"To live content with small means;
to seek elegance rather than luxury,
and refinement rather than fashion;
to be worthy, not respectable,
and wealthy, not rich;
to study hard, think quietly,
talk gently, act frankly;
to listen to stars and birds,
to babes and sages, with open heart;
to bear all cheerfully, do all bravely,
await occasions, hurry never.
In a word, to let the spiritual,
unbidden and unconscious,
grow up through the common.
This is to be my symphony."
- William Henry Channing
My oldest daughter, Olivia, has told me she wanted to travel since she began talking. Perhaps its because both sets of grandparents are from other countries (Greece and England), or perhaps that is just the way she is wired. But, whatever the cause, she has been bugging us to take her overseas for years.
At 6 years old, she exclaimed, "I can't believe I am SIX and I haven't used my passport yet!"
She was devastated when we took Nicholas, and not her, on our trip to China to adopt Ellie. But, we wanted Nicholas to visit his former foster home, so she had to stay behind.
When she was 7, we did go on a Disney Cruise which required a passport, but that didn't seem to cut it.
So, when John's parents offered to take her with them for a few weeks to the island in Greece where they were born and lived for their first 30 years, we jumped at the chance.
Olivia sent me these pictures. Yes, Kefalonia is really this beautiful.
There's no going back to the Jersey Shore after you've been swimming at this beach.
Of course, I had my reservations about sending my 9-year old somewhere without me. It was a huge lesson in letting go, and trusting what life has in store for my little adventure-seeker.
Instead of panicking about all that could go wrong without me there, I worked hard to focus my thoughts on what she could gain from this experience. This was the very type of learning I wanted my kids to gain from homeschooling (not really homeschooling, since she is not home, but outside-of-the-box learning).
Olivia has been having a wonderful time. There were a few moments of homesickness, but, of course, she got over them and doesn't want to leave now. She has learned SO much: her Greek has improved, she has met a ton of family she hadn't known before, she has learned about traveling, and independence, and about life in another culture.
I am missing my girl, though. I am beyond excited that she is returning tomorrow after almost a month away from home.
And I can't help but remember when her idea of summer fun was more like this:
As big and independent as you get, you'll still always be my baby.