Saturday, November 27, 2010

Be Brave, Be Bold, it's time for me to take a step.

Why do I shy away from it? Why is it so stinking scary for me to confess my morphing beliefs and values? Probably because I was raised with the understanding that we believe in what is True, and that never changes, so our beliefs and values *should* never change. Well, the truth is I feel like recently I've discovered a whole new world. An entire way of seeing and living that I had no idea existed! I've backed away from sharing this because I know (or think I know) how the people I love most will respond. I'm still not ready to have any sit-down talks and share the "new me" with anyone. That would be putting myself in the hot seat, and I'm not ready to sit there! But why not take the step and write down what it is I'm coming to value? It's a start, right? And on a blog, no less. Can't get much less confrontational than that :).

So let's do this. Let's write that list!  

I'm learning about Rudolf Steiner/Waldorf. Here's what I'm appreciating:
+ the seven-year cycles of child development
+ the value that is placed on cultivating imagination and awe--viewed as vital to a child's healthy development
+ natural wonder, daily time in nature
+ incorporating yearly, weekly, and daily rhythms (I love the word "rhythm"!)
+ the importance of including children in work, and doing valuable "manual" work
+ viewing children as whole souls, not incomplete adults
+ rhythmic movement, song, verse
+ experience before fact
+ story
+ the importance of beauty and peace
+ giving children the freedom to develop in their time

The small steps we've made:

+ We are holding more closely to morning and bedtime routines
+ We take walks throughout the farm almost daily, observing, collecting, imagining, moving
+ We have a mini "circle time" and "story time" 4 days(ish) per week, singing songs, saying rhymes, doing movement games, then listening to a story. Sometimes we do a story-related craft, sometimes we don't.
+ We are trying to listen to our children more, both to what they're saying (verbally and with their actions) and to what they're not saying. This, I tell you, has been difficult some days, and so very different to what we were "taught"

The challenges:

+ As long as we live out here in the bush of Africa, resources will always be a problem! I love love LOVE many of the meaningful, therapeutic "projects/arts/crafts" ideas of Waldorf. But until we go back to America for a visit, the supplies needed are largely unattainable. For example, wool, felt, watercolors, beeswax, "play silks"... it's all simply out of our reach. And to ship it would most definitely sky rocket it out of our meager budget.

+ Crafting, sewing, woodwork, etc. is quite intimidating for me. I am quite confident that if I could attend some classes or make a friend who would want to share their expertise with me, I could "do this." In fact, I think I would thoroughly enjoy it! But again, my location is problematic.

+ Community. We live in community. We love our community. But our community would raise eyebrows at our "new" values. I often daydream about what it would be like to live in a community that not only accepted me and my "different" values but encouraged me and inspired me in them!

+ Time. I'm spending way too much time "researching" right now! My thirst to understand more is insatiable. I've got a million sites bookmarked, I'm following too many blogs, and it's making me feel scattered and cluttered. It's like I need someone to sift through it all and say, this is valuable and worth your time; this is not. Streamline. That's what I need to do. But I need help!

+ Also, Waldorf does have some "Christian" roots, but I don't agree all of the foundational philosophy. I don't see this as problematic, but I do want to learn more about how to infuse my more "traditional" Christian beliefs into the Waldorf Way.

What books are "must have's"?
How do I modify projects to make them possible here?
How do I incorporate more Waldorf into our tropical climate and unique lifestyle?

It's because of these challenges that living where we do feels every bit as far away as it really is!

I guess my big question is, has anyone "done this" in a place like "this"? If so, WHO?! If not, HOW CAN I?

I did it. I wrote the thoughts, and now I'm going to post it. Was it as hard as I thought? I guess we'll find out :) 

P.S. Thanks, Vina, for inspiring me to do this. Your honesty, your ideals, your way with words... They've helped inspire me to take this seemingly small step.

P.P.S. I'll post another photo soon! There are many...

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

And so we wait.

I don't want to ever step foot in that court room again. Who knew it was possible to shake uncontrollably for so long?! But it's over. We have presented our requests before the judge, and now we await his decision. Will he grant us adoption of our dear Miss A? Will he make us the legal guardians of our happy boy? We will find out. But not before we wait.
I know there are lessons galore in all this, but at the moment, all I know is that we're waiting. Until December 9th at noon. Perhaps I'll look back on this and see a beautiful theme in the midst of what feels like nothing less than irritable, grumpy parents and overly emotional, sick children. This is not one of our better moments as a family! Dare I say it? Yes. My hunch is that there's a lot out there, beyond what I can see with my eyes, that really doesn't like this. And they're revolting. And we're feeling it.
Thankfully, ultimately, "they're" not in charge. Thankfully, ultimately, the One who adopts each one of us is in charge. And that, my friend, is the present shimmer in the otherwise dark sky.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Life! in a muddy, creative boy

My husband and I are very passionate people. We (I in particular) feel things deeply: Joy, anger, beauty, sadness, stress, peace... you name it, we feel it deeply. It lends itself to great creativity and imagination. It also lends itself to some pretty incredible arguments :). Our biological son got those genes! Happy 200%, angry 200% (and sometimes within a few short minutes). It can be exhausting. It can be hilarious. It can be marvelous.
His creativity and imagination flash me back to my own childhood, though my imagination often scared my mother. Anything that wasn't "true" was labeled as "wrong." I've learned that truth is a big word and much more complex than black and white. Truth is deeply meaningful, and meaning is always wrapped up in life. Take away the life of something, and you rob that something of it's meaning. they are united for ever-and-ever-amen.
My middle child, my biological son, is a well-spring of life and feeling. So much so that sometimes he doesn't know what to do with it all. It used to scare me. Now I see myself in him, and I remember. I remember what it was like to be young and to feel deeply and to feel alone. There has been redemption in my journey, and there has been grace. May my son experience freedom and guidance in his journey; may he know he is not alone, and may he embrace truth, meaning, and life.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Hiatus over (hopefully)

Several times I tried to post this photo. Several times I tried to post other blog entries. Fail, fail, fail. Internet was choosing not to comply. But, apparently, it's gotten over it (whatever "it" was). So, this is a much belated photo of the vine swing I mentioned in my last post:

These are the kinds of experiences and discoveries and days that more than make up for the lack of electricity, sketchy internet, and absence of all-things-convenient. My children don't know what a washing machine is; they have no idea what's on TV (or what TV is, for that matter!); they are not scared of poverty; their best friends were orphaned (just like them).
They know water is a precious resource, something to be conserved; because if we use too much, we will be without water until the next rain! Rain gives us water, makes our crops to grow, and keeps our animals alive. Sun gives us power, keeps our food cold, and dries our clothing. Healthy dirt makes for healthy crops (and is really fun to play in too!). This is what my children know, even though they don't realize that they know it :). It's just the way life... is!
And that, my friends, is more precious to me than take-out after a long day, and it's even more precious than a hot shower (though I do occasionally debate that one with myself!). It's taken me a while, but I've stopped counting the losses, and I've begun to take in the life.