radical unschoolers, Unschooling

Sharing your truth with the world

One of the biggest blessings and joys that I have experienced from living this life, is how much I have been inspired and encouraged by my children’s utterances.  Every time they have been questioned by others, they have been able to confidently stand their ground and their answers always floor me.  Since they were very little, it has been that way. Back then, it was always with a sense of darling innocence, as if they couldn’t understand why anyone would be so curious about our life. It was just our life!  As they got older and their public schooled friends seemed to have disappeared, the difference in the way we did things became more apparent.  And it became a bit of a chore trying to make others who “just didn’t get it” to understand.  Though there were lonely times when the kids wondered what it might be like to just “be like the other kids”, those moments were merely fleeting and now on the other side of that, both of them seem to have really found their footing.  To hear them now, as teens, explain to others what their life is like, it’s no longer just a matter of explanation but rather it’s become an opportunity to show others how the unschooling path has provided so richly for them.  Both Trystan and Alivia are so happy to share with others about this lifestyle.  Not only eager to set the record straight and prove themselves but to enlighten others to how easy, natural and wonderful life can be when you live by the philosophy of freedom and respect for all.

If you are a follower and/or regular reader of this blog, you are, no doubt familiar with both of the Tabangay kids but solely through my eyes, my narrative of their lives.  I thought it would be  a nice treat to invite the kids to join me in this post and share a bit with you (from their perspective) how they feel about their lives as unschoolers.

First up, Trystan (age 16, unschooler since the age of 8):

DSC_9859

Note: As soon as I was inspired to write up this post, I asked the kids if they wanted to participate by sharing their views here. They both agreed they really wanted to.  After some time and much thought however, Trystan decided there really wasn’t much to be said or rather too much to be shared, so he summed it up this way:

“I’ve been thinking on it ever since you asked me and the truth is, there are just too many things I could say. It’s just awesome!  I just think my life is awesome. My freedom, my friends, everything!”

And . . .  Alivia (aka Livy, age 14, never been to school with the exception of a short stint in Kindergarten):

10457938_10204138645970573_6545782706672958957_n

In Livy’s words:

“I’d say I love the freedom my parents give me and how my life allows me the freedom to be a true individual, if that makes sense… what I mean by that is, whatever it is I decide to do with my day will be made possible if it is possible and I’ll be free to do it! I can pursue all my passions now while I am young instead of being consumed by, I guess, stuff like homework and not have the time. To be honest, it’s actually really hard to say or express all the things I like about this lifestyle of unschooling because honestly i just like it as a whole and well, I think my lifestyle is just freaking awesome. x :)”

There you have it. Out of the mouths of free children:

AWESOME! It’s just freakin’ awesome!

And neither of them are shy in sharing this sentiment even with perfect strangers in foreign lands . . .

Their first official “speaking engagement” was in Puerto Rico at the Art of Embracing Life’s “Peaceful Parenting” workshop with their friends, Tiffany and Devin Martin.  Their mom Dayna was the featured guest speaker.  It wasn’ t the first time they had to entertain questions but the first time the questions came from complete strangers.  They were a tad bit nervous being in the spotlight (so to speak) but as always, their answers were heartfelt and genuine.

 

Trystan and Alivia answering questions from the audience. One of the most common questions, unschoolers are asked by fellow teens: “What do you do all day then?” And in response when they hear the answer of “Whatever I want, really”, almost always: “Lucky!”

 

I love how respect for others and support from friends is so evident in this shot. For more about our trip to Puerto Rico, click on the image above.

Most recently, they, along with a bunch of their unschooled friends, joined Dayna once again as special guests on her one-hour radio show “Try This At Home with Dayna Martin”. It was so refreshing to listen to the banter between them all, their authenticity, honesty, and sense of humor, so apparent!  Even when some of the comments in the chat room got a little nasty, they all held their own, their belief and confidence sustained them.  And the responses and comments that flooded in after show it wasn’t just us who were affected for the better.  These kids have the ability to inspire change and their lives are a testament to the peaceful parenting paradigm and the beautiful co-existence it makes possible.

Both of these experiences when the kids spoke out as advocates, were fantastic.  For me, as their mom, listening to them fills me with such a sense of contentment and pride.  After hearing them speak out on the radio show, I felt so inspired and so liberated. I even commented on facebook: “I am riding on a high right now from the kids’ energy. I feel so incredibly grateful and proud.” And Dayna: “All of the kids rocked it. We were so pumped up after the show…and STILL are!”

Click on the image above to be transported the to full audio version of this show

Another recent experience I can relate was about a month ago.  It isn’t just the families who live this life that are affected.  The kids spent a couple weeks with their best friends in New Hampshire;  a sort of impromptu “let’s extend the fun of Life Rocks” sort of teen gathering.  We drove them there and dropped them off not even sure how we were going to get them back home but tend to just “cross bridges when we come to them” and I was confident it would work out.  It did! Beautifully! The kids were given a ride home back to New York with our neighbor; someone who has always been gracious and so nice but who we really didn’t know too personally.*  Well, that car ride changed all that.  Not only did the ride provide an opportunity for the three of them to get to know one another a bit better (and they had so much fun) but it also provided a perfect opportunity for the kids to talk about what the unschooling life is all about.  Their so openly sharing with her has paved the way for a few more conversations since then and the chance to get to know her a bit more, myself.  In our short interchanges, she had always struck me as a serious professional woman (and she is, two bachelor’s degrees under her belt).  What I have come to learn is that she is also a very perceptive,  intelligent woman who is so kind-hearted and empathetic to the plight of our world today (our educational system being one of them).

When I told her about our blog and that I was going to be writing about this, she was kind enough to send me, in her own words, this narrative of her car ride experience. I think it speaks volumes and reinforces so much for me:

“Recently I had the opportunity to spend some time with tmy wo neighbors, a 14 and 16 year old. I had never had any substantial conversation with either of them prior to our lengthy road trip but the several hours I spent with them left me very impressed.
 These two young adults were not like most of the teenagers you encounter, not that that is bad but they were wise beyond their years. Our conversations were very diverse and they had many interests. They talked about their friends, who also had some impressive abilities and interest. I soon learned these neighbors (and their friends) were “unschooled”. I had never heard the term nor was I aware of the concept. They were so intellectually curious and well read which is something their mother told me is created by this education process.
 I had a great trip back home, learned a lot, and found myself telling several others of these bright, courteous young adults. If everyone has this type of outcome with such a non-traditional approach, perhaps this model should be used more extensively in educating our children.
 I was glad I had the opportunity to learn about this and get to know my neighbors a bit better.”

When you hear your truth spoken out loud it serves to prove all sorts of things to yourself.  Both to the kids and us, as their parents and partners in this life, it seems evident that the choice to live an unschooling lifestyle has been the best choice we have ever made; so very very easy to see why.  It’s why we are able to so confidently speak our truth (all of us).  I set up this blog for that very reason, as my purpose,  but it makes my heart so glad to see my children accompanying me on this advocacy path, seeking to inspire, encourage and help others to find their truth.

Love, Light and the Courage to always speak your truth . . .

the Tabangays

*To hear the whole story in how the opportunity manifested, you can check out this post.

Uncategorized, Unschooling

Lessons in kindness . . .

Thank you memecenter.org for this fantastic image. I think I just might make one of my own one of these.
Thank you memecenter.org for this fantastic image. I think I just might make one of my own one of these.

Last night was one of those nights where as my head finally hit the pillow, I felt that instant release of pure exhaustion and then immediately after total fulfillment. Last night I drifted off to thoughts of how truly wonderful and miraculous our world is. And this morning as I think on yesterday, I feel just generally awesome. Too good to keep it to myself and so here I am. I must share!
It started with a conversation with my mom. Sitting with our coffee in the quiet of the house, the summer breeze flowing in through the windows, it was one of those many memorable conversations that seems to flow so easily between the two of us. I mention these details because it sets the tone for how I was feeling in the moment; gratitude. Grateful for the warmth of summer, for my comfy jammies, my cozy home, my favorite coffee in my favorite mug and for the friendship I share with my mom, the ability to talk so openly about the deeper things of life, to share our perspectives.
One of the things we discussed is how random acts of kindness, no matter how small they may seem, are so very powerful. My mom has taught me, by example, some really good habits. One of them just happens to be the practice of showing kindness to others, from a smile to paying a compliment to stepping in to help someone in need. Traveling, as I have been lately, has afforded me many opportunities to do just that. I was sharing with her, a few examples of these instances and we both agreed: these random acts of kindness, small or big, have the power to make a difference in not just the lives of others but yours too. You never know who just may need that extra boost of confidence or just how much your offer of help will restore someone’s faith. It costs nothing and the rewards are priceless.
Yesterday, I saw the power of those thoughts made manifest and I learned that kindness not only begets kindness but it is entirely contagious.
Just a few hours later after that coffee talk, my mom called me from our workplace (we both work at the same place) and said there were two elderly ladies who had stopped in for a rest. They had been shopping in town and were on their way back home (walking) when they were overtaken by the heat. They needed a ride and she asked if I would come get them. I grabbed up my keys and shoes and headed out the door. Of course I could do that.
The women were so taken aback and so so grateful. I would say they even felt a little guilty and I hate that the present human condition breeds such a feeling. Why should it be that we feel so guilty for putting anyone else out, why should we feel that we are not worthy of such treatment, why is it kindness for our fellow man is such an out of the ordinary concept? But it is and that is exactly what makes these random acts of kindness so powerful.
We settled in, and got to visit just a little on our short trip. And when I pulled up at the first little lady’s house, she was insistent I not get out and help her to the door. It was difficult for me, but I respected that and then I sat back and watched as something pretty incredible happened. As she was ascending the steps of her porch, I could see she was struggling and just as I was about to exit the car to help her, another young woman came jogging past. Just beyond the house, she stopped short and doubled back. She held onto the lady as she made her way up the steps and then opened her door for her. Joggers/Runners will tell you it’s very important not to break your stride and yet here she did; a random act of kindness on her part. In that instant, I realized: kindness is contagious.
The little lady turned and with a big smile on her face, she waved at us in the car. We had helped her and she was grateful. I was touched. I then took the other lady home (I regretfully never got either of their names though I swear they must have told me.) and then back home for me.
As I pulled into my driveway, I noticed my 94 year old neighbor (a few houses down) sitting on her front porch alone. I was intending to get back to some “stuff” I was doing when I got the phone call. Okay, I’ll be honest I was binge watching a new show on Netflix and was just two episodes away from seeing how it ends and I was a bit eager to get back to it but I felt really motivated to go check up on her. I vowed I would go sit with her and spend however much time she needed and I felt really good about doing just that. I was about to head over when I had the thought that I would be extra nice to bring her some flowers from my garden. I quickly wrangled up a bouquet and headed over.
As I approached the house, I saw she was on the phone and for a fleeting moment, I considered turning around so as not to interrupt but I had the flowers so I proceeded. My plan was to quietly hand them to her and walk away but as I climbed the steps, she politely said goodbye to her caller and waved me onward, invited me to sit with her. I did.
Within ten minutes, she told me that she had been having a rough time. Her niece, more like a daughter to her was very ill, had suffered a stroke two weeks prior and was not doing well. She was wrought with worry and the fear that she would not recover. Though she knew in her heart, it was what was best, had even prayed before bed that whatever was best would come to be, she was struggling with having to say goodbye. As she spoke and I listened attentively (thinking to myself she needs this, this is why I am here), her phone rang. She answered and within seconds, she cried out “Oh no! No!” . Her niece was gone, had passed in the night. I sat in quiet support, offered my hand and she held it as she spoke on the phone. When she hung up she turned to me and said she was so grateful I was there with her when she got the news. And she was amazed that just out of the blue had decided to bring her flowers. How did I know it was just what she needed and at just the right moment? I can’t rightfully say but knew I had to follow my instinct, listen to my heart. We were both grateful I did. What seemed a random act of kindness turned out to be so much more.
But there’s more to this story!
During our visit, another neighbor of ours (my next door neighbor) had been out working in her garden when it occurred to her also to bring flowers over to our elderly friend. She brought them over, took them into the house and then sat with us on the porch for a bit, as well. This was the second time that day, I witnessed my act of kindness being followed up by another.
And so why should I be surprised when in the course of our conversation when I mentioned that I was trying to work out a strategy to pick up my kids from our friend’s home in New Hampshire, she offered to pick them up for me. She has a home there, just happened to be going back to her home there tomorrow (today) and would be happy to bring them back to New York, upon her return. I had been stressing about how I was going to manage and in that instant felt totally relieved, this was my answer. And quite possibly my reward; a random act of kindness returned to me.
Even if it seems completely inadvertent at times . . . Kindness is contagious. Kind energy cannot help but attract kind energy. Kindness begets kindness.
Let us always BE KIND!
As always love and light . . .
Amber