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...


  1. Courtney! I was pleasantly surprised to read this! I love that you are on this journey too, and no doubt it will look differently from me. I love the boldness you took in writing this. Way to go!

    I don't know of other Waldorf-inspired moms in South Africa, but I bet you'll come across one who lives overseas as well. I have been immersing myself in Waldorf for about a year and a half now, but I still consider myself a newbie. And I just slooooowwwly incorporated what resonated with me. I try not to be a purist because it just doesn't work with my personality.

    Two of the books I loved that were so simple are "You Are Your Child's First Teacher" and "Heaven On Earth." My approach is to not be so tied down to the philosophy but be inspired by it and make it authentic for my family. I really think that as you move along in your journey, you'll get a sense of how to make it work in your situation. I try to focus on the essentials of what Steiner is saying. And for me, that means being out in nature a lot, including my child in housework, rhythms and creative play. We don't buy a lot of waldorf toys as they are expensive, but I improvise. Like you, I'm also not very crafty and am still trying to figure out what fits me best.

    Oh sorry for rambling! I'm just excited that you are on this journey too! Looking forward to how it unfolds! You just inspired me to write more about our Waldorf adventures too!


  2. thank you Vina!!!
    you are very right about incorporating what works best... and improvising too. for example, i have to say that much of what i read on the waldorf blog world makes me REALLY MISS living in a place with 4 seasons. I WANT that awesome nature table with beautiful golden aspen leaves (that's what would be on mine if i returned "home"). but what i am learning instead is that we can still be more "in tune" to what nature is doing in our dry/wet/dry/wet cycle.
    i actually ordered You Are Your Child's First Teacher today! now i'm hoping it gets here in the 3 weeks it's "supposed" to. :)
    thank you for your support, Vina! really.


    P.S. Too bad there isn't a "used waldorf toys" shop! love the idea of them, but REALLY?!