If you dwell in the empty half of your glass, life will feel empty. If you dwell in the full half of your glass, life will feel full.
—Joyce Fetteroll

Colleen Prieto
(in response to "in moderation as I've hopefully instilled in them")
I hope I have instilled a sense of abundance, not moderation, in my 11 year old. I hope he will love, enjoy, think, create, eat, sing, play, read, watch, go, see, and do in whatever amount or volume makes him smile. I hope he will never look at an opportunity, or a person, or a cookie, and think "I'd really like to do that, or hang out more with him, or try that" and then stop himself because his goal is moderation rather than happiness.

I cannot fathom wanting my son to have Less of whatever brings him joy. Because as far as I know, he will only live once - and I want that life - his life - to be amazing. Not mediocre, or moderate, or almost-good-enough. I want it to be fantastic. Fantastic!!

Everything in moderation—no. Not everything. Not very many things at all. Bad things at the minimum, good things to the maximum, and hopefully not much at all sitting sadly in the in-between :-)

Colleen Prieto
June 11, 2014

Nicole, commenting on a Just Add Light and Stir post at the end of 2013:
Thank you for the ways you have helped me embrace abundance and the positive impact this has on my family. I am entering this next season with serenity and enthusiasm....

And I mean abundance in so many ways. An abundance of ways I caught myself and made a more peaceful or joyful choice, an abundance of laughter. An abundance of forgiveness, for myself, my husband, my kids, the world. An abundance of times I stopped and was attentive to the subtle signs in my kids or myself and acted on them. An abundance of times I actually listened to my children's voices instead of mowing them over with my own way of seeing things without even noticing I was doing it. Like when my daughter quietly said, "I don't want a wooden guitar with strings, I want one of those pink ones with the flashing lights so I can rock out." And even though I could still hear the old voices and objections in my head, the superior ones, the critical ones, I recognized them and chose to support her instead (and she sure does rock out). In a thousand big and little shifts, the choice to open up, to believe I can receive goodness and share this with my children.

Caren Knox:
On our walk, I was contemplating finances, and was stressed 'til I remembered to notice the abundance around me: uncountable leaves on a tree, innumerable blades of grass... Yes, my life is rich. Nice.
Deb Lewis responded with a quote:
"I hope you love birds too. It is economical. It saves going to heaven."
~Emily Dickinson

Note from Sandra:  The quote is from a letter Dickinson wrote to a young friend; more of it is here.

Anna Black, Always Learning, December 2015, to someone worried about too much at Christmas:
My childhood Christmases were lavish and abundant. My parents worked hard to make sure our loungeroom was full of wonderfully wrapped presents on Christmas morning. They are some of my happiest memories, the excitement, anticipating with my brother. So much joy.

We are doing the same with our children. I want them to experience that same joy and abundance, so we work out ways to get them everything they want. It's already becoming less though. This year my 8-year-old only had two things on her Christmas list. She also spent $30 of her own money on a gift for the giving tree for a child who might not get any presents. On a trip to the city to see the Christmas displays, she was moved by a sign written by a homeless man and gave more of her money, plus some food to him.

Being generous and giving as much as possible to our children gives them joy. It also breeds generosity and creates a feeling of security and abundance. More is more.

Anna Black

Cheri Tilford, on Always Learning, December 24, 2015:
When our daughter was born, I told my husband I didn't want to do massive Christmases like the ones he grew up with. I didn't want our child to be "spoiled". My family was never wealthy (monetarily), and our Christmases were more measured in terms of stuff, though overflowing with joy and a sense of love and abundance. My parents would have gladly given more if they could have afforded it.

I'm so glad I found this list, which I've been reading for probably about 4 years - the majority of my daughter's life. My feelings about "spoiling" children have completely changed. We are fortunate enough that we can afford the things my daughter asks for, and so she gets them. Her aunts and uncles marvel at her generosity, noting how sweet and kind she is with her stuff, sometimes in stark contrast to their own children. Over these past few months, whenever she spoke of what she wanted from Santa, I wrote it down, then I got her everything she wanted plus a few things I wanted to give her because she really didn't ask for much. I look at the modest pile of wrapped presents and have a pang of "is that enough?" even though I know it will be, because she already has a sense of abundance in her world and doesn't need more stuff to prove it. The stuff is just a bonus!

Technically I'm not unschooling yet as my daughter wouldn't start kindergarten until next year, but the radical unschooling principles have done wonders for my family - my thought processes have morphed over these few years to allow me to be more patient, generous, peaceful, and loving with everyone I care about, most especially my wonderful daughter. She said to me recently after asking me if she could have or do something, "mama, you always say yes!" and then gave me a huge hug.

I wish everyone here a massively joyful and abundant holiday season and new year. Thank you to all who so generously share here.


Joyce Fetteroll, in a discussion of arbitrary restrictions and budgetary restraints:
There are, of course, real life restrictions. No one has the ability to get everything at every moment. Some people do live on budgets. But when life is approached with seeing what is possible with what is available rather than what is not possible with what is available, they don't feel as much like restrictions as challenges.

When someone was trying to figure out how to say no to children who seemed to want everything, Jenny Cyphers wrote:
The goal isn't to manipulate the kids to behave a certain way. The goal is peace around a feeling of lack. I've felt what it feels like to have no money for food. That's a big ugly feeling, but in the middle of all that feeling you can still choose to see abundance. I can go into my pantry and see what I DO have. I can see that I have rice and milk, or running water and dishes and soap to clean them. Parents can be a buffer for their kids for monetary lack, they really can.

What I DO have an abundance of is time. My kids get me, I can give them the gift of me. In all the abundance that *I* have, with time and all my creative resources, I can do things with and for my kids, things that they perhaps don't think of on their own. With my wealth of knowledge, by being older and having more ideas and experiences to draw from, I can share all that with my kids. I CAN fill up a swimming pool, I CAN find things to play with in water. I CAN make paper airplanes with scraps of paper and I CAN make bird feeders out of recycled things with leftover birdseed.

In order for kids to feel and see abundance, they first must have parents who feel and see it too, even if there is no money. Go to parks, pick up sticks, ride bikes to new places, swing on the swing differently, make bubbles and blow them in front of a fan. Look at stars at night and try to find constellations, light things on fire with magnifying glass, roast hot dogs for dinner (it's cheap), the possibilities are limitless, but only if you choose to see them. THAT is what will help your kids learn how to be creative thinkers—seeing and doing creative things.

the full post on Always Learning

more by Jenny Cyphers

Joyce, in response to a new unschooler whose children seemed to be nervously drawn to watching TV and playing computer games more than anything else:
It seems wrong to you and feels wrong to them because they're off balance right now because TV and computers were limited before.

They know what they're off-balance selves need: more TV and computer. But it feels wrong because they may sense their balanced selves wouldn't need that much.

If a big swimming pool has a tiny leak, you'd only need to add a bucket of water to it each day. Adding a bucket each day would keep it balanced. If you don't add water to it each day, it will keep draining until it's empty. If you then added just a bucket a day, it wouldn't fill. If you only added 2 buckets a day, it would take months and months to fill. But if you turned the hose on and just let it run until the pool was filled, *then* you could add just a bucket a day.

Right now they're in the let the hose run stage. But this won't last forever. They *will* eventually feel like they've gotten to the full point where they just need as much as they need each day.

(original, on Always Learning)

From Emily, on the Always Learning list, March 15, 2009:

I just posted this on my blog and wanted to share it here. I've changed so much in the last year, and it is in part to the things I read on this list. It's fun watching how my oldest daughter is growing, and seeing the choices she is making that I never would have dreamed of when I was a food and tv nazi mom. She is 3 years old, and I'm so glad that I learned about unschooling while she is still little.

We are visiting family in another state, staying at my mom's house, and my sister and 4 of her kids are here too. Here's what I blogged:

It's been really interesting watching E and the choices she makes. We bought her a Gameboy right before we drove here to help pass the time on the long drive. It's a brand new toy and she really likes it. When we got here, she left it in the car and didn't ask for it. D wanted to play it though, so he brought it inside and her cousins ended up finding it and playing with it. She has been really generous with it. She let them play with it for a long time and then wanted it back. While she was playing with it, her cousin asked me to tell E that it was time to share and give her a turn. I told her cousin that it is E's game and that she can choose if she wants to share it. I reminded her cousin that when E had one of her toys that she wanted back, I had E give it back to her because that was hers to choose to share. Then I told E that it was her choice to if she wanted to share, and that her cousin would appreciate a turn. She nodded and kept playing. A few minutes later, she was done with the game, gave it to her cousin, and then three of her cousins took turns with it the rest of the evening. It's nice to see her developing true generosity and sharing that is coming from the heart without force and with no guilt attached.

It's also been interesting to watch her food and tv choices away from home. We went to the library and she picked out a few movies and also rented one at the video store. She knows that we will put one on for her any time, either the ones we rented or ones that my mom owns. She has only watched a few over the last few days, some at her request and some at her cousins request. During all but one, she got up in the middle of the movie to go play. She also knows that she can get on the computer any time she wants—she played starfall for a few minutes yesterday. Oh, and there's 5 channels of tv which she hasn't even mentioned.

We got icecream the night before last. She had a few bites of mine and then ran off to play again. Then she shared a small bowl with her cousins and left to play again. I was wondering how I would manage it if she asked for some during the day yesterday when I knew her cousins wouldn't be allowed to have any. I was thinking that I'd have to find some way to let her have some, while still respecting my sister's choice to limit her kids and not have E eating in front of them. She never asked though. Then we all had some again tonight. She ate her bowl very slowly, while alternately playing and snacking on the sunflower seeds on the table. About a half an hour later, she asked for more, but it was all gone. I told her that and she said ok, I'll eat some apple. She also knows that we have chocolate covered bananas, and hasn't asked for those either.

She had gum for the first time today. A year ago I would have had a heart attack over the ingredients and said NO, and there would have been a big fuss and lots of tears. She would have had to watch her cousins have it while she didn't and my sister would have felt bad, or I would have gone way out of my way to hide it from her so she didn't know about it. I still don't like the ingredients, but it felt so much better to just joyfully say YES. Her 2 year old cousin was asking for gum all day, so we all took a walk to the store together to get him and all the kids some. We had a beautiful walk in the sunshine, got the gum, and returned with smiling kids. She had a new experience, and when it was gone that was ok. I'm sure she'll ask for some again, but I'm not going to wait until she does. When we get home, I'm going to go to the healthfood store and see if I can find some with better ingredients. I've been hearing about xylitol in gum and that it's good for teeth, so I'm going to read up on that. I love how saying yes opens up those doors to learning something new.

Ezabella 3, Liliana 8mos

(and on Always Learning)

Alysia, with an example of the effect of scarcity:
[A woman was] shocked that I let my 2 and 6 year old boys have soda at a birthday party. She said she never let her granddaughter have soda. I told her my kids don't drink that much and a sip wouldn't hurt them. Sure enough, they each only had a few sips of the soda and then ran off to play, which I did point out to the woman because her attitude insulted me. Meanwhile, the other kids who only got soda at special occasions hung around the kitchen gulping down cup after cup.


And it doesn't mention the feelings of the granddaughter who wasn't allowed any at all.
In response to someone cataloging why they couldn't afford to unschool:
Where else can you cut expenses? Sell a car? Move somewhere cheaper? Shop every other week? Make big meals and freeze them? Buy all items from the thrift stores? Buy cheaper insurance? Get cheaper phones? Get a Costco membership? Most people have more wiggle room than they think they do.

This helps me: I think of the worst case scenario and then look at what I have instead. It helps me re-frame what I DO have, as abundance. Once I can see the abundance around me, it helps me think less of where I'm lacking.

Jenny Cyphers
(longer original, on Always Learning, September 2011)

Sandra Dodd, August 2012:
Last night I was tired. Holly had gone out for the evening. Marty had gone to bed because he works at 4:30 a.m. Keith was busy. I thought.... I'd like to just go to sleep.

Then I looked up and there's food to be put away, and the counter was all full of dinner.

At first I felt whiney, "why me?" and kind of "DAMN it, I'm tired."

Then I thought...
I'm glad we have food. I LOVE that pan I made the sauce in. I got it for collecting savings-stamps at the grocery store. It's heavy stainless steel, and beautifully shaped.

We have containers to make small meals, and I can mix the sauce (which I made in the morning and slow-simmered most of the afternoon) with spaghetti in several little containers, and someone from my family will be glad to find it at some point this weekend, or maybe Keith will save one to take to work for lunch on Monday.

I'm glad we have a refrigerator, and that people in my family not only are willing to eat leftovers, they're glad to find there's some left of something they liked the first time.

We have a dishwasher. That's really wonderful. If all I have to do is rinse dishes and fill it up, that's not much work at all.

I've been listening to World War Z. Marty says some of his favorite stories aren't in the abridged audio book, but that he's heard the audio and it's good.

So I put World War Z to play on the computer, and cleaned up the kitchen I'm glad to have, for the family I love.


Five Years Later, and just hours after a gender reveal party:

Thursday, August 24, 2017
Just Add Light and Stir

Inventory your abundance

photo DestinyWalkway.jpg

You don't need a full list of things to be grateful for, to feel abundance. Maybe think of three, and then take that smile into your next few hours, if you can.

Here are three of mine:

Kirby and his wife own a house (own a mortgage, anyway) and this is their beautiful walkway at night.

Marty and his wife will have a son, in December or January.

Lately and coming up, Holly has participated in several interesting and unrelated classes and workshops in dance, songwriting, burlesque, and yoga. It's fun to see them continuing to stretch up and outward, and it's nice late at night to know they're all safely asleep in their various homes.

photo by Destiny Dodd

Generosity begets Generosity

Service The Full Plate Club

How to raise a respected child


Karen James, on The Abundance of Possibilities

Economics of Restricting TV Watching of Children

Magical Thinking and Spoiled Children

Chat transcript on abundance, February 2016

One giant misunderstanding: "Where do we draw the line? If I provide an abundance of everything, we will not have a home to live in, or we may, but then we wouldn't have a car or any utilities in that home." (from If I let him...")