Cedar Ring Mama

Taking My Cues From Mother Earth


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Harmonia

Welcome, old friends and new who may be visiting from the Waldorf Connection Global Expo!  As promised, here is the story, “Harmonia“, which goes along with the “Dynamic Mothering with the Four Humours” talk airing on Saturday, May 16, 2015.

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“Harmonia.”

I had been searching the universe, an endless spirit in an endless realm, not knowing what I was looking for.  But I would know it when I found it.  For a while now, I had been catching faint vibrations of an impulse, a calling.  I couldn’t hear it very clearly until this moment.

“Harmonia.”

I listened, and heard the call for someone to bring a very special gift to mankind- a seed that would grow and blossom and produce a fruit that would nourish a part of humanity that was greatly diminished.  I felt the tingle of my inner knowing- I would be this person.

And so, the day came when I crossed the threshold and the whirring, spinning energetic gift I clutched tightly, crossed with me.  When I opened my clenched hand on the other side, now clothed in skin, I held only a tiny, inconspicuous seed.

I looked around me, and saw that I was surrounded by four very different landscapes.  To the north stretched a vast sea, dotted with distant islands. To the south, the sun beat down on what would have been a mostly dry, parched land if not for the exceptionally engineered irrigation systems that fed crop lands and a network of oasis-like cities sprouting up along a wide, winding river.  To the east, all that could be seen was a vast plain where tall grasses continually rippled in the wind with movement like waves. In the west rose hills and mountains with great, cavernous stone mouths.

I planted the seed. I watered it. I waited. But day after day, week after week, nothing happened.  I became discouraged.  Could I have been wrong about accepting this mission?  Would some other spirit have been more capable, more ‘chosen’?

And then, from the windy plains, came the tinkling of a gentle, joyful, breathless laugh.  A child- now running, now skipping, now stopping to smell the the wildflowers, now  stumbling and being whisked up, it seemed, by the breeze itself- arrived like the wind, in bursts and gusts. When she reached me, she smiled and threw her arms around my waist, hugging me. She was neither tall nor short, small or big- and her eyes were what stood out most, they were lively and sparkling. She pressed a light-as-air package wrapped in yellow silk into my hands.

“My people are an energetic, creative, and accepting society who deeply value communication, arts, and entertainment.  We are quick to forgive and have already forgotten what gave rise to the rifts between our neighbors and ourselves, and condemned our people- once sought after merchants and tradespeople- to be unwelcome outside our own borders.  I dreamed you came to help us create peace amongst ourselves, and I have come to help you. Please accept my gift.”

The girl pressed the package into my hands, then ran back along the path from which she came, until finally tall, rippling grasses swallowed her back up.  I removed the cloth and opened the box, and out fluttered a bright yellow butterfly. The butterfly circled around me gently for a few minutes, then it hovered above the ground where I had planted the seed what seemed like ages ago. As the butterfly’s wings flapped and flapped, the air all around warmed and rushed to encircle me.  The discouragement I had felt faded, and I was filled with hope and renewed conviction that I was indeed on the correct path.  I felt very, very alive, and then I felt very, very tired.  When I awoke, the seed’s hard outer coating had softened and allowed a shoot to poke up from the ground.  I cried with joy and relief and told every creature who came near, what happened and showed them the beautiful sprout.

At first I was so attentive- I barely left except to get water for the seedling. But soon the beauty of the world around me and all the other warming, shooting up plants- for my seedling was not the only one to have woken up- distracted me and I returned to my sprout one day to find it drooping and choked with weeds. How could I have been so forgetful and failed to take better care of it?  I began to cry, and my tears watered the soil and the little plant was no longer withered.  I practiced being a faithful caretaker, but my plant’s growth had begun to slow and I wondered if perhaps in my zeal to correct my mistakes, I had overwatered it.  Once again, discouragement seeped in.

It was then that a young man came forward from the southern lands.  His body was short and compact, as if he had been formed to precise specifications to meet maximum efficiency, limbs placed exactly where they could, in as short a time as possible, receive the maximum amount of circulation possible. He strode purposefully towards me and extended his hand to offer a firm handshake.

“My society has heard the stories of your coming.  We are a strong, determined, and productive nation who work hard to make the south lands thrive and squeeze every bit of crop capacity from lands that were once almost desert.  We are skilled hunters and we have a strong military full of trained warriors.  My leader has begun to talk of conquering other lands. I am not afraid of war, but my grandfather tells me of a time in our history when all four nations worked together and trade flourished, and we were even stronger then, than we are now.  I dreamed you came to help us create peace amongst ourselves, and I have come to help you. Please accept my gift.”

The man handed me a tightly wrapped, warm-to-the-touch package wrapped in leather with red and black markings on it. As quickly and purposefully as he had come, he left.

I opened the gift, and inside the leather was a metal box which held a single, smoldering coal.  The yellow butterfly returned and began to flutter her wings gently, fanning the coal until it burst into flame. As the flame grew, the hot summer sun lifted high in the sky and heated the soil around the young plant. The plant responded to the heat almost immediately, and began to grow taller and taller at a remarkable rate, basking in the heat and stretching towards the sun, the first evidence of fruits emerging from pollinated blossoms.  I worked steadfastly to keep the flame burning steadily, and as I thought of the south lands from where the flame originated, I decided that I, too would engineer an irrigation channel from the nearby watering pool.

Perhaps I was over-zealous, because soon the flame was burning unbearably hot. My plant leaf tips began to show scorching, and the irrigation channel had diverted so much water that there was not enough left for the animals who frequented the pool. I felt angry that things were not going smoothly, even though I knew it was my own fault for being a little too ambitious. And that is when the woman from the west came.

She was older than the young man from the south, with a hint of gray touching her dark hair. She was very tall like the mountains she hailed from that reached for the heavens, but her shoulders pulled downwards as if she was used to bearing heavy loads. Her footsteps were heavy, but she picked her way through the rocks with conscious expertise.

“My clan have made the hills and mountains our home.  We are a very proficient, structured society with a strong sense of justice.  Our religious leaders, scientists, doctors, and musicians used to be highly regarded in all the lands, and we were known for our charitable aid and humanitarian efforts to anyone in need.  In recent times, however, we have been weighed down by the many rules of our leading council, which dictate how even the smallest of actions must be performed and do not allow for change, keeping our progress stagnant.  We need renewal, and we need to return to helping others instead of being enclosed within our own boundaries. I dreamed you came to help us create peace amongst ourselves, and I have come to help you. Please accept my gift.”

She handed me a package wrapped in green linen which was surprisingly heavy for its small size. I thanked her, and she returned the way she had come.

I opened the cloth and found a beautiful, clear crystal.  Again the butterfly came and flapped its wings gently, and the crystal began to pulse with light.  As it pulsed, it seemed to drink up the flame’s out of control energy until the heat lessened and reduced it to a comfortable glow.  I felt calm, rational, and filled with understanding.  I began to work to restore the habitat I had disrupted earlier, and when order had been restored I worked to create a beautiful garden around the plant, with walkways and paths lined with shrubbery, a gazebo to shelter people and a small chapel- never forgetting to tend to my plant. But as I delved deeply into my new work, little things that never would have bothered me before became intensely upsetting. The crystal cooled and became dark, and I became critical of myself and everything around me.  My plant was now weighed down with heavy, beautiful fruit, but instead of delighting in it, all I could do was worry about if the stalks would hold up or someone would try to steal the fruit before it was ripe to perfection.

Now, from the shore of the northern island-speckled sea came an old man, slowly. For a while, he was silent and I wondered if he was going to speak at all.  When he did, it was as if his mouth had rusted with disuse and he had to put forth great effort into prying his jaw open to form his thoughts into audible words.

“My people once came and went with the flow of the ocean, but for many years now we have kept to ourselves and avoided the others.  The stories that were passed down say that conflicts developed between the four lands, and our leader refused be involved decided it would be best to isolate our nation from strife and any potential war.  We are a peace-loving, stable society with rich traditions that we love and follow religiously. Our ranks are filled with farmers, fishermen, skilled craftsmen, and patient teachers.  But without the possibility of trade or interaction with the other lands, we have become unmotivated and unproductive.  It does not feel right to me, and I worry about the future of my grandchildren.  I dreamed you came to help us create peace amongst ourselves, and I have come to help you. Please accept my gift.” He handed me a bundle wrapped in blue wool cloth and, contented to have accomplished his mission, he turned away and shuffled back to the sea as I called out my thanks.

I opened the gift and it contained a vial of liquid, clear as the crystal.  I felt as if I could hear the old man whispering, urging me to pour the water on the crystal.  I opened the vial, poured the water on the crystal, and it transformed from cloudy and dark to clear and bright again.  The butterfly flapped her wings, and the flame grew brighter and evaporated the water into a mist that filled the garden.  The cool mist became cooler and cooler.  Every day, the garden was cooler than it had been before and soon the fruit was perfectly ripe and ready to be picked.

I worked hard to harvest every last bit, and when I had finished, I rested and felt at total peace. The girl of the plains came back, driven by intense curiosity to see how the plant had turned out.  She was delighted when I shared the ripe fruit with her, and I asked her to send messengers to each of the nations to summon them, which she gladly agreed to.  Soon representatives from each land came to me to receive a portion of the delicious fruit.  As they ate and marvelled at the delicious fruit, they began to talk amongst themselves and forge new bonds.

That was the beginning of a new time for humanity. The garden was named after me- Harmonia- and became a center for diplomacy amongst the four nations.  The roots of my plant reached deep and far and extended to the borders of each nation. Harmonia is that place in the center where all people come together to be whole, and where every good fruit is cultivated, shared, and enjoyed.


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Guest Post- Kids And Knitting Go Hand-in-Hand

Today I am happy to welcome Elizabeth from Handwork Homeschool. She is here to inspire us with visions of handmade splendor!

 

Summer-time knitting – the perfect way to while away an afternoon.

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Ahhh, doesn’t that conjure up the most wonderful image of sitting under a shady tree, watching your little ones happily playing while you turn out piece after marvelous piece?

Perhaps, you have your favourite drink by your elbow, a stash of delicious yarn & a pair of magic knitting needles….  whoa… what?!

You may have dreamt this dream, but we all know that it’s a real trick to make it happen!

Knitting is pretty easy to learn but what about finding the time to actually knit ?


The KNIT Lessons - Handwork Homeschool

Oddly enough, whenever someone sees my children wearing a handknit sweater
or playing with a knitted toy, they are always shocked to find out that I made it!

They KNOW that I knit & yet, they always say, “but you HOMESCHOOL!!!
When do you find the time to knit along with everything else you do ???”

I just smile & look off into the distance – they don’t need to know all of my secrets
but I’ll share them with you!

One of the most amazing things about knitting is that you can build up a project bit by bit.

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“Every stitch counts!”

It is such a great feeling to knit a little bit everyday, especially when the rest of your day is filled with tasks that you have to do over & over –  laundry, dishes, making meals, sweeping floors, getting the groceries – you know you did them but sometimes, it feels like you didn’t actually accomplish anything all day.

That’s when a few rows of knitting can remind you that the
little things are worth doing
.

The KNIT Lessons  - Handwork Homeschool

If you’re a knitter,  you probably recognize the feeling that washes over
you once you settle down with your needles for a few minutes.

Did you know that it’s not all in your imagination?

Recently scientists have been doing studies into what knitting actually does
to your mind & body.  It’s calming & yet makes you incredibly alert at
the same time. The rhythmic act of making the stitches frees your mind to wander – allowing you to slip into a relaxed state almost instantly.

No mats, special clothes, babysitters or headstands necessary!

What other form of meditation can you practice while your kids are jumping
on the couch?!

The KNIT Lessons  - Handwork Homeschool

The best thing is that you’ve got something to show for your work.
A little toy, a sweater for your babe or even a new pillow for that well-bounced couch.

Knitting can add so much to your life:

  • dazzling colours, patterns & textures to play with
  • time to think & create something of your own
  • a way for you to give a gift that will always be remembered

Speaking of gifts, teaching your child to knit has got to be one of the best
that you could ever give.  One that will increase in value as the years
pass.

At first, knitting will be a challenge, one that makes his brain tell his hands
to move in new ways.  Then after a while, he’ll begin to hone his skills of
perseverance & patience as he works to finish a project.

The KNIT Lessons  - Handwork Homeschool
Before you know it, he’ll be making gifts for you.  He won’t know that
the little knit bag he made is only half of the present, the other part
is the shining look of joy in his eyes as you admire his work.

When I first found out about Waldorf, one of the main things that drew me to
it was the fact that handwork was included in the children’s regular lessons.
I really liked the idea that it was considered important enough to spend
time on along with the academic subjects.

As we’ve walked the homeschool “path”, I’ve watched my son & daughter
blossom & grow.  I’ve learned a lot about how to teach them & they’ve learned
how to have their Mama as their teacher.

When I first started homeschooling, I didn’t realize that knitting could affect them  on so many levels.   After more than 30 years of knitting (yes, it’s hard to believe…) & then teaching it to my son, I decided it was time to find out exactly why it was part of
Steiner’s first curriculum.

Oh, the things I’ve discovered!

This summer, I’m finally ready to share the course that I’ve been working on for years…

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When I first introduced my son to the fibre arts,  I was so excited.
The funny thing was, that I wasn’t sure what to do first!

I searched for a complete step-by-step course that would show me what to do &
when to do it.

Guess what?  I couldn’t find one.

So, I figured I’d better roll up my sleeves & create my own.

One that would teach the basics (stitches, starting, finishing) as well as  few
extras (shaping, colourwork) along with some creative work (designing
your own Tell-Tale Playscape) mixed in with a touch of theory (just HOW
will I teach my child to knit & WHEN?).

BONUS

If you enroll in the COMPLETE course before June 18th, you’ll also get access
to the all NEW mini-course,

“How to Write a Fantastic Container Story”

The KNIT Lessons - Handwork Homeschool

If you’d like to know more about The KNIT Lessons you can pop over HERE

The KNIT Lessons - Handwork Homeschool

Before you go – let me tell you about one extra cool part of this course.

In keeping with my theme of making this course a real All-In-One Experience, I’ve teamed up with Becca here at Cedar Ring Circle to create some amazing
“The KNIT Lessons” kits.

Whether you take Babes ‘n’ Yarns (Part ONE), Tell-Tale Knits (Part TWO) or opt for
the complete The KNIT Lessons – Make YOUR Story – we’ve got one for you.

Each kit contains a complete collection of yarns & tools that are perfectly suited to make the exercises & projects during the course.  She’s giving you a fab deal
(better than retail prices) & you will get it all in this nice neat package… so after you purchase your course tuition, head on over to Cedar Ring Circle and pick up your materials.

The Knit Lessons Kit

It’s always great to save time AND money!

This summer, come on over to Handwork Homeschool  & join a global
community of knitters (a great mix of beginners, experts & everybody in between)
who are going to have a great time learning, making & imagining with some
yarn & a couple of “sticks”!

By the way,
there’ll be step-by-step video tutorials, all the virtual handholding
you want, printables & lots of FUN!

See you in class!

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P.S.  I’d like to thank Becca so much for sharing her spot on the ‘net
with me today & helping me make this course truly interactive!
This is the closest thing I can get to putting you in my car & driving you to the
nearest yarn shop!

Let’s learn & KNIT at Handwork Homeschool !


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Waldorf Moms Have LOTS To Look Forward To!

Why?

Great things are coming!

If you haven’t heard, here’s a little heads up.

1. Donna Ashton’s annual Waldorf Connection Global Homeschooling Expo is scheduled for June 13-15th, and it’s free!  She has put together a wonderful assortment of speakers, and you can listen from the comfort of your own home. It takes a lot of talent to contain the pure Waldorf power of both Eugene Schwarz and Marsha Johnson in one venue, but if anyone can, Donna can! And she’ll do it with finesse, because she’s like the Terry Gross of the Waldorf world.  I can’t wait to listen to Anne-Marie Fryer Wilboltt’s talk about using grains in a gluten-free world (one sort of feels like a rebel baking bread these days in the crunchy crowds, know what I mean?), and Ingun Schneider discuss the Extra Lesson and sensory issues.  But most of all, I am waiting with baited breath to hear Rick Tan explain how to tell my kids about the birds and the bees, Waldorf style.  No, not the actual birds and bees- *those* birds-and-bees. Wonder with me if you will… what kind of container story can we make up for this one?  Is there a fairytale that may magically bypass the awkward moments and impress upon our child’s psyche all he or she needs to know about the matter?  Do we plan a farm field trip and hope the animals are feeling frisky (I’ll admit, that has sort of been my plan until now but I am not sure if my son’s wives will appreciate it. PLEASE HELP ME, RICK!)? If I can’t tune in for anything else, *this* I need to know.

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2. From Handwork Homeschool, Elizabeth’s “The Knit Lessons“.  It is like a magical adventure through knitting, both to shore up your own newbie or intermediate skills AND your present-this-to-your-child skills, even if you yourself are an expert! After this course, your youngster will be knitting like a sailor.  Which is pretty much better than anything else they can do that a sailor would.  Drinking and cursing come to mind. LOL. You will also be guided through creating an entire fairytale scene in yarn, and it gets better…. Elizabeth and I have teamed up.  She will be offering the course, and I will be offering complete materials packages.  From sanding your dowel, to adding a cute little wooden cap to the end of it and polishing it smooth, to finger-spinning your own yarn from raw wool straight off the sheep, to a beautiful knitted playscpae- this course will be unlike any other available. Stay tuned for a course and materials scholarship opportunity!

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3. Affordable rocker boards! Yes, these things have taken the natural toy world by storm.  They began appearing in Waldorf early childhood classrooms years ago.  Who knew a bent piece of wood could be so versatile… so entertaining… so …expensive? After many requests from Cedar Ring Circle members, I teamed up with an Amish woodworker to create boards that would be a little easier on the budget.  My first batch sold out before I could even list them online, and I already have a growing list of buyers for the next batch, so I highly recommend pre-ordering one so little Johnny does not have to wait til he’s graduating from college to get one of these. Although it would make a fabulous graduation gift. 🙂 Best of all, I am offering you, my fabulous blog readers, $10 off when you pre-order this week. Use the code ROCKNROLL.  That will make your board just $89 plus shipping (and will help me order the needed materials)!

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 Hope to “see you” at either the Expo or the Knit Lessons. And please share this post and help spread the news about all these wonderful things!

 

 

 


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In The Morning

My desk sits facing a large picture window where our backyard, acres and acres, stretches out over a gradual incline, topping off at the crest of a hill.  Mist has descended down from the hill, almost to our house. The ash tree just beyond the window is finally pushing forth new leaves; ash tend to be very late to awaken from their winter slumber.  I watch as the branches tremble when small winged guests make their landings, then groom themselves for a moment, and flit away.  The starling on an uppermost branch has quite the morning care ritual; so much tail feather shaking, under-wing preening, and looking about to see who may be watching.  Down below in the grass,  the dandelions have gone to seed and seem, in wispy globes, to be ghostlike orbs hovering- countless- everywhere.  Paired with the dense fog, the morning has an other-worldly quality. A bit eery, but very beautiful, and I am so thankful for the peace and stillness.  The children will wake soon, and I hope I can hold onto this feeling to come back to through the day when things get lively.

For a moment, I have a guilty feeling that I should be reading my Bible in these few moments of alone-ness as day breaks. Growing up, I was indoctrinated that the success of my spiritual path required this.  But, that never seems to start the day off right for me; it just leaves me confused, mind swirling as I try to make sense of what I read.   It very may well not even be the text that creates these feelings- but the fear that was layered through those pages by people who seemed to doubt any intrinsic attraction I might have to goodness, and instead, appealed to my sense of self preservation to convince me to embrace God. But I am not motivated by promises, by rewards, by threats, by punishments- they are all the same thing, an insult to my higher nature, a cat call to base impulse.  I am motivated by love, beauty, peace…  I find it just beyond my doorstep.

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Even the grass seems insanely beautiful with its coat of miniscule dew drops.

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This last one, the raindrop falling from the forsythia branch- it feels as though the branch is weeping and just brings tears to my own eyes.  It has been a long, hard year and only just this past month, has the hardness begun to yield to something in which I find comfort and a deep sense of peace again- I recognize them as long lost friends. I know there is both bitter and sweet; I am willing to taste both in the feast of life. Feist’s “So Sorry” plays through my head; I feel that I am singing it to the cosmos, acknowledging all the tantrums I threw in the face of difficulties and frustrations.  There is no guilt, more a fondness for and humor in the humanity of my response, and a knowing that I am so loved and accepted despite any inadequacies- and perhaps, because of them.

 


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Sense of Warmth Part II

I am so excited that my dear friend Mona Sophia is guest posting for us today. She is a self described alchemist and intuitive life coach.  Her personal study of creativity, meditation, mindfulness, Anthroposophy, and relationships have led her down many different avenues including that of a Waldorf class teacher, homeschooler, artist, filmmaker, and wife and mother.

Mona Sophia begins our contemplation of the Sense of Warmth with a quote from Sherry Wildfeuer…

“An even more intimate connection occurs through the warmth ether.  It provides the impetus of enthusiasm to arouse our thinking to activity at the moment of our first seeking to understand what we behold.  It energizes us along the way, and it culminates with our becoming aware of the inner impulse, the seed nature of what we see.  Thus, the whole quest for knowledge is fired by the warmth ether.  It also allows us to transform ourselves or something in the world around us.”  (“Getting to Know the Living Forces In Nature”)

Winter is the time of year when harsh weather and cold forces us indoors.   Even more so, metaphorically, this “forcing us indoors” can serve to propel us towards developing our inner warmth and our quest for self-knowledge.  In Waldorf Philosophy and Education there is so much emphasis placed on cultivating the warmth of the child, but what about the cultivation of warmth in us as individual developing human beings?

While it’s obvious to see rapid development physically and mentally in children, with adults we too often forget or deny that development is still taking place.   However, if we look to our inner self we can see it is always continuously seeking new ways to manifest its growth and development, whether or not we choose to honor it.   In consciously choosing to honor our inner growth, it is essential we create and direct warmth towards listening to every call of our inner voice.

“Perhaps most importantly, warmth is the essential ingredient in transformative work. Without warmth we cannot change…”-Dr. Adam Blanning

Warmth is an essential element of life.   Think about what a seed needs to grow…water, nutrients, air and light.  That light is warmth.  When we as individuals choose to purposefully seek and develop the light in our own beings, we can nurture the warmth not only in our own lives, but also in the lives of those around us.  But it is essential that we start with ourselves first and do so with kindness and compassion.

This time of year when the world grows dark and our consciousness is turned inward we can very often find we are becoming impatient, restless, or dissatisfied in our outer lives and inner thoughts.  The outer cold can cause us to take a fetal–like positioning towards the world, which helps us preserve not only our physical warmth but our spiritual warmth as well.  What we are left with, though, is to come face to face with our inner mental processes.   In order to penetrate these darker crevices of our thinking, we must consciously and actively create an attitude of warmth towards these thoughts and truly understand their “seed nature”.  But how can we do we do this?

First we must honor that these emotions and feelings are presenting to us for a reason.  They are speaking to our innermost needs.  Instead of denying the darker sides of our thoughts, and trying to change them for the positive, look to them with gratitude for their utter honesty.  These small, sometimes ugly inner voices are the way our inner self screams for our attention.   More often than not they are screaming because we have denied them too long.  But what do we do?  React to these emotional outcries or respond to them?  More often than not we just react.  I now challenge each of us to respond to them instead.

Meet each of these angry, bitter, resentful mutterings with the warmth that a saint would meet a sinner.  Ask them what they need and how you can help them.  More often than not, these inner voices just want to know you are listening to them and will in turn show you they aim to serve you instead.  When we listen to these voices without self-judgment, they begin to point the way towards cultivating a more passionate and fulfilled life.

Think about your most intimate and passionate moment.  All your senses were stimulated and your physical awareness was heightened.  A feeling of warmth most likely overtook your body.  Can you imagine living life like this on a daily basis?  It’s possible.   But only when we seek to listen to those inner yearnings which have tried so hard to get our attention.  Look to yourself with warm thoughts and know that you are valuable enough to deserve a fulfilled life.  There is no secret recipe for how to do this, though, as each of us will have different ingredients.  But what matters most is that we can look honestly at what stimulates, intrigues and disgusts our palettes.

Are you happy giving to others when you have not made time for yourself?  After spending the whole day caring for others and neglecting yourself do you have anything left to cultivate a passionate life for yourself or with a partner?   However, if you took just minutes a day to make love to yourself first, perhaps the amount you could give to others would exponentially grow.

So how do we make love to ourselves?  Do you have a spiritual practice you can devote yourself to?  Do you have a purpose and a drive for your direction in life?  Have you questioned what your deepest desires are for yourself, or a life with a partner or a family?  What can you do on a daily basis to bring these into fruition?   Have you looked at yourself with love and kindness for everything you aim to achieve during your day but just didn’t manage to?  Can you look in the mirror daily and say, “I am a beautiful, sexy, creative being!”?

If the answer to any of these questions is I don’t know or I don’t have time, then it’s no wonder your inner murmurs are screaming for your attention.  Our lives are a product of our creative imaginations and if you haven’t taken the time to imagine what you want or desire from your life you will get second-rate results.  We are called to be creative, inspired individuals because creativity is the vital force that fuels our existence.

So face these dark murmurings of your inner self with warmth and compassion and see them as guideposts on your journey.  Honor that they are serving to drive you towards a more creative and passionate life and that they are the seeds, which when nurtured with warmth and light can help you to undergo the transformative work necessary to find your highest self.

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 Mona Sophia has a passion for connecting with others and helping them to discover the passion in their own lives.  Her counseling services are offered online.  See her Facebook page for more details: Mona Sophia Talks

As her friend, I have to pipe up and tell you that the grace with which she navigates her life impresses everyone lucky enough to know her. She has walked with me through many difficult times in my life.  We have been through thick and thin together, and every time I have felt “stuck”, at the end of my rope, or needed someone to share my joy, she has been there for me.  She has the amazing ability to listen without judgement, to exude empathy, and to refuse to allow me to have a pity party or self-defeating mentality.  She can help me “find the gift”, notice the silver linings of any gray cloud, and most of all, she has infused me with inspiration and confidence to boldly take on the world, and take charge of my life instead of “letting life happen to me”.  I am incredibly lucky to call her my friend, and after endless hours of conversations with her, I now know exactly what question to ask myself when I am feeling stressed, overwhelmed, or upset.  I know she would tell me to take some rescue remedy, and cut right through the whirling chaos in my mind by asking me “What are you needing right now?” For truly, how can we work towards getting our needs met, if we aren’t even certain what they are?

In addition to knowing what our needs are, we need to develop a good game plan for getting those needs met.  In his book, Non-Violent Communication”, Marshall Rosenberg tells a story of a man who is searching for his keys beneath a streetlight one night.  A passerby offers to help him, and after much crawling about on hands and knees beneath the light, asks “where exactly were you standing when you dropped them?” The man replies that he dropped the keys in an alley nearby. “But,” he says, “the light is much better over here.” We are often more comfortable trying to get our needs met in ill-suited ways that have become ingrained over the years, in ways that are based on manipulating or degrading ourselves or those around us, or we may not even feeling worthy of trying to get them met.   Mona Sophia is willing to go on an adventure with you, to discover your passion, your needs, and how to get them met and live a rich life of fulfillment.  For a chance to win a 90 minute coaching session with her, leave a comment below!


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Sweetheart Candle Tutorial And A Giveaway

Some of you may remember this post about beeswax cookie cutter candles.  Ever since then, I had been turning over in my mind a way to make heart candles, and then I realized- I just had to make vertical stacks instead of horizontal ones…

I gathered up my children and supplies, and we started cutting out hearts.  We each used two or three beeswax candle sheets for this project, and our tools included assorted cookie cutters, cutting boards, wooden skewers, and candle wick.  Beeswax sheets handle best if they are warm; I find placing them in a sunny window for a few hours before you begin is the best way to warm them.  They really “catch” the warmth of the sun and become pliable and easy to work with.  You can also hold them over a steaming pot of water for a few seconds or run a blow dryer over them for faster results.

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After pressing the cookie cutter down on one side, flip the sheet and cookie cutter upside down and finish pressing the wax downward towards the cutting board.

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My eight year old was able to analyze how best to use each sheet so that there would be minimal scraps.  I helped my four year old place her cutter streategically. 🙂 At the end of the project, we gathered each color into its own scrap ball.  I save these in a mason jar for future projects- melting down and adding color to homemade beeswax crayons, modeling wax, or candles.  I think we’ll be using these scraps to make Valentine tealights or floating walnut shell candles.

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The shapes quickly stacked up.  You may wish to rub a few drops of your favorite sweet smelling essential oils onto the cutouts, but be careful- some essential oils are highly flammable.

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We carefully made holes through the center of each candle cutout.  After the first one, we used each consecutive cutout hole as a guide for our next hole, to be sure all the holes would line up well. My eight year old was able to do this on his own, but I did my four year old’s holes for her (she might have been able to do it but her attention span was elsewhere, lol!).

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Next, we strung them onto the candle wick.  This was the trickiest part- but again, my eight year old was able to do it.  If your holes are big enough, you shouldn’t have much trouble.  Next time, I think I’ll dip the tip of the wick in some melted wax to keep it from fraying, so it is easier to pull through. Save one sheet for the base sheet of the candle, no hole.

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When you are finished stringing your shapes onto the wick, pull the wick firmly to ensure it has not looped up in between sheets and there is no slack.  Press your sheets firmly together, and again pull your wick firmly so it is taut. Then trim the wick flush with the bottom, and press it down onto the reserved “base” cutout.  Trim the top about half an inch from the uppermost cutout.  Your candle is done!

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My children absolutely loved this craft, and the results were lovely.  They will make great gifts, centerpieces for our Valentine meal table, and the possibilities with other seasonal celebrations and cutout shapes are endless! Our candles lasted 2-3 hours.

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Candlemas is coming up this Sunday, too.  If you are in need of beeswax sheets or candlemaking supplies, visit my newly redesigned shop– you’ll find everything you need.  You can order kits of 8 sheets in natural, rainbow, or a special Valentine assortment- or just pick and choose individual sheets from a selection of 17 colors. To receive your items in time for Candlemas, get your orders in by midnight today (Tuesday, January 28th).

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If you read my last post, you know my family has faced challenging times recently.  One of my struggles has been that my website provider outsourced to a new service, and to get the Cedar Ring Circle website up and running, there is a lot of tweaking to do.  It takes time, and as I redo countless hours’ worth of work, I appreciate everyone’s patience.  It will be worth it- the new site is beautiful and much more functional. I’d also like to transform a difficult task into a fun, creative process supported by the intentions, enthusiasm, and interest of our wonderful online Waldorf community, as well as keep everyone engaged as the website grows and new products are added.  In that vein, one of our co-op members is creating a special peg doll named Woody, and Woody is going to be making random appearances throughout the Cedar Ring Circle catalog.  Each week, he’ll be hijacking a new product photo, and each week, the person to spot Woody first and email me at becca@cedarringcircle.com or comment on the Cedar Ring Circle facebook page will get a $10 credit towards in stock items. I’ll announce Woody’s first appearance soon!

In the meantime, let’s kick off the newly designed website and the first products I’ve uploaded to it so far with a giveaway!

Jan2014GiveawayThe giveaway includes a copy of Winter Nature Activities With Children, 20 beeswax sheets in your choice of colors, a set of 40 assorted peg people, and a $50 gift certificate for in stock items at Cedar Ring Circle (and I’ll be adding new items all week!).  Ships free to US recipients; winners from other countries must pay shipping costs.

To enter, leave one comment per person letting me know how many points you earned…

  • 1 point for visiting the new site and sharing what you like best about the new design
  • 2 points for sharing the giveaway on facebook or if you don’t have facebook, with a friend
  • 3 points for signing up for the Cedar Ring Circle newsletter (do this right on the new website) *if you do not already receive it*

Giveaway will end Friday, February 1st. Good luck!


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The Sweetness Flows

It has been a challenging few months.  I’ve missed blogging, but the words just wouldn’t come; I believe I was trying so hard to process and make sense of my rapidly shifting circumstances, that I wasn’t able to pin my thoughts down with enough certainty and clarity to write in this space. I don’t know what’s going in with the planetary movements and star impulses, but I’ve noticed a decided shift in the past week, one that has entered not only my life, but the lives of loved ones around me as well.  Perhaps, we have finally finished strengthening the will after the season of Michaelmas, and are beginning to enter, moving towards Martinmas & Thanksgiving, the sharing and reflecting on the efforts and fruits of our deeds. It is not only the spring work of sowing and the summer work of cultivating- but the harvest itself is work, as gathering, storing, and preserving take just as much, if not more, effort than the work of spring and summer.  Winter approaches, and brings with it a slower way of living and being. We reflect on and savor taste the results of our hard work with a forward gaze, planning to incorporate the lessons we have learned into our future pursuits.

I have been juggling homeschooling with three children and a baby, running Cedar Ring Circle (which has grown to 300 families!), soccer season, being a mostly single parent while my husband helped a business partner open a natural living store a few hours away.  Things did not work out as the partner had envisioned, and he left to pursue other endeavors.  I am now moving households to be closer to the store to take over running the store and making it successful with my father, a family friend, and our wonderful staff esthetician.  My husband has returned to work as a sales rep in the natural products industry, realizing it takes time to build a retail business that can support our family financially and right now, supporting his family financially is his calling.  The new store is wonderful, and I am creating a Waldorf section to complement all the holistic products offered here and attempting to gracefully merge these two efforts.

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What is the secret to truly catalyzing our efforts to get the most out of them, and accomplishing all the work we believe we are called to do?  Faith and intention.  When we merge these, to both call forth our purpose in life and to believe that we are given each moment- never a moment less, never a moment more- that we need to fulfill it; this lends itself to true productivity.  I have recently, jokingly, made Wonder Woman my facebook profile picture…

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Friends have asked me how I manage it all, and while I can thank my energetic sanguine temperament for some of the emotional go-go juice, learning about the power of human intention and believing that each moment is a gift to be enjoyed with thankfulness and purpose are a very important piece of the puzzle. This does not mean I begrudge myself down time; there are many times when I purpose to just stop moving and doing, and rest a moment to pace myself.  For instance, in the mid afternoon “slump” of the day, I hand my 3 year old a container of warm water, a paint brush, and let her “paint” my face, arms, and legs with warm water- a sensory activity she enjoys (she has such a nurturing spirit!) and one that relaxes me.  It is important not to drive ourselves too hard, or we will burn out.  But it is far more important to be passionate about what we are doing, because passion can propel us forward with much less of our energy being expended.  Take a moment and check in with yourself; is the way you spend your time in line with your passion? If not, you begin moving in that direction simply by intending it to be so; a very practical way to do this is to envision what your life would look like if you spent your time doing what you are passionate about. The fruit of sowing these intentions, which like seeds magically emerge from dormancy and become amazing organic life, will come.  When we do the work of intending, we do not need to come up with a plan that is set in stone.  We create a fluid, dream-nuanced imagination of what calls to us. I still don’t know how all the details of my new set of circumstances will work out.  How will each of my children will be cared for during the hours I work at the store? How I will manage less rural living and still keep my connection to nature strong and thriving, which sustains me and builds me up spiritually? What will our homeschooling schedule look like? But I do know that these things will work out and I am attracting the wisdom and support I need in real time.  I appreciate you, my friends, attracting it with me.  Even though we may be hard-pressed at times, the work we do that is true to our calling, is worth it. And through it, the sweetness of life flows.

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