Daisy McCarty and her family were new to the Radiant Retreat last year. They were one of the “early birds” to register this year so I asked her to share a little about their experience as “newbies” last year and why they wanted to return.
Many thanks to Daisy for taking the time to share in such detail!
Notes on Radiant Living from the McCarty Clan
My family was excited to attend the Radiant Living & Learning Retreat last year in lovely Cleburne, Texas. We knew it would be a wonderful chance to reconnect with unschoolers/life learners we had met at other events and meet new people—especially those in the North Texas area. We were right!
My Favorite Moments
Watching the kids collaborate on creating the surprisingly amiable Hunger Games battles that spanned the entire weekend made me smile. As someone who was eclectically homeschooled and self-taught throughout my own childhood, I remember with fondness the long days spent creating new games and playing for hours without interruption. It was fantastic to see another generation being gifted with the same opportunities.
My Husband’s Favorite Moments
The talks and discussions were a highlight of the weekend for my husband, Ken. He talked all the way home about the sessions he had attended. Other parents offered helpful insights into some of the challenges we were facing and we were able to implement these solutions successfully at home. As someone who was still new to the concept of whole life learning, being around like-minded people and mentors was reassuring for Ken.
Our Daughter’s Favorite Moments
Little Jasmine (then 2 years old) had a wonderful time playing and exploring with children of all ages. She especially loved staying up in the evening to make friends with a little brown and white toad that was hopping around outside the bunkhouse. Eating delicious smoothies made with healthy, natural ingredients gave her a fresh appreciation for the potential of dates and chocolate blended to perfection.
Why We’re Attending Again
Our trip in 2014 left us energized rather than feeling like we “needed a vacation from our vacation.” Over the weekend, we were able to slow down, catch up with friends, and simply revel in the presence of people who are all different from one another but dedicated to creating a more liberated and harmonious world.
Thanks for creating this space for us, Christina! We look forward to seeing everyone again in November.
When we come into this physical existence, we already know ALL of the universal truths:
ABUNDANCE and LIMITLESSNESS and UNCONDITIONAL LOVE
We KNOW that we are worthy of LOVE and JOY
We KNOW that the Universe is a SAFE place and it WILL PROVIDE everything that we need.
But as soon as we arrive on this physical plane, we start to get clear messages from those around us of the limiting beliefs that are so prevalent in the world:
SCARCITY and LACK and LIMITATION and FEAR
UNWORTHINESS and ORIGINAL SIN
WORRY that we won’t get what we need and that the Universe is a HOSTILE PLACE governed by chaos.
We buy into the belief that life HAS to be a struggle – that joy is something we MIGHT be worthy of (briefly) but only AFTER we struggle sufficiently. That we aren’t inherently worthy of love and feeling good. We learn that we have to work hard for the good stuff OR that sometimes even working hard isn’t enough and sometimes the chaos just gives us shitty stuff no matter how hard we work or try for the good stuff.
As we gain direct experience in life, these beliefs and messages get reinforced. So after the initial “sponge” period of childhood (age 0-8ish) where our subconscious mind is programmed with all of the prevalent beliefs in our environment, we begin to put these beliefs into practice in our lives. We begin to “give out” these limiting ideas and beliefs with our thoughts, words and actions. So what we “get back” from life is evidence that matches what we are giving out.
We get into a cycle of this and get stuck there in that “self-fulfilling prophecy.” We often feel frozen there – knowing that we don’t like it* BUT not knowing how to break out of that cycle.
Eventually our life circumstances will get so unbearable that something “snaps” and we decide that we’ve had enough. Or sometimes we hit “rock bottom,” or maybe our tolerance of the shitty stuff and shitty feelings just wears out.
THAT is the beginning of our remembering and we begin to remember the truth we were born knowing.
Sometimes it comes in one grand event but more often it comes in the smaller moments of “That’s it, I’m tired of this shit! There’s got to be a better way.”
So we begin (or renew) our search for answers. We read books, talk to a therapist, go to a meet up, google stuff, read articles and blogs – and along the way we find nuggets of wisdom that jog our memory. We receive messages that resonate with something deep in our hearts. It might be something we can’t quite put our fingers on, but we just KNOW that there’s a message in it for us. It just sounds true and it feels GOOD. These nuggets shine a light to illuminate our path back to the truth.
So we keep searching and listening and watching for these clues. They’re like bread crumbs along the path to help us find our way back home:
To help us remember what our True Self already knows.
To show us the way to a life of ease and joy.
A life free of fear and anxiety and worry and ALL of those unhelpful and unproductive things that feel awful.
Once we begin to find answers, that resonate with us, it’s like a light shining in the darkness. We begin to feel better even if only for short periods. That gives us hope and motivation to keep looking for ALL the answers we need to hear. Eventually we hit on something that feels like THE THING we have been searching for.
Once we find THAT thing it’s like time speeds up and it feels like we’re flying! Changes begin to happen more and more rapidly. We begin to shift, and experience more and more of the joy and freedom we KNOW is possible, but never could have dreamed of just a short time ago.
Once this begins to happen we can look back on the time when we felt frozen in the pain, despair and unsupportive thought patterns, and it feels like that whole time was “just a moment” even though when we were in it it felt like it might never end. It felt like we’d been frozen there forever and we might never escape.
Sometimes this process can feel like we are just taking a shot in the dark – even when we get confirmation that we’re on the “right path.” But the nuggets of wisdom that bring us the good feelings propel us forward as we bring back the TRUTH to our awareness. That feeling of “bringing it all back” into our conscious awareness is magical.
This path of awakening is not always linear, and often there WILL be bumps and obstacles and icky feelings along the way, but we CAN remember what we forgot.
No matter how lost we sometimes feel we ARE worth saving – even though it feels like a long shot – we CAN “have it all!” WE DESERVE IT!
In the moments when you find an answer you’ve been seeking, or notice evidence in your life that things are shifting for you: CELEBRATE! That helps solidify the remembering. That helps strengthen the neural pathways in our brains for the “new” beliefs and thoughts that create and support the good stuff that we are wanting in our lives.
CELEBRATION IS WHERE IT’S AT!!! Celebrate it ALL!
Celebrating EVERY good feeling and experience – no matter how “small” will magnify it and help you create more.
Don’t worry if it looks for feels silly!
Don’t worry if someone is watching!
You’re worth it! More good stuff and more good feelings are TOTALLY worth the tiny moment of embarrassment.
Soon you won’t give a shit if people are watching!
All of the great stuff you are experiencing in your life will be the only thing that matters.
Heaps of Love to you ALL!
P.S. If reading this message has given you that “good feeling of remembering,” if it has resonated somewhere deep inside you – celebrate NOW!!!
Then SUBSCRIBE to read more messages like this one <3
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CELEBRATE with the song that inspired this message:
We are so excited for our community to gather again November 5th – 9th! This year we are making some changes to the schedule with the goals of:
Maximizing the support attendees receive during the Retreat
Helping new folks assimilate into the group more easily and
Enabling ALL of our Radiant Community to get the most out of the workshops, activities AND just being together!
As we finalize registration details, we wanted to go ahead and announce prices so everyone can plan their finances accordingly. In order to make the Retreat happen, we’ve had to raise some of the prices a smidge. But don’t worry! There are still plenty of opportunitiesavailable to reduce the fees for your family.
Since it’s its inception in 2013, we have tried to keep the Radiant Retreat affordable for as many families as possible. So the prices started out very low compared to other conferences. We want you to know that we have wrestled with the numbers to keep it as affordable as possible, but due to everything that is involved in putting on the Retreat, we feel that the prices this year are still very fair for everyone. The organizers make a considerable investment of time, energy, expertise and money to plan and execute the Retreat, and the prices must support that.
We also want to highlight the fact that this event takes a considerable amount of COMMUNITIY EFFORT to make it happen because we don’t have a hotel staff taking care of us and the facilities like many other conferences. We have to take care of it ALL – and that’s what’s so great about the Radiant Community – the way members step up to help where help is needed!
In 2013, when I was planning our stay at Cleburne State Park, the Rangers said that because our group would be over 50% kids, the park would be littered with trash by the end of the weekend and they were sure that “something would get torn up” because middle school aged kids were included. I assured them that our group would not be typical in that manner and they just laughed. Sure enough, the “Radiant Tribe” was very respectful of the grounds and facilities and we proved those Rangers wrong!
The Radiant Tribe IS remarkable and EVERYONE’S contributions make the Retreat GREAT!
Sue is a veteran Home Educator with 3 grown kids. All of her children were Unschooled, and Sue is a wealth of information on many aspects of alternative education.
From transitioning away from the curriculum mindset and into a learning partnership with your kids, to Unschooling through the teen years and supporting young adults as they transition into college or work, Sue’s perspective is invaluable.
If you are struggling with an aspect of Home Eduction or Partnership Parenting, Sue’s wisdom and experience can help reassure and guide you through the moments of doubt.
If you are simply curious about what Unschooling family life is like, she can share a comprehensive look based on her own experience and what she’s learned from her extensive network of Home Ed families.
Here are some of the sessions Sue will be leading at the Retreat. We will hit the ground running on Friday morning with workshop sessions and circle discussions, so getting there Thursday to set up your bunks, tents and campers will ensure you don’t miss any of the action!
Learning All the Time: Unschooling 101 Friday Morning (Oct. 24)
Life Learning, Whole Life Learning, Self-Directed Learning, Organic Learning, Natural Learning, Interest-Led Learning. There are so many different names for this type of alternative education and almost as many definitions.
Come discover the core principles behind this method of education.
Gain clarity on what Unschooling IS and is NOT.
Is there a “right” or “wrong” way to Unschool? Is it still Unschooling if we require a few math or phonics worksheets here and there? What is “Strewing?” What is “Deschooling?” What is “Radical Unschooling?” What are the benefits and drawbacks to Unschooling? How can we be sure our kids will turn out OK educationally and otherwise? What if I give my children freedom and all they do is play video games all day? What if my child HAS to or WANTS to return to school in the future? How do I comply with Homeschooling laws as an Unschooler? Can I do it as a single parent, or when both parents must be earners?
We’ll tackle these questions and help newbies, spouses, grandparents and in-laws understand this complex and rich form of education and help you discover tools to move forward with Unschooling in confidence. To read more from Sue on this topic click here.
When Your Unschooler Chooses School
After being radically unschooled her whole life, Sue’s youngest daughter decided she wanted to go to the local public high school. While Sue supported her daughter’s choice, they “did high school” on their own terms. After a year and half, Sue’s daughter had enough and returned to the freedom of unschooling.
We will explore the ways that Unschoolers use mainstream schools, alternative schools and “schooly” classes and lessons to achieve their goals. Can this still be considered “Unschooling?” How can we support our children when they choose methods of education and institutions that we as parents are ideologically opposed to – or just feel are not the best “place” for our kids? How can we allow our children to be exposed to the negative aspects of school that we have tried to shield them from all their lives? Can a school truly be a place of Unschooling freedom?
Are you worried about unschooling your teen? Are you afraid that your choices may close doors instead of opening them? Sue’s three grown unschoolers took completely different paths through the teenage years. Come hear how they navigated these years and rest assured that it does NOT have to be as scary as society makes it sound! Sue also wrote a book, Homeschooled Teens that will be available in October. She interviewed 75 teens and young adults who homeschooled/unschooled as teenagers. She will share their responses to her questions about what life was like for them: finding friends, learning opportunities, hobbies, sports, work, travel, advantages they feel they have now, advice for worried parents, and more!!
Donna is the mother of six and has been educating her children at home for almost 20 years. She empowers families to find and follow their Life Purpose through her writing, speaking, workshops and private coaching. Donna helps families who are moving from school to home education, as well as those who are moving from a school-at-home approach to one that is led by the Highest Values and Life Purpose of each family member. Join Donna at the Radiant Living & Learning Retreat for her 2 part workshop:
Unveiling Life Purpose for You and Your Children
Unschooling is an experience to be shared as a family, but it can be greatly enhanced when parents have the vision to facilitate children to their individual greatness. One of the most stressful areas in unschooling is the inability to understand how your child is communicating their life purpose so you can accurately provide for their needs and not distract them from their purposeful path. Many parents struggle with knowing their own life purpose and how to manage it productively. This can make it impossible to facilitate the life purposes of the rest of the family.
The key ingredient is knowing how to identify your highest values and priorities, and those of your children. Once you know these highest values, you can begin applying them directly to your everyday life. Raising your children, providing an inspiring learning environment, doing your own work to provide for the family and relate to others is enriched when you identify with your highest values. This process can make the difference between living a meaningful life or one of quiet desperation. Let’s face it, freedom is never free. It comes with great responsibility and if we’re not tuned in or we’re unsure, we become enslaved by our indecisiveness.
In thisworkshop Donna will take you through the process of determining your highest values, discovering the key to family dynamics and how your perceptions shape your life. We will also learn how to determine your children’s highest values and how to customize their learning experience into every day purposeful living and learning.
You will walk away from this workshop not only listening better, but also going through the process to have a clearer breakdown of what’s most important in your and your children’s lives.
Discover why you do what you do
Let go of pushing
Hear what your children are really telling you
You will be empowered with new self-understanding and inspiration to love more, live more and learn more.
This workshop is designed for parents but Part One is also appropriate for teens that are interested in using Donna’s process to discover their Highest Values and Priorities.
Values Determination Process for Parents and Teens,
Values Determination Process for Children’s Values,
Family Dynamics and Customized Learning
(Pre-req: Must have attended Session One)
By 2007 life events had led me to a point where I could no longer ignore the fact that I was put on this earth to
1. learn how to confidently hear and follow my “Inner Voice of Wisdom” and
2. help others do the same.
Often I just call it “The Voice” but it goes by many names: Intuition, Instinct, Gut Feelings, Higher Self, Inner Knowing, Emotional Guidance and more. No matter what we call it or what we believe it to be, we’ve all “heard” it at one time or another – or THOUGHT we heard it and wondered.
Sometimes we listen and sometimes we don’t.
At pivotal moments in my life, this Voice has “come through” very loud and clear as it echoed in my head. Other times it has taken a more subtle form: gentle nudges, strong feelings, hunches, feeling “guided” to take a certain action and other hard to describe phenomena . But however my Inner Wisdom ultimately communicates with me, it always rings true in my heart and I have learned after 41 years of “experimentation” that it’s in my best interest to listen.
We are born tuned into The Voice, but the voices of our family, teachers and other “authorities” often steer us away from listening. Sometimes this is done subtly and sometimes with strong coercion, threats or punishment. By the time we are grown, most of us have learned to successfully ignore or drown out our Inner Voice of Wisdom with the external voices that hold power in our lives, our communities and in our culture in general.
What does all this have to do with Alternative Education or Partnership Parenting?
For me, choosing to approach education and parenting in this way is:
a result of hearing (and finally following) my Inner Voice of Wisdom
a means by which I can continually practice listening – and recalibrating my actions and choices to line up with my Inner Wisdom
Almost every external voice I’ve ever heard has said things like:
“Children are too young and inexperienced to know what they want. They CAN’T know what’s good for them.”
“Learning is difficult and can only happen when children are FORCED to sit and attend to ‘unpreferred’ activities.”
“There are certain things EVERY child MUST know and they must learn it in the time frame and order in which ‘educational professionals’ prescribe.”
“We must DEMAND respect from children (without reciprocating that respect). We should not be our children’s ‘friends’ and if we don’t discipline, punish and force our children to do certain things, they will never learn respect, responsibility or be motivated to do anything productive with their time.”
My Inner Voice of Wisdom has NEVER agreed with these ideas on education and parenting that seem to be dominant in western culture at large. The moment I made the decision to Unschool and try parenting without using punishment, the most profound sense of Peace came over me. I’ve learned over the years that this sense of Peace is a strong indication that my actions are coming into alignment with my Inner Wisdom that has never steered me wrong.
Of course doubts and questions have arisen as our family has made our way toward Unschooling and Partnership Parenting, but these have just been opportunities for me to practice quieting those external voices and tune into myself and my children to find the answer that is right for our family. And when things are still unclear I seek out experienced people on this path whose voices resonate with my my own Inner Wisdom.
Trusting children is a primary component to Unschooling and Partnership Parenting. In my experience, learning to hear, trust and follow my OWN Inner Wisdom is ESSENTIAL to learning to trust my children. How can we ever trust THEIR Inner Wisdom if we are unwilling or unable to trust our own?
So for me, Unschooling and working toward parenting in a non-coercive way can only be accomplished if I am CONTINUALLY tuning into my Inner Voice and recalibrating my actions to line up with that Voice.
Why RADIANT Living & Learning?
I’ve found that people who live from the inside out – meaning their motivations, choices and actions come from an authority within – these people GLOW. Their lights shine more brightly in the world. They RADIATE beauty and confidence and love and acceptance. We are drawn to these people because we want to be like them – maybe not precisely imitating the details of their lives – but we want to live our lives with the confidence and authenticity they do. There is a light in each of us that is trying to shine just as brightly.
We cannot live & learn “radiantly” when we are following someone else’s agenda. That just dims our LIGHTS or blocks them out entirely. When we are following our Inner Wisdom, pursuing our passions and fulfilling our life purpose, we SHINE.
If something you read on this website resonates with YOUR Inner Voice of Wisdom or makes you pause to reconsider the way you’ve always done things, the Radiant Living Community is sure to provide more inspiration and encouragement to confidently create the life you desire for yourself and your family.
I saw a quote recently that made me think of y’all.
“Copious scientific data proves that loneliness is a greater risk to your health than smoking or lack of exercise, and finding your tribe is better than any vitamin, diet, or exercise regimen.” – Lissa Rankin, M.D.
It didn’t really surprise me, but it struck me profoundly at that moment.
I DO feel better when I’m surrounded by my Unschooling Tribe.
The effects are lasting and are renewed each time I connect with like minded souls.
I knew I liked how I feel during and after Unschooling gatherings, and I knew that feelings of happiness, joy, as well as feeling understood and supported are good for my physical well being, but I never made the leap that an Unschooling conference could actually be beneficial to my health! (Maybe because I’m so tired afterwards) 😉
We will have most of the stuff we had at the Retreat last year, plus we are adding an Open Mic Night/Talent Show. It’s such a JOY to watch the kids AND adults share from their hearts at the Talent Show at RE, so we wanted to bring that energy to the Retreat!
In an effort to find more harmony, reduce stress, and accomplish more of her family’s individual and collective goals, Doreen Fisher decided to implement a Family Meeting to create a little bit of structure in her family’s highly creative, free and unstructured lifestyle.
The result? They became more grounded as individuals and as a family, found more peace in their home, and began to show up for each other in a way that resulted in measurable movement toward their individual and collective goals.
Join Unschoolers Doreen and Mila Fisher as they share their process for the Family Meeting and discuss the benefits of allowing all family members – of ALL ages – to participate in running family matters and discover their own interests and accountability in the process.
Ever since the conference, something he said about limiting screen time has stuck in my head. I wanted to share it since there seems to be such a push in “mainstream” parenting advice to limit children’s time in front of the various screens we now have in our homes.
Dr. Gray talked about hunter-gatherer societies and compared the way children learn in these societies with the way they learn in Sudbury Schools and in Unschooling. In both environments children are free to play almost all the time. Gray said that in these environments there is an “extraordinary indulgence” and trust in children ages 4 and up. Kids choose how to spend their days and often choose to play with the tools that adults in their respective societies use. They pretend scenarios that they see in the adult culture. Through their (mostly unsupervised) play in mixed age groups, they are able to practice and learn many of the important skills that they will need in adulthood, from interpersonal and relationship skills to problem solving and technical skills (using the tools of their society).
Dr. Gray said, (and I’m paraphrasing from my notes) “It’s no wonder that the children in our society have a strong drive to ‘play’ on devices with screens. Screens are tools in our society. Parents often ask me if I recommend that they limit ‘screen time’ for their children, and I say no – limiting screen time in our culture would be like limiting ‘bow & arrow time’ for a child in a hunter-gatherer society.”
This struck me so deeply. In the past few years I have embraced (almost fully) unlimited screen time for my 3 children, but occasionally I wonder if I “should” work harder to re-direct their attention or encourage other activities when I’m feeling like they are using screen devices too much.
I fully appreciate all the advantages of trusting our kids to make their own choices, but have worried that there might be some deleterious physical or psychological effects from using the screens. I can see many ways that activities using screens will prepare kids for the future, but I still had that nagging doubt that resulted from always hearing about the “latest study” on screen time and ADHD or sleep disorders.
Dr. Gray’s point showed me yet another way that imposing my agenda (based on fear or influence from society) could possibly hold my kids back. I accept without reservation the idea that trusting my children to choose how they spend their time will give my kids the gifts of self-confidence, self-regulation and trusting themselves fully, but I sometimes felt conflicted in putting this theory into practice and always honoring their choices when it came to “screen time”.
I see now that by limiting my kids’ opportunities to fully explore activities they enjoy because screens are involved, I could not only undermine their self-confidence and self-trust, but could be thwarting some learning that is preparing my child for the future. After all there is no way to know what skills and knowledge will be useful 20 years from now, but if they continue to practice activities that utilize the tools of our society as society and technology changes, they will always be “proficient” in the current technologies and will be well placed to make the leap to the next level of advances.
I will still continue to provide opportunities for my kids to get outside, connect with nature and partake in social and other activities that don’t involve screens. I do think balance in our activities and connection to nature is VERY important for all human beings. But I also appreciate deeply Dr. Gray’s perspective which has quieted those nagging doubts and supported my instinct to allow my children to learn freely in the ways they choose.
Invitation to Share: I believe that there is no ONE correct way to raise or educate children. We each have to find what works best for our children individually and for our families as a whole. My experience is likely to be different from yours and I believe that in sharing our experiences we can help each other find the way that fits our families’ needs best. Please share your own observations and experiences on “screen time” with your children in the comments below.
(Or click the comment bubble at the top if you’re viewing this on the Home page.)