Keep Going

Brave Writer

If it’s working, keep going.

Maybe print this one on a Post-it and stick it to your refrigerator or your mirror or wherever you spend the most time.

  • No need to buy a new curriculum if the one you have works.
  • No reason to adopt the new-fangled philosophy if you like the one you have.
  • No need to get rigid about boundaries or freedom, if the balance you’ve struck works for your family.
  • No reason to spend more time away from the house if being home is what makes everyone happy.

You do you.

If it works, it’s okay to keep going, no matter how others understand your choices.

This post is originally from Instagram and @juliebravewriter is my account there so come follow along for more conversations like this one!

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Julie Pep Talks: Setting Boundaries, Not Setting Rules

Brave Writer Podcast

Welcome to the first episode of a new segment I’m calling “Julie Pep Talks,” where I narrow in on one particular topic and give you my thoughts about it and suggestions you can quickly put into practice. Today’s topic is all about setting boundaries, not setting rules.

At the start of a new year, we’re often coming from the combined high of family gatherings, as well as the residual resentment that can come when your closest relatives push your buttons in all the wrong ways. Couple that with the cultural expectation to reform our lives in the form of new year’s resolutions of the year and it makes sense that we’d look at our mental welfare and engage in some relationship hygiene. That means setting the boundaries necessary to have a good relationship with the people in your life.

Let’s explore what it actually means to set boundaries, and why, sometimes, what you think is a boundary is actually a rule. The distinction matters.

Show Notes

There is a famous quote from the book Codependent No More by Melody Beattie that says, “You cannot set a boundary and take care of someone’s feelings at the same time.” What I’ve seen happen in the name of boundaries is often just more sophisticated, codependent behavior and manipulation. There’s a temptation to pretend we’re setting a boundary when we’re actually setting a rule. A rule is meant to enforce the behavior of others, while a boundary is meant to protect your own emotional energy.

When dealing with behavior you don’t approve of in others, you have a few options available:

  • pretend there isn’t a problem and cooperate,
  • set personal boundaries,
  • or set rules.

Rules are about what other people do, but we have no control over the behavior of others.

Imagine dealing with an alcoholic. You can set the rule that you do not allow alcohol in your house, but that relies on the other person to follow that rule and adhere to it. Instead, you could set the boundary that you will not buy alcohol for them. That’s something that you have complete control over.

It’s hard to set boundaries because we often feel as if we are losing something: a relationship, control, revenue, respect, or something else. How does this apply to homeschooling? Think about the child who doesn’t want to learn math. You can set a boundary that, if you’re going to help with schoolwork, then they need to have a good attitude, follow through, and do the work. But that’s actually a rule – and it’s one that you’ll have to enforce because the child is really the one in control. 

So what do you do instead? Your boundary could be that, when you show up positive and motivated to give your child a good learning experience, and they show up without a good attitude, you can get up from that table and walk away. It’s not about their performance but the kind of life you want to live.

A boundary is not about the other person. It is about what you need to ensure your emotional wellbeing. Think about how you are being codependent in your relationship with your child, and how you can set boundaries that protect your own mental health.


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Introducing Teens to Unschooling Liberation with Grace Llewellyn

Brave Writer Podcast

This week on the podcast, we connect with Grace Llewellyn, a staple of the unschooling community who shaped my own homeschooling approach. 

She taught for three years before leaving the profession to write a classic in the unschooling world: The Teenage Liberation Handbook. The book was published in 1991, when she was only 26 years old, and has been thoroughly updated and re-released for it’s 30th anniversary in 2021. In 1996, Grace founded Not Back to School Camp to bring together unschooled teenagers and it’s still bringing joy around the world, today.

Grace Llewellyn

After her time in the traditional school system – at a wonderful private school in Colorado – she came to the point where she felt she had seen and experienced too much to ethically continue teaching. She discovered the world of unschooling and quickly realized that it was unfair to rely on parents to introduce their kids to the methodology. She knew what she had to do.

We talk about:

  • the expectations that come with unschooling,
  • addressing fears parents may have,
  • and the joys of dabbling.

Show Notes

Unschooling can lead to lofty expectations. While the principles suggest that kids will be naturally guided to learn what they are most interested in, as parents, the approach can lead us to worry about a well-rounded education, or seeing what others are doing and feeling jealous of their progress. That’s a hard feeling to disauge, but it’s important to remember that kids don’t need to have a passion. Kids can be dabblers. Adults can be dabblers! There’s no one vision of success, which is the exact reason unschooling rejects the traditional school system.

For parents that have hesitations about unschooling – about getting a job or going to college – there are decades worth of data showing that this is not an issue for most children. The other common worry is built on failure. But, failure is a part of being human, and part of unschooling is finding a way to learn lessons from failures by making sense of them.

In the newly released 30th Anniversary edition of The Teenage Liberation Handbook, Grace worked with a past guest of the podcast, Blake Boles, to create a version of the book that holds up even stronger today. What started as a quick, streamlined version quickly became a project requiring hundreds of hours of research. It’s a wonderful resource for anyone interested in easing their teen into unschooling, or for parents who want a different perspective on homeschooling.


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Friday Freewrite: Migration

Friday Freewrite

Two birds are chatting after migrating south for the winter and one says, “You will not believe the trip I had!” What happened?

New to freewriting? Check out our online guide.

Stress: The Invisible Thief

Stress: The Invisible Thief

Whenever you feel that whoosh of peace in your home.
Pause to notice. Inhale. Then… Exhale and smile.


The invisible thief.
The batterer of nervous systems.

Worry, fear, too much to do, pressure, cruelty, failing to meet our own ideals, tragedy, loss… Stress is inevitable. I am not great at getting rid of it when it’s raging so no advice here.

What I do know: sometimes after stress rolls in like high tide in a storm, it rushes out to sea just as quickly. A tiny pivot, a shift, and whoosh! It’s gone.

It’s happened to me. A small kindness, a changed perspective, a little space away from the source of the stress and just as quickly as I had been flooded with unwelcome adrenaline, I was back to calm (with a little left over tingle and tenderness).

Whoosh! Peace. It magically appears. Notice. Breathe:

  • inhale,
  • exhale,
  • smile.

And maybe add: Sleep.

This post is originally from Instagram and @juliebravewriter is my account there so come follow along for more conversations like this one!

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