January Love

Outside of the current situation of grey and rainy weather with flooding, I love January.  First of all, the bright and shiny New Year beckons to me with goals, lists, my word of the year (#radiant) and dreaming fun.  Second of all, I love the more introverted vibe of this season – nesting with blankets and hot drinks and inside fun, but still being able to go outside for a walk in the rain or bright sunshine with colder temperatures!    I am always delighted with the possibility and prospect of snow as well.

These are a few of the things we are enjoying this month:

  • Daily walks rain or shine
  • Puzzles and board games
  • Green smoothies
  • Exercising a lot
  • Going out as a couple – hope to get away for a few overnights alone this year ❤ and getting ready to celebrate our 28th wedding anniversary in May
  • Opting outside daily
  • Playing with our horses and dreaming of the show season to start again
  • Baking
  • Indoor microgardening!  So fun – and having bulbs blooming in the house

Decluttering the entire house – we have done closets and drawers and the garage.  It’s so freeing to let things go!

These are the things we are celebrating:

  • January 1 – New Year’s Day
  • January 6– The Feast of Epiphany and Epiphanytide that stretches until Lent begins on February 26 this year.
  • January 21 – Martin Luther King, Jr Day –Martin Luther King is also celebrated January 15 and April 4 in The Episcopal Church
  • Janaury 18– The Feast Day of St. Peter
  • Week of Prayer for Christian Unity
  • January 25 – The Feast Day of St. Paul

Some fast ideas for fun things to do with children:  Cut out paper snowflakes, including really cool 3-D snowflakes; dip candles; roll candles; play board games or card games with your children;  draw, paint, model; whittle wood; make popcorn together; bake together; play in the snow – build snow forts; have snowball fights; snowshoe; downhill or cross country ski;  ice skate on a pond; read and tell stories; build forts inside; take a walk outside in the cold – look for animal tracks or berries or birds or all of the above; knit, crochet, cross stitch, finger knit, spin, sew; sing and make music together – learn some new songs; clean, scrub, dust, work around the house – rearrange furniture; go bowling or find an indoor swimming pool to swim in; write letters to family and friends; write stories together; snuggle on the coach with hot chocolate and marshmellows; cook for a neighbor; find a place of worship to attend and get involved; throw a party; clicker train your dog, cat, or other animal; take care of plants; start seeds indoors when it it is time

On the homeschooling front, I ordered a cap and gown for our senior this weekend.  She is graduating on May 16.  We are super proud of her and are excited about what the future holds for her at college (we don’t have a decision yet as some college don’t send out acceptances until February, but she has gotten back all acceptances so far from the ones that send out earlier).  Our high school freshman is still at her hybrid school (four days a week) and is re-enrolling for her sophomore year.  And our little fourth grader is still at home homeschooling – we have Norse Myths coming up in January, Birds of Prey in February, Math in March, Earth, Air, Wind, and Fire in April (soul food tales from The Golden Stag by I. Wyatt) and finishing with African Tales (tales from the San, tales from the Bantu people, Yoruba myths) in May.  So excited about planning fifth grade! I already have a skeleton framework in my head and will be doing it differently than I have ever done it before.  🙂

I am starting up my business in January as well – home health pelvic floor physical therapy and lactation!  So that is new and exciting, and of course I still have the rest of my clinical doctorate to finish by December 2020.

Most of all, I am excited to have fun – 2019 was busy and fun with many new wonderful friends, and I am hopeful 2020 will be more of that! We started a #gratitudejar where we put a little note in for anything that brings you joy or feeling thankful and we already have so many things to be grateful for.

I would love to hear your January plans!

Blessings and love,
Carrie

 

Bright and Shiny New Year

I love the prospect of a New Year, of new beginnings and bright shiny pages in my planner, the feeling of being able to begin again, fresh and new.  I hope this New Year feels like a welcome new beginning to you and your family.

This is the beautiful blessing I often share on the New Year:

May love and laughter light your days,
and warm your heart and home.
May good and faithful friends be yours,
wherever you may roam.
May peace and plenty bless your world
with joy that long endures.
May all life’s passing seasons
bring the best to you and yours.

-From an Old Irish Blessing, author unknown

May this year be the one in which you are ENOUGH just the way you are.

May this year be the one in which you are content.

May this year be the one where you are loved as richly as you deserve.

May this year be one of bountiful and deep friendships, beautiful family memories, and love.

May this year be the year that you help someone else, the year of your generous spirit blossoming.

May this year be the one that is perfect for you and where you are in life and may you enjoy it abundantly.

Many blessings for a peaceful New Year with new beginnings of nourishment and love.

With love to all, thank you for over ten years of marvelous readership and I hope to have much to offer you in 2020.

Carrie

Word of the Year

I so hope you are enjoying your holiday season.  I posted a Christmas message on FB and IG, so you can check for a beautiful prayer from A Black Rock Prayer Book. I love these Holy Nights of Christmastide and delving deep into inner work each day.

One thing I think about is taking stock of the past year and looking ahead to the New Year.  Like most people, I am not very good at keeping resolutions.  So I normally choose a word of the year to help keep me focused and centered on my priority. I first heard of this practice from Sheila over at Sure As The World, which is an incredible blog to read and follow. So many treasures over there!

This year, my word is RADIANT.  Each year I have done artistic representations of my word with sort of corresponding focus areas represented. One year I did concentric circles with the word of the year in the middle.  I have done trees with the word as the root and some of the focal areas as branches and I have done vision boards. This year, I am not sure what my artistic rendering will be, but I know my focal areas will be around:

Radiant Work

Radiant Family Life and Homeschooling

Radiant Health

Radiant Kids

I will be dreaming and drawing and painting throughout Christmastide to see what comes to me in these areas for 2020.  I would love to hear your word of the year if that is your practice!

Blessings,
Carrie

 

Winter Solstice and The Fourth Week of Advent

The Winter Solstice descends us into darkness and asks us to rise again, to find what gives us light, and to find what light we can give into the world.  Many of us are looking at Christmastide with renewed anticipation of generosity, light, kindness, love, compassion and bringing this into the world, beginning with ourselves and our own families.

What brings you light?  

How can you give light (compassion, kindness, love, generosity) to yourself?

How can you give light (compassion, kindness, love, generosity) to your family and others?

This is the fourth week of Advent – Christmastide begins soon.  This is the week that focuses on the light of mankind.  This could include creating/placing people on the Nativity Scene (some place the shepherds out this week if St. Mary and St. Joseph are already out); baking gingerbread people,  doing beautiful acts of kindness for those who need it most, thanking the workers of your community – postal people, fire people, police, garbage collectors, teachers, mentors, instructors, and honoring the people who are bringing light to the world and striving for all of humanity.

Christmastide is  a wonderful season that begins on Christmas Day and continues until the eve of Epiphany.  Freya Jaffke, in her wonderful book, “Celebrating the Festivals With Children”, writes:

“During the twelve or thirteen Holy Nights that follow Christmas, the events of Christmas continue to resonate; and it is a lovely custom for children if candles are lit each day, with singing, music making and perhaps a reading.  This period is set apart from the rest of the year, and can be a time when we gather our strength for the year ahead.  Nothing urgent needs to be done, and we can really take time for things.  Children are deeply satisfied if mother or father sits down beside them with some craftwork, or perhaps join in a game now and then.  In contrast to the summer when we like going outdoors, we feel very comfortable at home in the warmth – apart from winter walks and the fun of snow when it comes.”

We can celebrate the twelve days of Christmastide with children by using candles or a ring with twelve hearts or a simple Advent type calendar adapted to the twelve days of Christmas.  This becomes a nice way to bring children down gently from Christmas and to continue the joy and wonder society too often associates with just a single day.  Instructions to make a Christmas ring can be found in both “All Year Round” and “Celebrating Irish Festivals”.    There are instructions to make a “postcard” calendar for the twelve days of Christmastide, each window representing a month of the year, ie, the first card would represent January and be opened on the first day of Christmastide, the second card would represent February and be opened on the second day of Christmas.

Many blessings to you,

Carrie

The Third Week of Advent

A verse for this week:

The third light of Advent is the light of beasts-

All Await the Birth, from greatest to the least

OR

The third light of Advent is the light of beasts,

The light of hope we see in the greatest and the least

I hope you are all enjoying this third week of Advent.  This is the week I find if I am  not careful, all the busy creeps up and makes the holiday season less enjoyable,  so I like to try to be as conscious as I can about that.

This week I am celebrating “Ember Days” on Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday.  This is traditional, the Farmer’s Almanac mentions it as days to give thanks for the olive crop.  In the Episcopal Tradition, this is often a time of thanks for those in ministry, being ordained into ministry, and all Christian vocations.  These are traditional days of fasting and abstinence, and sometimes just what I need to pull myself back into the quiet and centered place that Advent calls us to be.

This is the week that the third candle in the Advent Wreath is lit and it usually is a pink candle, seen as a symbolism of joy and hope.  What I love about this week is that to me it strikes at the heart of simplicity and minimalism.  We don’t need a lot to be happy.  This is the week to hike, play board games, light candles for dinner and be grateful and full of love for all that we have in each other, not in the material things.  This can be a great week for adults to evaluate if the materialism of the season has gotten out of control.  If it has, my solution would be to tuck away some of the gifts for the time of Christmastide (you can get gifts throughout Christmastide! 12 days!), tuck some away for a future birthday or holiday, and to replace some of those material gifts with coupons for the gifts of time or service.

Many of us also celebrate this wonderful week with a focus on the animal kingdom and leading up to the beauty of the Winter Solstice.  This can be a beautiful day with ideas of light – lanterns, winter spirals, make winter suncatchers, dip candles and make candles- all would be lovely!  You can get up early and watch the sunrise, but many families I know celebrate the eve of the Winter Solstice.  This can be a day to bake sun bread (see the children’s book by the same title), to have tea, to make gingerbread houses!  So many wonderful ideas, and I would love to hear what you are doing.

In the back of my mind, I know the fourth week of Advent will be a little short, so I am getting some ideas ready for our celebration (you can see some ideas here), and then we will jump right into Christmastide…I love to pick a centering “word of the year” every year and have already chosen my 2020 word:  RADIANT. More about that later!

Many blessings,
Carrie

Celebrating The First Week of Advent

I love the season of Advent; it is a calling for preparation and anticipation; it is a coming to terms with the past; it is an exploration of the mystery of life; it is a calling to chart a new course for the future; it is a time when Nature is drawn into the Earth.

Roger Druitt writes in his book, “Festivals of the Year:  A Workbook for Re-enlivening the Christian Festival Cycle”:

“We can say that in summer, when everything is at its fullest extent of growth and splendour, the Earth is asleep- its soul is outside and its consciousness is in the periphery.  It is ‘unfolded.”  In winter, however, the landscapes, light and the starry sky exhibit a distinct clarity, a wakefulness.  In the Northern Hemisphere, then, during winter, nature is drawn into Earth, is infolded, is awake.”

I love this imagery of turning inward and being awake, seeing the lights above us in the stars and beautiful colors of the winter sunrise and sunset, and seeking a little bit of light for our homes and for ourselves to bring to our family, friends, and community.

Advent in the Waldorf Home is something that is frequently celebrated by people of every religious background, every faith, every spiritual path as part of the festivals of the cycle of the year.  The first week of Advent at Waldorf Schools is marked by a reverance for the mineral kingdom.  This quote is attributed to Rudolf Steiner, although I don’t think anyone has been able to show exactly where Steiner said this:

The first light of Advent is the light of stone–.
Light that lives in crystals, seashells, and bones.
The second light of Advent is the light of plants–
Plants that reach up to the sun and in the breezes dance.
The third light of Advent is the light of beasts–
All await the birth, from the greatest and in least.
The fourth light of Advent is the light of humankind–
The light of hope that we may learn to love and understand.”

I have many suggestions for celebrating this week on an outward level for children in the home in back posts – just search “first week of Advent” in the search box and many will come up with suggestions for activities, songs, verses.

However, as my children age, I am very interested in not only these hands- on activites that set the mood of Advent, but the real inner work and inner light of this season and this idea of the cosmic wondering. How do we create wonder,  warmth,  and light within ourselves to bring in an outward form during Christmastide (the 12 Days of Christmas) and beyond?

There are several things that help center me during this season that can be riddled and frenzied by commercialism and materialism:

1 – try to get any shopping done by the end of the first week of Advent so we can focus on crafting and making things for our home and for gifts with love for those we care about. Focus on the giving for others and marginalized groups, which we do in several different ways for the homeless children and women in our area and for the children who live in economically disadvantaged areas.  This giving and work around this is an important part of our preparation for Christmas.

2- get out in nature daily so we can notice the small still changes that often accompany this season, even in the Deep South of the United States where the seasons don’t often change as dramatically as other parts of the country.

3 – establish a rhythm that is more focused on the inner parts of Advent, whether that is using a devotional booklet to help us bring focus to lighting our Advent Wreath, or using an Advent Planner such as this one from Wildflowers and Marbles geared to Roman Catholic families or Little Acorn’s Advent and Saint Nicholas Festival book.  Specific to my own Episcopalian tradition, The Very Best Day: The Way of Love For Children (ages 3-10) and The Way of Love Advent Curriculum and Calendar.

Our specific plans:

Sunday –  (Worship on The Way of Love Calendar) The First Sunday of Advent; Make Advent Wreath,  set out Advent Reading Basket, out in nature – all through first week clean and declutter house

Monday -(Go on The Way of Love Calendar); make stuffed stars for Christmas tree, shop for gifts for the teens we adopted through our church, out in nature,

Tuesday-(Learn on The Way of Love Calendar)- reading sacred texts; add minerals and gems to our Advent Wreath;  out in nature

Wednesday (Pray on The Way of Love Calendar) – silent meditation, out in nature, decorate house, bring in branches to force into bloom or plant bulbs to bloom such as paperwhites in honor of St. Barbara

Thursday (Bless on The Way of Love Calendar) – give presence, out in nature, prepare for St. Nicholas Day

Friday – (Turn on The Way of Love Calendar, St. Nicholas Day)  celebrate St. Nicholas Day, acts of kindness anonymously, out in nature

Saturday (Rest on The Way of Love Calendar); Volunteer in morning, rest

I would love to hear how you are preparing for the first week of Advent!  Let’s share ideas to make it wonderful.

Blessings,

Carrie

Thanksgiving Every Day

One of the more interesting books about festivals from a Waldorf perspective is, “Festivals of the Year:  A Workbook for Re-enlivening the Christian Festive Cycle,” by Roger Druitt and published by Sophia Books.  In it, the author posits that the cycle of the year in festival form is something that all of us, no matter what our religious or spiritual beliefs, can benefit from.  The traditional seasonal festivals that mark fertility, fruitfulness and harvest and death can be traced through the life of Jesus Christ and also through the idea that the cycle of the year produces a renewal in nourishing the Earth and “rebuilding the house on Earth” as talked about in this book.

Thanksgiving as a holiday, on a very inner level is a gratitude for the fruitfulness of life; gratitude for our families and blessings.  It is of course up to us to have gratitude every day and to choose thankfulness and optimism as we look at the events of our lives. I think it also implores us to live in this moment that is between now and the future; the good deeds and gratitude we hold now help make the world a better place for the future.  Thanksgiving is a daily act and occurrence.

I wrote a post in 2015 with these words about the act of Thanksgiving:

In a world that often seems shattered, broken, and perhaps beyond repair….

Let us give thanks in our hearts for the light we and others can bring to the world.

Let us give thanks for our best attempts to be kind, compassionate and caring to ourselves, our children and the world.

Let us give thanks for all the good things we model for our children.

Let us give thanks for all the helpers in the world.  There are many.

Let us give thanks for all that we have, and all the ways in which we can help others.

Let us give thanks for the beauty of the earth and skies and seas.

Let us give thanks for the animals and plants and the diversity of all human beings and cultures around the world.

Let us give thanks for peace and show the world love.

Here is a list of words for us to use and model for our beautiful children, this next generation compiled by Master Waldorf Teacher Marsha Johnson in this post.

We also remember the First Peoples of this day and do not celebrate Thanksgiving as the expansion of colonialism and genocide.  I have published several links to resources regarding this on the Parenting Passageway Facebook page, and look for a few more on Thanksgiving.  I will try to come back and list them here on Thanksgiving in an edited version of this post as I realize not every reader is on Facebook. One of the main links to be aware of is https://native-land.ca/?fbclid=IwAR2fcSt4JmrQ2GGWqOi58oLMjNotEgi79egFp8yOrYKkEVrH1fTDJg9g2xQ , which will tell you what First Peoples were living in your area so you can acknowledge them in your Thanksgiving Remembrances.

Thanksgiving  Day this year is also right before the beginning of Advent on December 1, and I am contemplating the richness that Advent brings to our inner lives.  Over the course of ten years of this blog, I have written many posts on Advent and all aspects of the holiday season.  For those who are celebrating, St. Nicholas Day is next week on the 6th!

If you are looking for some inspiration, try these back posts:

Christine Natale’s Musings on Saint Nicholas Day and Starting New Holiday Traditions

Favorite Stories for Saint Nicholas Day

Ideas for the First Week of Advent in the Waldorf Home

Blessings on your season of bringing lightness to the world,

Carrie