Advent: Little Lent

It’s been a whirlwind year, friends. Between COVID, working, finishing a bunch of continuing education courses and finishing a doctorate and specialty degree the year before, and moving to a farm that needed every single thing renovated and re-done…I was done and feeling exhausted. I took a few weekends recently and just rested a lot and prepared myself inwardly. It turned out to be the beginning of my own lesser Lent.

As part of the Episcopal church, which is part of the Anglican tradition, we draw from both Eastern and Western traditions of the church and from the Celtic Saints. Our Western church will begin Advent on the fourth Sunday before Christmas as is customary, but I have felt called this year to start the fortieth day before Christmas (this includes Sundays, unlike the Great Lent before Easter). S, I began lesser Lent with resting and the ideas of fasting and the coming of Christmas in my head. I have been using this little book: https://www.amazon.com/Celtic-Advent-days-devotions-Christmas/dp/0857467441/ref=sr_1_3?keywords=celtic+advent&qid=1637195336&sr=8-3 to help pull things together, and I have been planning for Advent this week.

Some of the preparation is the external trappings. I am thinking about cleaning, about getting a Christmas tree which we usually do the second week of December or later but probably will do earlier this year, and about holiday shopping (of which I am probably at least 60-70 percent done). I am also thinking about food and Christmas Eve (thinking specifically about Danish and Polish food), and my word of the year.

But the internal part is about striving to be better as a human being. Forgiving people and praying for those I don’t feel like forgiving and praying for. For trying to find the light of Christ for others even when I am tired. To help walk with those in pain or distress. To understand the point of view of others. To find my prayer life again. To find times of fasting.

So, this week I sat and focused on the coming of Christmas. Not just the hustle and bustle part, but the quiet part of spirituality, of the beauty of the farm, of our lives, of the gratitude I hold for our family and very close friends who are like family. Of all the change we have been through this year, and all the changes to come. I could sit and dwell for a moment with the changing leaves, the dropping night temperatures, the little creatures scampering around the farm, the squishy horse faces that are hopefully moving in next week, the gorgeous sunrises and sunsets, This work felt just as important and wonderful as the physical preparation for Advent. What a wonderful thing to have forty days!

If you are thinking about Advent beginning the Sunday after Thanksgiving next week, here is a back post that you might like: https://theparentingpassageway.com/2008/12/07/advent-and-other-winter-celebrations-within-the-waldorf-home/ and I have Advent posts every year so over 10 years’ worth of Advent posts! You can use the search engine to pull up all the previous years.

What things are you planning for Advent? Do you have any resources to share? Please leave me a comment in the comment box – I would love to hear!

Blessings and peace,

Carrie

Homeschooling Plans for November

This year has been an interesting balance of sixth grade with outside classes in math and science and an outdoor program and sixth grade inside the home. On one hand, it’s amazing to have opportunities in our area – so grateful! And on the other hand, it is hard to really get things done as we have no consecutive school days. I work outside the home on the days our sixth grader is in class, so it is what it is and I decided to find a way to make it work by limiting the amount of material we are covering at home and making it manageable. Deeper depth is always going to be better than a mile wide and an inch deep!

So, for November, this is where we are with outside classes:

  1. Outside math is working through Saxon Math 7/6 with a teacher who is a retired engineer. I don’t mind the daily practice that comes with this class. At home we are also working our way through geometric constructions that I have done with our other children when they were in sixth grade.
  2. Outside science has done some middle school chemistry and they are beginning physics with an emphasis on mechanics. At home, we have done Earth Science using Christopherus Earth Science and some other resources. I have a few more plans for the year in science (see below), but I am not wedded to doing all of it. Energizing, not depleting is the goal for this year.
  3. The Outdoor program is covering all kinds of building, engineering ,and survival skills, and also working their way through Ancient History, which we did last year in fifth grade. That’s fine by me!

Plans for this month at home:

We began Greek History with a look through Live Education’s booklet, which has been fun, and doing the geometry mentioned above. We will be moving into the History of Rome, one of my favorite blocks, before Thanksgiving.

Math practice – I do pull out a combination of workbooks and such to practice concepts and keep reviewing for practice as we do have standardized testing at the end of this school year.

Handwriting – we are working on cursive.

Language Arts – we write in all subjects and as we do our main lesson books, but we are doing separate work in spelling with All About Spelling.

Our Episcopalian Corner – I have been using some of the free lesson plans here: https://vts.edu/lifelong-learning/younger-youth

Our loose plans for the rest of the year at home includes:

Roman History and then Christmas break

January – Medieval History and more Geometry

February – Business Math

March and April – Medieval Africa and African Heroes, African Geography

May – Zoology or Botany

Other possibilities include music lessons since our youth choir isn’t singing right now at church due to Covid, and to keep pushing physical movement (which is also done at the outdoor program). We have 4H, church youth group, and horseback riding which is plenty to do on top of farm life. ❤

Where are you in your homeschooling year?
Blessings,
Carrie

Ho Hum Parenting

What is ho hum parenting and could it help my family life? This is a question I get asked frequently by younger mothers.

Ho Hum could imply a detached way of parenting or being almost non-responsive, so I want to first and foremost say that we need to be responsive to our children as this is the basis of all attachment. This is especially true for babies – a babies’ wants and needs are the same.

Yet, as our children grow we need to give them time and space to figure things out on their own – that is what makes children grow up to be resilient. If we keep responding to our children the way and how quickly we would respond to a baby or even a toddler, it creates a sense of urgency and less ownership for the child themselves. Children are smart and capable – if they have good models and good guidance, you can give them a little time and space to fix their own problems. This then carries into the middle school and adult years. Children learn to separate over time, and this is necessary in a sense to learn how to function as part of the family and the world (and not the complete center of it with expectations that everything will be done and revolve around them as the center).

One way to approach this is to think about a “ho hum” approach. Some of the ways we tend to respond to children, especially children who are more highly sensitive, is to match that urgency. I think what we want is for our children to feel heard, to feel like their needs are met , but also to value them as themselves with their own intellect and gifts. Therefore, if we can respond in a calm and less urgent manner, a manner in which we actively listen to our children and reflect back to them what they said, they can often solve their own problems. This, to me, is the point of parenting: teaching our children with good models and problem-solving how the child can be the author of their own life. This is the valuable basis of a relationship that lasts into adulthood. I believe and have seen that if you do this, your adult children will still want to come to to you with the big things for guidance, but overall, they have it handled.

Ho hum, then, means listening and reflecting. It means being calm and matching urgency to the BIG problems in life, but not to every little problem. If you have a highly sensitive child that is stressed a lot with small things, I think this is an even more important role to be able to help them see how to self-regulate. In order to do this, you need to be able to separate yourself from your child’s path. Your path is intertwined with your child, but your child has their own path. Sometimes with older children, you can hear parents bemoan, “I already did seventh grade math” or something to that effect – and this is true for many areas in life. You already were 10 or 14 or 20. You had that age. You cannot microscopically manage these ages for your children. Our children are their own people and if we can stay out of that way in a gentle, ho hum manner of availability, we can be a part of their developmental unfolding whilst not doing it for them.

Part of ho -hum parenting is having a rhythm. This keeps us from taking on too much, which makes the entire family stressed out, including the children. It also keeps us accessible and available. This is an important part of ho hum parenting – to be there. It also sets boundaries around a day in which children may have a million requests about “what are we doing today?” “can I do___?” This helps us fill in those blanks for the child, and gives the older child agency as they should be able to identify the rhythm on their own or with the use of a visual aid. Every household’s rhythm will look different and it should fit your own family

Part of ho-hum parenting is including the basis of health. No one in the family can feel well if we are not home to make healthy food, if we don’t have time to be out in nature. A child that often feels as if everything is urgent and is “wired”, often needs less in their schedule, not more.

And the last part of ho-hum parenting is figuring out how to communicate and perhaps in very different ways than we were taught or that was modeled for us. It is being sensitive enough to see what is going on underneath for a child who is more reserved, and it’s being able to help week out the important thing for a child who is super sensitive and overreacts. It’s understanding developmental stages and how this fits in with personality, and using your calm words and presence to help. There are many back posts about communication on this blog. I personally had to re-learn how to communicate. I took classes in nonviolent communication and read a lot, which was helpful. If I can do it, you can do it too!

I would love to hear about your parenting journey.

Many blessings and peace,

Carrie

Candlelit November

My son told me yesterday that our farm looked like honey. When I looked at him he said that the trees were golden and the sun was setting which made a golden glow over that. It was, indeed, like a honey-kissed landscape for us to rejoice in.

I love the calmness and coziness of November. Even here in the Deep South, the temperatures have actually been cold at night for us, and firelight and candlelight sound like such a good thing to go with warming drinks and foods and the cold crunch of leaves outside. This month, instead of being a frenzy leading up to the holidays, can be a beautiful slow-paced autumnal march towards winter.

I love November in all its crisp -leaved, golden sunset, chill temperatures perfection.  The leaves are FINALLY turning here where I live, and it feels like the beauty and coziness of fall is upon us at last.

This is a wonderful month of celebrations for our family (yes, even now that our children are 20, almost 17, and 12!)

  • November 1 and 2 – All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day
  • November 2 – Election Day
  • November 11 – Martinmas (and there are many other posts about Martinmas if you use the search engine box!) It’s also Veteran’s Day, which we celebrate every day with my husband and father in law who are veterans.
  • November 20- My handsome husband’s birthday!
  • November 22- Thanksgiving
  • November 28- First Sunday in Advent
  • November 30- The Feast of St. Andrew the Apostle

Learning and celebrating:

  • Learn songs for a Martinmas Lantern Walk – you don’t need a lot of people to do a Lantern Walk. You an also check your local churches – if you live in an area with a German population, there may be a church holding a celebration of this day.
  • Use transparency paper to make window silhouettes and transparency cut-outs and lanterns.
  • Bake bread on the cold days
  • Look for bird’s  nests as the trees lose their leaves; make feeders start to be filled all the time, make treats for the birds
  • Dip leaves in glycerin or beeswax and preserve them
  • Cook things with cranberries, corn, and pumpkin.
  • Try the book Cranberry Thanksgiving and make cranberry bread!
  • Learn some Thanksgiving songs and practice so you can play them after Thanksgiving Dinner!
  • Find a place to volunteer to serve Thanksgiving dinner
  • Make Thanksgiving Baskets and leaving them on your neighbor’s doorstep!
  • Gather greens and natural items to use for an Advent Wreath.  We do this at church from the areas surrounding the church and it is quite lovely!
  • Find books, cozy blankets and pillows, and mark off half days for just reading and lounging around. Pull out candles, homemade Martinmas lanterns, salt lamps  and scatter them around.  Cuddle up and read with some fabulous tea or hot chocolate.
  • Find handwork projects that you will love and get started.
  • Order some woolens for your family members; my favorite place to get them is Green Mountain Organics
  • You probably already have found your hats, mittens and gloves and coats, but we are a little slower down here with cold temperatures coming later so I just did that this week!

For littles especially:

For the older children:

  • Get them involved in your autumn traditions – baking, cooking, cleaning, taking care of the birds outside, hiking, star watching, volunteering.
  • Think of traditions of gratitude and light.  Some teens may no longer love a lantern walk (although I still love it and I am an adult), but some teens might go for a big bonfire with friends on Martinmas.
  • Some thoughts:  Cultivating Gratitude in Children
  • How do we help older children internalize the spirit of helping the most needy, the most destitute, the most poor? That is the work for this age.

Inner Work:

Farm Life right now is slowing down for our bees. They were very sweet and sort of passive bees, and I think with that personality came the fact that they were not aggressive gatherers. In fact, they have already eaten through all their honey, so I worry a bit about their survival this winter but we do live in a milder climate so hopefully they will make it through! The horses will be here in 1-2 weeks so we are busy ordering hay and shavings and getting stalls ready, making sure we have blankets for everyone as through the winter is still show season and many show horses are clipped and need some protection from the cold! People ask if we will get other animals, and we may get a few chickens, but honestly having horses here and boarder horses to take care of is enough work!

In school life, we are excited to have our oldest child home from college for breaks around the holidays and are making some plans to celebrate at home. Our middle child is a junior and doing well at her four day a week high school, which is still considered homeschooling due to shorter hours, but it doesn’t involve a lot of work on my end which still feels odd! Our twelve year old is still homeschooling with an outside program when I work, and we are slower going through our lessons, but he is putting forth good effort and I have seen a lot of academic growth this year.

I would love to know what you are up to this wonderful November!

Blessings,

Carrie

Glorious Golden October

I love October! It’s one of my favorite months in the year as the leaves begin to turn, the temperature begins to cool down, and all the fall activities are available here in the Deep South.

These are the days we are celebrating in October:

October 4-The Feast of St. Francis of Assisi

October 9 – Our youngest child will be 12! He is very excited for his birthday!

October 31 – Halloween, which really is low key in our house, but All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day are big!  You can see a back post about Halloween In The Waldorf Home, and this one about preparing for All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day

We don’t have time for our mid-October camping trip this year, which stinks, but I am hopeful for other outdoor activities!

The little things that make ordinary October days magic:

Playing in the leaves

Apple picking

Pumpkin farm visits

Making pumpkin muffins and breads

Longer nights with deeper and later sleep

Warming foods

Fuzzy flannel sheets

Warm teas

Lantern making for Martinmas

Finding ideas to make for holiday gifts

Some ideas for celebrating:

Besides, the above post, I always think about

Warmth

Warming Foods – this back post is from January, but it might give you some ideas for warming foods

Autumn Circles and Autumn tales for little ones

Make lanterns

Re-instating tea time – so warming and lovely

If you have small children, you might really enjoy this post from Liza Fox about meaningful work for toddlers

Things Going On!

On the farm, we are finishing up an interior barn renovation. The exterior of the barn will be done in the spring, but this renovation should be enough to move all of our horses home, which is very exciting! We still have interior house renovations to do, including insulation, and are tackling these bit by bit.

We are planting bulbs for spring. Our fall crops should have gotten in the ground, but didn’t, so that’s on the list too!

Our bees are ready for winter. Our hive is only in average shape, but we will spend some time this month planning for spring and when we add additional hives. We will be ordering beekeeping supplies.

Homeschooling Fun!

Our sixth grader has made his way through mineralogy and we are moving into Greek and Roman History, which I think he will love. We have been working hard on math and spelling, and busy doing things with 4H and our youth group at church. He has an outdoor program two days a week and an outside math/science class one morning, so we are homeschooling at home with limited time whilst I work outside the home, but it’s working okay this year!

Our high school junior is most busy with horses, but also is doing really well at her four day a week outside high school program. The PSAT is this fall, and the ACT is in the spring. Not sure what the future holds for our little junior after high school, but just getting things in order for any future plans!

My husband and I celebrated 33 years of the day we met on October 1, so that felt pretty special to have had so many years together. My life was forever changed for the better on that day, although it feels as if we have lived a million lifetimes since then. Growing and changing together!

Personally, I have been busy in my work as a pelvic floor physical therapist and lactation consultant. It’s a busy time of year, and it has been stressful with all the different things we are juggling as a family, but I am looking forward to the holidays and that inward seasonal impulse that has me wanting to renew my own self-care.

I hope you are having the most glorious golden October! Please tell me what you are up to! Are you excited about autumn?

Blessings,

Carrie

Creating the Heart of Family Life

The heart of the home and homeschooling lies within us to create. This can be a difficult work, especially when our children are small and we feel like we are inventing something brand new and discovering layers of ourselves and our family. It involves sinking into challenges and imagining new solutions. It involves finding balance and health, exploring wonder, finding gratitude. It’s a good place and a good work for these times of sadness, despair, tumult. The next generation is depending upon it.

How we do this looks different for each and every person.

For some, it could involve prayer, meditation, or other spiritual work.

For some, it could involve family meetings and great communication with a spouse or partner.

For some, it could involve having self-care and time to create and think and plan.

For some, it could involve a strong rhythm to find time.

For some, it could involve a lot of time outside in nature in order to feel centered and ready to take on the tasks of homemaking, parenting, homeschooling.

For some, it could involve finding the goodness in each day, and seeing the wonder.

For some, it could involve spending less time on social media.

For me, I have done all these things over the years in an effort to keep homemaking and homeschooling (and now working outside the home) sustainable. Prayer is a touchpoint of my day, and so is communicating with my spouse – walking and working together helps. When our children were small they went to bed early and that also gave us some time to talk and catch up. Rhythm is the biggest single help to me on a very practical level to make sure I have time to do all the things I need to do.

My challenge to you is to choose the most essential parts in order to make the heart of your homemaking and homemaking and make your rhythm around those! I can’t wait to hear how things go for you.

Many blessings,

Carrie

Waldorf Homeschooling Then and Now

When I started homeschooling my five/six year old (the first year I really count, that six year old kindergarten year), it was 2005-2006 and resources for Waldorf homeschooling were sparse. There was Marsha Johnson’s Yahoo Group (remember those?), Donna Simmons was coming out with some products, Melisa Nielsen was coming out with products and there was Live Education! There were some books you could get by mail from the Rudolf Steiner Library and you could order Steiner’s lectures. I actually found Waldorf Education because I had seen Waldorf homeschooling mentioned in a library book and I read Steiner’s educational lectures first before I even saw a Waldorf school or curriculum.

As homeschoolers, we were hungry for knowledge and how to do things, and the school community was happy to have us come experience a community festival at a school, but there wasn’t much else offered in terms of support. Most of us couldn’t afford a Waldorf School for our multiple children, and that was that.

Today, there is a (relative) explosion of resources out there.

Buyer beware.

I am saying this because I think Waldorf homeschooling is very strange in a way. You don’t hear of any other kind of homeschooling method where people seem to prey on the fact that this type of homeschooling is “hard” and there are proper ways to do things and you will never be enough (so you should spend a lot of money to figure this out). You don’t hear that in classical circles, you don’t hear it in Charlotte Mason circles – why in this circle? Over an educational method Dr. Steiner started for the children of workers in a cigarette factory? Where he gave some weeks of lecture, and off the first Waldorf teachers went with his indications and created something that was obviously special and grew around the world? It is special – but I think Dr. Steiner wanted it to be accessible ! You can learn to do this! Dr. Steiner’s lectures were good enough for the first Waldorf teachers, and they can be good enough for you too!

You are enough. You can do this. If you feel as if or if you have been told that this way of homeschooling is so difficult, I want you to instead focus on your own strength and tenacity. Your own hunger for this way of living and education to heal yourself, heal your family, and to provide your child with amazing benefits to be well-rounded and to be a healthy adult.

Do you need help? Look at the back posts here. There are maybe 13 years or more of back posts on here! Every grade, block, age is covered. And it’s free! Ask on the Waldorf homeschooling FB groups where there are seasoned, veteran homeschooling mothers who can help you. There are free resources for the early grades online.

No, it is not going to look exactly like a Waldorf School. We as homeschoolers tend to be broader and have to combine things for our multiple children because trying to do three main lessons or more a day is too much – and that is ok! Look at Steiner’s original indications for subjects with child development – much broader than the narrow grade at a school. It’s okay.

Do you need help with art? The art is about creating and the process. Yes, the finished products can be beautiful but that’s not all there is. Maybe you are terrific at math. Or gardening. Each homeschool will have its own flair. I am still terrible at handwork, but I can sing, paint, draw, model, and play instruments. Find your strengths, you can find resources in your community for the rest. Practice daily! You will get better.

What is the first step? Rhythm – which will look different in every household, and understanding biography, development. Look at your family, and the child in front of you.

Sometimes the best way to go with Waldorf homeschooling is to jump into it.

Did I chose the right sized main lesson book that first year for form drawing? Nope.

Did it ruin my child’s life?

Nope.

Was I incredible at handwork? Nope, but I could do other things!

Did I nail every finer point of a block the first time I went through it? Nope, but I sure learned a lot.

Many of us did this for YEARS with no help, on the outside of even the fringes of the Waldorf School movement which was already an alternative movement anyway. We used library books to make blocks, ordered things we hadn’t seen in person, got art supplies, and did our best. This way of homeschooling, while different because it has a distinct spiritual view of the human being, subjects to correlate with the development of the human being, and is based in the arts IS different but that doesn’t mean you can’t do it! And you can figure it out as you go along. Let go of your perfectionism and the school picture. This is homeschooling, which is separate in my mind from a school setting.

I don’t think Dr. Steiner would have wanted it any other way. Waldorf homeschooling has the ability to be accessible, to help heal generations, to help us know ourselves deeply and to see and be goodness, truth, and beauty.

Blessings,
Carrie

August Anchor Points

I could not be more excited that glorious August is here! The month of sunshine and sunflowers, lakes, and fun – and here in the deep south, it’s also time for back to school. But it’s also my birthday month, and I think 51 is going to be a fabulous year! I am so excited!

The things we are celebrating:

August 6th- The Transfiguration of Jesus Christ

August 8th- My Birthday!

August 10- School starts!

August 15- The Dormition of St. Mary

August 28 – our oldest child will be 20! Doesn’t seem possible! ❤ She is a sophomore at univeristy!

Ideas for Celebration:

  • Making a  beautiful triptych to celebrate the life of St. Mary.  There are many wonderful ideas regarding this on the Internet.
  • We have about another month of tubing, swimming and water park availability to us, so we hope to take advantage!
  • Camping – it can be super hot here, but I am already making camping in the fall a priority.
  • Gazing at the stars
  • Horses!  With our new farm, we are busy getting the interior of the barn ripped out and then we ordered new stall fronts – and we need to paint it! And then our horses can come home! Can’t wait. We also have plans for chickens and I am hoping for two goats. Plus our bees are doing well, and we are planning on adding three more hives in the spring.
  • Walking in the mornings
  • Working out.  Move!  During quarantine, I have been using Beach Body (no affiliation at all, just happy to have it when I can’t go to the gym!) At the end of the month my oldest daughter and I are starting 75Hard!

The Domestic Life:

This a good time to take stock of needs for fall/winter in clothing, shoes, outside gear, school supplies, art supplies

I also think this a great time to go back to manners.  Children are often in an expansive place with summer weather and may need some help in remembering school behavior, work ethics and manners!   Rhythm is also a huge help with that.  It’s a key word for this month and the structure of the rhythm of school does us all good!

Meal planning gets us through because I am too busy to have to spend a lot of time every day planning.  So, I like to plan 2-4 weeks of meals and shop in bulk!  More on that coming soon.

Homeschooling:

We are jumping into sixth grade (for my third time!).  I am looking forward to it, and pretty much decided to start with Mineralogy and then Greek History before we move into the other blocks. So excited for this year! Our sixth grader is involved with 4-H and horses and it truly is going to be a great year!

Our eleventh grader is in an outside hybrid homeschool program, so mainly I am helping with homework there! We are so proud of her!

We are super proud of our girl at university! She is an amazing adult. She and I took a mother-daughter trip in July, just the two of us, and it was awesome!

Self-Care and Rhythm:

With farm life, working, homeschooling, consulting — I am working on keeping my morning rhythm of self-care, and making time for exercise and food prep! This is really, really important to me. My spiritual work is also paramount right now!

My other huge piece of self care is  my supplements! I have some long term effects from getting Covid over a year ago, and supplements that were derived from my lab work are really helpful! I have also been napping on the weekends, which has been very helpful.

I want to hear what you have learned during quarantine, how August is shaping up for you, how is school looking?  I have been super busy doing homeschool consulting this month! If anyone needs help with homeschool planning or planning for family life, please email me at admin@theparentingpassageway.  My rates for a half hour phone call are super reasonable and I have helped lots of moms this month!  I also answer fast questions via email for free, and always give my single moms free help. Please let me know if I can help you!

Lots of love and many blessings,
carrie

The Christian Corner

Since I have readers from nearly every country, from Australia to India and Nepal to many  Middle Eastern countries, (thank you readers!) who all represent many different religious, I don’t write a lot about the spiritual component to our homeschooling. I have written several back posts about Episcopalian/Anglican homeschooling, so those are up if you use the search engine box.  This site is about child development, healthy families, and healthy education so other than to say that spirituality is an essential part of our humanity not to be ignored or cast aside, I generally don’t say too mcuh.  However, every now and then I put a post out about what we doing with our religious studies, or something I am thinking about and today is one of those days.

I got a new journaling Bible during quarantine – it is the The Message Canvas Bible (Peterson) and I have enjoyed the contemporary language and coloring in all the art. I wanted something I could just color in rather than blank pages to create art, because I find if I get into creating art within the pages of my Bible it actually distracts me from reading and focusing a bit. That’s just me.

Anyway, today I was reading 2 Peter talking about confirming God’s invitation to us to be His and I love this: “So don’t lose a minute in building on what you’ve been given, complementing your basic faith with good character, spiritual understanding, alert discipline, passionate patience, reverent wonder, warm friendliness, and generous love, each dimension fitting into and developing the others.”

Sometimes we go through fallow periods where we are just getting by; our move to our farm four months ago threw us into a frenzy of doing things but we lost rhythm and many other things – we gained a lot of stress as there was just a lot to be done and there still is. Sometimes you have to go right back to basics and see where you are falling short and remember. Just remember who you are in the midst and what are the things that make up the foundation of your life.

Sending love to you, my friends.

Blessings,

Carrie

Fabulous Fifties

If we look at life in seven year cycles, we can see that development is both cyclical in a way and a spiral at the same time – hopefully we are taking our experiences and building on them in such a way that the years to come are better with what we have learned. The years of the thirties and forties are a great time of change, of growing, and of metamorphosis. Like all human development, there are individual journeys, but there are also pretty archetypal themes for different decades of aging.

Human beings continue to mature throughout their lifetime, so it is difficult to say, oh, our children are fully grown when they are 18 or 21 or oh, the brain fully develops around age 28…the reality is we are always growing, changing… we are always in need of encouragement and guidance, and if we do it right, hopefully we are always developing new capacities.

Maturity is that difference, that thing that stands in the gap so to speak. If 35 is a threshold for new insights, typically the late 30s and early 40s have a sort of loneliness to them. The beauty of this though, is that there is an awakening to community in the later 40’s into the 50’s. This community is made of the wonderful people who also are also set on growing wiser, finding truth.

I am almost 51 this year; 50 is a mystical number on many levels – in the Christian Bible, it signifies deliverance or freedom from a burden. I didn’t find 50 to be this for me personally as I am still in the thick of raising children and dealing with work and other matters. However, I do think it is the time to move from thinking into the realm of willing, and I think this is a time when many people feel the need to reach out beyond themselves or their family, into the world, and build community. I don’t think this is accidental, and I have experienced this this year: a true need and wanting to build community. I have seen it in the love for the community my children are building independent and separate from us as parents, but still intertwined. It’s quite lovely to experience.

In circles connected with Waldorf education and Rudolf Steiner’s study and insights into human development, 55 years and 10 months is seen as corresponding to the years of seven to fourteen but with increased health problems. While that doesn’t sound promising, it is a time when many report of a major surgery or major life-threatening illness. Is that always true? No, of course not. But it is this idea that the body eventually becomes a bit of hindrance and through that we can find new strength, new fortitude, new beginnings, newfound power so to speak, and this can lead up to a time of nearly never ending creativity at age 56 and beyond. And the time span of age 74 years and beyond can lead toward major works being published and projects created and finished because there this new creativity. A life’s work can be completed! Working on self development and self education is an important component of being able to do this work all the way into our 70s and beyond. I read an article in the New York Times that said by 2100, there will be 25 million centenarians. While very few people live past 115, there are a few who make it close to 120 years old. The question becomes, can these ages be a life well lived, a good quality?

I think the 50s are a good place to start.

Blessings,

Carrie