Category: unschooling


I recently read a topic on Amy’s Live, Learn, Knit blog titled What Brings You Joy? In her post Amy mentioned a book she had read, Let Your Life Speak by Parker J. Palmer, which I have added to my “must read” list. During this past week’s marathon NaNo writing, I found myself often distracted from my story and thinking about joy. I began to wonder what the difference was between joy and pleasure, since I could easily think of many things that brought pleasure to my world, but not so many things that seemed to bring joy. So today I looked up the words “pleasure” and “joy” online and found an explanation that suited me at

    Pleasure, enjoyment, delight, joy refer to the feeling of being pleased and happy. Pleasure is the general term: to take pleasure in beautiful scenery. Enjoyment is a quiet sense of well-being and pleasurable satisfaction: enjoyment at sitting in the shade on a warm day. Delight is a high degree of pleasure, usually leading to active expression of it: delight at receiving a hoped-for letter. Joy is a feeling of delight so deep and so lasting that one radiates happiness and expresses it spontaneously: joy at unexpected good news.

So what does bring me joy?

My first thought was writing, but writing is not always joyful or even pleasurable. It can be difficult, painful and emotionally revealing, none of which brings me joy. Writing is something that I have to do, like breathing and eating. It is a rare day that I do not write something, whether a blog post, an email or a letter to a friend (sometimes those are even handwritten!). It does not matter to me whether anyone reads what I write or not. The possibility of an audience is not why I choose write.

Reading also comes to mind, but again, it is more of a need I have, like an addiction to caffeine or nicotine. A day is not complete if I have not had my daily fix of word input and output, reading and writing.

Crocheting gives me pleasure and satisfaction. I find it relaxing, soothing. But crocheting does not give me joy. The act of giving a crocheted item away, knowing that it will be used and appreciated by the recipient, that gives me joy. I never really understood why we needed to save an item that someone had made, pass it down from generation to generation, never to be used. To me, the value of the item is in knowing the person who created that item. If I did not personally know great-grandma Tilly, I am not going to value something made by her nearly as much as I am going to value something made by my Grammy. And so it brings me joy to know that items I have made and given to others are actually being used. That was the reason I made them in the first place!

Here is a picture of the baby afghan I made for my niece’s new baby boy:

Knowing that Aiden’s older brother loved his afghan and carried it around with him for several years gave me great joy. I hope Aiden enjoys his half as much.

Here is another thing that gives me joy:

Copper has taken to sleeping on laptops and computers. When it was ninety degrees and better outside, she preferred sleeping out on our balcony all day long. But when cooler temperatures came in September, she ceased wanting to go out on the balcony and now sleeps away the day on top of laptops or any other computer she can find that is running and warm. Anyway, just seeing a cat gives me pleasure, but having one (or more) of my own that I can interact with gives me joy.

Photography brings me joy. Amy mentioned photography and art in her post, too. Unlike Amy, I have never been interested in the darkroom and developing of pictures. What I love is the hunt for a good subject, the art of framing the subject and the sense of accomplishment I feel when I capture a moment in time. That gives me joy, knowing that I have saved some essence of “now” that can easily be recaptured in the future simply be looking at the picture.

My children, of course, bring me moments of joy. Their individual births were three such moments. Add to that my granddaughter, Miss Munchkin; I was lucky enough to be present at her birth and one of the very first to hold her. Miss Munchkin brings me joy almost every time I see her. There is just something about a toddler who is happy and curious and loving that is joyful, especially when she is related to you.

I feel joy when we hit the road for a road trip, whether it is just a day’s jaunt somewhere or a vacation. There is something truly joyous about leaving behind the every day world for a bit and looking forward towards possible great adventures. And I feel joy every time I step onto a beach. Hearing the waves crashing onto shore and the cry of the gulls, feeling the heat of the sun through the sand on your bare feet, the smell of the salt spray, it all fills me with joy. Oh, and the skirl of bagpipes bring me joy. If ever I were to come across bagpipes being played on the beach while I was walking barefoot with my granddaughter, my heart would likely burst from experiencing too much joy all at once.

Amy’s post talks a lot about finding joy in your work or rather work that you find joyful. I know this is the goal of many unschoolers, to find a way to turn their passion into a career. That is a great goal, although I know few that have been able to truly realize it. The only possible work-related thing that brings me joy is being able to find answers and resources for others. I love to research; I love to hunt for the perfect gift, for the perfect book, for that needed quote or just the right word that will complete a project. I think that is why I continue with my website, since HTML and web design certainly does not bring me joy. On the contrary, many days it fills me with stress and frustration. But I love to know that a resource I have reviewed or something I have written has provided an answer to someone’s quest. That brings me joy.

So, what brings you joy?

David update

It sounds like David has settled in well at Evansville. I called him last night and then passed the phone around so everyone (Bill, Charles, Kat) could talk to him. He told me about the robot he has in Computer Science class and a bit about the Japanese alphabet (or it’s three alphabets). And also said I should see the movie “Accepted” because it was funny and had a very unschooling slant to it). He told his dad that everyone seems to gather in his room and he’s not sure why. It did sound a little bit like there was more than one or two people in there! But definitely it sounds like he is having a good time and not terribly homesick.

We’re still trying to decide whether we’ll go up for Family Weekend later in September or combine visiting David with a possible trip to New York in October. I guess the first decision to be made is whether we’re going to New York or maybe the decision to be made is who is going to New York. It’s my aunt and uncle’s 50th wedding anniversary celebration, so I definitely want to go!

Sunday my dad had a get together at his house and my brother Eric drove over from Atlanta with his family. Daniel spent Saturday night here playing X-Box with Charles and Shawn. I took lots of pics, so maybe later this week I’ll get one posted up here of Eric with Miss Munchkin. She was frightened of Eric when she first saw him Saturday night, but my Sunday afternoon she was having great fun with his beard.

Oh, and it looks like my kittens have all found homes! I just need to decide if I want to keep one of them or not. We’ve been talking of possibly moving in the semi-near future and it is going to be difficult to find a place where I could have my six cats roam freely outside, let alone adding another one to that number. Do we really need to keep any?

Watching Miss Munchkin Learn

Miss Munchkin spends a lot of time in her walker right now. Her feet just hit the floor, but she loves sitting in it, being able to sit up and look around, have her toys on the tray where she can drop them and pick them back up again as she wants. Last week Kat told me that Miss Munchkin had not really figured out how she was getting from here to there in the walker. She would have this look of surprise when she’d go from point A to B like she didn’t know what had happened. Wednesday, though, it was obvious she has figured out that she is the one propelling the walker. Kat had pulled out a box of baby cereal, with it’s nice shiny crinkly plastic wrapper still on it, and was looking at the box. Miss Munchkin, across the kitchen in her walker, saw that box and in two seconds flat was across the floor, hands outstretched trying to reach the box!

Miss Munchkin crawling, almost too fast to get a good picture!

Miss Munchkin in her walker with her ever-present teething ring.