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):

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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):

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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

Our personal Neverland . . .

In the last year, Trystan’s love for nature has really grown.  From trekking barefoot through the forests of New Hampshire, to foraging for stones in the natural waterways of New York, to swimming and kayaking,  to building survival forts from only what the natural surroundings provide, to climbing (and sitting a spell, I might add amidst) the trees on our property, I love to be a spectator of it all!

As a self-professed “tree-hugger”  his connection to the trees especially intrigues me.

Just yesterday, I got this magical shot of him in the tree and I couldn’t help but think back to when he was a little boy mimicking his favorite hero, Peter Pan.

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And then, today, it occurred to me that there may be a parallel that can be drawn between the fictional character of Peter Pan and most radical unschoolers.  Mind you, I take a relaxed approach from J.M. Barrie’s depiction of the character (more narcissistic and vain) and present more my take, my perception of the character; the essence of Peter Pan, if you would.

So . . . Here are my thoughts:


~Peter Pan is all about enjoying himself.  Always having fun, always laughing. He famously said “to die would be be an awfully big adventure” but he first says “to LIVE would be an awfully big adventure”.  Unschoolers live a life with that sense of adventure.  With a view that life is to be cherished and enjoyed. That we are here to make the most of it, see the fun, don’t take things too seriously.  Living is learning! It is a natural by product of digging in and embracing each moment we have.

~While there are certain boundaries and laws to be abided, for the most part we  live a life of freedom and spontaneity.

~We live our lives with less fear.  I think this is for two reasons:

One-Having their natural inherent desire to learn encouraged and stimulated rather than squelched (as unfortunately it can be in the public schools system), unschooled kids love to learn.  My experience has been that when my kids want to do anything (play an instrument, learn to play a game, forge a sword, you name it) they become avid self-sufficient researchers, equipped with the feeling that there is really nothing they can’t learn if they only set their mind and heart to do so.  In reference to my kids, I recently had someone refer to them as “incredibly intellectually curious”.  I think that term so adequately describes so many of the unschooled kids I have the pleasure to know. With their desire to learn intact and the freedom and space to learn what they want to the extent they need and want,  they are afforded knowledge and with a better understanding of things, their courage is amplified.

Two- from the very beginning, unschooled children are given the message that we are perfect as we are, that all we will ever need is already within us, and we are encouraged to believe in ourselves. Peter Pan may be seen as being cocky but perhaps he is simply confident.  With our confidence intact, we are able to live life more courageously.

~People tend to think of Peter Pan as being reckless and irresponsible but I think it takes great responsibility to run an entire island, lead an entire band of lost boys yet still manage to create a sense of community and comradery.  And then, let’s not forget the great ingenuity it takes to outsmart Captain Hook.

Unschooled kids are incredibly self-sufficient and contrary to what some think, are very responsible.  They also make great leaders and yet because they are encouraged to see the world as a community they can contribute to, they are also excellent team players.  And I have yet to meet an unschooled kid who hasn’t blown me away with their creative thinking and ability to outsmart any situation.

A few of my other favorite quotes I think so aptly apply to the unschooling philosophy:

“Dreams do come true, if only we wish hard enough. You can have anything in life if you will sacrifice everything else for it.” 
J.M. BarriePeter Pan

“The moment you doubt whether you can fly, you cease for ever to be able to do it.” 
J.M. BarriePeter Pan

“Never is an awfully long time.”

J.M. BarriePeter Pan

“I taught you to fight and to fly. What more could there be?” 
J.M. BarriePeter Pan and Wendy

And finally this:

Peter Pan’s story is one based on the magic of our dreams, the fantastic places we can go in our imaginations and the belief that dreams are real.  Neverland, itself, exists in the realm between sleeping and waking.  In the movie Hook, Tinkerbell tells Peter (who incidentally has now grown up): You know that place between sleep and awake, that place where you still remember dreaming? That’s where I’ll always love you, Peter Pan. That’s where I’ll be waiting.”

I can’t speak for everyone’s household but in our household, we encourage each other’s dreams and promote the thinking that our dreams should be something we reach for, that we can be living our dreams right now.  Our dreams can indeed come true and that the sky need not be our limit!

Uncategorized, Unschooling

Finding Your Tribe and realizing Life Rocks

We love our life! We are so happy to share it with all of you.  Yet we still have never been shy about the challenges we face; our biggest, being our feeling so alone way out here and the lack of support we feel by others in our immediate environment.  We have said for years:  “if only we could just find our tribe . . .”

On the one side:

~Living our life as we do and treading a path so different from most has presented it’s challenges.My favorite of quotes that has fortified us on our path:  “All truth passes through three stages. First, it is ridiculed. Second, it is violently opposed. Third, it is accepted as being self-evident.”-Arthur Schopenhauer

~It means: Our life is at times filled with a sense of uncertainty.

~On this journey we have encountered our fair share of those that really just more or less “don’t get it”; some of them even our own family members. When you experience that time and again, you start to wonder if you will ever really “find your tribe”.

~I set up this blog nearly 5 years ago for that sole purpose.  To reach out, find and connect with others like us; those who shared the same ideals.  Longing to find a place where we could go (virtual or physical) wherein we wouldn’t feel like foreigners in a strange land, a place where we felt a sense of belonging.  Regardless of the many online support groups and social networking we have done in all these years, it really isn’t until just recently that we have had a taste for what that truly feels like.  Only recently have we found the balance of being just fine on our own but also relishing in the wonder of what it feels like to be in the company of those in whom we are totally ourselves, with those with whom we feel that calm sense of belonging.

On the other side:

I have to say that, for the most part, the negative experiences have been pretty few and far in between and the longer we are on this path, less.  Or perhaps, it’s just that as we settle into our authentic life, those opinions no longer affect us, or it has just gotten easier to simply listen with compassion for their views and/or concern.

Even in those uncertain times (though they really are so rare for us these days)  our life is so full of adventure and heartfelt joy!  We are so grateful for every experience!  Isn’t that after all what this life is about: living and learning?

AND FINALLY . . .

We have found our tribe!!!

Photo credit: Joe Martin Photography

People who believe what in what we believe. People who think like us. People with common interests, common beliefs and ideals.

A community where we belong, where we just . . .  fit. Where we can show up and be 100% ourselves.

Those with whom we can connect, learn and grow with.

A symbolic place within where confusion and uncertainty dissipates. Where clarity, innovation and inspiration sets in.  Where a sense of sheer relief  is felt. Where you feel safe to let your guard down. Finally! You have found your place, your people!

~OUR TRIBE~

These things and more we all agree we felt this past week attending the Life Rocks Unschooling Conference.  Sure, it counts for a lot that some of our best friends were running the thing (and I was so grateful to be asked to help out) but it was the new friendships formed that really convinced me that we had found our tribe. People with whom we had never shared any time with felt like old friends.  Hearing their stories, viewing their vulnerability bonded us.

There were so many fantastic moments and I wish I could share them all but here are just a few of our favorite highlights, the moments that speak to what it feels like to be with your tribe . . .

Everyone free to be themselves. These kids have no qualms about who they are and what they represent. Barefooted, hair of every color, clothes of every style. All about freedom of expression.  So liberating! Such an inspiration!
My Livy, so in her element, so free to be her punk rock self. Love it!
My Livy, so in her element, so free to be her punk rock self. Love it!
No discrimination amongst the age groups. Patience and compassion for the younger ones. Scenes like this totally touched my heart.
No discrimination amongst the age groups. Patience and compassion for the younger ones. Scenes like this totally touched my heart. (photo credit: Joe Martin Photography
Comradery and Industriousness; the willingness to pitch in to solve a problem for your fellow man.  This pitch tent was thought up and put together on the spot to provide shade for the Sun Vegan Bus; even our physical nourishment was provided with compassion and love.
Comradery and Industriousness; the willingness to pitch in to solve a problem for your fellow man. This pitch tent was thought up and put together on the spot to provide shade for the Sun Vegan Bus; even our physical nourishment was provided with compassion and love.(photo credit: Joe Martin Photography
Exploring your creative side in an effort of finding your own truth is a popular concept with unschoolers. I was so pleased to be able to share this passion with those in attendance.
And I joined in as a participant in some of the other art sessions.  I love how the room was full of children and adults working side by side, all learning and creating together.
And I joined in as a participant in some of the other art sessions. I love how the room was full of children and adults working side by side, all learning and creating together.
Self-sufficiency and living in the present. Why must we wait until we are an adult, with the “proper education” and adequate schooling under our belt, to start to making a living for ourselves? Livy was just one of the many kids who set up to sell their wares at the renegade bazaar.

 

And the one person I owe the most for helping me find my tribe . . . one of my dearest friends and my soul sister, Dayna.  It was upon meeting her (and her sparkling family) a year ago that I first felt that sense of what it is to be with your tribe.
And the one person I owe the most for helping me find my tribe . . . one of my dearest friends and my soul sister, Dayna. It was upon meeting her (and her sparkling family) a year ago that I first felt that sense of what it is to be with your tribe.

 

And the feelings that ensued in the days that passed just after, the sadness and the longing, we all felt . . . how is it we could miss these people,  with whom we spent such little time with, so much?

 

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The teens saying their final bittersweet goodbyes. Nobody in this group is “too cool” for a group goodbye hug!

Those who you feel an instant connection to, those who you feel you can’t help but be totally yourself with, no judgement and totally free where even when there is a difference of opinion it is respected and accepted.  Those with whom you feel a familiarity and kinship . . . this is what finding your tribe feels like.

We cannot wait to be with our tribe again soon.

LOVE and LIGHT!

Amber