I always like to work with my hands and be creative and make what I couldn’t buy. As a child I liked to browse catalogs to find out all about items connecting to my latest obsession. I didn’t think it was a particularly balanced way of spending my time, but I liked doing it anyway. In this way I did learn a lot about the topic in question, and it lasted for a few months until I hopped over to something else.
Some topics became hobbies and were recurring items in the cycle of obsessions, like cycling, fishing and making rock music and recording music. All the gear involved in them was heavily studied and what was too expensive to buy often was put together or recreated in other ways.
Jeff Jones titanium bikes (check them out if you like cycling) and Mesa/Boogie Tube amplifiers, really cool stuff, but yes thousands of dollars which I didn’t have. Finding out about the principles of what makes them such a good product helped me to understand and recreate my own affordable version.
The obsessions certainly helped me to get through school as I didn’t really fit in there, it probably was too dull to study what someone else told you to study. Today I don’t see them as obsessions anymore, but in a more positive way. We learned from Kristine Barnett and the Spark Method that this is actually a right brain learning style that many people use.
Also we learned that some people actually need to work with their hands to be in the flow and that being in a building or house for a long period is actually not so natural for our bodies and brains. Kristine learned this and many things while supporting her son with autism and what she found works for many others as well, including my family and I. It really helped to notice these things and effects on our body and well being to be able to accept who we are.
Helping another helps
While supporting my 4 year old son Thomas with his school career which had just started, we found out that he also uses this right brain learning style, and was not doing very well in the reception year.
He learned to read when he was three and learned from his own desire to do so. At home he moves around a lot naturally and likes visual input from YouTube which powers his creative process. Nowadays we have a swing in the living room for our two boys to be able to move around in between learning as kinesthetic experience is essential to learning.
Thomas’ desire to learn was no longer so strong after starting school which became evident to us when he was home after school. The teachers also tried to find ways to help Thomas find a way to concentrate on a topic which was hard for him. He also didn’t seem to be able to recognise people’s physical boundaries when he wanted to play and interact with others. In the end we felt that Thomas might feel like a misfit in school, and therefore lost his self esteem and then his desire to learn in his own way.
With Kristine’s support we considered home education for Thomas, so we asked him what he wanted, full time school, part time school or learn at home full time. After thinking about this he chose home education and our first day at home was fabulous and explosive learning about volcanoes. The best part is that when we support Thomas in what he chooses to learn, we all learn along and he got his strong desire to learn back.
My own move out of the school system
A few months earlier I had already quit my day job because I had enough of certain things. As a residential care worker I was supporting people with learning disabilities and autism. I loved the job supporting the residents, but it was hard for me to function in a system where one cares for another using a fairly rigid method. The residents and especially those with autism helped me understand that your worth isn’t based on what you can do or create. It’s the presence you are that automatically gives something to another, even if you are unable to speak. It was easy, I grew to love them just by being with them.
“Your worth isn’t based on what you can do or create, but it’s the presence you are that automatically gives something to another”
I learned that they gave me a lot, by showing me I wasn’t much different from them. Only their challenges and difficulties were far more pronounced, whereas I could hide mine from others. This way I learned to recognise parts of myself and others that were uncharted territory before. I like to think we helped one another really, but the care system wasn’t recognising that. There wasn’t enough room for this mutual caring relationship I saw. There was only a “we are here to help them” and thus no return flow, which you’d have in a normal relationship between two people.
Learning and working at home
Now that we were all at home we were first focusing on helping Thomas learn at home again. We found a way of supporting him by following the rules of the Spark method. Using this method you set up a space for another to learn and be creative in. You also provide things that aid Visual and Kinestetic learning. The interesting thing is that you do this for all people in the family at the same time. This creates an environment which supports the individuals by each other’s example. Exactly what I was missing working in care, where you only create the space for others and you are merely the visitor.
“Visual and kinesthetic learning methods. Be matched with your own Spark consultant, increase creativity and self motivation, identify and work in your child’s strengths and learning style. Build your child’s own Spark Space”Kristine Barnett – TheSparkMethod.Org
It’s a whole new way of doing things and it caused me to use in my space what I already naturally was doing all along, but hadn’t accepted as valuable but always as a side project. My latest “obsession” was what I was working on when I had free time. It was when I was working on saw handles next to my family members that I realised that I wanted to do this more. It felt right and for the first time in my life I felt that I would be able to do what I love more seriously.
Going all in
This was about a year ago, and I have been going ever since. I have been working on setting up my workshop and learning more about restoring and making saws. Whereas I used to stop with things after a few months and I would jump over to another topic, now I am not really able to stop. There are so many different aspects about saw making that I can learn about and set up that it keeps me interested and wanting more.
Wanting to do it more also means earning a living with it (at least partially), thereby supporting my family. This also brings a lot more things to learn and I feel I’m just at the beginning with that part. When I started working in care it was hard, not really knowing what the residents needed from me. I had not yet experienced from within what support they needed and grappling with all the many rules and regulations. After half a year to a year this became much easier so I have faith this time it will be similar.
Whereas it can be very stressful to do so many new things at once it also brings a lot of blessings. I am so grateful that I meet many lovely people along my way who all help to put things in right order with me. It is becoming more evident that people support one another naturally and often in unseen ways.
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