these ordinary moments: day of rest

“Because being a homemaker isn’t about being extraordinary.  It’s about seeing the ordinary in a conscious way.  A way that leads to gratitude, joy and understanding.  A way that allows me to create an environment in which my family can become more human everyday.  If you are moved, I invite you to share your ordinary things by replying below or leaving a link.”

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When did remembering who we are becomes less important than tackling the to do list?  We know it’s unhealthy enough to create a booming stress-reduction-spiritual-clarity industry which churns out the newest best practice that will transform your life for the better on a daily basis.

It’s hard to find someone who won’t share with you that they’re feeling just so underwater, or trying to keep too many things up in the air.  We’ve fooled ourselves into thinking it’s temporary, that the work load will shift, that just around the corner it will be easier.  Quieter.  Somehow, that day never seems to arrive.  Not quite.   Because missing out takes courage and sacrifice.

Our day of rest has evolved over the years.  I wish I could incorporate all of our sabbath moments every weekend because they all bring health in their own way.  Alas, that would not be very restful!  These days, when the weekend rolls around I simply ask myself, “what do we need today to help us remember who we are?”  Housework is a surprising favorite at the moment.  And whatever kiddo project requiring a jigsaw which must be completed in an afternoon.  (Alien invasion space scene hung from the ceiling of Lucien’s loft.)  Top it off with a good old fashioned walk in the woods, and we are as ready as we are going to be to take up the sword and shield again for the week ahead.

What about you, my friends?  Do you have a day of rest?  Sabbath moments?  What do they look like for you?

 

 

 

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these ordinary moments: buying garlic

“Because being a homemaker isn’t about being extraordinary.  It’s about seeing the ordinary in a conscious way.  A way that leads to gratitude, joy and understanding.  A way that allows me to create an environment in which my family can become more human everyday.  If you are moved, I invite you to share your ordinary things by replying below or leaving a link.”

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I bought a bulb of garlic last week.  This would not be a momentous event for most, but it is the first bulb of garlic I have bought from the grocery store in over a decade.

When John and I moved back to his childhood home of Denver over 10 years ago, I needed to put down roots.  Literally.  At that time in my life I could not imagine connecting to a landscape without putting my hands in its dirt.  So I sent off an email to the owner of Keith’s Farm in upstate New York where I worked two partial seasons, and asked if he’d be willing to sell us some of his famous garlic.  I promised him that my regional location would create no business conflict and he obliged!  That story, and the evolution of the Reinhart Family Garlic, are the subjects of my first ever blog post.  (Look how young they all are!)

Last fall, when it was time to plant garlic, the moment quietly came and went and no garlic went in the ground.  Without pomp or ceremony, 10 years of tradition slipped into the past.

Looking back I can see that the subtle way in which this moment passed signified a new relationship to this place where our little farmlette sits.  For years we’ve alternated our summers between here and the East Coast.  Sometimes tending our garden and flocks, sometimes fleeing to salt air and rural life, needing to patch up the holes carved into our beings from this hot, arid landscape.  This year we just seemed to need oh so many more patches, and we left behind the farmlette for nine weeks.  Someday, perhaps, I will share our adventures, but for now, I will just say that it is unlikely we will pass an entire summer in Denver again.

Which means, no garlic.  No watching the scapes shoot out, or form into their tiny bulbs. Or ripe tomatoes cracking beyond fullness.  No more shepherding the children out of the garden before they have tomato tummy aches.  And, we are currently figuring out how to get the children on board with sending our hens to a neighbor’s soup pot.  (The economy of old laying hens simply does not add up when the family spends most of egg season buying eggs in Canada.)  The goats will be the hardest sell.  For all of us.

I try to gaze upon it all with grace as I silently lament how much more difficult store bought garlic is to peel.  (No wonder there is such a market for that minced stuff in the jars.)

It’s not so much letting go of the past that is hard, it’s letting go of a future that never had the chance to come to fruition.   But there are trade offs.  Always trade offs.  The future that needs to be, can only be when we realize that it is flexible and changing because we are.  It doesn’t feel great, to watch one future dissolve before a new one has formed, but somehow it seems necessary.   And it is Michaelmas, a fitting moment to summon the trust and courage needed to step through the doorway into the unknown.

I’m doing it as best as I can, store bought garlic in hand.

centering down for Michaelmas

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“Strongly I will think, will remember often, how within I’m vitalized by all primal spirit strength, will strongly sense within me weaving soul and power of will, will reflect in stillness how I can find a hold in my heart’s depths when my soul, quiet in itself, rests and also strongly acts out of itself.” by Rudolf Steiner, “The Heart of Peace”

I’ve been reading a great book: “Living the Quaker Way,” by Philip Gulley.  A friend recommended it after my post about searching for buffers in this chaotic world.  In his preface Gulley writes, “I’m not inviting you to a church but to a life,” built upon the Quaker values of simplicity, peace, integrity, community and equality.    And it’s in these pages I’ve learned the phrase “centering down,” a common practice before a Meeting of Friends.  (Although we don’t have a name for it, it is also what you’d experience 15 minutes before the service if you were to attend The Christian Community.)  It means choosing to create the quiet needed to reconnect to one’s inner life, making more space for whatever divine or higher presence guides you.  And, according to the author, it need not be sitting in silence.  While he described his experience with walking meditation, a vision of yarn and needles came into my mind.  The familiar feel of them in my hands became a life line during the family’s bumpy transition back to urban life and school.  I do also love to sit in silence, a more traditional centering down, but it comes much easier after the rhythm of knit and purl have passed between my hands for a few minutes.

Between that and the unfinished projects I discovered while clearing out a fiber moth infestation, there is a lot coming off the needles these days.  This Striped Linen Stitch Cowl, however, I finished up over the summer.   I received the yarn (a Mountain Girl Yarn, whose Etsy shop is currently on a little break) as a gift from my friend Kim at Mothering with Mindfulness, a few years back.  I don’t receive yarn gifts often, so I when I do, I am always tempted to extend the gift by making something for myself.  I had a few other projects in mind and actually started one and pulled it out before I settled on this cowl.  I’ve been wanting to take on a linen stitch project for a while and this one was perfect: since it’s in the round I only had to learn half of linen stitch!  It proved the perfect repeating-pattern-travel-companion for about a year.  I took it with me to Ann Arbor, and Nova Scotia, and tossed it in my carry-on when I came back to Denver in July for my training program, then, back again to Canada.  All the while I wondered if I was going to be able to double it around my neck.  I started with not quite enough yarn for the project, by my estimates, so I cast on a few less stitches, fingers crossed.  Excited to say that it does tightly, but still comfortably, go around twice!  We’ve had an uncharacteristic rainy week and it has been so lovely to pull this out.

I wish I could say that I’ve been outwardly preparing for Michaelmas while wearing it, but alas, no.  One myth of parenting I am beginning to really understand: it does not get easier as the children get bigger, it just gets different hard.  What the children once needed in physical care–diapers, feeding, shoe tying–they now need in emotional care.  I find it equally difficult and more complicated, and draining all the same.  Which is why our nature table at the moment consists of left over pictures from Lucien’s birthday (in August) and a vase of flowers from Nana’s garden that should’ve made its way to the compost days ago.

I am thankful for the years when I’ve had more space for dragon bread and harvest activities, because I think they are part of why I have an inner relationship to Michaelmas.  A simple, enigmatic relationship with the courage to act; the courage that He can plant within our hearts.  For some, those actions may be loud–taking to the streets.  But let us not forget the others.  The ones carving out a simple, conscious, life, in partnership with the Spirit, an act that goes against every grain of our more-faster society.  Let us not forget the courage and sacrifice it takes to turn off the device and “center down,” making room for whatever it is that reconnects us to our best and most authentic selves.

That’s what I’ll be doing tomorrow afternoon.  Come join me on the porch if you’re passing by.

 

these ordinary moments: afternoons on the porch

“Because being a homemaker isn’t about being extraordinary.  It’s about seeing the ordinary in a conscious way.  A way that leads to gratitude, joy and understanding.  A way that helps me create an environment in which me and my family can become more human everyday.  If you are moved, I invite you to share your ordinary things by replying below or leaving a link.”

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The transition back to urban life and school has been unpleasant.  Tantrums, tears and “so and so hit me!” are my daily soundtrack.  It plays on repeat in my head while I sit in traffic after drop-off, pondering how I can help it all go more smoothly, wishing I could find more grace.

After the commute, a (half) school day and a nap, the afternoon marches on towards supper prep.  It’s not unusual to realize in the midst of good nights that a day has gone by without any quality one-on-one time with a particular child.

My feelings about all of this roll around as if in a cement mixer: a messy aggregate of values trying to form a coherent pourable material.  At odds with each other, they simply keep churning, no freshly set sidewalk in sight.

So, until the sidewalk is ready to be poured, there are afternoons on the porch.  While the children rouse from their rests I boil water for tea and prepare “dessert.”  (Our fruit based afternoon treat)  Then I head right out with my handwork and we all sit. Sometimes the children have a story from the school day.  Sometimes there is a request for a book to be read or a plan for a project when Papa comes home.  Last week it was paper airplanes waiting to be folded.  Some days they quickly inhale whole peaches, dripping sticky juice down their fronts, and run off to the trampoline leaving me sitting in silence, an entire hot cup of tea still waiting.

Whatever passes between us in the moments, it’s heartening knowing it will be there most days.  That amidst the going all directions there will be space to connect to ourselves, each other and our values.

And that, my friends, I do believe is what you call a buffer.

 

 

these ordinary moments*: marking time

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“Because being a homemaker isn’t about being extraordinary.  It’s about seeing the ordinary in a conscious way.  A way that leads to gratitude, joy and understanding.  A way that helps me create an environment in which me and my family can become more human everyday.  If you are moved, I invite you to share your ordinary things by replying below or leaving a link.”

John and the kids went back to school two weeks ago.  One short week after we returned home to Denver from our nine week road trip to New England and Atlantic Canada.   We had planned to be back a bit earlier, but life, as you know, has its twists and turns.

As the first official day of school hurtled towards us, amidst teacher in-service meetings and school supply lists, unpacking and reclaiming the farmlette, I couldn’t help but wish we’d given ourselves a little more space to transition from the agenda free, family filled days of summer, to lunch boxes and alarm clocks and going different directions.  The days were passing, we were not ready for the change, and I could feel it acutely.

Then Mattheus brought us the answer.  He woke up a day or two before the beginning of the school year and reminded me, “You know, Mama, we never had our last campfire, and you said we could have it when we got home, remember?”  He was right.  On our return trip everyone was a bit traveled out, so we traded extra camping activities for better time on the road.  But for Mattheus, camping is only camping if you cook your supper over an open fire, so we had promised him a campfire upon returning home.  “A nice way to finish the summer,” we had told him.  I just needed a little nudge as to how true that was.  The clear simple voice of a child to cut through all of the din of preparation.

It wasn’t a big moment.  No ceremony or scrapbooks.  No signs saying “first day of second grade” or growth measurements.  These are all lovely, mind you, and in an ideal world I’d do a few more of them, but sometimes it’s enough to just stand around the fire in stillness, looking each other in the eye, silently licking sticky fingers and acknowledging that these are the last marshmallows of the summer.   Watching another moment come and go, and wrapped into that short moment, all that has been and all that will be.  Knowing that we’re not quite ready, but we will be.

*For my regular readers, you’ll notice the change in title.  In an effort to move away from the material aspects of homemaking and towards the inner work of the homemaker, I’m going with “moments” rather than “things” from here on out.  I look forward to sharing with you!

 

 

 

 

any step in any direction

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Beach Meadows Beach, Brooklyn, Nova Scotia.

This post as been twisting and tangling in my head for over a year an a half.  And sitting here typing, I’d be fooling myself if I said that it is any more ordered than yesterday, or 6 weeks ago, or 6 mos.  But, amidst the tangling, I hear my father’s voice, “You can’t wait until you know exactly what you are going to write, you just have to sit down and do it.  That’s what makes someone a writer, doing it everyday.”

I suppose that means that sometimes the untangling only happens when we take a step, any step in any direction.  But what if that step only leads us to further entanglement? But? What if?

I know when the tangling began at least.  I woke up one day and was unsure of what I wanted the blog to be.  I’d been nursing a first quiet, then growing louder, sense that it wasn’t quite right, but I couldn’t put my finger on what was off.  In a world where people have no choice but to filter through endless information and sensory experiences, what did I have to write about that wasn’t a repetition of what is already out there?  What could truly be worthy of air time?  Was it possible to create a space on the internet where people could delve more deeply with consciousness into their own lives, rather than just point and click their way to the next “5 automatic steps to insert-dream-outcome-here?”

This was also the time when I was having a lot of conversations with myself and others about authenticity in blogging.  What is the balance between being honest without insensitively airing one’s inner life all over cyberspace?  What does a blog look like that has “roses” and “thorns,” and still cultivates hope, inspiration and self reflection, rather than acting as a selfish pressure release valve?

Beyond that I began to really question how I could bring to a diverse population the gifts of an anthroposophical home.  Is it possible to speak concisely and accessibly of anthroposophy and Christianity to non-anthroposophists and non-Christians without causing them to retreat?  Because, let’s face it, some of it is pretty far out there. Does one cease to speak of it at all and opt to translate?  Or does this take away a necessary voice and the freedom of the recipient of the information?

All of these questions coincided with Mattheus going through “the change of teeth”  a developmental shift frequently referred to in Waldorf circles that results in a child being less connected to home and parents and more ready to step into a larger community circle.  Knowing he would be letting go of the apron strings and going off to first grade made me acutely aware that I was sharing my children’s lives on the web for all to see.  I began to wonder what it would be like for them to grow up surrounded by people who knew things about them that they had not chosen to share themselves.  What degree of openness was I comfortable with, and when was I crossing the line into violating my children’s privacy?

The answers to some of these questions are slowly forming in my head, but are not fully baked.  So, here’s what I hope you will see in the coming months around here.  Regular articles: the return of “These Ordinary Things” on Mondays, and another entry on Thursdays.  A new title and site name.  Some reorganizing of the regular pages (I’ve started tackling the About section)  And the rest, my friends, well, you will just have to wait to find out.

I look forward to reconnecting with all of you and building new connections in the coming months!

these ordinary things: vacation

“Because being a homemaker isn’t about being extraordinary.  It’s about seeing the ordinary in a conscious way.  A way that leads to gratitude, joy and understanding.  A way that helps me create an environment in which my family can become more human everyday.  If you are moved, I invite you to share your ordinary things by replying below or leaving a link.”

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John and I gave ourselves the gift of a short vacation last week: three nights on the Pacific shores of La Jolla, California.  Two days to vacate the course of our regular lives.  To forget the housework and papers in need of correcting and be free of the questioning and self-doubt that are destiny’s best friends.   Two days for new parts of the world to awaken in us what we hadn’t realized had fallen asleep.

We were lucky to do it there, where saltwater, earth and tides come together to make a place for pelicans and sea lions, palm trees and scurrying crabs.  Where arid plains and sky piercing rock are nowhere in sight.  And then, not even one full day into our trip, the report from home was dismal.  One very sick kiddo, another two close on his heals, and us 1000 miles away.  In seconds we were whisked away from this coastal haven.  Sucked right back into the questioning and self-doubt.

There are magical far away places that allow us a respite, it’s true.  But as far away as we go,  the course of our lives persistently knocks on the window of the rental car.  So we make a choice.  Pause, take a deep breath, be present.  Notice the way the surf sprays over the rocks and the sand–once shells– beneath our feet.  Or, we follow the sucking force, the anxieties of feverish children in need of a Mama or  Papa at their bedside, and we allow ourselves to be not quite transported but stuck in between where we are and where we want to be.

It’s that choice that allows us a vacation, be it miles from home, or standing at our own kitchen sinks, elbow deep in dishwater.  The choice to turn off the voice that wants us to believe that there is so much more to get done, to worry about or brood over.  Not enough hours in a day.  But there is, lots of them.  So many to fill that, sooner or later, we all need a vacation.

(Kiddos are all on the mend, as well as hard working grandparents.  Now all that’s left is to get Mama back on her feet.)