I seem to flip flop between being coura­geous and not. I am usu­al­ly more coura­geous when I have returned from Eng­land, as I have recent­ly. Per­haps I feel more valid when I’m there?

I can usu­al­ly be very coura­geous for any­one in my fam­i­ly or close friends of any age. My ideas flow well and I can help and sup­port them in very inno­v­a­tive ways.

Courage came to me for the sec­ond time (the first time was when I blind­ly emi­grat­ed to the U.S. — but per­haps that was­n’t courage!!) when we start­ed to home edu­cate our old­est son. At the time I didn’t per­ceive it as being coura­geous because his one year pub­lic school expe­ri­ence was so very bad for him and us that there was no alter­na­tive choice.

I thought we could return to how things had been for the first 6 years of his life and in many ways we did. But I now realise that there was lots of pres­sure on me and thus on him to be the best we could be. We were inno­va­tors in the home edu­ca­tion world, buck­ing the sys­tem. I made sure we dot­ted the “i’s” and crossed the “t’s” so that no one could ever say we didn’t behave in a social­ly appro­pri­ate fash­ion and did­n’t seem to be ‘learn­ing’.

By doing that in the pub­lic realm we were free to pur­sue our ideas of what it means to be educated.

Now that he is an author, and design­er of some note and well regard­ed in his pro­fes­sion­al world I am begin­ning to vic­ar­i­ous­ly (good enough for me!) reap the rewards of being coura­geous 24 years ago.

Then came son num­ber two. As luck would have it he could think very clear­ly from a very ten­der age and we were lucky to recog­nise that in him. Thus the 8 morn­ings of pre‑K I paid for (fees were paid month­ly) were a test run to see if he would like to go to school. Hav­ing learned to tie his shoe laces and hav­ing had quite an enjoy­able time I asked him at the end of the month if he would like to con­tin­ue “No thank you” he said. And thus the deci­sion was made. We would edu­cate both sons at home.

What a mir­a­cle that has turned out to be. They have both matured in such diverse ways just as their lives con­tain diverse inter­ests and pas­sions; they are accom­plished in many aspects of their lives; their strengths are so com­pli­men­ta­ry to each oth­er; they are sel­dom afraid of adver­si­ty (and have been required to tack­le phe­nom­e­nal chal­lenges, beyond any­thing we could have imag­ined for them); there is noth­ing they can­not accom­plish espe­cial­ly if some­one tells them “it can’t be done” — in their minds “the solu­tion hasn’t been thought of and it’s my turn to find the it” and solu­tions are found.

I recent­ly took an inter­est­ing writ­ing class called “Writing on the Edge”. Many of the par­tic­i­pants were fic­tion writ­ers and have already been pub­lished or at least have agents. 

I came away from that class know­ing that I had to be more coura­geous with my writ­ing, to con­tin­ue this blog­ging project, and I also came to under­stand some­thing else, which had come up in recent read­ing. A ques­tion in the class was whether you are a ‘plunger’ or an ‘organised’ writer. Do you just dive in and start writ­ing or do you write an out­line first and stick with it?

I am a plunger I dis­cov­ered. It remind­ed me that there are lin­ear thinkers and lat­er­al thinkers. I am a lat­er­al thinker and thus often defy con­ven­tion. I was a lat­er­al thinker in choos­ing to home edu­cate and my sons are also prob­lem solv­ing lat­er­al thinkers.

In the reg­i­mens of today’s world we are anom­alies; that makes life hard for us but excit­ing and very inter­est­ing at the same time. Life is nev­er dull.

A lin­ear thinker is plan­ning for and envi­sion­ing his retire­ment his whole work­ing life, a lat­er­al thinker lives life to the fullest as it comes. 

I am thank­ful to my father for hav­ing the courage to live life to the fullest and teach­ing his chil­dren to do so. Just as well – he died sud­den­ly when he was only 68 but was sail­ing his beloved boat on his beloved riv­er just a week before that.

Such courage I car­ry with me every day. My turn.