BHAG’S & Teens – Ten reasons you should say “YES!”

 

Kayah on steps at Oxford

Our teen on the steps of Oxford University. She had been on campus less than 24 hours and looked so happy! BHAG achieved.

BHAG’s – ever heard of that acronym before? If not, let me share.

Backstory: BHAG is a term I was introduced to by my homeschool-mentor-guru, Julie Bogart. I believe it originally was coined in the business world, but it stands for Big Hairy Audacious Goals.  Awhile back, Julie did a talk on her top ten must do’s when raising teens and BHAG’s were one of her recommendations. She shared that every teen should be given the opportunity to tackle one before they graduate from high school.

BHAG’s are exactly what they stand for…big, ginormous, difficult, bold goals.  They usually start with the words, “hey mom, I was thinking…” They are going to sound CRAZY when they share them with you! Your mind is immediately going to scream “danger, danger…” Your brain is going to immediately turn into a calculator adding up the costs! But, if they are sincere, if they are for real, if this is something they really really want to do…say “YES!”

Some of your friends and family are going to think you’re crazy or insane for spending the amount of money or time necessary to dedicate to helping your teen achieve their BHAG, but do it anyway! I promise, it is completely worth it! Regardless of the outcome of their efforts,  the experience of chasing a BHAG is where their grit and ability to follow through on a dream will emerge.

A young adult supported through a dream will more likely continue to chase passions and have the courage to say “yes” to new opportunities as an adult.

Find a way to fund it. Find a way to make it happen. And by find a way, I mean help your TEEN find a way, NOT YOU.

No matter what – at least once in high school try to give your child this opportunity. No matter how gifted you are as a parent or teacher, you could never recreate the learning or experiences they will gain when accepting the challenge of a BHAG.

So, what is going on in the Takei house that I wanted to share? Our oldest is in England, studying at Oxford Summer Courses and is having the time of her life! This was her BHAG and she is doing it right now! While she off on her adventure, I have had some time to reflect on the process of getting her there and thought I would share some of the things we have learned along the way!

 

Quinn, Kayah and Me

Kayah, our teen – she’s the one in the middle just in case you couldn’t tell the night of her Bon Voyage Party 😉

So without further ado…

Top Ten Takeaways from supporting a Teen achieving a BHAG!

  1.  Let your teen discover their BHAG. Encourage exploration of areas they want to experience or explore, but don’t find their BHAG for them. They must own it from the start. It has to be something big, bold that they want to achieve – big time! Our oldest, Kayah age 15, googled and researched, applied and was accepted into the Oxford program completely without our knowing. We found out AFTER THE FACT. No kidding. Praise, support and encourage any initiative, interest or any action taken seriously by your teen.

    Kayah 1st text from Oxford

    Our first text. Less than 24 hours and our teen says, “I don’t want to leave!!!” 

  2. Listen with an open heart. Do not immediately say no or dismiss their idea! Avoid the temptation to naysay  because it is too expensive, too far away, too scary, too crazy of an idea. There will always be a way! Enlist your teen to make it happen. Kayah had a part-time job, worked extra small jobs and was able to secure  her deposit on her own. She created a Go Fund Me page and as a part of her campaign, she committed to providing community service based on dollar amounts to every single contributor. This was not just an awesome way for her to raise funds for her dream, but a hands-on way to reinforce one of our core family values of community service. Our teen has and continues to be involved with many acts of service and connection within our community as a result of her BHAG. I couldn’t have planned the things she is donating her time on right now!

    Screenshot of plane landing in England

    Just imagining our teen flying without us (internationally) made this momma break out in a cold sweat.  But, she did it! 

  3. Partner your teen! Kayah did not do this completely on her own. She needed some reminding, refocusing and direction at times. She needed rides, feedback and encouragement. Hold your teen accountable to their dreams and be a solid partner. Praise and applaud your teen – let them know they got it! Emphasize your pride in their efforts, not the outcome.

    Welcome to Oxford Welcome Packet

    Dreams come true. 

  4. Document the journey. Help your teen find a medium they enjoy and document their story. Kayah used a closed FaceBook group called “One Step Closer to Oxford,” to share her story and when this experience is completed, she will have a beautiful online electronic scrapbook of her entire experience.

    Quinn, Kayah, Kira and Miko at airport to England

      Sending off our teen at the airport. 

  5. Celebrate! Take time to recognize and celebrate the small and big achievements along the road to achieving their BHAG. Recognizing that it takes work and lots of little steps to achieve Big Dreams. Letting your teen experience  first-hand is the best way to learn! The night before Kayah left for England (she is there right now!) we had a Bon Voyage gathering. It was a tremendous opportunity to surround her with friends, love and positive energy and recognized what SHE achieved. She glowed.

    Kayah Bon Voyage Pic

    Picture from our teen’s Bon Voyage gathering the night before she flew across the pond.

  6. Empower your child. Once they are actually doing their BHAG, just let them be! Let them own it start to finish. At the time of writing this blog Kayah has been on her adventure for only two days and I can see and hear how much she has changed-already. She looks different and she is lit-up. She doing it alone. Teens need to know they ‘got it.’ They need opportunities to fly solo and know they can trust themselves. For our teens to learn how to dream, follow-through and make their dreams manifest is a parental gift. This experience will help them spread their wings and trust that they can repeat the process as adults. A process, we as adults could sometimes use a little more courage in doing ourselves!

    Kayah dorm room

    Her new home.

  7. Grow their worldview. To expand your child’s worldview, they must bump up against other worldviews! Nothing will increase your teen’s ability to understand other points of view then immersing themselves in different countries, cultures or experiences away from home. Within 24 hours of arriving in England, Kayah has already developed a circle of friends from Romania, Saudia Arabia, Australia and many other countries.

    Screenshot of Kayah and new friends

    Our teen’s friends from around the world! Awesomeness.

  8. Nurture Gratitude. Teaching a teen gratitude is completely different than a teen experiencing gratitude. Taking your teen out of their comfort zone (their house, bed, air conditioning, sleeping with mosquito netting, having to secure clean drinking water, walking everywhere, not understanding the language spoken, getting lost, etc.) is one powerful way that may help them appreciate those things when they return home. Just the simple fact you have allowed them to tackle a BHAG will require the help and assistance of many. They will learn first-hand how to be grateful to others.
  9. Trust the process & LET IT HAPPEN. This is my favorite mantra in all things. Once your teen embarks on the experience they have created, get out of the way and let it be – good or bad – it is theirs. Let it unfold as it will, without judgement or opinion and let them have their experience. Let them learn. Let them grow. Even if they hate it, or have a horrible time, there is still immense value in the experience for them to build upon.
  10. Unpack the experience. We are still weeks away from Kayah’s return from abroad. We are planning on spending some time just letting her come off her unpack literally, mentally and emotionally. I am not sure who will come home…I can see changes and I am curious who will walk through our front door. I imagine there may be a little readjustment required by the entire family. After some time, we are going to support her as she creates a presentation of some sort for family and friends to share her experience. We will pair it with a nice dinner and really allow her to wrap up her experience full-circle with the people that helped her make her wishes come true!

    Wishes fulfilled

    crazysexy love notes by kris carr & artwork by lori portka

I leave with a quote on adventure from one of my favorite travelers of the Earth, John Muir…“Few places in this world are more dangerous than home. Fear not, therefore, to try the mountain passes. They will kill care, save you from deadly apathy, set you free, and call forth every faculty into vigorous, enthusiastic action.” 

Until we chat again, Rock on, living.

Vickie

 

The Jump

 

Hey Friends!

Happy summer!

Although my blog doesn’t reflect it, I have been diligently writing. I have almost completed the revision, additions and changes to my first book – well, book may be a stretch…how about a collection of thoughts?

The book is in the final stages. I am excited to see this process through to the end. This book is specifically for families hearing the whisper or feeling the nudge for a possible change. This is a book for parents who are not only questioning if the current education of their children is really meeting their personal needs, but if their lifestyle is allowing them the type of connection and joy they desire, too. This is a book for all those considering homeschooling.

I will be learning how to format and transition the material for publishing soon! This is the first time I have done anything like this. It is a cool process to learn and fun to witness the book take on a voice and shape.

Quinn and I spent many hours reminiscing and discussing the time leading up to our decision to pull the trigger and bring the girls home from public school.

Quinn recalled the very day I withdrew the girls from public school. He described a feeling of dread all morning – like for real, dread ya’ll. He said he even called to tell me to wait so we could talk a little more about it (we had been talking about it for TWO years!) but I had already done it.

We are happy we made the choice, but it was not (and is not) without worry, anxiety and stress if we were making a huge mistake. Some comfort I have found is that every parent, regardless of the choices we make, worries a little! Right?

Five years later, our only regret? That we didn’t do it earlier…

My hope is this book will serve as some inspiration, encouragement and food for thought for a family contemplating a big change. This is for all of you out there who question the status quo and entertain different and new ways of being. This is not a “How-To Homeschool” book, but more of a guide to support you in determining if home schooling may be the right fit for you and your family.

This is the book I wish had been available to Quinn and I all those years we contemplated back and forth on whether or not homeschooling was right for us. It is my intention to support you and your family in making choices, whatever they are, that serves you best.

Here is a sneak peek at the first chapter…

Rock on, Vickie

 

~ Chapter One ~

The Jump

“Sometimes the people around you won’t understand your journey. They don’t need to, it’s not for them.”

–  Joubert Botha

militray men sky diving

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

 

If you are reading this, I am guessing you may be desiring change, something different. That is my hunch. You hear that whisper late at night “is this it?” I know. I was there.

Perhaps it isn’t homeschooling, but just a big change, a shake-up in life? Many a night, I laid in bed going back and forth on withdrawing our girls from public school and bringing them home. I thought I was only contemplating a different way of educating our children, but what I have learned, is it was a different way of life.

I remember in my late 20’s my husband and I went skydiving. Before our jump, we watched a brief safety video. After our “training,” I was strapped to the front of a retired Navy Seal and taken 3 miles into the sky in a little propeller plane.

When we reached the altitude to jump, they opened the hatch-door to the plane – they opened the door – take that in for a second…they opened the plane door three miles above earth.

It was cold, loud, windy and our green and blue marble looked so far away. The instructor looked at me and yelled, “You’re first!” All these years later, I am not lying, my hands still sweat as I recall this experience.

We waddled to the door to get in position. I was in the open doorway. My toes were dangling over the transition of the plane. Crouched at the doorway I could see the outside of the plane – I was looking at the wing of the plane, I could touch it.  I was standing between the plane (safe) to free-falling (not-safe, but exhilarating.)

I looked back at my husband and I was T.E.R.R.I.F.I.E.D. terrified. If I had been last in the line of jumpers, I may have chickened out, but everyone was sardined tightly and waiting to jump.

My partner yelled in my ear, “just rock back on me and then we will roll forward…” I have never felt more scared in my life.

I trusted and let go…

I jumped.

I shut my eyes for the first 10-12 seconds of our jump…it was too much. It was loud, the wind was strong, and I was falling. I was freefalling to earth. I was not in the plane, I was not on earth. I was freefalling – untethered. After two miles of free-falling, my instructor touched the top of my head. This was the signal that we were going to open our parachute.

The second we pulled the cord to open the shoot, everything changed. It became silent, slow, peaceful, beautiful. This transition from freefalling to opening the parachute is like a hurricane changing over from the tumultuous outer bands  to the silence and peace of the storm’s eye.

We swirled, like a leaf falling from a tree and I got to see the big picture – Earth never looked more beautiful. It was an incredible moment where I saw life different. I guess you could say, my world-view changed from a change in perspective.

If you have ever sky-dived before, you know as you approach your landing you experience something called ‘ground-rush.’ It can be frightening.

After soaring and coasting down to earth, the ground appears to suddenly rush up and if you’re not careful can freak you out! We skidded to our landing and my legs were so weak, I could not stand for a moment. But, I did. Changed, forever.

Big changes do that!

Big changes or experiences sometimes require overcoming fear, a leap of faith, disorientation and a re-entry to life. They can leave you with a new life-view, a broadened world-view. I believe these are the moments where you are ‘living’ and can be the booster shot needed to enjoy other areas of your life, too.

You make a change and it allows you to grow deeper in your understanding of yourself and builds the muscle of courage to do life. You grow as a human.

I don’t know if this analogy will help settle your mind, but honestly, if you have a desire to be with your family ( a lot), learn together and have the courage to try something different, this jump may be for you. Regardless of how much your read, study or prepare, it truly requires a leap of faith.

If you have a desire to be with your family, learn together and have the courage to try something different, this jump may be for you.

I spent many of our first years homeschooling anxious and looking for ‘proof’ that we weren’t  going to mess our kids up forever. I felt lost at sea for about two years. Disoriented, I found myself repeatedly saying “I feel like I have lost my footing.”

Everything was new, foreign and counter-culture. Quinn and I were both public-schooled and up until this point, so were our girls – we knew what that looked like. But, for homeschooling, there was and is no one size fits all blueprint.  I found myself trying to explain and put a form to something I didn’t quite get myself, yet.

In hindsight, I had lost my footing. I was standing in the transition between viewing school as ‘other’ and something done separate from home life and school coming home and becoming a lifestyle.

For about two years, I remember when our family was seriously considering home-schooling, I scoured the internet for books, blogs, testimony about how families came to the decision to homeschool. My kids were in public school and doing well. I needed to hear people’s thought processes as to why and how they brought their kids home and honestly, if it ‘worked.’

Quickly, I discovered there wasn’t much out there for us.  At least families like mine whom were not considering home-schooling for faith-based, behavioral, cognitive or  children that just didn’t fit the public-school mold reasons. I discovered there were and are a lot of resources available for those groups. While homeschool families owe much debt to these pioneers of home education, this was not our story or our why.

As the number of homeschoolers are swelling at record rates, there is a new groups or type of homeschooler emerging and those were the people we were looking for to help us navigate this uncharted territory. Families that were restless for not only a different way of educating their children, but living their lives.

             I was looking for families that were happy with their lives, but still wanted more.

I found my inspiration in a book called Becoming BareNaked by Jenn Barenaked. Now, before your mind goes to the gutter, as the title does make one go, “Hmmm…” stay with me…This book was about a family that was tired of the status quo. A family of five that had worked and achieved The American Dream.

This family was good, but discontent. They were looking for more…more time together to learn, to travel, to grow, TOgether as a family. This family left a six-figure income, sold two homes and set out into the unknown  with three young children.

They homeschooled. I liked that. But, homeschooling was one small piece of the pie they were creating. Homeschooling was almost a byproduct of the style of life they desired for their family. Education happened, for the most part, in the world. This family stepped out of mainstream America and had the courage to do something different, on their terms, together…together my friends.

             Life is too short to settle.

The book, Becoming BareNaked is a raw, collection of Jenn’s handwritten notes and is a glimpse into the inner thinking and thought process this mother was going through before they made the decision to sell it all and blaze a new path. It was the book I needed. It wasn’t a homeschooling book per se, but a book about having courage to go for life! To be brave and make decisions that are true to you, even if they are counter-culture.

The name Becoming BareNaked is a metaphor for how they are living their life…in the wide open for all to see, no lies or covers. Just their truth.

Becoming BareNaked was our impetus to jump. I provide a list of books at the end of this guide containing some of the resources and books I found helpful on our homeschool journey. I hope they may help you, too.

Stone Henge (2)

The next chapter, Our Story, will hopefully give you a better understanding of how we became a family of unexpected homeschoolers.

 

From:

A LIFESTYLE OF LEARNING:

Insights for a family considering homeschooling from a family that said, “YES!”

coming soon…

 

The Ultimate Goal of Childhood: Finding their Voice

I believe we all just want to be seen – heard. In a world full of business, achievement, confusion, social media, disconnect, technology and fear we can feel so insignificant and maybe frustrated that our true selves are not being heard…

Our voices – heard.  Our hearts – seen.

As many of you know I embrace what has been coined “the Bravewriter Lifestyle.”  This lifestyle has been created and described by Julie Bogart.  Bravewriter is an online writing and language arts program for families.  Her philosophy on teaching children (and adults) to write is simple and SO completely backwards from anything I ever learned about writing.  The goal of teaching writing to our children should be to help them find their voice…their unique, beautiful voice.

Writing, nor life,  is sentence diagraming, editing, revision, spelling, grammar rules, blah blah blah…those are tools or mechanics, not writing or living.  For rich writing and living one needs to focus on the inside life of the child and partnering them to write or express themselves.  Not to focus on paragraph structure and the stuff that bored us to death in school!  The ‘mechanics’ will come later. They can even be hired out or autocorrected on computers!

How beautiful is that?  Helping your toddler, school-aged, middle and highschooler find their voice without fear of ‘mechanics’…they will come…they will…

Writing,  like childhood, should be about helping us find our voice.  Discovering what excites us, inspires us, hurts us, scares us.  Using our rich life experiences and perspectives to offer to the world something never heard or seen before.

Can you imagine if we as a community began encouraging our children to cultivate and exercise finding their voices from young ages? Not just in writing, but in their life.   To end conformity, judgement and standardized education to embrace the unique gift each child was put on the planet to offer.

What struck me this morning was how this is the metaphor for what I want my girl’s childhood.  I do not want to focus or devote too much of our precious time together on ‘mechanics’ – I trust they will come.

My hope is to nourish their bodies, love their hearts and explore their minds to give them freedom to play to start the exciting process of discovering their voice.  Each of our girls has such a unique set of qualities that challenge and delight me and I want to honor that girl.  Her voice.

Part of their growth is witnessing mine – I feel so unprepared for the task of parenting at times and I hope by me owning this truth with my daughters it will allow them the safe space to be themselves, even when it is not “pretty.”  My definition of unconditional love…seeing all the parts of a person and loving them fiercely.

Your childhood set the stage for your journey as an adult. No matter what it looked like it shaped the way you learned to use (or not use) your voice.  I am in love with the idea of transforming child and young adulthood into a time of finding your voice…making mistakes, discovering passions and learning how to communicate.

Even if you are not a ‘parent’ you participate in either the expression or silence of our children. Let them know you see them.  You hear them.  Don’t worry about their ‘mechanics’…what are they saying??  Who are they wanting to be?  Mechanics, will come…

I trust we all desire connection and authentic relationships – to accomplish this we must know our own inner landscape and complexity – this requires a safe space or home for the expression to begin.

I want to see you.  I want to hear you.