When Life Derails: Building A Rhythm From Scratch

Sometimes life has a way of changing either dramatically and smacking us in the face, or changing so gradually that we barely recognize that it is different than it was in the past. We grow and change as a family through the seasons, for sure. But sometimes we need a hard reset to get back to our own values and the things that matter most.

This week is Michaelmas, a favorite festival of mine and I love this opportunity to think about shifting into the season. What has been lost in busyness? What has changed and required a new rhythm? What needs more time? If you feel like hiding in a blanket fort and not seeing people, how can you get some more downtime? Where is the time for yourself?

This has been a busy time of life for me personally. I really ramped up during the pandemic with working and moving to a farm, plus still homeschooling and obligations with our other children, it seems kind of whirlwind.

So, I am looking ahead to October and seeing what I can do to tame things. It should be calmer, but I am also making it calmer. If I wait for things to calm down, at least with the ages that our children are, that could be a long time!

Here are a few things I am doing and maybe they will help you:

  1. Scheduling exercise 4-5 times a week. Not negotiable even if things are crazy.
  2. Back to meal planning and batch cooking, which fell off in September.
  3. Keeping our homeschooling times as non negotiable times.
  4. Scheduling farm work times daily for routine tasks. The list of special projects is often overwhelming, and the projects require money, so while not everything on that list can really happen, maybe small pieces of it can as we break projects down into pieces.
  5. Scheduling appointments, things around our place of worship, and seeing friends for October now so they don’t get shoved aside. Also, if I schedule them across a month I can see how busy or calm it is and how I need to balance things to make the month match my energy.
  6. I have patients that email and ask me to make space in my schedule for them. I started a cancel list rather than keep adding to my hours. If I burnout, no one will be seen and treated.
  7. Set one goal for each area (for me – farm, patient care/continuing education, homeschooling) this month that I would like to see happen. Find the top focus in each area.
  8. Prioritize rest and sleep. Rather than continuing to go at warp speed, honor my body and emotional state.

What is helping you shift into the season where you live?

Blessings,

Carrie

Taking Your Time Back

I firmly believe in parenting that there are seasons to everything. Some seasons or years are being at home (especially, for example, when you have younger children). Some seasons are expansive. Some seasons might be about you and your partner – I have friends who just had the summer of “husband and wife” and traveled.

This time of Michaelmas is a calling back to our inner most selves as we prepare for winter and prepare for rest and being in our homes more.

In my season of having very different things happening – running up to our daughter’s college for varying things this fall, senior year for our middle, seventh grade activities, working, homesteading and running an equine business – I have needed some different tools to keep myself on track. I am trying these out this fall:

  1. Menu planning. I always was a good menu planner but somehow got off track with moving to the farm last year. Back to planning!
  2. Blocking out days to be home with a big “X” on my calendar. I usually see patients even on the weekend, so it’s important I garner some time at home.
  3. Blocking out self-care – I have tried this all different ways. I do better with exercise classes outside the home so it doesn’t get shoved aside and is more treated like an appointment.
  4. Not scheduling things during our homeschooling hours.
  5. Making time with my husband a priority. It’s easy to lose each other because we have to divide and conquer so much of the time.
  6. Keeping to the rhythm of the year. I find it very nourishing!
  7. My calendar is blocked off into spring and the end of the school year with some things, and I try to schedule out exercise and self care at the beginning of each month.

I would love to hear some ways you keep yourself on track as far as your time!

Blessings and love,

Carrie

Michaelmas: The Inner Work

Michaelmas is celebrated in the Western Church and in Waldorf Schools on September 29. In Waldorf Schools these days this festival is celebrated with themes of bravery and courage, of the idea of slaying dragons as a physical embodiment of overcoming challenges.

The season of Michaelmas, for me, really lasts from a few weeks before Michaelmas until a week or so before Halloween.  In honor of this occasion, I have been reading the words of Rudolf Steiner from his lectures  collected and entitled, “Michaelmas and the Soul- Forces of Man”  In the fourth lecture, he relates the four major festivals of the year:  Michaelmas, Christmas, Easter and St. John’s.  He says, “ Easter: death, then resurrection; Michaelmas: resurrection of the soul, then death. This makes of the Michael Festival a reversed Easter Festival. Easter commemorates for us the Resurrection of Christ from death; but in the Michael Festival we must feel with all the intensity of our soul: In order not to sleep in a half-dead state that will dim my self-consciousness between death and a new birth, but rather, to be able to pass through the portal of death in full alertness, I must rouse my soul through my inner forces before I die. First, resurrection of the soul — then death, so that in death that resurrection can be achieved which man celebrates within himself.”

You can read these four lectures for yourself here:  http://wn.rsarchive.org/Lectures/MichSoul/MiSoul_index.html  There is also this really interesting collection of articles, lectures, verses and stories all about Michaelmas available in  Waldorf Journal Project #15, edited by David Mitchell.  You can find that here:   http://www.waldorflibrary.org/Journal_Articles/WJP15.pdf

I love this festival as one that illuminates the soul into the winter, takes up the challenges in front of us as we wind our way ahead in the dark to help us find that small space of courage and bravery that lets us know we are not defeated yet. We have not given up yet. Imagine a humanity where this was the theme before us of overcoming, of bringing new into the world. I may be attacked along the way of this new birth and new bringing, but I am not decimated. I can move forward.

There is a very old Polish legend about St. Michael converting his sword into a lyre. A lyre is often seen as an instrument that works to harmonize the threefold capacities of mankind: thinking, feeling, and willing. The strings of St. Michael’s lyre will be made from the valiant thoughts of mankind. You can see a version of this legend here: http://lyreassociation.org/blog/2017/12/5/st-michael-the-crescent-moon-and-the-lyre#:~:text=Michael%20will%20stand%20on%20the%20crescent.%20As%20a,He%20will%20perform%20his%20office%20as%20%E2%80%9Cheavenly%20lyrist.%22

These are lovely spiritual ideas to bring forth in our inner work this month.

Here are some physical, tangible ideas for celebrating Michaelmas with your children from young to teens.

We have done all sort of things over years past:

  • Made felted shooting star balls
  • Made dragon bread
  • Dyed capes and sashes either golden yellow with natural dyes or red
  • Had obstacle courses
  • Hunted for “dragon tears”
  • Made dragons out of felt
  • Made dragons out of thin modeling material and put it on candles
  • Made blackberry crisp
  • Had puppet shows with older children presenting for younger children
  • Had music and verses specific to Michaelmas
  • We have made Calendula Courage Salve.
  • In accordance with our religious tradition, we have shared stories of angels and verses and prayers about angels from The Bible and other sources of tradition within our church.
  • We have told many stories of St. Michael and the Star Children, Little Boy Knight, St. George and the Dragon.  There are so many wonderful stories and legends!

Other ideas:

**Stress doing good for others during this four-week period.  In the book, “Festivals With Children,” Brigitte Barz talks about bringing a balancing scale into the children’s space with dark stones on one side and helping the child choose a task each day to  help the archangel.  In this way, different stones can be added to the other side of the balance and hopefully by Michaelmas, the scale will be in complete balance.

**Make kites to fly.  This has been associated with Michaelmas for some time.

**Make a dragon out of clay or modeling beeswax

**Decorate a candle with a Michaelmas theme with the thin modeling candle wax.

**Tell fairy tales to the grades-aged children that fit into Michaelmas:  The Devil With The Three Golden Hairs, The Drummer, The Crystal Ball, The Two Brothers, Sleeping Beauty are all suggested.

**For children ages 9 and up, find Christine Natale’s story “The Golden Soldier”.  You can find Christine’s work here.

**For even older children, Parsifal is read in eleventh grade, so those 16 or so may enjoy this tale.

**Tell stories about St. George, a brave knight, who is a human symbol of this conflict of slaying and taming dragons; the personification of carrying inner light at a time when the outward light is diminishing

** For tiny children, try Suzanne Down’s story “The Brave Little Knight” or  the story “The Far Country” in the back of the book “All Year Round” for those five and up.

**Make plans to make “dragon bread” or a Michaelmas Harvest Loaf.  There is a story to go with this in the book “All Year Long”

**Learn Michaelmas songs.    There are some good ones in the Wynstones Autumn Book and yes, also on You Tube!

Most of all, if you are a parent, I urge you to pray and meditate over your children and their growth toward goodness, kindness, beauty, truth, responsibility and duty, and most of all self-control and compassion towards others.  It is a wonderful time for spiritual growth as a family in whatever way this is meaningful to you all as we will be heading into a season of Light for the world.

Thinking thoughts of courage and bravery,

Carrie