Archive | Personal Essays

Parents Are the Ones Who Need to be Unschooled the Most

walking down a dark hallway antique store silhouette profile

My daughter is only four years old, and this has been going on for over a year: every conversation with a new person starts the same way, “Where is your daughter going to preschool? Is she excited about starting Kindergarten soon?”

When I reply, “We are homeschoolers,” I invariably get the not-so-subtle raised eyebrow, the quick intake of breath, the pursed line of the mouth. Yes. I can read your body language. Your judgmental thoughts are coming across loud and clear.

I want to scrunch up my nose at the stranger and walk away. Who do they think they are, judging me? But what good would that do? So I try to be kind and diplomatic, an Ambassador for Homeschoolers Everywhere. I smile as open-heartedly as I can muster, and I say something like, “We are really excited about providing her with opportunities that we don’t think she can get through the public schools,” or, if I’m tired, I just say, “It’s what’s best for our family,” and leave it at that.

I keep hoping that someone will be smitten with how noble I am and actually want to reexamine their views on the “public school versus homeschooling” debate; but nobody wants to discuss it further. The topic becomes taboo for the rest of the (short-lived) conversation. (more…)

Continue Reading

Wild and Free: A Beautiful Homeschooling Community

sketchbook ekwetzel heart say yes“All good things are wild and free.”
– Henry David Thoreau

The Wild and Free Portland conference was held on on May 29-30, 2015 at the Kennedy School hotel in downtown Portland. Here are my reflections on that event, as well as some thoughts about the Wild and Free homeschooling community, in general.

From the moment I bought my ticket to the Wild and Free conference, I always knew that, for me, it was never going to be about learning homeschooling tips and tricks. I just don’t find that kind of stuff interesting. If I believe in something, I know I can figure out the ins and outs of applying it in daily life. I don’t need to learn HOW to homeschool. What I need is community and support. Homeschooling is a fundamentally lonely endeavor, in both a day-to-day way, and also in a broader ideological sense. (more…)

Continue Reading

Announcing My New Job: Maker Mentors!

ekwetzel erin wetzel spin spinning

I have a new job.

I know that I just wrote about quitting my job and living on less so that I can homeschool. I am still homeschooling. I might not wash as many dishes or make my own sauerkraut anymore, but I’m doing the things that are most important to me.

I partnered with Cassie Boorn, and together we launched Maker Mentors, a platform for helping creative people take their business to the next level. We are holding an online conference this May, as well as building an ongoing community and a library of free webinars. (more…)

Continue Reading

What do you do when a child gets Type 1 Diabetes?

violet wilson lovelittleviolet

The moment I learned that Melissa’s two-year-old daughter was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes,  I wanted to bury her in the biggest hug. But, since they live 1,000 miles away, I painted her a picture instead.

I’ve never met the Wilsons in person, but we’ve known each other online for years. The more I talked with my friend about the struggles her family was facing, the more I wanted to do something to help. The Wilson family has health insurance, but it barely covers their expenses, and they quickly blew through their savings in order to get the appropriate medications and treatments for their little girl.

Just because we are part of an online community, that doesn’t mean it isn’t a Real one. So I created the Love Little Violet fundraiser. A swell of encouragement rose up to support the Wilsons, and a few donations trickled in. Online community can be amazing and full of love.

Donate to the fundraiser.

But it still wasn’t enough. So I decided: it was time to do more. (more…)

Continue Reading

What is the Shape of Your Soul?

daydream papa nap dream

The only statement you really need to make is the sound of Your Name pressed against the never-ending skin of the universe.

When someone is striving to be more spiritual or more religious, all too often they end up despising their physical existence in the hunt for the metaphysical. I have been guilty of this. I understand the impulse. I want to rub up against something divine, to grant Meaning and Purpose to my mundane existence. I want to believe things happen for a Reason, that the monotony and heartbreak of everyday life isn’t all that there is.

I’m not supposed to talk about these things. It’s not polite. But, during tragedies, or in the quiet, lonely moments of the night, these feelings slink about in my heart, like never-ending questions. What is the meaning? Who am I? What is my purpose?

I don’t have answers, but I find comfort in words. (more…)

Continue Reading

Updates: Note Cards Now Available and My Next Project!

Oh deer cards

I am excited to announce that I am now offering note cards in my shop!

My popular Oh Deer print is now available in a 4-pack of note cards.  It has been a journey this last year finding a printer that makes quality note cards; after dozens of test prints from shops far and wide, I’ve found the perfect match. The subtle and soft quality of the watercolors comes across wonderfully, and the card stock is a smooth, matte paper and feels excellent and is very easy to write on.

You can buy the note cards here! (more…)

Continue Reading

Paint Away The Pain: On Hard Times and Creating Art

whimsical whimsy owl squirrel mouse fox mooseElune and I are discussing artwork and the creative process. She asks me: “Have you ever used art to paint your way out of your hardest times in life or your inner struggles?”

This past year, I addressed some painful issues: depression, financial insecurity, old wounds, and disillusionment with church leadership. These topics probably seem even heavier when juxtaposed against the lighthearted and fanciful style of my artwork. How does my life experience inform my artwork? How can someone who thinks about such dark things create such whimsical pieces?

I’m not sure I have an answer. (more…)

Continue Reading

Depression, Suicide and Hope: My Redemption Story

jeans with ripped kneesI need to tell you about the time I tried to kill myself.

I spent my early twenties at Harding University. When I tell you that my school is a legalistic Christian school, this is what I mean: not only are there strict rules about modesty, one day I was stopped by a teacher in chapel and told to change because my jeans had ripped knees; girls and boys are in separate dorms, at opposite ends of campus, and have strict curfews; girls are required to pass a weekly cleaning inspection; not only is alcohol consumption forbidden for all students and staff, but if a student is merely seen holding a can of beer for someone else, they will be expelled. I could go on and on, but hopefully you get the picture: I was in a controlling environment.

When I think back to my emotional state at that time, I imagine myself cowering in the corner of a room, huddled with my head between my knees, with sticky black paint poured over my back, dripping down my head, pooling at my feet.

I was 22 years old when I overdosed on pills and was rushed to the hospital. I used to be afraid all the time that I would die by suicide. It hurt so much to be alive, and some days I just couldn’t bear it. I spent the entire ride to the hospital terrified that I had tried to commit suicide. (more…)

Continue Reading

Why I Let My Kid Watch Too Much TV

parenting ipad television dangers too much tv

Phoebe had a head cold two weeks ago. Last week, as she was getting better, I caught her cold. Neither of us had any energy, so I downloaded Netflix onto her iPad. Since then, she’s been watching Littlest Pet Shop every single day.

We aren’t sick anymore, but she’s still lethargic, and she still really wants to watch TV. A lot. Every day.

TV is brain candy, so I’m getting really stressed out about it. How much TV is too much TV? (more…)

Continue Reading