kick, and then you glide

today marked the end of a very big project; a joshua tree session of not back to school camp. planning a big event for very free people under the age of 18 involves a lot. planning this new session as well as handling all the registrations, paperwork, and bookkeeping for the 5 other weeks of nbtsc and an alumni reunion was a lot lot. doing it all while also parenting a 3 year old, running a homestead, supporting a mother-in-law post surgery, helping to care for a 96-year-old, providing long distance care for my dad, and doing a few terrifying public speaking gigs, has combined in me being way busier than i care to be since june. don’t get me wrong, i’m not complaining about this beautiful life i lead. camp was so great! so so great! i can’t even begin to describe how much fun it was to be there with everyone again, after 6 years away. many of the staff are people whom i’ve known for 18 years now, some i’ve lived with, some i’m related to, all are very, very dear to me. and those campers! they are so f’ing great! i love them so. it was a whirlwind of beautiful, glow-in-the-dark, sparkly, bright-eyed, humble, self-aware geniuses. so yeah, camp was great. totally worth it. AND, now that it’s over, i have a sensation of slowly floating back to earth. i feel my feet on the ground and am looking around for what feels like the first time in a long time. i’m so looking forward to some down time. i’m ready to ponder chicken breeds again and plan some activities for my little waldorf group.

we sang this song at camp (i can’t find credit for it, let me know if you know who wrote it), it feels very applicable:

You kick and then you glide

You kick kick and then you glide
It’s all in the rhythm, it’s all in the rhythm
It’s all in the rhythm of the heart.

Keep breathing, it’s the most important part

Keep breathing, it’s the most important part

also, i wrote a guest post on the camp blog here.

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more on unschooling college

i’ve been thinking more about what my life & education goals are, and asking myself if college is the right place to be considering my big picture life vision. the benefits of education are plentiful and pretty much agreed upon by everybody -conservatives, liberals, rich, poor, etc. but there’s a lot of argument (especially in my circles) about the RIGHT way to get educated. the biggest question seems to be, “is college a waste of time and a bigger waste of money?”

i’m in a somewhat unique (though not very unique at my school) situation in that community college is not costing me any money. in fact, i’m getting paid a small stipend to go to school. because my household is “low income”* i qualify for federal and state grants that work out to about $250 a month for full time enrollment. if you calculate the hours i put in for that money, it’s not exactly what you’d call a good gig, but when you consider i’m getting paid to earn college credit when so many people are paying through the nose to earn the same, i am certainly not complaining!

however, if i was not being so generously funded to go to community college, here is what i would do; i would read my friend blake’s book, better than college and dive in to the zero tuition college community. i’d make myself a student education plan (taking care to cover all my integral life practice bases. and THEN i would start enrolling like crazy in the coursera classes! do you know about coursera? as far as i can tell, it’s the best thing that has happened to unschooling, self directed learning, and life-long learning since grace llewellyn. it’s the best college classes in the world, taught by the best teachers, for FREE! it’s freeking awesome. they’ve got harvard law and berkely school of music and MIT and their professors, and you can take their classes for free!

here’s a ted talk that tells you more:

*by american standards, anyway. truth is i feel pretty rich most of the time.

back to school (still mindful mama in training)

my year-long break from community college is coming to an end this week. i have to admit, i haven’t missed balancing chemistry equations or navigating on-line scavenger hunts masquerading as a college course. but… i have missed thinking hard about concepts and stretching my brain in a way that only seems to happen in a school context for me. i’m excited about working towards my goals in education and career. i’m excited about the classes i’m taking; art history and sociology -no chemistry! no math! whee!

i’m just a bit nervous about how full my life is gonna be when i add a pig project like school to the already rather large projects of parenting, earning a living, running a household, feeding my family nourishing food, maintaining a fantastic marriage, gardening, supporting and spending time with all my loved ones, being available to my community… i could go on, but if you get the idea.

my whole anti-busyness plan that i posted about in september is going well. i’m really happy about how much i’ve settled in to many more moments over the last few months. adding daily and weekly rhythms and routines as much as possible has been really nice. oliver seems to thrive with more structure too. i still forget to be mindful most of the time though. so i worry that i won’t be able to hold school work lightly and be flexible about it. i really don’t want to get all stressed out about homework. life is too short. and, for pete’s sake, i sell unschooling literature for a living! i of all people should know that the test or the grade is not worth any stress!

it is hereby my intention to be the work-school-family-self care balance ninja! the word “balance” in this (and most) context(s) kinda irritates me, i don’t think it’s really possible to balance so many things at the same time, it’s more like swinging the pendulum freely and fast enough between them so that nothing explodes. maybe “explode” is the wrong word too…

let me try again; it is hereby my intention for this phase of my life to live full of gratitude, pleasure, peace, and generosity. may i and my family be nourished by my lifestyle. may i take really good care of myself and serve my family and community from a place of fullness. may i remember to ask for help when i need it. may i hold all the “doing” lightly and be willing to let it go if that’s what the moment calls for. may i be kind and patient with myself and others.

 

not back to school camp

NBTSC has been a part of my life since 1997. i attended for the first time when i was 15 and couldn’t believe there were more than 100 unschooling teenagers in the world, let alone in the same building. i had a great time and kept coming back to see my friends and that cute staffer i was crushed out on. his name was damian… here’s a video produced by Allen Ellis, an alumni camper. damain and i couldn’t make it last year, but you might spot nathen in the video. it’s worth noting that the song they are playing at the end was written by the group of campers playing it, along with nathen. every year they form a camp band and write and perform a song for camp. it’s one of the many really great things that happens there.

i’m done with another term of school and am proud to declare i rocked it! i’ve been doing an informal survey of unschoolers in college and feel compelled to share my findings: unschoolers kick ass in college!

a few case studies for you: my brother-in-law, ben, didn’t go to school a day in his life, was not forced or pressured in any way to do math or english. he’s just completed his first year and is head and shoulders above all his classmates in accademic excellence. he has a 4.0 GPA and got 100% on his chemistry final. yes i did say chemistry.

case study #2, my little brother, isaac. (he’s not technically my brother, but it’s the most appropriate lable for him anyway) same as ben, never went to school. he’s 20 now and getting straight A’s in college and loving it.

case study #3, my other pseudo brother, nick, quit school in 3rd grade, was labeled dyslexic, struggled with reading, writing, math. now? straight-A-paper-writing-professor-shmoozing-musician genius!

i could go on. my neighbor, arwen, is still highschool age but at the top of her college classes with teachers declaring, “yes, this is what a portfolio should look like!”there’s my husband, damian (all his teachers want him to major in their subjects), there’s me (not to brag or anything, but i got 98.7% on my math final, the top grade in my class) and we don’t seem to be the only unschoolers that have thrived in college. there’s my friend, reanna, her brothers, damian’s cousins, my old housemate who’s studying engineering, my friend jake who just graduated with a political science degree…

in conclusion, unschoolers seem to perform well above average in the college environment regardless of any prior exposure to the subjects of study. i believe we can at last put to rest the question “but what about college?” in relation to people who don’t go to high school. to quote isaac, “take that, society!”

getting the hang of this

six weeks into the semester, i thought i’d give you an update on the transition from unschooling-hippie to dean’s list-brainiac. brainiac is probably too strong a word, but i do have glasses now… speaking of glasses, wow. i really like being able to see clearly. it’s a beautiful world we live in. the glasses do actually make me smarter because i catch on faster when i can read what’s on the board/slides.

last semester at six weeks in, i felt like i was drowning. all i did was homework. this term i find myself reading martha stewart magazine and baking banana bread on the weekends. it’s not so bad. i attribute this manageable situation to several factors:

  1. my teachers- none of them are crazy. i really like that. two of them are ‘easy’ in that they don’t assign much homework or give hard tests.
  2. i have the prerequisites- i’m not jumping in to the world of algebra and college land after a 15 year hiatus. i know the ropes better.
  3. i have seven hours a week where i am stuck on campus with no good option but to study. time flies when you are doing math.
  4. over the summer i studied up on how to be a good student. i’ve been trying to implement the tips and techniques and i think it’s working.
  5. i’m taking three classes instead of four.

what i’m working on now is tricks to retaining massive amounts of random information. spanish and anatomy both require a lot of memorization, which i think i’m doing ok with, but i’m not sure if the info is going to stay in my brain for good, which is what i’m going for. according to my current plan i’m going to be needing good knowledge in anatomy and spanish a lot, and i don’t want to have to relearn it all later. i don’t know if mnemonics cut it for deep learning.

another thing i’m working on is balancing our finances with this student lifestyle. it’s been a bit rough since i quit working at the health food store back in january, but now, finally, i think we have a good sense of what our income and expenses are and i think we can make this school thing work without any more student loans until we transfer away from our cheap community college. yay! i downloaded some excel worksheets and we are now tracking our net worth and obsessively sticking to our budget.  even though our budget is super tight, it feels really liberating to know we can live within our means and pay off our nasty credit card debt.