Rat Race Rebellion – Just 18 Summers

worked in corporate America. I personally saw or was involved in lay-offs, corporate mergers, and hostile takeovers! And….. I have worked for myself for twenty years since then. From a quality of life perspective, I would not wish corporate America on my worst enemy, much less my own children. You might say, I am in full Rat Race Rebellion. 

rat race rebellion 2

Let’s define what is “the rat race”.  The wikipedia definition goes something like this:  

“A rat race is an endless, self-defeating, or pointless pursuit. It conjures up the image of the futile efforts of a lab rat trying to escape while running around a maze or in a wheel. In an analogy to the modern city, many rats in a single maze expend a lot of effort running around, but ultimately achieve nothing (meaningful) either collectively or individually.”

Now, honestly, that definition is a bit too sensational. For me, the rat race is completely and totally consuming… mind-wise, time-wise and focus-wise. In this model, we tend to focus on climbing the ladder and using the title / money equation as our measuring stick for success. We work long hours and look for the financial reward. And, if that is what success means to you and you are in corporate America, then you are in the right place. But it is a trap, one that is very seductive and alluring. We have become obsessed with material things, stuff, wealth and keeping up with the Joneses. America no longer makes anything, we have become a consumer economy… and what’s worse, it is funded by us going into debt! We have been programmed to want more and more stuff, Bigger is better… Live The American Dream! That dream is a nightmare for families. Our children don’t want more stuff… the stuff is a temporary fix to fill a hole that we are leaving. That is the irony. That lifestyle we are chasing to give our family bigger houses, nicer cars, more vacations is tearing apart the very fabric of our families, our communities, our nation. There is a word for this “American Dream” and we just coincidentally learned it this week while reading Henty’s The Young Carthaginian … cupidity. 

cupidity: eager or excessive desire, especially to possess something; greed.

cupidity 3

How much is enough?

What do you need to be happy? Our family keeps the Biblical feasts and each year for Sukkot (Feast of Booths), we camp out. Throughout this feast we discuss the ancient Israelites’ Exodus out of Egypt. We ask the boys if they were in a similar exodus could they take all their favorite things with them on their backs? No? How about in a wagon? Or an SUV? How about an 18 wheeler, would that fit it all? And we quickly realize how much stuff we have.  But is the stuff a luxury or just extra baggage? How much do we need to be happy? How much is enough? 

What are we teaching our children by what we do?

If we tell our children that stuff is not important, yet we live in a cluttered house, full of stuff that we just can’t part with… are we sending a mixed message to our children? Do we just have to have the coolest, newest, latest techno-gadget? Do we need monster screen TVs so we can spend more time watching sports than being with our family? Our children are watching us and they learn from what we do, not what we say! Did you open the Bible this week? Once? Did your children see you praying?  

What is the alternative to the Rat Race?

We have been introducing entrepreneurship into our homeschool for years now. The conversation has not been about money though. Rather we discuss the need to find what they love to do and create a business around it. How we hope to accomplish that is we introduce them to lots of experiences… things they might enjoy actually doing to earn a living. Their current list of opportunities they are exploring includes: photography, web design, photoshop, illustrator, homesteading, writing and blogging, farming, raising farm animals, refinishing furniture, and an online business. They have identified some things they don’t want to do for absolute sure, which is valuable insight too!

Do you want time to ponder? To create?

The one fact we constantly return to when discussing with our children their future lifestyles, relationships and careers is that THINGS can be traps. THINGS have to be maintained. Dusted. Cleaned. Protected. Insured. And there is a price you pay for each of those aspects. I wrote about this topic in another article, The Real Price of Stuff.  We have all become so accustomed to living the lifestyle of a rat chasing cheese that we have lost our ability to discern boundaries. Balance. We have lost our focus on people and relationships. We have forgotten the freedom of not being bound (enslaved) by debt.  

I know it is quite intoxicating to climb that ladder and use it as our measuring stick of success (especially when you are moving up). I owned a VERY successful and lucrative recruiting firm for technology employees. My clients included Disney, Hilton, International Paper, Williams Sonoma, Wal-Mart Corporate, Tyson Foods, just to name a few. I Get It. I lived it. However, I chose to homeschool and that choice had consequences. We are now in the process of dramatically downsizing our life (house, cars, clothes, farm, everything) to focus on our family, and our quality of life instead of chasing the money. And since our children are watching intently how we walk out this phase of our life, I pray we are sending a powerful message to them about where family, relationships, and friends rank in our life. One that they can learn from us without having to experience the same mistakes first-hand. 

downsizing upbeat

During this process I had to really explore what my own priorities were and discuss my decision with my husband. Did I want to return to the “drop my kids off corporate mom” or did I want to be a homeschool mom? I decided life is short and I want to spend all day, everyday with my children while they are still home. To limit the outside influences like peer pressure and the entertainment industry. To help them learn about the world and understand it through our system of values. That takes time. So, you see my rat race rebellion is really about prioritizing my time and choosing where I spend it. And in the process, teaching my children by my own actions.  

One final thought… I am NOT encouraging our children to not work for Corporate America… but I AM suggesting they investigate all their options. And, if they choose to go into Corporate America, they will have my blessing, because they will have their eyes wide open and hopefully will have their priorities firmly intact.  

Until Next Time… 




I’m linking up with a few other blogs… New Life on a Homestead; A Mama’s Story


Just 18 Summers: A Homeschool Mom Reflects on the Time Investment

I just returned from a fantastic conference, it was a conference for Christian Bloggers who also homeschool. I did not get what I was expecting from a blogging conference… NOT at all!  This article, Just 18 Summers: A Homeschool Mom Reflects on the Time Investment, is a direct result of this conference… but it is much more than just an article!

HHM Team 2to1Conf

I had not been feeling well … in the battle to tame my hedges, apparently my boxwoods won because I pulled my back. I had just missed the Great Homeschool Convention in Cincinnati. The Cincinnati convention was one that, as one of the owners of Hip Homeschool Moms (HHM), was an opportunity to meet many of our clients and spend time with many of our followers. And I missed THAT one. So not going to a blogging conference would not be a big deal… but it was. It was a very. big. deal. Ten members of the Hip Homeschool Moms’ team were going to be there. I could not miss that opportunity to meet them. And I promise, they did not disappoint! What fantastic, fun-loving, God-filled, and beautiful women they are. I am honored to be on a team with them!

I met so many fantastic women there. Women that I have been rubbing elbows with, bumping into, and seeing around the blogosphere. A few I had just met at Teach Them Diligently in Nashville. That was nice to see some familiar faces that actually knew me as well 🙂 You see, in the blogosphere, it is easy to recognize bloggers you have followed, but most of them don’t know you or realize you even follow them (especially the bigger bloggers).

Heidi Ciravola hosted the Mentoring Moms show with me right after we returned from Chicago. We were talking in the “green room” about what we took away from the conference. Ironically, nothing either one of us mentioned was about blogging… our lists were about parenting, homeschooling and family. Heidi mentioned a book she is reviewing that she finished on her way to the conference and how it really touched her deeply. I haven’t read the book yet (but I can assure you, I will), but the title really summarizes what I took away from the conference. Where I am and what I am feeling about our lives, our homeschool, our family,  and our focus… the title of the book is “Just 18 Summers“.

Just 18 summersWhat does that title say to me?

Just 18 Summers…

to guide our children to be strong, faith-filled young men. Men whose walk clearly exemplifies that they live for Yeshua (Jesus’ Hebrew name). Men who understand their role in their family, community and world. Men who understand their role as change agents for this Godless world we live in. Not by preaching beautiful words (that so often ring hollow today), but just by their daily life speaking to those around them that they live for our Messiah… and without one word being spoken others can recognize it.

Just 18 Summers…

to help them find their passions, their inspirations, their talents. To help them explore what they want to do in life. What talents they have and what those talents naturally lead to career-wise. I have always believed if you love what you do, it will never feel like work. I want my children to not only understand that, but to live it.

Just 18 Summers…

to show them how to learn and that it is a life-long endeavor. Yes, there are subjects that they have to learn and will, but what is the rush? We have been on the dual-enrollment, clep out of college classes route and I suddenly wondered why. Why are we in such a rush? Who developed this timeline? I am really rethinking everything about how we homeschool.

Just 18 Summers…

to show them what a healthy family looks like. Balanced. Focused. Loving. Where Mom and Dad work through problems instead of ignoring them. A family where struggles bring the family closer to each other and God. A family where we always have each other’s back. A family that doesn’t tear down. A family that is a role model for their future family. Am I demonstrating the type of woman I want them to seek for a wife? Is my husband modeling the role of Dad and husband he wants them to mimic?

As you see… big questions arose from my weekend in Chicago.  If we only have Just 18 Summers (and that is something else I am challenging… why is our society driving children to leave at 18), do I want that time to be only focused on homeschool? Yes, homeschool is a lifestyle. But everything we do does not have to be a lesson. I. KNOW. THIS.

What am I doing?

How am I investing this precious time?

It’s time to reevaluate our lifestyle and throw out the clutter. Literally and figuratively.

This is the beginning of a journey … a journey of downsizing, realigning and refocus. I’ll be sharing this journey as we live it.  One of the presentations I attended at 2to1 was Linda Delfino‘s and she spoke about blogging as a ministry.  Linda encouraged us to write that post that we didn’t want to write because chances are it will minister to someone.  I’m doing just that… except it won’t fit in one post, so it will be a new series on Live and Learn Farm… Just 18 Summers.

Photo Credit: http://seejamieblog.com/

A blogging conference? Don’t let it fool you! It’s a homeschool moms’ renewal retreat that masquerades as a blogging conference! I never expected that. It wears the mask well. Yes, there were blogging presentations and I actually learned a lot from them. But all that pales in comparison to what I brought home that will change how I parent, how I homeschool and how I honor my husband.

Thanks Cheryl… A job well done!

Next year the conference will be in Kitty Hawk, NC. I’m from the coast of NC. Good Lord Willing… I’ll be there!

2to1 Kitty Hawk

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