Brenna Dee

My girl, Brenna, left for California this morning at some crazy early hour and just called to let me know she had arrived.  Her plans out west include spending time with her boyfriend in Lake Tahoe, working on some writing and speaking projects, staffing at Not Back To School Camp, doing a pottery internship in Corvallis, Oregon, and speaking at the Good Vibrations Unschooling Conference in San Diego in early September. She'll be home for most of October and then will head out to Durango, Colorado to help staff the Unschool Adventures Writing Retreat in November.

Those airport hugs this morning have to last for a long while.

As I was thinking about all her recent adventures, I realized how much has happened with our whole family this past year and decided it was time for some updates on us all. Then, in keeping with my recent desire to both document and celebrate some grown unschoolers lives, I decided to write about some that we know and love. Since I'm already missing this one, I'll start with her.

Those of you who know us or follow this blog may recall that Brenna spent a year and then some at New College in Florida.  In those past two years since she left college, she has been BUSY!  Her experiences since then have certainly solidified my continuing and surprising-to-me shift in thinking about college. My overall observation is that she has learned more that is specific to her goals in one year than she could have learned in 4 years at college and without incurring any debt.  Check back for more about my shift in some upcoming posts!

After Brenna completed a month long pottery internship in Boston last spring, our family spent much of the summer of 2010 in a transition which led to our move from Florida to Asheville, North Carolina early last fall.  We were thrilled when we made the move to find a house with a downstairs apartment that Brenna rented from us.   With a kitchen and bathroom, her downstairs space also has room for her pottery wheel and kiln. Having her at home for some of this past year has been a delight.

  During her time in Asheville, Brenna has worked at the Provence 620 restaurant as a hostess during the weekdays and in her pottery studio nights and weekends.  She's also done some freelance work setting up Etsy sites for other local artists including photographing their art pieces.

 She has been developing her craft and her business through throwing pots for hours on end, networking with local potters, selling her pottery online and in a downtown Asheville art gallery and also participating in some local craft shows.  This photo was taken last weekend at The Big Crafty, a large show for local artists and craftsmen that is held twice a year. The income from her "day job" and her pottery has enabled her to pay for living expenses here as well as some travel around the world.

Artist at Work

  Last September, she took a road trip through California, Oregon, Washington, Wyoming, Nevada, Utah, Colorado and New Mexico.  Then in April, she traveled with Blake Boles to India for a month.  She blogged about her adventures at India in April and just the photos and the blogpost "Pooping in India" are worth taking a peek!

I have loved having her home the past two months.  Her days have been a whirlwind of work at the restaurant, throwing pots, packaging pottery orders, working on her web and Etsy sites, swimming, glazing pots, writing, playing the guitar, reading, firing the kiln, shipping pottery orders, working on her writing project, more throwing of pots, watching the Daily Show, spending time with friends and eating!  Yes, eating!  The girl loves food although you would never guess it by looking at her!

My solution to finding time for our family to see each other has been to simply cook dinner most every night.  Sometimes, it's 9 o'clock at night when we eat but we have managed to connect most often by taking the time to have dinner together when we all can be at home.  Brenna shares her funny restaurant stories while we eat and we all have a bit of time to catch up with what's going on with each other.

 My initial intention with unschooling was simply to help our children experience bigger lives than could be found within the confines of school or school-at-home pursuits. Those little steps that led to viewing learning as something that happens all the time blossomed into them having the confidence to discover and intently pursue interests , friendships all over the country and broader as well as bigger lives than I could have imagined.  I sometimes will joke and say "Damn unschooling"  on a day like today when one of them is going to be away for awhile.  However, I know that unschooling which was my connection to peaceful parenting is a big part of why they also love to come home.

 Brenna brings such lightness and laughter into our home. When she's gone, I miss her expressive loud story-telling.  I miss the sound of her wheel turning downstairs as she throws pots, the sound of her guitar and her singing, her presence on the opposite couch in the evening watching some serial killer show, the occassional  "Oh, my gosh, I forgot to tell you something that happened today!!!" and her hugs as she is going out or headed to bed.  I look forward to our phone calls  (much better with her still in the U.S. and not in India!) and her homecoming with stories and her observations about the people that she meets.

There is nothing like having her home but there is also something so special picturing her hiking in the mountains at Lake Tahoe, working at Not Back To School Camp for the first time on the West Coast, learning a difficult crystaline glazing technique from another potter, bringing some of her sunshine to another family where she is staying in Corvallis and spending time eating Sushi with that sweet guy in her life.

I love that she is doing and learning what is best for her at this time in her life.  I love that she is adventuresome
and so enthused about each new thing that she encounters. Most of all, I just love her.  Every single thing about her.

Brenna Dee


Cid said…
What a beautiful, beautiful post =) I love thinking about how unschooling supports my boys in living BIG lives (as big as they want them to be)... your sweet Brenna is an inspiration, as is your relationship with her. I've met Brenna in person at Life is Good, wear & use her pottery... and happily join you in celebration of her bright, beautiful Light!!!
Beachbum said…
Thanks for sharing her with us!! We can't wait for her to be here. <3
Vickie said…
It's awesome to read about your life. Thank you so much for taking the time to share. My kids are so little and I love getting glimpses of the kinds of things I have to look forward to (as it's clear they won't stay my little babies forever). :)

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