I Can’t Learn One More Thing!

Did you ever have a day or time in your life when your brain felt so full and the learning was so demanding that you just might explode?

You’re ready to yell, “I can’t learn one more thing!”


Many years ago, in the office of Armistice ( a community organization in Seattle  working on peace and social justice issues), I had one of those days.

This was my post-university passion, primarily volunteer work, that had absolutely nothing to do with my botany degree and did not help to pay off my student loans.

But it was work that I cared about, made me feel alive, and had me learning more in less than a year than I learned in my whole 4 years of college.

This work inspired me. I was on fire with a need to change the world. Heck, by opposing nuclear weapons we were trying to save the WHOLE world!

In the space of a few months I learned to:

  • facilitate meetings
  • speak in public
  • lead community workshops
  • coordinate volunteers
  • curate and manage resources
  • write press releases
  • layout newsletters
  • build and manage membership.

And this was back in the dark ages before email, laptops and even desk-top computers. Everything was done the slow, old-fashioned. Even answering machines were new! It was engaging, challenging, exciting, rewarding and felt like it mattered. I loved what I was doing.

But one day, I lost it.

Ruth, a friend, mentor and comrade, gave me a new challenge. Something else I had never even imagined myself doing. And I BELLOWED, throwing my hands in the air —


Shocking really, since I usually had to be encouraged to speak up. But, I had hit the wall. Fortunately I had friends/mentors, Ruth and Rosemary, who had my back.

.I can't Learn One More thing, The Power of Passion and Support. www.LisaNalbone.com  original photo of three ukuleles learning together above the music Stand By Me.
Stand by me.

The Power of  Passion and Support

Ruth gave Rosemary a knowing look and they swung into action. They whisked me away to the Chinese restaurant next to the office and plied me with food and martinis. They deposited me at my apartment and told me to sleep.

While I napped, they called on their network and found me a place to have a mini-retreat. They picked me up a few hours later, packed my bag and “kidnapped” me. They dropped me off at some kind of retreat center on Hood Canal, with no phone, no electronics, nothing but shelter (a dorm of some sort with kitchen), some food and a beach. I was admonished to sleep, walk, breathe and just BE, not do.

I was left to myself for a few days. I slept, cried, walked, sat and stared at the water and breathed. And did it all again.

Ruth and Rosemary came to pick me up and stayed the night.  They brought food and wine and chocolate. We had time to talk, eat and laugh together and process.  They shared their tips on: how to balance the passion, intensity and commitment to social change with having a life; how to prevent getting to the “losing it” point; and the value of believing that the process is just as important as the product.

Thinking back to those days, when I truly believed our non-violent actions were critical to the world’s survival, is sort of embarrassing.  But this experience taught me the power of heartfelt passion for taking the risks of new learning.

Like many of our most powerful learning experiences, none of the work in those years was in a classroom or directed or sanctioned by any authority. The work — vision, friendships, mentors, community– changed my life.

And I experienced the power of support.

 We absolutely need supporters and truth-tellers in our lives who are honest, who challenge us to be more, and who hold us when we need to rest, who help us learn and live.

Especially on the days we feel we can’t learn one more thing.


The friendships endured.

When I visit with Rosemary, however briefly, time disappears, and our honest conversations inspire us both to take on new learning and challenges. Ruth is no longer sharing the earth and I especially miss her savvy political commentary and what we called “talking like God.”  She had incredible ideas about what should be done. She gave honest, often biting critique, but also knew how to encourage.

They both helped me find my passion and my voice.

Who helps you find yours?

Got questions about homeschooling or unschooling?

Ask illustration by Carrie Svozil for ABC's of Learning Beyond School BookWell, just ask!

That’s why I am working on turning the ABC’s of Learning Beyond School posts into a book.

But in terms of what you REALLY need to get started, of all  the ABC’s of Learning Beyond School,  I think you should start with the letter T, because T is for Trust.

You can attend or watch my talk, with the same title,  at the free, online Homeschool Conference at 11 am, Pacific Coast Time on Saturday, August 24.

Click here for the conference main page. Or here  for the link to the recording of my session.  I turned on the recorder too soon. So, move the slider over to the right until you see a welcome slide with my photo to go right to the talk.  Or you can go to this post where I put the “show notes” and an edited version of the talk.

No worries if that time doesn’t work for you, the conference will be recorded and all the sessions archived for future reference so you will have plenty of opportunities to learn from some of the great sessions that are offered.

If possible, I will embed the recorded presentation here on this site.  I look  forward to questions and  continuing the conversation here in the comments.

Please subscribe to the blog via email so you don’t miss any updates or resources as I put them up.  Please pass the information on to anyone you know who is wondering about alternatives in education.

Thanks,  Lisa

Got UnCollege or Unschooling Angst? Try these 5 Mindsets

Isn’t it amazing that we have so many new ways we can learn and take charge of our learning?

And isn’t scary that we have so many new ways to take charge of our learning?

Because if I’m in charge, then who do I blame if I don’t get it “right?”  How can I guarantee success?

Got UnCollege Angst? Try these 5 mindsets to take charge of your learning lwww.lisanalbone.comReality check: the world is changing quickly.  Careers, information and approaches that made sense even ten years ago don’t always make sense today. You can’t guarantee “success.”  An expensive degree doesn’t  guarantee success. But you can choose to define success in your own terms and prepare to thrive in an uncertain future.  If you are helping your child, you decide to focus on laying a foundation for the long game.

But how can I do that?

Adopt these 5 Mindsets

Master  and model the secret of lifelong learning and take charge of your learning. Because, the real secret is to own your learning in any situation. You become the master of your destiny, or as close as you can get to thriving with whatever life throws you, when you adopt these 5 mindsets.

  1. Growth mindset: that you can learn and improve if you are intentional, deliberate, and make the effort.  Mistakes or failure are data for growth and learning.
  2. Unschooler mindset: if you are alive you are learning. Learning happens any time, any place, and with anyone. Trust the process.
  3. 100% Responsibility Mindset: what you choose to do, everyday, matters. You are responsible for your life and learning and actions.
  4. Reflective Mindset: a daily practice of honest reflection to help you keep your actions in line with your values. Honesty and integrity rule.
  5. Connection Mindset: We are all connected. Helping others is the way to help yourself. Connect, contribute and express gratitude.

These are the mindsets we lived by while we were raising Dale and during our unschooling years. These are the mindsets Uncollege Fellows develop during their Gap Year program which is an intentional learning year, a smart year on rather than a year off.

They are the mindsets I try to live by every day.

Rosemary Powers contemplating Hacking Your Education by Dale J Stephens and the UnCollege Gap Year at www.lisanalbone.com
You can be any age to consider UnCollege and Hacking your Education.

It sounds so simple, right? In some ways, it really is. Yet they can be radical changes to how we operate and require courage, confidence and a community of support. Taking responsibility and going against the grain is worthwhile but not for the faint-hearted. The good news is there are so many new ways to connect and find support!

Sign up for the UnCollege newsletter  and be a part of the community.

Sign up for my newsletter for my weekly advice and tips.

Join the conversation in the comments.

Remember, self-directed learning doesn’t mean you have to learn alone.

Be part of the adventure.


Do you have fear or uncertainty about trying, unschoolingUnCollege Gap Year or Hacking Your Education?

For a little silliness on the subject read this,  August Angst, UnCollege poem.


Let’s have a conversation:
What mindsets do you operate with?

Have you thought about trying unschooling, uncollege or a gap year?   What was the response?

 If you are a parent, how would you feel about your child taking an unconventional path for college?

I’d love to hear your thoughts.  Lisa


It’s August Again, Have You Got Angst?

I’ve decided to bring back a post from August 2011 with the addition of a scary photo and a few questions for you.

Does it still ring true? Do you still feel pressured to figure out how to school or unschool the kids? Have your options increased or decreased?

May I suggest, take a deep breath and trust that you can figure it out.

Lisa Nalbone looking scared holding August calendarAugust Angst


The time is now here

To face your great fear:

What Should Do We Do With The Kids This Year?

I mean, educationally speaking, my dear.

Public or private or homeschool, maybe?

But Unschool or Charter, what will it be?

What’s most important? How to Decide?

What’s best for them or what’s best for me?

What on earth should our priority be?

Continue reading the original post…