Update…

Blog posts have been far and few between around here lately. We have been busy!

To catch everyone up a little, we are still in Albania. We love it here and are keeping it as our home base for an extended period of time. We are still traveling, so look for photos and videos on social media and Youtube!

Cosmo has recently began working as an English news anchor for Ora News of Tirana. He is on air Monday through Friday at 6:00 pm. He is also still teaching English and involved in various volunteer activities. 

All of the children have been active in studies and various interests including volunteering.

I have been making attempts at writing and getting my health back on track. I am beginning to see the real benefits of healthful and simple living and am enjoying the discovery of my own potential!

One of my most important activities is forming the Bohemian Habitat, an NGO (an nonprofit organization independent of government), to offer displaced children education and access to arts, healthful living and, as an alternative to traditional orphanages and foster care, offer greater opportunities for successful independent living into adulthood. The Bohemian Habitat will offer utilize the arts to help children overcome the trauma and stigma often associated with being displaced, as well as stimulate creativity and imagination to increase the potential for success Our goal is to bring peace and harmony into lives that have been disrupted by pain and suffering.

Part of establishing The Bohemian Habitat has been relocating to a much larger home! We now have 3 levels of living space:

• The Theatre level for performance arts, movement and exercise
• The Art level with an art studio constantly being added to for inclusion of all visual arts from painting, photography, sculpture, etc.
• The Living level, with living and dining areas, a study and a kitchen.

The dining area is being developed into a café-like atmosphere, with an area for lounging, self-service tea and coffee and can flow into the balcony and garden with the beautiful weather on our way! Each level has a small island for self-service tea and beverages. There are balconies on each floor that will be equipped with tables and chairs for café-style outdoor relaxation. The bedrooms are large and when the house is fully furnished and functional, can accommodate many. The entire space is light and airy with a very calm vibe and with plenty of garden space to be developed, it will definitely become a peaceful retreat for all.

Coming soon! Look for several posts that will answer some of the many questions about our family, lifestyle and the Bohemian Habitat.

Peace and blessings to all ~

Worthiness – Is it worth the cost?

“Too many people overvalue what they are not and undervalue what they are.” Malcolm S. Forbes

Worthy. It’s a word we don’t use often in common everyday conversations. Is it because we don’t have a reason, or because it’s not something we feel. Almost a taboo to discuss. We might think it a little rude to ask someone, “What’s it worth to you?” or “How much is it worth?”. People typically only talk about worth in terms relative to things, not ourselves.

Isn’t that often the case, though? Generally, we can only feel comfortable discussing things or actions, but we have a hard time talking about the things that make us intrinsically human. Talking about our spirit is a bit trickier. Discuss the condition of our mind? No, just no. A bigger challenge is to talk about our own worth! No one ever says, “So, whatdya think you’re worth?”, do they? Of course, we would never respond with dollar amounts, or specifics, or even abstracts. Is there a right answer? A wrong answer?

“A man cannot be comfortable without his own approval.” Mark Twain

Today, I am asking myself that very question. What am I worth? Can it be enough to just say I am worthy? If I say it over and over, but can’t believe it, it’s a powerless statement. Being empowered is a big deal to me, so if I can’t put the power behind it, I need to delve deeper.
I set out to put words to my “worth”. Maybe it will resonate with some of you.

Defining it

Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines worth as:
1. a. Monetary value.
b. The equivalent of a specified amount or figure.
2. The value of something measured by its qualities or by the esteem in which it held
3. a. Moral or personal value
b. Merit, excellence

So, if worth is the value placed on one’s self, as in definition 1, how can we determine it? Does a dollar amount suffice?

A quick search on the internet reveals that the human body is worth about $120,000USD on the black market. Body parts on the “red market”, or the place where one can legally sell their living parts could be worth much more over the lifespan, up to several million dollars, if selling blood, a kidney, bone marrow, even hair, ovum, semen, and so on.

Everyone knows our worth is not determined by the value placed on our body parts…don’t they?
A super model can make upwards of $30,000,000USD from print ads to catwalks to other related interests. A not-so-super model can make a few thousand per year, barely enough to independently support her/himself. A professional, award winning athlete can make $100,000,000 or more between sports and endorsement contracts. A non-award winner will be lucky to have mention in the weekly small town newspaper sports section in a score roundup.

Maybe definitions 2 and 3 are more applicable. Then, if I am measured by my qualities, what are they? Have I determined what qualities will make me valuable?

How amazing it is to me that I have gone much of my life determining what qualities in clothing, shoes, cars, homes, music and jobs make them worth my money or time, but I have not put much effort into determining what makes me valuable, or of worth.

Maybe we consider what we’re looking for in a spouse or partner – some of us may have even made a list of what we find attractive or want in a mate. What qualities make your friends valuable? That’s not so hard to answer. Perhaps my friend is funny, smart, has common interests, or is non-judgmental. All of those are great qualities.

The truth is, we don’t consider the qualities that make us worthy of our time, because we are afraid. What if I don’t measure up to my own standards? What if I am a failure and everyone but me knows it? All of the “what if’s” are killing us! We have driven ourselves into the ground, over-burdened ourselves with “what if” and used that as our excuse to not take a real look at what being worthy really means!

The Truth

“Just because people throw it out and don’t have any use for it, doesn’t mean it’s garbage.” Andy Warhol

So, then is it really about the body? No, and it’s not about the qualities, either. It’s all a big lie. We’ve been duped.

Our worth isn’t determined by our body image. It isn’t even determined by our ability to throw a ball, how fast we run, our smile, our niceness, our charm.

Maybe you didn’t know it, but by being born, having a spirit and mind, you are priceless. How this could logically be proven wrong? Thoughts cannot be seen by another, feelings cannot be felt by anyone else in the same manner. Fingerprints are unique, and so is the mind. Hair has its own unique growth pattern, and so do hearts.

A Masterpiece

The fact is, you were born priceless. There are some caveats, though. A masterpiece can be priceless because of its beauty and uniqueness, but if left in the rain, it will deteriorate and lose its priceless condition. In like, if no one can ever see the masterpiece, it cannot be priceless, for it is unknown and its beauty becomes irrelevant and unappreciated.

You and I are a masterpieces. If we leave ourselves open to bad conditions, we can deteriorate and become in need of serious repair. A priceless portrait with chipped paint must be attended to. If no one ever experiences our beauty and uniqueness, it is as if we don’t exist, and our priceless status becomes null. Where is the value in an undiscovered masterpiece? Who can appreciate the unseen and unknown?

My point is, we must live our lives as if we are masterpieces – the most beautiful piece of art imaginable – on display at the most important gallery in the existence! We must live as though we know that we are priceless and stop considering our worth and value. Let us attend to protecting and enhancing the things which have made us priceless.

We must ensure that we live a life that reflects that priceless distinction. Make sure that your paint – the color of your character and personality – isn’t chipped and in need of repair. If it is, repair it! Contribute to the world – the gallery – and protect the condition of the place where you are displayed. A masterpiece doesn’t detract from its surrounding, it enhances them. At the same time, why not display your masterpiece in a place that is in good condition, that highlights the contribution of beauty you bring to the world.

“The diamond does not need to prove its worth. It is, in fact, the person who must teach him/herself to recognize the worth of real diamonds. A person must study this in school. A diamond does not go to school to learn how to prove its worth. It is a person who must recognize the worth of a diamond. Dear diamonds everywhere, stop trying to go to school. The worthy will recognize your worth.” C. JoyBell C.

Other people may judge your “worthiness”, but the truth is that they don’t appreciate your beauty. Just go and be. Maintain your condition, do the upkeep. Contribute to your surroundings. Make your life a masterpiece and those who recognize your beauty will know that you are priceless – keep them around! They are contributing to the gallery of our world, too. Let those who can’t see that your true value go their own way. They are likely in need of some repair. That’s okay. Just don’t let their disrepair chip away at your paint!
Make your life a masterpiece! You were born for it!

Our Albanian TV docu-interview…

In the studio of Vila 24, an Albanian morning program, with the show host, Androniki Kolkata, and our friend, Sonila Myftaraj.

In the studio of Vila 24, an Albanian morning program, with the show host, Androniki Kolkata, and our friend, Sonila Myftaraj.


An Albanian morning news program, Vila 24 on Channel 24, expressed interest in our family and over the course of two days last week filmed this 24 minute docu-interview.
We enjoyed the opportunity to discuss travel, volunteerism, worldschooling, foster care, and adoption and we were so glad to participate!
The intro and questions are in Albanian, of course, but our responses are in English with light voice-over Albanian translation, so the meat of it is understandable.
I hope you enjoy!
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KSf5yzWPjJ8

Second day of filming with journalist and friend, Elda Lamja.

Second day of filming with journalist and friend, Elda Lamja.

A little idea o’ mine

We were taking some pics , when this "wild, crazed wolf attacked"...ahhh, the power of words!

We were taking some pics , when this “wild, crazed wolf attacked”…ahhh, the power of words!


There are some really big words being used these days, and I don’t mean largewithalotofletters big. These words have a really big and powerful meanings and intentions behind them. For example, “bigot” is used more often than ketchup on fries. My social media feed is filled with accusations of hate, bigotry, stupidity, ignorance, misogyny, racism, radical, extremism, fundamentalist…the stories of heroes and love, intelligence, miracles, unity and selflessness are becoming fewer and fewer.

What does it all mean and how do I explain it all to my children? I have a lot of ideas and I’m going to share them (you knew that was coming, right?!). Maybe I will sound too “feel-goody” or maybe too simplistic, but I’m going to have a go at it…and I’m not very politically correct, so you can be assured that I won’t say anything because the masses tell me it’s the popular idea!

There is a very simple strategy behind my philosophy of life – I am free to think and believe anything I want and live according to those beliefs and my ideas surrounding my choices, as long as I don’t allow these to infringe on the liberties of others. My moral obligation is to allow others the same, and when my rights (or those of people I feel affinity for), are in jeopardy, I take action. That normally doesn’t entail name calling or misinterpreted use of words, no matter how popular they may be. If I do succumb to name calling, misuse of words, or fall into less than stellar behaviour, I take responsibility and do what needs to be done to repair it. Otherwise, I fight a good, fair, morally and ethically responsible, and legal fight to reverse whatever injustice has been rendered.

As to the use of all of these big words, I have taught my children to use a dictionary whenever someone begins spouting their political, religious, or whatever doctrine is popular for the day. They can then decide for themselves is making proper use of the words. If they are evaluate their statements and decide the benefits of the statements. If not, move on and do not give that person any serious attention. If a person wants to be taken seriously, they will at least use language that represents their ideas properly, not popularly.

Really, this is a very simple, practical position to take, no matter the topic. After all, a bigot is a person who is “utterly intolerant of any differing creed, belief, belief, or opinion” Dictionary.com, and not a person who just disagrees and / or shares their opinion (so check that this isn’t you and not the person being accused!)… and a misogynist is a one who “hates, dislikes, mistrusts or mistrusts women and not someone who disagrees or shares their opinion” Dictionary.com, unless that is actually the idea that is stated… a racist is someone who believes that “one’s own racial group is superior, or that another racial group is inferior to the others” Dictionary.com, not someone who simply disagrees or shares their opinion, unless that is the actual statement shared.

You’re WHAT?

Birthday dining in Montengro

Birthday dining in Montengro

I have alluded to it and never publicly acknowledged it. Not that anyone should really care in this day and age – everyone is entitled to their preferences, right? Even so, I am ready to step up and own it. I don’t even know when, or how, I really knew…it was just a sort of “aha” moment, when I thought, “this is what I am.”. I’ll tell the story…

When we arrived in Stockholm, Sweden, I struggled to find decent healthy food for a reasonable price. There are no reasonable food prices in Stockholm. Everyone was hungry all of the time. I felt like I was hunting for food everyday and no matter how much I bought, it wasn’t enough. We stayed in an apart-hostel and the kitchen was nice, but minuscule.

Then, we moved on to Poland. I loved Warsaw, but we weren’t long for there. Soon, we arrived in Krakow and another apart-hostel and tiny kitchen. It was here we fell In love kebabs. Food, glorious food! They were cheap and easy and we really couldn’t cook meat in the apartment, as there was no real cooking utensils for that (unless we wanted to boil it, and I didn’t!)

On to Budapest, and what a wonderful time! We loved the castles and inexpensive food choices – and the KITCHEN! We stayed in an Airbnb with a real kitchen! Good times we had, but something was amiss – everyone was growing increasingly dissatisfied. Complaints of aching and intestinal discomfort. Headaches and wild cravings for constant sugary things that we rarely ever indulged in. This didn’t happen at the amazing vegan restaurant we loved to eat at, though and a seed was planted…

We traveled to Serbia and beyond to Montenegro with that tiny seed ever so slowly sprouting…

Awaiting our meat...

Awaiting our meat…

When we arrived in Greece, the meat and french fry filled gyros were not only amazingly delicious, but wonderfully cheap, too – we could feed the whole family an abundance for under $20! But then, after a few gyro fueled heartburn blazes, the novelty wore off. We were left all craving still more meat, or so we thought, but more meat wasn’t the answer – we still were feeling less than our best, or even our okay-est.

We discussed it amongst ourselves. It was a practicality thing to begin with – meat is too hard to cook in tiny places lacking the means to cook it in the way we prefer and we didn’t always like the local options in several of our stays (That would NOT include Poland and Greece! A kebab or a gyro are amazing and wonderful, divinely inspired foods!). After a while, we found that we were using less and less meat and even when we thought we wanted it, it was disappointing and tasteless, and didn’t make (some of) us feel well. When we ate foods rich in fruits and veg, which we love, we felt so much better. Able to wake up in the morning, better and clearer thinking. Of course, it wasn’t just meat doing that – it was the sort of tourist-eating-new-foods that added to our problems, with processed foods and foods that we were unaccustomed to.

Then, it evolved into “part-time” vegetarianism ( I know! I have heard it said that there is no part time allowed – the reality is that, statistically, most people fit into the 80/20% group – 80% of food is vegetarian and 20% of intake is some form of animal products, albeit sometimes without knowing it). We would remain meat-free at home, but be free choice when eating out or at the homes of others. That idea didn’t last long…

Vegetarian Caveman stew

Vegetarian Caveman stew

So, after all of this time (about 4 months of avoiding it) we are ready to come out. We are no longer meat eaters. Not everyone is in the same circle. With 8 people, we have varying degrees of who likes/wants/does what. Everyone is almost completely processed sugar-free, with the exception being an occasional coffee, a birthday celebration or the local bakery bread that a few of the kids like. There are a few lacto-ovo vegetarians, one gluten-free vegetarian, a few that prefer eating vegetarian food but don’t want to fully commit when they smell bacon cooking or chicken roasting (which is fine!), and one gluten-free mostly raw vegan – that’s me. I have some serious health issues to overcome and this is what is helping me right now. I am eating about 90% raw-vegan, but include an occasional egg or mayo for protein and fat once in a while.

Mixed veg over rice and sheep's yogurt sauce (not pictured) all prepped in our tiny little Greek apartment!

Mixed veg over rice and sheep’s yogurt sauce (not pictured) all prepped in our tiny little Greek apartment!

Are we committed? Three of us are, but not as a lifestyle. Not all of the kids are sure they want to make this a lifelong plan, but really appreciate the bennies right now. We will not become religious about a meatless diet. This wasn’t a choice based on ethics. We raised ethical meat and dairy ourselves and I am not opposed to meat as food. This is a health and practicality issue. Travel and meat prep has been challenging and unsatisfying. Meat and meat products just don’t fit our lives right now and we need the health and vitality we have gained more than food worries, expenses, wild cravings and such.

The Things We Do…

Often times people are curious as to what we do for education, therapy, hobbies, and such.
You may expect the answer to be quick and direct…but it’s not! I can give some ideas about some of the things that we do and how they apply to specific needs of my individual children, as well as creative ideas that we implement in The Bohemian Habitat. These things work for us, and that’s what we strive for – creativity through child led activities. These not only educate, but nurture and help bring healing and balance to my children.

“If you ask me what I came to do in this world, I, an artist, will answer you: I am here to live out loud.” – Èmile Zola

The Tempest Cosmo, Fig and Bear in action.

The Tempest
Cosmo, Fig and Bear in action.


One of the favorite things to do is theatre. Not everyone one of the kids is as interested in really living and breathing theatre arts, but they all love to get involved for impromptu Shakespeare readings, or spontaneous playwriting/playacting. This is a great way to learn cooperation, language skills and hone in memory skills. Memorizing is often a challenge for people with traumatic pasts, because many memories aren’t always associated with positive things. People are often surprised to learn that old English verbage is very complementary to helping with stuttering and other language challenges, probably because of the exactness and necessity for proper pronunciation.

“Painting is poetry that is seen rather than felt, and poetry is painting that is felt rather than seen.” – Leonardo Da Vinci

Artists in their habitat... Seamus and The Fox

Artists in their habitat…
Seamus and The Fox


Poetry is hands down the best practice to heal language challenges! We have been very fortunate to be near an amazing library in Trikala, Greece right now and the kids go about every other day. They have a small English section with some great classics and poetry selections and those have been great fun for poetry readings and memory challenges. They get very theatrical about these readings, and while not high energy, they are a bit more than just monotonous ramblings!

“Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once he grows up.” – Pablo Picasso

Art is a great healer and educator. Several of my kids are artistically inclined, but with or without natural talent, everyone loves to sketch, draw, paint, sculpt and get there hands dirty. All types of art foster creativity, coordination, attention to detail, problem solving and even physical activity for my little one who hates most forms of exercise, but loves to express himself through dance moves he makes up. Daily walks often culminate in a little sketching party (when sketch books are remembered!) and it can draw a curious crowd! But that’s a good thing, as my less social children have been able to become more at ease when attention is directed their way in these spontaneous moments…

Healing and education in art.  The Bear has demonstrated knowledge in art, music, and history with THIS!

Healing and education in art. The Bear has demonstrated knowledge in art, music, and history with THIS!

Please keep the comments and questions coming our way!

A little thought..

When you call that person “crazy” for their choice in a leader, religion, or lifestyle, just remember that, even if their choices are wrong for your life, there are forces at work in their lives that led to these decisions. If all was wonderful in the world, there wouldn’t be the struggle to be heard, the need to make difficult or unpopular decisions, desperation, fear or any other powerful motivating influence.
Today’s casual use of “crazy” doesn’t only imply mental illness, but stupidity. Neither applies to most people, in the spirit it is used. When you call someone a profane name or hurl a ripping insult, you don’t show them how wrong they are – you confirm that the the situations they are facing are not the only things against them and they become even more entrenched in fear based or desperate thinking.
We are not smarter when we demean or belittle another. We are not more powerful because we follow a certain ideology. This is not progress or higher thinking, it is bullying. Aren’t we a country, a world, trying to unite to stop that within our schools and amongst our children? Then be an example, be kind.
Just because someone doesn’t agree with you, you don’t have to react. We can have opinions, share opinions, discuss opinions without being hateful, cruel or antagonizing. Seriously.

Finding beauty

I recently saw that a scientific method was used to determine the most beautiful and desirable woman in the world. The celebrity was named, and without argument, she is attractive. The article went on to offer the formula to determine how you, too, can test your scientific “beauty” quotient. I did not read the article in it’s entirety, although by the photos it appeared to include some facial measurements and equations.

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I find a lot of article geared towards women that tell us how much our work as mothers or wives is worth in monetary value by breaking down the cost of each duty. This is how we are validated, by the dollar signs next to our job descriptions.

The number of followers on Instagram is certainly a scale of how much our friends, family and strangers value us by giving attention to every aspect of our lives being photographed. One hundred followers must surely mean that no one except your aunts, uncles and grandparents care about what you do. The thought must be, “The very definition of pathetic”!

People take photos of other people in the gym or during what should be private moments, while they are unsuspecting that someone would give time to our ignorance and vulnerability, and post those photos on social media.
We now have words dedicated to the actions that undermine our very existence (such as fill-in-the-blank shaming).

If we aren’t admired for our beauty, social status, or wealth, there are a few ways to redeem ourselves – we may be valued and accepted for our contributions to the “correct” political or religious organizations, but only IF we carefully follow the guidelines of what the proper thought should be, as determined by our colleagues, and really only assign said value to the organization and not yourself.

Not buying it...

Not buying it…

There are those who devote their lives, usually in some form of media or entertainment outlet, to telling us what the measure of beauty, success, admiration or validation should be or is. My question is, when did we, the world, decide that we would listen and believe them?

VALIDATE
val-i-deyt: 1. To demonstrate the value of an object. 2. To give official sanction, confirmation, or approval to, as elected officials, election procedures, documents, etc.

As if life was not challenging to navigate already, now we called upon to “demonstrate the value” of our lives. Who decided THAT?!?! I’m not going to participate – call me a conscientious objector, but I do not want to attend that party.

I don’t want my daughters to believe that they aren’t beautiful if they don’t fit the scientific formula. I don’t want my sons to believe that the women they are attracted to must fit someone else’ ideal of the perfect wife. I don’t want my daughter to only feel they are validated or valued as women if they are wives and mothers (these are wonderful things, but not validating!). I don’t want my sons to feel like they are not masculine enough because they don’t have shredded abs or bulging biceps.

The Bear...He is enough, in every way.

The Bear…He is enough, in every way.

I have decided that the media, social or otherwise, cannot have my children and they cannot have me. My life does not need to be validated like parking receipt at a shopping mall. We are beautiful because of who we are, because of what we bring to the world, because we laugh, we play, we live messy lives. We are beautiful because we have scars, inside and out. We are beautiful and we are worthy! So, to anyone who says we are not beautiful, successful, admirable, or worthy of being called such, you are not only wrong, you are a liar!

My weight or jeans size doesn’t dictate how much I have to offer the world! My sex, nor my religion, nor my political views do not define me. I am not more of a woman because I am a mother, nor less of one because I am not a wife. I am a woman simply because I am. I am EVERY woman on this earth who has every been told she was not “woman enough”. I embody all that is feminine because I am me, a perfect Divine design. I am one of the most beautiful women in the world – granted there are about 3.5 billion others, but I am one of them, and we are all beautiful! I am beautiful simply because I am.

My sons will not be taught that they are validated by their sexual prowess or the career they have chosen. My children will not be taught to associate their self esteem because their identity is tied to the Instagram numbers that qualify them as popular. My daughters will not be taught that they are more “sexy” because of their large breasts, thigh gap, razor sharp hip bones, or lack thereof.

The Caveman Clan

The Caveman Clan

Why does our self worth get tied to the latest trend? Why can we not just believe we are very valuable as human beings no matter what someone else would tell us? Why do we have such trouble believing that beauty is more than just pretty faces? I don’t have all of the answers.

We don’t need the media to tell us that what we believe is wrong and they know what is right for us. Maybe we have to find that we are entitled to be beautiful and deserve to live beautiful lives. We must trust that, in our hearts, we do not lie – we are trustworthy enough to tell ourselves that we are beautiful… and we can believe it. We are more than capable of supporting and encouraging one another to find the courage to live a life of beauty, even if others would not appreciate it as such.

Might it be that the old adage, “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder” isn’t exactly accurate – maybe it could be more completely stated that, “beauty is in the heart of the believer”, because the first step to finding the beauty in life is having faith that it’s there and start looking within, rather than outside of ourselves…

Cosmo lending a helping hand...

Cosmo lending a helping hand…

Utopia…and Utopics.

My kids are fascinated with the idea of, and workings of, a Utopian society right now. We are reading Sir Thomas More’s Utopia and we have had many discussions, for the last month or two, about our own ideas of a utopia, what would work, what couldn’t, what shouldn’t even if it could. This talking has lasted hours and wasn’t just superficial ramblings, either. These convos have really challenged us in our outlooks and behaviour to really define what we want and value, and how we can practice those values in our everyday lives. It has even translated into ideas of business ventures!

“An absolutely new idea is one of the rarest things known to man.” – Sir Thomas More

With all of these discussions the thing that always comes up, is not just how to implement these ideas but how to share them with others. Everyone has unanimously agreed that it can’t be forced upon others by “preaching” or insistence that our way is “more right”, but must be a reflection of ourselves. The best persuasion is to show the success of a principle or thing, and the best way to do that is to prove it is a success in one’s own life.

Before you dismiss this Utopia idea as just wishful thinking, I will challenge you by saying it is not the idea of Utopia that has made the greatest impression on my family, but rather the principles and ideas that were spawned by the discussions. The most powerful principle that made a difference is the power of the mind and thoughts.

I’m not sure if everyone can relate to this or not, but I have been living under the impression that I have to change my children’s behaviour to be a success as a parent. They should behave, be courteous, know how to work and study, help other people, etc. etc. . If they don’t do these things we are judged and held accountable because we aren’t tough enough, nice enough, didn’t instill ENOUGH something in them to make them turn out alright. It’s all a lie and we have been conditioned to believe it. I have blamed much of some of my children’s challenging behaviours on Fetal Alcohol Exposure. I am now going to backtrack and say that I, and the psychiatric professionals, are wrong…sooooo wrong!

“For if you suffer your people to be ill-educated, and their manners to be corrupted from their infancy, and then punish them for those crimes to which their first education disposed them, what else is to be concluded from this, but that you first make thieves and then punish them.”
― Sir Thomas More, Utopia

What if these little people were just guided and accepted and not changed deep down inside? What if we stopped giving them labels and started having meaningful dialogues with children that allow them to develop their own beliefs about the world and it’s inhabitants without being weighed down by everything that makes us not enough? (Yep, it comes back to that other post about being enough, doesn’t it? It’s all intertwined…) It can be done! I, the parent, can actually stop tormenting myself that my kid isn’t as perfect as someone else’s and stop beating myself up when I lose my temper and raise my voice, or even stop losing sleep when one of them doesn’t have then skillset that they are “supposed” to have by a certain age.

Finding beauty in unusual places...Seamus (right) and the Fox

Finding beauty in unusual places…Seamus (right) and the Fox

That doesn’t mean that we never tell our children that something is wrong or unkind, but instead of a harsh demand to do better, we can tell ourselves that these are people, too, and sometimes they have the right to exercise their personal likes and dislikes. I don’t believe that we are supposed to raise our children to be someone that we like, or are proud of – is it a necessity to say that you are proud of their achievements? – just as we don’t have to be disappointed when they don’t fit the criteria for success set forth by the world. We shouldn’t set the goals for our kids, but collaborate with them to discover the goals they want and support them in achievement. Being satisfied that they are their own person, following their own hearts, knowing their own minds, able to make decisions that they can live with should be the standards we strive for. Giving them the opportunities to learn and grow and be supported in these efforts is the #1 priority we should have in our families.

When we started to discuss the responsibility we each have to make our own choices, that we are responsible for our own thoughts and actions, and we have the power to direct our thoughts into action, the whole world began to take on a new hue. No longer are we impotent audience members watching the movie of time play out on a screen, and we are more than participants, but actual screenwriters of the dialogue, directors who can call the shots of our roles, the choreographers in this dance called life!

The Fox loving up the Bear

The Fox loving up the Bear

If some of this sounds too “new age-y” or “permissive parenting”, maybe a little more effort should be put into the discovery of what our own ideas regarding what parenting really is and what we hope to accomplish. It isn’t enough to just say I want them to be this, that or the other thing. Do we really want to force our ideas and ideologies on the future generations or do we want to make certain that they equipped to think, act and reach the potential that they have born with? To teach ourselves to change our thoughts is to change our lives, which then allows us to change the world.

Some of our conversations have centered around how we think, some around how we act, and some around what we believe. This has led to a new dynamic in what the Clan uses as a diagnostic for our lives. When we hammer it out, discuss it all, try out the ideas, words and actions we use before we put them on display, we were able to really make some radical changes, some that weren’t supposed to happen for some of my children according to the diagnosis and prognosis given them. I would like to tell a little of how I have seen amazing changes in my children when they learned of, and began to harness, the power of thought, or rather, their own power. I will only give a brief examples, but they are significant and indicative of the possibility of change and higher thinking.

“The ordinary acts we practice every day at home are of more importance to the soul than their simplicity might suggest.” – Sir Thomas More

One of my children was diagnosed as a narcissist. He has made change that has lasted longer than ever before by harnessing the power of positive thinking, prayer and a undertaking to learn about living WITH people, instead of just existing. He now looks on in wonder that other people have feelings and he can get involved in discussions that don’t revolve around him and his wants, likes, needs and be respectful of others choices. He is able to have a discussion, and not just a monologue about himself. This doesn’t seem like a lot, but this is huge for him (and us! It’s hard to be interested in someone who only values themselves!)! He is now more truthful, more interactive, more helpful and definitely more enjoyable to be around.

Another child has less anxiety and even after travelling to a new country and housing, has had less of the “usual issues”, i.e. increased arguing, insomnia, etc., that usually follows changes.

The Caveman Clan on the move. Belgrade, Serbia 2016

The Caveman Clan on the move. Belgrade, Serbia 2016

“[how can anyone] be silly enough to think himself better than other people, because his clothes are made of finer woolen thread than theirs. After all, those fine clothes were once worn by a sheep, and they never turned it into anything better than a sheep.”
― Thomas More, Utopia

Have we discovered Utopia? I think we have identified what it means to us and applied the principles that make “utopia” something to aspire to or endeavor toward, rather than a far off dream-like idea of perfection that could never be attained. As we apply the principles we have defined for ourselves, as individuals and as a family, we have found some slices of heaven and we grow stronger in the knowledge that we don’t have just let life happen, but can actually make history and prepare for the future just by making good use of our time in the present.

Looking thru the keyhole... Bar, Montenegro 2016

Looking thru the keyhole… Bar, Montenegro 2016

* ED Note
The Fox gave name to our ramblings and ideas about finding the beauty and peace in life by calling the discussions “Utopics”. We will refer to them in this way from here forward…