Here we are, playing in the wintry air that blew in last week. It's not really winter yet, but I can feel it on the edges of the day. The early sunset, the lazy, slow light of morning, the gusts of air that smell of the arctic -- all of these have come this week. So we layer on our thick coats and snowpants, mittens and hats, boots and gaiters, and we go out. How can we stay in, when the sun is shining, or a soft rain is falling, or snowflakes are swirling?
Play is learning, and play outdoors is deep learning, a learning that cannot occur within walls. There is a feeling of strength and courage that such play engenders, when we bravely step out of the warmth and into the cold.
The little ones made lanterns this week, and we sang songs and heard stories of sharing our light with the world. This week, go out. Feel that glow in your heart and listen to the call to share it. The world looks dead, or is full of sadness or fear -- shine there. Notice the life under the surface. Meet the fear with love, the sadness with gentleness, the death with life.
And run. Jump. Climb. Argue and make up, laughing the whole time. Tumble and swing, or sit quietly in some magic place (psst -- they are all magic) and dream...
Have a beautiful weekend.
It's election day. I voted this morning. I love going to the polls, filling in the ovals on the paper ballot, feeding it into the machine, getting my round, red sticker. All of it speaks to me so strongly of hope. Hope is something that seems in short supply sometimes these days.
But voting, like hoping, often seems like it's not enough. And it isn't -- voting does not absolve me of the responsibility to do what I can to create the world I want to see. Hoping for change does far less than getting up and taking action. Even if that action is just to smile at someone on the street, or to ask how someone is with the intent to really listen.
So it isn't enough, no. But neither is it small.
I've been taking time away from facebook this week, just stopping in to check my messages and notifications. I spent some time scrolling and liking posts this morning, but more and more, I feel like facebook is really good at lulling me into a false sense of enough-ness. it's not enough to "like" someone's photo of a new baby. It isn't enough to share an article on a candidate you support. I feel like I want to live my likes a little more, to seek out a different level of connection.
I've been on social media of one kind or another for 25 years now. Maybe 26. I have had friendships form and flourish entirely online. But those friendships sprang from deeper sharing and listening than facebook engenders for me. Longer form media has given way to quick bites and pictures. I love both, but the latter aren't enough for me.
So is it enough? No. But it's not bad. I just crave more. I am deeply hungry for connection, beauty, playfulness, creativity. I dream of and desire a world my child and your children can grow into and love. Voting isn't enough, but it's absolutely necessary.
So vote. and act. and reach out. Post on facebook and instagram, and stop to chat with your neighbor as you both come home from the world. Share an article that touched you, and then discuss it with someone whose mind and imagination inspire you. Snap a photo of your voting sticker (I did!), and then talk with people about why it was important for you.
And then turn it all off, and go driving into the countryside or walking down the block or wandering down rabbitholes until you are breathless with wonder, as I was at the scene above. We had gone out after a disappointment, to assuage ourselves with sugar at Minnesota's Largest Candy Store (a real place), and then went adventuring. We found a tiny, rustic county park, climbed around on barely-groomed trails, and felt a million miles from home. And then, we followed the moonrise back to dinner and warmth.
It might not ever be enough, but don't get discouraged. Just keep going deeper.
Yesterday, I was invited to a party. My wife was at work, my son at his grandfather's, and I could have gone. The people there were ones I know and like, at least many of them were. But I couldn't do it. The idea of getting in my car and going somewhere I'd have to be on, where I'd have to talk and smile and laugh and explain and sparkle, made me shudder.
Outside, the air was cold and snapping, with a deep blue sky. So I made a cup of cocoa, and packed a book just in case, and a granola bar, and I got in the car and started driving. I ended up at the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum, and it was what I needed. Golden maples, spreading oaks, pine trees that roared gently in the wind, and countless other kinds of trees, spread overhead. I walked trails hard and soft, and watched birds and squirrels. After a time, I got chilly, and drove further west to find apples.
The orchard I had chosen turned out to be all done picking for the season, and it also happened to be a winery. There were too many people, people who I'm sure are perfectly nice people, but had that kind of frantic "we're having AUTUMN FUN" energy, with careful hair and makeup, that makes me feel frumpy and inadequate instead of quirky and joyful, so I left. I came home to my book and the stew and dumplings I'd made earlier in the day.
So, there was no people-ing, but I did go out, and it was what I needed. I hope you are finding what you need, too, in this weekend...
One of my favorite writers and bloggers is Rachel Macy Stafford. For a while I had a hard time with her writing, because I identified too much with it. Rachel talks about her choice to move from a life lived by to-do lists and outside measures of achievement, a life that made her stressed and sad and angry, and made her children stressed and sad and angry, to a life focused on choosing love and letting her loved ones know how much she loves them. I felt like my still being caught up in the stress and spinning and awful feelings, meant I was less than she was, that I was a great and dreadful failure at life.
Those feelings still creep in sometimes, but through a lot of work over the last year, including doing Rachel's course Soul Shift (she's offering it again in January!), I am beginning to come out of a very long, painful darkness. I keep telling myself, it's not too late to change. It's not too late to meet your child and your spouse with empathy and love. It's not too late to let go of codependency and manipulation. It's not too late to be happy.
Dear ones, I was afraid to be happy. Sometimes I still am. I somehow ingested a message from all kinds of sources, that I should loathe myself, that I was the least of God's creations, that any self-compassion was a sign of failure and a sin. What a load of dingo's kidneys (no offense to dingoes).
It is not too late. It's not too late to learn to regulate my own emotions. It's not too late to be who I am. To shine my light.
Joy is a worthy goal. Kindness is a worthy goal.
Happiness is not wrong.
Is the world messed up? Lord yes! But we are not going to fix it by hating ourselves and spreading that hatred around. It's gotta be love. Love makes us fierce. Love makes us seek justice. Love makes us reach out to one another.
It's not too late.
I spent this spring and summer creating ten brand-new stories for the festivals of the year, from Advent through to Samhain and Martinmas. These stories are seasonal and connected to the deep gesture of the festivals as they relate to our human experience. These are not religious stories, but I hope they ring with truth. Robyn and Brian at Waldorfish.com took these stories and created 10 stunningly beautiful art lessons for you and your family. The whole course is ready now, and you can sign up at Waldorfish today!
Please go and have a look. The artwork is just lovely, and Robyn and Brian are amazing teachers. You will get 10 stories to read, plus 10 audio recordings to enjoy on your own or with your family, as well as access to the lessons, all in an easy-to-use online classroom. I'm so proud of what I made for you, and so honored to work with Robyn and Brian on this project. It's really special.
a long while...
and you aren't sure how to start...
or what to say...
Hi. It's been a while. We are all doing pretty well. The weather is rather melancholy, and very damp... I could use a haircut... The kid is getting bigger....
And you somehow find a link to your old blog, from years ago, before the baby was born even. The baby who will start fourth grade tomorrow...
What do you say? How do you begin?
Hi. It's been a while.
and you try not to feel like a failure, for letting the months pass without a word. And you try to focus on the present, and the now, and the positive things that have happened:
I wrote a bunch of stories for Waldorfish's A Festival Year course, available later this fall.
My wonderful aunt came for a visit, and I felt bad that I couldn't take off work to hang out more. I hate feeling like I've let someone down, especially someone who came all that way to see me.
My son had a minor injury, that was still bad enough to bring a premature end to his baseball season. To make up, he's playing fall ball, which means our Saturdays are booked to the end of September. Which means he's missing the first few group lessons with his Suzuki teacher. Which makes me feel bad, too.
And here it is, the end of summer break. School starts tomorrow. I have learned a lot this summer about myself. About things I want in the world, and things I don't want, really, no matter how much others say I ought to want them. I'm trying to let go of the list and the score-keeping, and to be here, on the last, rainy day of vacation, and enjoy it.
There are new things coming. Thank you for being here. How's your summer been -- or your winter, you lovely southern folk? I'll be giving a workshop on the 15th here in town. More on that coming soon.
There. The streak of not-writing has been broken. Now we can begin again.
I had a dream last night. In my dreams, I am often teaching. years ago, I used to dream about acting, but now my anxiety dreams and my questioning dreams are almost all about teaching. Owl dreams are the magical ones, and they are rare. Sometimes, there are supermarket dreams, like the one I had when I was an exchange student in Moscow in 1991, when bread lines and toilet paper lines, and everything lines were the norm -- you got in line, and after a while you'd ask what the line was for. In a supermarket dream, I have to find things, things I want and don't have, and if I can check out before I wake up, I get to have those things in waking life. In Moscow, I dreamt of liquid Tide detergent, orange juice, and packaged cookies.
Last night, I dreamed I was a teaching assistant, and the children were supposed to come back into the classroom and say the closing verse. I was trying to lead them. Several children wandered back out of the classroom. One of them was wrapping himself in blankets and crawling under a sink, and I sat with him until his mother came around the corner, because I knew his anxiety was overwhelming him. The lead teacher had finally gotten the children, who were fourth graders, back into the classroom, and at the end of the verse, I called one of the girls who hadn't come back when I called, but did for the teacher, over to me and asked what was up.
She became older then, as dream people can do. She was a young teenager now, and she handed me a little book of photocopied and printed pages, cut small -- 2 or 3 inches square. She had had it in the pocket of her apple-green coat. "I looked you up. I've been reading what you wrote." I was afraid for a moment. What did this girl know about me?
But when I looked at the pages, I recognized the words as my own -- not ones I can find now, but in the dream, they were my writing. And she had been reading and treasuring them. They mattered to her, and had been helping her to get through. I woke up then.
So I am writing for you, girl in the apple green coat. I'm writing for you, person I haven't met, reading my words. I'm trying to trust that who I am is okay, and that I won't be attacked with the words I've written here, and elsewhere, because someone, somewhere, is reading and is helped.
Can we really know the effects of our actions, completely? I lie awake sometimes, living and reliving the mistakes I've made, the times I failed to be the teacher children needed me to be, the times I've been less than perfect. Trusting in the goodness and needfulness of our own humanity is intensely difficult. For years, I have tried to be good enough. Good enough to be cast in a play. Good enough to have friends. Good enough to be loved. Good enough to get an A. Good enough to get the job. Good enough to be admired. Good enough to check all the "good mom" boxes. Good enough to teach. Good enough to be read online, or in print. Good enough.
When I dared to believe I was, usually something would happen to cut me down to size, to deny my status of Good Enough.
Maybe what I was looking for was "better." We are constantly told to compare ourselves to others -- encouraged in school, in sports, on TV, on Facebook, at work, at church, in the grocery store, in the fitting room. Are you as good as he is? As she is? As we are? If I was smarter, funnier, more spiritual, more pure, more beautiful, more inspiring, more effective, than someone else, I'd be chosen. What a stifling way to live.
But the girl in the apple green coat didn't care that I couldn't make a group of fourth graders obey me. She knew there was something more important. A real-life former student gave me the gift of telling me that I had helped her when she was younger and feeling frustrated and sad, and that she still remembered it 12 years later. I don't remember that day -- I remember the times I failed. But she remembers, and it helped her. The dream girl had my words in her pocket.
We don't know, always, the effects of our actions on others. We aren't necessarily particularly good judges of our enough-ness or goodness. I don't know if my writing or my words or my actions are helping anyone most of the time, but maybe I can remember the girl in my dream, who had looked me up online, and found these words, and found solace. There's a kind of humility required in this trust, that we might not get to see that we've been of use to someone, that we have made life better for them. And, too, there is a humility required to see the times that we have, that we didn't have to try so hard to be good enough, because we already were.
When I started this blog and website, I wasn't thinking about selling anything, teaching anything, offering anything but my words. I was still getting used to not being a full-time teacher, and I wanted to have a place for long-form interaction. I was never a particularly consistent blogger, or journaler. I had a livejournal, which I loved, because so many of my friends were there, too, and I met lovely people through their writing. There was a sci-fi/fantasy fandom element to it, too, and I loved being able to connect with authors and fans that way. But when facebook came along, and twitter, and they got so big, long form blogging kind of left social media. There's reddit, which I only kind of understand and don't use much, and there's tumblr, ditto. But back in the 2005-2015 years, I was reading a lot of blogs.
I like blogs. I like reading what people have to say. It seems though that personal blogs are fewer and farther between now, and that there are more blogs that are sponsored and affiliated and dedicated to very specific subject areas.
I tried to do that here. I have tried to make this all about parenting and Waldorf and storytelling and biography work and fairy tales. It's been difficult for me, because I often don't feel like I have anything that important to say. I'm really afraid of just putting myself out there, because who would want to read about my life, if they don't already know me. But then, I have been happily reading about other people's lives for years.
There are lots of things I'm interested in talking about. Where I get tripped up, is in feeling like I have to be an expert on anything I bring up. I am not an expert. I don't know when I crossed that line, from being an explorer and an interested person and a dabbler, and became someone who feels the need to know everything before I can speak, and lives in fear of someone commenting and telling me off. Not that anyone EVER COMMENTS HERE. It's like none of you exist, even though the website stats page tells me 421 unique visitors saw this site in the past week.
I tried closing everything down here for a while. My last course offering had 2 signups (three other people asked about it after I decided not to run it), which made me start seriously questioning what on earth I'm doing here. The fact of the matter is, I never wanted to be a businessperson. I wanted to be an artist and teachers, but I think this is an area where I have a lot of inner work and exploration of my preconceptions to do. See all the gaps over there in the archive listing? So many gaps. There's also a dearth of tags on most of those existing writings.
I'd love to recommit to writing here, but it has to be without expectations, without saying, oh it has to be polished, it has to be perfect, it has to be worthy of being reprinted in a magazine or linked from some other blog. I miss writing these paper airplane letters and flinging them out into the void. I also miss having some kind of connection with readers. Are you even there? How hard is it to leave a little comment and say hello? I want to go back and add tags to my earlier posts so they're easier to find, and maybe remove some posts that feel too raw or tender in retrospect.
I hope to offer some more courses and opportunities to work with me, soon, and maybe a membership site? or a patreon page? Would people be interested in supporting my work in exchange for stories or coaching or something? I think I could be a really good coach.
Anyway, there you are. a post. first in ten weeks or something like that.
Hi there! How are you? New year starting off okay?
I have been busy, with two new articles up at Waldorfish.com, both on Pedagogical Stories (what the heck is that???). One of them already has an audio version, and the second audio will be coming soon! We went on a little mini-vacation to visit my aunt in Florida and take in the Harry Potter attractions at Universal Studios, and to walk on the beach and splash in the pool. Since our return, we've been battling various illnesses, and I'm glad that March is here and spring is on the way!
I have also created a new course for your -- all about using stories to help and heal. It's called Little Stories, Big Changes, and you can learn all about it HERE!
and you? what are you doing these days???
here's what I'm pondering and doing and dreaming today...
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.