Friday, December 4, 2009


When I set out to become a Waldorf class teacher, I had a vision of the place, the children, the colleagues and the way I would be operating in all of it. After three years of teaching it has become clear that to manifest that vision will require a physical move of many hundreds of miles. The Wizard and I are busy putting one foot in front of the other to make our dream come true.

Sometimes I cannot believe how blessed I am. Three years ago I enrolled one of my children at our Waldorf School, very part time. By the following summer I was able to send both children and I had a job there, allowing me to gain experience and send my children where they needed to be. A number of friends pointed out to me how setting my intention was so hugely important in making a dream become reality.

The dream has shifted. I've been lucky to have been given the opportunity to learn for three years. I have my own classroom to develop my skills, but I've also been able to observe, substitute and student teach with a number of really gifted Waldorf teachers. Through artistic work I have learned to open my heart and receive the insights I need to support a group of children through their eight years. I am now less sure of my skills but more aware of my center; a humbling experience. At this time it feels like I need to take the plunge.

I have recently had the opportunity to apply for a job at my dream school (I won't hear back for a few weeks yet), two other schools in consideration have posted jobs, and I've landed an internship with two of the best teachers I know, all after a season of seeing things fall through. Once again my friends tell me that my determination is helping me put into place what my family needs. I chose to see it as a gift.

The biggest gift however has been visiting another school and learning that freed from the circumstances I now work under, I am able to truly find my center and connect with a multitude of children and adults on a level that feels carried from the outside. So as I go into Advent and the meditations of the Holy Nights, I focus my vision on achieving my dream: a position at a particular school in a specific caring community, in a geographic location that The Wizard and I have always felt as a healing tonic for our family. I hope to see my dream become manifest, for finding another dream will be a huge challenge. But I know that the universe has a plan and will reveal it all when the time is right. It is an exciting time and it's a little scary, but more than anything there is enormous gratitude for having this chance to dream.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

dearly departed

Feel the way we look up lovingly
To the heights that are now calling
You to different tasks from life on earth
Give to all your friends you left here
Of your strength from spirit spheres.

Listen to our souls' beseeching
That now intimateley asks you:
For our work on earth we require
Forces strong from spirit lands
That our friends now dead can give us.

'tis a hope that makes us joyful,
'tis a loss that hurts us deeply;
Let us hope that you, now farnear,
Never lost, our life may brighten
As a soul-star in the spirit realms.

Translation of Rudolf Steiner verse by P. Hoffmann

Sunday, September 20, 2009


With the Wizard away all day today, the kids and I went to our first ever county fair. We are now hooked and the children have been talking about what animals they're going to raise on their (hypothetical) farm. I'm so pleased that they had such a good time, I really didn't know going in how they would like it. We started our day looking at enormous sunflowers and other produce, and then we were able to help a man with his (antique) cider press. The Elf could have stayed right there for about 3 hours, chopping and pressing apples. But we did eventually move on and visited the chickens and rabbits in what is surely the loudest barn at the fair. We took lots of pictures of pretty birds. All of us so want to raise chickens, but that will require a move as in our county you have to own two acres of land to raise poultry, and we sure don't.

When we were able to say goodbye to the beautiful angora rabbits (of course we'll be raising those too, one day), we found our way to an area where a lady was spinning up alpaca. We talked spinning for a while and she showed us how to ply the yarn (easy with a spinning wheel, I wonder how it's possible without one?). From there we meandered into the "maternity barn" and happened upon a massive sow in labor. We watched one of the piglets emerge, and afterwards the Hobbit was quite adamant that there was no way she was born in any way resembling what she had just seen. So that was an interesting conversation. The Elf, true to her melancholic nature just stated that she didn't think it was fair to the sow to have to give birth surrounded by so many people and noise.

Following this amazing experience, we made our way over to the rides where we had to look at absolutely everything and have an ice cream cone before the girls could decide what to go on. They each tried out one ride, but the best choice was the Ferris Wheel which we all enjoyed. From up high we were able to watch the horse show. Lots of beautiful draft horses and wagons. As soon as our feet touched the ground we ran over there to watch some of the competition, which was fascinating.

So we had an eventful day with lots of new impressions to digest. I am sure I will be hearing from the Hobbit's teacher about the classroom discussions that will surely ensue from her witnessing a birth. As for the Elf, she cannot wait until she can raise her own chickens and rabbits, and maybe a cow, and of course horses and.... big plans are being made!

Monday, September 7, 2009

the end of summer

It turns out our last few days of summer are rainy and gray, perfect weather to organize the house for the return to school. My workspace is almost ready, the children are excited and terrified, and I have collected binders full of materials for the year and am close to done with my planning.

The summer has been so full. There was teacher training, vacation, a death in the family, house projects, a few outings to the pool and other fun places, much time together just playing and cooking and being.

This schoolyear promises lots of transitions. The Hobbit starts First Grade and our family will be working to sell our house. If all works out, we will be relocating to a beautiful part of the country within the next year, where new opportunities and friends await. It is so very exciting and overwhelming at the same time. There are many things to be done, planned and dreamt between now and then. Of course there are also jobs to be done well, chores to be completed, children to be raised and animals to be cared for. A busy year indeed and I wouldn't have it any other way - at least not right now!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

identity struggles

When I began this blog, I wanted it to be focused on my inner journey as I go along this path of teacher training. What I have found is that I struggle to relate my experiences, particularly as they involve my work. So often I find myself wanting to post something but feeling that this may not be professional or in service of the children, and I stay silent. I need to think on the direction of this blog more, but in the meantime I will probably post more updates about the kids and other goings on.

In the last month, we graduated a class of seniors, had a wonderful 8th Grade commencement ceremony, moved the classes into their new rooms, finished up end of year meetings, and wrote reports. Now I have switched hats again, being full time at home with the children (except for the occasional meeting) and preparing to go for teacher training oh so very soon. I struggle to balance all these parts of my life, but I'm keeping my preparation work to early mornings, times when the kids won't miss me, and evenings. It will have to be enough.

The Hobbit turned seven a couple of weeks ago. A few days before her birthday she looked at me and said thoughtfully: "You know mom, I'm really not such a little girl anymore. I'm getting to be quite big." Yes, you are! And yet you are always my baby. Two years ago I was told by a Native American Elder that if she lived to be seven (given her many health issues), it meant that her soul wanted to stay here a good long while. I sure hope so. We are so blessed to have her in our lives. She has quite a strong (choleric) personality and lives life fully. Whether she paints, plays a game, bats at a ball or swings from the monkey bars, she is fully engaged in what she is doing, and always up for a new adventure. Life with the hobbit has been very unpredictable, but she has brought so much joy into our lives as well. Yes, maybe I should write more about my family.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

weekend plans

After spending last weekend with good friends who live six hours away, we decided to spend this holiday weekend at home. And what a beautiful and productive day it has been. I attended a workshop this morning, then came home and spent the rest of the day in the garden weeding, mulching, cutting my first harvest of herbs and digging up dead bushes. This is some of the most rewarding work in the world and I love the tiredness I come in with at the end of the day. Homemade pizza and a shared beer followed by a bit of plucking my guitar. A pretty fine weekend indeed.

I particularly like long weekends because of the room to breathe they give the kids. For them, today included a playdate and a streamwalk with friends, on top of some animal chores (guinea pigs, caterpillars), a bit of laundry and some room cleaning. It's so good to know that we won't have to rush them through chores tomorrow but can take two days to alternate work with bike rides, walks to the ice cream parlor and reading books in the hammock. Can't wait till summer break!

Sunday, May 10, 2009

nine months

Sometimes my learning curve as a teacher is painfully slow. But I'm always greatful when the answers I'm looking for come to me in the end.

From the day I started working at our school, I've asked the question what my role is as a subject teacher. In most situations the answer would be to teach a set of skills, in my case a language. It turns out though that it is so much more than that.

As a teacher of a small number of children in each grade, my primary goal is to support their class teacher. Yes, I teach a language. But in my classroom I have the opportunity to be another caring adult in the often difficult world of adolescence. Frequently, especially in seventh grade, it takes the children a really long time to settle into our routine. Like nine months.

This is how long it has taken me to finally understand what one of my most challenging students needs. On the surface he is a gregarious kid with not much of a care in life, always disrupting with jokes and laughter. A child who truly enjoys derailing lessons and preventing others from learning. All year I have wondered what is behind this behavior, I've taken this student into my meditative life, talked to other teachers, pondered. For nine months he remained a puzzle to be solved. Finally, last week the lightbulb went on. Since the connection to children does not occur in a linear fashion, I can't quite put my finger on what suddenly gave me insight into this child. But last Thursday I woke up knowing exactly what I needed to do to help him. For the first time I walked into the classroom being completely sure what I needed to say and in what tone so he could hear me. And once I spoke with him, for the first time this year I looked at a child who did not protest and had a glimpse of relief in his eyes.

It took nine months to get there, but it was totally worth the wait. I don't know where these insights will lead, but I am so greatful to be working with children in this way. Let's hear it for Waldorf Education and it's incredible wisdom.

this post has made my week

I think we can all use a little reminder of it once in a while:

Enjoy one of my all time favorite posts from here

Saturday, May 2, 2009

say aaaaah........ achoooo!

My research paper is done, so I feel I finally have some time to get back to writing about more trivial things than what has occupied me in recent months. Unfortunately I am currently in a state of constant brain clog and sneezyness because of the insanely high oak pollen count in our area. One more week, and I should be able to go outside again.

Aren't you thrilled you got to read this today? It appears my writing muscles have atrophied. As, apparently have my teaching muscles. With a visitor in my classroom this last week, it soon became painfully obvious that my mind has not been on providing the children with a quality experience in weeks. The paper that never seemed to end eclipsed all else, and now it's time to clean house, sit down and plan, and get back to the things I do well more consciously. Oh yes, and like my husband mentioned, perhaps it's also time to getting back to being a wife and mother. Ouch.

So where have I been? Knee deep in Steiner of course, reading up on all things concerning love, relationships, karma, marriage and so on. This has deepened my understanding of anthroposophy in many ways that are still emerging. It also allowed me to look at my own relationships through different lenses, and has given me some new (much needed) skills in that area, I think.

One question that continues to occupy me is how training institutions for Waldorf teachers can help bridge the transition to a life informed by anthroposophy in a way that may be experienced more gently than is perhaps the case for a lot of people. It would be lovely if some courses included work on one's relationships in the context of anthroposophy, how to bring along or work with a partner or spouse who may have a very different spiritual path. Hmmm, this will continue to percolate for a while.

But spring is here, new beginnings, new projects and hopefully some new energy - as soon as the sneezing stops!

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

One in Two Million

I almost made it to the inauguration yesterday, but the Hobbit woke up with a fever and so the Wizard and the Elf went by themselves. We live about 8 miles almost due west of the Lincoln Memorial, so I offered to drive them to one of the bridges they would have to cross on foot on account of all the closed roads. The drive towards the city was eerie. Normally this is a very busy commuter route, but on this day, there were precious few cars. Instead, groups of people, all walking silently in the same direction. The two adventurers hopped out of the car by a closed exit ramp and disappeared behind a bush on the embankment. The Hobbit and I drove home and turned on the television. At times the phone would ring and we'd get an update from our very excited family:

"Mommy, I'm in a sea of people!!! And I can't see a thing!"

"Hi Hon, the Elf is completely overwhelmed, so we're making our way back now."

They had staked out a spot near the Washington Monument, from where they watched the proceedings on a Jumbotron until the Elf got very cold. They lasted until just a few seconds past the Presidential oath, then turned and made their way out of the city before the rest of the people left.

When the Elf returned home, I expected a detailed description of her woes. Instead, she offered a rather mature "I was miserable while we were there, but I am so happy I went!"

While I was disappointed that I could not myself be a part of that sea of flag waving humanity, I am glad I was able to watch closeups of Barack Obama the moment before he stepped out of the Capitol building. As he was descending the stairs, he had this look on his face.... "destiny" was all I could think. It was very humbling to be able to witness this intimate moment, in which he was as fully conscious as I suppose any of us can ever hope to be. I did not see triumph, power, levity, but a grave look that left me thinking that this man is coming to serve us. I wish you well, Mr. President.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

books and love and gratitude

I am currently reading Henning Köhler's Difficult Children - there is no such thing. In the book, he explores (among other things) how our society and educational establishment today deal with children who fall outside the "norm" of behavior. In Chapter 6, Köhler talks about the debate of what is causing these differently wired children, and how it affects the way we view children. He addresses what the impulse of childhood means for our society today, and how we need to artistically help children find their way to who they are and what their mission is in this life. The sentence that sums it all up for me states:

"Wherever I do not approach the child by way of confirming his existence, I permit the feeling within me that he should not be allowed to exist the way he does, that, therefore, he ought to exist in a different way." He continues: "In so doing, I ruin his fundamental bodily security and reinforce the experiences of alienation... Wherever I do not summon an encouraging attitude, I lack confidence in the child's autonomous forces of development, and thereby undermine his sense of self-esteem, causing in him an underlying feeling of failure."

As the mother of a "difficult" child, this is deep food for thought. The question that arises is how do I identify the needs of a child who does not behave like most other children? When am I doing more harm and sending the message that my child ought to be different and when am I truly helpful? With all the dietary changes, supplementation etc. to address sensory issues and anxiety, not to mention all the physical, occupational and play therapy, am I ultimately helping the child become more "functional" in this world, or am I causing some level of harm? What is the price my child pays for all the good natured "behavior modifications" that have been drilled into us?

The answer of course is difficult. But I have tools: meditation, prayer, intuition. I usually know what is helping and what is hurting my child, which therapist is truly embracing who she is and which one is trying to "whip her into shape." Köhler speaks of "levels of love" that begin with a deep affirmation of the child's true nature deep within ourselves. Love as medicine, the most fundamental of all human truths.

I used to have a lot of trouble with this love. It was hard to love an infant who never seemed to sleep and spent most of her waking hours screaming and needing to be held. I always loved my child on some level, but there were periods of time when I didn't really like her, for she was so very hard to parent. I do see the effects of some of my feelings about her back then even today. But my child has taught me how to love her for who she is. One of the most effective therapies for both of us has been music therapy, in which we quickly learned how her intense noise sensitivity could blossom into a musical gift. Because so often we forget, don't we, that many of the behavioral "differences" we see in our children are the double of some deep and often hidden gift. Today, my "difficult" child (and she still has many challenges just to get through the day) is able to bring some of her gifts to the world. Her sweetness is healing to her teacher (and her mother!), her loving friendship supports a few other children (and adults) deeply, and her higher being shines through in so many ways every day that it is impossible not to see the spiritual being she is. She is a creator of beautiful artwork, and a loving sister. She deeply understands people and is an incredible listener.

In the end, I feel that Köhler is presenting me with a choice: do I want to see the "difficult" part of my child and focus merely on her less desirable behaviors, or do I want to affirm who my child is, and that these behaviors are caused by deep sensitivities, which can reveal a rare gift. I am so greatful that I have learned over time to affirm and let love shine a light on who this child really is.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

farewell to 2008

After our visitors left, we sat down for an early dinner. Every year, we write a list of our hopes for the year. We keep it inside our wall calendar and review the list on New Year's Eve. Our hopes for 2008 included good health for everyone, job satisfaction, harmony in our home, more time with friends and a long list of specific wishes for each family member. On the whole, even though 2008 felt like a big struggle a lot of the time, most of the important wishes were fulfilled, while a number of smaller ones (like going skiing) were not. Overall a good year.

We then took out scraps of paper and pens and took turns writing down all that occurred in 2008 which we didn't want to take into the new year with us. This included sibling fights, fears, hurt feelings and scraped knees among others. It was surprising to see how many things the girls wanted to leave behind, but also what they wanted to hang on to (like tears for example). When we couldn't think of another item to write on our paper scraps, we built a fire and took turns balling up our scraps and throwing them into the flames.

Some of the biggest blessings of 2008 were the Hobbit's continued health, as well as that of the Wizard's grandmother. We added two more pets to our family and had more time with just the four of us to enjoy. The Wizard and I overcame one of the most challenging years of our marriage, in which we both had to examine how much we meant to each other. In the end we chose to love each other more for who we are and who we are becoming, and 2009 is beginning with our relationship in the best place it has been in years. 2008 brought a lot of work stress for the whole family, and we will continue to learn how to balance full time working parents with the needs of our family and my studies. Financially 2008 has been a fair year, and we are hopeful in spite of the economy that we will be okay, provided the house and the cars hold up!

There is much work ahead all around. But we're all quite excited for 2009 and all the gifts and blessings and lessons it will bring into our lives.

I wish you all light, health and many blessings for 2009.