Travel

Journaling for Life

I haven’t written too much on the Reschool Yourself blog yet about the key role journaling has played in my life, so I wanted to share this post. I was pleased to have it published on Create Write Now, a website by the journal therapist Mari McCarthy, who is healing her Multiple Sclerosis with the help of journaling. I’ve included an excerpt and linked to the complete post below.

Since I was around five years old, my journal has been my closest confidant. I was still getting used to holding a pencil at the time when someone gave me a little hardback journal with a metal lock and key. Even though my secrets weren’t any juicier than “I went to Disneyland. It was fun,” the important thing was that I had a place to keep them.

As I grew older, my journals changed along with me. In middle school and high school, I used thick 8 ½ by 11 college-ruled Mead notebooks. As a preteen, I filled them with boy gossip and inevitably ended entries with “I heart so-and-so forever.” Often, I listed two or three names of boys that I loved deeply. In high school, I documented my teenage emotional highs and lows, my severe school stress, and the rare fights with my best friend. My journal let me vent and cry, even when I had no one else to talk to.

Read the rest of this post.

Interview with Roger Fishman, Part Two

This is part two of my interview with Roger Fishman, author of What I Know. Roger traveled around the U.S. interviewing 10-year-olds and 100-year-olds from around the country about universal aspects of life. As I mentioned before, I’m publishing my Q&A with Roger here because the themes and values of the book match those of Reschool Yourself.

Roger is the founder of the ZiZo Group, a creative multimedia company. He is married to actress Courtney Thorne-Smith, with whom he has a 21-month-year-old son, Jack, and lives in Los Angeles, CA.

What was it like to interview for the book? Who are a few of the centenarians you interviewed?

My colleague, Joe Rohrlich, and I literally zigzagged across America, Northern California, to Southern Florida, to Atlanta, Georgia, to New York, to Crow Nation and everywhere in between. It was 38,000 miles and a lot of red-eyes, and a lot of coffee. It was literally on the go nonstop.

I remember I took a red-eye into Charlotte, and Joe picked me up and we went over to see Bill Werber. He was the last living (major league baseball) player at the time—he just recently passed. He played with Lou Gehrig on the ’27 Yankees. It made me feel connected to a whole part of history. He was telling me about being on the train and playing cards with Lou Gehrig and Bill Dickey and Babe Ruth. I’m thinking, “The guy I’m talking to had firsthand real-life experience with (them.)”

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Coming Home

Flying into San Francisco Airport last month was a surreal experience. I’d landed at SFO dozens of times, from cities as far afield as Barcelona or Guatemala City, and every time the plane’s wheels hit the tarmac, I knew I was home. This was the first time that I didn’t feel that way, because I was just visiting.

I’d spent the past two months in my new home in Jackson, Mississippi, and I was flying back to visit for two weeks and then drive my car cross-country. As the plane flew north over the San Francisco Bay, I felt my throat get tight. I had lived in the Bay Area for all of my 28 years, and I suddenly realized that it wasn’t home anymore. I looked around the plane, at the passengers excitedly craning their necks to see the landscape, and I wanted to tell them, “I’m not one of you. I’m not just a tourist. I grew up here.”

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Four Ways to Make Life More Like a Road Trip

Since I got back from a six-day, cross-country trip on Tuesday, I’ve been craving the open road. Last week Darren and I left my hometown of Sonoma, California, and drove my Jetta and most of my belongings to my new home in Jackson, Mississippi. Each day of the trip was so exciting that it’s felt like a bit of a letdown to readjust to a normal routine. In order to maintain the energy of the road trip, I’ve decided to take four major lessons from it and try to apply them to my everyday life.

1. Do things that you enjoy, especially with someone who makes everything fun.

Darren, my partner in crime, was thoughtful enough to fly to the Bay Area for just a couple of days to help me pack and keep me company on the drive east. I’m glad that we already spend so much time together working from home, so there was no question that we could handle nearly a week of 24-7 together time. Even though I don’t love being cooped up in the car, we made it fun by playing cheesy road trip mixes (including “Country Roads,” “King of the Road,” and Darren’s least favorite of the bunch, “Loveshack”) and making up games.

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New City, New Culture, New Life

Darren and me at Bass Pro Shops, like Disneyland for hunting and fishing.

Bass Pro Shops, the perfect union of a hunting and fishing shop, Sam's Club, and Disneyland.

I’ve been thinking lately how crazy it is that my life and environment could change so much within the last year. Nine months ago, I was living with two roommates on a busy street in the San Francisco Mission District. Two months ago, I was living with my folks at my childhood home in Sonoma while I went back to school. Now, I’m living with Darren in a quiet, tree-lined neighborhood in Jackson, Mississippi, indefinitely.

Careerwise, I worked much more than full-time for years at Spark running youth programs, then became a student again in the fall during my intense three-month period of reschooling. This spring, I’m trying out freelance writing and seeing if I’m able to work completely on my own time. For now, I’m grateful that my phone stays mostly quiet, and my calendar isn’t booked up with meetings and coffee dates. My fast food and red meat consumption has gone up probably 500% (given that I used to eat hardly any), but so has my amount of exercise and sleep.

The other night, I felt like a real Jackson resident for perhaps the first time. Someone mentioned that the writer Ellen Gilchrist is from Mississippi, and without thinking about it, I felt proud to be a fellow southerner.

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Reschooling Yourself for Survival

With all the troubling news about the state of the economy, Darren and I talk a lot about learning survival skills. At the risk of sounding like crackpots, we want to be prepared in case something crazy goes down. Today he sent me 10 Skills to Have in the Post-Financial Apocalypse from The Consumerist. The list includes learning to cook, keep a simple budget, and fix things, and I would add:

1. Learn basic survival skills.

Know how to find and purify water, start a fire, build a shelter, and grow or hunt your own food. My friends Chris and Wes learned these things through a survival course offered by The Tracker School, and they’re the guys I’m running to when the looting begins.

2. Learn how to make stuff instead of buying it.

My friend Elena knows how to make clothes; Jonah can build an oven out of found materials; Blair made his own shoes out of old tires. I’m not saying you have to trade in your Manolos for Goodyears just yet, but it’s good knowledge to have on the back burner. Make Magazine, and its Maker Faire (San Mateo, CA in May; Austin, TX in October), is a great resource for do-it-yourself ideas. It’s a good idea to make your own food, too — I make my own yogurt, and I have friends who make jam, sausage, soy and almond milk, wine, beer, or cheese.

3. Pool your resources.

To minimize costs and live in community, various friends and I hope to settle on the same property one day, in separate houses but with shared spaces. From a music room to a costume closet to a wine cellar, the possibilities are endless. We could also share cars, childcare, and basic services like internet. If you can collaborate with certain people without going nuts, it’s in your economic interest. Check out the Cohousing Association of the United States for ideas.

If you want any other ideas, you’ll have to track me down in my secret underground bunker. All I can say is that it’s fully stocked with water, blankets, and 100 pounds of dark Belgian chocolate (like dual-purpose sandbags), and if something goes down, I will be hard pressed to share.

IDEC: Headspins, Helado, and Hineys

Democratic Educators: We so crazy

This is your brain on IDEC.

I’m back from the International Democratic Education Conference 2008, my head still spinning from seven days chock full of energizing workshops and conversations. Here are my relevant stats:

  • Average hours of sleep per night: 5
  • Mosquito bites: 6
  • Guest bloggers for Reschool Yourself: 7+
  • Servings of dessert: 20?
  • Blog posts composed in my brain: 25?
  • Workshops attended: 33?
  • “A-ha” moments: Beyond number

Here are a few topics for upcoming posts:

  • The FAQs of Democratic Education: If kids aren’t required to go to classes, won’t they lurk around on MySpace all day? Does this type of education work for kids from unsupportive homes, and how possible is it in public schools bound by government regulations? Won’t kids go all Lord of the Flies on us if unchecked by a firm authority?
  • The coolest alternative schools and programs you probably didn’t know existed
  • A list of online tools that make me marvel at the powers of the Interweb
  • The IDEC “Kids’ Table”: An introduction to my all-star cast of young rabble rousers who are gonna shake things up in education, big time. And they’re fun to have a beer with, to boot.
  • Why I now trust myself to raise kids one day and not screw ‘em up TOO badly. (I said one day, after a bonsai, a kitten, and a puppy have all survived on my watch.)
  • More “Reschooling Reasons” and a new series of posts called “Reschooling Tools”

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