Thank you for stopping by this website, which provides access to the
work that I have been doing for the past forty years.
That work encompasses green living,
unschooling / life learning, natural parenting, and
Aside from those being my passions – and therefore what I
like to write about – I understand that everything
we do in our everyday lives connects us with the web of life on Earth.
Therefore, the physical, mental, economic, and social health of our families and of our
environment is a reflection of the choices we make. My mission
is to help people understand the range of choices available and to
encourage them to challenge the assumptions inherent in those choices so that
they make the right ones for themselves, their families, and the Earth.
I believe that we have reached the stage where we need to
rethink how we live in our families and our communities, and on our planet. And,
in my opinion, that means embracing smaller-scale, local ways of doing things, and becoming
more self-reliant in the way that we think, educate ourselves, and live.
So I am pleased to meet you here and would be happy to engage
with you on these topics via Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest,
Google+ or LinkedIn.
I also blog occasionally below, and more regularly on
Life Learning Magazine unschooling blog.
There are links to some of my writing at the top of this
page, and a few pieces are on Scribd.
I hope you will enjoy and be inspired, or at least informed, by the
selection of the work I've presented on this website.
Please use the links at the top of the page to explore this
space and my company's websites.
There is a "game" that has been going
around for a while now on Facebook where people post the titles of ten
books that have been meaningful in their lives, for whatever reason (or
something like that). Oh, and you aren't supposed to over-think it. Even
given that I temporarily overcame my habit of over-thinking everything,
my list felt frustratingly incomplete. Just ten?! After a bit of my
whining, a few people suggested I work on a longer list, and post it
here. That process has been underway for a month or more now, and
coincided with the downsizing of our home and donation of close to a
thousand books to our local library. The downsizing and moving processes
are now over, and the list should be too. But each time I think the list
is finished, I wake up in the middle of the night with a couple more
additions. So in order to to put an end to the process and perhaps get
some sleep, here is the longer list; I think it's around eighty titles.
I hope you will find some new book friends there.
Oh, and you will find that
most of the books are not recent, given the instructions to list the ones that
have had a lasting influence. And they are not necessarily all my favorites,
although there would be a fair bit of overlap if I were to produce that list.
Posted: September 24, 2014
Living the Good Life by Helen and Scott
Whole Earth Catalog (and its subsequent
Woodstock Handmade Houses by Robert Haney
& David Ballantine
Thinking Green! By Petra Kelly
The Aquarian Conspiracy by Marilyn Ferguson
Small is Beautiful by EF Schumacher
Honest Business by Michael Phillips and
The Ecology of Commerce by Paul Hawken
If Women Counted by Marilyn Waring
Sacred Economics by Charles Eisenstein
The Briarpatch Book: Experiences in right
livelihood and simple living
Tools for Conviviality by Ivan Illich
Manufacturing Consent by Noam Chomsky
Your Money or Your Life by Joe Dominguez,
Plenitude by Juliet Schor
In Praise of Slow by Carl Honoré
The Book of Learning and Forgetting by
Insult to Intelligence by Frank Smith
Deschooling Society by Ivan Illich
How Children Fail by John Holt
Escape from Childhood by John Holt
Instead of Education by John Holt
And the Children Played by Patricia Joudry
Mindstorms by Seymour Papert
Summerhill by A.S. Neill
Children First by Penelope Leach
The Political Life of Children by Robert
The Case Against Adolescence: Rediscovering
the Adult in Every Teen by Robert Epstein
Magical Child by Joseph Chilton Pearce
Reviving Ophelia by Mary Pipher
Webs of Power by Starhawk
The Call of Service by Robert Coles
My Stroke of Insight by Jill Bolte Taylor
Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or
Succeed by Jared Diamond
Mindfulness by Ellen Langer
Wherever You Go, There You Are by Jon
Full Catastrophe Living by Jon Kabat-Zinn
The Places That Scare You by Pema Chodron
Chop Wood Carry Water by Rick Fields
Solitude by Anthony Storr
Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance
by Robert Pirsig
The Invitation by Oriah Mountain Dreamer
Learning to Fly by Sam Keen
You Are Here: Discovering the Magic of the
Present Moment by Thich Nhat Hanh
Mindsight by Daniel Siegel
Writing Down the Bones by Natalie Goldberg
The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron
A Walk on the Beach by Joan Anderson
Sand County Almanac by Aldo Leopold
Under the Sea-Wind by Rachel Carson
A Place Between the Tides by Harry Thurston
Small Wonder by Barbara Kingsolver
Raising Elijah by Sandra Steingraber
Walden by Henry David Thoreau
The House by the Sea by May Sarton
The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion
Prisons We Choose to Live Inside by Doris
The Love of a Good Woman by Alice Munro
Unless by Carol Shields
The Stone Angel by Margaret Laurence
Runaway by Alice Munro
On The Road by Jack Kerouac
One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel
Anne of Green Gables by L.M Montgomery
Dubliners by James Joyce
Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis
To Love and Be Loved by Sam Keen
All About Love by bell hooks
The Future of Motherhood by Jessie Bernard
Tangled Lives: Daughters, Mothers and the
Crucible of Aging by Lillian Rubin
My Mother’s Daughter by Irene Zahava
Selected Poems by Williams Carlos Williams
Left Out in the Rain by Gary Snyder
Magic Animals by Gwendolyn MacEwen
Entrance to the Greenhouse by Joan Finnigan
Leaves of Grass by Walt Whitman
Why I Wake Early by Mary Oliver
Posted: March 9, 2014
Avoiding Sleep Training as a Precursor to
Check out any online book store and you’ll see over
a hundred titles about how to “sleep train” your baby. These books are about
getting kids to sleep at times that suit the adults in their lives, not because
babies that weren’t trained would stay awake 24/7! That way of thinking/wishing
is also where our need to control our children’s learning begins, and where
understanding unschooling can begin.
article about sleep in our Natural Child Magazine explains, how we sleep
depends on a wide variety of factors related to our environment, family, genetic
make-up, moods, general health, and even hormonal changes. And, as the same
author wrote in
another article, “Your baby sleeps and wakes in a certain
way because that is how babies are.” Likewise, children learn in certain ways
because that’s how they are. When we fight their natural instincts and
curiosity, we get in the way of what we want to happen, and ultimately can cause
I remember coming to that realization a few weeks into the life of my first
daughter in 1972, although I had already begun to form some strong opinions
about children’s need for autonomy in learning. Accepting that how she would
sleep on her own schedule wasn’t much different than how she would learn made
life for both of us so much more pleasant. (Sure, I wasn’t sleeping any more
than before, but I also wasn’t fighting or trying to control her, and that freed
up my energy and my soul just to love her in each moment.)
That decision not to try and control things that weren’t mine to control was
one of the foundations on which my philosophy of life learning/natural family
life/radical unschooling/autonomous living (however you want to label it) was
built. It led to me learning to recognize my daughters’ other patterns,
personalities, and passions. And, following their leads, I was able to provide
support, companionship, and much more, always respecting their needs and finding
ways to mesh theirs with mine.
So here’s where understanding unschooling can begin. Let your babies sleep
and stay awake as they are wont to do, Be alert to supporting their needs, but
trust that they’re doing what works best for them and aren’t trying to
manipulate you. And, as they grow, allow them the freedom to pursue their
curiosity, their interests, and their passions. Respect that they can learn to
recognize their own needs, and trust that they’ll learn how to fulfill them.
They’ll grow up to be healthy, happy, and well-educated. And I’m betting that
you all will be able to sleep well at night.
Posted: March 6, 2014
Triclosan: Problematic in Soap? Then
Put it in Toothpaste!
According to a press release I received recently, regular use of fluoride toothpaste containing triclosan, an antibacterial agent, along
with a copolymer that helps prevent the triclosan from being washed away by saliva, reduces plaque, gingivitis, and bleeding gums and slightly reduces tooth decay compared to fluoride toothpaste without those ingredients.
"We are very confident that adding triclosan and copolymer to a fluoride toothpaste will lead to additional benefits, in terms of less plaque, inflammation, bleeding, and tooth decay," said Philip Riley, a researcher at the University of Manchester in England, and a co-author of the study that was published in The Cochrane Library.
Great news for dental health (aside
from the problems with fluoride)! Right? Wrong. I’ve written about
triclosan a number of times in Natural Life Magazine, and I don’t want it in soap, let alone in my mouth. It’s a
nasty, hormone-altering chemical that is
already found in most
people’s bodies. Ironically, on the same day that I received the above release,
I also received notification of this post on the PANNA blog. The U.S. FDA is concerned about antibacterial soaps and triclosan in particular,
and is belatedly looking into its dangers.
So, as I often say, “Follow the money.” Are manufacturers backing research that suggests triclosan could be beneficial in toothpaste because it’s going to be legislated out of soap?
Posted: January 18, 2014
Life Learning Magazine 2013 Annual
attempt to tame the large collection of back issues involved with our
three magazines, we are creating Annuals – collections of all the
feature articles published in one year in each magazine. We're starting
with 2013 and working backwards. The first one is the
Magazine Annual - 2013 and it is now available.
The articles in these large format e-books appear
exactly as they do in the magazines – complete with full-color photos
and layouts, and live links to resources. Plus, we're adding
a table of contents that makes it easy to find specific articles. They are designed to be a convenient reference to your favorite articles from the
whole year for each magazine, all in one place. No more fiddling to
find and open back issues,
or to search for articles!
They are in PDF format and can be read on a
computer or a tablet. I hope you enjoy them as much as I am enjoying
the experience of putting them together.
Posted: January 17, 2014
Self-Employment Is One Of My Passions
I have been a small business owner
and social entrepreneur since 1974, working for most of that time from a
home office. First, I was a stained glass artisan, doing special
commissions and selling at craft fairs and in shops. Then, in 1976, I
became co-owner, with my husband Rolf, of The Alternate Press (later to
become known as Life Media), which publishes our magazines and books, as
well as a
number of websites.
In the 1980s, I championed women-owned businesses
and home-based micro-businesses by launching the Home Business Network,
speaking at conferences, writing how-to articles, presenting how-to
workshops about both business principles and life-work integration, and
participating on national committees to legitimize and legalize home
business at the municipal level. In the 1990s, I taught small business courses to low-income
women through a non-profit community economic development organization,
wrote the book
Bringing It Home - A Home Business Start-up Guide for You and Your
Family, wrote a weekly small business newspaper column for ten
years, published a print newsletter for green and socially conscious businesses entitled Good Business,
hosted radio and television shows, and mentored women business owners.
In addition to continuing to edit our three magazines, I
now write a regular column about alternative and local business in
Natural Life Magazine called Eco Nomics.
Whether or not we see ourselves as
entrepreneurs or are inspired to start businesses, I believe that to
prosper in the near future – even, possibly, to
survive – we will have to re-think how we make a living. Here's an
article I wrote for Life Learning Magazine a few years ago that provides
more insight into that...and why unschoolers are well
equipped to do that. And here's a piece I wrote
for Natural Life Magazine about the importance of small, local,
and cooperative business.
also, is a link to some of the how-to articles that
I have written on the subjects of home-based, micro, and green business, as
well as what has now come to be called "unjobbing."
It's all connected, and all about being self-reliant!
Posted: November 1, 2013