Category Archives: lifestyle design

Freedom, Fear, and Unschooling

After I left school and started unschooling,  I had freedom, I put my trust in myself, and  I did a lot of healing work. Still there was a fear inside me that took me years to be fully aware of and make the choice not to let it control my actions.

Recently I rediscovered a poem I wrote during my second year of homeschooling/unschooling in high school, when I was about 17 years old that surprisingly addresses this fear.

In the beginning of the poem I say:

But once the song’s over or the race is done
I’m just me again:
Scared shitless
Living heartless
Terrified of investing myself
In something or someone else

(You can read the whole thing here.)

I had trouble convincing people about unschooling, freedom, and their ability to direct their own lives partly because of my own emotional wounds regarding the subject. But I realized years later I also had a fear of being effective, fear of success, in talking to people about freedom and unschooling. There was an element of self-sabotage involved.

There was a part of me that knew it was possible I could very effective in talking about these subjects: I could help inspire people to leave school, or let their children leave school, have freedom, be trusted, and pursue their dreams.

That would be a truly wonderful thing and have so much meaning to me. For some reason, I think because of, not in spite of, that fact it’s also very scary. I’ve found that:

The more meaning something has to a person, the scarier it can be.

The more meaning something has the more painful the disappointments can be. You can feel pressure and new responsibility. With real success your life can change. And I always try to remember when I feel anxious:

Change, even if it’s good change, can be scary.

Writing these blog posts about unschooling, freedom, trust, diversity, and healing, then hearing how some have connected with them and been appreciative of them has had so much meaning to me! I’ve also definitely felt some fear and anxiety: I’ve heard from my toxic voice as my uncle Robert Gerzon calls it.

But the other thoughts that have come to my mind are:

“I love my life!” and “I feel free. I feel like writing is setting me free.”

More and more I’m letting parts of my true self come out and be heard. And it feels good! It feels like it’s taken years and epic journeys to get to this point, actually.

I guess it’s good to remember that when I feel disappointed or frustrated that there aren’t more people trying to learn and live in freedom or pursue what has meaning to them when they do have freedom: it takes time and is challenging.

Still, I hope that in talking about my own experiences it encourages others to make the choice to be free, the choice to use their freedom, the choice to follow what has meaning to them, and finally, the choice to do what has meaning to them regardless of fears that may stand in their way.


Filed under adult unschoolers, change the world, freedom, homeschooling, lifestyle design, unschooling, worldschooling

Links to Successful Unschoolers

Someone recently asked  for links to successful unschoolers’/homeschoolers’ websites and blogs on the Ask Unschooling Offspring Yahoo list.

Here are the links I recommended to him plus more I’ve thought of since posting on the Yahoo group:

Homeschoolers’/Unschoolers’ Websites and Blogs – This is my site. I travels all over the world, write and speak about travel, unschooling, and worldschooling, and lead travel tours for young adults to learn about the world and themselves. – Perry Kroll is a fellow Massachusetts unschooler. Does great video, graphic design, and website work (he designed my site actually). – Very interesting blog by a grown unschooler/homeschooler in Montreal, Canada expressing her views on unschooling, education, politics, vegeteranism, civilization, sustainability, etc. One of the number one sites on the net about “life-style design”: creating the life, money, and freedom you want without being stuck in an office all day.  Clay Collins left school at age 15 and started unschooling. Then he went to college, worked in an office, hated it, “killed his day job”, and learned to make a good living while enjoying his life.

www.grownwithoutschooling.comPeter Kowalke is a life-long unschooler who made a ground-breaking documentary about 10 grown homeschoolers talking candidly about the effect not going to school or following a set curriculum had on their lives. Sean Ritchey is a grown unschooler/homeschooler who does wonderful work designing and building energy efficient and environmentally friendly buildings and homes that save people money and help keep the planet healthier. – Grown unschooler/homeschooler who does photography, graphic design work, and photography. Really nice quality work. He also designs websites such as this one: – Cameron Lovejoy left school at age 12 and started unschooling. He helped his family run the Live and Learn Unschooling Conferences which have influenced many other conference. Now Cameron is running his own unschooling conference that looks very exciting, The Autodidact Symposium, in March, 2009 in Columbia, South Carolina. He also started the Ask Unschooling Offspring group on Yahoo mentioned above. –  Eric McDonald is another  fellow Bostonian grown unschooler and an amazing musical performer and songwriter. He sings, plays the guitar, and rips it on the mandolin all over the northeast. One of his bands is Jaded Mandolin: – Jaded Mandolin is a folk/bluegrass band  originally made up of four unschooling teens. You can listen to their music and order their awesome self-titled CD through this MySpace page. – List of many more homeschoolers’ websites compiled by my friends at Advocates for Home Education in Massachusetts (AHEM). – List of famous people who were homeschooled.

There are more! Please feel to comment and add to the list!

The man who asked about this on the list is actually from Germany and having trouble being allowed to homeschool his children there. I assume he wanted both personal support for his choice and maybe help proving the legitimacy of homeschooling to the German authorities.

As I noted in my response to him according to John Taylor Gatto modern compulsory schooling started in Prussia (Germany) in the 1800s so it’s understandable it’s not easy to homeschool there. And it’s especially wonderful and significant to hear about people fighting for the right to direct their lives and education.

(Btw you can view my site in German here or use this imperfect but very helpful translation tool from Google for any site:


Filed under adult unschoolers, entrepreneurship, grown unschoolers, homeschooling, lifestyle design, unschooling, worldschooling, young people earning their own money

Earning Your Own Money for Travel

When I send out info about the Worldschool Trip to Japan I let the young adults coming on the trip know  I have tips and I’m available for coaching on how to raise your own money for the trip because I realize $3600 (plus about $1000 in daily expenses) is a lot of money for people and also I feel learning to earn your own money is itself a very valuable and empowering experience and an important part of a good education for anyone including homeschoolers, unschoolers, and worldschoolers.

First off I want to say that it is very doable: you can raise thousands of dollars for travelling or any other dreams you have regardless of your age and the state of the economy.

Real Life Examples

Hannah is a homeschooler/unschooler/worldschooler who was fifteen last year when she went on my first Worldschool Trip to Mexico in October. She earned all the money for the it herself by doing odd jobs. She told me: “I raised 3,000 USD from July-September, and hell if I can do that at my age with my inexperienced background anyone can do it.” Well said!

This year she’s also going on the Worldschool Japan trip and said, “Even though there was a time after I stopped working full time for Kristen [a mother of two young children Hannah helped take care of] that I did hit a bit of a road block, I’m getting back on my feet now, and with a a little bit of effort am able to find work even in this economy.”

Hannah did all sorts of odd jobs to raise that money but started concentrating on taking care of children and the elderly. I also earned the money for my first travels around Europe at the age of 18 by doing all sorts of odd jobs for neighbors and homeschooling families in the area. I started enjoying the landscaping work the most and have earned a living with that work for the last several years, earning a good reputation in the area and slowly raising my rates as I gained more experience and confidence.

So my suggestion to young adults is to reach out to your community on e-mail lists and message boards and offer to do any sort of odd jobs. People have all sorts of things they need done around the house and are very happy to pay someone to get the darn thing done. It’s really that simple. You’ll earn money, learn a lot, and it may even develop into a way to earn your livelihood.

Of course, there’s also creating products and crafts and selling them: that way you can reach out to a national or even international audience. You can sell at conference, fairs and gatherings and through sites like

As far as odd jobs you can: mow lawns, babysit, do garden work, organize, clear clutter, work on cars, walk dogs, paint, clean houses, etc.  For this type of work if you don’t have any real experience the minimum wage is $10/hour or $15/hour. That’s the minimum!  A lot of this is having the confidence to realize what you’re doing is valuable and you deserve the money. Once you get more experience or already have a special skill, like computer or photography work, minimum wage is $20/hour or $30/hour.

More about the money in a bit, first about the work:

When people contact you through phone or e-mail respond promptly and answer their questions as best you can: be honest about what you can and cannot do. But if you are charging only $10 or $15/hour it’s perfectly fine to do a job you have no experience with. Just listen to their instructions and while you’re working make sure to keep asking questions when you’re unsure of anything.

Show up on time, and be reliable. Or at least let them know if you’ll be late. People go through such hassle waiting to hear back from companies and waiting for them to show up: if you’re just available, reliable, and then get the job done they will love you!

People Want to Support You:

  • It helps if you are reaching out to a community that you have a connection with: your local town, homeschoolers, unschoolers, your religious community, your sports community, etc. People want to help those they feel connected to. Even if you haven’t been active in the community BECOME active, respond on the lists and messages boards, go to events and gatherings. (If you’re only doing it for money and actually can’t stand the group it probably won’t work! But becoming a little more involved with a group you like anyway is a great idea.)
  • It helps if you let people know you’re raising money for a lifelong dream of yours: travelling to Japan, a country you’ve been fascinated with for years, or whatever the case may be. Who wouldn’t like to support that?
  • It helps that you’re a young adult taking the initiative to earn your own money. People are excited to see that and support it. Of course, the same goes for if you’re an adult who got tired of your old office job and is now pursuing a more independent life. People want to support that too.

Of course, that stuff only takes you so far: in the end what’s most important is you’re getting something done for people at a reasonable price that they couldn’t or wouldn’t do themselves. Speaking of a reasonable price:

Look at How Much Other People are Charging for the Same Service and Provide a Better Price

  • Professional landscapers can charge anywhere from $30-$60/hour. If you charge $10 0r $15/hour to weed their garden and trim bushes, even if you’re slower than the pros, you’re giving them a really good deal. And you have to charge at the very least $20 to mow someone’s lawn. If it’s a large lawn $30-$50. I friend of mine who teaches in Florida and does some lawn mowing on the side realized he could earn more money just mowing lawns full time than he does as a teacher. Maybe that’s not that surprising to people but still.
  • Professional organizers charge up from $50 or $60/hour. If you’ve always been good at organizing things and will charge less than $30/hour that’s a wonderful deal.
  • As far as computers the Geek Squad charges hundreds of dollars to go to someone’s home and just clean out their computer for a few hours: Geek Squad Virus and Spyware Removal. If you’re the person your family and friends go to when they have computer trouble you could charge $50 or $100 to clean out other people’s computers and that would be a great deal and service for them. Most people really need their computers and really have no idea how they work or how to take care of them. Come to their rescue!
  • Someone told me a story of their friends hiring a photographer for their wedding for $2000. The photos were so bad they couldn’t even use them but they begrudgingly paid him anyway. If you’ve had a passion for photography and can put some care into doing a good job, charge $500 and again, people will love you.

As you gain more confidence and experience you’ll be able to charge closer to what the pros charge. The fact is working for yourself is simply more efficient: the guy working for the Geek Squad doesn’t get all that money for himself, most of it goes to the company. You are the company, so all of it goes to you, and you’re able to earn more and charge the client less for a more personal service.

Aside from the money, being your own boss gives such confidence, empowerment, flexibility and freedom. So it’s too bad it’s not more common. But I think it’s mostly mental blocks stopping young people from earning their own money and anyone starting their own business. Most of us are used to showing up and following instructions at school, the office, or the work site. And for unschoolers who don’t have to follow instructions, they also don’t usually have to earn their own money! So it’s new for them too.

Once we are able to start earning our own money it’s a wonderful thing itself and can make possible what I think is THE most wonderful thing: travelling and experiencing the world!


Filed under entrepreneurship, financial independence, financing world travel, lifestyle design, young people earning their own money