Someone asked me today to describe the blog that I keep - what do I write about? What is its purpose? I considered the question carefully; it wasn't an easy one to answer. I read other blogs that have clear focuses: healthy eating, homeschooling, family diaries. I felt like my own blog was a conglomeration of so many things. Sometimes it's a diary for events in our lives. Sometimes it's an outlet for social or political issues. Sometimes it's a journal of personal feelings. Sometimes it's a recipe book. In the end I described it as "whatever touches my heart".
I am printing and binding each year of entries so that I have a collection of journals for my kids and grandkids. What has really touched me about keeping this blog is that it is about a journey. In the same way that C.S. Lewis' letters were able to reveal the transformation that took place within him year to year, I imagine that if one were to read the collection of my blog entries, they would be able to see the small thoughts and events that shaped me into who I became. I'm not sure at what age you "become" who you are. I know I look at adults older than me and have a definite idea of who they are, what they believe, what they stand for. Personally, I feel as though I'm starting a few paces down all the paths before me, wondering which ones I want to take. I've written about homeschooling and healthy eating and child-rearing and political involvement and arts and education and social issues. I've read and learned a lot. I love to hear both sides of the story - balance and understanding are definitely key to who I am now.
I read about education and talked to parents and kids who attend home school, private school, catholic school and public school. Although I didn't opt for homeschooling, as I thought I might when I started looking into it, the things I learned have definitely changed the way I will educate my kids.
I read about healthy eating. I was surprised to find myself much farther on the line of natural foods than I thought I would. I'm not all the way over, eating only organic, eschewing fast food, banning junk food. But I bake my own bread, don't generally buy prepared foods, and rarely buy snack foods. I am hoping to plant my own garden to grow my own vegetables. I am excited to can and preserve my own food. I don't feel radical, but in comparison I've been told that I am much farther on the natural foods side than most.
My child-rearing ideas have actually not changed all that much, despite the constant saturation in so many different methods. I'm a fairly moderate and easy-going mom. And I think much of my own philosophies stem from my own mother. She passed on to me the idea that kids need to be independent, that they will learn and grow best when they do their own discoveries. The one book that has most influenced me was Merrilee Boyack's "The Parenting Breakthrough". Everything she wrote resonated deeply with me, and as she also raised boys, I was inspired by her methods, and her results.
My religious and spiritual ideas have widened. It is in this area that my passion for balance and understanding most overtly present themselves. I have seen so much division between the different sects, each willing to serve the "godless", and yet so frightened to interact with those of other faiths. I have a deep yearning to read and learn and converse and discuss with those of other faiths. I want to learn about Catholicism from a Catholic, Islam from a Muslim, Buddhism from a Buddhist. I want to unite with anyone who wants to make a difference in this capitalistic and self-centered world and really DO something about it. I think that if those whose focus is service and charity were to unite together we would be an unstoppable force for good. My own personal spirituality has deepened considerably as I find my firm footing in my faith. This is likely the most definitive of all my journeys.
Socially and politically I feel as though I am an infant. I feel unduly influenced by media and experts, swayed easily from one point of view to another by a powerful speaker. I yearn to retreat into a small-town, Amish-like existence, and yet struggle with the idea that I need to stand up and be a force for good against the negativity around me. I don't even feel like I've taken any steps in these areas, just wandering by all the paths and straining to see where they might lead.
I do feel that over the years, I have been humbled incredibly. The sureness of youth that appears as haughtiness has melted away. I recall a favourite children's book that describes the late teen/early 20s as being a time when everything is so obviously in black and white, but as one matures they more clearly see the world in the shades of gray it really is.
The one thing I've noticed about this blog is that I'm gradually shedding the impartiality I started with. I have a propensity to privacy, and ability express thoughts without betraying feelings. I've come to care less about the level of exposure of myself to others. Those who are reading this are friends and family, genuinely interested in who I am really, not just who I can present myself as. They may read much more about me than they would ever learn in person, but I am open to this level of nakedness, knowing that deep friendships come from sharing deep thoughts and feelings. And deep friendships are to be cherished in this increasingly detached world.
I'm not sure I would ever be the best one to look back on my journaling and judge the distance I've come or the paths I've taken. But I definitely sense a space from where I was and where I am. I'm grateful for this medium that will mean I have a record of my life.