Ask an Unschooler – Video #1

This has turned out to be a fun way to share info about Unschooling!

I’ve had some requests for easy access to the videos after the live broadcast is over, so I’m going to collect them in blog posts under the category “Ask an Unschooler.”

To see more videos, click here!
(you can also find them in the menu under “Unschooling”)

[will update this post ASAP with a list of all the topics we discussed in this video]

The Dark Side of Radiant Living

I have this TOTALLY BAD ASS friend, Melissa Williams (you should follow her!) who writes beautifully poetic posts on Facebook about re-discovering her true self and reclaiming her autonomy and freedom after an abusively controlling marriage.  10 years of not being allowed to buy paper towels or tampons.  And that’s just the tip of “the iceberg of darkness” she experienced and that still lives inside her. Darkness that she is healing from, and probably will be for some time.  And the good news for her is that chapter of her life is OVER.  She can now focus on healing and just LIVING. The fight is OVER!  She can tell her ex-husband to fuck off – he will NEVER control her again – she NEVER has to return to that prison.

I LOVE reading her posts – celebrating with her and feeling right along side her the amazing freedom she feels just buying as many g*d damn paper towels as she wants.  I join her in the catharsis she must feel as she writes her posts about standing in the cleaning isle of the grocery store and realizing, “HOLY SHIT! I CAN BUY WHATEVER CLEANING PRODUCTS I DAMN WELL PLEASE!”   I can SOOOOO relate to these small (and also HUGE) moments of realization that freedom is REAL after years of being in a kind of prison.  But I can’t really post about it.  Mostly because my “captor,” the reason I was in “prison” is my child with severe Autism.

It’s not cool to rant on Facebook about how awful lifewas before I was “set free” because the source of the awfulness was – it’s hard to even Flaws:GoodIntentionstype it – my child.  It’s true that my thoughts and beliefs about my child and his Autism are ULTIMATELY the root cause of my suffering, but when you have a kid like mine, it’s damn near impossible to see how in holy hell you could change your thoughts and beliefs ENOUGH to be set free from the hand that you’ve been dealt.

I’ve had many small (yet huge) moments like my friend in the last couple years since I’ve found more freedom than I ever thought possible.  But unlike a woman who is finally free from the control of an abusive asshole, my joyous moments of realization are tinged with guilt.

Guilt for feeling like my child created a prison in the first place.
(Although if not being able to leave the house isn’t “prison like” I don’t know what is!)

get a sitterGuilt for EVEN FEELING FREEDOM AT ALL because I know there are tens of thousands – maybe hundreds of thousands of parents like me who haven’t been able to figure out the logistics or how to afford the extra support required to get even an HOUR of freedom to go to the grocery store alone.  And “self-care?!?” Just don’t even.

Guilt because my freedom comes at a cost for my child.  Sure his basic needs are met while I’m gone or otherwise occupied, but it’s not me.  He’s not getting the extra love, patience and attention that only a mother is motivated to give.  And what if the sitter forgets to give him his medicine on time, or mixes the dose wrong, or can’t soothe his tantrum, or gives him food that can set back his recovery process, or doesn’t watch him closely enough and he elopes. (If you’re not familiar with this “side effect” of Autism, here’s an article on Elopement.)

I know ALL mothers can relate to this guilt when they leave their child with a sitter, but the more disabled the child, the longer this list of worries gets – IF you’re lucky enough to find someone at all equipped to babysit for your child in the first place.

I DO make posts and share with others my stories of triumph – how changing my beliefs about my situation helped me to eventually create the circumstances to finally experience the freedom I once thought would be impossible in this lifetime.  That IS healing and cathartic for sure, but unlike my friend, my freedom is temporary and tainted.  Although I’ve found a practical way out of this prison so I can leave the house and work and do activities with my other children, my “captor” still holds a part of my heart and mind every moment.  Turns out I didn’t really get out of prison.  I just got a day pass.

MotherhoodHeavenHellOf course this beautiful child is a source of INDESCRIBABLE LOVE and JOY in my life, but at the same time a source of unimaginable stress, and talking about the stressful parts is just too much of a buzz kill on Facebook or among friends with “typical” kids.  Hell, it’s even difficult to share with moms of kids with milder issues without feeling like I’m complaining and bringing everyone down.


I’ve talked about experiencing PTSD symptoms related to the extreme stress of caring for a severely disabled and sometimes violent or self-injurious child, but really in the case of StressLevelsSimilarCombatSoldierssevere Autism, it should just be called TSD since the P usually only comes when the unthinkable happens.  There IS a small chance the P could come if we are one of the few (but
growing!) number of families who achieve recovery or independent living, but in the middle of the fight it almost feels like you are fooling yourself to even entertain that thought.

No matter how hard we work for our “miracle” of independent living, there is always, in the back of my mind, the possibility that I will never be free from the responsibility of making sure this incredible human being is safe and well taken care of.  It’s a very real possibility in my awareness that I may never experience that bitter sweet “empty nest” that other parents will get to experience.

I also fear for the day when I am gone or unable to care for him and the worst part of that is: it feels unfair to ask any one person to assume that responsibility.  It even feels too burdensome to ask FOUR people to share that responsibility – so how fucked up is it that SO many Autism parents shoulder THAT kind of responsibility ALONE.

My child’s existence and way of being in the world are a gift to everyone who knows him, but unlike everyone else deeply touched by my child, I might never be able to “move on” with my life the way my friend has.  It’s undenaible that being his mother has enabled me to find indescribable levels of JOY that I would not have experienced with out the contrast of the tough times, but even ecstasy experienced while in prison is tainted by the bars.

I really try hard every day to keep my attention on the possibility that my child might one day be able to care for himself, but sometimes, like today I am reminded that no matter how much freedom I CAN experience right now and no matter how much progress I have made in changing my reality, this chapter of my life is FAR from being over.

I’m sorry to anyone for whom this blog post is a buzz kill. 😉  But as much as I know that “radiant living” is possible for ALL of us, I also know that ignoring or denying or glossing over our darkness is NOT the way to create more radiance.  So today I “went there” to acknowledge my own dark places, to heal them a little more, and to hopefully help someone else who is still in the middle of their own battle with the darkness.

Heaps of Love to you ALL,

2015 Schedule and Session Descriptions for the RAD Retreat

We will print this information and post some copies at camp, but if you want your own copy, please print or screen shot them now.

Then check the WHITE BOARD in the Dining Hall for any changes that might come up during the weekend.

Mobile phone service can be spotty at camp for certain carriers, so screen shots or printing is the best way to make sure you have a copy with you.

There is WIFI at the Dinning Hall but it can be spotty too so we will be trying to add an extender.  However we won’t know if it actually works until Thursday afternoon, so just an FYI to plan accordingly! (And enjoy your almost unplugged weekend!)

2015 RAD Retreat Schedule

Session Descriptions

Can’t wait to see everybody at camp.  Think DRY thoughts!!!

TIE DYE station + RADIANT tees = AWESOME and UNIQUE way to shine your LIGHT!

Show your RADIANCE to the world – with our 100% cotton printed tees!

We’re printing a limited number of shirts,
so ordering now will ensure you have the size(s) you want for
TIE-DYING at the 2015 Radiant Retreat
(Tie dye optional, of course!)

If you’re not coming to the retreat this year you can still order a shirt at the special “pre-order” prices – only $11
just include your shipping address in the notes and we will figure out that cost separately.

Woo Hooo, Year 3 of the Radiant Living & Learning Retreat!!!

We are so excited to see everyone in less than a month!
We cherish the time spent learning and having fun with friends old & new.

My children enjoy the time they are able to just explore nature with their friends.
My Husband and I like the informal learning opportunities and appreciate the long weekend filled with Love & Peaceful tranquility!!

Thank you Christina Wester for your vision to gather families to explore Living and Learning “Radiantly!”
~ Nina Jones and the Jones Explorers


 If YOU would like to join the Jonses  and the “Radiant Tribe” this November,
click on a link below to get started!

We are looking forward to welcoming your family
and offering support you as you explore educational and parenting alternatives!


Click to Join the Fun!


ALL the Details


Money’s Tight?



Respect, Diverse Community and the Freedom to be a Kid make the Radiant Retreat impossible to miss!

Melissa Ashmore is working through big scheduling conflicts to attend part of the Retreat, so I asked her to share her favorite things about Radiant Living last year and what was pulling her back again this year.


AshmoreFamilyWe decided to join the retreat this year even though we have commitments pulling us to other states during the weekend because we can’t wait a whole year until the next one!

Last year we took it pretty easy. My son and I enjoyed working in the Kid’s area around all the amazing kids. What we liked the most was that everyone is respected from the tiniest little one to the oldest.

It was nice to see a few familiar faces though we were entirely new to the community.  While we were made to feel welcome, we also felt welcome to spend time on our own as a family.

My favorite part was seeing my son all covered in mud and no one taking a second look. While I’m not looking forward to cleaning his clothes again, I am looking forward to the freedom of being around a diverse community.

Thanks for sharing Melissa!

 If YOU would like to join the “Radiant Tribe” this November,
click on a link below to get started!

We are looking forward to welcoming your family
and offering support you as you explore educational and parenting alternatives!


Click to Join the Fun!


ALL the Details


Money’s Tight?