Saturday, November 23, 2013

Silent Auction and Movie Night BENefit for BEN! Sunday, Nov. 24

Dear Friends,

Thank you for the love and support that you have been pouring out to save Ben's life. We share deep gratitude from our hearts to yours. This is especially poignant as we welcome Thanksgiving next week.

Here's my gratitude list at the moment:

  • Ben, Logan and Paige
  • encouragement and the outpouring of love from family, friends, and friends of friends
  • health
  • wisdom
  • coaching and directing
  • the color red
  • my kitties
  • warm home
  • yummy vegan food
  • movies
  • Logan and Paige connecting with their grandparents
  • dogs
  • coloring books
  • Glee
  • downtime
  • Ben's face
  • Ben's sense of humor
  • laughing
What's on yours? Do it now. Quick!

Tomorrow will be full of blessings. Friends have helped organize a Silent Auction and Movie Night BENefit for BEN. Please help spread the word. Join us at the event if you can!

If you are unable to attend, but wish to contribute directly to Ben's care, you can visit:

There are over 50 items for tomorrow's silent auction...and counting! Huge variety! Here are some examples:

  • Teddy bear and pop-up book
  • Picnic basket w/ wine
  • Mary Kay cosmetics
  • Family fun – movies, CD, Uno, cocoa, popcorn
  • LL Bean snowshoes and bag 
  • Scrapbook supplies 
  • Original art work 
  • Theatre and concert tickets
  • Autographed UM football helmet Robert/Gail 
  • MSU t-shirt
  • Signed books
  • Acupuncture, Reiki Gift Certificates
  • Purple Rose gift basket
  • Tile work 
  • Pet daycare 
  • Headwraps 
  • Jewelry
  • Notecards with stamps
  • Pampered Chef Stoneware Bar Pan
  • Survival radio
  • Cordless phone and answering system
  • Photo Portrait Package
  • Book binding machine


Join us!

Sunday, November 24, 2014
1:30 p.m.
Croswell Opera House
129 E. Maumee St.
Adrian, MI 49221

Visit this link for more information!

Happy Thanksgiving, with love,
Carrie, Ben, Logan and Paige Sayer

Friday, October 4, 2013

Please Help Ben Regain Health and Be Cancer-Free

Dear Friends,

Sudden turn of events. Ben found blood in his urine in August. He saw a urologist, had some tests, and a tumor was discovered in his bladder.

Urgent surgery was performed this week. The tumor was removed, and chemotherapy was injected into the bladder to kill any remaining cancer cells.

We now await the biopsy results.

In the meantime, our finances are in a crisis. We understood from his doctor that waiting until our insurance coverage begins January 1, 2014, could mean the difference between life and death.

Many friends have asked to contribute to our great financial need. Please take a minute and visit this website we set up. If you cannot contribute, it would also be a HUGE HELP to please share the link with your friends.

Thank you, with deep love and gratitude,
Carrie, Ben, Logan and Paige

Monday, August 5, 2013

The Secret to Our Joyous Unschooling Life (Hint: It's not about the kids)

Dear Friends,

We are presenting at the annual Rethinking Everything Conference for the first time this year!

We have attended the RE Conference twice before. We were newer then to the ideas and practices of unschooling.

You've come a long way, baby.

When I try to describe our whole life unschooling to other families, I am sometimes at a loss for words. "Well, it's like homeschooling, but without a curriculum," I begin, looking for some common ground using terms others have at least heard before. But that doesn't even begin to scratch the surface.

I asked Logan and Paige today what it means to them to be free.

Logan: "Play whatever we want. Not always, but sometimes. Because I don't get to play Mario sports mix when Daddy's watching the Tigers game. Could we go down and play that right now?"

Paige: "Eat what we want."

Their ability to simply BE in the present moment is one of my favorite things in the world. I strive to emulate this.

The longer we unschool, the more I forget in some ways that it is so novel...until I exchange dialogue with mainstream parents. And answer their fears. And get long looks from fellow restaurant-goers first to figure out if Logan is a boy or girl, and then when they get he's a boy, a long look at me as to what kind of mother I am.

Here's the kind of mother I strive to be, and most of the time am: open, loving, YES-AND..., encouraging, nurturing, joyful, peaceful.

"Be the change you want to see," I've heard. "Model the behavior you want to see in your kids." But I don't want to change Logan and Paige. And I don't even consider them "my" kids. Logan and Paige are unique individuals with whom Ben and I have been blessed with the opportunity to share our lives.

It is not my wish to point out what I do NOT do. That's a lot of negatives to keep track of. "I don't tell them what or when to eat." "I don't tell them when to go to bed." "I don't spank or dole out punishments or limit screen time."

I'm not in charge of Logan and Paige. I'm not in charge of Ben. I'm in charge of me. And my best parenting and person-ing comes when I chill. When I cut myself some slack. When I do my best to unlearn a bunch of social agreements our generation (and many before them) have decreed as necessary and desirable.

Ben introduced me to The Four Agreements, by don Miguel Ruiz. Brilliant. I highly recommend it. The wisdom in this book is common sense and simple and profound.

Ben and I have broken innumerable small agreements. We asked ourselves, for example, what's the big deal if:

  • Paige and Logan wear pajamas to the library
  • I leave towels unfolded in the drawer
  • Logan has the longest hair in the family
  • we stay up 'til 4 a.m.
  • my face is natural and free of make-up -- unless I feel like wearing it for a special event, and then it's fun to get decorated
  • we sometimes eat popcorn for breakfast and toast for dinner and chili at midnight
  • we transformed our kitchen table into an art center
  • we eat meals on the couch
  • Logan and Paige choose all their own clothes, and food, and toys, and how to spend their money, and whether or not they leave the house
  • and so many more....
We've joyously broken bigger agreements:
  • no school
  • no rules, other than safety--no harm to yourself or others
  • Ben leaving corporate America and working from home instead
I consider myself a leader in our family. A co-leader with Ben. Yes, we have more life experience. So, wisdom can be helpful, useful, and informative. There's a time and place for it. Unsolicited advice is not necessarily appealing, just like for anyone. And I sure don't consider my life experience to give me license to be in charge of and run Logan's and Paige's lives.

Ben and I lead by example. Not to change Logan and Paige. To simply be our best selves. To shed as many of society's anti-nature agreements as we become aware of. My purpose for existence (thanks to RE presenter John Strelecky for this wisdom) is to inspire others to do and be their best. I strive to do this everywhere, all the time, to the best of my ability.

Ben and I create an environment in which Logan and Paige are able to be in their natural state as much possible. To listen to their body, their soul, their mind, their instincts, their gut. And the more aware I am about living that way myself, the better it is for all of us.

Those old agreements keep coming up in lots of ways. I remain peacefully vigilant to notice when they appear. And break them. >snap< >snap< >snap< Like little pretzels.
  • People shouldn't wear underwear under their bathing suits. >snap!<
  • Kids should be able to wipe their own bottoms when they're 7. >snap!< (Note: anything with age-related expectations -- PAY CLOSE ATTENTION. It's verrrrrrrry likely they are unnecessary and undesirable and limiting and spirit-breaking agreements that >snap!< we can easily choose to break.)
  • Mommies shouldn't wear slippers to the gas station. >snap!<
See how easy that was? Also, I'll state the obvious: should and shouldn't are often dead give-aways for agreements we can pay attention to and >snap!< break when we realize them for what they are: conforming spirit-breakers.

I have my challenges, failures, pitfalls, and blindspots, too. (Um, I'll have to let you know in the future what my blindspots are, since I don't know what they are yet.) I struggle with my own list of social agreements, usually having to do with just me. I'm a lot more chill about Logan and Paige than I am about myself. It's a good thing to pay attention to and keep working on!

  • body image (dang those magazines and photoshopped images of women's bodies)
  • age-appropriate fashion (see what I mean about the age thing?) -- however, I am proud to proclaim my reclamation of pigtails, mini-skirts, floral hair accessories and short shorts.
  • what other people think of me (I love to be loved, and I allow it to stress me out when others don't. Workin' on it.)
  • I should (there it is) spend every waking moment paying attention to Logan and Paige.
  • I should WANT to spend every waking moment paying attention to Logan and Paige. (That makes about as much sense as, since I am a vegetarian, I should love every vegetable and want to eat all of them every day.)
  • fears -- specifically germophobia, claustrophobia, moments of agoraphobia. All are improving, all are part of the ongoing process of healing; disagreeing with social agreements in the most positive, powerful way; and self-actualizing.
Bottom line: I strive to be my best possible self. Some of the stuff I carry forward is really cool and fun and carefree and joyful. Other stuff is obviously a drag and easy to let go of. A portion of stuff is continually being uncovered by living life intimately connected with Ben, Logan and Paige. I thank God for every one of those eye-opening moments, that AHA! >SNAP!< opportunity to recognize an old agreement that inhibits me and/or could inhibit Logan and Paige and Ben, too. I embrace each discovery as I embrace these wonderful children and husband in my life.

I can't wait to go to RE this year. In the past, I entered kind of bewildered, in awe, and feeling on the coattails of the unschooling movement. Now, I've been living it for eight years. The changes Ben and I have undergone to be better parents and better people are so integral to who we are, they're sometimes as difficult to describe as what my lungs and heart and brain look like.

I dunno. Ask yourself: How do you feel when you're with me? Do we resonate? Let's connect and share and support and encourage and uncover and discover and break agreements and live freely and openly and lovingly and play together. These are all super cool things to look forward to at RE 2013. See you there!


Sunday, October 21, 2012

Happy Independence Day!

Dear Friends,

Happy Independence Day! Let Freedom reign!

Today is a super significant day for our family. It marks the one-year anniversary of our family's freedom.

Exactly one year ago today, October 21, 2011, Ben walked out of corporate life and into our loving, waiting arms.

We realized our family could not be free until every member of our family is free.

Here is a brief family interview:

What does freedom mean to you?

Paige: To me it means playing all day. And something else about freedom, is to watch shows all night until I want to be in a burrito shell.

Logan: What freedom means to me is that all of us are together.

What does freedom look like to you?

Logan: It looks like all of us being together and doing whatever we want.

Paige: Yes, what Logan said.

Carrie: Piles of peanut butter cookies. Playing baseball at the park together. Stacks of markers and fresh paper close by. Kissing Ben anytime of the day. Sharing ordinary events, like snacking on toast and watching Survivorman. Sharing extraordinary events, like Paige mastering a somersault and Logan losing a tooth. Crocheting. Cuddling. Hugging.

What does freedom feel like?

Logan: It feels nice. It's the only thing that feels perfect for me. Being together feels perfect to me.

Paige: It feels like being home all day and staying with the family all day.

Carrie: Relaxing. Grounding. Whole. Complete. Joy. Peace. Secure.

What is different now from one year ago?

Paige: Daddy's not working. [to Ben:] Now we can be with you, and you can still work, and all you have to do is be at home.

Logan: I'm much happier now that Daddy's home.

Carrie: Memories are created together and shared in the moment, rather than reporting them at the end of each day to Ben. The pining is gone. The longing to be together has been fulfilled. I missed Ben so much. I wished with every fiber of my being for him to not get into the car and rush 70 m.p.h. every morning to a cubicle doing work he didn't care about that wasn't going to change the world or fulfill any of his dreams.

What did we do to make it happen?

Carrie: Having faith. Trusting each other. Being open to opportunities the universe provides. Knowing our hearts' desires would be fulfilled. Shedding the dream of the planet, daring to live out our passions. Being in the present moment, together. Nothing compares to that. In our safe home, cozy, connected. Oh, and downsizing.

We've learned to live and love together. Compromises. Negotiations. Meeting everyone's needs. Consensus.

Ben pointed out you can be together in a jail cell, but it's not the same thing as true freedom. So, beyond getting to share time and space, the context matters. A critical part of freedom is to be free from scores of rules, of others' dictating how your time is spent. And with that freedom comes responsibility, to make choices that continue to support our family and our freedom.

I am now able to more freely follow my passions and fulfill my life's purpose: to inspire others to do and be their best. Directing, coaching, performing all fit the criteria: "Would I do this even if I weren't being paid?" YES! I love what I do. And I love that what I do provides value to others, so that in turn, I am able to earn a living doing what I love. Ben being home creates the opportunity for me to say yes to these opportunities.

During our most recent complete trip around the sun, Ben has been working on genealogy practices and software. I've opened my own teaching studio in Dexter. We are together every day. I no longer feel like a single parent for the majority of each day. I have more time to cook, to chill, to crochet, to sing, to play, and sooooo much more time and reason to laugh.

I love Ben. I love our family. I love our freedom. I love connecting and creating and being. I am so grateful for our supportive parents, friends, unschooling family, free-thinkers, and courageous mentors. I hope we inspire you in turn to find ways to let freedom reign in your own life.


Thursday, February 16, 2012

Harness the Power of a Good Hair Day

Dear Friends,

Bangs? Layers? Highlights? Permanent color? Semi-permanent glaze?

There are so many decisions to make when it comes to hair beauty.

Believe it or not, the same person has been cutting my hair since 1995. I lived out of state for four years, and even planned vacations home to Michigan around my haircut schedule. Seriously.

Have you ever pored over fashion magazines for just the perfect cut and color? Have you ever brought said photographs into your stylist, and come out looking nothing like the picture?

Okay, stylists are not miracle workers. Don't expect to leave suddenly transformed into Jennifer Aniston, Jennifer Hudson, or Jennifer Lopez (all admirable hair trend-setters). But do have an idea of what you like and be ready to have a pragmatic dialogue with your stylist about what your hair can and cannot do.

I have been blessed with the talents of Peter Bokanoski at A Peter James Salon for 17 years. Seventeen years! This person has seen me through relationships, marriage, children, career changes, geographic moves, grad school, apprenticeship, funerals...and many hairstyles over the years.

Does anyone else mark time by noting, "Oh, that event occurred when I still had short hair," or, "I remember that event, I was having a good hair day"?

Fortunately, due to the talents, patience, and inspiration of Peter, I have experienced many good hair days. You know, when I apply myself. I have gone from single and dating (read: time and motivation to do my hair daily), to married before children (take the time to fuss with my hair, while my husband and I still have time to look at each other), to mother of two young children (yeah, Ponytails 'r' Us), to getting back into auditioning and being presentable in public (hair gets styled approximately once per month).

I love Peter. I love his advice. I love his haircuts. He is an artist and a friend. People compliment me on my hair, and I attribute this to lucky genes, effective styling products, and the expertise of my stylist, Peter, and my colorist, Gary Lemming.

So, consider this my Valentine to Peter and Gary at A Peter James Salon. Consider this also as encouragement to pamper yourself and use some of your Christmas money to treat your hair to the very best.

Peter always comes up with flattering styles, Gary does natural color for me, and I leave feeling great. Bonus: scheduling my hair appointment on the same day as an audition! They can get me all dolled up, and all I have to do is sit there and get caught up on celebrity gossip in People magazine.

As a mother with young children, I have found this to be especially kind to show some self-love by going to the salon. It's like a mini-version of participating in TLC's What Not To Wear. Stacy and Clinton would be proud of the attention I allow to be focused on myself a couple of hours, every few months.

So, in preparation for my hair appointment next week, I will be poring over In Style magazine (it has mysteriously been delivered to me -- actually to Ben -- for the past two months. Did somebody gift this to me?). I will be considering bangs, how much length to get trimmed, how realistic is it to go permanent with my base color. I am looking forward to being treated like a queen for an afternoon.

And I especially look forward to feeling fabulous afterward, not just for having a fresh hairstyle and highlights, but for having prioritized some "Mommy's needs are important, too, even for pampering" time!

P.S. I see on their homepage, A Peter James Salon is having a new client special. Join me over there sometime. You'll be glad you did, and both of us will get a discount on our services!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

If You Build It, They Will Come

Dear Friends,

Fabulous news! We have made one of my dreams a reality: I now have a beautiful, new studio for teaching private acting and singing lessons!

When we chose to buy this home last year in Dexter, Michigan, one of the big draws was the giant space in the back of the two-car garage. At the time, it was a woodworking shop, with a concrete floor, dark wood paneling, shop lights, and lots of sawdust.

Flash forward nearly one year later (we moved here February 2011): The paneling is gone, the drop ceiling is gone, the sawdust is certainly long gone. My husband, Ben, along with my stepfather and our good friend Dan, have transformed the woodworking shop into a lovely, cheerful, creative space. We are attracting students for singing, playing and realizing dreams.

My purpose for existence is to inspire others to do and be their best. The studio is perfect for helping others reach their own performance goals and exploring their passions.

Please visit my website, designed by Ben! Tell all your friends!

Another piece of this lovely mosaic forming our family's lives is that Ben left his 9 to 5 corporate job several weeks ago. He, too, is exploring his passions and reawakening his creative talents. These include web-based entrepreneurial pursuits, drawing, SCUBA diving and photography. If you would like to know about camera choices, you can visit his new website, too!

I already have several new students coming to my studio, and we are getting a taste of a new rhythm in our family. Ben is home, spending more time with Logan and Paige. I am feeling more rounded and fully alive still getting to be Mommy a lot, while helping to develop others' talents and careers, literally in my own backyard. Logan and Paige are completely at peace. Ben and I are thrilled to explore these virtually uncharted territories of breaking old agreements and actively choosing to no longer participate in the Rat Race. We are delving into the wilderness of our hearts and passions, and discovering how to make a living while living freely.

Join us in freedom! Share your stories of stepping outside of mainstream, living on the edge instead of in the box or even outside of it! Tell about your self-actualization journey and that of your family.

We could not have made these brave lifestyle changes if it hadn't been for your literal en-couragement. So, thank you, friends, for your love and enthusiasm. Know that we are radiating it back to you tenfold and with wishes to explore your own wild, uncharted terrain!

Carrie and clan

Thursday, October 20, 2011

T.G.I.F.* (*Freedom Day)

Dear Friends,

I wish I could record and share with you Paige's "gargly-crabby voice."

Phonetically, I guess it would look something like this: "Grrrr-owwlll, grrrr-aaaaghhh, woooooo, ssssttttpp, grrrr-AAAHHHHH!"

I couldn't have said it better myself.

I've been gone the past five evenings, what with Encore business, directing class, rehearsals for It's A Wonderful Life, Reiki training, and an unschooling advocacy teleseminar. All good stuff, and yes, I've been gone a lot, so Paige is missing me.

She is expressing her disappointment, sadness, and longing in the best way she can: with growls, grunts, howls, and yelps. And her whole body is involved in self-expression. If she were in an acting class, the teacher would declare her "Brilliant!"

And, of course, she is. Paige in her fourth year is the purest, blessedly least domesticated of our family, and she is perfection in spirit. I learn from her every day ways to return to my truest, undomesticated, authentic self.

So, if you ask me how I feel on the eve of Ben's final day in the 9 to 5 corporate world (dubbed Freedom Day by us), my response is: "Grrrr--owwwlll, arrrrgggghhhhh, bbbblllaaaggg, ssssfffftttzzz, mmmmm-rrrrr-AAAAAAHHHHHH! GAH-GAH-Grrrrr-AHHHHHHHHH!"

I miss him so much. I yearn for him. I am grieving, howling, angry, desperate, unbridled longing, furious, sad, and AAAAGGGHHHH!

See, mere words cannot quite express how I feel.

You might expect it would be all cheerful here, you know, daisies and roses, butterflies and skipping and dancing and spinning and celebrating, but we're dealing with some grief here, too. Grieving the lost time of the past seven years apart, punctuated by evenings and weekends together, but not fully free, in the here-and-now, sharing every aspect of life. I've covered this before, so I won't get all gooey about it now. I can chalk it all up to sunk cost, and move forward.

My point is, I can feel myself letting down my guard. I am finally allowing all of the feelings I've been keeping at bay: fatigue, rust-out (see my recent post Connecting the Dots), impatience, sadness, anger. I am releasing the sheer energy it takes to hold it all together and muster through another day that is not free until we are all free.

So here it is, our family's Freedom Day. What will I do first with this new-found freedom? Draw? Bake? Organize? Catch up on phone calls? Catch up on sleep?? Maybe I'll just affix myself to Ben's shoulder koala bear-style and hang out there for a few weeks. To connect with and absorb his essence. Mmmmmmmm....

The release of energy heretofore used for surviving shall now be used for thriving. I proclaim it.

Our concrete plans include completing the studio (paint, carpet, arranging, organizing), so I can start teaching lessons again; recreating the family bed; sorting through and allowing our hearts to direct Ben's web-based business prospects; budgeting (good-bye pizza, hello home-prepared dehydrated nuts and veggies); and yes, celebrating!

There might be some growling and howling, some working through and expressing and releasing and grieving and accepting what is, what has been and what will be....and at the end of it all, we will have just this moment, in the present to rejoice and be glad and live and love.

Together. Isn't that the point?