I am so excited for my Everyday Fairytale workshop tomorrow night! I plan to make this the start of a series of in-person and online workshops. I envision building community through storytelling, art, singing, and talking. Conversation is an art form; we don't get enough of deep, real conversation these days, and I want to cultivate some places for true sharing. The inaugural workshop is TOMORROW NIGHT here in Minneapolis, at Heartfelt. Please call (612) 877-8090 to register.
Next, I am delighted and full of eager anticipation as I announce a new blog series. I will be exploring themes in some of my favorite fairy tales, and offering my own personal take on the insights and gifts they have to offer. The first tale will be The Seven Ravens (of course!), and clicking on the title of the story will take you to where you can read a version of it in preparation for Friday's post!
So much energy and joy -- it must be spring!!!
I'm quiet around here, because I am working away on my latest project: an in-person workshop!
May 16, 2019, 7 pm
Journey from feeling dull, stuck, and overwhelmed, to a life full of wonder, ease, and contentment. We’ll reconnect with the magic and sparkle in the everyday, and learn to read our lives like a fairytale. Storytelling, artistic work, and conversation will shape our time together. Sara will guide you through playful and potent activities that will start you on a path to your heart’s desire.
This workshop will take place at Heartfelt, in Minneapolis. Preregistration is required, and you can sign up by calling Heartfelt at (612) 877-8090
I'm really looking forward to meeting people in person and sharing these wonderful tools for fairytale living! If you have questions, please drop me an email!
Heartfelt is at 4306 Upton Ave S, Minneapolis, MN, 55410
I spent time on Sunday afternoon clearing dead irises and lilies out of the bed in front of my house. It was hard work. The leaves had toughened over the winter to the consistency of leather, and the iris stems were hard and rattling with seeds. Underneath, I could see the new pointed spear-tips of green, jutting out of the earth. Behind me, rhubarb curled red and green up from the beds on either side of the door.
The sun was strong. What a gift, after the lingering snows and icy winds of the past weeks. I was tired; we'd been out late at Easter Vigil at our church, and my ten-year-old hopped out of bed at 6:15, claiming he couldn't sleep any more.
All around me, the earth is waking up. There is a verse in Steiner's Calendar of the Soul that comes around long before I can see this awakening in Minnesota, that mentions "the world's bewildering, sprouting growth" (Verse 44, tr. Hans and Ruth Pusch). The challenge I face in all of this beauty, is to stay rooted. To gather the gifts of the past few months, even the ones that came with pain, and to carry them forward into the summer's dazzling light.
From underneath, from the underworld of our own unconscious dreaming, where we have stuffed down our fears and pains, we must drag our own fearful, sorrowing selves up into the light. It's easy to sink into the relief of the light and life returning, to lose oneself (as eminem starts singing in my head) in the moment, but there are such gifts to be found, clutched in our mud-stained hands. Gifts of kindness and compassion. Of wisdom, hard-won.
Every spring, I want to forget how hard the winter was this time. How I barely kept myself above the current that tried to pull me under. But I must not, or else the same lessons will come around next year for me.
What will you be carrying forward with you into this springtime's beautiful hours? What gifts did winter yield into your keeping?
That day of songs and stories, wherein we whine and complain about the return to work and the way we just cannot wait for the weekend.
Monday can be hard. Last Monday, I went back to work after a glorious week visiting my aunt in Florida. I came home to a forecast of snow and full work week. It was rough, and I let it get the better of me. I was not my best self last week. I was more like something that might live under a fairytale bridge and jump out at passing goats. Trip trap, trip trap, trip trap....
This week, I am determined to have a good week. It's a busy one, with family stuff and holiday prep, chime choir rehearsal and baseball practice, client meetings and workshop planning... How can I turn around the week?
First, as I teach in my fairytale work, is to look at where I see myself in the story. When I am in the throes of a hard week, feeling down on myself and gorging on as much refined sugar as I can find, I am inevitably seeing myself in the forest. I am at the point of the story when the heroine is utterly lost. But, as Theodora Goss reminds us, the heroine doesn't die in the forest.
The next step is to reframe. What if I'm not in the forest at all?
What if I'm at the start of an adventure, and this is the call?
Then, it's time to gather my magical helpers and tools. Fairytale folk get all kinds of magical stuff to help them on the way, plus mysterious and sometimes dangerous helpers (Baba Yaga, anyone?) who direct them onto the right path. My helpful people might look different, and my magical tools certainly do. A cup of tea. 20 minutes to myself, a favorite book, a planner, some chocolate...
Finally, I have to take action. The heroine doesn't complete her quest by sitting sadly by the well, staring in after the spindle she's dropped. The key is to do SOMETHING. Get up and move.
Oh, and forgive myself, for being snappish and exhausted and sad, because while these are symptoms of imbalance, not actual faults, they are things I beat myself up over. We could call this, "Silence the Sirens," and stuff our ears with imaginary beeswax against the siren call of self-loathing.
So, in short, to turn your week around (even if it's Monday):
you might think, by the age of 42, a person would be okay with being who they are.
that she might be unafraid to tell people that her Waldorf-school kid spent the snow day playing video games and watching Teen Titans Go!
but sometimes, even a sparkly fairytale unicorn princess like me has trouble owning her power.
you see, there's a lot of people out there, expressing their opinions of what we should be. What we're allowed to like. What we should consume. Or not. What philosophies are okay. What snacks to give your kid. or your cat.
and I am as vulnerable as the next princess to the heavy expectations of others. I spent years and years molding myself into the form I thought they expected.
I was supposed to be:
I was 15.
You would think that by 42, I'd be over all of it.
and maybe, you have NEVER felt ashamed of who you are, of whom you love, of the pastimes you choose, of the foods you eat, of the way you raise your kids, of not wanting to raise kids at all...
and if that's true, YAY!!! You are my role model.
But if maybe you have thought, "I'm too old to like Anne of Green Gables..."
"Everyone has moved on from liking Hamilton..."
"I should be reading more challenging/thought-provoking/disturbing books..."
"This outfit is for someone younger/prettier/thinner/more curvy/female..."
I am here for you. You are my people. And I have words of wisdom for you.
Like what you like.
Today, what I like is science acapella videos.
What do you like? Tell people. Share your joy. Be uncool and silly and happy.
Like what you like.
We got the bikes out today. It was time. I struggled with the tire stems, and hooked up the amazing electric pump my wife got me last fall. My son has outgrown the bike we got him just a year and half ago. He is growing so fast, I can't keep up. My feet fit into the new rainboots I bought him.
Muddy snowmelt splashed up from the streets onto the back of his pants and his jacket, even up to his helmet. He strove to master the hand brakes and gear shifts, such a step up from his combination hand-and-coaster break fixed gear bike last year.
Today, I struggled to say yes, and was glad I did. I said yes to taking a walk with my tutoring student, instead of sitting down to our books at the start of our lesson. I said yes to getting on my bike and going around the block three times. I said yes to a board game after our bike ride. I said yes to spending the morning puttering and storing up ideas, instead of forcing this blog post to get written then. But saying yes is hard for me. It's easier to say no, to retreat into busy housework and hiding behind my screen.
I'm going to step back from social media for a time, to focus on being present for springtime. The snow is melting rapidly. My child is growing. My wife is eager to share news from her day, and to dream about our garden. We have a vacation coming up, and the last few months with our wonderful school before we start our homeschooling adventure. I want to invite you into my courses and coaching practice, and to share from my heart, and that requires attention.
I'm afraid to do this. I'm afraid I will miss important news. I am afraid I will be all alone. I'm afraid no one will ever know what I have to share with the world, and this work will go undone. But you have found me, here. I can keep working and sharing, sending my newsletters. I can write letters and send texts and call people on the phone.
And I can always go back. I probably will. I just need to re-learn how to breathe and move like the wind on my bike, like I did at 7 and 17. I need to re-learn how to pour our my thoughts on paper, and how to stop spinning from activity to activity, and to be here.
Spring is coming. It's nearly here. I can feel the melting of the frost under the earth, the stirring of the sap in the trees, the exploratory stretching of daffodil bulbs. I don't want to miss it.
First, the dog died. It was horrible and sad, and there is no way I can write about how I am without telling you that. We made the awful decision to euthanize our 13 year old, much-beloved hound; he was just fine, and then suddenly was emphatically not. Torsion, twisted gut, or bloat, all terrible names for a terrible condition. It comes on suddenly, without warning, and even if we had the money for the surgery, there was no guarantee of full recovery, or that it wouldn't happen again.
It was Valentines day.
And then I got sick. I am still battling a lingering sinus infection. It makes my face hurt, and it makes me so tired.
And the snow. Oh, heavens, the snow. It just kept coming. And coming. It came again yesterday. More snow than in any other February since they started keeping track. It's magical and beautiful, and messy and awful.
So, there's all of that. So much going on. So much feeling so heavy and hard to deal with. And my friends are going through heavy and hard things, too.
What can we do? What do we do when we are stuck in the swamp and lost in the woods and at the bottom of the well?
Well, we fall asleep. We lose our senses and fall asleep. It feels like we can't think right, that it's hard to just get through the day. So we sleepwalk through it, do the minimum...
Until we come to our senses on the bank of a stream, or find our way through the woods to the house with the fence topped with skulls...
Fairy tales tell us what to do. We must turn away from ourselves (what?!? the opposite of self care?? Isn't that codependent? hear me out...) we turn our attention outward, because inwardly, we are lost. We are in pain and stuck, frightened and dulled by grief, sick and tired. So we look out into the world, and we do what we can do.
We do what we can to. Tiny things. We do what we can to ease the suffering of the world, and find our own hearts beginning to heal.
The girl who has fallen down the well shakes the apple trees crying for help. The girl who has been sent to Baba Yaga ties the tree branches with her own ribbon, and gives her bread to the dog. The tired, sad woman sends a text to a friend in mourning and says, "Hey, I'm thinking about you."
A world with more kindness in it feels easier to bear. A world with more gentleness and sharing of burdens feels brighter.
Every personality test I've taken, lists me as a teacher, helper, and nurturer. It's how I am in the world. Maybe you aren't -- you're an artist, philosopher, rebel, leader, systematizer, organizer, investigator.... You know what kinds of contributions light you up. You know what kinds of reaching out, what kindnesses, what gestures are your gift to the world. So do that, even just a tiny bit. Make a little picture and set it where it will be seen. Organize the supply closet. Tell your employees where they're excelling. Write to the lawmaker you support. Find a solution to a tiny problem. Do your thing.
The world will feel less dark. The ice will melt. Your broken heart might still be broken, but some light might start to shine through the cracks.
When you are sick of winter, or just sick, just start. One tiny thing to make things better, and it will heal -- you and the world.
It's winter time. We are expecting even more snow this week. I am not sure how much more shoveling I can take...
I want to encourage you to give yourself this gift. A gift of a new way of seeing your life story, and your path through this still-new year.
Mother Holle and Baba Yaga are well known in their home countries. They are powerful expressions of the wild feminine. Both have been pointed out as expressions of pre-Christian goddesses hidden in tales for children. Mother Holle rewards the good and punishes the bad. Baba Yaga, in her chicken-legged hut, provides information, wisdom, and initiation, but only to those who follow her rules and don't get themselves eaten in the process.
What will you get out of this work? A stronger sense of your own power to understand and choose your life story, artistic and writing invitations to take you deeper into the stories, and a potent technique for shifting your viewpoint when you feel stuck, overwhelmed, or lost in the woods.
This course is available RIGHT NOW. You can join at any time, and work at your own pace. Want to know a little more about the kind of work we'll be doing? Check out this post: A Taste of Story-Reading.
I have added two courses to my new school at teachable.com!!! You can go there now, and sign up for either my free Storytelling Ecourse, or my beautiful, deep, heroine-journey Diving into the Well and Coming out of the Forest. These are a great way to get to know me, and to get to know a little more about storytelling and the way I work with fairy tales. Just click Baba Yaga above! Or use the button below... You'll go right to the signup page.
I'm so excited to share these with you! Dozens of people are already enrolled in the Getting Started with Storytelling course, but there's no rush -- it's there when you are ready!
In the next few weeks, I'll be uploading all my past courses into my new online school. To get some practice with new technology, I've created a new, online format for my free Getting Started with Storytelling ecourse, which I've offered in the past. I would love for you to try it out! Let me know what you think!
Sara lives in Minnesota with her wife, their son, and a lot of cats and turtles. She coaches waldorf moms and other sparkly unicorns, helping them find wonder, ease, and contentment. Sara writes about parenting, storytelling, and about living a life with stories.