Adult Development

Using Our Voices with the Young Child, Part 1 by Jennifer Sullivan

This piece, taken from Jennifer’s 2013 LifeWays paper on "Becoming Worthy of Imitation," is the first of three installments on “Using Our Voices.”

My World of Language

When I first discovered my daughter was hiding snug in my tummy, my life changed.  As the months progressed, I found myself humming quietly as I prepared for her arrival.  I did not seem to notice the drastic changes within myself until I had spent weeks, perhaps months, after the birth staring at her beautiful body and witnessing the life that was continuously transformed in front of me. 

At My Child's Pace by Jennifer Sullivan

Jennifer writes: I am one of those people.  One of those annoying people that cannot be quite satisfied with the way I am.  What I mean is, although I make changes and have even completely transformed since let’s say five years ago, I know I can always improve.  To the people around me this comes across as though I am too hard on myself, as though I feel my accomplishments are not good enough.  They are good—in fact they are great, perhaps even somewhat astonishing considering the path I was on ten years ago—I just wouldn’t throw that word enough in there.  I don’t believe that when it comes to my children, the word enough should ever apply. 

Our children are our teachers.

Thanksgivakkuh by Serenity Gordon

Serenity writes: This year Hanukkah falls on Thanksgiving for the first time since 1888. It won't happen again until 70,000 + years from now. So this Thanksgivakkuh is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Hanukkah is a minor Jewish holiday.  Although it is often compared to Christmas, the meaning is actually much more  complementary to the meaning of Thanksgiving.  Hanukkah commemorates the Maccabees who fought for religious freedom, and the miracle of the oil that burned in the temple for eight nights, when there was only oil enough for one.  Thanksgiving commemorating the pilgrims who arrived on the Mayflower in pursuit of religious freedom and the gratitude for that first bountiful harvest.

Finding Abundance in the Seventh Bushel of Beans by Mary O’Connell

The wishes of the soul are springing,

The deeds of the will are thriving,

The fruits of life are maturing.

I feel my fate,

My fate finds me.

I feel my star,

My star finds me.

I feel my goals in life,

My goals in life are finding me.

My soul and the great World are one.

Life grows more radiant about me,

Life grows more arduous for me,

Life grows more abundant within me.

Rudolf Steiner

I have loved this verse since I first heard it a few years ago. I love the juxtaposition of an abundant, radiant life also being arduous. What a word!

Seeking the Light by Nancy Jewel Poer

Many of you know that Nancy Poer, one of our beloved mentors from Rudolf Steiner College, is recovering from open-heart surgery at their White Feather Ranch, north of Fair Oaks.  Unable to present at the recent early childhood conference at RSC, she put in a "cameo appearance" and circulated her inspiring words on "Seeking the Light."  Nancy writes:

Dear Ones,

Blessings on this gathering, on the collective vibrant good of all you create with your striving and work with the children. And please know the importance now, more than ever before, standing in front of them with courage, joy, enthusiasm and the light of your spirit shining about them like benevolent morning sunshine enfolding your brood so the light can quicken in their souls and they feel full of safeness and confidence in the bodies and situations they have chosen for this incarnation.

Finding the Light by Jennifer Sullivan

Jennifer writes: As our side of the Earth falls into a slumber, it may seem our time to do so as well.  We pull on our mittens and wrap ourselves in heavy sweaters and jackets to brave the new brisk air.  Our children are warmly wrapped from head to toe so they may enjoy this changing of the seasons as well.  The days grow shorter and the sun rests much longer than it used to.  As this happens, my home can become darker and more confining, and so can my mood. 

It is our task during these times of gray, to find the light.  I am reminded of my LifeWays training during which Cynthia Aldinger spoke to us about HomeMaking.  First, it is exactly as it sounds.  A home does not just exist, you must put forth effort every moment to make it one.  Similarly, when darkness appears, it is our responsibility to uncover and release the light. 

Life's Mirror by Jenyng Wu

Jenyng writes: Recently, Noah, my two-and-a-half-year-old can be heard shouting, "BABY BROTHER, BABY BROTHER!  NO, BABY BROTHER!"  Somehow, baby brother (Thomas, nine months old) has crawled his way to a toy that Noah does not want him to have or play with.  As I am preparing lunch in the kitchen when this happens, I wonder why the sudden outburst while Noah is hovering right over his little brother.  It isn't until the evening, when I am reflecting on the day's events, that I realize and shudder: Noah is imitating me!

How LifeWays Transformed my In-home Program, by Rahima Baldwin Dancy

Rahima writes: In 1984 another Waldorf teacher and I dropped out of the school to be home more and opened one of the early home-based Waldorf programs in the country. As lead teacher, I essentially re-created a Waldorf kindergarten for three- and four-year-olds in a dedicated room in her home that opened out into the yard.  Since working with 12 children instead of 19 was easy for me, she was free to tend to her new baby and put him down for a morning nap before joining us.  This all went on upstairs, away from the children, because who had ever heard of a baby in a Waldorf kindergarten or preschool?

Joy in My Heart by Cynthia Aldinger

Words from an old campfire song (with third verse revised by Cynthia):

I’ve got that joy, joy, joy, joy down in my heart

(Where?)

Down in my heart

(Where?)

Down in my heart

I’ve got that joy, joy, joy, joy,  down in my heart

(Where?)

Down in my heart to stay

I’ve got the peace that passeth understanding down in my heart

(Repeat above refrain)

I’ve got the love of all the little children down in my heart

(Repeat refrain)

So, we ask the question – from where does joy come?  Down in my heart.

A Path to Joy in Parenting by Cindy Brooks and Joya Birms

Joy and Wonder are foundations of a healthy, satisfying life. To recognize, appreciate and foster a young child’s joy we must be in touch with our own joy.”

These comments opened our Parenting with Spirit workshop at the LifeWays Conference, in which we outlined the foundations for a path of joy in parenting.  We looked at the importance of self-care skills for body, soul and spirit, recognizing that it is our own inner activity that creates the possibility of joy in human life, no matter what our given temperament, karma or life circumstances might be.

Caring for the body. We highlighted the importance of structuring family life rhythmically—having regular waking, meal and bedtimes and days that breathe (that is, days that alternate between times of activity and quiet times).  We noted that to have a joyful life, we also need healthy habits for sleep, diet and exercise.

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