When I decided to paint every day of this year, I thought it would be a practice in connecting with myself and other artists as well as an art practice and an education. A year of putting my attention on something and seeing what happened. I knew it wouldn't be what I thought it would be from the start, which is why I kept it vaguely defined (that, and I had no idea what I was doing!). It actually has been all those things. And more. What time isn't a learning time? I decided I'm not an expert and it gave me freedom. I have so much freedom to screw up while learning and I ceased to see it even as "screwing up" but maybe just living my life. I feel actually free. I don't really care what anyone says about what I'm doing, unless the thing they say rings true for me and resonates with my own sense of growth not with my sense of self criticism.
This all goes along sorta magically with our growth curve around our family's choice to unschool our 2 children 4 years ago. I'm so proud of my son, who has gone deep into computer programming, drawing, car design, and digital art over the last 4 years, and who is choosing to give high school a go this Fall. More importantly, he's a person who is able to be vulnerable and honest in his expression. He didn't learn that in school. He was given the space to know that as important. My daughter is learning to read at her own pace, using materials she finds in the course of pursuing her interests. She's building a treehouse, planting a garden, and preparing to volunteer at an organic farm in Santa Cruz later this spring. The power she feels as an individual in the world, I don't know if it would be this strong had she been in school this whole time. Now that I have looked at and seen the coercive and nonconsensual nature of mandatory public/private education, I cannot see it any other way. It's my pleasure to facilitate my kids' freedom of choice in what and how they learn, it feels honest and in line with my values. I don't like to control people. I like to honor their beings, provide resources, and see where that goes. It also seems to be one of the things that I model well in my self-directed pursuit of the things I'm interested in. So win-win!
There have been times when I doubted our choice to unschool, as most unschooling and even homeschooling families will tell you. It's a big deal - a long education in itself - to go off the culturally approved path of state-mandated education, even if it is legal. But always in my heart I have known this was the right thing for us. Like my painting year, I have kept going, felt the feelings, looked at what's brewing and what's causing what. I moved forward to a place of more understanding and more self-acceptance. I see thriving all around me. That's all allowed. Because I am allowed. We are allowed.