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.
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.