The Free School #3

The greatest gifts in my life have come in the form of breast cancer, foreclosure, my drug and sex addicted father, who passed away when I was ten years old, my ex-husband, my children, Jake and Jonah, and their sister, Sydnee, who died two days shy of her due date.

One might smallest just breathe logoask how losing a father at a young age, getting divorced, losing a child or having cancer could possibly be considered gifts. There is no doubt that these were very challenging times in my life, but once the dust settled, and maybe even during some of the later experiences, I was able to see the gift in each and every experience in my life.

Within each of our not-so-normal lives, we are faced with challenges along the way, nobody is exempt. These challenges show up for us to help us grow. Each and every one of those experiences leaves us with a “gift”. The catch is, we don’t actually get the gift until we are aware it’s there for us. Imagine a beautifully wrapped present hiding way up high in the closet, but you don’t know it exists. It only becomes exciting when you know it’s there and you have the chance to tear it open. The good news is it’s never too late to find them, we just need to open our minds to another way of seeing things.

My hope is that through this series of dysfunctional, crazy, funny, challenging and sometimes embarrassing glances into my life, you will learn to spot the silver linings in your life, unveiling these precious gems that have the power to bring you freedom and peace of mind.

I’m going to tell you some very personal details about my life and you will likely have thoughts of judgment, maybe anger at some point, but don’t stress out, just breathe. I forgive you. Xo

 

The Free School

I was in the third grade at Middlebelt Elementary School, a public school, when my father apparently had a disagreement with the principal and the principal told him he was crazy. This was not the first time somebody called my dad crazy, by the way, but this time the situation got heated and my father told the principal that he would be removing his children from school. So, what is a hippie dad to do – take his kids to “the Free School”, of course.

The Free School was a school that basically didn’t have any teachers, per se, but definitely had a few adults roaming around keeping an eye on things. There was also no teaching going on, there was just this honor system type style of “teaching”. They gave me a math book and told me to complete the pages when I felt moved to do so and then I was to place a check mark on the board when it was complete. Thank goodness for the check marks because the inner pleaser in me had to know that somebody knew I was doing the right thing.

I don’t recall any art or music classes, but we did swim once a week in the city pool and watch movies. And then there was that one “naked massage” class where two naked hippies walked into the room with a massage table and told us they were going to “teach” us how to do massage – now they decide to teach us something! They asked for volunteers and my siblings and I, with wide-eyes, declined.

I don’t recall why we left the Free School, but I am fairly certain it had nothing to do with the naked massage lesson. Looking back, I don’t think we even told our parents. We went back to public school and were understandably behind and a little embarrassed, but like every experience there is a gift.

I learned to trust my instincts when I was not comfortable in the massage class. This was one of my first memorable experiences of feeling my instincts deep inside my gut and trusting it.

I learned self-reliance while taking it upon myself to learn math even though I did it to please others, another lesson I learned over and over later in life. I needed to know how to rely upon myself just two years later when my father passed away, and so the Free School was simply the practice I needed for “the big show”.

Finally, I learned that there are all types of people living in all types of situations and one is not better than the next, just different. This lesson prepared me for having to go to ten different schools with a generous mix of cultures in each. As a result, I generally feel pretty comfortable talking to just about anybody. I’m grateful.

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