Cedar Ring Mama

Taking My Cues From Mother Earth

The Heart of It (Inner Work!)

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After writing the Are You Waldorf Enough? quiz with a humorous look at what being influenced by Steiner may look like, I’ve pondered it in a more serious tone.  Around the web, two other lovely blog posts have hit home on the subject of what “being Waldorf” looks like- Carrie’s post “Am I Waldorf Enough?” and Sheila’s “What Waldorf Looks Like In My Home”.

For me, the most inspiring aspect of Waldorf education is the importance of the mother/teacher being a vibrant, growing, striving human being- fulfilling a meaningful role (destiny)- and co-creating goodness, beauty and truth into existence on this earth from seed thought to physical reality.  As I take in the world around me, and “digest” it into bits and pieces that are manageable for my children, I nourish their mind, soul and spirit in the same way that I would physically nourish my newborn babe at the breast.   This is the picture I have of learning at home after studying Steiner- we study the world around us, and each bit of information we bring to our children is filtered through, and dripping with, “Mama Love”and Trust in the Goodness, Beauty, and Truth of our Source. 

In order to be this vibrant, growing, striving human being, inner work is paramount. Quite honestly, I have felt like a failure lately, because my own inner work has been weak.  I grew up in a Christian home and attended a Christian school.  I attended church 2-3 times a week.  It was hammered into me over and over that to be a successful Christian, I had to have a regular time of prayer and reading the bible.  But, to be perfectly honest, when I read the bible, I struggle.  The only way I  have been able to come to terms with God as depicted in the majority of the Old Testament and even parts of the New, has been to sort of “live” within the Garden of Eden.  I recognize and connect with the God who created a paradise in which to fellowship with us.  I recognize that there was a disconnect between the Divine and humanity, and the greater part of the bible is showing us the impact of that disconnect, until the gap could be bridged.  So- now that the gap has been bridged, I have a hard time dwelling on anything less than that Garden of Eden state.  We were made for, meant for, and spawned of perfection, goodness, beauty, truth, love… reading about the discord that existed in the middle does nothing to  nourish my soul right now.  I’ve listened to so many people speak about these words of the bible with a lot of ego inserted, that it has been used as an attempt to: motivate me to get involved in their personal work or cause; convict me of my shortcomings in a harsher way than God Himself would have dealt with me, leaving me “bruised”; convince me to interpret the words I am reading through another person’s perspective and experience, as if they are the authority and speak “gospel truth”; and produce their vision of holiness in my life.  Although they may have had good intentions when they took to the pulpit, the result is that there are many times where I simply feel used and abused when I read these words again, and incapable of determining what God Himself is trying to say to me personally amidst the clamor of what these words meant to other people.  I grew up feeling guilty and scared of God; I only just started to see Him in a different light after my teen years, but with the business of marriage and 4 children, there hasn’t been much time to reconcile how God was presented to me through my childhood and how He makes Himself known to me one-on-one. It will take some healing before I will be able to read the Bible and come away renewed and encouraged.  So, I have floundered a lot with what to do for inner work.  After a consult with Melisa Nielsen through her wonderful Thinking, Feeling, Willing program, and some words of encouragement from the other ladies on this journey, I  keep coming back  to Dr. Wayne Dyer.  His ideas really give me the lift I need.

I always want my blog space to be a happy one- a “complaint-free zone” in my life.  So I don’t often share personal struggles in depth here.  But recently when I reached out to the Thinking, Feeling Willing support group mamas, I was truly surprised by how many other mamas share in my struggle of feeling alone and overwhelmed.  So many of our husbands are working two jobs, or working and going to school.  Just around the time I had our fourth baby, things got very busy for my husband and he is only home a few nights before the kids go to bed. I know I really need some strong inner work now, to face feelings of overwhelm/resentment, and shift my paradigm.

When I listen for answers, I hear two messages.  First of all, this is a loving opportunity for me to become stronger as an individual; to rely on my Source… as my friend Becca shared with me…

“Remember God/Love is the true parent. Trust God to meet all your needs. Your children’s needs too. It doesn’t come from you. You just naturally reflect God’s parenting, Mothering qualities. That shift is so freeing for a Mother.  From feeling like we’re ALL to our children, to feeling like God is Mothering you and your kids together. Rest in action, you reflect God! You get all your strength, courage, Love from Divine Love & that is inexhaustible & never ending. Feeling that love is restorative. You are completely cradled in God’s love just as you cradle that little one & all your bigger ones too. Let all your cares melt away and just feel the joy that is always there. Joy doesn’t come & go. It isn’t attached to a person and absent when they are. As a quality of God it can only be eternal, never ending, it’s there always. Just part the mental cloud that obscures it. These aren’t just words. It’s Truth! & as you live it and feel it you’ll notice more proof of God’s care. All those little signs and messages, saying, ‘hey, I’m here for you, I haven’t left you alone.'”

After Becca shared this, my children did the sweetest thing.  They spent a few hours outside creating a circus show just for me.  I had been wallowing a bit in self pity, but by the end of their show, I truly felt as if they put this together for me as one of God’s “little signs and messages”, as Becca wrote.  Here is a picture I took of one of their “acts”- you know, the classic “bunch of clowns pour out of a tiny car”. What little blessings they are to me!

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Secondly, I have been meditating on the idea that my work “alongside” my partner is not limited to physical proximity.  Being “by his side” in spirit is no less powerful in his life.  Feeling “alone” is a mental construct that will only bring me to a negative place.  There are seasons of life, and during this current season, I get to experience the more powerful aspect of giving him vital spiritual support.  It is only a season; eventually, he will be able to shed some responsibilities.  It doesn’t need to be a season of resentment, jealousy, or overwhelm; it can be a time for me to draw closer to Source, spend evenings I would have shared with him reading or knitting or planning; and the baby and beautiful spring weather has been such a joy for the children, I don’t think they are feeling the loss of a family member being present, very strongly right now.  Beyond that, I have the opportunity to create new opportunities that don’t currently exist.  Who knows what possibilities may allow our family to be together more often, that I am not yet able to see?

I hope this might encourage other mothers who share my circumstances- it seems there are many more of you than I would have imagined!

Another mama suggested creating an inspiration board with pictures and quotes that keep her “calm, inspired, motivated, and focused.” I hope to make mine prettier, but to get started I put some sticky notes on a foam presentation board that I happened to have around.  Here are the highlights of the first chapters of Wayne Dyer’s “Your Erroneous Zones: Bold But Simple Techniques For Taking Charge of Your Unhealthy Behaviour Patterns”…

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And the two questions to ask myself throughout the day…

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Care to share any of your favorite inner work resources? Maybe we can archive them for future reference!

12 thoughts on “The Heart of It (Inner Work!)

  1. This is soooo good, thank you. I just wrote on a stickie “I am loved. I am supported,” and put it up next to yours. Thank you.

  2. (Tears) this is really beautiful! I love the circus that the children put on for you. It was indeed your little message. Just beautiful! Love seeing the Divine in action!

  3. THank you for writing about inner work – a big thing for me too, and about your spiritual struggles. It really helps me to have more courage to pursue my inner and spiritual work – I am not the only one who “doesn’t get it” predigested from the pulpit. I don’t like feeling guilty about that. So I’m much happier now about the “one-on-one” connection to God. Thank you. Been thinking about joining Melissa’s Thinking Feeling Willing too.

    You are so right about the seasons of life. I hope you can enjoy this lovely time with young bundles of joy. I have to accept that that for me this phase is over, and its very hard for me. I too have to accept the same comments about “seasons of life” and move along and find joy in these new moments where I am now.

    Love to you,
    Carol

  4. Thank you for this courageous and beatific post.

  5. Thank you for this post. The reminder that we have common struggles does so much to empower and encourage me. I wanted to share some resources I find myself returning to again and again on this journey of mothering and wiving and following Jesus. Many will probably be familiar to you, but maybe it’ll be helpful to others. (Also, as an aside, I am a poet/writer, so some might skew that direction. :)) Henri Nouwen is one of my favorite authors for reminders about the courage it takes to live a life of love. His book “The Inner Voice of Love” is one I keep close at hand. Also, Frederick Buechner and George MacDonald are two preachers I like to read. MacDonald lived in the 19th century, so his writing is a bit harder to access. A good one I would recommend is Buechner’s “The Alphabet of Grace.” Thomas Merton (of whom I read a lot) wrote a book called “The Way of Chuang Tzu” which is filled with Merton’s meditations on another profound teacher. Another encouraging book for me is Madeleine L’Engle’s “A Circle of Quiet,” which explores her own path to peace in the midst of cares. These are a few I find near to hand as I write this. Blessings to you all! Thank you again for your honesty and gentleness. Your blog is a source of encouragement for me.

  6. Thank you for this blog, for honesty, for openness and for the courage to show an example for how to turn the negative thoughts — the ones that are just there weighing us down, so subtly sometimes that we get used to them… into positive ones. This was empowering for me to read and I felt a joy in my heart that there are other women out there who take on this struggle wholly – that there are others who want to really take responsibility to transform their “pain bodies.” (Eckart Tolle reference..) I also really appreciated your last blog about some of the traps of Waldorf… briliiant quiz! Thank you for doing this work and keep writing. You are helping a good bunch of us!

    I am personally right now facing a lot of questions about how I will continue next year. We have four beautiful children also and I am wondering about how to fulfill the needs of the older (almost 9) and the younger (18 months) and the in-betweens at the same time. My children are also social and I am seeing that there are limited outlets available if they stay home. We also live in the country so its quiet; there are other homeschoolers around but very few Waldorf inspired. I am even thinking of opening our homeschool to other children. Hmmm… I will be happy to hear thoughts if you care to share.

    Thanks again and bless your family.

  7. Lauren, on the social end of things we do trade homes each week with one other family that is an hour and fifteen minutes away and also “Waldorfy”. Making the drive every other week is doable and worth it for the comraderie. Other than that, we get together with people outside the Waldorf world throughout the month, and I think that is good because nowhere in life do we find ourselves surrounded with people just like us, and when people do try to gather up and be likeminded, the results are often legalism, dogma, and stifling of creativity as often people tend to establish too much “form” to their group (not always, but very often!). Playgrounds, beaches, and occasional trips to the city where there are cousins offer freeplay with other kids and that seems to be enough for us right now. The nice thing about four is that they are kind of a tribe of their own! I can’t really imagine more children in the mix right now, but that is probably due to the fact I have a newborn- perhaps it could be a positive move for your family… something to pray about… ;)

  8. Thank you for the response. I appreciate just hearing another good voice and knowing what others do to keep it running well. Yes, I do have choices to make. I love when my tribe is together but at times I find the age difference stifling, wanting to sit with a good lesson with one of the older two on a regular basis but pulled constantly by the immediate needs of my lil ones. It can often feel like no one’s needs are well-met.

    This year my oldest was in public school so I could achieve more balance and he did have a great year as school standards go, a special teacher thank the Universe! But I would like to reclaim him. We have solid family friends, even one waldorf-inspired so I am starting to envision exchanges with other families or get creative of how I could make it work, even if my toddler has a babysitter sometimes in the home or by friends on some mornings. Hmmm… I am thinking out loud and appreciate the sense of a nonjudgmental space to express. I always appreciate your words if you feel inspired to reply. Thank you for continuing to model positive thinking – its really inspiring! Have a beautiful solstice and God bless!

    • Hi Lauren, I know what you mean about feeling like no ones’ needs are well met and difficulty with main lesson. I find that spending time with the little ones first helps tremendously, then they want to go off and play on their own. But I try to make our main lesson area a welcoming place for them, with playdo and crayons out in case they show up in the middle. I may also invite them to sit on my lap if they promise to be quiet as a mouse. Here is a post I wrote a while back for Donna of the Waldorf Connection about homeschooling with little ones in tow; perhaps it will help envision something that flows? http://thewaldorfconnection.com/homeschooling-with-the-little-ones-in-the-house/ Having others involved sounds like a really workable scenario for you! Glad you have some likeminded folks around and I used to swap “mommy time” with a friend when our oldest children were babies, that was really nice.

  9. Thanks Becca. I appreciate your words once again. I had actually read your article a couple years back but I never made the connection that you wrote it. Thanks for including it again, it does me good to revisit. I realize that I have fear to feel swept away at sea by the volume of work of having four at home, but I find it so helpful to read others likeminded and encouraging. Sorry for jamming up this column with my personal story and fears!
    By the way, I remember you once wrote about your interest in old testament stories. If you ever have questions, feel free to check in. I went to jewish school my whole life and feel gifted to know well many stories and their symbols. Later, I have come to christianity and find it really pertinent for “inner work” – I really loved your entry about st-michael in september. Now we are headed for a summer solstice and St-John celebration which is big here in Quebec.
    Thank you once again for this forum – have a great week!

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