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Homeschool Fiction

Follow homeschoolers Nadia and Aidan as they travel the USA! Each book in this series explores a new state and a new research topic. Along with their parents and pet turtle, they find adventure and learning everywhere.

...and just what is that mysterious device of theirs?

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Month Day
Topics: music,video

They Might Be Giants Appreciation Day 2015

Hooray! It’s TMBG Appreciation Day 2015 and since We Might Be Fans, my daughters Zoe (18) and Teagan (14) decided to make music videos using a couple of their favorite They Might Be Giants’ songs.

Without further ado:

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Month Day
Topics: Do Life Right,empowerment,photographs,words

Word of the Year 2015: SERENITY

Wow, what a struggle! I had a harder time picking a word for 2015 than any year since I started this yearly tradition. Last year’s word RADIATE still has me on a high!

I ended 2014 doing something I’ve never done in my life: I danced ballet on a stage in front of a real audience. :) It was exhilarating in ways I can’t even describe, especially when all my childhood memories surrounding dance are of the adults around me telling me that I was horrible at it and that I should stop (because I’d never be able to do it). Flashback to about a year ago: I was struggling to find something new to try. Every time I signed up for something, it was cancelled. Time and time again this happened, and I was starting to think it was a sign from the Universe telling me that I shouldn’t try anything new in a formal setting. As I shared this with my now-14yo daughter, Teagan, she suggested something that she’s been suggesting for about 5 years now: Why didn’t I just sign up for ballet classes? After all, I was going to dance studios for her all the time (she’s training to become a professional ballerina), so why not take a few classes, too?

With the encouragement of Dancing in the Streets AZ (the only studio I’ve ever seen that ENCOURAGES new adult dancers to sign up for classes even when they don’t have a clue what they are doing), I finally started taking classes in August 2014. While nearly every single class has left me feeling like a total idiot, something else has been growing inside of me since that first class. I’ve felt braver. Brave feels good. Incompetent, yes, but stronger and fiercer I’ve become. Not knowing what I’m doing, but still doing it, won’t kill me. But! Being a role model for the kids and teens who see me returning even though I’m the worst student in the class has been quite satisfying.

To reward me for my efforts, and the fact that I showed up for Nutcracker auditions, I was cast in two dancing roles: a party parent, AND a Dancing in the Streets original role as the “Queen of Sweets”. I even wore a tutu! Let me tell you about this tutu… I think it was made for me. If you’d have asked me some general adjectives for a tutu for me, they would have been: copper and orange colors with some brown and gold, flowy and long (but not too long), a little asymmetrical, fun, and flattering on my body type. This tutu was perfection for me. I wish I could have kept it, although what would I have done with a tutu in everyday life? I even wore a crown meant for a queen and wore stage makeup (first time ever)!

After the performances, people who didn’t know me (and people who did!) all used one adjective to describe how I was on stage: RADIATING! I was the worst dancer on the stage, no doubt, but I don’t care. I fulfilled my 2014 Word of the Year and it’s brought me moments that I will never forget (especially all the long conversations I’ve had about all of this with my daughters)!

Here are a couple of photos:

Lisa as the "Queen of Sweets" in Dancing in the Streets AZ's Nutcracker 2014

My "Ballerina Doll" daughter, Teagan, and me

Which brings me to 2015… How could I top 2014?

Well, I can’t. But, what I can do is bring what I need NOW into my life.

For the past few months, I’ve been a little overwhelmed by fear. Some of the fear has been real, yet some of it has been imagined (but still feels equally real!). I’ve been working on this with my acts of bravery, and I even considered the word BRAVE as my word of the year. But, it didn’t feel quite right. Neither did others that I tried on: BELIEVE, JOY, PEACE, EXPLORE.

Then, as it usually does, one single unexpected word kept popping up in my periphery: SERENITY.

It even showed up in an airplane magazine ad here (on the final day I was deciding on my word):

And, it fits. So, that’s what I’m going for. While not religious (but extremely spiritual), and not necessarily looking to rewatch all the episodes of Serenity (although my daughter, Zoe, insists that we now must), I’m still on the quest this year to feel serene, despite the challenges that come my way (and I’ve already had quite a few…).

May 2015 bring you what you are looking for, too. I’ll be rooting for you!

Find me gabbing on Facebook here: Do Life Right page, Wright on Time Books page, my personal page.

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Month Day
Topics: Arizona,Do Life Right,Tucson,Unschooling,Wright on Time,books,homeschooling,photographs

World’s Best Roadschooling Convention!

My family and I are getting super excited for tomorrow. It’s the first day of the “World’s Best Roadschooling Convention” right here in Tucson, Arizona. I’ll be giving the key note address at 7:00PM tomorrow evening (and hosting a Moms-only circle Saturday morning)! Greg and Zoe will be on an Unschooling Panel Friday afternoon from 1:00-3:00PM.

The convention unofficially started for me yesterday, as several other authors and myself had a lovely afternoon of talking about our books and signing books at Mostly Books in Tucson. Here’s a photo:

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Month Day
Topics: empowerment,guest post,photographs,words

Zoe’s Word of the Year 2014: NOW

The following guest post is written by my 17 year old daughter, owner of the award-winning Exogeology ROCKS! website, Zoë Bentley:

Late last December, in 2013, I chose a word of the year. This is the first time I’ve had a word of the year, even though I’ve known about the concept for the past several years since my mom chose words of those years. Until recently, it just didn’t appeal to me. So many of the example words I’d heard sounded cliché, boring, and cheesy. Hope, joy, courage, creativity, prosperity, etc., all good things but all uninspiringly overdone from my point of view. It was a challenge coming up with a sufficiently non-cliché word.

My word of the year 2014: NOW.

There are two main reasons I chose this word. One of them is straightforward and a common goal: I want to do things now, rather than later. Everyone knows putting things off doesn’t help anyone. It’s nice to have a reminder to urge me on. I know it’ll take a while to get used to, but I’d like to make doing things now into a habit, for everything from finishing homework projects to eating that leftover Halloween candy.

Of course, I can’t do everything at once, which brings me to reason two: I have a lot of things I want to do, and sometimes I can get overwhelmed trying to figure out which ones I really want to do, and when. Do I want to take classes in the fall, or do I want to travel, or do I want to spend time on some other project? Or this? Or that? I want to do everything, or at least a whole lot of it! Plus, I want to figure out the best way to reach my further-in-the-future goals. Unfortunately, there isn’t enough time to do everything, and I don’t have quite that much energy. Fortunately, not everything has to be done now. A lot can be done later. Yes, this is counterintuitive, I’m aware, but it’s not completely at odds with my first reason. The point is, this year I want to do what sounds fun right now, at this very moment. I want to remind myself that I have time to do many different things, so I can stop stressing about doing everything at once. I can only do so much, so I want to focus on what I’m currently doing and have fun doing it.

This year, I want to do things now, and I want to thoroughly enjoy that now.

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Month Day
Topics: Do Life Right,empowerment

I’m 2.7% Neanderthal; how about you?

In the late spring/early summer of 2012, I decided that it was high time for me to find out more about my genetic makeup. Since DNA testing was finally priced in a way that was reasonably affordable for someone with a high interest in knowing this sort of thing, I went for it (it was $299 then; ONLY $99 now!). After researching the various companies that do this type of testing, I chose 23andme. I have been absolutely thrilled with the ONGOING results that they’ve given me.

The test is simple: Fill the plastic tube (that they send to you) with saliva, then mail it back in their ready-made box. Results slowly come in starting about 6-8 weeks later. I did my test about a year and a half ago, and I’m still regularly getting new results. 23andme has hundreds(?) of questionnaires that you can choose to fill out or not, depending on how much help you personally want to be in the studies. From these they figure out the correlations between specific genes and what they mean.

So, I’m 2.7% Neanderthal. What are you?

With my testing, I’ve been able to confirm a lot of things, but I’ve also had a few surprises. I mean, it’s pretty obvious to anyone looking at me that I have red hair and blue eyes. But, who knew that I have a little bit of African in me? Wow! And, I’m a little bit Jewish. That is a huge shock. I’m also 4.0% Iberian… What’s Iberian? Huh. Who knew? Not me. Awesome!

I was also was pleasantly surprised to see that it’s in my DNA that I get nauseous under about a thousand circumstances. It’s not my imagination! ;) My happiest surprise is that I’ve met a 2nd cousin who I didn’t know existed (she was adopted as a baby, and we still don’t know who her biological parents are), and this is what it’s all about!

What’s the biggest thing you think you might be surprised about in your DNA? Are you worried about anything?

Through 23andme, a person can find out where their ancestors came from, what diseases they are apt to get (or not get), what drug reactions they might have, and so very, very much more! I very highly recommend it.

Check out my DNA ancestral makeup:

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Month Day
Topics: empowerment,guest post,words,zen

Greg’s Word of the Year 2014: RESOLVE (Guest Post)

Many thanks to my husband, Greg, for this guest post:

I’ve never chosen a word of the year before. I guess no single word sounded right, and it sounded like too much effort to find the perfect one when I was already very busy. This year though, I’ve decided that I want more focus to what I’m doing so it just felt right to pick a word to represent that. In fact, I considered “focus” as my word. I also considered “manifest”, “intent”, and “committed”. I was looking for something to help me with my desire to get things accomplished. Finally, I happened upon “resolve”.

I like that resolve has two related meanings. As a noun, it reminds me to do everything with determination. If it’s not part of some larger plan, if it’s just passing time, I don’t want to be doing it. That’s not to say that I don’t plan on having any fun this year. I do. But I no longer want to read pointless web pages or watch bad TV shows or movies. I have so many things that are on my list of things to do and see that I shouldn’t spend my time on activities that are the equivalent of junk food.

Conversely, if I am choosing to do something, I want to do it fully. If it’s worthy of doing, it should be worthy of my concentration. Whether it’s work or entertainment or socializing or learning or rest, I should do it with resolve.

The other meaning of resolve is as a verb. I want to resolve my outstanding issues. I have too many to-do lists lying about. Too many e-mails waiting to be dealt with. I want to clear out my backlog and resolved long standing problems. Some of these are just a matter of spend a half an hour (or how ever long it takes) to complete a task I don’t enjoy in order to fix something that’s irksome. Others will be a matter of deciding that it’s not really something I ever want to do. Either way, my list will shrink. It will feel be good to feel a sense of resolution. It’s only three days into the year, and I already feel better.

I’m not going to try to fix everything at once or set up some rigid schedule. I’ve tried both before, and they don’t work. Instead I’m just going to work on making something better each day. To shorten my to-do lists in some way. Clearing my desk is going to take some time (both figuratively and literally), but I feel better with each additional square inch of empty desk I see.

So that’s my word–resolve. Now I’m off to watch a movie. Fully. One I’ve been waiting to see for months. Happy New Year!

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Month Day
Topics: Do Life Right,empowerment,vision boards,words

Word of the Year 2014: RADIATE

What is YOUR word of the year for 2014?

I’ve been fairly active on Facebook the past few years, and I’ve seen an increase in how many people are giving themselves a “Word of the Year” rather than resolutions that never come true. I love this! 2014 marks my 6th “Word of the Year” and I’m super excited about it.

Do you know what this “Word of the Year” business is all about? Well, it’s been around for quite some time, but it’s summed up quite nicely in Christine Kane’s Word-of-the-Year Discovery Tool. Simply put: (1) Pick ONE (and only one) word that succinctly summarizes your hopes, goals, dreams, and desires for the upcoming year. (2) Surround yourself with your word all year. (3) Reflect as you personally see fit.

For 2013, I gave myself the word ANCHORED. After having lived several years where I felt anything but anchored, having ANCHORED as my go-to word this past year has given me a new stability I’d been craving. My family and I are comfortably home in our lives and relationships, and it feels simply lovely. 2013 was an inward year for me, full of introspection (hey, wait, I’ve never had a year that wasn’t full of this!) and embraced introversion. Embraced, I say, as I’ve fought my anti-extroversion tendencies in past years. This year, I embraced my authentic introverted self–PROUDLY!

With this in mind, it came to me as a complete surprise that 2014′s word kept screaming to me… I finally had to accept it for the word that I desire to take me to the next level of my human experience. My 2014 word of the year is:

RADIATE

Yes, I am a radiant being. Yes, I am always (now!) my authentic self. Yet… not a lot of people are seeing my full shine. This, though I am anxious and excited about it, is what I’m trepidatious about sharing with the world. Yet, it’s truly who I am, so I can’t wait to show this side of myself to the world.

WATCH ME RADIATE IN 2014! :)

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Month Day
Topics: food,guest post,holidays,vegan,vegan recipe

Vegan Cranberry Sauce

Zoe Bentley’s Perfect Cranberry Sauce

  • 12oz cranberries (I used fresh)
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 1 cup organic vegan sugar

Bring all ingredients to a boil in a saucepan. Stir and continue boiling until cranberries pop. If the pot looks like it’s about to overflow, turn down the heat and keep stirring. Once all cranberries have popped, turn down heat and cook until the sugar water is dark red and thick and the cranberries have lost their shape. Taste and wonder why nobody else likes cranberry sauce, then realize there’s more for you. Serve immediately (warm) or chilled.

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Month Day
Topics: Do Life Right,empowerment,video

Doing Life Right Teleconference

Anyone who knows me really well, knows that I’m rather obsessed about personal development and growth. I believe so strongly that I can continually become a better person through striving to be my personal best in all aspects of life, that I’ve not only named a company Do Life Right, Inc., but I’ve also created an annual Doing Life Right Teleconference.

Yes, this subject makes me giddy!

For me, I believe that we all have the potential to do life right in our individual ways (although there are universal truths as well). The idea of doing ALL of life “right” can sound a little daunting. So, I’m collecting advice, in ~5 minute long snippets, from people who are doing one particular aspect of life right. (To be honest, these people do a lot more than one thing right, but for the sake of this annual teleconference, they concentrate their short little talks one just one small topic.) :)

To see all the videos I’ve collected, check out the teleconference page on my company’s website or the Doing Life Right Teleconference channel on YouTube:

To keep up-to-date with all the new happenings, be sure to become a Facebook fan of the Doing Life Right Teleconference.

Have an idea that you’d like to share with the world? Contact me! I’m striving to have a minimum of 31 videos in 2014. I’d love to include one from you! What knowledge to you have that you just must share with the world?

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Month Day
Topics: censorship,empowerment,photographs,relationships

Life’s Work

WARNING: THE FOLLOWING IS SOMEWHAT GRAPHIC AND NOT INTENDED FOR CHILDREN UNDER 18. All other articles on this site are rated G.

NOTE: I was recently sent a letter that basically said I should be ashamed of who I am, where I come from, and who my parents are. I was explicitly told that I am a disappointment and should be hiding my background more, and not “Airing My Dirty Laundry” on this site, or any site, because it’s all too shameful to be spoken about in a public, or even private, forum (in other words, I should be censoring myself). I was also told that I don’t know the “real truth” about my background. Short story: I do.

This post helps prove that I’m an open book. I know my personal and genetic history, and I always have. Nothing about my ancestry has ever been hidden from me. I am neither ashamed of who I am, nor who my parents are. Quite the opposite, in fact: I am proud of both. This post is a tribute to my mother, a woman I am immensely proud to be the oldest daughter of.

Lisa and her mom, November 2012

HERE WE GO:
Imagine growing up a girl who is shown every single day of your life that you are worthless. You are told that girls aren’t as worthy as boys. Your own mother allows you to be sexually molested for years and tells you that it’s your own fault because you are a dirty and worthless girl. You aren’t allowed to participate in basic activities that your brothers take for granted, like learning how to swim (not something girls “need to know”) and doing homework or going to school regularly (instead you have to stay home to cook and clean, because that is the highest ambition anyone of your gender could hope to succeed at). You even have to take your bath last, after every member of the house, in the same water as everyone ahead of you–you are last in the “pecking order” solely because you are female.

Now imagine that you are 20 years old, on your own finally, fully supporting yourself as an independent adult, and that you decide to take the advice from your friends and family and date a friend of a friend–the first you’ve ever really dated. Now imagine that this date has a problem–a big problem… He’s a drug addict, and worse, he beats and rapes you on this date (and you find out later that he has beaten and raped a lot of women). Being inexperienced in anything except abusive physical touches, you question yourself and your worth. Did you bring this upon yourself? Did you deserve it? Is this what a dating relationship was supposed to look like? You think maybe yes, since that was what was modeled for you your whole life, and you certainly don’t deserve better.

Imagine 20+ years of: Abuse. Shaming. Molestation. Hitting. Beating. Whipping. Being thrown out of moving vehicles. Having to go and get one of your dad’s belts so that he could beat you with it every single week, just because you “probably deserved it”. These have been your day-to-day living experiences for your entire life. You can’t imagine life any other way, because you’ve never experienced or even seen anything else and didn’t even know a better life could exist. Yet you find yourself naive, alone, beaten, and now pregnant–by a man who raped you. You take your beaten self to the only people you “trust”, your family. You’re called a slut by them (even though you’d never actually had sex before, only having been repeatedly molested by a family member over several years) and much worse. You are confused because the man rapes and beats you again every time you’ve seen him since the initial raping. You’re told, again and again, that you are a worthless human being and you are deserving of all the abuse that you have ever received and will ever receive. You are told that the reason you deserve this is simple: you are female, and females are “less than” males.

What do you do?

Seriously, what would *YOU* do? I know I’ve spent a lot of time pondering this.

Why would I ponder this horrific existence? Well, this is the exact situation my own mother found herself in in 1972. That baby she did not abort, that baby that was a product of a brutal rape, was me. The incentive she had to start, just start, standing up for herself was: ME. She felt that I was a gift to her and it opened her up to thinking that a female could be a wonderful being, worthy of love and respect because she felt nothing but love for me.  And when she saw firsthand that I would be beaten and abused, too, if she stayed in abusive relationships, she finally stepped away from physical harm and stood on her own–with me in tow. This is pure bravery.

Can you imagine being disowned because you were raped and left pregnant, even though you married a drug-addict out of fear of going to hell for eternity?

I can’t.

What would you do with your life under these circumstances? From what I’ve seen, most women in this situation either die young, end up going to jail, or give in to it all and live an existence of misery.

Not my mom! After years of figuring out who she was, she found (and fell in love with) a man (my dad, an amazing man) who treated her (and me) with honor, love, and respect, and she married him. My mom decided to not call herself a victim and, instead, became proactive in making the world treat women better (and now, all people since it’s clear that abuse is not just geared toward females). She started with our home, and she raised me in what she considered the exact opposite way that she was treated as a child, with the hope that I’d never feel that “less than” way that she had always felt. For a career in helping people, she first worked at a Women’s Shelter helping battered women and their children get away from abuse, then at a mental health institute helping those with mental and emotional issues find some peace and become healthier, and (for the last 15+ years) she’s devoted herself as a Batterer’s Education Program facilitator. What’s that? you might ask. Sounds fishy… or at least crazy. What!?! She educates people who batter? On what?

Yes! While I, super-empowered woman that I am, would stick my nose up (figuratively) at people who are abusive to their spouses, children, and pets, my mother is actually doing something about it. I help good parents become great ones. My mom helps broken and abusive ones become mentally healthy and stable ones. Her work is profound at a basic level of humanity. I only know how to help those who are already at a higher level of living.

My mom, amazingly, has dedicated her life to actually helping people who have been legally convicted of battering and abuse! She doesn’t just counsel men and women who are abusive to their mates, extended family, and/or children, but she actually gives them the tools that they need to figure out WHY they’ve behaved how they’ve behaved and how to move past those “reasons” and start treating other people (and themselves) in positive ways. Yes, that’s right! She has helped wife-beaters and child abusers STOP–forever! Whoa! That’s amazing.

After all of the horrendous abuses my mom has gone through in her life, she’s actually HELPING OTHERS not be abusers. She doesn’t sit and moan about her life. She doesn’t call herself a victim. Does this mean she’s “over” how she’s been treated? No way! She still has nightmares of being hurt all over again, but she’s strong. [Which is even more astounding since she's just gone through a year of pure hell: death of my dad's brother, brain infections, stage 3 tonsil cancer from second-hand smoke, chemotherapy, radiation, death of a friend, nearly dying herself several times, feeding tube, operations, blood clots in her lungs that almost suffocated her, more near-death infections than I can remember, being more in the hospital than out, and all the related stress and bills...] Yet, her primary worry through this all has been: “Will I be able to continue helping people not be abusive?”

Seriously! Who on Earth would be thinking like this? Only my mom, that’s for sure.

She has proven that when we “hide our dirty laundry”, we are perpetuating a violent and abusive cycle. Yet when we open up and bare our truths, we can stop violence, help ourselves become better people, and pass that new knowledge onto the next generation.

My mom does all this with very little family support, too. Yes, she has my dad, my sister (and her family), me (and my family), and my dad’s parents (my fabulous and loving grandparents who have always treated me as a beloved granddaughter), but she doesn’t have (and never has had) any support from her side of the family. Quite the opposite, in fact, as the very last time my mom saw her mother, her mother claimed to have never given birth to a daughter! The precise situation is that my mom was visiting her mother in the hospital. She was holding Grandma’s hand. Her brothers and all of their significant others were around the hospital bed. A nurse came in and asked about all the people. My grandmother said, “I have been pregnant three times and have given birth to three sons, and they are my only children, I was never lucky enough to have a daughter.” [For the record, my mom has a twin brother, so the number of pregnancies was listed correctly.] Then, later, she introduced my aunt to the nurse as “the daughter I always wished I had had.” That day was a last-straw moment for my mom, especially when none of the rest of her family stood up for her. Things like this had always been said about her and to her (often behind her back, as I personally witnessed during my entire childhood), but this time she decided she had had enough. Good for her! I say. No one has the right to treat another person this horribly over and over again. After this, not a single person there has tried to contact me in over ten years, until this recent attempt to tell me how ashamed and humiliated that I should be for… existing? Believing that females are equal to males? Believing that hitting other people, especially your own children, is bad and wrong? For believing that any type of harm, sexual or otherwise, is wrong to do to another human being? Believing that it’s a mother’s JOB to keep her children as safe from harm as humanly possible and to love them forever no matter what?

I’m so proud of my mother for standing up for herself! I’m so proud of the legacy that she has given to the people around her who all know their worth. I’m so proud that it has become my mother’s life work to prevent the abuses that she used to think were a normal part of human existence.

Is she a perfect person for doing this? Am I a perfect person for the work I do with helping people become healthier and kinder? Of course not, but we are both striving to continually be better–to continue to strive to DO LIFE RIGHT! I’ve seen my own mother continually improve herself and I make it quite public that this is my primary goal for myself. By hiding our faults, we’ll never improve. By exposing what we’ve been through, what has been done around us and to us, we’re brainstorming ways of making sure the bad stuff never happens to anyone else again. To me, the most shameful thing to be is stagnant and in denial of reality, refusing to become better people and improve our lives and help others improve their lives.

To all parents out there: Never undervalue the worth of showing your children that they should always be treated well and that they can accomplish any dream they set their mind to. I never would be the mother that I am today if it weren’t for my own mother discovering her power in standing up for me by standing up for herself. I look forward to the day when she is completely healed physically, emotionally, spiritually, and mentally from all that she’s been through in her life. I respect and applaud how she has turned the abuse that she has gone through into her life’s work–her passion.

Happy Mother’s Day, Mom! You are an inspiration to me and the entire world! You have saved thousands of people from being abused by helping past abusers learn better ways of communicating and treating others. Thank you for personally breaking the abuse cycle for not just our family, but for thousands of other families.

Thank you, Mom! You are an inspiration! I’m so happy that you are alive today despite all the odds the world has held against you. I love you! Now let’s get you healthy enough that I can see you sometime this year…

Here are two other blog tributes that I’ve posted for Mom on past Mother’s Days:

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