Reschooling this Spring, at Home and Abroad

I know I’m putting off something when I look desperately for just one more email to answer, and when I serve myself a bowl of chocolate sorbet and then go back to the freezer for two extra servings. Now I’m chewing my fingernails down to nubs. All this restlessness comes from a resistance to writing about the spring phase of Reschool Yourself.

I’ve been resistant to writing about my spring plans because they’ve changed somewhat since I envisioned the project almost a year ago. At the time, I was working 50-60 hours per week, and nothing sounded better than taking a learning adventure around the world. Thailand, China, New Zealand, Argentina, Egypt….I couldn’t wait to visit them all.

Since the summer, however, my wanderlust has turned into a craving for stability and structure. I’ve been nomadic and scattered, moving from San Francisco to Sonoma and traveling to all corners of North America for conferences and visits with friends, family, and my partner, Darren. I’ve felt unsettled by having most of my worldly goods stacked in my parents’ garage, and by living out of a suitcase for weeks at a time. My most grounded moments have been at Darren’s apartment in Mississippi, when we’ve stayed close to home and developed a healthy daily routine. I still have the desire to travel far and wide, and I may still do it this year, but first I need to ground myself.

I know that some people will be disappointed that I won’t be gallivanting around the world just yet. Others will be pleased that they won’t have to be wildly jealous. I’m just relieved that I’ll be in one place for a while so I can figure out what I want to do next.

Here’s what I envision for the second phase in relation to the first. The project concept is that it’s the first academic year that I’ve done on my own terms. In the fall, I’m looking back into my school classrooms and reflecting on how they shaped me. In the spring, I’m moving forward into the global classroom and deciding how I’ll create my own education and lifestyle from now on.

As planned, I’ll be letting the spring unfold spontaneously so I can take advantage of opportunities that arise. For now, here’s what I know:

1. I have a one-way ticket to the south on January 12. My baby sister gets married in New Orleans on January 17th, and on January 19th I return to Darren’s hometown of Jackson, MS, where I’ll be based at least through the spring.

2. My most important goal will be to become autonomous and self-confident. In the past, I’ve depended on people close to me to take care of me and even clean up after my mistakes. I’ll be learning whatever I decide I need to know to become as self-reliant as possible: for example, personal finance, history, and politics. I’ll also make an effort to stay plugged into current events and culture.

3. Darren and I will be teaching ourselves to provide for our own basic needs. Both to save money and build our self-sufficiency, we’ll grow a vegetable garden, learn to fish and build simple structures, sew, and fix things ourselves. Guided by the central question of Reschool Yourself, “What do you want to learn today?”, we’ll find ways to learn whatever interests us.

4. Travel will still be a key part of the spring phase. We have definite plans to visit alternative living communities in the deserts of New Mexico and organic farms in the northeastern U.S. I’m also fairly sure that we’ll go to Spain to revisit the places I studied and lived abroad, places that were essential to my out-of-the-classroom education. Israel, with its kibbutzim and democratic schools, will probably be on the itinerary for the fall. Destinations farther afield, like those originally envisioned, are certainly possibilities, and we’ll be flexible enough to take advantage of last-minute travel deals.

5. I’ll be expanding the reach of the project, in order to inspire others to move beyond the limits of traditional education, in thought and action. I’ll be introducing more readers to the site, blogging about my reschooling in both the fall and the spring, and writing the book.

Overall, I will be starting from square one and developing a sustainable lifestyle that works for me and answering questions like these by trial and error:

  • Do I want to work from home, or get a structured job outside the house?
  • What do I want to do all day?
  • How much income do I need to be content and comfortable, and how do I want to earn it?
  • When are my best work and sleeping hours?
  • How can I ensure that I take care of myself with sleep, healthily eating, and exercise?
  • Having grown up in the Bay Area all my life, will I be happy in the south, without my own car?
  • Do I want to apply to grad school next fall?

It’s exciting that a given day in the spring could hold any number of possibilities, and that I’m learning to be OK with that uncertainty. I’m excited to start this new chapter of my life. I’m confident that come June, I’ll feel more grounded and balanced than I do now, and that is certainly something to look forward to.

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Your Two Cents: Leave a Comment!

What are some of the questions that you hope to answer for yourself next spring?

Comments (7)

  1. Katie

    If you need help with any of your self-sufficiency quests, let me know. I can teach you how to knit and crochet, if that’s something you want to learn, and I think I’m taking a wool spinning class in the spring. It’s very relaxing, and I’ve managed to outfit both me and Josh with winter gear.

    I like the list of questions that you’re setting out to answer this spring and, at least in my experience, trial and error is totally the way to do it. A lot of them answer themselves when you get yourself on a sturdy track. The answers change from time to time, but the core truths remain the same.

    If I had answered those questions four years ago, my ideal would’ve been drastically different from what I have right now. But this life is beyond anything I could’ve ever dreamed, and the exciting thing is that I know it will continue to evolve. Jobs, school, money, things…none of them make me as happy as taking care of my health and my relationship.

    And it’s totally easier to take care of those things when you’ve got someone by your side to tell you when you’re talkin’ crazy. :^)

    Reply
  2. Melia

    I would love for you to teach me your crafty ways. I was so impressed by the hats that you’ve knit, and I could use something to relax my mind. Wool spinning, awesome.

    Since you’ve found an equilibrium this spring while moving to a new city and working from home, you’ve already been my guru. Going to sleep when I’m tired and waking up naturally are on the agenda, as are cooking lots of vegetables and exercising every day.

    Like you, my vision is much different now than it was even a year ago. Who knew that I’d be living in Mississippi and writing full-time? Living simply this fall has taught me the same lessons, that my health and relationships are most important to me.

    Agreed, having a partner in crime to make you laugh at the ridiculous
    makes it easier to sort out your priorities.

    Reply
  3. Margaret

    Great list of questions, and good job reminding yourself to ‘just try something.’ Sometimes I think people can obsess over the idea of something a lot without just trying it, and then when they do, it’s: “that wasn’t so bad!” :-) I will be experimenting with gym time- before work, afternoon break, or before dinner?
    You’re looking forward to June. Don’t forget to really think about how you want to feel. Maybe visualize the feeling of ease in your body, tension not in your shoulders, lack of knots in your stomach, absence of hitches in your chest. Breathe deep and feel these wonderful changes AS they are happening, because that’s how change happens! (says the Secret…)
    “Yes, You Can!”

    Reply
  4. KD Griffin

    I don’t know you extremely well but I’m struck with how much you remind me of myself. I too, completely freak out when I have to change my stated goals. (Though you are are handling the change much better than I ever would.) It took illness to change my anal retentive ways. Just remember it’s okay to change your mind as you learn new things about yourself. Isn’t that what this is all about?

    PS You are an inspiration.

    Reply
  5. Melia

    Margaret, good reminder to visualize myself breathing easily without that familiar tightness in my chest, laughing a lot, handling calmly any situation that comes my way. And just trying something new, because I can always change direction if it doesn’t work out the way I’d hoped.

    Kimberly, thanks for stating outright what I didn’t say directly in the post, that I felt uneasy changing the plan I’d laid out earlier. The evolving nature of this project is helping me get more comfortable with making a plan of action and adjusting as necessary. It’s like creating a budget — you hardly ever spend exactly as you expect, but you come a lot closer than if you didn’t have any guidelines or goals.

    Also, one of the main goals of this project is to learn to do things because I want to, and not because I think I should. It’s good practice to change course when my instincts tell me to — and, as you said, as I learn more about what I want.

    Reply
  6. joe

    sounds like you’re doing a great job so far. but i’m wondering if self-sufficiency is the goal, why are you depending on your partner for a place to live next year and a companion with whom to share your learnings and travels?

    Reply
  7. Melia

    I’ve thought a lot about this question. If I felt that I were compromising the project or my autonomy by moving to Jackson, I wouldn’t do it now. Fortunately, that’s not the case. I would be fine living or reschooling or traveling alone, but I’ve found that these things are more fun and interesting when Darren shares them with me. Since my goal for the spring is to create a lifestyle and continuing education that I can sustain long-term, it makes sense to build my partner into this equation.

    With the thoughtful questions you’re asking, Joe, it would be nice to know your real name and how you came to comment on the blog.

    Reply

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