Wandering with my eyes and heart open, searching for pieces to add to my own personal big picture.

Tag: home education Page 1 of 2

The Freedom to Say No

How to do I put this? Hmm…

I loved and hated this book at the same time? No, that’s not right. I agreed with some, disagreed with other parts, sure. I agree on the problem, but not the solution, maybe.

freedom to say no
Photo by Kristina V on Unsplash

While reading the essay Disobedience as a…Problem, I kept thinking about how we raised our sons. The answer “no” was always an option. When I tell people that, their response is usually, “Sure but there are consequences, right?”

Depends on what you mean. Punitive ones? Like, “You have said no, so now you’ll be ostracized or punished?” No. I wouldn’t have asked if you weren’t allowed to say no.

I don’t ask you not to hurt me. I tell you not to and I enforce that. If there is no other option at the moment, like I must stop at the post office and you cannot stay in the car, I don’t ask if you want to come inside with me. Those commands are few and far between.

Just about everything was optional in our family, negotiable. We worked together as much as possible toward a common goal, living in the same house and being happy and comfortable. And they learned to be more and more reasonable as they grew up into adults.

In most families, this isn’t so. Everything is a command from above, in every situation. We raise children as slaves to adult lives, until they are “of age” and then kick them out into the world and expect them to act as reasonable adults without any practice. Like putting a person in jail for 18 years, dictating every move, and then setting them free and saying, “Now continue on your own.”

And most of us do. What we need is to act like independent, reasoning, masters of our own lives, but we don’t have those skills. We only have slave skills, and they don’t serve us well at all. When things aren’t working, we look to government to solve the problems for us, just like our parents and teachers taught us to do.

Seems like a job security thing for politicians and other so-called “leaders.” Independent humans aren’t easily controlled.

In my experience, acting as an adult human is frowned upon. You’re a fool and treated as such, especially if you encourage others to take the reins of their own lives.

Disobedience is the answer, not the problem. We shouldn’t be “obeying” anyone.

I haven’t even quoted this book or presented his ideas to you. I’m not sure how. The book is so short, 91 pages. If I pull any one line out, I’d have to pull the whole page, and then…why not read the book?

There were four essays in this book, all of which I agreed with the premises of, except the last on “Humanist Socialism.” Why? Because I love the goals and principles of socialism, but I don’t see it working well anywhere in the world. And I don’t even have the words to describe why. That’s one of the reasons I keep studying it.

When my first reaction is, “Wonderful fantasy, but how do you get there from here?” I’m reminded of the reactions to my family’s choice of lifestyle and education. They can’t see what we are doing from their vantage point. Is that my problem when I look at socialism? Maybe.

My thoughts always go back to, “If this is so wonderful and perfect, and able to be done without the use of force and coercion, then why doesn’t someone build a working community like this on their own? Why do we have to have it as a form of government?”

Start with your own family, your own community. “If you build it, they will come.” If a socialist utopia works, more people will want to be in it, and it will spread. Right?

I’m not sure, only because of my experience with my sons. Sitting in a karate class, the teacher tells me, “Your sons are focused and dedicated. I can tell you strict with them, no backtalk and video games.” When I told him that our lives are quite the opposite, that we live without rules and they are treated as equals, play video games all they want, and are quite adept at “backtalk,” he just scoffed and walked away.

It feels insane, like everyone around me is seeing the world they want to see, not reality. Am I any different? I don’t believe I am.

To me it seems the best thing any of us can do is live our own lives and leave everyone else alone to do the same. That’s crazy talk to everyone else. When I started this book, I thought the author was headed down that road, but then the last chapter is how we can start a socialist utopia by taking all the power away from whoever has it now and redistributing it.

Whoa…it’s Tolkien’s Rings of Power. I’ll take this power to set things right and then give it back. But no one ever wants to give it back. The power corrupts, always. There is no utopia, socialist, capitalist, industrial, agrarian, or otherwise.

A side note: If you’re curious about the concept of unschooling (life without school instead of school at home), I highly recommend checking out Pam Laricchia’s work. And I’m always open to conversations about our experience, through email or over the phone.

How To Read A Book: New Read

Four straight months of daily posts, you guys. That’s a personal record. And now I’m facing a dilemma. Do I keep going? Part of me loves habits, the other part loathes them.

Should I keep writing daily? Yes, I believe so, but what? Posting about what I’m reading doesn’t seem to be catching anyone’s eyeballs or interest, but it is what I love and that’s why I started this blog in the first place. I wanted to share my daily thoughts about the books I read. I learn more than what the author originally intended when I read. Every book I read triggers new ideas and memories, links one thought to another, and pushes me forward. How do I do a better job of conveying those ideas here?

Should I change my posting schedule? For the past four months, I’ve been posting every day what I wrote that morning after I read. It’s more of a stream of consciousness, triggers, and reactions, than planned thought and ideas. I don’t know what I’ll end up telling you every day. Is there a way to change that?

Should I take some time off from posting completely, but keep writing daily? THAT is what I think I’ll do in May. I’ll keep reading and writing every day, and then work toward a more manageable posting schedule to start in June. For the month of May, I would like to commit to one post a week to keep myself accountable though, I’m just not sure what that post would entail. Maybe only posting when I start or finish a book?

So, my faithful reader, you may not hear from me much the next few weeks, but rest assured, I am not dead.

how to read a book

I’ll leave you today with the book I began reading yesterday, How to Read A Book: The Art of Getting a Liberal Education by Mortimer J. Adler. This author was a bit of hero of mine when I started homeschooling 18 years ago…sheesh, I just said that, scary. I first heard of him when I heard Oliver DeMille speak at my first homeschool conference. That presentation changed the way I looked at education and how I ended up educating my kids and myself.

Reading great books was the basis of our whole system. No curriculum, no testing, no writing essays or answering detailed questions. We simply read books, any and all books, together every day. We talked about them, questioned the story and what the author intended, looked up words we didn’t know. We found other books (both fiction and non-fiction), movies, and documentaries, related to what we were reading. And we learned so much.

I found this book in a friend’s collection of giveaways and saved it for myself. I’ve decided to read it now because I feel like I need a reminder of why I read, and a refresher course on how.

Sitting here, writing this, I’m not sure where I’m going, both with my reading and this blog. And writing? Well, I’m not sure that’s my main focus anymore. I just don’t know. What I need is some quiet focus time and I’ve never been very good at that.

Do I need a goal, a reason to write here? Do I need a purpose at all? I’m not sure that I do. Can’t my reading and writing follow my interests the way my mind and heart always has? It seems to have served me well this far.

Wild Flowers: Life Without School

Life without school is a bit different than what people traditionally think of as “homeschooling.” It’s a lot like tending a field of wild flowers.

I’m enjoying this weekly repost idea quite a lot, my dear reader. It’s like reaching back into the past, pulling an event or idea forward, and looking at it again from a new perspective. It feels healthy.

Today I’m bringing back a homeschool post from June, 2016…nearly six years ago. At the time, my sons were 14 and 15 years old. We had been racing dirt bikes for a couple of years and loving it, but it took a lot of my time and energy as well as theirs. I didn’t have as much time left to connect with my friends or other homeschooling parents as I used to.

I was blogging about our journey and working on a website to help share our experience with others. Ultimately, that site failed. I have my suspicions but I’m not sure why I couldn’t make it work. Flooded market? Lack of patience on my part? I still contemplate putting my thoughts together in one place, creating a way to connect personally with parents considering homeschooling on their own, but I just don’t know. Maybe it’s another part of my past I need to let go of to move forward.

My kids are 20 and 21 years old now, and still living the wild lives they’ve cultivated for themselves. Just last night, at a neighbor’s party, a friend of ours with younger kids commented in a conversation that they envy ours. “They’re adventurous. They just DO things. Who does that?” In my mind I wanted to say, “People that are treated as individual human beings with rights to their own lives from birth. Ones that aren’t enslaved.”

Experience breeds confidence, maturity, and ability. Nothing else. Guide, advise, assist, but ultimately, it’s their life. They call the shots. Unconditional love and emotional support is a…pain.

Yeah, that’s me being dramatic again, but honestly, it’s how I feel. Maybe that’s why my home education advice falls of deaf ears.


June 10, 2016

Yesterday I had coffee with a friend while my younger son was at Crossfit.

I’m totally going to keep doing that. I feel like I’m “holding court”. I posted to my Facebook homeschool group that I would be there at a certain time and day every week, so anyone was welcome to join me and yesterday, a member of our group that I hadn’t seen in months came. We’ve only met once before, but it was great to sit and talk and get to know each other.

My only regret is that I talk SO STINKIN’ MUCH! I swear I’m trying to turn it down. Work in progress, you know.

I had an epiphany while I was explaining my sons’ passion for motocross racing. The truth is that I’m not a fan of the sport. That’s not quite right either. I’m not a fan of THEM doing it. If I had my way, they’d be musicians and rocket scientists! But that’s what my big thought was about.

A lot of people think they can find a way to educate and raise their kids that will make them into the people they want them to be. They want to mold and shape their kids into their version of a good person. One of the biggest problems I see people have with the concept of unschooling is when they ask the question, “How do I get my kids to…?” or “How do I stop by kids from…?” while using unschooling principles. The answer is that you can’t. That’s the whole point. You aren’t there to make them into “good people” or “educated people”. You are there to support them and help them grow into the people they were born to be. That might be something entirely different than what you had planned.

Kids aren’t like a cultivated garden. You don’t plant a row of these here and a row of these there and then train them up into what you want. It’s a lot more like a wildflower patch. Yes, they will grow on their own but if you tend it a bit, water it here, throw some mulch there, and watch what comes up, you’ll have a beautiful natural place for birds and bugs to live. You’re supporting what’s already growing. That’s what unschooling is like.

I may not have made the choices my kids are making. I may be able to see the path that those choices will lead down from my perspective. But that would be through my experience, my eyes, my life, not theirs. Their experience with the same world might be totally different for them because they are different people. And who am I to tell them or hold them to what my version of the world is? I’m here to support them, maybe not with all my money and time, but at least with all my heart and mind. I may not like their choices. I may think it would be better for them to do something entirely different. And if there was a way to get them to do what I think is best, they may never find what it is they were meant to be. I don’t want to be that wall in their way.


Unfortunately, I never met another homeschool parent for a coffee like that. I have met a few others over the years, people that called me through my old website, a listing on a homeschool page, or through a social group. They were mostly wonderful talks and I felt great being able to pass on my confidence that homeschooling their kids could be done and be an amazing, life-changing adventure.

This morning, re-reading that post and then sitting with a cup of coffee and a couple cookies, I realized something and wrote it down in my journal.

“I, myself, am simply another flower in that wild garden.”

No one is cultivating me; pruning, tying off, or walling me for protection. I’m out in the field, struggling to survive, wild. Sometimes it really sucks. And then I remembered that I’m not totally wild. I have family and friends, not to mention books and readers, that send help every day. They support me with kind words of encouragement, a hug or a drink, and a chance to talk things out and laugh at myself.

Things are changing, I’m growing again, and I’m not sure what will happen next. I do know one important thing, though. I’m not alone. I hope I instilled that in my kids as they grew into the men they are now. We may be wild and free, but we aren’t alone.

Want to read more posts about our homeschool/unschool journey? Try “We’re Still Learning by Living” and “5 Ways to Make Your Homeschool Day Easier.”

The Secret of the Universe

“I believe that scientific knowledge has fractal properties; that no matter how much we learn, whatever is left, however small it may seem, is just as infinitely complex as the whole was to start with. That, I think, is the secret of the Universe.” From I. Asimov – A Memoir

I read that and I paused to take it in, then read it again. I’ve mentioned something similar before, that when we look out into space there seems to be more and more to see. The same happens when we look inside, breaking everything down into smaller and smaller parts.

Years ago, I was organizing weekly group activities for our homeschool group out here in the desert. We had cooking, art, and a book club. I led a drama club that ended in a performance for friends and family. I never thought I’d be using those skills again, but I loved it.

The craziest activity I led was a math group. I wouldn’t call it a class, more like an exploration of math ideas for younger kids. Yes, if you know me, you’re thinking, “Math, Michelle? You? Seriously?” Sounds crazy but it’s true.

I grew up believing I wasn’t much of a math person, but when I first started homeschooling, I heard a representative from RightStart Math speak at a conference and was floored. Hearing her explanation of basic math (seriously), it all suddenly made sense. I wasn’t bad at math. I hadn’t been taught well when I was first exploring and then made to feel like a failure over the years of schooling and gave up.

We used a simplified and voluntary version of their system with our sons. Today, they are both brilliant at math and are both in college as engineering majors. Either the system worked, or they inherited math genes from their dad. I say both.

That’s why I wanted to lead a math exploration group for the local homeschool kids. I wanted to present the fun and exciting aspects of math that are all around us, without getting them bogged down with numbers, formulas, and tests. It was a fun-filled couple of weeks for me!

The first hour I led was on fractals. I searched out examples, went down rabbit holes, followed mysterious trails all week. When it came time for the class, I simply gathered up what I had found and showed it to the kids. We watched a video, read some of a book, and made our own gigantic fractal with paper, pens, and a boat load of creativity.

The lesson was exactly what Asimov described. When we zoom in, we find more and more details. When we zoom out, we see the bigger and bigger picture. How far does it go? Is there an ultimate picture that only some supernatural being outside of our universe can see? That is the secret of the Universe. The science is never settled.

And it’s not simply science, but a metaphysical thing as well. The more we look into ourselves, the more we find. The more we look out, the more connected everything seems to be.

What part is it, that when we break everything down into pieces, is essentially me? And where is the line between us? What makes us different, yet the same?

Real Learning is Connecting Dots Yourself

Real learning is connecting the dots between experience and information you encounter everywhere you go, all on your own. There is no age limit. From birth to death, this is how humans learn best.

Since I have a couple hot dates today, I’m heading out the door early, so I’ll have to keep these short and sweet today. That’s a good thing because I tried writing about this idea yesterday and it came out all preachy and annoying.

real learning

“But we know today that the more connected information we already have, the easier it is to learn, because new information can dock to that information.” From How to Take Smart Notes by Sönke Ahrens

This quote reminded me of why we homeschooled our boys the way we did. My husband and I didn’t do well in school in different ways, for different reasons. When the boys were very young, we started looking into alternative education models and found that people learn best from simply experiencing things. We decided to live without any kind of school for the first few years to see how it would work and the model stuck.

Instead of school, we lived with the boys right along side us. We went on adventures, read books, watched movies, and played. As parents, we were deliberately setting up the network of ideas and experiences that they would later hang all their learning on.

The older they got, the more involved they became with the direction we took. Which led to this quote.

Learning itself requires deliberate practice, and I mean actual learning that helps us increase our understanding of the world, not just the learning that makes us pass a test.” From How to Take Smart Notes by Sönke Ahrens

Once they got to a certain age, they took to deliberate practice like ducks to water. I couldn’t stop them from diving deeper into anything that caught their eye. Music, dirt bikes, languages, and then cars, travel, and jobs. Now I find them reading classic literature and listening to podcasts.

College was a priority for one and travel for the other. Both have been done in ways it never occurred to me were possible.

Yeah, I’m taking the moment to plug the whole “life without school” idea. How can I not, especially now? Our lives were so much more beautiful because we took that step toward freedom. And when I read things like this, I’m reminded of how awesome it all was.

Go back to my first post, How to Take Smart Notes, for more thoughts inspired by this book.

The Way Back Machine – An Origin Story

You know about the “Way Back Machine,” don’t you?

The Way Back Machine
Set the Wayback Machine to…

When I did a search for “way back machine,” looking for Mr. Peabody and his boy, I found out that others are using the same words to refer to internet archiving. Internet Archive Wayback Machine is just one of them. The fascinating things you learn when you simply type a few words into an internet search engine!

It all started when I didn’t think I’d have anything to write about today. I thought, “You know, I should go back to my old blog and look around, see where I’ve been.” I did, and I found something interesting. I decided to use some of it as a post here, so I copied and pasted a few things together. It wasn’t that long ago, only 2015, that I started that blog. It wasn’t my first.

My first was pre-social media and consisted mostly of what my kids were doing, where we went, what we were reading, etc. I’d read in a homeschool forum (you remember forums, don’t you?) that blogging was a great way to document the journey if you weren’t using a traditional curriculum of textbooks and written tests.

It certainly was that and a great way to show friends and family what we were up to since we didn’t have school functions to go to or report cards to brag about. I enjoyed doing it and it brought me much peace of mind in those moments when I felt like we weren’t really DOING anything. I just scrolled back through those posts and could see all the places we’d been, all the books we had read together, and the conversations we’d had.

As the kids got older, and Facebook took the place of my blogging, I used that to communicate more often and lost interest in blogging. Most people these days don’t read anything more than a few words anyway. Paragraphs on Facebook were a waste of my energy. I posted pictures and quips instead, to document where we’d been and what we were up to.

But then something else happened. My sons were growing up and moving on to their own lives, undirected by me. With all that spare time, I began to broaden my own education, reading and studying more myself, and I felt like I needed a place to share more of that journey instead of my kids’ homeschool one. I decided to go back to blogging. That’s when I started Roadrunner Musings.

Here’s my first post from there.

April 29, 2015
What am I doing here?

Simply, it is this. I read a lot. I think a lot. I don’t get a chance to talk a lot. I use my personal Facebook page as a scrapbook and have it printed at the end of each year, so I don’t want a load of political and philosophical ramblings all through it. Besides, sometimes I’d rather not know if my friends and family disagree with my thinking. I think I’ll just post it here…sort of anonymously…and see where it goes.

I’m not much of a writer but I do have somethings rolling around in my head that I’d like to get out to the world, not just in my journal.

Let’s see what happens.

And here we are over six years later and not much has changed. Well, yes it has. My new blog, the selfhosted one you are reading now, was started in 2018. At first, I continued with the theme of “random thoughts,” but it quickly evolved itself to focus on the books I’m reading, and my thoughts and ideas connected to those books. I wouldn’t exactly call it a traditional book blog, but that’s the general idea.

I still enjoy writing about what I’m reading and sharing it here. It helps me keep on track, remember what I’ve read, and connect those books with other ideas. I feel like I’m become better at it. And I’m beginning to get better organized at posting. As a retired homeschool mom and housewife, it makes me feel more connected with the world. And before you start to think, “You should actually connect with the world, Michelle. Get a job, join a club, something.” That’s just not my style. I’m happiest and most productive with fewer group activities, less social obligation. It’s taken me a long time to realize and accept that and I’m not going back.

One more positive outcome of the Covid pandemic is that more people are accepting of my decision to stay at home, away from people. That reminds me that I need to write a post about THAT! “Top Ten Positives about the Covid Pandemic (no matter where you are on the political scale)” That will have a link next week. I promise you that!

Using the way back machine (my old blogs, journals, photos, etc.) has helped me make a little sense of where I am right now. It’s put some things into perspective and eased my heart and mind a bit.

What’s up for the next half of 2021? I’m not sure. For now, I’ll keep posting about My Precious, I mean my reading. And I think I’ll be going through and sharing old posts with some commentary updates in the future as well. It’ll be a combination of the old and the current. Maybe it will help me evolve into the next iteration of this blog.

Like the Buddha says, “Nothing is forever, except change.”

Cultural Literacy is the key to Communication On the Internet

The best way to build cultural literacy is to read widely.
Last post about this gloriously written book!

Rebuilding a common cultural literacy doesn’t mean we all have to return to the same classical books as our grandparents. We don’t all need to read all the same dead western white guys to understand each other, but we probably should start reading (and watching, listening, and experiencing) a little of as many different works of art, from as many different cultures and backgrounds as possible, if we’re going to save civilization from ourselves.

“How does an audience identify an allusion? The whole system of signaling depends, quite obviously, on a high degree of cultural literacy – an easy assumption in traditional societies with fixed literary canons and a high capacity for verbatim retention of texts, but something of a problem for contemporaries, who often come to literary texts from a background of loose canons, little reading, and languid memory.”

The Pleasure of Reading in an Ideological Age by Robert Alter

That’s a lot of fancy words for we aren’t all coming from the same entertainment background. We aren’t all reading the same small collection of books these days, even more today than when he wrote this because our world has become infinitely larger and more connected virtually.

Funny story, and one you’re probably familiar with. My kids think the memes they find on social media are hilarious. Sometimes, when they show them to me, I don’t get the joke. Or the other way around. I think something is deep and wonderous and they look at me like, “Huh?”

We don’t get the allusion in each other’s media. We don’t see the signals. Once again, I’m reminded of the Star Trek TNG episode “Darmok and Jalad”

To understand each other, especially in the written word, we have to come from a similar background first of all. The more figurative the media, the more it relies on allusion, the more similar our backgrounds need to be for us to “get it.” I can’t understand why you say that the character is like Sisyphus if I haven’t heard or read that story. And you won’t understand that I “Trumped your sly comment with a better one” if you’ve never played the game.

Each nation, each culture, each generation alters its canon a little at a time. We build on the past, let some things go, and add new things, all in an effort to do what? Describe and understand the world around us? Communicate with others near and far, now and in the future? Too bad we can’t send messages back in time and warn them. “Don’t light that match mom!” or “Don’t invent that device!” But then, I’m not sure that would help us really. If we know anything from time travel movies, it’s that events are sticky. They seem to want to happen no matter what we do.

Unlike most children in the U.S., my sons grew up in close proximity to us, 24/7, not because we’re paranoid about someone taking them, or over-protective. It was because we liked them. I wanted to be around them more and figured they’d go to school later when we got tired of each other. I’ve talked about it before, but we unschooled instead of homeschooled. We lived as if school didn’t exist. I should write a new post about THAT!

The short version is that we lived and worked from home, together for 18 years. They had a very similar canon of books, tv, movies, and music as we did because that’s what we knew and shared with them. As we grew, so did they. New movies. New books. New music. Human events unfolded around us. All of it happened in light of what we already knew, our own family’s background canon.

So, when we write a story, share a joke, or make a reference, all of us almost always get the allusion. Until…cue dramatic music…they began to move in circles outside our house. Noooo!!! Once, they found social media, got jobs, friends, and then started college, it all changed. Their canon shifted from ours. And I know that shift isn’t over. Now that they have moved out on their own it will keep growing and changing as long as they live. We’ll be coming back together for holiday gatherings and sharing our worlds with each other for a long time to come.

Michelle? What they heck? What does that have to do with reading?!

It’s the same with books, not to mention articles, movies, and music. The artist creates his work from the memory of his own canon, assuming that the audience has a similar enough background to understand the allusions. If I read something by someone that is so far outside my world, it’s more difficult for me to understand the deeper meanings of the references the creator is trying to convey. That’s what happened to me when I read, “The 28 Mansion of the Moon.”

I think most of us tend to remember that when we’re reading a book but tend to forget that we need to do the same when we read or watch anything, especially on the internet. Here we are with the world at our fingertips. We can see and hear everyone all over the world, but are we communicating? Rarely. It’s not because we’re mean and evil, or less smart than we ever were. It’s simply because we are assuming that everyone we see and hear has the same canon, the same cultural background, as we do. Translation is not simple. We may even be speaking the same language but come from entirely different worlds.

It’s going to take humanity a long time to adjust to this new development. Let’s hope we don’t destroy each other in the process.

Click over to my original post, “The Pleasures of Reading in an Ideological Age” to read my initial thoughts on this book!

Find “The Pleasures of Reading in an Ideological Age” on Thriftbooks and read along with me. If you do, be sure to comment so I know you’re out there. I’d love to hear your thoughts!

The School System is Oppressive for a Reason

School system feels oppressive quote from book and book cover on desert background.

“Marianne’s classmates all seem to like school so much and find it normal. To dress in the same uniform every day, to comply at all times with arbitrary rules, to be scrutinized and monitored for misbehavior, this is normal to them. They have no sense of the school as an oppressive environment.”

Normal People by Sally Rooney

The school system we have is not the best way to create a responsible and independent population.

Speaking out against the public school system is unpopular, I know. I usually get even fewer likes when I speak my mind here. But hear me out, please. What we are currently doing (and have been for nearly 100 years) isn’t working. That old cliché definition of insanity comes to mind.

I pulled this quote out because it reminded me of my own experience in high school and my feeling when I talk to parents that send their kids to school. In fact, it reminds me of how I feel when I talk to kids in high school, or that have just left it.

I was good at the system. I was able to work my way through public school in the 80’s and get good grades, make some friends, and start university. But I felt like I as living a lie, walking among zombies that didn’t realize there was a world outside what we were being forced to live until we were 18 or completed so many credits. Why was I different?

I don’t believe controlling other people from birth to death is the way we create order out of chaos. I’ve heard time and time again, if you don’t teach a child that you are bigger and stronger than them, the authority in all things, while they are small and fragile, they’ll walk all over you when they get into their teens and are bigger than you, capable of walking away from your control. It sounds so perverse.

It’s the same with schools today. I’ve heard parents tell me that you need to put your children in daycare early so that they learn to fit in to the system once they get to school age. Children that have not been corralled from early age have a harder time settling into the mold of school days.

A young person, fresh out of high school at 18 years old, scoffed at the fact that my son (her boyfriend) must have been too lazy to finish high school. He didn’t get the same education as she did and would probably never fully understand the system of merely making good grades and completing checklists instead of engaging in and learning from the material and teachers he came across at college. He was 16 and taking the same classes as her, helping her with her math assignments and holding a job.

When people see us, our children, and our lifestyle, some say, “Sure, that’s fine for you but other people need the control of an authority.” Do they? Or have they been trained from birth to believe that they do?

Some people have met us and have told me, “Wow. Your sons are so happy and intelligent. They seem like full-fledged people, not teenagers.” Their next comment is usually that we must have had a strong hand on them, kept them out of trouble, restricted them from video games and cellphones. It was the opposite. They have grown up being respected as individuals, with their own needs and wants, the ultimate authority of themselves, even when we thought they were crazy. We worked together to make living together comfortable. They grew up treating us the same way.

It wasn’t easy. Every decision, every change, every stage of life has to be thought about and evaluated to some degree. Negotiation so that everyone’s needs are met is impossible sometimes. And sometimes we failed miserably. We were learning too, not just the kids. Ultimately, now that the youngest is leaving home, I think it worked out well overall, more positive than negative.

The quote above, Marianne’s feeling about the school environment she is in, it’s legitimate. Raising large groups of people in controlled environments where they have no choice but to attend and obey is oppressive. It brainwashes people into believing that they are not capable of living outside a set of parameters set by someone else.

And that, my friends, is bullshit. We can all live exactly as we please. That doesn’t mean I have to live next to you or with you and agree with you, but it does mean you have the right and the ability to make your own choices, ones that serve you and your needs alone.

Stop raising humans as herd animals and start treating them as independent sentient beings from the moment they are born and we’ll begin to see civilization flourish in ways you can’t imagine.


If you’d like to go back and read my thoughts on this book from the beginning, start at my post New Read: Normal People.

You can find “Normal People” by Sally Rooney on Amazon.

My monthly newsletter highlights my immediate after-thoughts about the books I read the previous month. You can sign up for that awesome email at the link on the right or by hopping over to my Autobibliography page. Once you opt-in, you’ll receive one email a month only available to my email followers…mmm…so exclusive!

Can More Faith in Yourself Lead to More Faith in Others?

faith in yourself quote with background image

“Only the person who has faith in himself is able to be faithful to others, because only he can be sure that he will be the same at a future time as he is today and, therefore, that he will feel and act as he now expects to.”

The Art of Loving by Erich Fromm

Find the book on Amazon, HERE!

Loving others starts with having faith in yourself.

We simply lived without school. But that doesn’t mean that we didn’t learn. The outcome proves that.

My sons are both out on their own, living productive lives. One traveled Europe, and now has a good job with potential for growth, along with his own car and apartment. He’s 20 years old. The other has been at community college here in town for two years, working, and has his own car. He’s transferring to university next semester and will be leaving the state to live in the dorm and focus on his studies for the next couple of years.

What did we do instead of school?

Our faith in our own drive to learn led me to believe my children had that same drive.

We lived and learned together. We read books, watched movies, built things, went places. We talked and laughed and loved together. We cried and fought, worked things out as best we could so that everyone had their space and got as much as they wanted without stepping on anyone else’s toes. I rarely said no to things they wanted to try out. I spent a lot of time searching for new experiences, and then making it possible to do them. It wasn’t easy, but it was worth it.

I had faith in them from the moment they were born. I knew myself and so did their father. We didn’t need an authority to guide, protect, and direct our lives. What we wanted more of growing up was less direction and more support, so that’s what we gave our kids. We knew they would find their own unique way to adulthood if we gave them a loving and supportive home, if we led by example and followed our own interests, served our own needs, without sacrificing anyone else’s lives in the process.

I had faith in them because I had faith in myself.

And I have faith in others because I have that faith in myself. I know that others can take responsibility for themselves and their families if they want to. I’m not special. My family is not special. We are not more intelligent or lucky than anyone else. The only thing that is different is that, for some reason, we have faith in ourselves.

Real love starts with you loving yourself, believing in yourself, and taking responsibility for your own life. And no one can give that to you. I believe all of us have the ability, but somewhere along the line we have lost the knowledge of it.

I’m telling you that you have it. Start using it.

If you’d like to read more of my thoughts on the book, “The Art of Loving,” check out the following links.
Where Did Our Words For Love Go?
We Cannot Give What We Do Not Have
Learning to Concentrate by Being Alone
How to Parent by Respecting the Individual

You can find “The Art of Loving” by Erich Fromm at Thriftbooks.com.

Have you read this book? If so, leave me a comment. I’d love to hear what you think.


“Four Reasons a Newsletter is Better Than a Social Media Feed”
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Am I Productive? Or Am I Just Coasting Through Life?

The feeling is overwhelming for a housewife and stay-at-home mom. It feels as though everyone around you is doing something big. Everyone else is living productive and satisfying lives while you waste away, folding laundry, making beds, and chasing children in an attempt to keep them from running out into the street or generally making a nuisance of themselves.

As you all know, my active parenting days are coming to a close, and I’ve been spending a lot of time pondering what is to become of me. I feel like I’m being put out to pasture. The feeling of retirement is especially poignant for a homeschooling parent. My career is at an end people! What am I supposed to do now?

“Relax and enjoy it!” I hear people say. Please, people. I’m 47 years old. I can’t spend the next 30 to 40 years watching Netflix and reading books…or can I?

Today, I saw the following graphic on Mark Manson‘s Instagram feed and became exasperated. Live consciously doing WHAT, Mark!? Ugg.

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After a short grumpy session with my husband, and actually listening to his encouraging words for once, here’s what I came up with.

1. Do fewer things.

I got that. Over the years I have cut back and then built up and cut back again. It’s hard to find the sweet spot, that place where I’m doing only what is essential to me, not too much and not too little. In general, I only take care of and focus on, the things that make me who I am. Finding out what those things are has taken me most of my life.

2. Do those things deliberately.

Yep. I have a list that keeps me on track. I make sure to do those things regularly. When I ask myself, or others ask me, why I’m not doing more for…whatever it is…I can look at that list. My dance card is full. Each day is filled with my essentials.

3. Do them to completion.

Something I struggle with that from time to time. When I’m consistently not getting something done, I have to ask myself if it just doesn’t fit in my schedule or if it’s turning out not to be important to my bigger goals.

4. Share them with others.

Here is where I’ve run into a brick wall lately. Share what with who?! I mean, come on. I’ve been a housewife and stay at home mom for the last 19 years. What exactly is there to share? “Look I dusted and vacuumed the living room!” and “Nice laundry pile, right?” I don’t create. I don’t add to the GDP. I don’t produce anything.

But then it dawned on me. I have been creating something very important every day for the last twenty years, a happy, healthy, and organized home. My positive attitude about that work has waxed and waned over the years, the same way it did when I worked outside my home. That’s called being human and having emotions, but it doesn’t mean my work is pointless or not worth sharing.

So who do I share that product with?

First in line is my family, the people I support with my “work.” The house is clean, the laundry done, the yard in good repair, there’s food in the house and dinner is ready. Sure, that’s good, but what about my attitude? What if I am happy and at peace, proud of my work, and excited to be the support team for them? How awesome would that be if my husband came home to a happy wife when he was done working? Wouldn’t it be better for my sons to see a proud Mom when they were done with classes or home on vacation? It might make their lives a lot easier if I were more satisfied with my own work, instead of coming home to, “But all I did today was pull weeds and do the dishes!”

Second, my blog and social media feeds. This life we chose, housewife and mom? It’s pretty damn rewarding. It’s fun. It’s satisfying. And we can be proud of the work we do in the background. All kinds of businesses have background people, support crews. That was the kind of job I did before I had kids and I was damn good at it.

Home and family are no different. My husband works in the world and brings home money. My children are making a way of their own in the world. Me? I have always been the support for that, something they don’t even realize they need until it’s not there.

Attitude about your work can change everything. I have been productive. I have been and still am filling a need in this world. Now that I’m not so busy with little kids, finding ways to share it with others outside my home through this blog and my social media feeds has become my new outlet, a way to encourage other people in their journey. I’m hoping I can do more of that as the years go by. Who knows where it will take me!

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