Shine with Unschooling

This is How We Give

(written 2006)


Within you is one of the most beautiful oases you will ever find; it is absolute love. Seek the oasis within your heart, mind and soul. If you cannot find your oasis, you are living in a desert. Walk out of the desert, into the openness of your mind, and you will see your oasis. Start your journey by loving yourself each day. Fill your chalice with love from your oasis within so when you meet others who are thirsty on the road of life, you have something to share.

—Ron Rathbun



It seems so long ago that my children and I delivered hot meals to homebound senior citizens. This was a volunteer job that we did together, my two young sons and I, conceptualized and manifested completely by the heart of my then-eight-year-old son. His heart would ache and his eyes would fill with tears when he thought of the less-fortunate people in the world. He has always been a sensitive soul, and when he was determined to find a regular volunteer job in order to help less-fortunate people, I knew I needed to nurture and encourage this Truth that spoke so deeply to his heart. Not only did I know I needed to, I was also excited by the idea, curious to see where Jake’s heart would take us this time, as it was his heart that lead us to unschooling and all things wonderful in this world and within ourSelves.

Our journey to this path of altruism began one day when I asked Jake if he wanted to donate any of his money to charity. We talked about what charity meant, and to whom the money would be going, and he decided quickly that he wanted to give not only all of HIS money to charity, but all of our family’s money, as well. He held his hands out to me, full of dollar bills, looked me in the eyes and said, “I don’t need this. You and Dad give me everything I need. They need this more than I do.”

To re-direct Jacob’s noble desire to give all of his family’s money to charity, we started looking for ways in which we could, instead, give of our time. We had plenty of that! Before long, the universe had put before us exactly the right opportunity at the right moment.

Delivering meals to senior citizens was a world-expanding path for all of us. It was especially a blessing to the elderly, who we soon came to know as friends and who looked forward to their weekly visit with my children. Jake would hand them their hot meal, and Sam (age 5 at the time) would hand them their bag with their bread, fruit and beverage. We would all chat as long as we felt the person needed and/or desired our company.

The highlight of our three years on this job was one December when we chose to give the gift of Christmas carols along with the meals. The week before, we had made our rounds and told each person on our route that we would be bringing friends next week and singing Christmas carols. Most were very happy and looked forward to seeing us.

One woman, a woman whom we would find depressed and in bed most every week, was particularly interested. Mrs. Bardon’s eyes lit up when we told her we would be Christmas Caroling at her house. Her usual negative comments about her failing health were absent that week, and she repeatedly checked with us to make sure we would be there at the usual time the following week.

The day of the caroling had arrived! My children and their friends excitedly ran from house to house, like eager trick-or-treaters, except this time they were the ones blessed by being the giver of the treats.

When we got to Mrs. Bardon’s home, we were absolutely stunned to find her sitting up in a chair surrounded by three friends. She looked radiant, not only because she was sitting there with a smile on her face, with her hair done and with make-up on her face, but because her entire energy had a celebratory glow so brilliant that it was almost tangible. She smiled as she said, “I hope you don’t mind…I invited my friends.”

It was difficult for me to sing at her house, as I just wanted to cry and hug her. But she had put her life’s energy into the expectation of Joy and Love, and so that’s what we delivered to her that day in addition to her hot meal. We sang an extra song or two to make her efforts worthwhile.

When we left, we all hugged her and wished her a Merry Christmas. She had tears in her eyes, but that smile that was on her face and enveloping her entire being did not waver the entire time we were there.

As I joined the children outside of Mrs. Bardon’s home, Jake and I held onto each other and finally let our own tears flow. I looked at the other children and I said, “You have NO IDEA of the gift you just gave to that woman—the gift of a REASON to get out of bed.” It was the gift of anticipation, of Love, of Joy, of Light.

I still think of that Christmas as the year I received the best Christmas gift ever...a gift from Mrs. Brandon's joyful heart.

My children and I no longer deliver senior meals. It was a very difficult decision to make, choosing to stop doing something that was needed and was kind and was giving and was helping the world. Most of us who were raised traditionally would have to deal with major guilt issues over this.

But not my children. They knew that it wasn’t feeling right in our souls anymore. They knew that we had to stop doing that which wasn’t right for us in order to be open to receiving what IS right for us.

And that’s exactly what happened. Because we, once again, listened to our hearts when they were speaking to us, paid attention to the signs that were in front of us, new paths and new ways of giving to the world opened up to us. Paths that were in alignment with our ever-growing, ever-changing lives and spirits.

Beyond what my children and I do that looks like service to the rest of the world, my children are kind, generous, caring people who give to the world every day.

They “give” to the world by knowing, without a doubt, that they are completely and incredibly loved. From the place of knowing this Truth, they know, first and foremost, that they should give to themselves. They know how to give to themSelves…how to care for their minds, bodies and spirits. They know how to claim, gratefully, what is rightfully theirs in this Universe…rightfully theirs just because they are here. They know how to walk toward peace and fulfillment when their souls are feeling restless and dissatisfied.

Some people may think that giving to yourSelf is contradictory to giving to the world. But it’s not. Everything begins within ourSelves.

Our biggest fear is that we are not loved. When we live from this place of fear, it holds us back from being Who We Want to Be, Who We Are Meant to Be. We see the world from a skewed perspective when we are viewing life from a place of fear. We react to everything with a defensive, self-protective energy. When we are feeling a lack, we live from that lack, and we are unable to truly give, for we fear that if we give it away, we won’t have anything left for ourselves.

When we know that we are incredibly and completely loved, there is no room for fear. There is no lack because we are living in an abundance of love, and we know there is nothing to fear in giving, for our cup, our chalice, is always full.

This is the ultimate definition of freedom, a freedom my children have known and lived all of their lives. Because they know they are completely and incredibly loved, they can walk forward without fear. They can ask for and they can give and they can receive and they can bless and they can be blessed because they do not own the fear that spawns the bad decisions made by much of the rest of the world.

They are free to be exactly Who They Are Meant to Be…Who They Want to Be.

The general misconception about gentle, mindful, respectful parenting and unschooling is that our children will be selfish and self-centered and greedy. This, to me, is a travesty. My sensitive heart aches over such fallacies, so I do my best to filter them out, focusing on what is in front of me: The Truth.

The Truth I see in front of me is that my children are the most giving people I know.

My children have learned how to give with love by being given to with love. They have learned how to receive with love by having their giving met with gracious love.

How else is a child to learn that giving is a blessing, as is receiving? This needs to be lived, learned by example, learned by having the people they trust the most in the world be generous and giving and also open to gracious receiving.

Giving is an on-going energy in our home, between each and every one of us. Barring someone feeling ill or exhausted, the general tone in our home is respectful, caring, interested, giving…serving, even.

Along my spiritual path, I have learned that the best way to respond to someone in need is with, “How can I serve you?” This immediately spoke to my heart, and I have done my best to carry it forward in my life, especially with my family.

When we know we are completely and incredibly loved and we know that our Presence here is absolutely necessary for the well-being of the world, then we know how to love ourSelves. We nurture our minds, our bodies and our spirits. Only then will our chalices be full enough so that we can genuinely approach others with a loving, giving, “How can I serve you?” energy.

And those to whom we offer our service will receive the message that they are completely and incredibly loved. From there, they, too, will be able to walk forward in the Light of knowing how truly to give.

No, to believe that giving to the universe begins by giving to yourSelf, by loving yourSelf is not contradictory at all. That is, in fact, our job here on this earth. To feed our Divine Light so that we may Shine. We feed our Divine Light and give to ourSelves by knowing ourSelves, respecting ourSelves, loving ourSelves, forgiving ourSelves, and being Exactly Who We Want to Be.

These huge and powerful concepts were the sparks that we ignited that Christmas season eight years ago in Mrs. Bardon. We gave her the gift of Joy and Love and Celebration. She was inspired. She felt Loved. She felt Worthy. She experienced Joy.

From that spark, from those glorious beginnings, wonderful things are always waiting to happen.

And then that Light will spread like infinite ripples in a pond.

This is How We Are All Meant to Shine

This particular Light began in the heart of a child who knew, and still knows, without a doubt, that he is Incredibly Loved.