Sharing Meals, Building Community

What more can you ask for?

Good company, good food, good conversation.

A means of nourishing our bodies as well as our souls.

For me there is no better way to introduce new people and nurture ongoing relationships than sharing meals with friends.

Depending on your group you can celebrate milestones, commiserate and support each other in transitions or losses, or simply share and enjoy the passage of time.

Perhaps you will make opportunities to challenge each other as you discuss issues and brainstorm ideas for solutions. Or, you and your children might learn something completely unexpected.

Today I was lucky enough to do all of the above with two different communities I am grateful to have in my life: a group of homeschool/unschool moms and different group of local family friends. These two different groups have been so valuable to me and our family over the years as we made parenting and education choices, weathered family illnesses, and celebrated life.

Even in our wedding vows, we committed to making time in our lives for gatherings of friends and family.  We never realized  how important reaching out to invite friends and other families to our home would be to us and our only child.

Garden salad, Sharing Meals Building Community at www.lisanalbone.comI know  when we all have busy, hectic lives with so many scattered obligations it may seem easier just to stay home or not bother to entertain.  Yet, I encourage you take the time and trouble to invite people over.

When you are invited, say yes.

And keep on doing it. It is worth the effort. The payback will be priceless and delish.

Making Connections

Today I was thinking about my wonderful friends and how they often also serve as mentors, or help me make an important connection that comes just when I need it.

But what if you went out seeking those types of connections or mentors?

And spent time meeting with them and reflecting on what you learned?

That is exactly what Megan Gebhart is doing with her inspiring 52 Cups project.

Coffee with new 52 Cups book, read an interview with author Megan Gebhart at

I talked with her today and asked her  for suggestions  for others trying to make connections or wishing to  start a similar project. She had some great advice about how to get started.

Megan’s Advice:

  1.  Think about what you are really interested in and what you might want to learn more about.
  2. Start  locally. Ask friends or relatives for suggestions about who might be interesting to talk to about that topic.
  3. Write up your interview and what you learned.Focus on a 500 word reflection about what was learned. Don’t retell the other person’s story.

Why write?

Reaching out to new people is worthwhile in itself,  but  writing her reflections on what she learned from the people she spoke with really made the difference. It added value in three* ways.

  1. It immediately helped her process and summarize the take-away from each conversations.
  2. Writing gave her the ability to look back at what she learned at a later date and have a record of her  journey
  3. Blogging allowed for  even greater sharing and connection.

Megan also had good advice for those of us who are more fainthearted about our writing and publishing. She reminded me that just because she had made a very public, and beautifully written blog, that isn’t what everyone needs to do. There would be great personal benefit just from reaching out, making new connections and reflection even without the public blogging dimension of the project.


Other Tips

Megan felt that having a clearly defined project that was accessible helped in setting up  the coffee meetings. She only asked people for a small amount of time and she could refer people to the blog.

She, must have been reading my mind, when she said one could consider 26 cups or some variation,  instead of 52.  Although I might be tempted to shortcut, I think the weekly, regularity would really be powerful.

As we ended our conversation she said, won’t know what to expect, what connections will come from each meeting.  Just  be open to the possibility of finding mentors, friends and  a life changing experience.

If you have not read her blog, please do.

And consider reaching out to have come cups of coffee of your own.

*( 4th reason to write: update 2014: And now, you can get her book!  )


It’s All Up to YOU

Parents, teens, young adults–whether or not you or your children attend school:

YOU are in charge of your learning and education.

Not the school. Or teacher. Or professor.


Pierre Stephens pushing boulder up hill in Greece, like Sisyphus. It is all up to YOU. post at

Learning is more than a school day, a term, a semester or a class.

Life is all about learning and we must stop abdicating our responsibility when it comes to what our kids or what we are learning.

All the decisions you make about how you spend your time, who you choose to talk to, what you read, where you go after school, on vacation, after work, on the weekend–all choices impact what you and your children learn.

And oftentimes, those things that happen beyond the classroom are the most meaningful.

Take responsibility.  Choose.

Look for learning opportunities in everything you and your kids do.

Bring the world into the classroom or take education into the world.

Model learning for the love of learning, not learning because someone else told you to.

Learning all the time,


Further Reading:

Parent Interview with Jane Andraka 

An interview with Danielle Strachman of the Thiel Fellowship


August Angst, UnCollege Version

Here is a little verse written back in 2011 to help you if you are considering the approach to learning and the UnCollege Gap Year program.  I just finished speaking with an alumni from the first group of fellows. He attributes his current success to what he learned during the program.  I’ll  share the details of his story as soon as I get it written, but for now, some fun and truth from this rhymin’ mama.

The time is now here

To face your great fear

What should you do

About college this year?

Public or Private, Community or Ivy?

Which major? Which field? What kind of degree?

How long will it take?

What will your debt be?

And will you find a job when you finally get done?

Or only have debt with no time for fun?

Oh so much pressure

To go off to college just like everyone.

Because, if you don’t go

I am sure that you know,

“Would you like fries with that?”

Will be your unending woe.

Isn’t there only ONE road to success?

And if you don’t go won’t your life be a mess?

“You can’t all be Zuckerberg,”

People love to profess

But what if there IS a door number four?

A  great way to learn and not become poor?

To use creativity

To follow your heart and even learn MORE!

What about that idea I’ve heard called UnCollege?

Outside of classrooms you still can gain knowledge,

You can learn in the world,

Without paying a mortgage!

Reading, and research, travel and more,

Internships, mentors and experience galore!

What do YOU want to learn?

Let your mind soar!

It’s not for the lazy, nor the faint-hearted.

You’ll need to work hard and have to get started,

Finding work-shops or conferences,

And attending events even if you get carded.

Look everywhere for ways to connect:  Facebook, Linked-in, Twitter and lo,

Amazing things happen when YOU  help YOURSELF grow.

So forget the limits, reach for the stars!

And as Dr. Seuss said, “Oh! The places you’ll go!”

dale Stephens as a baby beginning walking on a hiking trail.
Future UnCollege founder, future uncertain, learning full-steam ahead. Need baby size UnCollege shirts?

Sorry- I can’t stop thinking in rhyme or using these sentimental photos!

I published this on August 11, 2011 – almost two years ago now!  Time flies. Some things have changed. Do you think this still applies?

How do you handle your angst about choices you are making?

I’d love to hear from you. Email me at or find me on Twitter @lisanalbone.   Please share my poetic  masterpiece with a friend who could use a smile.

Want more?