Please join me today over on Emmie’s blog, Pie Jesu. As part of her series on Resilience, I have shared some thoughts about resiliency in children and how I believe, with all my heart, that stories save us. Click here to read more . . .
I’m hesitating calling this a new weekly series . . . but maybe it will be just that. I wanted a place to share some of my favorite quotations, excerpts, poems and words that invite personal reflection. I’ll be leaving my own thoughts in the comments section and I would love for you to do the same. Wishing you all a wonderful and restful Sunday. xoxo, Sheila
Years ago I set three “rules” for myself. Every poem I write, I said, must have a genuine body, it must have sincere energy, and it must have a spiritual purpose. If a poem to my mind failed any one of these categories it was rebuked and redone, or discarded. Over the forty or so years during which writing poems has been my primary activity, I have added other admonitions and consents. I want every poem to “rest” in intensity. I want it to be rich with “pictures of the world.” I want it to carry threads from the perceptually felt world to the intellectual world.
I want each poem to indicate a life lived with intelligence, patience, passion and whimsy . . . I want the poem to ask something and, at its best moments, I want the question to remain unanswered. I want it to be clear that answering the question is the reader’s part in an implicit author-reader pact. Last but not least, I want the poem to have a pulse, a breathiness, some moment of earthly delight. - Mary Oliver
Poetry is life distilled. – Gwendolyn Brooks
Andrea and I are off to Taproot tomorrow morning. I look forward to this little retreat every year. Re-connecting with old friends, meeting new ones and indulging in long stretches of uninterrupted time by myself. These quiet days away allow me perspective on the way ahead. I’ve decided to extend this time away and participate in “The August Break” hosted by the lovely Susannah Conway. I think it is just what I need to re-invigorate myself, get school started and return fresh in this space come September. I am most likely going to stick to my regular posting schedule, however, I am not planning on writing much. I hope to follow Susannah’s photographic prompts (see below) and post them beginning Monday August 5. I also have a few old posts I want to re-blog, a couple of very exciting guest posts and perhaps a few other surprises along the way.
Wishing you all a cool and dry August that is everything you need it to be.
*** My camera feels lifeless lately, and I am in sore need of some photographic inspiration. And really, it’s not my camera, but my eye that needs a little help. I’m hoping having a daily task will help me to see what is around me in fresh light. Here is the list if you want to join in as well.
Perhaps some of you are wondering, like I am, “Why another blog?” I’m not really sure, except to say I tend to listen to Andrea where these things are concerned. She’s the person who convinced me to start this blog. Right now, all I can tell you is that writing (blogging) fills a need I forgot I had. Devoting time every day to play around with some words helps me to get quiet, sort out my thoughts and clear my mind. Sure as the World has helped me to think differently about my homeschooling and my parenting. My hope is that Letters from Ladytown will do the same thing for my inner work.
Some of my inner work is writing in the hushed darkness of the early morning, before anyone else is awake. Some of it is walking the pastureland that surrounds my house. Some of it is in conversations with other people. This combination of being still, moving my body and talking it out works for me. It fits how I live and integrates into my day. On one of my afternoon walks back in January, I listened to an interview with John Kabat-Zinn. He equates meditation with mindfulness and being present to the everyday tasks of our lives. For me, this idea was revolutionary. I always had the notion that Meditation meant removing myself from my everyday life, sitting in an uncomfortable position and contemplating the Meaning of Life – some Big, Important, Other Life – “Out There.” Apparently, it is much simpler and much smaller. Pay attention: right here, right now.
I find it relatively easy to be mindful, present and grateful when there is freshly baked bread on the counter, soup simmering on the stove and farm fresh milk in the fridge. And some days, this is the overall tone of my day. However there are those other days where the bread isn’t yet made, the soup is still water and wilted vegetables and the last bit of milk was used to make a cup of coffee that was stirred using the same spoon the cod liver oil was administered to the children with. I woke up late, didn’t do my planning, the schoolroom is a mess and the boys are snarky, snarly and sullen. These are the days I know I need to turn up my inner work. I need to get my butt out of bed earlier (tomorrow), make sure I get a walk in (even if it is 15 minutes), and call someone (usually Andrea). I need to go back and remind myself why I don’t just put my kids in school, buy bread at the store and start my day with an herbal concoction that smells like dirt.
Homeschooling and homemaking feed my soul. They remind me of who I always was and help me to become more of who I want to be. In my imagination, Letters from Ladytown is a place that will hold this bigger vision of what it is I am trying to do here everyday. I hope my writing there will help me to continually ask myself the question ‘why?’ – slightly scary, but also very powerful. Being a part of an entire community of women asking themselves this same question and writing about the courage to live their own answers? Well . . as Andrea would say, “Buckle your seatbelt.”
I had a wonderful time at Taproot in August. It was heart-expanding, soul-filling and spirit-enriching. So many deep, deep lessons that have broadened my vision as to why I continue on this path of homeschooling with Waldorf. Several conversations have continued to reverberate in my mind and have formed the focus of my inner work for this year. Coming home from Ohio, I put this little collage together, which is basically 2 cutouts from a magazine and some words I added with letter stamps. It hangs by my desk, gently reminding me to remain true to that which transcends curriculum blocks, handwork projects and circle time, yet guides all that we do.
See bigger. Go deeper. Do Less.
I wrote the above on August 10, right after I returned from Taproot. I never finished or posted it because I honestly didn’t feel like I had the words to describe all that I took away from Taproot this summer. Talking to Jean Miller two weeks ago, reminded me of what I wrote then. It also rekindled that sense of surety, clarity and calm. As I said in my Habit post the next day: “It was validating, illuminating and inspiring. She is fabulous.” Yes – to all of that and more.
About halfway through our conversation – I don’t even remember what we were talking about – Jean read me this quotation from Steiner:
The aim of Waldorf education is to arrange all of the teaching so that within the shortest possible time the maximum amount of material can be presented to students by the simplest possible means. – Rudolf Steiner, Soul Economy
I don’t know exactly why, but this quotation quelled something inside me. Something that kept insisting I wasn’t doing enough. Something that kept saying our lessons weren’t long enough. Something that made me see things as too brief and somehow lacking instead of seeing things as short, simple and just right. Our days are full, but not busy. Yes, there is time spent in the schoolroom at the desks. But there is also time spent in the kitchen preparing food, outside playing, on the couch reading and by ourselves just being quiet. Silencing that inner critic has let me see our days holistically, with a renewed sense of appreciation for what it is we are trying to do here everyday. Extending this kinder and broader vision to both my boys and myself has also become part of my inner work practice: envisioning one another with a sense of wholeness; gently doing the best we can with all the knowledge we have right now. Not easy, but ultimately I think, a worthy spiritual practice.
See bigger. Go deeper. Do Less.