An interview with 2019 Homeschool Convention speaker, Eve Sam. A Malaysian Chinese mother of two, Eve sits down with The Homeschool Gazette to share about her keynote speech and inspiration.
Jessica Shepherd: Thank you for sharing with us. Last year you spoke at the 2019 Homeschool convention, your topic was “Stillness in the unknown”. In your message, you shared how you had a time of grief in your life over the loss of yourself. You faced questions like “Who am I? What is life for me? What is my purpose?”, do you think this is a common struggle for people–perhaps specifically homeschooling parents? Why might that be?
Eve Sam: I think it might not happen to everyone who homeschools their children. You might find people who are single, married without kids, or even parents with school going children, begin to question the purpose of life. I guess it is very common. I feel it has a higher chance of happening to homeschooling parents because our world tend to revolve around our kids 24/7. It is easier for us to lose ourselves in the midst of caring and educating our own children.
Jessica Shepherd: You share how you have explored many seminars and searched for answers on what you were facing, but eventually realized the answers were to be found within yourself. You began to practice focusing on the present moment and “simply being”. How did you learn how to do this?
Eve Sam: I was exposed to “live in the moment” sometime ago, but never knew how to practise or apply it in life, until I read the book, The Power Of Now, by Eckhart Tolle, and watched some of his YouTube videos.
By focusing on the present moment, you don’t look back at the past, nor worry about the future. When we simply live NOW, we will flow with what life is offering at the current moment. When we flow, or accept what is, it is so much easier than trying to control or fight the situation. Of course there are techniques to do this.
It was not easy when I first started out because we are not conditioned or taught how to surrender to the current moment. It is a new way to live, and just needs practice; like any other skill.
Jessica Shepherd: Here’s an excerpt from your speech:
“You see, we have been brainwashed since young that we have to be productive, we have to have goals, we have to keep going, we have to achieve something otherwise we are wasting time, wasting life!… It took me a while to understand that until I know how to appreciate and embrace the beauty of stillness [and] familiarise myself in the unknown, I won’t be able to find the answers…[it’s] not wasting time or wasting life. Instead, I’m being with time, being with my own life ever so consciously.”
You describe those questions (Who am I?) as the Unknown. If someone wanted to learn how to appreciate and embrace stillness and the unknown, how should they start? What advice would you offer them?
Eve Sam: We can use these 5 As: Aware, Acknowledge, Accept, Allow, and Appreciate. Start by just being aware that you are in a state of unknown or uncertainty. Acknowledge you are in this state of unknown, and be with your feelings. Accept that you are worried or anxious, that is ok to not know, and surrender what is happening in your current life, because really, there is no good or bad; we regard it as bad because it makes us unhappy, but if we can change our perspective to realise that both are just part of life experiences, then we will treat every circumstance as equal. Then, allow yourself to not know. And last: appreciate yourself for being so brave to float in the river of uncertainty.
Jessica Shepherd: Can you share some background on how you came to share on this topic? Were you approached specifically about this topic, or when asked to share something was this the topic closest to your heart?
Eve Sam: I was invited to speak at the convention, but I didn’t know what to talk about, and at that period of time I was on my quest for life’s purpose. I saw homeschooling as a project, and this project seemed to take forever. I seemed to lose myself in the sea of homeschooling and raising kids. I thought someone in the audience could be facing the same situation as I was, or might in the future. I hoped my message could encourage them or inspire them.
Jessica Shepherd: What do you hope your audience has most remembered from your message, and what do you want them to do differently as a result of having heard it?
Eve Sam: Remember that it is ok to not know. It is ok not to have plans. It is ok to not be productive. It is ok to be stuck. When you have no plans, when you’re stuck: those situations are often what life wants you to see from different perspectives. Maybe it’s time to rest, to reflect, to take a different approach, to take a turn.
Jessica Shepherd: At what point do you come alive on stage – before you walk on, when you walk on, or three minutes after you start? What effect does this have on you and your audience?
Eve Sam: When I walked on stage, and as soon as I started my first sentence, I came alive. I don’t know how I did it, but what I wanted to say just flew out smoothly. The effect: I thought, “I can do public speaking!” Public speaking is not that scary but those moments before walking on stage–preparing speeches–were the worst. I perform the worst while on trial.
Jessica Shepherd: You mentioned how at first you never thought you would homeschool your children, but now you’ve chosen to homeschool them–and for longer than initially planned–and find great joy in it. What was it that first inspired you to begin educating at home?
Eve Sam: We moved from the UK to Singapore, and we couldn’t find an ideal nursery/ kindergarten that was similar to the one in the UK (play based Montessori). Then I stumbled upon homeschooling and started to delve more into it. The kids were still very young then (3 yo and 20months old), so there wasn’t any rush for schooling.
Jessica Shepherd: Knowing what you know now, with all you have learned, what advice would you give to your younger self? Would this advice apply to others in general?
Eve Sam: Don’t rush. Life is long enough to slow down and live “in the Now”. Life is only short if you live unconsciously, rushing daily from moment to moment, one thought after another, without bringing space into your life.
Jessica Shepherd: What was it like speaking at the previous Convention? What was your highlight and your biggest revelation? What advice would you give to this year’s speakers at the Homeschool Convention?
Eve Sam: it was quite an experience! I was grateful to be invited to such a platform to try myself out! So far it was the biggest audience I’d spoken to. Thank you so much to Dawn, for providing me with such opportunity and trusting me. The biggest revelation I found, is that public speaking is not that scary once you step on stage!
My advice is, just go up there and say what you want to say. It’s not that bad. You think no one will want to hear you, but most of the time, you touch people’s hearts without you knowing it. I received 2 post it notes from the audience as soon as I went back to my seat, thanking me for sharing my message and how it touched their hearts. I guess I had empowered them in a way. When I prepared my speech, I thought, “Who would want to know what I’m going through?!”, but I was encouraged by Madeline and Tammy, the team behind the convention keynote speakers. Thank you, and I’m ever so grateful for the team.
Photographs provided by Eve Sam