For the first time, my house is feeling a bit empty. We were blessed with the opportunity to send our two older children, Ellia (newly 5) and Lincoln (my almost-4 Michaelmas babe), to the school of our dreams – Prairie Hill Waldorf School. Though this entails more financial cutbacks in our home and a lengthy drive to and from school daily, it is worth that and more to us. We fell in love with this school many years ago and now feel so humbled that our children are among those who attend. That said, it has not been an easy transition for any of us.
“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.
Cynthia writes: There is a “My Favorite Birds Convention” going on in my backyard today. My “Christmas blend” birdseed is gifting them and me by bringing them so near on this cold winter afternoon. My soul is soothed by their vibrant color, nurtured by their shapes and sizes, and delighted by their movements. A self-invited squirrel has been welcomed in without restraint. Even the blue jays did not attempt to peck him away. Perhaps he is actually the convention’s entertainment act as he is ice skating across the birdbath. Or perhaps it is just what we do, we creatures of nature, in dire circumstances such as extreme cold: we share more readily, we open up (even momentarily) to each other’s need.
I am not a philosopher. I struggle my way through any philosophical writing, rereading paragraphs and chapters, mostly due to my obsessive nature and need to know, understand, and remember every morsel of what I read. I feel I need to be an expert after reading something, or I should just give up. That said, reading Rudolf Steiner’s work is a huge challenge for me, and I confess I haven’t read too much of his plethora of work.
[NOTE: This insight from Faith seemed so timely, that I asked her if we could post it here. The letter originally went out to the members of Joyful Toddlers, as part of the ongoing support they receive from Faith. To learn more about the next Joyful Toddlers' Teleclass, starting Jan. 27, and membership opportunities, see www.joyfultoddlers.com.]
by Faith Collins:
Most of the people I know are not very interested in New Year's Resolutions; they either laugh a bit cynically, or they're against them altogether.
By Cynthia Aldinger
Sing choirs of angels
Sing in exultation
Sing all ye citizens of heaven above
In the spirit of wanting to support the anguished families of those whose children perished in the recent tragedy in Connecticut, I offer the following thoughts for us to hold on their behalf.
How do we mourn and celebrate at the same time? Perhaps the closest we come is when we attend a memorial service for a loved one who has lived a fully expressed life.
by Pamela Perkins
What value beyond personal enjoyment might there be for someone in her mid-sixties enrolling in a LifeWays training, especially someone who has ‘already been there’ with much of the content? Interestingly, the answers to this question arose only in retrospect, after I had finished my yearly round of the four sessions. When the initial opportunity to participate presented itself, my immediate and instinctive response was simply, spontaneously, “So how soon can I begin?” Through attending the four sessions on the mainland, I was looking forward to re-experiencing the seasons in the fullness of their contrast after so many years of the subtle transitions I had grown accustomed to in Hawaii. (At that time, the Hawaii training did not exist yet.)
The season of giving is upon us. Christmas Eve and Day have long been favorite holidays of mine, but over the years, financial constraints and a shift in philosophy have changed my views and feelings surrounding celebrating the holidays. Fortunately, it seems our families are also on board, limiting the amount of presents and focusing instead on the time we are spending surrounded by those we hold dear. This year, more than in years past, my husband and I are embracing the “Christ” in Christmas, and working at incorporating His birth and life into our family’s celebration of the holidays.
In LifeWays philosophy and daily care for children, we place a great emphasis on warmth. Dressing a child warmly is vitally important to a child’s physical health and development, and as caregivers we need to ensure they are prepared for the weather each season brings. Here in Wisconsin, that means below zero freezing temperatures in the winter and 90+ hot and humid days in the summer, making the task of ensuring warmth a bit challenging. Dressing a child in layers and wool in winter time, and breathable layers and shade-providing hats in the summer is one way. Another way to imbue warmth is to sharing warm and nourishing foods and drinks to keep the chill away on bitterly cold winter days, and offering refreshingly cooler foods and drinks to nurture a child’s body during the hot summer months.
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