every day what I wrote that morning after I read. It’s more of a stream of consciousness, triggers, and reactions, than planned thought and ideas. I don’t know what I’ll end up telling you every day. Is there a way to change that?

Should I take some time off from posting completely, but keep writing daily? THAT is what I think I’ll do in May. I’ll keep reading and writing every day, and then work toward a more manageable posting schedule to start in June. For the month of May, I would like to commit to one post a week to keep myself accountable though, I’m just not sure what that post would entail. Maybe only posting when I start or finish a book?

So, my faithful reader, you may not hear from me much the next few weeks, but rest assured, I am not dead.

how to read a book

I’ll leave you today with the book I began reading yesterday, How to Read A Book: The Art of Getting a Liberal Education by Mortimer J. Adler. This author was a bit of hero of mine when I started homeschooling 18 years ago…sheesh, I just said that, scary. I first heard of him when I heard Oliver DeMille speak at my first homeschool conference. That presentation changed the way I looked at education and how I ended up educating my kids and myself.

Reading great books was the basis of our whole system. No curriculum, no testing, no writing essays or answering detailed questions. We simply read books, any and all books, together every day. We talked about them, questioned the story and what the author intended, looked up words we didn’t know. We found other books (both fiction and non-fiction), movies, and documentaries, related to what we were reading. And we learned so much.

I found this book in a friend’s collection of giveaways and saved it for myself. I’ve decided to read it now because I feel like I need a reminder of why I read, and a refresher course on how.

Sitting here, writing this, I’m not sure where I’m going, both with my reading and this blog. And writing? Well, I’m not sure that’s my main focus anymore. I just don’t know. What I need is some quiet focus time and I’ve never been very good at that.

Do I need a goal, a reason to write here? Do I need a purpose at all? I’m not sure that I do. Can’t my reading and writing follow my interests the way my mind and heart always has? It seems to have served me well this far.

The Way Back Machine – An Origin Story

You know about the “Way Back Machine,” don’t you?

The Way Back Machine
Set the Wayback Machine to…

When I did a search for “way back machine,” looking for Mr. Peabody and his boy, I found out that others are using the same words to refer to internet archiving. Internet Archive Wayback Machine is just one of them. The fascinating things you learn when you simply type a few words into an internet search engine!

It all started when I didn’t think I’d have anything to write about today. I thought, “You know, I should go back to my old blog and look around, see where I’ve been.” I did, and I found something interesting. I decided to use some of it as a post here, so I copied and pasted a few things together. It wasn’t that long ago, only 2015, that I started that blog. It wasn’t my first.

My first was pre-social media and consisted mostly of what my kids were doing, where we went, what we were reading, etc. I’d read in a homeschool forum (you remember forums, don’t you?) that blogging was a great way to document the journey if you weren’t using a traditional curriculum of textbooks and written tests.

It certainly was that and a great way to show friends and family what we were up to since we didn’t have school functions to go to or report cards to brag about. I enjoyed doing it and it brought me much peace of mind in those moments when I felt like we weren’t really DOING anything. I just scrolled back through those posts and could see all the places we’d been, all the books we had read together, and the conversations we’d had.

As the kids got older, and Facebook took the place of my blogging, I used that to communicate more often and lost interest in blogging. Most people these days don’t read anything more than a few words anyway. Paragraphs on Facebook were a waste of my energy. I posted pictures and quips instead, to document where we’d been and what we were up to.

But then something else happened. My sons were growing up and moving on to their own lives, undirected by me. With all that spare time, I began to broaden my own education, reading and studying more myself, and I felt like I needed a place to share more of that journey instead of my kids’ homeschool one. I decided to go back to blogging. That’s when I started Roadrunner Musings.

Here’s my first post from there.

April 29, 2015
What am I doing here?

Simply, it is this. I read a lot. I think a lot. I don’t get a chance to talk a lot. I use my personal Facebook page as a scrapbook and have it printed at the end of each year, so I don’t want a load of political and philosophical ramblings all through it. Besides, sometimes I’d rather not know if my friends and family disagree with my thinking. I think I’ll just post it here…sort of anonymously…and see where it goes.

I’m not much of a writer but I do have somethings rolling around in my head that I’d like to get out to the world, not just in my journal.

Let’s see what happens.

And here we are over six years later and not much has changed. Well, yes it has. My new blog, the selfhosted one you are reading now, was started in 2018. At first, I continued with the theme of “random thoughts,” but it quickly evolved itself to focus on the books I’m reading, and my thoughts and ideas connected to those books. I wouldn’t exactly call it a traditional book blog, but that’s the general idea.

I still enjoy writing about what I’m reading and sharing it here. It helps me keep on track, remember what I’ve read, and connect those books with other ideas. I feel like I’m become better at it. And I’m beginning to get better organized at posting. As a retired homeschool mom and housewife, it makes me feel more connected with the world. And before you start to think, “You should actually connect with the world, Michelle. Get a job, join a club, something.” That’s just not my style. I’m happiest and most productive with fewer group activities, less social obligation. It’s taken me a long time to realize and accept that and I’m not going back.

One more positive outcome of the Covid pandemic is that more people are accepting of my decision to stay at home, away from people. That reminds me that I need to write a post about THAT! “Top Ten Positives about the Covid Pandemic (no matter where you are on the political scale)” That will have a link next week. I promise you that!

Using the way back machine (my old blogs, journals, photos, etc.) has helped me make a little sense of where I am right now. It’s put some things into perspective and eased my heart and mind a bit.

What’s up for the next half of 2021? I’m not sure. For now, I’ll keep posting about My Precious, I mean my reading. And I think I’ll be going through and sharing old posts with some commentary updates in the future as well. It’ll be a combination of the old and the current. Maybe it will help me evolve into the next iteration of this blog.

Like the Buddha says, “Nothing is forever, except change.”

Can More Faith in Yourself Lead to More Faith in Others?

faith in yourself quote with background image

“Only the person who has faith in himself is able to be faithful to others, because only he can be sure that he will be the same at a future time as he is today and, therefore, that he will feel and act as he now expects to.”

The Art of Loving by Erich Fromm

Find the book on Amazon, HERE!

Loving others starts with having faith in yourself.

We simply lived without school. But that doesn’t mean that we didn’t learn. The outcome proves that.

My sons are both out on their own, living productive lives. One traveled Europe, and now has a good job with potential for growth, along with his own car and apartment. He’s 20 years old. The other has been at community college here in town for two years, working, and has his own car. He’s transferring to university next semester and will be leaving the state to live in the dorm and focus on his studies for the next couple of years.

What did we do instead of school?

Our faith in our own drive to learn led me to believe my children had that same drive.

We lived and learned together. We read books, watched movies, built things, went places. We talked and laughed and loved together. We cried and fought, worked things out as best we could so that everyone had their space and got as much as they wanted without stepping on anyone else’s toes. I rarely said no to things they wanted to try out. I spent a lot of time searching for new experiences, and then making it possible to do them. It wasn’t easy, but it was worth it.

I had faith in them from the moment they were born. I knew myself and so did their father. We didn’t need an authority to guide, protect, and direct our lives. What we wanted more of growing up was less direction and more support, so that’s what we gave our kids. We knew they would find their own unique way to adulthood if we gave them a loving and supportive home, if we led by example and followed our own interests, served our own needs, without sacrificing anyone else’s lives in the process.

I had faith in them because I had faith in myself.

And I have faith in others because I have that faith in myself. I know that others can take responsibility for themselves and their families if they want to. I’m not special. My family is not special. We are not more intelligent or lucky than anyone else. The only thing that is different is that, for some reason, we have faith in ourselves.

Real love starts with you loving yourself, believing in yourself, and taking responsibility for your own life. And no one can give that to you. I believe all of us have the ability, but somewhere along the line we have lost the knowledge of it.

I’m telling you that you have it. Start using it.

If you’d like to read more of my thoughts on the book, “The Art of Loving,” check out the following links.
Where Did Our Words For Love Go?
We Cannot Give What We Do Not Have
Learning to Concentrate by Being Alone
How to Parent by Respecting the Individual

You can find “The Art of Loving” by Erich Fromm at Thriftbooks.com.

Have you read this book? If so, leave me a comment. I’d love to hear what you think.


“Four Reasons a Newsletter is Better Than a Social Media Feed”
Bypass the social media algorithms and sign up for my weekly newsletter. Each week will give you a rundown of my favorites posts, podcasts, and few funnies. Read what you want, when you want, without getting sucked into the endless scroll mode!

Why Do I Get Up in the Morning – Episode Three

Not following me on Instagram?
You’re missing out! @desertmichelle

This week’s “Why I get up” crept up on me a little at a time until…POUNCE…I was bowled over.

Last week I got three invitations to answer questions about how to homeschool. Three. I think I got three last year and here I am with three in one week. One email, one phone call, and one meet up. The meet up was the pounce!

I know…you didn’t ask me about homeschooling and I’m not going to tell you how you can or why you should or shouldn’t, don’t worry. Mentioning homeschooling in most circles has much the same response as a “Jesus Juke.” Yes, Jesus may have changed your life, but it doesn’t always apply to everyone in the same personal way.

When you feel something strongly, when you discover something life-changing and fantastic, it’s hard not to share it with the world…loudly. I did that for a long time.

These days I’ve matured (in some ways, shut up), calmed down a bit, and found that, like spiritual matters, parenting and education decisions have to come from inside a person. It’s personal. If someone asks where my kids went to school, I answer honestly. If they are curious and ask questions, I answer them. If they want to know how we did it, I’m happy to discuss it. It’s been a long lesson to learn, but I learned not to bring it up myself. Again, like religious experiences, seekers will find their answers.

The “Why I Get Up” though, that’s the thing I want to tell you and it’s related to those people that reached out to me about homeschooling.

This past week I got three chances to share the joy and love I have for homeschooling, specifically the private “radical unschooling” that we did with our children. There are few things in the world more wonderful than getting to share with others things that have changed your life, hoping that in some small way you are able to pay the universe back for bringing that change into your life.

How did they find me? Because on my blog there is a small page about it and I’m listed as a contact on some small homeschool sites. Finding my name or something I wrote is like finding a penny. It’s not hidden. It’s not all that rare. And it’s value is relative. If you found it and you want it for whatever reason, then it must have been something you were looking for.

I got to spend some of my time this week explaining the rules and encouraging a few people and I’m excited that I may get to do it again. I was also reminded that I should probably put some love into my homeschool page, especially right now with a lot of schools not opening back up in the Fall and a lot of parents looking into alternatives.

Here’s the thing: I’ve always been a positive feedback kind of person. I feel that I need to know that someone out there appreciates what I’m doing to feel good about continuing the work. I found out this week that I should learn to stop that practice if I’m going to have more of an impact in this world.

I should write and post because I have something to say, not because I want applause and kudos. I do enjoy putting my thoughts in order. It’s definitely good for me. I’d much rather talk out my process than write about it, but that’s not always feasible. So here I am tapping away. Lucky for you! I may not get “likes” or “follows.” My website may not reflect all of my actual readers. But my happiness with my work should not depend on that. It should depend only on my own satisfaction.

I love the thought that someone might read this and feel something. I’m thrilled at the thought that, maybe not today, but some time in the future, someone could read what I wrote and use the information or be encouraged to try something new. But that, my sweet, sweet reader, is an awesome side effect if it happens, not the reason why I write.

Writing is a reason I get up in the morning. And the hope that someone will read it, somewhere, someday, that’s just icing on the cake!

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