I returned Sunday from a whirlwind weekend to Portland-- just over forty-eight hours with one of my best friends (and others we connected with)-- where we ate and drank as much as we could and soaked in the inspiration and encouragement of the Wild + Free conference. It was grey, cold, and drizzly all weekend, but that did not put a damper on our experience!
As an amazingly happy accident (slash providential gift), we arrived back home Sunday only to begin Spring Break yesterday. Which means that I get an extra week to process how I want to apply what I learned and continue enjoying the feeling of rest and filling my soul with writing and reading as much as I can before we go back to homeschool.
I thought I'd start here by processing some of my takeaways (and amazing eats). One of the wonderful things about Wild + Free is that even though it's a homeschool community, it's really about more than that. Since we only homeschool part-time, I wouldn't get as much out of it if it was more about the nitty-gritty, so I'm so thankful that it's more a conference for the heart than the curriculum planner.
I'm trying to pull the most practical things out of my notes that I can so I don't neglect to actually make some shifts and changes in our home. So here is my bulleted list of inspirations, encouragements, reminders, and convictions that I received with open arms, mind, and heart.
- Look for "radiant connections" in my relationships (this idea came from Kate DiCamillo, who we love in our family, via Sarah Mackenzie), smile more at my kids, and remember that "slow is fast" in relationships.
- Value stories and the conversations that follow, so that our kids learn not just to know but to care (Sarah Mackenzie)
- My goal is a love of learning, not just achievement. I can make connections between my kids' interests, and the goals for success I have for them. (Julie Bogart)
- "Pixie dust for the enchanted education:" for youngsters-- surprise & delight, mystery, Depth-Awe-Wonder; as they grow a bit older-- risk, Big Hairy Audacious Goals, adventure (Julie Bogart)
- Remember Poetry Tea Time (which we love but have gotten away from)- light, color, whimsy, intimacy, coziness, connection, nourishment (Julie Bogart)
- To let go of: perfectionism, checking all the boxes; to embrace: being in conversations, time together, remembering the big picture. Enjoy the privilege of doing this; the relationship is what will remain. (Jennifer Pepito & Toni Weber)
- Aim to close distance not create distance with my voice (Sharon McKeeman)
- Consider whether they/we engage with life or are satisfied with being amused; pray for a passion for learning in them and me (Terri Woods)
- Great stories include wonder (surprise, admiration, awe, fascination), moral imagination, empathy (nature helps us grow in compassion, stories of sacrifice). (Rea Berg)
The closing keynote speaker (Elsie Iudicello)'s message spoke to me most deeply, in addition to all that listed above. I loved listening to Elsie, and took so much from her. She spoke about finding the good gifts in hardship which was encouragement I needed to hear. Here's the messages God spoke to me through Elsie.
- A hard season is not a wasted season. No one can take joy and beauty from me. All beauty comes from Christ. Hardship hands us the shears to prune away excess.
- My kids are not storage bins for information. "Children are souls to be nurtured." (Andrew Kern)
- Motherhood is not a performance (so "practice makes perfect" doesn't apply).
- I am the atmosphere. I set the tone. I am lead-learner. Focus on truth, beauty, goodness.
- Use rhythm, liturgy, habits to order our affections.
- I can be confidence in my capability because brokenness equips the capable. "Look for the gifts! And let the gifts emanate from your soul."
If you're reading this, maybe you can glean a nugget of truth that will encourage you, too. I'm so thankful for finding the Wild + Free community, and for being able to pull bits of inspiration and apply them to our family life. So many of the W+F mamas are in a different place with homeschool and life, but there's still so much we can glean from one another. Oh! and to be treated to live music from Josh Garrels was a lovely addition to the conference experience (along with the beautiful art museum as the location).
And, as a bonus, here the the amazing food and beverages experiences we had (not to mention the mecca that is Powell's city of books, which I have been posting about on my (new!) bookstagram account: @ya_at_heart), and probably deserves its own post): Pine Street Biscuists, Barista Coffee, Sizzle Pie (with a delicious peach sour beer!), St. Honoré Boulangerie, Picnic House, VooDoo Doughnuts (brought in at the conf!), Stumptown Coffee (natch), McMenamins Kennedy School (with a dear friend from college who lives up there), Blue Star Donuts (the best, hands-down, and Coava coffee served-yum), Fried Egg I'm in Love (fun food cart).
Super thankful for my amazing husband who juggled all the softball and baseball and general chaos at home so I could go and be filled.