Robyn and I walked our bikes across the crosswalk of the busy Ballard Seattle intersection. Waiting for the signal at the opposite corner, I looked back to make sure I wasn’t blocking a biker waiting there.
“Are you Janaia Donaldson?” he asked.
Startled, I replied yes.
“I’ve watched many of your shows,” he said. “They’ve inspired my family. We live just up the way. A garden, chickens. We home school our kids.”
That’s how we met Mark Mendonca. Tell me that synchronicity isn’t real. Hah! Not when meetings like this converge. A few minutes earlier or later, and we would have passed one another not knowing. I got his email address and we parted.
Intrigued, Robyn and I thought: we haven’t videoed a show about home schooling. About a family making changes toward self reliance and young people learning such skills and attitudes.
I emailed Mark and received a gracious welcome. We visited their home a few days later. Music floated outside the front door. Inside at the keyboard were Keoni and Maceo, twins nearly 13 years old (above). Later they sang and played some original compositions for us, and shared two totally delightful videos they produced of their music – Beautifull and Summer. Treat yourself and watch!
Mark’s wife Veronica greeted us warmly and showed us around the large studio building where she teaches dance, and their neighborhood community gets together on occasion. We toured the permaculture garden (transformed from a flat lawn) and met the chickens.
During our meal together, we talked of personal histories, backgrounds — and health. Or more accurately, the lack thereof. It was primarily Veronica’s health problems — primarily gluten intolerance — that changed her and Mark’s life utterly. Getting no help from the medical world, they embarked on a learning challenge very reminiscent of Robyn’s explorations with chronic lyme. Finding nutrient-dense appropriate diets is very much a life-giving interest we have in common.
The arts are central to this family. Veronica and Mark are both dancers. Mark is a world-renowned tap dancer. Small wonder that Maceo and Kaoli are honing performance skills. We talked about how their home schooling follows the lead of a child’s interests, rather than enforcing the memorization of facts that have no relevance to our lives. Education (drawing out what is within) rather than training (as public schools largely do, in support of jobs in this corporate society).
Such vitality and creativity — and such fun! We feel blessed to be warmly embraced into this family. We only just got started in our sharing! We’ll be back for more when we return to Seattle.