In many ways, this has been one of the best summers I have ever had.  It has been a series of carefree camping, swimming and kayaking dates,  interspersed with lots of time with friends and family.  It has been wonderful and healing for my soul in so many ways.

My friend Catherine wrote a post about emptiness and about having compassion for oneself.  It is a must-read, as is the post she linked to as well: http://catherine-et-les-fees.blogspot.com/2013/06/emptiness.html

It so resonated with me because underneath my really fun summer, emptiness and grief has been a theme of this whole year for me.  Time can be so healing, but yet not enough time has passed, so those emotions and events are still there in my soul, digesting and breaking down.

Empty.  Drained. Exhausted.


Not full, but empty.

There is still laughter and fun, but it is there underneath, this feeling.

Sometimes life is like this tide of outward expansion, inward contraction…full and empty, alone and then in companionship.  But it can be so hard when one feels so unsafe, so unprotected, so…challenged and swimming upstream at every turn.  It can be so hard when your “ho hum” has left the building and run away because you feel so raw about everything.

Yet, a curious thing has come out of this summer, simply because I really took some steps to protect myself in rest, to protect myself in peace.  The emptiness has not gone away, there are really raw moments,  but I am starting to see it all as something different.  I am starting to see it all as gifts.

A gift of solitude.  If you look up synonyms to “emptiness”, curiously enough, you will find “solitude” listed as such.  Words are such curious creatures, and I would not have paired solitude and emptiness and yet there it is.

Solitude has me retreating into a cell not unlike the cells the Early Christian desert monastics lived and worked in.  A cell of the soul.  It is stillness.  I am waiting. I am abiding.

What I am learning in this cell, as I pare down the external, get rid of commitments, as I retreat and renew and finds what  nourishes me,  is fascinating.   There are lessons and gifts there.

A gift of grace.  I am praying and meditating each day on the Great Prayer of St. Ephraim the Syrian.  It is my mainstay right now.   Grace is what gets one through the ugly in life.

The gift of a small circle of loved and trusted friends.  Like most of us, I  hold more insecurities than ever right now….  What do I possibly have to offer anyone at all?  So many loud and strident voices out on the Internet and in life as well….it makes me want to walk away, retreat under a rock or in a cave and just be with my very small circle of those I really trust and love.  I have thought on and off that perhaps I should stop blogging completely since it is all being said by others and I have felt such an emptiness.   But yet, I hang on and think perhaps there is light in the cell of my soul to yet be shared.  There is this glimmer of hope.  I am thankful for the people God has placed in my life.

So  I do understand where Catherine and where so many of us as women are in this season, but here is to hope and to thankfulness for this moment and the opportunity to grow in love.

Many blessings,


47 thoughts on “Emptiness

  1. Hello Carrie,
    I have appreciated your posts so much. Your blog is a quiet peaceful place, and that is so welcome in our present-day, hectic world. I think it may be the unlikely juxtaposition of being alone in front of a screen yet in touch with so many – everywhere, that is jarring and somewhat alienating. I too put in much time alone, creating newsletters, positing on facebook, and working with my husband in our garage, making hands-on math materials. The occasional thank you comes through, but for the most part it feels like being in a vacuum. I do want to share with you that you (and I) are being heard, and are making a difference. Thank you for all you do.

    • Marin,
      Likewise for ALL that you do! I appreciate your presence in my life and in the Waldorf community. 🙂
      Much love,

  2. Dear Carrie

    You have so much to offer the world with your blog, if that is still what you wish to do. While i love beautiful photos and good design, it is your blog with its gentle words and strong guidance which has made a real impact on my life as a mother and individual. When I’m unsure about situations in my life as a mother i often search your blog – it is full of wisdom and practical help, which I long for as I no longer can seek that guidance from my own mother. I am grateful for all this help you have given me, which you may not even realise you have done.

    Your words and spirit are a gift. The blog is just the medium for it.
    I hope you keep seeking grace and find healing on this journey of grief.

    Best wishes
    Angela (Australia)

  3. I am sorry you are having a rough time. I am, too. My sister just had a baby boy, and I am still grieving the stillbirth of my daughter. Your words have been a help and a joy for me; I hope you’ll want to continue blogging.

  4. Carrie,
    I have never commented on your blog but read nearly every post that lands in my email in-box. It may not seem that we have a lot in common — I am Jewish, not a homeschooler and my daughter goes to public school in a city. With that said, I am still trying to be the best mother I can be and struggle with having an only child (I had several miscarriages before I was blessed with a child at 42) and I often find solace, support and guidance in your posts. I even forward them to my husband occasionally and he appreciates your thoughtful words as well. It helps too that we believe in the Waldorf way even though we were not able to send our daughter to a Waldorf school, we love to pull from many of the tenets.

    I am so sorry that you’re going through this difficult time. Grief can be such a lonely place and you write about it so beautifully. I thought it was a good time to let you know how much I appreciate your words. Thinking of you,

    P.S. I had a lot of trouble writing this comment for some reason – technical difficulties. Please forgive any typos.

    • Jennifer — It was so nice to hear from you, thank you so much for your kind words and blessings to you and your sweet daughter.
      Many, many blessings,

  5. I read many blogs and yours is a favorite. Even on busy days when I have no time for reading blogs, I almost always go back and read your posts in my inbox even days later. So please don’t stop blogging! You focus on so many things I find essential as a parent. Even though on face value we couldn’t be more different (I don’t homeschool, I send my kids to public school not a Waldorf school, I don’t really have a religion but our household is largely Muslim), the fundamentals of what you blog about very much jive with all of my parenting philosophies and ideas. I love your focus on inner spiritual work as a foundation for the household as well as rhythm and how important coming back to these basics are. Many times I have found myself emailing a post of yours to my husband as we struggle with something with one of our kids. So thanks for your blog and you should definitely know it is read and loved!

    • Stephanie,
      Thank you so much for writing in! Many, many blessings to you and your sweet family.

  6. Carrie,

    I just had to respond to this post! YOU are such a blessing and inspiration to so many of us. I don’t know of ANYONE saying the same thing as you…..you have such a gift for educating, inspiring, and cheering on so many of us….without any judgement, might I add. I refer to your blogs, emails, insights, and wisdom often and because of YOU, yes YOU, I am a better mother and homeschooler. No one does what YOU do…you have your own unique gifts and abilities that touch all of us.

    I wish I could take away your pain and ease your suffering. You will be in my prayers with an abundance of hope and healing energy sent your way.

    Blessings to you,

  7. Carrie,
    I have actually never responded to anyones blog post, until now.
    I want you to know that you have inspired me in my life and homeschool in so many ways.
    I too have been going through one of the hardest years of my life and this post today seemed to light my path a bit. Yours is one of the very few blogs that I have continued to read as I travel on my healing path. Please know that YOU are making a difference, YOU are a gift to the world.
    I pray that your suffering may ease and you will continue to be kind and gentle to yourself.
    Thank you Carrie.
    Peace to you,

  8. Oh Carrie! I am deeply touched by your words. I wish we could hug in real life. I feel like retreating under a rock too, but like you, I know it is a season in my life. I am sorry to hear you are struggling too. You are right: there hope and thankfulness for this moment and the opportunity to grow in love. Thank you my friend for being true and vulnerable and raw.

  9. When I read the title of this post, my heart started beating faster because, yet again, it’s like you are always saying just what I need to hear just when I need to hear it! I am soaking up every word you have written here (as I have done with so many of your posts) and taking it to heart, as this time in my life has been one of a kind of emptiness as well. And I want you to know that your blog has been life changing for me and my family. (As I’ve written to you privately before) I know that even on my worst days as a parent, my children are getting the gift of Waldorf and your unique take on child development. I reread your posts often and your blog has been a life-saver for me as I have grown as a parent. Sending YOU a big hug! I believe you are one of those lucky people who is living your divine purpose—at least that’s how I’ve always viewed what you do! 🙂

  10. Please hang on, please keep writing. What you write and what you say is different from so many others. I can guarantee you that, very much for this reader, you have been a trusted, experienced guide in the ways of gentle, wise, empathetic and strong parenting. I am a fan and I am so thankful for your words, your insight, your honesty. Thank you for everything you share.

  11. Hello Carrie…… your blog and writing has been a life line to me over the past years and still is….. sometimes seeking out your words and wisdom at the beginning of each day has been what has propelled me through that day. I have suffered from depression for years and years, but over the last months have gradually begun to heal, through inner work and anthroposophy. Your writings and wisdom have played a large part in that, one that I am eternally grateful for. Please know in this time of your own suffering that you bring so much to so many that is more appreciated than you may know……. I pray that you may continue to find peace, grace and strength and that your path may once again be full of light. With love…..

  12. Dear Carrie
    Read your blog post today and felt little sad about the emptiness thing you mentioned . I was wondering if you have ever attended any ‘Art of Living ‘ course ? I did see a ‘Ho hum’ thing there in your post so thought you might have. If not , I strongly recommend taking a Part – 1 course if its available near your place and learn a beautiful meditation technique – Sudarshan Kriya. I am sure it will help you acknowledge that you have all that you need to be Happy ! Lastly , your blog is very inspiring and not just today but people like me would keep googling for finding answers and will chance upon this wealth of lovely information so please never stop it !!

    Take care

  13. Dear Carrie,

    I am a new mom of a 6 month old and recently found your blog. I can say without a doubt that it has dramatically changed my life for the better in so many ways, not the least of which is my approach to being a mama. I’m sorry you’re going through a rough time. But please never doubt the importance or uniqueness of what you’ve said on this blog, whether you continue it or not. Sometimes when I’m struggling with being a mama I go to your blog and read old posts. They always make me feel uplifted and inspired. And then I reach the end of a post and see your simple sign off of “blessings” and feel such peace echoing from your words that I always just take a deep breath and feel sane again. And I’m not even a religious person! So thank you. And blessings.

  14. Carrie,
    This is the first time I have ever left a comment, although I have been a reader for some time now. This time I had to reply. Yours is the ONLY blog I read. ( Ooops, and Shannon Hayes too, but not so regularly). There is a reason why you are the only writer I read online. Don’t think everyone else is saying what you are saying–only you are saying it your way, and that’s why I’m here. That ‘s why everyone in my H-S group knows I read you because I re-post what you write so often.
    I hear that is has been an extremely intense time for you (and being a person you don’t even know makes it strange to have such deep caring for you, since you are so familiar to me), and I am glad you are giving yourself safety, peace and space. And maybe writing is even too much sometimes, but don’t not write because you don’t think your words are valuable. Your words, your perspective and your knowledge make a difference in my life and the life of my family. What you do is valuable to me. Please continue to take care of yourself, and know that there are a whole lot of us out here who are holding you with our prayers, love and support. Feel it.
    Thanks for the intimate and genuine post. Your words capture the paradox of the beauty in deep deep pain.
    Carrie McGregor

  15. “When the old ghosts come back
    To feed on everywhere you felt sure,
    Do not strengthen their hunger
    By choosing to fear;
    Rather, decide to call on your heart
    That it may grow clear and free
    To welcome home your emptiness
    That it may cleanse you
    Like the clearest air
    You could ever breathe.”
    –John O’Donohue
    “For Loneliness” (excerpt)

    always, my friend, always,

  16. I am so sorry that you going through a period of grief in your life. Your writing and work have inspired me for so many years now. I would not be walking this waldorf homeschooling and parenting path if I had not stumbled upon this space when my oldest was five. Your wise words and guidance have had a wonderful impact on our family. I hope in this summer season that you find peace in the solitude and will keep you in my prayers.

  17. Carrie
    I don’t often comment but I read, and re-read over & again every one of your posts. I simply can not put into words how much your writing has impacted on me, as a person, on my family & my self & my husband as parents. I do know we would not be who we are or the family we are today without you. PLEASE don’t stop or give up heart!! And thank you for all you put into this space xx

  18. Thank you for your honesty. There have been many a morning that I feel blessed to know you are in the world and keeping on with your lovely family and sharing with the world how you do that. I have often mentioned to my husband or a friend how remarkable your generousity is and how that alone inspires me beyond all the beautiful words you share. Though I would be saddened if you were to stop posting for awhile, more than that I want you to feel your joy, and if that means taking time from your blog, I want that for you. But if it is encouragement you need, you are a true voice that speaks to many, and benefit many children (and husbands). Blessings and comfort to you. Alison

  19. I agree with all the beautiful comments above! Everything I want to say has been said so very eloquently in the other posts! I never comment either but I want you to know that your blog means so much to me. Your strong yet gentle guidance has helped me through some dark times in my life. I am so grateful for your words. You have definitely helped me grow as a parent & a person. I am so sorry you are going through such a hard time right now. I will pray for peace & healing for you Carrie.

  20. Carrie,
    I just want to agree with everyone here what a tremendous and very real source of encouragement you are. I absolutely understand the need for a season of healing. You have such a gift of communicating truth in gentleness, very rare. But let me just say that(even though we have never met) I am sure that this community supports you in whatever you need to do for your own spiritual health.
    Thank you for being you,

  21. Dear Carrie, Please don’t stop blogging, you will then share emptiness instead. I love what you bring to my mailbox. I needed this very post on this very day. You have changed my life before, just like you have today. What talent and influence you have, don’t let that go.

    Namaste, Nico

  22. Hi Carrie,

    I am so sorry you are going through such a difficult time. Your words and wisdom have guided me through these last 4 or 5 years, inspiring me to be a better mom…a better person. I can certainly understand the need for time, space and peace. You have given of yourself so much with The Parenting Passageway; you should not feel obligated to continue. Your voice will remain here and we can come back to re-read backposts (you could even reblog your old posts), when we need your guidance. When your emptiness is filled again, perhaps you will come back to post again.

    Thank you so much for all you have given to me and to my family through the creation of this blog. I will be forever grateful and will come back to read often (as I do now).

    I wish you much strength and peace in your journey.

  23. Dear Carrie,
    I’m sorry for the hard times you are going trough. I appreciate so much the strength of sharing your vulnerability, your struggle. Take your time, I would miss ypur posts but I can “resist” if that’s what you need to get restored.
    Like others above we too lead a very different life, even a different culture(america/italian) but I always found the way to take what reasoneted with me because I felt your “freedom” was authentic.

    Un abbraccio, ciao

  24. Dearest Carrie

    I’m sitting here on a warm summer ‘s evening in England. My four year old asleep in bed, my almost one year old asleep on my belly. Both girls have grown so beautiful with your input and guidance in our lives. I read your wise words every time you post, and marvel that you are able to share all that you do. You have even written to me personally with specific help that has transformed our lives immediately for the better. That you would do this, for people you have never met, astonishes and humbles me.

    All over the world I imagine many more mothers, joined through your Blog, and somehow we are all helping each other through this crazy, beautiful journey, however long it may last for any of us. When one of us stumbles, we help each other up and onwards. With love, and gratitude. Gratitude for the moments when our faith is tested and we have an opportunity to grow, again, ever deeper and closer to the source, Stripping away, layer upon layer, everything we think we know and hold to be true, until we stand naked, and realise… Grateful for the exquisite beauty of the experience of Being… However that may be in that moment, at that time.

    Sending love to you, dear Carrie. My deepest love is with you, and i am smiling softly, knowing you are growing again… Wiser… Greater…

    And if you should choose to stop writing and sharing here, if that is right for you right now, then of course that is what you must do, and I thank you for everything you have shared, because there is so much of value here to read and re-read again and again.

    And lastly, if i can in any way help you at all, please allow me to do so.

    With love, Red, Grace and Lila xxx

  25. Dear Carrie,
    My life has been pretty upside down too for the last year with a legal attack on our family business that has made me feel like we could lose what we have worked hard for and dealing with betrayal and meanness. I have suffered and also I have found that within all the hardship there have been many gifts. So much is unresolved and yet I can find peace and joy in the moments at hand. I can take care of myself and retreat and say no to all the possible things to do. My heart will heal in time. With patience.

    So many times in my homeschooling journey your words have been a lifeline. No one else is already saying what you say here. I don’t read many blogs, but yours is one of the few that I do for my Waldorf homeschooling and peaceful parenting searchings… I feel like your words saved my relationship with my daughter a couple of years ago. You said something about greeting the children when they wake with love, and when I started doing that, something shifted. I realized how these simple acts of love everyday are really the most important thing. We didn’t get a whole lot of “lessons” done that spring of 2nd grade, what we did was just find our way to a peaceful loving place with each other. And that has never been lost since then, even when we drift there is still an anchor of love. It has helped my marriage and parenting a little boy- totally new territory for me. I will always have love and gratitude for your words that I believe were one of the reasons our family has been able to stay together for these last few years.

    Whatever you decide to do with your gifts in the future, I hope you will never lose hope and faith that your light and gifts have made such a difference for so many hearts and souls, a ripple into the future of hope.

    Sending love and peace, Sue in Portland, OR

  26. I read your blog regularly, I’ve never left a reply… each time I read, I come empty ;-), and i leave feeling full. your perspective is honest, real and refreshing, so full of love and kindness. I appreciate you, your wisdom, your gentleness and compassion for yourself and for all women and mothers who are doing their best to love, parent and homeschool their children! I thank you from the bottom of my heart.

  27. Thank you so much, Carrie, for all that you have given us in your blog. Your insights into child development and homeschooling have helped me to understand my children so much more deeply and clearly than I could on my own. And you have given me confidence in my ability to mother my children the way I do. I am so much a happier person as a result of your writing. If all you say is already said by someone else, I certainly have never found it. The way you synthesize and present ideas is entirely unique and beautiful.

    I’m sorry that you are going through such a challenging time right now. And I entirely support you if you are finished with blogging. But l just wanted to tell you how much I appreciate you.

    Dove Woeltjen in New Mexico with Sirius (9), Juniper (7), and Tycho (2)

  28. Just wanted to send you love and warmth. You are a shining light Carrie and I always find your writing truly enriching. Thank you x

  29. I’ve never posted on your blog before but have been a regular reader for what seems like many years – you are a constant guide and source of clarity and wisdom for me! I do not home school – my daughter goes to a waldorf school – but your posts have been such a help for me in forming our daily lives together and being a mother generally. please continue to share your gifts with more than just your family!

  30. Carrie – just moments before I read this post, I was thinking how much I love your home here on the www. I thought “no matter how long it’s been since I’ve popped in to say hi, it’s always like there’s an old friend waiting with a warm hug, a big cup of tea and the wisest words I’ve ever heard”. ‘Knowing’ you is a blessing that I feel immense gratitude for and the words you write here, in my opinion, are unmatched anywhere else that I have seen.


  31. Carrie, although I do not know you in person, you are undoubtedly the one person who has most helped me with the challenges of parenting!! Everytime I am feeling like a bad mother or I don’t know what to do about a certain situation with the kids I turn to your blog and there is always something that helps me. Thank you so much!

  32. Carrie:
    Especially as a new reader who has just discovered your blog, I can only echo some of the previous comments. You may think you’re only repeating what others say, but I am here to tell you you’re not. As an adult who does not yet have children, I have been drawn to reading and studying Waldorf ideas and practices, fully recognizing it was because I was a sensitive child and wounded student who could have benefitted tremendously from a Waldorf education. In all of my reading, I have never seen anyone address adults as individuals in a movement, not just in their roles as parents and educators; I find this incredibly enlightening and healing. I only hope that you have some similar guidance in your life that heals you!
    I also agree with some of the previous commenters that, as much as I enjoy your blog, I would rather you take a sabbatical than burn yourself out. When you’re ready to return, there will still be a community of people ready to listen to your gentle message.

  33. Dear Carrie,
    I’m not so good at expressing myself, but you mean so SO much to me. Your blog and regular posts have really helped me, and yours is the only blog I have stuck with. It is helpful, non-threatening, supportive and encouraging on so many levels. I trust what you say. I have been reading your blog for years, from when my daughters were small till now – early grades.
    I also hope that you can find the guidance for your life that you so graciously have brought to mine. Thank you so much Carrie. Take care of yourself – as I know you will, and I know God will look after you too.
    (Waldorf homeschooling family in South Africa)

    • Carol,
      You share a name with one of my very favorite aunts! Thank you so much for your kind words and positive thoughts.
      Many blessings and much joy to you and your family.

  34. I’ve been thinking about printing your entre blog to be able to read it out of the computer. Did you ever consider to make a book?
    I feel that emptiness since february, thank you for sharing 🙂

  35. Hi Carrie. I also wanted to throw in my heartfelt support for all the great work you have done helping like-minded families follow the ways of Waldorf education and Steiner’s perspective on family life. You have been a true blessing not only to me and my family, but countless others who are just beginning their journey through parenthood or may be searching for ‘another way’. And just so you know how much I truly respect your words of wisdom – you are listed as one of only two bloggers that I have put on my blogroll and listed as an Excellent Blogger! You really must put all of this wonderful content into a book. Thank you for so generously sharing your time and knowledge with us. Despite how many other people may be saying similar things….the magic comes from how you choose to share the information. Your words are so thoughtful and inspiring. And matter. Thank you, Carrie. May you find much love and comfort in those you hold near and dear to you during this time.


  36. Pingback: Entering…..new | The Parenting Passageway

  37. Carrie,

    You are so full of insight, inspiration, understanding, centeredness, and concrete knowledge. And yet, this to me, may be one of your most important posts. Perhaps because I can relate so tenderly, but even more, because you have the courage to show vulnerability. This blog is no ‘dog and pony show’, it is not a Facebook style avatar showing only the pretty pictures and amazing vacations. This is real and raw, tender and sweet, uplifting and with insight of the deep mysteries of life, and most poignantly full of the essence of Mother. We readers come to your blog as both mother and child on the inside, and you help us See ourselves completely. You are the brave and strong and vulnerable and beautiful woman that you see in the mirror. I see my own beauty mirrored in you. Thank you.


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