Wednesday, March 5, 2008

From Estela Reveles

My name is Estela Reveles. I knew Lisa through homeschooling.

My contacts with Lisa, even though infrequent, always left me with the feeling that she took a sincere and personal interest in me and my children. Between encounters, she would not forget where we had left off, and I would be struck by how she related to me as a friend. She exuded a warmth that let you know she would always have room for you. I can't imagine how many lives she touched by simply being present. The world is certainly a better place for her having passed through it.

My deepest sympathies to her family and all who mourn her passing.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

From Sue Patterson in Texas

I had told my daughter Alyssa (14) that Lisa was sick. And, when she overheard me talking to Pam on the phone, she realized that the worst had happened. After a lot of tears, we talked about our memories of Lisa, Roxy and Ruby.

We first met the Heyman/Gauchman family at the Live and Learn conference in St. Louis. Roxy and Alyssa became friends right away. Alyssa couldn't remember exactly how they met, but she remembered them spending a lot of time riding the elevators. And Lisa rode with them, chatting & laughing. No indication that they should stop. The girls roamed the halls together during that conference. I hadn't met Lisa and Larry until that Saturday night. We were all at the Museum downtown. It was a FABULOUS museum. Pam and I joined Larry and Lisa at a table. We really enjoyed talking with them. As we were talking, Lisa and I realized that we were each the mother of our daughters' new best friend at the conference. That was a wonderful surprise.

So, after that conference, the girls emailed each other. Lisa and I wrote to each other a few times - primarily to help the girls stay connected. Unfortunately, they weren't going to be able to make it to Albuquerque for the next conference. Alyssa was bummed to not have Roxy there. She received a BEAUTIFULLY hand-decorated invitation to Roxy's Bat-Mitzvah and I really wished we could have gone. We were living in Wichita Falls at the time, and New York seemed so very far away.

Roxy and Alyssa were excited to hear that they'd both go to the Live and Learn conference in North Carolina in 2007. Both were interested in cheerleading, so Roxy asked Alyssa to be her assistant with her conference Funshop. Pam & Rosie picked up Alyssa and me at the Charlotte airport. Alyssa and Roxy were back and forth a few times on the cell phone, anticipating their reunion. Lisa's family had arrived a day earlier and Roxie and Alyssa were eager to talk cheerleading.

It was so wonderful to see and talk with Lisa there. She was so excited to give her talks. We talked about the girls doing the cheerleading funshop. She and Larry told me how proud they were of Roxy doing a cheerleading camp out of their home in the summer. They told me how she managed the money, the kids, the parents - all of it! We talked about how unnecessary textbooks were to living a real life. We talked a little about our support groups, her rabbi, and how she tried to make all this unschooling make sense to him.

Alyssa also had a connection to Fire. Live and Learn offers Fairy Godparents to anyone who would like one. And, Alyssa drew Fire's name. Alyssa went to the cabin to secretly plant a note. Lisa smiled and helped her lay it out on her clothes, so she'd find it right away. Even though Fire figured it out, Alyssa tried to keep it a secret and got her a bracelet and a necklace. It was fun when Alyssa "owned up" to the fact that she really was Fire's Fairy Godmother. And, with one more interesting connection, on the last day, Lisa told Alyssa that she was Alyssa's Fairy Godmother. Alyssa was delighted - she had a very cool Fairy Godmother - with pink hair!

I didn't realize until now that Alyssa had been to Lisa's talks. Roxy didn't want to miss her mom's talks, so the girls asked some other girls to run a portion of their Cheerleading Funshop. This way they could go together to hear her. It really was wonderful to witness their mother-daughter relationship. Roxy and Lisa both enjoyed each other's company, checked on each other, supported each other. It was inspiring to see.

Alyssa asked me if Roxy knew her mom was sick then, because she cried a few times during the talk. I told her that I didn't think there was any way she could have known. She was probably just so incredibly proud of her mom and what she had to say - all of it glowing about Roxy and Fire. After 12 years of homeschooling/unschooling, I didn't attend Lisa's conference presentation. I regret that now. Alyssa said that what she remembered most about the topic was how important Lisa felt TIME was. Spending time with the girls was paramount - more important than anything else. What a wonderful remembrance that will be for the girls. To know how important they were to their mother. To not just know, but hear it announced for all to hear. I'm sure those tapes will someday be a great comfort to them.

As Pam and I were about to leave the conference, Lisa pulled a few of us aside. She wanted to share something about Roxy - that we had to swear to secrecy - she called it Kvelling. I didn't have a clue what she was talking about. What was this term? Paula Sjogerman was with us and she tried to help us understand a little more. They tried to help us pronounce it. They tried to help us understand it. Kvelling, loosely translated, means rejoicing in your children's accomplishments... in a good loving way. It's Yiddish for gushing, and swelling, and delighted. Kvelling. What a wonderful word. And, if I'm using the term correctly, Lisa was kvelling about her daughter. We were honored that she wanted to share it with us. Now THAT should be a conference in itself...a bunch of happy unschooling parents kvelling. ahhh.... THAT would be a wonderful Lisa-Legacy.

Lisa's passing reminds me again how important "time" with those we love is... how short it can be. Time. It really is all that matters. And, an occasional Kvelling among friends.

Lisa will be missed.
All our love to Larry, Roxy, & Fire

Saturday, March 1, 2008

From Robin Bentley in Washington State

I didn’t know Lisa personally, but I had read her wise words, particularly on the Shine with Unschooling [email] list, over the years. Her messages often ended up in my “Important Posts” folder.

I do know people who were her friends and I know how they are both suffering and basking in the light of having known her.

On Tuesday morning, I was sitting in meditation, and Lisa came into my mind. I thought of her family, her husband Larry and daughters Roxy and Fire. I sent healing thoughts to them, across the miles. Suddenly, (and I’ve never felt this in my short meditation career) a weightlessness came over my body and I felt bathed in light. In that moment, I felt Lisa’s beautiful spirit lifiting me up. It was the most amazing experience and my tears flowed freely…

I wrote on one unschooling list, in response to Kelly’s post about Lisa, that her legacy to me was remembering to allow my daughter’s life to unfold, “in her own way, in her own time.” Though I’ve always subscribed to that idea, I am now taking it into my being in a new, more profound way.

Thank you, Lisa.

From Joan in New Jersey

I have not known Lisa long, but when we met I remember I was immediately struck by how open and joyful she was. Her enthusiasm always made me smile, clearly she loved life, and adored her family.

She told me once that our children are "perfect, right now, just the way they are," and I've come back to that thought many times when I've felt myself becoming impatient or otherwise irritated. She was inspiring in the way that she trusted herself. I'm so saddened that her time here was so short.

Our family is sending our love, and wishes for peace to Larry, Roxy and Fire,
Joan (from NJ)

From Francine Lucidon in New York

I didn't see Lisa often but I knew her well. We go way back.

Lisa was the person who always reached out in caring. She was an illuminated force that put caring into action - an inspiration to all of us.

She was the friend who, after I'd had an exceptionally rough and very public experience, called the next day to gently inquire, with no judgment, "Hey, how're you doing?" She was the one who always checked in, kept those lines of communication open, worked at building and keeping those bonds of community together. She was the one who showed up at our bookstore with her girls and left with armloads. "I HAVE to have hardcovers!" she grinned.

I can hear her voice so clearly, her fierce compassion, her strength, her bright, beautiful laughter. I join with our community in great sadness at her passing.

Francine Lucidon

Friday, February 29, 2008

From Sharon Emerson in New York

Hello Marji,

I was so sad to hear the news of Lisa's passing. I have sat in front of my computer several times trying to think of what to say.

I met Lisa at the L&L Unschooling conference this past Sept. 2007. I thoroughly enjoyed her presentation. I also had an opportunity to talk with her on the couch for a while after her presentation in the BRC [Blue Ridge Center, a building at the site of the conference]. She was just amazing with her wisdom, passion, and compassion.

Something I really appreciated about her was that she listened to me asking questions during some of the round table discussions. Then, during one of the speakers, I blurted out one of my fears about television viewing. She happened to be sitting behind me knitting, and she tapped me on the shoulder. Then she said to me that I need to let go of my fear regarding my daughter. It just hit me so profoundly at that moment that I began crying. I literally felt the fear melting away from me through my tears.

Lisa also offered to talk with me later and offered me her email address. I didn't pursue her after the speaker ended, because we got caught up in other things.

However, I did reconnect with her when I joined RUNNY [Radical Unschoolers in NY email list]. She was so encouraging of me to drive down from Albany to the monthly unschooling meetings. For several reasons I didn't make it down this fall or winter, but I was looking forward to seeing her and meeting others from the group once spring came.

I feel so sad that I will not get to see her again and gain more wisdom from her. A few months ago I mentioned an issue I was having with my son on the RUNNY group. Her response was just what I needed to hear. It was so full of acceptance and compassion. The main part of her message was "acceptance in place of expectations." I just love that! I repeat that to myself a lot and to my friends and husband.

Thank you, Marji, for providing the forum for me to express my gratitude and unforgettable impact that Lisa had on my life and the life of my family. I only knew her for a brief moment, but it was a life changing experience for me.

With love,
Sharon Emerson

From Ben Lovejoy in South Carolina

I did not sleep well Monday night. I'm sure many people had a similar experience. We had received Rue's phone call just 10 hours before I woke up early that Tuesday morning after. When Kelly told me that Lisa Heyman had passed earlier in the day, time stopped and held me captive until I fell asleep that night.

Going through my morning routine, I felt a quiet in my soul. I couldn't pinpoint what was making me feel that way since the range of emotions running through my body and mind expanded as far as the unschoolers in our lives. I mounted my trusty bike to make my 12-mile commute to work with clouds to my West and a clearing to the East where I subconsciously knew I'd find the clarity of the pending sunrise.

Less than a mile from my home, where the loves of my life slept peacefully, I engage a long, sweeping curve that wakes me completely, if that has yet to happen by this time in my morning rides. The curve is long and could have some blind spots if you aren't paying attention.

It is not uncommon for me to meet an on-coming vehicle or have one come upon me from the rear on my rides to work. I rarely feel any danger, but those coming up behind me sometimes make me grip my handlebars a little more tightly.

This cold (relative, of course, to those who live in Minnesota, Massachusetts, or Montana) Tuesday morning, I noticed the lights of a car leading me around that curve. I could tell the car was getting closer because the light from my bike dimmed as the car's lights overtook it. Normally, I can tell when a car is passing because the lights go out to my left before the car comes around.

This car stayed right where she was, using her headlights to lead me safely around the curve. I felt still, somehow surrounded by the lights of the car and protected by an invisible bubble that held me within its limits. As the curve straightened and the car passed, I looked closer to see the driver. I couldn't clearly see the person, but as the car moved back to the right lane in front of me, the driver beeped the horn, acknowledging my wave from behind. That's when I noticed that I had one hand off my handlebars while the other one sat relaxed atop them.

Two miles later and I come to the flat piece of road that offers the most incredible opening for sunrises on mornings like these. This morning was different since the sunrise struggled to showcase its brilliance while lodged between purple clouds which limited the view.

But in that crack of the sky where I saw the sun pushing up to the horizon, I witnessed oranges and reds and yellows somehow blending with the purples of the clouds to form the resemblance of a U2 photo I once saw entitled "The Unforgettable FIRE."

Indeed …

On the one short climb before I turn off to the two-mile road on the Air Force Base where I work, I hear the honking of geese before I see the birds making this distinguishable sound. I turn my head slightly left before noticing three geese heading toward me. In that moment, two of the geese appear smaller than the third one. As I ride and they turn to lead me up that slight incline, I see that the lead one is, indeed, a bit larger than the other two. They form a tight formation as they cross the road ahead of me and disappear in the early morning.

Riding onto base about 25 minutes after the initial blast of sunrise in the fiery sky, I notice the clouds have parted to give an unobstructed view of the soft pink canvas that complements the incredible blue sky.

The day had matured to create the clarity of that picture, and I was bathed and further calmed by the light. I saw Roxy in that calming light; I thought of her, then Fire, then Larry, and, finally, Lisa. I wept openly and hard as Lisa's wonderful smile and glasses and teeth leapt directly to the front of my thoughts. My tears flowed until I got into my office 15 minutes later.


If we're lucky, we remember where we were when we learn special people in our lives have passed. Hannah Jenner was with me as I rode across New Mexico two years ago with Kelly (thank you for calling us on that day, Ren); my grandmother was with me in a bed at her niece's home when she woke up to see Kelly again (after several days of quiet sleep) before passing over; and my grandfather was with me in a hospital bed in a coma until he opened his eyes to watch me walk out of the room for the last time.

Lisa Heyman was with me when I rode my bike this past Tuesday morning. She made sure I really looked at things that I could take for granted if I weren't watching or listening. She highlighted the wonderful uniqueness of her girls over the course of that sunrise and showed me the fragile flight of the family she now guides from another place.

She cleansed me and steeled me further to the importance of what unschooling means to so few, but with the potential to reach so many. She gently reminded me to never forget that morning and carved the permanence of her smile into my mind.

Ben, hoping their mom/wife's love envelopes Fire, Roxy, and Larry always and listening to the "Juno" soundtrack over and over again

From Gillian & Craig in Victoria, British Columbia, Canada

"Fire," Lisa's youngest, rules the stage here in Bratzville with her chestnut ponytail flying, a black top, and a cherry red flaming skirt whirling - she never stops, so watch closely and you'll see the power that is Fire!

I, like everyone else at the last L&L I think, just took for granted that I would have more time to know Lisa, to know her more deeply, to be with her more, if not now, later. Craig and I are both stunned and shocked and so very sad to have heard of Lisa's passing. We don't know what to say, we wish we could be more for a family in need on the other side of the country, wish we could hold you all, wish we could wrap you in warm love and make you feel "home" the way Lisa's smile always seemed to do for everyone she met.

Lisa isn't in this video, but Lisa is the reason this video exists, this time of laughter and joy existed for all these girls (and adults!) romping 'round one small stage in Black Mountain, North Carolina in September 2007 because of Lisa and the Bratz doll funshop she and Larry helped their Fire set up and run. A funshop that was, according to our Effie anyway, the raison d'etre for the entire L&L conference! A funshop that was itself a living memorial to Diana's dear Hannah. A funshop that led to our own Effie suggesting a talent show Bratz dance, that led to her being up on stage (grinning wildly from ear to ear) for the first time in her 8-year-long life.

Craig has titled this post "Kids Laughing:: A Legacy." And that is what I will always think of when Lisa is in my mind - an amazing spirit who blessed all our children with so many moments of joy, both directly and indirectly. And for those of us who lived farther away and just figured we had more time, those indirect ways she influenced us and taught us and led us seem so huge and important and such an amazing gift. Lisa will always be part of us and I know her legacy in our family will be great - Kids Laughing - in situations and at times when, if not for Lisa, we might not have let them, or joined them, or supported them, or even thought to laugh, laugh more, laugh at all. We are blessed to have had Lisa touch our lives.

Our thoughts and love are with Larry, Roxy and Fire.

Love, Gillian & Craig of Effie (8) and Fergus (4), Victoria BC Canada

[You can see this beautiful video here, at their blog.]

Thursday, February 28, 2008

From Kelly Lovejoy in South Carolina

The "tag line" of the accountability association I run in SC to allow families to homeschool is "Childhood is NOT a dress rehearsal."

Unfortunately, I get reminded of this every now and then. Not that I don't need to be reminded. It's just that I wish I weren't reminded in such a harsh way.

I think most traditional, conventional parents think of something different when they hear or read it. I think they start considering that we only have this one chance to push our children to do better, to be better, and to strive harder for that medical degree or career choice or..."success" or whatever.

That's not the message I get.

I've been thinking about what to write now for several days to honor the memory of Hannah Jenner, who died two years ago on February 24. I'd wanted to toss out there that we really DO only have so much time to spend with our children---and even though we think have the rest of their lives to do and be with them, there's no guarantee that they won't be taken from us a whole lot sooner than we think. The time they spend with us should be full of joy and fun and happy, happy thoughts. Their time with us should be filled with our joy in them--that they know that our world is a better place because of them.

Hannah's short life is a tough reminder for me to enjoy the children I have--and every single minute. And not a day goes by that I don't think of Hannah (and Sam Wilkerson and Jacob Strebler). 'Cause I just don't know what I would do without Cameron and Duncan. But sometimes, when I'm not my best and my temper is short, I need that little reminder--that this time is a gift.

Too often, parents can work so hard helping our children "become" that we forget to enjoy Who They Are--right now, this minute.

Lisa Heyman's passing on Monday has stunned this community. And I just can't imagine the pain and loss the Gauchmans are experiencing right now. But I know that the girls, Roxy and Fire, will know that their mom truly valued the time she had with them. She chose to keep the girls close and let them grow "In Their Own Way, In Their Own Time."

That's a gift we can ALL give our children. To accept Who They Are--and to revel in it!

We have that choice.

Lisa understood that childhood is not a dress rehearsal. Lisa worked hard to give her girls the space they needed to grow. She gave them inspired, joyful childhoods. There's not a doubt in my mind that Roxy and Fire will thrive in spite of their huge, huge loss. And a big part of that is the love and acceptance Lisa showered on them. They will be kept warm with her light.

Her passing will continue to be a reminder that my time with my kids is limited as well. I can choose to make the most of each moment with them as she did. Our world is brighter because of Lisa. And I'm glad I got to know her.

Much Love and Many Hugs to Larry and Roxy and Fire.


From Jennifer Price in North Carolina

I met Lisa Heyman last September at the Live and Learn conference in Black Mountain, NC. She walked up to me, grabbed my hand, and asked, “Are you Seth’s mother?” When I answered in the affirmative, she pressed something into my palm and told me it was a gift to Seth from his secret pal.

It was the first night of the conference, and we were by the bonfire. I had been sitting alone, as usual, soaking in the free-spirited atmosphere and excitement of the gathering. Lisa sat with me for a few minutes, and we talked about how it was unschooling in New York. I can’t remember all of our conversation, but I remember thinking “what a cool person.”

I remember admiring her from afar throughout our weekend at the conference…her cool pinkish hair, her vibrancy, her easy way with people. She was one of those people who my introverted inner self sometimes wishes I could be like.

In skimming through my unschooling lists yesterday, I learned of the passing of Lisa Heyman days ago. I was stunned, and sat there for a minute, not knowing how to react. Then I began reading emails and blog posts from members of the unschooling community in remembrance of Lisa and in support of her family.

A friend once told me that there was something truly cleansing about crying in the shower. That’s what I did. I cried for Lisa’s girls and her husband Larry, because now they have to go on without her. I cried for the unschooling community in New York, because it has lost such a powerful advocate. Mostly, I cried for myself, though. For the health that I take for granted. For the precious time that I have wasted being too preoccupied to fully be present with my children. And for not getting to know Lisa while I had the chance.

Jennifer Price in North Carolina

From Marianne Lelieveld in Holland

Hallo Marji sweetheart,

Thank you, thank you for sharing Lisa's parting here. I have been able to take part in and mourn Lisa's crossing over because of you. I have been able to cry and celebrate Lisa these past days because of your enormous generosity (and of course hers).

Lisa was my mentor. When our family visited Westchester (where our d.s. was born) she was always there welcoming us and drawing us into the unschooling circle she had around her. We joined in her ceramics class at Garrison and cooled down at the lake close/next to her home.

Over the years she patiently and warmly answered all my email questions and gave me information that I've shared with my homeschooling friends here in Holland. Lisa inspired me and many of my Dutch friends. Because of Lisa my family and other homeschoolers on this side of the Atlantic are leading enriched lives.

My thoughts are with you and others here that shared their lives with Lisa. You must miss her so. I cannot begin to imagine how her beautiful daughters and husband are doing without her.

In sadness and happiness,
With many thanks, warm blessings and hugs,

Marianne Lelieveld

From Joanna Faber in New York

Lisa. How could you not smile whenever you saw her coming toward you with that big, warm grin on her beautiful round face? Her curls sproinging around her head perfectly illustrating her energetic, nonconformist personality.

I was only an acquaintance, but I always felt good about being part of her community after running into her at the beach, the library or the Learning Center. Talking about raising children, alternative schooling, eating raw food, politics, always that generosity of spirit that let you agree or disagree and still feel embraced. Her happiness and passion for life and for her children was always shining through. It shines through her daughters as well.

I remember that art class Roxanne gave to the little kids, including my son, at the learning center. She was so young and yet already so confident, creative and caring of the littler ones. A tribute to her mom, but with her own special style.

It doesn't seem possible that Lisa can be gone. Not fair, too soon, too soon!

From Lenora DeSanctis in New York

To Larry, Roxanne, Ruby and all friends and family of Lisa,

Though I have only had the pleasure of meeting and talking with Lisa on a few occasions, her beautiful personality left such a lasting impression on me that I felt compelled to write this letter.

My first impression of Lisa was actually made by Roxanne. I will never forget my first visit to Garrison Art Center almost 3 years ago. I was brand new into homeschooling my boys Joey, Marco and Nicholas. Roxanne, in her most enthusiastic authentic self, came right up to us and gave us THE MOST warm welcome. I had been a classroom teacher for over 10 years and had never seen such confidence and self-worth come from a 12- or 13-year-old. A few moments later, Ruby came up and introduced herself to us. Again, I was just so enamored with what I was witnessing: confidence, maturity, enthusiasm, love.

As soon as I met Lisa, I knew immediately where these beautiful girls got these wonderful gifts.

How lucky we all are to have them share that with us. Lisa sat and talked to me, as I know she has done with so many others, and just reassured me regarding my decision to homeschool. We had a few phone conversations here and there, and I always hung up feeling so happy, inspired and again, reassured.

My heart goes out to all of you that have had the unique experience of having known Lisa for so long. I can only take all the beauty, life, light and love that she passed my way and pass it on to others. That will be the gift that I can give back to honor her life.

Lenora DeSanctis
Ossining, NY

From Ren Allen in Tennessee

I was looking through all my Northeast Unschooling conference photos, scouring them for signs of Lisa. I found a couple really nice ones. A smiling, happy one of her and Larry and couple of her hanging out at my ATC funshop making cards. She had her name tag with the attachment at the bottom that read "plays well with others." That's Kathryn's bit of zing there.

"Plays well with others." That she did. She played well with LIFE. She seemed fearless and life-full. I don't know that I ever saw her without that huge smile and a contagious laugh. You felt better for having been in her presence.

I wrote Marji to ask about sending cards and well-wishes during her difficult health crisis. It was too late. I never got a chance to tell her I was thinking about her in this challenging time. I never sent her copies of the conference photos. We talked regularly at the unschooling lists, but that was always about unschooling, not about telling her the things I wished I'd told her.

So in honor of Lisa I want to tell people how beautiful they are. I want to send copies of photos and hand-written notes and let people in my life know they are appreciated. I want to celebrate the lives around me more completely. Thank you, Lisa, for this poignant reminder.

Thank you for being you.
Thank you for being my friend.
You are missed deeply.

With much love,


P.S. I meant to send this along was so cool. This Storypeople quote was in my email this morning. I think it exemplifies Lisa's entire family:

This is a creature on fire with love, but it's still scary since most people think love only looks like one thing, instead of the whole world.

From Vicki Harkness in New York

I never had the privilege of meeting Lisa in person. We emailed back and forth and of course I read all of the beautiful and very insightful postings on the various unschooling lists that we both belonged to.

When I introduced myself on the RUNNY [Radical Unschoolers in NY email] list, Lisa had asked if they could come to our farm. I said of course and looked forward to their visit. Due to her declining health, they were never able to make that visit. If her family still wants to come to the farm, I hope they do, as they are most welcome!

I am so saddened by her loss and feel empty. To me, Lisa felt like a grounding rod of our unschooling community. Reading her posts helped me stay true to what I believed in, her posts always seemed to remind me to stay focused and grounded.

I am so sad to have not met her in person. Yesterday as I was searching for an email in my inbox, one of Lisa's emails popped up. I sat there and read it with tears flowing down my cheeks.

Lisa, you touched me so. We will miss you.

With love,
Vicki Harkness
Millbrook NY

From Tracey Catanach in New York

I haven't ever met Lisa in person. I've known her for a short amount of time on various Yahoo Unschooling groups (FUNNY and then RUNNY), but I never quite got around to making the trip to her home for a meeting.

I have always respected Lisa and her family, and looked to them for guidance in this "radical" unschooling journey. I have learned SO MUCH from Lisa's posts and generosity. Whether the "discussion" was a Socrates quote or making financial decisions as a family, I've always looked forward to reading Lisa's replies.

Reading back through her posts today, I've re-learned a few things as well...and here's one of my favorite things that Lisa had to say:

[Lisa Heyman] I always find it interesting when life interrupts an intended journey - perhaps indicating there is another path that is of more significance at the moment.

:) Thank you for continuing to make me think, Lisa!

~Tracey Catanach in Western New York

From Karen Ranzi in New Jersey

I met Lisa many years ago through a parenting group and homeschooling activities. Early on, from the days that she led folk dancing for a small group of us homeschoolers at Carole Blane's house, Lisa stood out to me because of her enthusiasm for life, her amazing energy in any endeavor she took part in, and her deep love of her family.

When I first began homeschooling my two children in 1995, I was very worried about them learning all the subjects that were offered in school so I insisted that the children work on specific topics with me at home a couple days of the week. This often involved coercing them to engage in topics not of interest to them.

Over the years, when I would see Lisa with her children, I observed her dedication to respecting their needs and interests and never to force them in any way. Lisa was gifted with a confidence in her loving attitude toward her children which I felt was contagious. She was a leading influence in my life, and her example made me examine my own parenting practices. I realized through this beautiful guiding light what was really important were my expressions of love and respect for my children.

Lisa motivated my husband Harvey and I to go to the unschooler's conference in Massachusetts last May. We participated in a parenting workshop led by Lisa and her supportive husband, Larry. I felt the power of her words which spoke about following the needs of the child and adolescent, and it is Lisa's influence that has helped me so many times in the past years to establish this loving and respectful relationship with my teenagers. Lisa would spend much time with me on the phone and at unschooling meetings giving me the confidence I needed to withstand outside pressures in disagreement with unschooling values.

I was recently visiting a mutual friend of Lisa's and mine in Costa Rica, Beth Corwin, who wrote a letter with a prayer for Lisa's recovery and to send blessings to her, which I was to deliver to Lisa upon my return on Monday. The ending quote that I will share with you sums up the way we and many others feel about Lisa:

Some people come into our lives,
Leave footprints in our hearts,
And we are never the same.
Karen Ranzi

From Laurie Margolis in New York

Yesterday, before the funeral, I reread my last email message from Lisa sent on February 9th. This was the last line:
The journey continues - we continue to search for answers.
A wise thought from a very wise woman.

Lisa was someone you could ask about anything and get the right information. I don't think any of us can believe a heart that big could stop beating.The rabbi at the funeral was wonderful and I was struck by his advice to Larry. He quoted that it takes a village to raise a child and that Larry was surrounded by his village at the grave. I hope Larry takes that to heart and calls on many of us for whatever help we can supply.

From Kelli Traaseth in Minnesota

It's so hard for me to put strong feelings into words. I wrote a few things for my blog that I'd like to share here. Pretty much the fleeting feelings and thoughts that have been jumping through my brain for the last couple days. I keep telling myself to stay in that light and energy that Lisa would like, but it is really hard, I'm also so sad.

Sending our love to Larry and Roxy and Fire~


We love you.

We'll miss you and wish we had more time with you.

We'll revel in the amazing love you shared,

Remember the kindness you always showed us,

And hope to be as accepting as you always were.

An amazing woman, mother, wife and friend.

Our thoughts are surrounding you and your family~




Today we are missing a beautiful soul, but we will remember her light.

Today tears will be shed, but we will still laugh and find joy for Lisa and all our children.

Today I will rededicate a friendship circle. In Lisa's honor, I will let go of hurt feelings from past friendships and light a candle to celebrate my new friendships.

Today I will remember to be open and accepting and see the beauty of our life. Even in the face of sadness and death there is light, and there is hope.

Lisa's presence always filled me with light, love and energy.

So, even if you never knew Lisa, please give your kids a hug today in her honor. Give them a hug filled with light, love and energy. Laugh together, love together, don't miss a moment.

Live your life to the fullest.

Love, Kelli

From Aimee Vanduyne of New Jersey

I met Lisa at the Unschoolers conference in Peabody, MA, in 2004. My daughter met Roxy and our families came together. I was new to homeschooling, and newer to unschooling, and Lisa and her family were the perfect people to meet! We have only had contact a few times since then, but I have used Lisa’s life as a guide to my unschooling. Her light was evident in the beauty of her children, and my heart is breaking for them now.

Aimee Vanduyne

From Elizabeth Mayer in New York

I experienced a horrible pain to return from a trip and read about beautiful Lisa, and her family. I met Lisa and Roxanne only once; but often read Lisa's words and gained from her pearls of wisdom, her and her families gifts to us in sharing with the community and humanity. The world is a better place from the legacy of all Lisa offered and beauty. She instilled that in her daughters and they are incredible people.

Lisa always awed me with her unceasing energy and joy in life and her family. She was inspirational.

I tried to write Lisa in December to thank her for introducing our family to Thunder Ridge where we found a ski area and have been gently introducing Tamar and Eli to our beloved sport of skiing. The Wednesday we went Lisa and her gang were happily heading to Jay Peak to enjoy a great snow fall. My note to her bounced back to me so Lisa never received it. I thank her in my heart. Lisa impacted so many families as she nurtured us by sharing knowledge, creativity and an investment in all of the community.

I miss her so much already and do not even know that she knew how much she meant to me from reading all she wrote. I could not sleep last night. I keep thinking of her family and their tremendous loss. I have them all in my heart and will send them a card to share these thoughts.

I am very sad and emotionally impacted by this unexpected news.

Elizabeth Mayer

From Dayna Martin in New Hampshire

I met Lisa at the 2006 Northeast Unschooling Conference. Her confidence and love for her children were such an inspiration to me. When our family first arrived at the conference, the first person I noticed was Fire, and this interaction set the tone for the entire weekend for me. It was so admirable to me that a parent would honor their child's request to go by a name of their choosing. Although it may seem like a small thing, it brought me to a new level of understanding of respect for my children.

Over a year ago my daughter Dakota informed us that she wanted to be called "Tiffany." So many people, both family and friends, told us that we shouldn't honor our daughter's request . I never swayed from my knowing that respecting my daughter in this way was the right thing to do. I always remembered the respect that Lisa had for her daughter Ruby to be called "Fire," and her respect empowered me to honor Dakota (a/k/a Tiffany) in the same unwavering way. I may not have had such clarity on the issue if it wasn't for Lisa.

This is just one of many ways that Lisa inspired me over the years. She touched so many during her life. I am very grateful that she touched ours.

Dayna Martin

From Mary Ann Baiyor in New York

[Mary Ann manages and edits the Tri-County Homeschoolers email loop and newsletter, and this is what she submitted]

Lisa Heyman was buried yesterday on a beautiful hilltop in Putnam Valley, surrounded by hundreds of family and friends to mourn her passing and celebrate her life. Many of us were dressed in the brightest of bright clothing. :-)

People spoke of the passion, energy and vitality that Lisa brought to everything she did. I saw her legacy in her beautiful children, Roxy and Fire. I was struck by both the grief and the composure of her loving husband, Larry. We all felt deeply her too-early death.

As we stood in the frigid cold on this icy, wind-swept hill I thought of how Lisa would have loved that day. She was an intrepid soul, not cowed by anything like a little cold weather or some snow or ice. I felt her presence and her strength and I resolved to carry her spirit and vitality forward in this community and the bigger world beyond.

Reading [the contributions to this tribute to Lisa] reminded me of how much Lisa gave to everyone she touched. Thank you, Lisa, we will not forget you!

From Kathy in New York

I never met Lisa IRL [in real life], only through Funny, Runny and Shine [email lists: Families Unschooling in NY, Radical Unschoolers in NY, and Shine with Unschooling, respectively]. I admire her, truly. I love her post from Runny [which begins with]:
As i sit here to work on 4th quarter reports and year end for my two girls (or don't as i am a great procrastinator) i am struck by how i've been able to really reflect the unschooling nature of our lives and how much they learn within the realm of requirements and way way beyond what is listed. Certainly if you look at the regs for years 1 through 6 or 8 a child can't help but learn what is required. Even later readers aren't qualified in terms of what literature they need be exposed to in what manner and audio books have been the greatest benefit to our family. While i've used it myself in IHIP's, i've come to realize the worldbook outline makes it more complicated than need be. [it continues from here]

This is my favorite part of what she wrote:

My reports are not lists but sentences describing the activities and learning that happens. I also *have to* include my dd's [daughters'] evolving natures and who they are that is not required by the requirements. Without that, the reports do feel totally false.

Lisa didn't let the insensate reporting requirements define any part of Their Unschooling Lives. Yet, she just flowed with what was required in a way that is so admirable. She remains an inspiration to me, always.



From Gina Riley-Daley in the New York Area

I am so, so, sad now...
I have most of Lisa's writings saved in my homeschooling file. Whatever the problem, what ever the question, she always was there with this amazingly beautiful, down to earth reponse. She was so comfortable in who she was and what she was doing. She made things amazingly easy, wonderfully simple.

For all of us.

The last time I saw Lisa was at the Closter Nature Center. I emailed her afterward to tell her how beautiful her family was, how impressed I was with her children. She didn't need to be told. She knew it deep in her heart. But she wrote me a heartfelt response anyway.

I cannot believe she is gone.
I walk around hoping I am doing the right thing. Lisa knew. She always knew. She always followed her heart.

She would know what to say here. I am at a loss for words.

I will miss you Lisa. I will miss your love of life, your fierce love for your husband and children, and your deep inner sense. I will miss your writing, I will miss your presence.

May I grow to be more like you are, and will always be, a true inspiration to me.

The world will never be the same without you.
Gina Riley-Daly

From Elise-Ann in New York

Lisa participated in a homeschool American Sign Language course I taught last year. In sign language, one often uses a “name sign”, a short sign indicating a person’s name, so it doesn’t need to be spelled out over and over. Typically, the hand shape for a person’s name sign is the initial of the person’s first name, and the movement of the sign can be indicative of the person’s physical appearance, hobby, or general nature or spirit.

The “L” in sign language is made by extending the thumb and pointer into an “L” shape, while keeping the other three fingers folded down onto the palm.

Lisa chose her name sign. With her right hand in the shape of the “L”, she “swept” her “L” in the shape of a huge smile from the left side of her face to the right side, LLLIIIIISSSSAAAAA, all the while grinning from ear to ear. LLLIIIIISSSSAAAAA.

Lisa. Smile.

From Jen Cramer in New York

Since I met Lisa at an unschooling conference a year and a half ago she has been an inspiration to me as an unschooling parent and, more importantly, in my journey towards being a better parent. I have only had the privilege of meeting Lisa in person a very few times and emailing a few times but in those brief interactions she was incredibly encouraging and kind. I feel honored to have known her.

Jen Cramer

From Judyth Stavans in New York

I heard the sad news today about Lisa. Unfortunately, I won't be able to be there tomorrow, but I would like to pass along a few words. I hadn't seen Lisa much recently, but spent time with her when our children were younger, in a food coop and other activities. I'll always remember her as passionate, vibrant, and totally dedicated to her family. I am sure she will be deeply missed by many.

With love,
Judyth Stavans

From Linda Barrow

We met Lisa at the 2004 Live and Learn Conference in Massachusetts. We had never been to anything like that before and all of us being sort of shy, were kind of overwhelmed. It was Lisa, Roxy and Fire who took us under their wings and made us feel a part. Roxy led a cheerleading fun shop and got my 7-year-old to cheer at the talent show. And who could forget Fire's Dance! Her beautiful glowing spirit just enveloped my 5-year-old daughter and made her dance too. Lisa spent a lot of time with us, talking, keeping us company, and showing us the Way. Her relaxed acceptance and joy in her children was evident everywhere and certainly rubbed off on me.

I never met Lisa after that, but have thought of her - and Roxy and Fire - often. She truly lived in the Light, and left some of that Light with me, and I'm sure everyone who had the fortune to meet her.

Our thoughts are with Larry, Roxy and Fire. We wish them peace and love and hope that seeing how much Lisa has touched people, in so many ways, will comfort them.

Many thanks,
Linda Barrow, Rick Hughes, Rhiana and Brighid Hughes

From Mary Ann Baiyor in New York

White light

Radiant light

Energy and wonder

Patience and caring

Visionary, dreamer

For all she shows

We know

(Mary Ann is a dear friend of Lisa's)

From Joni Corn in the New York Area

I met Lisa three years ago. I have two boys, 7 ½ and 4½. About three years ago, I realized I was going to homeschool. I knew one person who was homeschooling and no one who had kids the age of mine. So, I got on-line and joined some homeschooling e-mail loops in my area to get started, find out what was going on, meet people. One of these was Tri-County homeschoolers.

My first monthly newsletter arrived and I poured over it. I noticed a program that looked particularly interesting to me. Nervously, I called the contact person. It was Lisa. I introduced myself on the phone, told her my story and asked if I might ask her just a few questions.

Well, that was the last moment I remember being nervous about entering the homeschooling world. Lisa (who didn't know me from a hole in the wall) talked to me for at least an hour and a half. She answered my questions, offered me all sorts of information, and acted as my therapist, allaying my fears and addressing my concerns. She recalled her beginning days and fears and how they worked themselves out. She talked to me about her philosophy and how she homeschooled. There was just so much she gave to me and time she spent with me. It was such a gift.

At the very end of the conversation, I was saying goodbye and thanking her profusely, when I happened to ask her if she celebrated Passover. That night was the first Seder night, and if she did celebrate, I wanted to wish her a happy Pesach. Turns out that, not only did she celebrate, but she was in the midst of preparing her house for Pesach and a whole slew of relatives coming that night as she was preparing the first night's Seder at her house. I said, "Why are you on the phone with me??!!" and promptly hung up.

I hung up the phone, thinking I had just met the nicest, warmest person. And I was right. By the end of the conversation, I felt like I knew her. I couldn't believe how much time she took with me. She could have told me to call her back in three days, after the Seders were over. She never even mentioned that she was in the midst of this huge preparation. It was me who had brought up the subject of Passover.

After talking to her, I felt so much relief about my homeschooling decision and moving forward with it. I felt like it was do-able and that no, I wasn't crazy. I felt like I had just made a friend. And I must have talked about her for at least the next week to my family and friends. I knew right away that I had met a very beautiful person.

When I met Lisa in person, shortly after that, I already knew her. Of course, I thanked her profusely again, and she shrugged it off as if it was nothing. But it wasn't nothing and I will never forget her kindness.

Since then, we have taken several programs together for the kids. I will always remember walking around Closter Nature Center with her on nature hikes and sitting in the nature classes with her, as both Ruby and my two boys wanted us participating in the class. That was lucky for me because it gave me more of a chance to get to know Lisa and call her my friend.

I will miss her kindness, her warmth, her energy, her insight, her knowledge. I wish I had the opportunity to get to know her better. I am thankful I had the opportunity to get to know her at all.

Love, Joni Corn

From Jules, Erik & Jet Adler in New York

We met Lisa less than a year ago, as one of the leaders of our local unschooling community. In fact, it was Lisa who kindly responded to our initial inquiry about joining the local group.

We will always be grateful to her for sharing her time and wisdom and allowing us to witness firsthand the respectful relationship she had with her two wonderful daughters. It is because of mothers like her that we have gained a deeper understanding of the possibilities of living a joy-filled life in our own family. We will miss her generosity of spirit.

Jules, Erik & Jet Adler
Peekskill, NY

From Kendrah Nilsestuen

Dear Larry, Roxy & Ruby (and anyone else who is reading this and loved Lisa),

My name is Kendrah. I never had the delight of meeting Lisa in person. I know her through her wonderful responses to many unschoolers at the Unschooling Basics Yahoo group. I was lucky enough to get a response from her on a question I had posted.

We had just gotten a TV in our home, after being TV free for over a year. Needless to say that was a big decision for our family, and I was slightly uptight about it (seems so silly now). Lisa responded to me on Aug 24th, 2007. The whole email was extremely helpful, the last sentence in particular has always stood out to me, and I wanted to share it.

Being uptight is a lot less fun than enjoying the process.

Great quote, isn't it? She was so right. Life should be about fun! I'm sure she lived with that attitude, and I plan to do the same in her memory. Anytime life seems overwhelming, I'll think of this quote (I have already actually). I can be uptight about a situation, or I can appreciate the here and now, have fun with it, and simply enjoy the process, however it unfolds.

Lots of Love from our family to yours,

Kendrah, Justin, Payge & Damien Nilsestuen

From Teresa Caoili in New York

I knew Lisa from several years ago when I homeschooled my son and my daughter was a toddler. My son Brendan is 13 now and my daughter Jenny 10.There were always outings that we were involved in as a group. Many were organized by Lisa. We also attended group classes were we met at St Basils Home on Rt 9D. I remember those days fondly. Our kids used to go swimming in the pool also, and they loved it.

Since I wasn't able to continue homeschooling, I lost touch with many people including Lisa. I still received emails from OCHS group just to feel connected in some way. When I saw an email from Lisa, it was like a warm feeling that is difficult to explain. She was someone I only knew for a short time but I also knew that if I ever called her or saw her she would be just as warm and friendly as the last time I had seen her. She was an amazing person who I admired and respected.

I remember Lisa was so devoted to her family and also so giving to her friends and community. She will be dearly missed by so many people. I cannot imagine the pain her family is feeling now. I hadn't seen her in so long and I have such a feeling of sadness.

Please convey my sincere condolences to her family in this very sad time.

Teresa Caoili

From Johanna Korby in New York

I read with interest all of Lisa's posts and exchanges about the unschooling way of life, and then with dismay the progress reports on her illness.

Having met her only a handful of times, I knew her to be attentive, energetic, and devoted to this community. These few times we met in person, she encouraged me to participate and share my experience with other unschoolers. On one particularly memorable day she invited all of us to swim and play at the lake by her house and took the time to teach and play a card game with my son Simon (then 6). All that day she spoke freely and passionately about unschooling with her family.

She was an advocate and an inspiration for this way of life and for that, being committed yet new to and therefore continuously challenged by this way of life, I am grateful and will remember her as the years go by and my children thrive.

Johanna Korby with Simon (8) & Benjamin (6).

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

From Marji Zintz in New York

One could not exaggerate about Lisa's light. She was all that is good about humanity: inspiring, encouraging, creative, loving, generous, beautiful, ethical, kind, courageous, intelligent, spiritual, open-minded, humorous, honest, honorable. I'm sure I'm missing some things, and I'm sure there is no one who knew her who could successfully challenge me about this assessment. Or who would want to!

What will we do without her? My husband said today that part of Lisa's legacy was to show us how it's done. She left a trail for other folks to follow. When I hear myself say these things, I feel a little silly, as though I've got to be overstating things a little. Surely there couldn't have been someone who was that great. Surely I must be mistaken. But, there are other eyewitnesses, aren't there? Lisa simply was as good as they come. Yet, there is an email from her that she signed this way:

Ever evolving,

What will we do without Lisa? We will go on. We will remember Lisa and in her honor celebrate our families, celebrate living and learning, celebrate our Lisa-like strengths, celebrate Joy.

But, we will, of course, miss her terribly. I know I do.

From Anne Ohman in New York ~ Things We Did Say, Things We Didn't Say

As Jake and Sam and I go through our day today, with each moment we are also living it through the eyes and heart of Larry, Roxy and Fire. Of course we can't know completely exactly how they feel...but we are there with them as much as we are able to be. The saddest was when Jake woke up and, with tears in his eyes, said to me, "Roxy and Fire are waking up today and their Mom is not there."

We are still living Joyfully today...a distracted Joyful, weaving in and out of deep sadness. And every moment is going to honoring Lisa and her Light.

When I first met Lisa on the NY unschooling list, I thought, "Wow ~ we have so much in common!" Did I tell her that while I could? I do think I did.

I was happy to finally meet Lisa in person after knowing her from the NY list and here at [the] Shine [With Unschooling List]. I met her last September, at the Live and Learn conference. Her energy was wonderful, and I imagine it's still the same glorious energy today, just in a different form. I remember when I first got to talk to her husband, Larry. I was thinking, "Wow. What a really cool guy. Lisa is so blessed." Did I tell him that? I don't think so. Did I tell her that? Nope.

I didn't run into Lisa much at the conference, as our kids were going in different circles/directions. I did see Roxy once in awhile, and Jake, Sam, Maeve and I would talk about how nice she beautiful her smile was. Did we tell her that? Nope.

And then there was Fire. Fire is amazing. If you know Fire, you know what I'm talking about. She gave herSelf that name. And it's Pure Truth. If you don't know Fire, just imagine an ever-illuminating, constantly MOVING that spreads Warm, Loving Light to all corners of the Universe.

On the first night of the talent show, we sat in the row behind Larry and Lisa. We chatted a bit. When it was Fire's turn to be on stage, she went up and started her music. She did an incredible dance...starting over again from the beginning when it wasn't quite what she had wanted.

After dancing for a couple of minutes, Fire came out into the audience. She would look at people and grab their hands and pull them up on the stage with her to dance. It wasn't just a dance. It was a celebration. I think everyone could feel that. My boys and our friend Maeve and I had talked about Fire a lot before that talent show. We all just thought she was amazing. When she was pulling people onto stage to dance, to celebrate, I looked at my boys and Maeve and we all just SMILED!! It felt like a deeply spiritual experience to me...watching this little prophet spread the infinite amount of Love that she held. And, of course, the more she spread it, the more she received.

I leaned forward and tapped Lisa's shoulder. I said to her, "I. Love. That. Child."

She smiled and said, "Me, too."

Out of all of the things that I did say, and the things I didn't say, I'm so glad I said those words to Lisa. I know that she knows that it was one of the best forms of "I Love You."

I remember years ago, Oprah had on a woman who was dying. Since she knew her time was limited, she pulled her kids out of school and spent loads of time with them. They took trips that they had been wanting to take, and lived their biggest dreams. And yet, when the child was asked what was the most special time she spent with her mother, the child said something like this: "When we would be up together late at night and would have a bowl of cereal together and talk."

Our lives as unschoolers is all about that bowl of cereal.

Lisa knew this. Lisa lived this.

While my perspective of life has not changed since Lisa's passing ~ I already live mindfully in Joy with my children every single day ~ I am reminded to say those Loving thoughts out loud to those people who have touched my heart. I already do this...but most certainly not enough.

My heart hurts for this family, to be without their Mom. When Diana Jenner's daughter passed, Lisa wrote to me, "How are we to go on?"

Now her family is learning exactly that which she had asked. We all are.

Last night, Sam came to me, tears in his eyes, and said, "I couldn't, Mom. I couldn't go on without you." And I hugged him back so hard and so tight. Crying, I said, "But you would learn how...and that's the part that breaks our hearts...that's the part that's so so sad."

And yet, that's also the part that is so very wonderful about being alive on this earth. The learning. The growing. Sometimes it's more painful than other times. But we do walk always...toward the Light from within our hearts.

Thank you, Lisa, for Your Light.


From Chris Hofer

When I think of Lisa, I think of sunshine and bubbles and wonder. I am very sad to say that I have not seen her in years.

When we first met Roxanne was weeks old – I remember Lisa as a brand-new mother, so in love with her baby and wanting to learn and seeking to do the best. We met at La Leche League and explored the philosophy of continuum parenting and then on to homeschooling. Lisa was brave and adventurous and very committed to what she believed based on her experiences and all she learned through her research.
She lives in my memory as a bright light, always smiling always having a new and creative idea.

The birthday parties at her house stick out in my mind – hot sunny days with water, bubbles and finger paint and lots of happy children and friends who cared about each other and their children. A part of me wishes I could freeze those days in my life.

Lisa was a spiritual woman. She opened my mind in ways I never would have experienced without her. To this day I feel bonded with her and the other women with whom I shared the amazing experience of circle ceremonies to celebrate significant passages in one or the others lives.

I always thought I would see Lisa again – I feel so cheated that I won’t. She’ll always be a bright, smiling presence within me.

My heart goes out to her family - Lisa will live on through Roxanne and Ruby and Larry. I wish them all the strength they need.

Chris Hofer

From Lynda Elie in New York

Dear Larry, Roxanne, and Ruby,

So many of us share in the great sadness of the passing of Lisa. She was a friend and an inspiration to so many of us, and the world will mourn the loss of the light and the love that burst fourth from her soul each day she lived her life. She graced us all with her passion for living, her respect and acceptance of others’ true selves, and her natural ability to share her enthusiasm and philosophy of life with others. The wonderful memories she created, wise words and personal thoughts she shared, and the life of love, generosity, compassion, friendship, and joy that she lived, inspired us and brightened our lives in so many ways.

I have so many wonderful memories of Lisa and am so thankful that I, and my family, have been fortunate enough to have crossed her life’s path over the past several years. She took us camping, taught us art, shared her traditions, and invited us along on her journey through life, with ice skating and unschooling days at Bear Mountain, trick-or-treating in your neighborhood, and swimming at the lake, to name just a few.

The list of wonderful activities and memories she created, or invited us to join in on, seems like it could go on for many pages, but what she did best was share her time. She took the time to listen to people with respect and compassion, and then to share her thoughts with love and concern. She gave her time to finding solutions, from the mundane of working out effective ways to schedule all the events she coordinated, to the complicated of searching for ways to consider each person’s needs and interests to create a plan that respected everyone’s concerns. With great patience, she gave incredible amounts of her time to her friends and her community.

We owe you, Larry, Roxanne, and Ruby, immeasurable gratitude, for sharing your wife/your mother with us, for the times you supported her in her pursuits and encouraged her to share her enthusiasm beyond your family.

We will all miss her greatly.

With our most sincere condolences, and with love and gratitude – The Elie Family (Geff, Lynda, Cris, Jonathan, and Jenny)

From Heather McCarty in New York

Lisa was an inspiration to me in her service to her family. I was in awe of her inclusive nature and high level of energy. I feel so lucky to have known her and spent time with her and can hardly believe that it is possible that she is gone.

The last time we saw her and the girls we had such a wonderful time- talking for hours, playing new games, going to a small unschooler's gathering together. Lisa's family was like a light in our lives that week as it was on other occasions- we have so many wonderful pictures from that time that Roxanne took with their new camera.

I was so impressed with how Lisa took every need that her girls expressed seriously and with her dedication to helping them feel comfortable and beyond comfortable to being a delight wherever they went. Her family's shine was contagious and I trust that it will carry them through difficult times. I will miss her so much.

From Melissa Gray in Oklahoma

I first met Lisa at the L&L conference in New Mexico, and I was so delighted to meet someone so outspoken and friendly. It was hard being at our first conference and not sure what to expect.

Last year, North Carolina was different, in that it was our second conference. I will always have the memory of getting there early, and the night before the conference running into her family outside the BRA. Just chatting and having fun, until Sam dropped his newest find off the side of the building onto the roof of the storage shed underneath.

Oh, goodness, it was a travesty, saved only by the compassion and understanding of all the people around us. Roxy empathized with Sam, while Fire and her friends started brainstorming ways to knock his little collection off the roof. Sticks and stones and backpacks, everyone working hard to find a way to save the day. And Lisa behind us all, cheering us on and keeping everything positive.

Ben Lovejoy found an umbrella that almost reached, and Marty Dodd managed to hit it with some rocks, knocking it sooo close to the edge. Somehow it finally came down, cheers lifted into the mountains, and it was so thrilling to be part of this family, this group, that could come together and work so hard to save the heart of a 5-year-old boy.

Whenever I think of that moment, I think of Lisa. I wish there was some way I could fly from Oklahoma to celebrate the living and laughing and Love of Lisa. But instead my prayers will fly, and my thanks, to her family, and to her spirit.

Mom to Joshua, Breanna, Emily, Rachel, Samuel, Daniel and Avari
Wife to Zane

From Peggy Pirro

"In their own time, in their own way." My one encounter with Lisa is one I will cherish: 2007 Live & Learn Conference, hearing her remarkable, inspiring talk. She passed out rubber bands. We were to wear them on our wrists and snap them to remind ourselves to allow our kids to be and do "in their own time, in their own way."

I just now looked down at my wrist and realized I was wearing a rubber band (and I don't know how it got there) so I'm snapping it now in gratitude to this awesome woman.

Much love,
Peggy Pirro

From Patrick & Lynn Rardin in New York

Lisa was a true inspiration. She loved and doted on her family so much. As her neighbors, we witnessed her brilliant spirit daily. Lisa will always be remembered in Lake Peekskill as someone who not only tried to make a difference but succeeded. May her memory shine on as we remember her and her life. Our hearts and love go out to Larry, Roxanne, Ruby and all of Lisa’s dear family and friends.

-Patrick & Lynn

From Cristina in the NY area

Every life has a flame. For some, the flame is a candlelight, casting its glow only upon those who stand closest to it. For some it is a steady fire. It casts a wider circle of light, so that even acquaintances are touched by it. And for some, it is a brilliant dazzling, crackling flash that spreads its light far and wide, but burns out much too quickly. For these people, they stuff more living into their short lives, as if they know they have less time to make an impact. I've been fortunate to know some of these bright lights. Some were family, some were friends, and some I hardly knew if I knew them at all, but it didn't make their passing any easier.

I didn't know Lisa Heyman well. She was one of those homeschoolers that was always doing something. In fact, I first met her because she had organized a folk dancing group for the homeschooling community at a dance studio in Tarrytown. Marina was five or six at the time, about the same age as Lisa's older daughter. I remember her smiling warmth and confidence. She could draw you into her light and make you feel welcome. The following year the folk dance class moved north and we stopped going, but I never forgot those classes. They were fun.

Over the years, we ran in different circles. I was attempting to use classical homeschooling while Lisa was an unschooler. Occasionally our circles would overlap. Because she set up so many events, it would have been hard to avoid running into her from time to time. She was always approachable, always supportive. She was involved in and spoke at unschooling conventions like the Live & Learn conference and the Northeast Unschooling conferences. Our local homeschooling email loop is full of messages from her. Aside from event notices, she kept our group aware of current state homeschooling issues, and was always ready to address the concerns of new homeschoolers about everything from writing quarterly reports and testing to reluctant dads and the big "S" (socialization). Going through my email archives, I realized she was answering questions and posting events up until three days before we were notified of her life-threatening condition.

Lisa always supported her daughter's ideas. Whether it was setting up a business or helping them organize their activities, she was always there. As Lisa's oldest entered her teens, Lisa was already considering the needs of the homeschooling teen and organizing teen events. Her children were her joy.

I don't know how aware Lisa was about her condition. In going through my email, I was struck by a note she sent in September 2007 regarding strangers' comments.
Usually I respond to strangers' inquiries with kindness. It doesn’t bother me that they ask. But last night I was lying in bed thinking of what I might decide to start saying.
  1. I don’t institutionalize my kids because I think its detrimental to their emotional, intellectual and spiritual well being.
  2. Now why would I want to turn my kids over to be scrutinized on a daily basis to people who will be judging, grading, evaluating, assessing if my kids are OK. I know they are just fine.
  3. Life is just too much damn interesting and fun to waste time in school.
It's time I cared less what people think of me.
Lisa's time was much too short. For me, it underscores the importance of my own mission as a homeschooler: to enjoy whatever time I have with my children. It doesn't matter what anyone thinks of what we are doing. My reason for homeschooling is simple. I don't do this for religious reasons or because I want to prove I can do this better than the schools. I homeschool because I love my kids and I like being with them.

My thoughts and prayers are with Lisa's family today. Please take a moment to stop what you are doing today and give your kids a hug in memory of Lisa Heyman.

From Rue Kream in Massachussets

I've been thinking about the fact that from the time we met her, Lisa made us feel a part of her family. She put so much thought into how she related to people and so much effort into remaining connected. We talked for years about ways we did that with our kids, but I never thought to tell her that I saw and appreciated and learned from the ways she did it for me and my family. I have so many happy memories of Lisa, and in every one I can see an example of her thoughtfulness.

From Robyn Coburn in California

I did not know Lisa very well, although I enjoyed reading her posts over time. I had watched her daughters growing up in the series of snapshots that the Live and Learn conferences give us. Then last September, partly because Roxy was James' fairy god parent, I finally had the chance to properly meet Lisa. We sat together for at least one entertaining meal and we also spent some time sitting on the cushy sofas in the foyer talking about unschooling of course, and some other little things we had in common.

I was so attracted to how fearless she seemed. I admired how forthright and no-nonsense, how "New-Yorker blunt" she was in the way she spoke. She described the process prospective members of her support group must follow before being allowed to join it. I was blown away by her intellectual clarity and determination to create a real radical unschooling community around her.

I had wanted the chance to get to know her better. I thought I would have time.

In my self-centered sadness last night I started scouring the lists for her posts. My admiration was re-awakened as I read more of her kind and insightful advice, more of her story. I was touched by her humility, and humbled by her generosity. So many of her posts end with an invitation.

Her light has gone out too soon, but it still blazes in the on-line archives of our wider unschooling community. Her voice was loud and beautiful, especially when she told us of her uncompromising love and esteem for her family.

Here is my favorite Lisa quote, from quite recently replying to someone concerned about doing "enough work" with their kids:

I would say what you need to don't do is have an expectation of 'work,' but an attitude of appreciation and gratitude for every moment you have with your kids. Ultimately the idea of 'work' dissipates when you are in a state of appreciation and joy.

From Karen Tucker

Lisa was a fine, clear voice for unschooling in my world, and will always be manifested in the shape of Fire, to me.

From Deb Lewis in Montana

I had written a little note to Lisa, not really understanding how very ill she was, and didn't hurry to send it. It's here on my table, now, too late.

While I didn't know Lisa well I had a deep regard and fondness for her that I can't easily express. As her friend, I'm sure no one needs to tell you she was special, not in any casual way we sometimes say someone is special but really, she had a unique, engaging honesty that I have rarely found in anyone else. I will always wish she had more time here.

From Mary Gold (Zenmomma) in Oregon

I will celebrate her life. I will celebrate my life. I will give and receive many hugs in her honor. I will hold her family close in my heart.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

From Debbie Eaton in New York

I just thought that I would say a couple of things, although writing about Lisa as though she’s gone is certainly not something that I was thinking would be happening – at least not at this relatively early hour in my life. This was a shock to a large community of people – wives, husbands and kids as most of you well know, and Lisa played a large, loving part in those communities. I know that many of us are having a difficult time getting our heads around the fact that we will never see her again although I know that her spirit is here.

My heart goes out to Barbara (Lisa’s mother), Larry (her dear husband), Rox and Ruby (her dear daughters) – those that I know in Lisa’s immediate family - for to lose a daughter, wife and mother at such a young age is so incredibly difficult.

Lisa was part of a wonderful parenting group that my kids and I belonged to from practically the day my first dear son was born which is 15 years ago. That group met every two weeks, and Lisa was always great about organizing events to get us all together responding to the needs and desires of her husband and girls and those of the greater community. She was always asking questions, trying to deeply understand and glean the truth about things. Her ability to articulate what she had gleaned was very helpful to others. Roxanne, Ruby, and my two boys, John and Michael, have been together off and on since they were literally babes in arms.

Lisa went on to practice a radical philosophy of education that was difficult in this day and age with the support and caring of her loving husband, Larry. She was always there to give really great advice about the things that she believed, and she gave an incredible amount of herself. She was looked to many times for wisdom about being a wife and mother for she had done some incredibly thorough thinking about the issues that all parents grapple with, and she had a wonderful way of expressing her thoughts.

I’m fairly sure that Lisa would not want us to spend a lot of time grieving for her. I know that she would want us to remember the good things about her and what she left us with. She was an inspiration, and even when she was ill, she would try to bless people with her knowledge, vulnerability, openness, curiosity, and uplifting nature. She truly wanted to help people and most of all to be there for those who needed her love and support.

Lisa, you are already sorely missed. Thanks for all you did here on this planet for and with us.

From Sonia Idelsohn in New Jersey

I can only see Lisa happy, smiling, and in joy to have everybody together.

Lisa was like no one else, she gave herself to her family and friends with such intensity, that her energy will reverberate forever.

I love Lisa; she will be forever in my heart.

From Karla in New York

When I first met Lisa I knew she was a very articulate and intelligent woman. I got to know her better at cheerleading camp at her home. Her friendliness and confidence combined with her wisdom made her so interesting to talk to. I didn't mind spending hours at her home chasing my toddler around while my older girls did camp with Roxanne and Ruby.

Lisa had a subtle, gentle way of dropping tidbits of knowledge and advice that tweaked my own thinking here and there. She was the first face I saw of unschooling and I'm so thankful because that first impression permanently turned me onto the unschooling lifestyle.

Lisa left a magnificent legacy in Roxanne and Ruby. Each of them has made a lasting positive impression on my own daughters. I know that my girls are so very fond of both Roxanne and Ruby.

Lisa's death ended her life but not all of the relationships she helped foster. I'm blessed to have known her.


From Schuyler Waynforth in England

I met Lisa at the 2007 Live and Learn conference. She was hard to miss. So lovely and smiling and chatting and laughing. I'd read her words before on-line and we were introduced at some point during the conference.

One morning she joined me for breakfast in the cafeteria. We talked and others joined the conversation, seeking Lisa out, I imagine as many do, for her warmth and her joy and her wonderful conversation. The conversation turned to New York homeschooling circles and how more and more activities are about dropping a child off instead of participating with your child. Lisa talked about going to things where she was not allowed to stay by Roxy's or by Fire's side and turning round and finding something else to do that day because her daughters wanted her by their side.

I thought of that this morning as I read of Lisa. I thought about how much she must still be at their sides.