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!
The big news around here this week has been the Polar Vortex. A big bubble of icy air slid down the globe from the arctic, it seems, and sat right down on top of us. For 78 hours, the air temperature was below zero, and for much of it, far below that, plus windchill!
It was so cold, the schools closed. My son had a snow day on Monday, as well, and so he had an extra long weekend. Some children didn't go to school until today, and had had days off last week for both Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr, Day, and for end-of-term grading days for teachers. It was like another winter break.
As such, it was hard for me. I wanted to keep up our school week protocols, with bedtime and instrument practice, screen limits, and all. And I couldn't. My menu planning failed. I felt cold and exhausted and worried about the pipes and the pets...
When these swirling whirlpools slide into our lives, it can be hard to cut ourselves any slack. Finding a new rhythm in the midst of any unexpected event -- health related, grief, weather, car trouble, money issues, shutdowns, strikes, shut-offs... -- can feel well-nigh impossible. How can we get through?
It takes preparation ahead of time, and it takes trust. Ah, trust, you old bugbear of mine!
So, let's look at the Vortex, and how we prepared, and how we adapted.
First, we prepared. We heard on the weather that it would be very cold, following a snowstorm. We laid in stores of food. We bundled up in thicker coats, long underwear, extra socks. We took care of things, like shoveling the driveway, that we knew couldn't wait until the mercury dipped to the bottom of the glass.
And then we let it be. We lay around the house and were cozy, or packed extra warm drinks for those who had to go out. We rode the waves of extra screen time requests and nerf gun battles, and I baked cookies.
And afterwards, now that the temperature is back above zero, and the kids are back at school, and we have to go on?
Now I am resisting the urge to judge myself. I am taking action, washing the dishes, getting the work done, making the next plan.
That's how we do it. We focus on how we survived, we tell the stories to those who were there, and who weren't, and we get onto the next part of life.
It wasn't perfect, but here we are. Still alive. So grateful for heat and home, for socks and cookies, for the tiny drop of patience left at the end of it all.
You have gotten out of so many vortices, so many whirlpools that threatened to pull you under. And perhaps they did, for a time. But look at you! You are here! You did not succumb, though perhaps you wished you could have. Celebrate that. Celebrate you.
The vortex is gone. The winter is still going -- Candlemas is tomorrow, and Groundhog Day, and whether it be fair and bright, or the Groundhog sees his shadow, or not, winter is not done with us here in Minnesota. We will go on, though. We have survived thus far. You will survive the vortex. The whirlpool of this season.
If you would like to find out more ways to find joy in the midst of the whirlwind, warmth in the vortex, and celebration when you thought you'd failed, I'd love to talk with you. Click the link below and schedule your discovery call. xoxo
This is what I've been waiting for...I've been planning and preparing, the way I do for winter.
Today, I wore a hat, a down coat, a scarf, two pairs of mittens, two pairs of socks, three pairs of pants, three shirts, and boots. I went outside to play with the children at the Waldorf-inspired childcare where I spend some days each week, and I was comfortable, despite the temperature hovering just below zero.
I was prepared. I was nervous about heading out into the cold, but I was ready.
And now, I'm prepared to share something with you. Nervous, and excited, and oh so eager.
I've been getting ready for this. There is still more in the works -- a series of self-paced ecourses, new free offerings, more blog posts -- but this is what I've been learning and practicing and preparing. For you.
This morning, I'm opening the doors. Seven Ravens Coaching, which is a fancy, fairytale name for ME, is opening its doors.
I am Seven Ravens Coaching, just as I am Storyteller's Dream....
I'm just getting started on this journey, and I'd love it if you came along with me.
There's a link below to the page I've made, all about how we could work together to find your fairytale life. The one that is winking at you from the corners, the one that you dream of, that flits around the edges of your sleep, beckoning.
Click the link below, read a little more, and schedule a discovery call. No strings. No obligations. Just you and me, chatting for 30 minutes to see what kind of magic we could make.
I can't wait to hear from you
IT was happening again. I was scrolling, scrolling, scrolling (cue Rawhide theme song), and it was stopping me dead in my tracks. Whenever I thought I had seen all I could see of Facebook or Pinterest or Instagram, I would hit refresh or pull down on the phone screen, and a whole new host of images would pop up to further drug me.
Numb. That's how I feel when I am online for too long. I get stuck in place, and my hand just keep scrolling, looking for that next hit. And God help me if I've posted something. Then it's checking... and checking... and checking... to see who's liked it, who's commented, who's re-pinning, who's interacting with me.
I'm looking for love in all the wrong places again. And it's not just online. I find myself wandering the aisles of the co-op, looking for the perfect lunch, the snack that will make it all better. Somehow, even when we are behind on bills and I am freaking out about money, I can find the funds to feed my love of fancy groceries.
This is not a serious addiction. I'm functioning. I get up and put on my clothes, I feed the dog and the cats and the child, I go to work, I come home again. Meals get cooked. Laundry gets washed.
But under it all, I'm longing, and searching, and sad. And so I scroll.
Does it happen to you, too? Are you scrolling, and feeling the weight of the feed settling on your shoulders and your heart?
And when all that weight starts settling in, isn't it hard to move?
We are crushed by consumption in the western world. We are crushed by expectations and information. We are crushed by systematic oppression and a deep longing for BE-longing.
We want to belong. To BE ALONG with others.
So we take it in. Others' images. Others' ideas, values, hopes, dreams, thoughts, commands, questions. Others' perfection and promises. Their playrooms, schoolrooms, organizational tips, make-up looks, clothing choices. Their knitting projects. Their birthday parties.
We wake it in, and let it weigh us down.
Sometimes that's okay. Sometimes it's what we need. But in my case, today, it's not. It's hurting me. I can feel myself getting stuck and fearful.
Remember how, in the movie Labyrinth, Sarah finds herself in her room, and the little old woman keeps handing her things -- her teddy bear, her dresses, her music box, all her favorites -- and at first, Sarah accepts them? And then, she starts to feel the weight of all these things, all the stuff, holding her down. Binding her. Trapping her. And she screams, "It's all junk!" and the walls come crashing down.
It's not really junk -- her memories, her favorite things, they aren't junk -- but these aren't really her things. They're substitutes and simulcra, fakes and approximations. Sarah wants to complete her quest, to rescue her baby brother from the Goblin King (oh, David Bowie!!! sigh...) and get back to the real thing.
How do we get back to the real thing?
The antidote to consumption is not necessarily destruction or disposal. It might be deleting all your social media accounts and magazine subscriptions, but it might not be.
For me, the antidote is creation.
You can tweet that, twitterers. The antidote to consumption is creation.
This is not a new idea. I'm not the inventor. In fact, I feel like a late adopter in many ways. I've spent my adult life surrounded by Waldorf-types who are always knitting and painting and creating amazing things for their students and offspring, and by artists, who are always making and trying and creating and tinkering.
KonMari your house.
Walk the dog.
Hug someone for at least 10 whole seconds.
Fix the squeaking door that's been driving you mad for months.
And when even that is too much? When you can't start to do anything? Just one, tiny movement. Make tea.
Walk over to the door, open it, and take a deep breath. Then close the door.
Clear off one square foot of space on a surface that is loaded with shoulds and musts and have-tos.
Take one picture, of anything. Don't share it.
The antidote is creation. That's why I'm writing this post today. That's why I'm going to work on my little storytelling school and my coaching sales page (because I really, really want to work with you). I am building and creating and doing something, to counteract the poison of inertia.
I am continuing my quest.
I am flinging away the fakes and the almost-reals, and grabbing onto this life, my life.
And I'll still check, to see if you read this, to see if you like it, share it, post it, pin it. Because I'm human, and I long for connection and belonging. I long to know that I am speaking words that will be heard. And I am longing to hear that I am speaking to you, to your heart. And I hope it helps.
And not just our creation -- stepping out into the wonder of nature, even on days like this, when it's -20 degrees F. Seeing the sun on the snow, and feeling the frost as I breath in that icy air. That re-connects me to the real, to the true, to the beautiful.
Let's stop scrolling, and start making and sharing from our hearts and our hearths, from our pens and paintbrushes, our feet and hands and voices. Social media can be a place of intense beauty and collaboration, but it needs YOUR voice, your true beauty, your contribution.
That's how we take back our power, and our voices, and our lives. Through creation. Through collaboration. Through lifting up the voices of those who are pressing us forward to finer, truer things.
Look, I get it. I really, really get it. Why do you think I go weeks at a time without posting? Why do you think I announce awesome new offerings on Insta and FaceBook, and then hide under the covers, pretending magic elves are creating online courses for me? The mountains of fear that rise up between me and my goals feel insurmountable sometimes.
What are we so afraid of? Oh, honey, grab a cup of coffee/tea/cocoa/whatever and let's make a list. We are afraid of judgment, of being too loud, of not being "Waldorf" enough, of being too Waldorf, of losing those we love, of losing ourselves... In my case, I am afraid of being tired, of losing my temper, of doing a terrible job...
Elizabeth Gilbert, in her book Big Magic, says, "Fear is boring." and it is. Fear is so boring. It leads to boring, safe, un-magical lives, where we bind ourselves in with regulations and rules and roles. Shoulds become so much louder than coulds.
Procrastination is not a product of laziness. It's a product of fear. How on earth do we climb those mountains, though? I have a strong aversion to setting goals, because I know I will avoid even the smallest baby step if it's presented as a goal.
THERE IS HOPE, THOUGH!
what I have to do, is trick myself into remembering I'm the heroine of this tale, and this is my call to adventure. Start telling that story (not in those words. People aren't always ready for that).
I keep my goal at the back of my mind. I talk about it a lot. I tell people it's happening. But I don't schedule it on the calendar. I don't do any of those things people tell you are necessary.
Instead, I just do a thing. I don't think about it. I just start something. Transferring email courses into PDFs, sorting laundry, reading a book. And I let the momentum carry me as far as it lasts. I step onto the path into the forest.
Does this make for steady, measurable, quantifiable progress? Yes and no. It's not steady, but it does happen. It happens, as if by magic.
This won't work for everyone. If you like making lists and checking things off, go for it! Sometimes I do that, too.
What is imperative is knowing yourself, and having a clear picture of what you want. Picture is a relative word -- I don't do a lot of visual imagining, like really seeing a physical reality in my mind's eye. What I really do, is tell a story of what will happen. I see the path in front of me as a series of words. I tell the story of what I want to do, and where I want to be, and then I follow the story forward.
So, to recap.
tell the story of where you are going. You have an epic adventure ahead of you.
Then, start off on the journey. Don't think about it too much -- you can easily talk yourself out of the call to adventure.
Just take a step onto the path, and see where it takes you.
You might run into obstacles. You might need helpers. Trust that you are on a journey that is leading you to your heart's desire, and keep going. If you need to stop, and rest, consider that quest done, and rest. The next step will present itself.
All you have to do is answer the call.
It's about courage, not organization or laziness or industriousness or even being good enough.
Fear is boring. Try adventure.
you might have noticed the new blog title. Changes are afoot! As the year turns from old to new, I'm starting a new adventure. My Mama Bliss Coaching training is almost complete. When that happens, I'll be opening up my first coaching spots. I'm really excited to share this work with you. It's deceptively powerful, like a little bit of fairy dust sprinkled over everything and making it feel... lighter. Like you've put on seven-league boots to run your first marathon. Like you've put on a magic wishing hat and found yourself at your destination. Like you've found a sack that pours out feasts of your favorite foods...
Meanwhile, I'm trying to find moments of stillness in these last few days before Christmas. I hope that in between the pageants, the parties, the Yule fires and carol singing and late-night toasts ... and the teething, the colds, the meltdowns and tantrums ... you are finding the stillness of deep winter, or perhaps the brilliant surrender of high summer.
If you are curious about my coaching, and want to be one of the first to hear about opportunities to sign up, click here to be added to the waiting list!
Sara is a storyteller, writer, artist, teacher, wife, mother, and singer living in Minnesota. I coach waldorf moms and other sparkly unicorns, helping them find wonder, ease, and contentment. I write about parenting, storytelling, and about living a life with stories.