Vitality 2: Slow Sunday

“…children, since they are an inalienable part of nature, not only have the right to a healthy environment, but also to connection with nature and to the gifts of nature for their physical and psychological health and ability to learn and create.” – The World Congress of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature, 2012

Since my word of the year is “vitality,” every Sunday I hope to share something with you all that makes me feel vital, sparkly, happy, and alive from different aspects of my life.  It isn’t about having a perfect life. It is about growing in wholeness and authenticity and living in joy, no matter what crosses our paths.

This has been a beautiful January.  The weather today isn’t supposed to get above 26 degrees, which is cold for the Deep South, but it is sunny outside.  The little bit of icy snow we got crunches under my feet as I walk and see the ice that has formed on the branches of the bare trees.  It is quiet, and not many are even on the roads.  I love this peaceful time.

Which brings me to my vitality wish for this week:  to gather in the sunshine and glorious natural beauty of the landscape and get outside.  I do this frequently, but I always try to keep it at the top of my priority list.  Whether it is just a little walk in my neighborhood or to our nearby park or a hike up a mountain, or kayaking in the lake , or star-watching, I try to enjoy each and every season.

I love my children to be outside as well, and find this especially important for older teens.  Getting outside helps “re-set” their minds and bodies for the things that are trying to accomplish; it shows teens the value of fun that is not tied into electronic devices or screens; it provides spectacular moments of awe and wonder.  It revitalizes the soul.

The benefits of nature are immense. There is a wonderful book called “Vitamin N: The Essential Guide to a Nature-Rich Life,” by Richard Louv.  Louv, of course, was a pioneer in recognizing the benefits of nature for children as detailed in his book, “Last Child In The Woods:  Saving Our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder.”  In the introduction to the book “Vitamin N, ” Louv details some of the best benefits of immersion in nature:  reduction of the symptoms of AD/HD; helps buffer anxiety and depression; helps prevent or reduce obesity and mypoia; boosts the immune system; may improve social bonding and reduce social violence; stimulates learning and creativity; even helps to raise standardized test scores.    You can see the myriad of benefits at the Children and Nature Network’s research links.

This year, I invite you to hold steady in getting yourself and your children outside, preferably daily, and also weekly for excursions in your local, state, and national parks.   Enjoy, and savor the wonder of our beautiful world.

Blessings,
Carrie

Vitality: Slow Sunday

Orchard Trees, January by Richard Wilbur

It’s not the case, though some might wish it so
Who from a window watch the blizzard blow

White riot through their branches vague and stark,
That they keep snug beneath their pelted bark.

They take affliction in until it jells
To crystal ice between their frozen cells,

And each of them is inwardly a vault
Of jewels rigorous and free of fault,

Unglimpsed until in May it gently bears
A sudden crop of green-pronged solitaires.

 

I love this poem for January as it talks about taking affliction and making it the seed of something beautiful to grow.  Since my word of the year is “vitality,” every Sunday I hope to share with you all something that makes me feel vital, sparkly, happy, and alive from different aspects of my life.  It isn’t about having a perfect life. It is about growing in wholeness and authenticity and living in joy, no matter what crosses our paths.

Today is January first, the beautiful beginnings of a  New Year of possibilities.  I just love that feeling, and this is one of my favorite times of the year.  I love the open spaces and bright thoughts.  Some people, however, don’t.  The possibilities are too endless and almost paralyzing at times.  I think this happens a lot, perhaps more than we care to admit in this age of “perfect moments” captured and documented on blogs, Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat. It is easy to feel that everyone has it together except you and your family.

This is a complete and total lie.

No one has it all together!  And sorting through the “best” choices for how to do things in our own families can be difficult or feel like a bunch of “we should…” (which isn’t always matched to our own values!)

However, over the years, I have observed that the most together people and families I know have a few things going for them.  The main one is that they have a positive attitude.  Having a positive attitude brings me joy!  Sharing gratitude for life with my family brings me joy. I want my children to know that a positive attitude doesn’t mean ignoring the negative, but it does mean looking at things in a constructive way.

So, today’s Slow Sunday is fostering a positive attitude and gratitude.  Many families take today to make a Gratitude Jar for the year, which is lovely.  It doesn’t have to be a super fancy jar, and it doesn’t have to be super fancy paper – although that might be joyous for you to have a decorated jar for your counter.  Every day, maybe at dinner time or before bed, ask the members of your family to write their happiest moment of the day down and place it in the jar.  At the end of the year, you will have a jar of beautiful happy memories!  If you did a Gratitude Jar this year and you would like to share a picture of what yours looked like, please post a picture in the comments.

Some other ways to a positive attitude and gratitude that I am thinking about specifically this week:

Start the day with a lovely breakfast, including a blessing. It is so much better to start the day in a positive manner full of thankfulness rather than – “I am late!” “I hate mornings!”    I will be sharing mealtime blessings next week, but in the meantime finding a beautiful candle for your table or a little seasonal tray that you can add natural treasures to can be an easy way to start the day on a positive note.  I have a small  Pinterest board devoted to beautiful mornings.  This week I plan on adding things to this board, so it should grow this week!

Keeping a journal each day of gratitude, of the blessed ordinary moments, can be a positive attitude booster.

Having a spiritual practice is uplifting and leads to positive thoughts.  I use prayer (I am Episcopalian, so The Book of Common Prayer is what we use daily and in liturgy.  If you want to see how to use this book, I suggest the book Inwardly Digest: The Prayer Book As A Guide To Spiritual Life ).  I also use meditation, and affirmations.  I find affirmations especially helpful in stopping negative self-talk.   I think all of these things have a place in creating a positive attitude.

Exercise and physical activity out in nature. Most of you who read this blog know all the reasons why “Vitamin N” is so vital to being positive.  Our bodies were meant to move and be outside.  This is so important, for all children, but especially for those children ages 12 and up, which is typically when being more sedentary sets in (especially for many girls).  I am convinced that many teens would feel better if they moved more!

Please share with me ways you love to increase your positive attitude and gratitude.

Blessings and love,
Carrie

 

 

 

The Heart Behind Rhythm

 

It is indeed a grievous feature of present-day life that when man meets man there is no understanding between them.” (Rudolf Steiner, 1924, p. 91 – The Roots of Education)

As the new school year is dawning, and I am thinking about how to fit in “track classes” (ones that run all year) and  subjects taught in blocks for our ninth grader, plus two other grades, rhythm is at the forefront of my mind.  But it really isn’t an intellectual function, a head function,  to look at rhythm, is it?   It is a function of the heart and being able to breathe. The breath is something mentioned in Waldorf Education  over and over again. Our physical breath comes from movement, but perhaps it is safe to say that the breathing of our soul forces come from rhythm and the balance that rhythm brings.

It is a function of our love and our kindness toward our families to have unhurried time, unrushed time and to be able to give our children the gift of long periods of time at home in which they can sink into play and rest and dreams.  The most fundamental deep place where rhythm comes from is the cosmos inside of us, and from love and kindness.  This post from Cedar Ring Mama in 2012 has stayed with me for some time. If you haven’t read it recently, you can find it  here.

In a world where we cannot seem to connect to the understanding of each other and humanity of us all, rhythm is a good place to nourish health for our children who will be leading and hopefully changing the world for the better one day soon.  We must begin with the health of these children in mind.  We encourage the base of indepedent thinking through experience when we give time in our rhythm.  We see the humanity of all mankind inside ourselves.

So, I can tell you about how I make a little chart with the 12 months on it and ideas for festivals, or how I choose subjects for blocks and look at the development of my child and where those blocks fit.  I can talk about how to plan blocks and make individual lessons breathe.  I can even tell you how I fit all the things my children need in a school year for learning into each day.  That is important in homeschooling.  But, if I don’t think about the overall rhythm to my family and how homeschooling is a part of this bigger picture of family love and kindness and healthy development, I have not led with my heart.

Kindness and love, the things that happen in unhurried time, is what matters in parenting and in homeschooling.  May all of our values be protected in promoting and encouraging our children to just be and to take time.  May they see and find the cosmos and the unity of humanity within themselves this school year so that we may all understand each other in love.

Blessings,
Carrie

Inspiration and Gratitude for Mother’s Day

 

Happy Mother’s Day to all of you!

My own mother died after a very a long illness  when I had just turned eight, and I was raised by my paternal grandmother.  She had three sisters,and the four of them were very, very close.  I also had an amazing maternal grandmother.  I was very fortunate to have all of them speaking into my life.

 

The grandmother who raised me wrote this in honor of mothers everywhere for a mother-daughter banquet at her church long, long  before I was born and I share it here with you today: Continue reading

31 Days to the Inner Rhythm of the Heart: Day 31

 

 

We began this journey in January, and we are at the end of our (non-consecutive) 31 days.  In the vein of those who set a New Year’s intention with “one word”, we have progressed through 31 words in order to help build our foundation for homes of peace.  This work grew specifically out of an impulse for parents who wanted help to not yell at their children.

 

Here are our 31 words for your meditation, thought and consideration:

 

open

reconciliation

attentiveness

reverence

courage

love

relentless

unity

building

time

haven

steady

warmth

inner work

re-assess

self-care

joy

boundaries

ho-hum

expectation

expert

quiet

constancy

eagle

potential

struggle

together

self-restraint

authentic leadership

missing

 

Perhaps one of these words resonates strongly with you, and you would like to do artistic work with this word.  Perhaps you would like to carry one of these words in your heart for some time.  There are many ways to work with these ideas in an individual manner.

 

Many blessings, and peace on your home,

Carrie

31 Days to the Inner Rhythm of the Heart: Day 30

 

Our 31 days to the inner rhythm of the heart, the root foundation of a house of peace, is in progress.  In the vein of those who are setting a New Year’s intention with “one word”, I offer the word of today to you: missing . Read on for more

 

What are you missing by being so stressed out and angry at your children all the time?

You are missing peace of mind and heart.

You are missing opportunities for good connection and bonding.

You are missing building a great family.

You are missing the joy of having small children which will never come again.

You are missing building great relationships with your children.

You are missing  laughter and fun.

You are missing kindness.

 

Don’t miss out!

Build your gentleness, your kindness and your patience.

Create peace in your homes.

Create connection and bonding.

Create a great family!

Create joy!

Create great relationships!

Create laughter and fun!

Create kindness!

 

Many blessings,

Carrie

31 Days to the Inner Rhythm of the Heart: Day Twenty-Nine

 

Our 31 days to the inner rhythm of the heart, the root foundation of a house of peace, is in progress.  In the vein of those who are setting a New Year’s intention with “one word”, I offer the word of today to you: authentic leadership. Read on for more

 

Children need a kind, gentle and connected parent.  They also need someone to help guide them, answer their questions, help them think of angles they may not have thought of before, to protect them, to make choices that will support and nourish them, and a myriad of other things.  These things require a gentle and authentic leadership from an adult.

 

You are the adult placed into this child’s life for a reason.  You have experience and gifts and talents to share.  Children are our greatest teachers, but yet we have things to offer with our unhurried time as a leader.

 

Being an authentic leader requires some thinking.  What are your family’s values, and why?  How is this shown, modeled, communicated (to older children)?  What are the characteristics of being an authentic leader?  Do the best leaders yell at people or do they do other things to motivate, teach, guide, and relate?  Do you have a sense of humor, a generous spirit, an ability to laugh and smile?  Do you have an ability to be decisive, to be assertive but not unfair or aggressive?  Can you take the viewpoint of the child, the consciousness of the child into your spirit so deeply and work from that?  All of these qualities have nothing to do with yelling to get what you want.  Yelling is often like trying to steer a car just by honking your horn very loudly!

 

No more yelling.  It doesn’t work at all.  Hug your children and love them.  Life is so short.  Be authentic, and be happy.

 

Blessings,

Carrie