4 Weeks In: The Public School Update

When I was pregnant with Zeb I had several Wise Women approach me…you know the kind that just seem to have a spark of knowing something? Women from my mom’s church, my mom’s best friend on her death bed, strangers in the grocery store…they would tell me I was having a boy, they would say there was something this child was in this world to do, they would tell me that he was here to make a difference. And each time they would talk I’d have this image of a man, a leader, but without details of what that would mean or what he might be doing.
Continue reading “4 Weeks In: The Public School Update”

8 Years Unschooling to the First Day of Public High School

This is a really overdue blog post. The whole transition of unschooler-to-public-schooler actually started almost 2 years ago. So excuse me while I quite possibly make this the longest blog post I’ve ever written (or in case it takes you two years to read it). Because I’m sure many of you can understand, there’s a lot that goes into a story like this. Continue reading “8 Years Unschooling to the First Day of Public High School”

Art Journaling Addiction: Finding Truth Beneath My Fingernails

I don’t know why it’s taking me so long to blog about this, except maybe that I’m still making sense of it myself.

Making sense of how I could miss something I’ve never experienced.

Making sense of how it brings tears to my eyes to think of myself doing it, to recognize it in myself, to finally have given myself “permission to art”.

Making sense of how it’s drawing me closer to a dead father, a man whose artistic ability I never really knew while he was alive.

Making sense of how it’s bringing words – my ingrained and ever-ready art – to life with colors and lines and images.

There are so many of you out there to whom art or art journaling is already a part of your life. And so many more of you who ache for it in the way I ached for it, hungry for an outlet that maybe feels beyond reach. Many of you will understand why I’m feeling so deeply moved and some of you may think I’m just weirdly pre-menstrual to be attaching so much emotion to this experience.

I would’ve agreed if this experience hadn’t been doing this to me all along.

It was my beautiful friend, Heather, that introduced me to art journaling in October.

We had spent a gorgeous week with her and her family in North Carolina, and it wasn’t until the very last night that I asked to sneak a peek at her journal.

I had no idea what I was getting myself into.

No idea what it even WAS I was asking to see – I had just overheard a mention of it and was curious.

Looking back I can recognize that was the twanging of inspiration vibrating in my ear. And when she pulled out her altered books, my heart broke open with the resonance of it. I want to cry right now thinking of it. How that one friend on that one night put me on a new course.

So she gave me a book, one that I wouldn’t mind destroying, and she gave me some tips to get started and we plopped down on her living room floor and I began to run my fingers through my heart and soul and smear it across the page. {I won’t even show you those first few pages. They are ugly and personal. They are all breakthrough and permission to fuck it up and space to just allow. Less self-expression and more cutting through the barriers that held me back from dipping my fingers in the paint and wipe it across a page.}

I haven’t stopped since that night.

The longest I’ve gone with my hands in my journal was 4 days – 4 long and uncomfortable days with an ache under my ribcage. The stint ended when I realized why I ached and found my way back to the page.

What has art journaling become to me?

It’s become a part of Digging Deep for me, a way to touch and see the places I’ve been holding, the barriers I’ve been hiding behind. Process, examine, heal…to get the Truth of it under my fingernails or up to my elbows or wiped across my nose by accident. To spend time with the intangible, the ethereal in a way that I can smell, with texture and color.

Sometimes the places within us don’t come with words and in those times I use to bang my head against the desk and growl at the sky wanting to know why I couldn’t access that thing that was just beyond the use of my tongue and the scribble of my pen.

But now I know. I get it, in ways I thought I understood about you “arty folk” before but really grasp within my own self now.

There are things that even us word junkies have no words for.

And that’s when the colors get to speak.

Art journaling has also been my permission slip.

Permission to try, permission to mess up, to scribble, to be imperfect, to play around…Permission to fail. Permission to express. Permission to discover more of myself. Permission to be an “artist” in the more traditional sense of the word.

All the things I logically knew have always been there but never really embraced for myself.

I never even realized I too had fallen victim to the public school art teacher and the rules and should’s and fear of messing it up so often unknowingly taught. I never realized I was keeping art out of my Realm of Possibilities, in the same way traveling was once outside that Realm, in the same way dreads or a shaved head or being in love was outside that Realm.

I was “a writer, not an artist”.

But now I know that’s bullshit.

I know it’s bullshit by the ache in my chest that I would ignore whenever I said those words.

I know it’s bullshit by the smudges of paint across my dining room table.

I know it’s bullshit by the tears in my eyes as I write.

I know it’s bullshit by the way my heart skipped a beat when a beautiful woman at the restaurant saw my doodling and asked if I was an artist, and the way my breath caught in my throat when I tried to answer through my smile and we ended up talking for 20 minutes about art journals and techniques and deep-in-your-bones joy.

And there’s one other thing I know.

This is mine.

Only mine. Not something I feel drawn to share. Not something I feel drawn to turn into a business or even use within my work now. {In fact that idea makes my skin crawl. Like a dirty betrayal to what my spirit is telling me she’s here for now. I’m not the beautiful artist who shares her work with the world. I’m the beautiful artist who shares her soul with the page.}

I feel at peace with it being only for me, a whispered secret I pull out of my cabinet and curl up on the couch with and hold my very heart within. A spiritual practice of Connection and stillness and depth and healing. A prayer to the Universe, the one that lies within me and around me.

Fucking. Breathtaking. this practice I’m discovering.

Heart-wrenching and tear-inducing in the very best of ways.

Like a long lost twin I unconsciously always knew was out there, finally come home to squeeze me.

Or an entire segment of myself that had been missing, had left a gaping hole – I could feel the wind whistling through it but hadn’t a clue it didn’t have to be that way.

Okay, Okay, The Practical Bits To Answer Your Qs

I’ve had a lot of questions lately about how to get started. What to use. How to use it.

The short answer: I haven’t a clue. Just dive in and figure it out. That’s part of the joy.

But I know how answers like that get received. Flatly and with that voice that says “I can’t” drowning out the permission slip.

So I’ll tell you what I did and what you might do too:

  • Get “permission” from a friend: It’s always easier to step into something new with a sister to guide us the first few steps. Call your girl, invite her over, make plans to be messy. There is a special place in my heart forever to Heather for showing me how to open this door.
  • Grab a hardcover book: One that you don’t hate – you won’t want to look at those words every time you crack it open…or maybe the healing will be in destroying them? – but one you don’t mind upgrading. {My little cousin just about shit a brick when she saw I had “destroyed a book”. But I take pride in breaking silly rules.}
  • You’ll want gesso: If there is one thing I’ve found it’s that gesso is on the Most Used Supplies of every art journaler out there. It preps your page and covers those words if you don’t want them showing through.
  • Stop overthinking it: Just get your hands in there. No way to make a mistake; if you really don’t like it you can pull the page out or cover it up or call it an expression of frustration. Permission to art, people.
  • Learn to forgive yourself: This is one the journal has taught me. I will mess it up. It won’t turn out like my head envisions. I have no idea any techniques and even if I did, my mind is on a whole ‘nother plane than my hands. That’s okay. I can forgive myself the outcome and still love up on the attempt.

Things I’ve found I love:

  • I usually do some regular journaling or Digging Deep first. I get to the core of what’s happening with words still; that’s Who I Am and how I work. But I work through that core now with the art journal. So the Digging Deep is my examination and my journal prompt, and the art is my release, my affirmation, my breakthrough, and my healing.
  • I love acrylic and watercolor and doodles the most so far. I’m drawn by the complexity and frustration of mixed media. I have no idea what I’m doing in any of those but I keep trying anyway.
  • I like dark and rich colors that contrast. I like simple designs. {Maybe that’ll change as I learn more complex techniques.} I like trying to put images to my words.

My inspiration:

  • Pinterest is king and queen of inspiration for me. It’s like Art Journal Foreplay for me. All I do is meander through, pin what grabs me and then set off to create something similar or completely different. Almost 400 pins in 7 weeks. Boom.
  • Instagram is also great, although I can’t easily save the inspiration for later. But it is where I share my images (the ones I care to share publicly). And anytime I see an image that inspires me, I just pick the Instagrammers brain on how they did it. 😉
  • Some inspiration I’ve enjoyed: One Minute Muse // Balzer Designs {especially here, here, here, and this recent one} // Art Journaling on Ning // Doodle Diem // @EmilyLagore // But mostly it’s Pinterest and a healthy dose of putting on blinders to anything but my own page and my own messy, unpredictable process.

Seriously though? If this is something that piques yours interest?

Be all like Nike and just do that shit.

Use cardboard and bind your own book. Use the children’s book your toddler has already taken upon themselves to liberate with crayon. Break out the old scrapbooking kit and go to town. Try paint-by-numbers, for goodness sakes. Just do it.

There’s a reason you’re aching for it. A reason you’re mildly interested. A reason why you think you can’t that deserves to be shown otherwise.

Stop judging yourself. Stop limiting yourself.

You make the rules.

You don’t get permission from anyone but yourself. Just grab an old book (or pick one up for .50 at the library) and give yourself authority to scribble out a page. To give your school librarian hives, and your old art teacher who always told you what you were doing wrong the middle finger.

To give yourself the space to play and the means to touch and smell and see what you don’t have words for.

5 Cool New Places You Can Find Me {Like Problogger!}

Getting ready for today's Tribe/Sisterhood call with @christieinge and enjoying the cool air and squirrel calls.

I’ve been getting around a little lately, collaborating with some new peeps and having some fun with it. I felt like I was so swamped with the OP e-course I just didn’t have a chance to network and collaborate with anyone for a good chunk of the year. Or I haven’t had a chance to share them. Boo.

This afternoon the rad Christie Inge joined us on the Organic Tribe tele-circle to talk about what she does best: intuitive eating, honoring your body, and making peace with food {she was even rad enough to send some extra goodies too}, and reminding me again how much I love her, her work, her voice. If you haven’t checked her out, please do. I think you’ll love her. {If you’re part of the Tribe/Sisterhood, grab the recording from your downloads!}

Here’s where I’ve been myself lately:

  1. Problogger: 6 Practices to Overcome Your Fears of Playing Bigger – Holy goodness, it’s pretty awesome to guest post for Problogger on something that is so totally my passion and my gift. It was also a little nerve-wracking (the irony!) and I put it off for like…4 months? But after emailing with them and having my words so happily embraced, it felt goooood. So maybe that’s #7 to overcome your fears: just do it already.
  2. A Year With Myself: Serenity* – This was a contribution to a year-long journey of self-excavation and growth. I contributed to Serenity: How to Recognize and Use the Elements of Inner Peace and Spirituality. It was a powerful interview that left me deep in thought and processing myself, as well as mini-lesson and prompts that you can access for free (or purchase the entire year of coaches, speakers, writers and more!).
  3. Wellness Warrior at Creative Soul in Motion – I’m wait late in sharing this one. It happened to go live when we were in California and my head was still whirling from the OP course. Erin is a gorgeous woman and her blog is newly launched and growing. Please check her out.
  4. Creative Women Series at The Wild Creative – This interview came through at the perfect time for me, as I had just fallen in love with art journaling and was beginning to examine my own creativity. Her words and questions came through to prompt me into deeper places and connect me to my past in surprising ways. Still processing all this so maybe I’ll be blogging more on it later.
  5. Home Education Magazine – This is REALLY exciting for me! HEM is a long-standing publication in the homeschooling community and Barb asked me to be a regular contributor, writing on “The Balance of Motherhood and Personhood”. Holy smokes, it’s so cool to get a magazine in your mail with your words inside. I’ve had it a couple times with quotes from Sustainable Baby Steps in some high profile mags, but writing an article is WAY different. *happydance* for more dreams coming true.

I’ve been thinking a lot about how I put myself out there while maintaining my own sense of integrity and balance in my life. It’s not always easy to juggle it all, but I do enjoy it when I nail it. There is always a question of what is possible and what is sensible and what is heartfelt.

Connecting with amazing people doing amazing things feels amazing. Connecting with myself and my family and not overburdening myself feels even more amazing. Finding the balance between intentional and creative entrepreneurial and personal endeavors has been curious and edifying for me, although not totally clear. It’s meant taking things one day at a time, one offer to collaborate at a time, one creative opportunity at a time. It’s meant a lot of stillness and intuitive guesses and curious observations.

It’s been nice, how I’m changing up my business practices, slowing things down to a more mindful, simple pace; saying no to things I was embracing and saying yes to new things, bringing more art and beauty and style and personality into what I do.

After over a decade of being an entrepreneur, I guess I can say it got tiring. And I’m enjoying experimenting with this new idea that’s been with me, that it doesn’t have to be constant growth and motion and launch after launch. {Gee. Imagine that.}

That it can be slow and easy, and you know…organic. {Again. Imagine that.}

Oh and while I’m here, some more graphics I’ve had fun creating for Facebook:

* Totally an affiliate link!

Six (Wide Sky) Days Together

#wideskydays #sunset #bokeh #ocean #beach #cliffs

Awake before the world. Reveling in the quiet spaces in between. #wideskydays

In case you didn’t see from my Instagram stream, we spent 6 entire days at the Wide Sky Days conference in San Diego. (WSD is an unschooling conference: a long weekend to gather with other “crazy unschoolers” and play, laugh, connect, ask, answer, realign, inspire, support, and laugh with one another.)

What you probably noticed from said Instagram stream is an almost total lack of photos including children.

Fun times #afterparty #wideskydays @heathermattern @melimae79

Zeb spent most of his time in the game room and prefers not to have his picture taken much anyway, but I did manage to nab one photo of him:

Zeb had a lot of this sorta fun all weekend #wideskydays

We got to see him find his own comfort level with meeting new people and balance it with plenty of quiet time to himself. (Yes, he’s still in his Caveman phase, and it’s so wonderful to be around other teens and adults who have “been there, done that” and meet him where he is with love and acceptance and trust.)

But let’s be real: These conferences are just as much – if not more so – for the adults.

Parents whose children are way too tiny to acknowledge the room come. Parents whose children are grown and gone still come. Adults who don’t have children come, too.

Because we need these convergences like we need air.

#wideskydays #beach #ocean

We – as mindful, organic, radically unconventional, and sometimes freak-others-out people – need our people. We need to breathe in the environment that we breathe out into our homes. We need to replenish ourselves, realign ourselves.

We need community.

Especially community not afraid to play.

Thai dinner with @freeplaylife and @livelightly  #wideskydays

#juggling #wideskydays

Drinks with my sistahs @freeplaylife @heathermattern @livelightly  #margarita #wideskydays

Rainbow Bright does #hooping @freeplaylife #wideskydays

Justin and I hardly attended a single discussion, workshop/funshop, or circle the entire weekend.

The things we didn’t miss:

  • SSUM’s (Secret Society of Unschooling Moms): Connecting with other moms about our relationships to ourselves and our partners. What happens in SSUM’s stays in SSUM’s.
  • Justin’s juggling funshop: he taught about a dozen or so adults and kids to juggle!
  • Filling Your Cup: This one was my very own circle to facilitate! More on that soon!
  • SSUD’s (Secret Society of Unschooling Dads): Dads connecting with other dads about who knows what (same thing: what’s discussed there stays there).
  • Firepit conversations, hula hooping with friends, shopping trips, playing at the beach, more firepit conversations, cocktails, good food together, more good conversations around the fire, lots of laughter, and giant hugs.

#juggling#wideskydays

Late night circles at #wideskydays

Sunset on the pacific. #wideskydays #sunset #sun #horizon #ocean #reflection

#wideskydays #beach #ocean #pacific #sandiego #california

For us, we’re not going to learn more about unschooling.

The talks are always wonderful, but that’s not our need anymore.

For us it’s about culture immersion: surrounding ourselves in the one environment that is so full of love, acceptance, support, and a shared view of the world that your heart goes all pitter-patter as you celebrate life and family and love…simply by living it together.

I can’t get that in the world at large. Yes, we have our caravan. Yes, we connect with amazing people on the road.

But to be IMMERSED in a lifestyle of mindfully creating joy, connection, peace, passion, fun, laughter…a lifestyle that embraces you and your family as wonderful and whole and worthy of trust…a community that nudges you toward your own highest good (while simultaneously passing the margaritas)…a tribe of all ages, all backgrounds, all creeds, all preferences that meets you where you are, embraces you and helps you laugh…

Where else does this exist?

That’s why we go to these conferences (at least once a year, although we’re feeling the pull to make it a bigger part of our life).

We need to fill our hearts with these kinds of interactions to counter all the craziness that can happen in the conventional world.

We need love like this in the same way that we need air.

If you haven’t been to an unschooling conference…can I make a strong recommendation towards it? Whether you’re new to unschooling or a veteran, or just considering it, nothing changes you like immersion in an environment of love, peace, joy, acceptance, and trust. Nothing.


The Organic Parenting E-Course Starts Monday, Sept 17th!

Are you in it? 😀

We’ve got so any participants, some DIYers and many, many more joining through the Tribe to get it on the small and large group calls and the forum goodness.

The first module starts Monday, but the Getting started goodies are available immediately!

I hope you’ll join us!

Click here to check it out!

Meet Peter Gray, PhD: Psychologist AND Organic Parenting Contributor! Eeeeee!

I just got off Skype with Peter Gray! I got to talk with Peter Gray! Weeee! #organicparenting

The nerd in me (okay, that IS me) pretty much fell in love with Peter Gray when I found his articles on Psychology Today a few years back.

He’s an evolutionary developmental psychologist and research professor of psychology at Boston College with an interest in alternative approaches to education with an emphasis on autonomous play. (Human nature + asking good questions + alternative anything + autonomy + play? You can see my fascination.)

And then my heart really went all pitter-patter when he replied to my invitation to join the Organic Parenting e-course with “How could I refuse!” ♥

I’d like to introduce him in two different ways:

  1. By sharing snips from our interview, which comes as part of the e-course, and
  2. By sharing some of my favorite articles of his so you can get to know his message.

Let’s start with my favorite articles:

And without further ado, some scenes from our interview in the Organic Parenting e-course:

Have you joined the Organic Parenting e-course?

Mindful. Gentle. Empathetic. Patient. Respectful. Conscious. Centered. Playful. Connected. Cooperative. Wonderful. Authentic. Responsive. Energetic. Deep. Warm. Interest-Led. Autonomous. Engaged. Enjoyable. Challenging (the good kind). Grounded. Friendly. Spiritual. Trusting. Thoughtful. Compassionate. Flowing. Confident. Silly. Shining. Supportive. Supported.

Are these the words that resonate parenting for you?

Do you want them to be?

Click here to learn more about the e-course beginning on September 17th!

Born a Human Being, Not a Chair

skinny zeb

I just want him to stay with me until I can be sure he won’t turn into Norman Nothing.

I want to be sure he’ll know when he’s chickening out on himself. I want him to get to know exactly the special thing he is or else he won’t notice it when it starts to go.

I want him to stay awake and know who the phonies are, I want him to know how to holler and put up an argument, I want a little guts to show before I can let him go.

I want to be sure he sees all the wild possibilities. I want him to know it’s worth all the trouble just to give the world a little goosing when you get the chance.

And I want him to know the subtle, sneaky, important reason why he was born a human being and not a chair.

A Thousand Clowns, Murray trying to explain why he hasn’t put his nephew in school yet

End Of Summer Reflections

This weekend at the RV campground was packed full of Labor Day campers and kids enjoying their three day weekend.

As Justin and I would walk the dog we would marvel at the noise and excitement where complete stillness had been. There were outdoor TVs for football games, four-wheeling through “our” blackberry trails and oh, the drunken karaoke. Nothing says “Sweet dreams and goodnight” like hearing the last chorus of Daydream Believer sung 17 times in a row. 😉

What surprised us the most was how much work their vacation looked to be. More setup and teardown than we allow ourselves for an entire week at one spot! LOL

Zeb has had a blast this weekend too. He made two great friends here, one a little older and one a little younger and for three straight days they ran around together, playing Nerf wars and games, then for three straight nights they had a sleepover. Laugh-snorts, video game playing, and total tween boy energy. 😀

zeb at the waterfall
Scouting a sinkhole for fossils

Both his new friends head off to start school tomorrow, a culture Zeb no longer understands, as he tried to explain to him our culture of learning what interests us, doing what we love, exploring the world and not “having to” follow a rhythm other than our own.

There were some not-so-funny moments this weekend too: We were a little taken aback by the grandpa who threw his granddaughter’s bike out of frustration or the parent’s who left Zeb hanging as a punishment to their son.

This morning before we were even fully out of bed the jammed-packed park was nearly empty, as everyone was packed and heading home.

Full RV park + RV full of boys = Non-stop movement for 3 straight days, followed by complete stillness.

Kinda eerie.

Facebook has a new feature where it notifies you of last year’s status. This was my reminder a few days ago:

Sometimes I forget just how different our lives are from others. We eat when we’re hungry, never raise our hands to get permission to pee, & we don’t have to work when someone else tells us to. We get to love what we do all the time, instead of just holidays & weekends & if we’re tired by the end of the day it’s a fulfilled tired, not an exhausted-depressed tired.

at the beach
Together at the lake

I could’ve written that today.

We’re no longer accustomed to the Work Hard/Play Hard mentality, the school shots and shopping, or the energy that comes from parents and grandparents yelling at their little ones while they busy themselves with other things.

Now we’re used to going with the flow, talking together when challenges arise, and creating situations that make us all feel good.

This wasn’t always our life, and I’m grateful for the reminder of that.

Because it’s a charmed life we’ve chosen.

Why You SHOULD Focus On Being Perfect (And It’s Not What You Think)

The Majestic Redwoods

Ah, perfect. That word is a hot one. Especially for us women.

Most of us strive so hard to be perfect: the perfect mother, perfect partner, the perfect person with a perfect purpose. We try to create the perfect home and the perfect world with perfect hair and perfect kids.

And then we hear the messages that perfection is a myth, that it can’t be obtained and that striving for it is a maddening and pointless attempt to be something we’ll never be.

After all no one is perfect, right?

This is where I get all Big and Philosophical on you…

Both are wrong.

Zoom out with me – way out – and take in the Big Picture of your life, your journey of self-discovery and growth, your contribution to and purpose in the world.

The entire purpose of your life is to learn, to grow, to experience this human experience and make sense of it the best way you can.

You don’t need to strive for perfection and you don’t need to give up the idea of perfection…Because you are already perfect.

Where you are is already perfect. What you are experiencing, doing and thus learning is absolutely perfect.

You are the perfect mother for your children. You are the perfect person for your purpose. Everything you’re doing and experiencing is perfect.

Stay with me here.

It’s perfect that you make mistakes. It’s perfect that you beat yourself up for them. It’s perfect when you don’t do either.

It’s absolutely perfect when you wake up one day to realize something totally new and life-changing and it’s perfect when nothing ever seems to change.

It’s all perfect because it’s all purposeful, because when we zoom way out the little details that we stress over and complain about and push against blur together, and we see the process, the journey, the contrast that teaches us, the resistance that strengthens us, the meaning at the end of the story, the light at the end of the tunnel and the Magic that brought it all together, that connected the cosmic dots and created something amazing.

If our purpose in life is to learn, and if we learn best through our experiences, then yes, it’s all actually perfect.

And only by acknowledging that it’s perfect can we embrace it, learn from it and expand because of it.

Your mistakes have value. Your journey is oh-so-valuable.

But you won’t get that, you won’t experience that value, until you accept it as perfect, as exactly as it gets to be.

Yes, this applies to everyone – you and your kids, your partner and THAT one frustrating person you would rather not talk about. No matter what you all are doing or experiencing in your lives, you are all in the same perfect place.

Acknowledging that you are exactly where you need to be, and that everything you are experiencing or doing is perfect is not license to be an asshole, hit your children or just quit trying, anymore than the lack of a posted warning is license to shoplift.

On the contrary, and perhaps paradoxically, embracing the seemingly imperfect as perfect will take off that heavy weight of Not-Good-Enough, Less-Than, Doomed-To-Mess-Up, and leave you only with desire to move forward into seeking more….more Love, more connection, more experiences, more compassion, more beauty, more peace, more learning.

You cannot create your Life from a place of imperfection, unworthiness, brokenness, less-than. You can’t. Whatever you see this moment as being, you will notice and create more of the same.

But when you can connect to the fact that this moment is perfect – that it is here for you to experience and learn from, that’s it’s all opportunity, all of value – you can connect to the fact that you can create something more, better, and beautiful from it.

Only by stopping the fight against what is can we give ourselves the clarity and power to create what can be.

Look for it: What about that one frustrating thing is actually perfect?

“There is only one world, the world pressing against you at this minute. There is only one minute in which you are alive, this minute here and now. The only way to live is by accepting each minute as an unrepeatable miracle.” – Storm Jameson

Our 4th Unschooling Anniversary (And Growth)

Getting Ready

Swing High

Flying Boy

I love unschooling. I know that probably goes without saying, but it’s good for me to be reminded sometimes. 🙂

Yesterday was our fourth unschooling anniversary. Four years ago we made one choice that changed our world. And today I’m reminded just how phenomenal and empowering a choice it was. See, I don’t love unschooling because of its “results.”

I love unschooling because of what it gives us: freedom, space to heal and the courage to live passionately.

Four years ago, I stood before a child that was angry and sad. I stood before him with questions about how to help him and how to ignite the interests he once had. I was worried that he no longer loved to read or wanted to play with numbers or patterns.

Our life was anxious and nervous and uncertain.

In school he felt a lot of pressure to perform, took to heart anything that sounded like criticism, and became paralyzed by fear of failure. Even things he enjoyed and excelled in were avoided.

Reading was one of those things.

Although we had been reading since he was an infant, although he was excited to learn to do it on his own, and although he picked up on it quickly and easily, he was before me declaring his hatred for books. With pressure, judgment and limitations placed on him his loved for books suffered.

But unschooling changes those things.

Living outside school gave us the freedom to be ourselves, the space to heal our wounds and the courage to live passionately.

As I type this today, four years later, I’m sitting beside my 11 year old as he writes his first novel. And it’s not just any novel; he’s writing an epic fantasy novel.

My heart is so big and happy right now. 🙂 I wish there was a smiley with it’s eyes closed and it’s face basking in the sun. Because that’s how I feel, as though I’m basking in the glow of a beautiful life.

My son is writing a novel. And I’m not concerned with any of the details, the grammar or spelling or “doing it right”. I’m not even concerned if he doesn’t make it past the second chapter (because he’s already finished the first…and it was Oh.So.Good).

I’m concerned with feeding his passion and his desire to want to do something So Big, so outside his usual comfort zone.

I’m concerned with supporting his sense of empowerment, as he chooses to do something that conventional wisdom wouldn’t expect from him.

I’m concerned with helping him feel the potential within him, to know he CAN, even if he chooses not to.

I’m concerned with his sense of freedom, giving him the space to grow and feeding his courage to live passionately.

Because those are the things that nurture a personal definition of success.

Those are the things that change things.