Showing posts sorted by relevance for query karen james. Sort by date Show all posts
Showing posts sorted by relevance for query karen james. Sort by date Show all posts

Thursday, June 13, 2019

Starting to soften

Karen James wrote:

Being Ethan's mom changed me. I surprised myself in good ways. In learning to give to him, I grew to really like myself.
The walls started coming down. I started to soften - to have compassion for myself.... I challenged myself to continue to do better, because I now knew I could. I had a found confidence in that new truth. Honesty and humility too. All good things for learning to really flourish.

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.
—Karen James

More words and/or photos by Karen James
photo by Karen James

Sunday, October 25, 2020

A solitary tree

The words and photo below are by Karen James. I would not have been able to find or write anything better to go with this beautiful photo than Karen's description of it on September 16.
The air was clear today, so the three of us went for a walk at one of our favourite spots. The guys walked ahead, while I meandered behind, finding things to photograph.

Whenever we walk at this particular place, I always look for this tree. It's alone at the top of a cliff, at the curve of the path that winds us eventually back to where we started.

I love its solitary presence.

I love its asymmetry, shaped, in part, by the strong winds coming off the ocean.

I love that it stands at a fork, with one path bending softly toward a return, and one leading to the edge of the cliff.

I love that I can see Ethan climbing and resting in it in my memory.

Today, I loved its hard shadows and blue backdrop because that meant the smoke had parted, at least for now. It looks beautiful in the mist too. It's a beautiful tree.

More by Karen James (photo, words, or both)
photo by Karen James

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Investing in the future

Karen James wrote:

Find as many ways as you can to fill your daughter's cup. Surprise her one day with some new creation for her dolls. Set them up in an interesting scenario, and wait until she finds them. Sit down and play with them with her. Grab a Kleenex. Make a skirt. Build a house out of a cardboard box. Help her decorate it. Buy a second hand one, and let her find it one morning. Get really creative and enjoy this time with your daughter.

More and more I'm discovering it's not so much about giving, as it is about building, and investing. You are setting the foundation for your daughter's future interactions with the people she will come to hold dear..."
—Karen James

Read about Karen's Barbies, memories, and ideas here:
photo by Karen James

Monday, May 14, 2018

Karen James' quotes and photos

I need a few days of sick leave, please.

This will lead to posts with a photo or quote (maybe both in one, but not usually) by Karen James:

Karen James


Tuesday, November 2, 2021

Lamplight and color

I like facebook because I can see photos of my grandkids, of more distant relatives, of friends who live near and far, some of whom I've met in person and others I've known for twenty years or more without being in the same physical place.

This week, Karen James (probably with the help of her family) painted a couple of these walls different colors. I know this because she shared it on facebook.

Before the new colors came, though, I had snagged an image of lamps, thinking of the interactions of those various lights on Karen's art projects, her snacks, views of her husband and son, and her cat. I thought of how each light had a purpose, and a history.

Now, to all of that, add the thought of new colors.
What is commonplace this year—seeing others' homes at a distance in color, grandparents seeing grandchildren asleep in their own beds without leaving our own—is new, on Earth. Appreciation and wonder are appropriate reactions to these marvels. Try not to take wonders for granted.
photos by Karen James

Friday, November 30, 2018

A drop of water

Karen James took this photo, and wrote of it, "A forest in a drop of water."

It reminded me of this, from "Disposable Checklists for Unschoolers":

Universe-in-a-Drop-of-Water Method: Can one intense interest come to represent or lead to all others? A mom once complained
that her son was interested in nothing but World War II. There are college professors and historians who are interested in nothing but World War II. It can become a life's work. But even a passing interest can touch just about everything—geography, politics, the history and current events of Europe and parts of the Pacific, social history of the 20th century in the United States, military technology, tactics, recruitment and propaganda, poster art/production/distribution, advances in communications, transport of troops and food and supplies, espionage, prejudices, internment camps, segregation, patriotism, music, uniforms, insignia, religion....
Karen took a photo of a forest and of unschooling in a drop of water.
photo by Karen James

Tuesday, April 20, 2021

Investing your time

Karen James wrote:

It might not seem like it now, but those early years pass fast. . . . I don't regret a single moment. If anything, I wish I'd given more. I still have time, thankfully.

It did take a lot of my time, attention and energy, and there were times when I was really, really tired at the end of the day, and mornings when I was slow to want to embrace the day. But I see all that time and energy and attention as an investment—in my son, and in my own future. If I get to grow old, I hope these are some of the moments that bring colour to my winters.

Please read the beautiful entirety of that at
photo by Sandra Dodd

Monday, March 8, 2021


Karen James wrote:
If parents wonder whether they should be more generous with their children, I would say yes. The more the better. Not in a give-them-everything-they-want kind of way. More in a give-them-as-much-of-yourself-as-you-can kind of way. Be open. Be generous. Be understanding. Be trusting and trustworthy. Be present. Be loving. Be compassionate. Be patient. Be helpful. Be kind.

You will be amazed at what you see.

—Karen James
photo by Kinsey Norris

Friday, February 12, 2021

This, too...

"Live lightly, when possible. Bring cheer, when you can. Remember, this, too, will pass."
—Karen James
Patience (with more by Karen James)
photo by Cass Kotrba

Friday, January 15, 2021

Solidity and permanence

Karen James took both of these photos. They ended up next to each other in my folder of possible-future-Just-Add-Light images. They made a pair, for me.

One has a framework of sticks that grew slowly and gradually. Sticks they are, still.

The second image shows sticks that were collected and propped up for fun. Each pole had a life, somewhere, one time. A new phase of that life was being part of temporary art. Another phase was being seen and captured from one angle on one day, in one moment. Then I saved it a while. One thing leading to another, now you've seen them.

Look at what else in that scene seems solid, and old. What else seems fragile or transitory? The ocean is ancient, and strong, and it changes too. It moves all day and all night.

Expecting people to be more solid and unchanging than other, older, harder things is an expectation to let go of. People do change, and we see them with our everchanging eyes and thoughts.

Learning to accept change is good growth.
photos by Karen James

Monday, December 7, 2020

Like real life

Soft, hard,
lasting, fleeting,
solemn or sweet—
the nature of "real life" can be shifty.

Be soft, and lasting, and sweet
as well and as often as you can be.
The words are new, but a good follow-up is How to be a Good Unschooler.
photo by Karen James, of art by Karen James, with subject posing

Thursday, June 25, 2020

The beginning of paths

Karen James, in a comment once:

"Question everything"...I love it! As a kid I was told I asked too many questions! As a parent, questions are the beginning of paths to places we have yet to visit, and are so exciting for that reason!
—Karen James
in response to this
photo by Jo Isaac

Friday, November 2, 2018

Something changes everything

"I'd never heard a baby's first laugh. Hearing the sound of that laugh and seeing the joy in my boy's being opened up my whole world at that moment. I remember the room getting brighter, lighter, softer."
—Karen James

You will want to read the rest, I think:
photo by Karen James

Thursday, August 30, 2018

Rich and full

Karen James wrote:
The most wonderful thing (to me) about unschooling is that we can support our children's growth, development, and learning in ways that embrace and nurture who they are as whole people with all their strengths and limitations. Our children can learn to live a rich and full life not in spite of where they fall short, but in celebration of where they find meaning and purpose and useful practice of skills they've come to own through a deeper understanding of who they are and what they care to spend their time and energy doing.
—Karen James
photo by Hema Bharadwaj

Thursday, August 9, 2018

A dynamic tapestry

Karen James wrote:

What I've discovered about my son's learning (about my own as well) is that it's a tapestry of experiences that weave themselves over time, with some threads longer than others, with some threads connecting in surprising places, with gaps that aren't holes but rather spaces that make way for new connections and patterns to take shape. It's dynamic and forever growing and changing. One simple exposure to something today can lead to some bigger exploration years down the road. Or something that seemed all-consuming one moment can be a mere whisper of influence the next.
—Karen James
photo by Sandra Dodd

Thursday, July 12, 2018

Into her world

Karen James wrote:

Helping facilitate a good experience is different for each person. It depends on what they are interested in and why. It depends on how they want to explore whatever it is.

Bring some of her interests into her world, not by suggestion, but by learning enough about her interests to be able to converse about whatever-it-is. Maybe even try it yourself. Find places or folks to visit where those interests are practiced, where she might have a dabble too. Maybe she'll want to dive deeper. Maybe not.
—Karen James
Being your child's PARTNER, not his adversary
photo by Amber Ivey

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Bigger, friendlier world

Karen James wrote:

Unschooling, done with too much attention on the one way of living being the only right way, can make the world seem smaller, scarier and full of confrontation.

Unschooling done with the understanding it's one choice among many, makes the world a bigger, friendlier, more dynamic place.
Find your options
photo by Hinano

Friday, November 17, 2017

Real learning is intangible

Karen James wrote:
"Real learning is a breath. Ethan said something kind of funny to my husband recently. He exclaimed "Now you are breathing consciously!" We all became aware of our breathing in that moment. Learning can become as effortless as unconscious breathing when we it happens without prejudice or too much attention to its presence. It's so big it permeates through everything we do, yet so intangible at times we can only guess at its influence and significance."

Becoming an Unschooler
photo by Heather Booth

Monday, September 4, 2017

The beautiful side

"Being there unconditionally for our children nurtures the beautiful side of the human spirit that resides in each one of us. It cleans it. Reveals it. Keeps it fresh."
—Karen James
photo by Karen James

Saturday, August 26, 2017

Learning, peace and kindness

Learning, peace and kindness make marriages better.

(and friendships,
and partnerships with children)
photo by Karen James, of a painting by Karen James