Friday, September 30, 2016

Zippy and otherwise

Sometimes I get still. That's good, because sometimes I don't, and can't. If I were that zippy all the time, my body, mind and soul would probably wear out.
. . . .

When I was younger and I would change, I thought something was wrong with me. I was under the mistaken impression that personality and mood should be constants. Life is better when I think of those fluctuations as tides, or as the weather of the soul.

"Cocooning and other stillness" (a blogpost from early December 2012)
photo by Sandra Dodd

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Be more

I closed a talk recently with this:
Be brave, be calm, be happy.

Be braver, be calmer, be happier.
The first line was written on my paper. The second one, I added just then.
photo by Sandra Dodd

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

On a peaceful day...

Watching the news on TV, or following too many news sites, can harm the peace of an unschooling home. Some moms, especially when their children are young, have found more peace if they focus inward on their children than outward far away.

If someone WANTS to be afraid and pissed off, even on a fairly peaceful day, all it takes is to turn the news on and let it affect your entire nervous system, your digestive system, your adrenal glands and hormones, your chance of trusting your neighbors, or of sleeping peacefully.
photo by Sandra Dodd, of someone else's puppet

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Light and shadows

"Light" can refer to levity, in English, and also to illumination. So it can be sweetness, humor, and clarity all. One of the best places to live lightly is in the kitchen, with and around food.

Avoid shading or shadowing what works best when bathed in light and lightness.
photo by Sandra Dodd

Monday, September 26, 2016

Don't measure.

I've given this advice to newlyweds, and to my children about roommates:

Don't aim for 50/50.

If 50% is right, then 49% is wrong, and 65% would be something get angry about.

If you both aim for more than half, you'll meet around the middle, around half the time. If you want the other person to stick around, "around" is the goal,
photo by Sandra Dodd

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Sometimes yes

Sometimes saying yes is being patient a little longer than the schedule says you should. Sometimes being kind is not rushing toward or away from something. Sometimes magic, and learning, and memories, come from a patient, gentle, unspoken "yes."
photo by Sandra Dodd

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Strewing might ring a bell

Once Colleen Prieto wrote:

Yesterday, a neighbor offered me something that looks sort of like a cross between a bell and a gong, a stand to hang it from, and a mallet. It was interesting and I figured we'd find some sort of use for it, so...

In the less than 24 hours it's been in the house, my 9 year old has:
  • Experimented with the different sounds it can make (soft hits, hard hits, hit in different places)
  • Used it to call us all to attention so he could announce important things (like "I'm hungry" 🙂)
  • Told our elderly friend about it, and in turn checked out the links she sent to websites that have photos of gongs that are bigger than people, Tibetan singing bowls, etc.
  • Added The King and I to our Netflix queue after my mother said she thinks they use gongs to summon dancing maidens in the movie
  • Looked for other things in the house to bring into the living room to make it look "even more Avatar air temple and less ordinary living room" 🙂
  • Put Avatar episodes on in the background and made up his own air-bending moves while they were on
  • Wondered why a mallet is called a mallet and is not called a hammer
  • Asked me to find the bell collection we used to have out, so he can play with the bells again

The fun (and learning, and connections) that can come from exploring one simple item can be amazing.

—Colleen Prieto
photo by Sandra Dodd

Friday, September 23, 2016


For unschooling to flourish, parents might need to find ways to protect their children from the parents’ own fears and prejudices. The easiest way to do that is for the parents to let go of those fears and prejudices and see the world, and their children, through new eyes.
Protection can backfire
photo by Sandra Dodd

Thursday, September 22, 2016

What's the question?

Instead of indulging in pretty phrases and lofty goals, strip off the words and see if there is a simpler, more direct question to ask. If you can find the question, you might discover that you know the answer.
photo by Sandra Dodd

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

A better choice

Pam Sorooshian wrote:

My suggestion to you is to focus on making a "better" choice each time you can. I think that was the most helpful advice I got as a parent of younger kids—it was surprisingly practical and encouraging to simply consider at least two choices and pick the better one. The next time, try to think of the one you did choose and then one other—pick the better one. If you make a choice you're unhappy with, after the fact, think then about what would have been a better choice—have that one 'on hand' for next time.

Don't expect to be perfect, but expect yourself to be improving all the time.

—Pam Sorooshian
photo by Sandra Dodd, of something Keith Dodd carved

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Shared joy

Happy memories are good glue.

The quote is from,
but it applies to kids' friendships, and to family memories.
photo by Sandra Dodd
__ __

Monday, September 19, 2016


The wonderfulness of others will not diminish you. Your realization of the wonderfulness of others will enlarge you.
photo by Sandra Dodd, of Holly Dodd

This post is a repeat from 2012. I was happy and lucky to find it, because both the boat and the webpage were mentioned, separately, by me in a talk in London yesterday.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Whole self in a whole way

If you're living in the past, that's a problem for now.

If you're living in the future too much,
In the future that you're imagining,
in the future that you're predicting,
in the future that you would like to imagine you can control,
in the future that you would like to imagine that you can even imagine, that's a problem.

So it's good to aim for living in the moment in a whole way—your whole self, not separated from your past or your future, but also not really over-focussed on it.
photo by Sandra Dodd

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Softly consider

Sometimes a hard thing can be beautiful, while a soft thing might be less so. Peace isn't always quiet.

Reconsider prejudices!
 photo IMG_3533.jpg
photo by Sandra Dodd

Friday, September 16, 2016

Wondering, questioning, answering

During a drought, what is lacking?

The recommended answer: rain
Marty's answer: a boat ride
photo by Sandra Dodd

Thursday, September 15, 2016

A peaceful, homey home

One small tip for a peaceful, homey home:

Sometimes when a mom is really frustrated with doing the dishes, it can help to get rid of dishes with bad memories and connections, or put them in storage for a while. Happy, fun dishes with pleasant associations are easier to wash.
photo by Sandra Dodd

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Richer, meaningful, lasting

"As I became happier with myself and the world around me, I would say that real learning started to happen. From my experience, when trauma heals, learning begins to become more fluid again. Richer. More meaningful. More lasting."
photo by Sandra Dodd

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Giving up, gaining strength

De Smith wrote:

At one point in my early struggles to grasp the concept, I "threw in the towel", thinking that it wasn't "working", and decided I was going back to traditional parenting! Within a day, I knew I could never be that parent, again—if I ever had totally been that parent. I found that once you learned how to respect someone, you couldn't ignore that and treat them with less value, with less honor just because you decided so. For a day or so, that had me desperate and flailing. Eventually, I found it strengthening—it backed up the ideas I so loved and wanted for my family.
—De Smith
photo by Sandra Dodd

Monday, September 12, 2016

Convenience foods

Life was harder, not long ago. Food preparation and availability are easier than ever. Appreciate the advantages of living where you live, when you live! Rejoice at convenience.
photo by Sandra Dodd

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Beyond the door

Joyce Fetteroll wrote:

A computer, a hand held game, an iPod are doors that lead to a vast world of experiences. Just as your front door leads to a vast world of many different things you can do. Would you refer to all the things your family does by going through your front door—walks, shopping, visiting friends, mowing the lawn, vacations—as "door stuff"?

. . . .

Stop looking at the door. See the richness that exists beyond the door.
—Joyce Fetteroll
photo by Sandra Dodd

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Questions and curiosity

"In each moment of questioning, or inquiry, or curiosity, you get to choose how you respond. You can respond in such a way that a child's question, their learning, is honored, with kindness and lightness and joy, or you can shut that down with your own opinions and ideas. The more a parent can honor a child's curiosity, the more that child will genuinely listen to their parent's ideas about the world."
—Jenny Cyphers
photo by Sandra Dodd

Friday, September 9, 2016

Slight, subtle change

Slow, careful little changes make eventual big differences. Learn to see in different ways.
photo by Colleen Prieto, who wrote
"Fantastic little snake—he was watching us watching him.
Newburyport, Massachusetts"


Thursday, September 8, 2016

Canada... dude!

I'm happy to know I'm not the sole source of information for my kids.

Last night I came to use my computer and there was a dialog on the desktop, a leftover instant message between my thirteen-year-old son Marty and an older homeschooler. This was the entirety of that dialog:

Marty: You coming down?
Other kid: yeah.
Marty: Did you know Canada has Prime Ministers?
Other kid: yeah
Marty: dude

Now I will never have to explain to Marty that Canada has a prime minister. I don't know why he cared, on a Friday night in New Mexico, but it doesn't matter.
For the record, "last night" was in late 2002, and the other kid was Brett Henry, also unschooled, who is now a firefighter in the Los Alamos Fire Department.

photo by Sandra Dodd
P.S. Since writing this, since taking that photo, I went to France and discovered that their stop signs say "Stop." Why, I asked my French host-mom, do they say "ArrĂȘt" in Quebec? She said Quebec wants to be more French than France. One more bit of information that won't be on the test. Trivia.

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Helpful and kind

The idea of doing what is kind to do, whether it's bringing food to someone who is engaged in something interesting, or hanging around a long time just in case help is needed did not get dusty. That's the way our kids think others should be, and it has made countless differences in all directions in our lives.

To read about the idea that DID get dusty, go here:
Radical Unschooling Info post by Sandra Dodd; September 6, 2016
photo by Megan Valnes

Tuesday, September 6, 2016


Look at that curled up leaf:

Something that will be big, and full, sometimes starts small, and in another form. If conditions remain good for that leaf, it will open up like the others. It won't happen sooner from wishing or pressure. The leaf won't be bigger from speeches or promises. It will open gently to be itself, if it is allowed to unfurl in its own way.
photo by Holly Dodd

Monday, September 5, 2016

What happens is...

What happens when you see other people differently is that you cannot help but see yourself differently. When you choose to find opportunities to give other people choices, you yourself have begun to make more choices.

from The Big Book of Unschooling, page 192 (or 222)
which links to
photo by Rippy Dusseldorp (her kids and Adam's family)

Sunday, September 4, 2016

A thousand to one

For unschooling to work, parents need to stop looking into the future and live more in the moment with their real child. BEING with a child is being where the child is, emotionally and spiritually and physically and musically and artistically. Seeing where the child *is* rather than seeing a thousand or even a dozen places she is not.
photo by Chrissy Florence

Saturday, September 3, 2016

Organic learning

Learning happens all on its own when the parents stop looking at life in a schoolish way, and can appreciate and encourage that sort of organic, constant addition to a personal body of knowledge.
photo by Sandra Dodd

Friday, September 2, 2016

Sixth Anniversary, Just Add Light and Stir

I missed announcing the fifth anniversary, in 2015. By the time I noticed, six weeks had passed. Happy anniversary to us all, 2016.

Sometimes it's hard to find a quote that hasn't been used. Other times I don't have a great photo to match the quote. But occasionally it's poetically magical, and I'm inspired, again, to continue.

Thank you for reading and sharing.

photo by Sandra Dodd, of someone else's good idea

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Same but different

Some things are the same at a distance, or when the details are unimportant.

Up close, even things that are "the same" can be very different.

What you're doing, what people think you're doing, what you wish you were doing, all might be very different. By careful comparison and contrast, we can clarify our vision. Save the effort for things you care about, though.
photo by Sandra Dodd