A Brave Writer’s Life in Brief

Thoughts from my jungle to yours

Meet our 2015 summer interns!

We are fortunate to have five talented young adults as Brave Writer interns this summer, and you’ll be seeing them on the blog from time to time. You’ve already read Hannah’s lovely teatime post. We look forward to featuring all of our interns in the weeks and months to come!

Here are the 2015 Summer Interns:

Intern_AmyAmy Hughes took many Brave Writer classes during her homeschooling years. As a child, she started talking early and didn’t really stop. Now at university in her home country of New Zealand and studying German, English Language Linguistics, and Law, she still loves words. Writing (especially blogging), reading books, and talking to other people are her favorite kinds of activities.


Brave Writer 2015 Summer Intern Charlotte MeertWhen future historians refer to Charlotte Meert’s life, they’ll mention such things as, “She was born in France,” and “She ate excessive amounts of Nutella from the jar.” But they might miss out on the important aspects of her life, such as her utter obsession with the written word, and her appalling lack of skill with a pogo stick. It is to be hoped that her gleaming sense of humor and awkwardness in writing about herself third person are not overlooked. The year 1994 will always be remembered for having given birth to this oddball personality.


Brave Writer 2015 Summer Intern Finlay WorralloFinlay Worrallo is fifteen years old and lives in Swaledale, a beautiful valley in Britain. He enjoys reading books, writing stories, and watching Doctor Who. He loves studying languages, especially Spanish. People are always telling him how tall he is, which he’s heard before, and how good he looks in hats, which he likes to hear. He plans to write novels, act in plays, and travel the world when he’s an adult.


Brave Writer 2015 Summer Intern Hannah HayesHannah Hayes has spent the eighteen years of her life growing up in the beautiful Upper Peninsula of Michigan. She feels very fortunate to have received her writing instruction from Brave Writer, the place where writing becomes fun! Hannah hopes to study biology, English, and philosophy at a liberal arts college in pursuit of a medical degree. In her free time, she enjoys horseback riding, dancing, studying music, volunteering with the local garden club, and working as the page at her community’s library.


Brave Writer 2015 Summer Intern Vanessa ChebliHomeschooled from kindergarten through high school, Vanessa Chebli is currently a senior at American University in Washington, DC, majoring in Political Science and Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies. Writing is one of Vanessa’s passions, and Brave Writer was an integral part of cultivating that love throughout middle and high school. She is thrilled to be returning as one of their interns for the summer!


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Tuesday Teatime: Then and Now!

Poetry Teatime: Then and Now

Julie, I had to share this photo with you [above right] because I love seeing the photo of Anna on your Poetry teatime page complete with Anna painted teapots. She is nine at that teatime and waiting the arrival of her book group, self named by voting, Sunshine Fairy Readers. The girls meet monthly for five years each bringing their own book to share and talk about. Lots of laughing, lots of books, lots of fun.

Here Anna is today at 17 looking forward to re-reading Harry Potter this summer with guitar, french, photography, baking, and working one day a week for cash on her summer agenda.

Looking forward to her senior year of high school homeschooling at the area community college for the experience.

It was so much fun looking through the teatime photos from the past. So may children laughing and growing and just imagine what they are all doing today!! So precious as kids and so awesome as adults.

Also love our two kids in the teatime igloo photo. Match our igloo photo:

Poetry Teatime in an igloo!

To winter 2015:

Poetry Teatime: Then and Now

Thanks for holding our memories.

I can’t imagine the feeling if they ever get married and have kids of their own. I guess the key is to just ….. breathe.

So grateful,

Images by Kay (text added)

Want to start your own Poetry Teatime? Here’s how.

Would you like your family featured on Tuesday Teatime? Email us your teatime photos with a few lines about your experience (put “Teatime” in the subject line). If we share on our blog then you’ll receive a free Arrow or Boomerang title of your choice (once per family). Note: all submissions fall under Creative Commons licensing.

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Your house is like theirs—imperfect!

You can't ensure your life will turn out how you plan

If there were one message I could send back to my younger self it would be this one:

You can’t ensure your life will turn out how you plan.

Every time I talk to a parent on the phone, every home I visit, I discover a recurring theme. Parents assume that they are not hitting a mark other parents are hitting. They believe that the struggles they have are being avoided successfully by other parents.

Yet every day, we hear evidence that that is, in fact, not true! The families most stringently attached to a specific model of loving and learning often fall the furthest, which then shocks us!

As my aunt (ethics professor) says, “Idealists are shocked a lot in life.”

No system saves you, no methodology protects you.

We are most sane and satisfied when we pay attention to the details of our current daily lives—not projecting ahead anxiously, not looking backward with regret.

What I mean is this: be more interested in the evidence presenting itself to you right before your eyes than in the strategy you believe will create the life you want. If your child is cranky and bored, wondering why the methods you trusted aren’t creating a happy creative child is not where to start. Blaming the child for not cooperating with the system you trusted is not useful.

Start with the child—what relieves and helps this child in this moment today? Open the possibilities wide—wider than the system or method or strategy that you expected to deliver “boredom free children.”

Avoid shame and blame.

Refuse self-recrimination.

Get with reality. Attend to today.

Pay attention to the people around you and consult them. Let them teach you what they need. Be open to being wrong and learning a new way—this one specific way for this one specific person in this one specific moment.

Be true to who you are, too! When you are relaxed and comfortable in your own skin and home, you are more able to trust that your family and life will teach you how to live together.

When tragedy strikes—that horrible thing that you didn’t count on—know that this isn’t the final sentence in your story. Your family may not have the happily ever after you counted on—it may instead develop resilience, depth, and perspective…and heart! (Psst: every family has tragedy they didn’t count on.)

You’ll be a comfort to others (aka: everyone) who go through the rapids and need a vision of what it means to hold on and survive.

The easiest way forward in your thirties is to attach to a system to help you navigate life (a kind of “life vision insurance plan”). The first thing you discard in your forties is the system that failed you!

So if you want a little tip to help you now—trust YOURSELF. You know more than you give yourself credit for… and what you know and are open to learn is more than enough to have a life that creates good in the world, and meaningful memories for all of you.

Image by woodleywonderworks (cc cropped, text added for social media)

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Friday Freewrite: Mud

Friday Freewrite: Mud

What if you had an alien pen-pal who’d always lived on a spaceship with no dirt, and she asked what mud is like. How would you describe it to her?

Also, June 29th is National Mud Day! If you’d like, you can share a mud story with others. Submit your writing here!

Image by Stephanie Sicore (cc)

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Student Spotlight: Megan Jula

Student SpotlightFormer Brave Writer student, Megan Jula, is a rising senior as a Journalism major at Indiana University!

Megan was one of five students chosen to participate in the 55th annual William Randolph Hearst Foundation’s Journalism Awards Program’s writing competition.

She also had an article recently picked up by USA Today.

Image LinkedIn

Congratulations, Megan!

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Plan your routine now!

Plan your homeschool routine now

The Homeschool Alliance is about to spend all of July planning your coming school year. The emphasis of our work together will be different than your traditional “day planner” and “curriculum schedule.” Though we’ll look at your days, weeks, and months, we’ll do it from a different space that mere logistics (how to fit it all in). We’ll:

  • investigate who your kids are (each one) and what their natural aspirations and talents are.
  • examine the planned subject areas you intend to cover during the year.
  • discuss pace and routine, how to accommodate the busy extra-curricular life you have as well as your need for solid blocks of time to cover in depth studies.

Not only that, but we’ll take YOU into account as well! None of this works unless we have a realistic appraisal of your unique, important personality and parenting style. I’ll give feedback to all who post and help you make the necessary adjustments to get the routine that feels right to you. I’ll also provide resources or advice, if they are appropriate, to help you articulate and develop a plan.

By the end of July, you will have a solid sense of how to implement the tailor-made routine that takes all of you into account!

In addition to the month-long planning session, I’ll be available to Alliance Members for one-on-one Skype sessions for consultations (additional expense).

All of this for $24.95! You can sign up for just the one month, if you like, and read back through the last year’s worth of material and posts, too, to give yourself a big boost of energy as you enter the fall!

Join the 200+ parents who are already members! Find out why the Homeschool Alliance has become an essential source of support to their family lives and homeschool efforts.

I look forward to getting to know you!


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The Art of Finding Joy in a Teacup Without the Tea!

The Art of Finding Joy in a Teacup Without the Tea

by Brave Writer student, Hannah Hayes

Growing up, I learned early on that it is possible to have a lovely and enjoyable teatime without the tea. To me, tea was bitter but glamorous; something that I wanted to enjoy but just could not. This is why I found the perfect solution: sipping lemonade from delicate, antique teacups instead of tea!

Tuesday Teatimes at my house were soon a big deal. I remember sitting around the kitchen table in the late afternoon light bathed in warmth and the flickering glow of candles. Often Bach or Beethoven played in the background to the babble of words flowing from our mouths as we read poetry aloud between sips of hot chocolate and nibbles of scones.

When we first started the teatime tradition, I rolled my eyes and said, “What a waste of time—I don’t even like poetry.” But my mom was right in persevering, for the love of poetry in my own heart sparked into flame. Soon, not only did I enjoy picking a poem to share, but I was picking multiples, and often the longest ones I could find. There was something about the way the words skipped and soared that became melodious and wonderful to me.

I discovered that the important part of teatime is being surrounded by love and joy. Finding people, words, and ideas that make you soar is a marvel all its own. Teatime is not something that has to be proper, prim, or old fashioned! The essence of teatime is resting and reveling in the simple joys of life—mending the frayed ends of body, mind, and soul by relaxation and reflection in something you treasure. Teatime is not a seasonal thing. It is evolving and living, and it moves with you and your needs.

Often we find our greatest creative geniuses in the moments where we marvel at the minute miracles of life. So, this summer, take time to find what is truly important, whether you find that in jars of icy lemonade or in cups of iced tea.

Hannah without tea 2

Images by Hannah Hayes

Want to start your own Poetry Teatime? Here’s how.

Would you like your family featured on Tuesday Teatime? Email us your teatime photos with a few lines about your experience (put “Teatime” in the subject line). If we share on our blog then you’ll receive a free Arrow or Boomerang title of your choice (once per family). Note: all submissions fall under Creative Commons licensing.

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The writing will come

Relax: The writing will come

It’s easy to put pressure on your kids. Parents are notorious “nudges.” We expect our children to make measurable progress in each area of life every day of the year…or we’ll comment on it, or nag about it, or gently sweetly explain its importance again and again. We measure our own success as parents by how well our children grow up!

Writing doesn’t thrive under those conditions. Nagging, reminding, explaining, nudging – these create anxiety which thwarts the creative process. You need your yogic-self when embarking on writing. Calm, low expectations, quiet, space.

These are conditions that support writing.

Stressed parents make stressed children. You must master your own perfectionism and anxiety first, before freewriting.

In fact, some parents even make freewriting feel like a rule-bound writing excursion. There’s the “right way” to freewrite, which includes obvious mistakes and flights of fancy and urgency. What happens when a child is uptight, careful, and tedious in her clipped short dull sentences? Does that mean freedom in writing failed?

Think back to “free.” Freedom means “not bound.” In this case, not bound by anything! Whatever your child offers in the freewriting excursion can be valued and honored, accepted and appreciated.

Relax. Be there for your young writer as he or she is.  Try again another day. One day, writing will come and flow and all of you will be amazed that it was just behind Door #2 all along.

Image by Rhys A. (cc cropped, text added)

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Friday Freewrite: Dear Mom and Dad

Friday Freewrite doorway

Imagine you are one of the kids in this photo then finish this letter:

Dear Mom and Dad,

We’re SO sorry for what happened. It all started when…

New to freewriting? Check out our online guide.

Image by Maryland GovPics (cc cropped)

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Summer To Do List

Summer To Do List

Saw this fantastic To Do list for Summer while at a family reunion and thought of all our Brave Writer families. The activities are things like

water balloon fights,

taking a hike,

riding a pony,

movie in the backyard,

sidewalk art, and

visiting Grandpa at work!

You might consider creating vision for the summer in a similar way!

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