St Louis area
“…living an intentional and compassionate life…”
A little about me:
I am a stay-at-home homeschooling mom of three, ages 3, 5, and 7. Yikes! I am also an “aspiring” freelance writer in the areas of homeschooling, peaceful parenting, mindfulness, Buddhism, simple and sustainable living, and lots of other areas. Writing has been a passion of mine since I was a child, and while I had been waiting to have the perfect credentials to be taken seriously as a writer, I decided I’m not getting any younger and to just jump into it head first this year and see what happens! I am also a part-time student, majoring in Sociology. I have a very strong determination to be someone who is of benefit to the world and to others. I am a realistic idealist!
On parenting, and living simply with children:
I feel extremely blessed to have a wonderful homeschooling/parenting group where most of the parents are like-minded. One of them has recently adopted an extreme minimalist lifestyle, another is very passionate about food policies. She forages food, and recently convinced me to go dumpster diving at Whole Foods, though we have yet to embark on that adventure! Another mom makes her own everything, from bread to chocolate! I consider the parents in this group to be good friends, not just play date acquaintances. They are truly inspiring. We all are passionate in different, but interrelated, areas, and help each other out often. We recently had a wonderful knitting workshop taught by one of the moms, and another shared sourdough bread starter with me during our last meetup.
As for my older friends, and other parents, I tend to not discuss these kinds of issues unless they intentionally move the conversation in that direction or ask me questions directly. I also have to work very hard not to be “informational.” In the past, I have hurt other’s feelings by respectfully (or so I thought) suggesting certain changes, but it was taken as me being judgmental toward their parenting. I can understand how it could be perceived that way, so I usually keep my mouth closed to avoid those situations anymore. But, if they are truly interested in my lifestyle and values, I am more than happy to discuss that.
I have never felt explicitly judged by others. Sometimes it’s just me feeling awkward always being the weird one who wants to do the opposite of everyone else and feeling misunderstood. But I think now people get it mostly. For example, some of my friends used to make fun of me (lightheartedly) about not allowing my kids to eat certain foods, but eight years later with so many of these issues hitting mainstream media, they are like “yeah, I understand now.”
About my passion for simple living:
To me, living simply is about getting rid of the unnecessary “stuff” that crowds our lives, our minds, and our hearts and keeps us from seeing the things that really matter. Living simply also means that we are living an intentional and compassionate life, with a high regard for the well-being of others and the world around us. In our home, that translates not only to less materials possessions, but also learning how to purge negative emotions and create a calm mind, free of the thoughts that keep us from being mindful and living in the moment. It also means practicing gratitude on a regular basis, and remembering that new, shiny things do not bring us real, lasting happiness. That kind of elation is only temporary.
About my journey to a more simple life:
I was not taught the values of simplicity and minimalism as a child. However, as a child I did have a strange obsession with limiting my material possessions, even giving away my toys on a regular basis. I do not typically attach myself emotionally to material items. Then and now, if I have too much stuff around me, it makes my head spin. So I guess I was born a minimalist! But, I was not aware of the benefits to other humans, animals, and the rest of the world until after I became a mother. Being a parent means you have to make very important decisions often – you are responsible for meeting physical, emotional, intellectual, and spiritual needs of another person! I actually wanted to do a decent job with that, which forced me to open my eyes to the world around me. It was then, right after the birth of my first child, that I became very passionate about nutrition and food issues, environmental sustainability, and living with intention to help keep this world beautiful and healthy for our kids, and everyone else’s. This pursuit also led to my current spiritual practice, which includes focusing on life’s simple pleasures as well as doing lot of housecleaning in my own mind and heart.
My dreams and goals:
At this stage in my life, my primary focus is raising and educating my kids. In this society, that is not considered very important because I am not directly participating in the produce/consume cycle which is so valued here. Knowing that is sometimes discouraging, but I try to remember that I am helping the world by eventually releasing future adults who are critical thinkers, creative, passionate, and who desire to use their efforts and energies to help others. I definitely keep simplicity at the forefront of my mind when considering educational methods and approaches for my children and the rhythm of our days here at home.
I have also been passionate about writing my entire life (well, mostly), and I have recently jumped into freelancing. So, my personal dream is to be a “Writer,” outside of blogs and journals. A REAL writer – like magazine articles and books! Ideally, I would like to use that outlet to help others find a path to a more balanced, peaceful, and joyful life.
How I hope to impact the world:
I think it is important for all of us to do some serious contemplation with regard to what truly matters in life. That means opening our eyes and paying attention to the world around us, getting out of our heads for a minute. When we practice mindful living, we gain deeper understanding about why things are the way they are, and why we, ourselves, do the things we do and think the things we think. We can use those skills to make positive changes for ourselves and for the world.
Minimizing mental and physical distractions and clutter, and being aware of how our lifestyles can cause suffering for other beings is a great start to living a more compassionate life that benefits the world.
Find out more about Jennifer’s passions and hear about her life here: mamainthemoment.wordpress.com