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Are you serious about living a life of freedom? Then you need to invest in yourself. Yes, I mean spend money to learn what you need to learn to achieve that freedom.

The resources I have to offer you

If you’re in debt and/or want to be able to retire much earlier than the mainstream tells you is possible, buy my book Hatching The Nest Egg: Achieve Super-Early Retirement Without Gambling, Side-Gigs, Or An Above-Average Income.

If you know you’re not eating right, and need a nutrition/diet book that culls through all the confusion in the nutrition world, buy Simple Diet, Beautiful You.

If you want to get into a simpler and more sustainable lifestyle, I have two books that will be up your alley: Crazy Simple: 307 Ways To Save Money, Your Health, And The Planet, and Simplicity: Finding Freedom From The Inside Out (this is a book and course in one).

Need a step-by-step guide to achieving a particular dream? Buy Simple Success: Eight Steps To Dream Fulfillment. (Also an e-book course.)

Still looking for your soulmate (finding the right person is a critical part of living a free life!)? Buy my book, No More Broken Hearts: The Low-Stress, Joyful Way To Find Your Soulmate.

Want to get more food freedom? Buy How To Grow Vegetables Without Losing Your Mind.

You will not pay more than $6 for any of those books. If you bought all of them, you would pay under $40.

$3.99 would save you hundreds, even thousands, in future medical bills.

$2.99 would save you untold amounts of money when you apply the frugal living principles in the book.

$2.99 would help you leave the work force and live most of your adult life on your own terms – with more money in a nest egg than many people have even by the time they finish a 40-year career at a job they don’t like.

$5.99 would lead you to the life of your dreams.

If you’re serious about changing your life, you will invest money in books that will help you to do so.

Thanks in advance for checking out those resources! 🙂

Blessings to you,

Emily

 

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In a recent post, I confessed that I finally came out of my cave and watched The Lord of the Rings movie trilogy with my family. Sure, I was a little behind the times, but maybe it was worth it. Maybe if I had watched the movie earlier, I wouldn’t have learned the life-changing lessons that I did from it. There were four, and for the rest of this post, I am going to expound on the first one.

Live Each Day As If It Were Your Last

When I was around thirty years old, I read a motivational book that encouraged me to live each day as if it was both my first day on earth, and my last. The first, because then we would approach each new day with a sense of wonder and curiosity (which we probably would all continue to have into adulthood, to some extent, if we weren’t jaded by the school system). The last, because then we wouldn’t waste time. We wouldn’t procrastinate doing the important things. We wouldn’t choose martyrdom over taking care of ourselves.

And I’ve heard that bit of wisdom several times since reading that book. But it’s easy to slide back into what we’re used to. We dogs have a nasty habit of returning to our own vomit.

Watching the movie helped shake me out of my complacency. You might be scratching your head, wondering how on earth I could have gleaned that lesson from The Lord of the Rings.

Simple: the battles, the violence.

The movie reminded me that every day, thousands (millions?) of people die of starvation, in tragic accidents, from being murdered. Every day, war is happening somewhere, and the innocent citizens who never gave their permission for the government to go to war live in heart-gripping fear. They experience food shortages, loss of homes, loss of loved ones. And many times, they must leave their homes and start their lives all over in a foreign land.

I don’t expect war to happen in my backyard any time soon, but setbacks, accidents, and tragedy come in many different forms, and usually without any forewarning.

In other words, I am not guaranteed tomorrow. Neither are you.

Yes, I know you’ve heard that before. But are you living the understanding of it? I know I’m not. At least, I haven’t been.

“A moment on the lips…”

There is one problem with living each day as if it were your last, and that is, chances are good that it is not your last, and what you do today will have consequences for tomorrow.

I remember Dorothy on “The Golden Girls” television show occasionally suggesting that she and her friends splurge on cheesecake. The idea would be summarily dismissed at the last minute with the line, “Yeah, and then we’ll live until we’re ninety years old!”

In other words, a moment on the lips, a lifetime on the hips.

If every day you ate your favorite foods, you might end up with a lot fewer days, depending on what those foods are. If every day, you chose to spend the entire day in recreation instead of doing whatever it is you do to earn an income, you would eventually end up on the streets and/or hungry.

Plus if you’re married, your spouse would get really ticked at you.

We need to draw a line when trying to incorporating the “live every day like it’s your last” philosophy into our lives. But I think you would agree that we could all do much better than we have been.

“Last day” ideas

** I will be kind and considerate to all I meet, especially my family members, whom I tend to take for granted.

** I will say “yes” more often to my child’s requests.

** I will give my husband more passionate kisses.

** I will take time to work on hobbies that fulfill me.

** I will communicate with a friend or family member whom I don’t see often just to remind them that I care.

** I will carve out some time to veg out, like read a novel while nibbling on some chocolate, or listening to my favorite music.

** I will spend more time outdoors.

** I will be grateful for what I have.

** I will not waste my energy on anger and judgmental thoughts.

Wow, I really have a ways to go, don’t I? But this is where it starts: deciding how our lives need to be enriched, then walking out the decision with intention on a daily basis.

Live every day as though it were your last. That is the first lesson I learned from watching The Lord of the Rings. Second lesson coming soon, unless I end up having way too much fun living out my days. 😉

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A Week Of Movies

We did it. We finally did it.

We finished watching The Lord of The Rings. Yes, the trilogy of movies that was made fifteen years ago .

Yes, it was my first time. Yes, I realize I am WA-AY behind the rest of the civilized world (those Irish kids who played the Hobbits must be in their thirties by now!). Since I was one of the last people (living in the Western world) under the age of seventy to buy a CD player and home computer, this should come as no shock.

What took me so long

Why I never watched it in theaters: I have never been really into movies, and never cared much for action-adventure types. So, I didn’t watch it as a single person. J, however, bought the DVD set before he ever met me. Watched it multiple times. At some point before we got married, he suggested we watch it together.

I declined. Reason? I figured it was a guy movie. Which it pretty much is, except for the bits of romance. Except for the fact that I was bawling at the end. For joy, then grief (when Frodo…oh gee, I’d better not say, in case I’m actually not the last person on the planet to see the movie. I’d hate to be accused of being a spoiler).

Really, I’d never read the book and so really didn’t know the story. The most I knew of Tolkien was the late 1970’s animated version of The Hobbit. Which kind of weirded me out, thanks to “Gollum”.

A couple of years ago, B got into listening to audio books. J just so happens to have both The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings trilogy in audio book form, so B eventually listened to them. Over. And over. And over. (And I heard a good bit of The Lord of the Rings, too, several times being a captive audience of it in the car on our monthly five-hour round trip drive to Whole Foods.)

Then, B began bugging J about watching the movie.

This is the kid who, when he was five or six years old, couldn’t finish watching Disney’s Beauty and the Beast when the men went after the Beast. This is the kid who freaked when the two old men went at it with swords toward the end of Up.

This is my very emotionally sensitive kid. Who wanted to watch a PG-13 movie that was sure to have a lot of violence and gore? No, I told him. Wait until you’re fourteen or fifteen. J was in agreement. He knew the kind of frightening scenes there are in the movies for people who have not been desensitized to violence.

hWhat changed my mind

B continued to ask about the movie every once in a while. Other kids much younger have watched it and survived. It’s based on a classic work of literature, and he already knew all the evil things that were going to happen, as well as how the story ends.

Plus, I got cabin fever. Real bad. Winter weather came in and there was not a whole lot to do.

hWhat happened

So, we all decided to watch it, one disc per day for a total of six days. We were through The Two Towers (the second movie, for those of you who live in an even deeper cave than I do) before I really got into it. I don’t know why, but that’s how long it started to take me to connect with the characters.

Well, there you go. Guys like action, so they’ll get into a movie quickly as long as the action starts right away. Women care more about the characters, and it takes us longer to grow the our quasi-relationships with them. Especially when it’s more of an action movie.

But when I got into it, man, I got into it! Although the winter weather disappeared and spring came in its place (the temps rose into the 70’s during the two days of The Return of the King), and I started to think we might better wait for a rainy day to finish, none of us wanted to.

B made it. He got tensed up quite a bit during the first three discs, but after that the fighting didn’t seem to bother him as much.

By the last disc, I was shouting at characters, cheering them on or telling them what to do (yes, this annoyed B. So, let’s call it Mom’s Revenge).

The movie gave me lots of ugly pictures to form in my mind at night when I close my eyes. It rent my heart in two. It had my biting my fingers and sitting on the edge of my rocking chair.

I loved it.

But, it was intense. I may be able to watch it again in, say ten years. Five, if I get bored enough by then. In the meantime, I gleaned several lessons from the movies, which I will discuss in upcoming not-too-distant-future posts.

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Why “Real” Unschoolers Do Not Exist

A necessary preface

Some who call themselves “radical unschoolers” will tell me that, in this article, I am differentiating between radical unschoolers and non-radical unschoolers. First of all, as far as I’ve been able to discover, all unschoolers consider themselves “radical.” We all give our children much more freedom in all areas of life than mainstream parents, because when you unschool, you approach life as a whole, not divided up into parts.

Second of all, an unschooler is an unschooler. There aren’t two or three different levels. The label “radical” creates an us-versus-them dichotomy, implying that parents who believe their particular version of raising their children is superior to someone else’s. So I refuse to recognize “radical unschooling” as a viable entity. That’s why I am using the phrase “real unschoolers” rather than “radical unschoolers.”

And now, the rest of the story…

Real unschoolers do not restrict their children. Their children can play videos games and watch T. V. as much as they like – as well as whatever kind they like. They can eat whatever strikes their fancy and go to bed whenever they want. They are basically allowed to follow whatever whim urges them forward.

This is what I have been learning through listening to different unschooling podcasts, and while some of the stories and information has helped me let go of some of my control-freakness, it has also proven to me that there is nobody out there is a “real” unschooler.

All of these people (mostly moms) that I’ve listened to restrict their children in some way.  (GASP!)

The Golden Rule

One new unschooling mom wrote into a podcast wanting to know how to get one of her older children to stop swinging the toddler around, against the toddler’s will. The women answering the question gave some great answers. But they all came down to this: teach your child to do unto others as they would have done unto them.

None of them would admit that, since none of them are Bible followers. Still, that was the core of their message.

They told this newbie to restrict her child’s impulse to play with her younger sibling however in the way that she wanted.

Parents restrict their children when they train them to be kind and considerate.

“Your way, right away!”

Unschooling parents are supposed to let their children eat whatever they want, whenever they want. The theory is that children instinctively know what is good for them, and will not overindulge in junk and will include healthy foods if they are simply allowed to eat when and what they want.

That’s a nice theory that holds well for toddlers. B was great at eating all kinds of things as a toddler, from broccoli to raw salmon (yes, you read that correctly). Toddlers are adventurous.

Older kids? Not so much. Look, when I was growing up, cold cereal was the usual breakfast fare, and there was always a box of Grape-Nuts and often a box of Wheaties. But there were also at least two kinds of sweetened cereals, as well. I had a choice. And even though I was slowly eating my way into hypoglycemia and a mouthful of cavities, even though my body knew that all that sugar was suppressing my immune function and depleting my body of minerals I was already not getting enough of, I usually went for the sweetened stuff. And if I decided on a bowl of Grape-Nuts, I topped it with a nice heap of sugar before eating it.

And I was considered a responsible and trustworthy child growing up!

Getting back to current events: just try to catch B these days putting anything green into his mouth, let alone anything that used to walk, swim, or fly.

But let’s say I’m wrong. Let’s say that most kids who are allowed to eat whatever they want, whenever they want will make balanced choices. Fine. Their parents are still restricting them.

Yes, I’m talking to you, radical unschooling mom who is vehemently shaking her head at me in disagreement. Tell me this: in your pantry and refrigerator, do you have at least one box of all the different kinds of snack cakes, at least one loaf of white bread, at least one loaf of multi-grain bread, at least one can of all the different canned items in your local store, at least one package of each kind of cheese, at least one of each kind of fresh fruit and vegetable, at least one package of every single kind of pre-packaged meal, at least one piece of every single kind of meat available? Do you have one box of every single kind of cereal, crackers, and cookies?

You bad unschooling parent, you. You’re not a real unschooler, because you are restricting your child’s diet. You do not have every edible thing available in the store, in your house.

Parents naturally and necessarily restrict their children because it would be extremely inconvenient, if not impossible, to provide every single opportunity out there for them to try. And food is only one example.

Naughty websites

In a different podcast episode, the hostess asked Sandra Dodd, THE online unschooling guru, about online safety. She went on to tell a story about how once when one of her boys was in his teens, she discovered that he’d been on at least one naughty website. She told him that she needed to talk to him about it later on in the day.

It turned out to be an innocent incident that didn’t happen again, because her son was not addicted and didn’t have a reason to go back to such a site again.

However, when Sandra first saw that website in the browsing history, she did not just let it go. She did not say to herself, “Well, I’m an unschooling mom, so I’m just supposed to trust that my son knows what he’s doing, and keep out of his business.”

By no means! Parents restrict their children because, whether they want to admit it or not, they hold certain values as important and will – even if subconsciously – steer their children in the direction of those values.

“Whose T.V. is it, anyway?”

What really spurred me on to write this post was a podcast episode in which a new unschooling mother wrote in her concern about a television program her daughter had begun to watch. You would probably know the title if I told it to you, but I can’t because I don’t remember it because we don’t have T.V. (or Kindle Prime, or any such-like creature). Apparently, it’s some teeny-bopper girly show, because the daughter started coming to her mother worried about her looks. (An anorexic in the making?)

The experienced unschooling mothers’ responses (there were three in that particular episode) were unanimous: you have the problem, not your daughter. You just need to trust her judgment.

Now, before I go on, I want to say that of all the other questions that the podcasters tackled in that episode, this was the only one where I completely disagreed with their answer. In fact, to all their other answers to all the other questions, I could have added a hearty “amen!”.

But their answer to this mother? It was so, so wrong. On two counts. First of all, the women were restricting the mother who was asking for help from being a responsible parent. Second of all – are you sitting down? You’re going to want to be sitting down for this – the woman’s daughter was not thirteen, not nine, not even seven years old.

She was four years old.

No matter! We are unschoolers, and as unschoolers, we assume that even the youngest of children are capable of making the decisions that will be healthiest for them. Don’t worry about the fact that brain researchers now know that the decision-making part of the brain is not fully developed until a person is in their early twenties. Don’t worry that some children have trouble connecting their actions to consequences. Forget about all that – that kind of information is only meant to provoke parents into trying to manipulate their children!

A four-year-old is perfectly capable of consistently making the right decisions for herself.

Listen, if J and I had believed that, our house in the suburbs would have been ransacked and my garden would have been completely destroyed. You think I’m exaggerating. I’m not.

Parents restrict their children because sometimes, the children either cannot or will not make the right decisions by themselves.

Yes, BUT…

Yes, most parents do far too much manipulating of their children with threats, rewards, and punishments (note that Father does not treat His children this way). Yes, most children could do with a lot more freedom in their lives. Yes, a child who is not constantly being micro-managed will tend to act, all on their own, as a pretty decent little person because they will be content because they will be feeling like they get to make a lot (if not most) of their own choices and therefore have no reason to act out or become rebellious.

BUT…restriction happens. It happens because parents love their children and want to pass on good values to them. It happens by necessity, because no parent can offer their child everything. It happens because the world can be a dangerous place, and sometimes barriers need to be put up for younger children so that they will not fall off the edge of a cliff.

Or, more likely, break an arm falling down the stairs.

Unschooling is the process of living a life that is not like school. Children are not forced to learn certain things at certain times, receiving punishments or rewards depending on how well they learned. Children do not have to ask permission to meet their basic physiological needs.

Unschooling is much less restrictive than a school environment, sure. But to say that a “real” unschooler never puts any kind of restrictions on their children? If that’s what you still believe, even after reading this article, then I must revert to the premise I stated at the beginning: “real” unschoolers do not exist.

 

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A Heads-Up For Atheists

I recently listened to a podcast in which the guest claimed not to believe in anything. She’s never been religious, nor been to church services. It was her polite way of telling the diverse listening audience that she’s an atheist.

Everybody believes in something

I want to take to task her belief that she doesn’t believe. First point: earlier in the podcast episode, she explained that she enjoyed reading the works of a particular Buddhist nun. Okay, if you are drawn to the Buddhist philosophy, you believe in simple living. You believe in accepting suffering with dignity. You believe in not causing other living beings harm.

All of this points to love. I’ll expand on that in a moment.

Second point: she is a mother of three children. After they had all been in school for a few years, she removed them from that environment because she did not like that they were essentially attending day-prison (my paraphrase, not her words). Why not? Because she loved them.

If nothing else, the woman believes in love.

In the first epistle of John in the New Testament, he wrote, “God is love, and all who live in love, live in God.”

God is love. Therefore, to believe in love is to believe in God.

On my right hand, I have Christians crying, “Heresy! Heresy! You can’t know God without Jesus!”

On my left, I have a bunch of atheists shaking their fists at me and screaming out their disagreement. Now, maybe some of those atheists are truly void of love in their hearts. But most are not. Most are loving human beings whose ideas of God have been twisted by religion to the extent that they can’t logically and/or ethically accept those ideas.

Honestly, people who adhere to Buddhism are often more loving in their daily walks than many Christians I have ever known (and I have known many). Take, for example, the self-proclaimed atheist mother of three who actively fights against female genital mutilation. For every supposed non-believer who is active in the fight for liberty and justice for all, there are probably fifty Christians who never do one thing to fight injustice in the world.

Who is more loving?

“God is love, and all who live in love, live in God.”

Nobody believes in nothing, and more people believe in God than want to admit it. And that – amidst all the suffering happening all around (and inside) us – should bring us hope. It brings me hope, anyway.

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