Consider this part two of my homeschooling breakdown/breakthrough – henceforth known simply as “the story”. (If you are just joining us, you may want to read the introduction and part one first.) When we last left off, I was excited about my plans for the upcoming year. I always like to have a theme/intention to guide us and even wrote a guest post about this way of approaching homeschooling. I still stand by this intentional approach, however, I will warn you: setting an intention is powerful, and it doesn’t always manifest as planned. Last year, I learned this lesson in spades.

Our intention of ‘setting sail’ conjured wonderful imagery: tall ships, billowing sails, the expansive sea. We made these sweet little boats, read the first book in what has become one of our favorite series ever and even did a bit of form drawing for good measure. All seemed well . . . until everything went wrong. I shared this by admitting to treading water last October, but really it wasn’t until April, when I read this line of poetry that I realized the extent of the damage: “Trust deep water and head for the open even if your vision shipwrecks you. I still get a lump in my throat when I read those words, because we were absolutely shipwrecked.

I am trying to be careful in this retelling. I don’t want to veer off into dramatic and inflated language. I don’t want to strangle the metaphor. I want to tell what happened as plainly as I can. Looking back, it is so easy to see the grace, the humor, the irony and the little glimmers of hope. But that is not how it happened in real-time. All I could see in the moment was everything that I thought to be solid crumbling around me. The word “breakdown” is not hyperbole nor is it of the nervous variety. It was a breaking down of everything upon which I had built my identity – namely homeschooling with Waldorf-inspired methods. That is hard to admit – even today – when I know this story has a happy ending. I had not expected to confess that in this space, but it is integral to the story. Actually, it is more than integral; it is central. Homeschooling my boys had become who I was. All I was. Or so I believed at the time.


On Monday morning, I was having coffee on my side porch, thinking about this draft that I started more than two weeks ago. What was so hard? Why was I getting tangled up in my own words? Why can’t I just tell the effing story? And why the hell did I start telling it in the first place? Staring out over the hayfields to the row of pines beyond, I thought back to the comments I received when I first hinted about my struggles with homeschooling this past year. The response floored me. And that is why I wrestle with the words. I want to tell this story so you don’t feel like you’re the only one – the only one who can’t make your home/homeschool resemble what you see in blogs, in books or even in your imagination. I’ve said it before and I will say it again: the internet is not real life. We all know this cognitively. But emotionally? That’s a whole different ball of Waldorf-inspired beeswax. That is where the work comes in. And the work is what I want to talk about going forward.

As you begin to look forward to next year, take care, my friends. And go gently. xoS

** To read the last part of this story and see my plans for this year, click here.

13 thoughts on “Shipwrecked

    • You had a front row seat to all of this Jean. I don’t know if you remember this, but there was one time at Barnes and Noble this year where you said to me, “Sheila is back.” I had another friend say the same thing to me. It’s amazing how other people can see how we have alienated parts of our life – and we are blind to it. It’s been a year – that’s for sure.
      Thanks for always sticking by me.
      See you tonite.

  1. Can we add facebook and emails to blogs? One of my favorite posts that I wrote this past year was my week in our life. It definitely showed that our work doesn’t all get done and the house isn’t pretty-it is lived in. We all melt down and have to find that humility. When you get down to the nitty gritty of it, homeschooling is about being together as a family and finding the joy in the small moments-not having the perfect main lesson book. :) As I write out my plans for next year, I always laugh a bit. Every year I make plans and every year, we do not get through them. Although, I do not know your whole story, your kids learned this year that you must feed yourself emotionally and intellectually as well. You did set sail on an amazing journey this year. :)

  2. A very wise woman recently told me “trust yourself, trust yourself, trust yourself” ;). Again, I so appreciate your words of wisdom here and your honesty in telling your story.

    • It’s so hard, isn’t it?

      I was thinking about you yesterday as I was hanging my clothes to dry. There was a time when I thought about deleting my blog – bc (like you) it was built around a certain lifestyle that was no longer true. It is hard to transform your life period – but to do it with an audience? – sometimes I’d rather have stuck a fork in my eye. I had to answer the question if I wanted to keep blogging or not – turns out I did. I just wanted to release myself from the (assumed) expectation of only being able to blog about homeschooling with Waldorf. I also had to take the risk that I would lose readers, and it was one I was willing to take. I did get a snarky comment asking me when I was going to stop talking about my mid-life crisis and get back to talking about homeschooling. I had a few choice words straight out of the NJ gutter for that one, but instead I said what is really the truth: I write about what I want to write about. This is my space. And the last time I checked *ahem* I was not the only blog dedicated to homeschooling with Waldorf.

      So on we go, yes? Keep writing if that feels good to you. I know I for one will keep reading.

      Love and light on your journey.

      • Ha! I love this. Funny thing is, I found your blog through Waldorf Homeschooling as far as I can remember, but I’ve never really viewed your blog as “that”. I was really drawn in by your spirituality, your art, your creativity! I never saw it as a “mid life crisis”….ahh hope that’s not what’s going on with me :) Seriously though, It does feel good to me to keep writing, I find it a nice release and a reminder to acknowledge and respect the beauty that is in my life-in whatever shape or form. And a way to get to know myself and my values better, just as it seems your blog is for you as well.

  3. I have to tell you, I have a love/hate relationship with Waldorf. I love it, my kids hate it. :) Consequently, I have gobs of lovely material that I.never.use. I used to say Waldorf was my heroin, but now I realize it was my way of trying to fit in, which I never did, and I never will, and finally, I’m just fine with that!

    Waldorf was great until my kids turned about 12, then they mutinied. They know freedom in a way I never have – so why wouldn’t they? That was the point anyway, I think, to give them the ability to be free. We don’t unschool, not by a long shot, and that’s because they choose something else. It’s all good!

    I still buy Waldorf stuff – for me. For fun. They never see it. It’s MY addiction, after all! ;)

    • I hope that didn’t come across as anti-Waldorf – I’m not that at all! It just didn’t carry over into the older grades for us. That doesn’t mean it hasn’t had a very positive influence in all of our lives, because it has. And it still does. We just don’t follow the system of education it prescribes.

      • Hey Penny!
        I didn’t think your response came across as anti-Waldorf and I hope my lag-time in responding didn’t suggest that. Trust me, I went through a phase where I HATED everything (and everyone) related to Waldorf, but that was just a fun (!) way of avoiding the truth. Which was that fact that I still love the Waldorf curriculum. I love the soul qualities it addresses. I love the emphasis on art and creativity. I just didn’t like how I had manifested all that within our homeschooling. My journey was to take what I love, make it my own and leave the rest. So now we are doing art journalling instead of wet-on-wet watercolor. We are doing math on the computer. We are having school at the kitchen table, on the couch and in our yard – not in the “beautiful” schoolroom (that I really created for me!)

        So yeah, I get what you’re saying about Waldorf being for you. Do you know Andrea over at Waldorf Salad and Cottage Fries? Doesn’t really matter, but we have had a conversation going on for a couple of years now about did we come to Waldorf for our kids or did we come for us. One interesting thing that has come of this dialogue is that we both “discovered” Waldorf right before we turned 40. I don’t know how you are, but the 40s have been a decade of healing for me. And if Waldorf is anything, I believe at its heart it is a healing form of education. Too bad we muddy that so often.

        I have given this advice to myself and others: Remember why you came to Waldorf in the first place. What drew you in? If you keep that at the forefront, the rest of it can take a hike.

        Love to you today.

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