Happy to say that as of today, I have completed my three week practicum and review in the Waldorf teacher training. What an accomplishment as the process is not necessarily an easy one. My chalkboard drawing is of a scene from a story told to the children about a boy who loved studying animals in nature. This was in preparation for the fourth grade class to perform their first research projects. Highlight from my lesson? When spring arrived for the sleeping bear cubs and I led the class into the forest as the hungry bears that we were.
I've always known myself to be a-little-bit-of-this-and-a-little-bit-of-that-type-creator. It was first evident with my refusal to follow a recipe, putting my own stamp on a dish with whatever I happened to have on hand or be my fancy. Then, I discovered the endless world of needle felting. Ah, a bundle of wool that I could sculpt and quickly transform into something practical! This year of school has brought a new passion to my fingers and artistic sensibilities: chalkboard drawing. Images emerge with the simplest strokes of chalk. Gesture and mood can be achieved with so little. Sculpting my way in and out of an image until it's communicating the intended message is the kind of artistic process that truly inspires me. Yes, a little bit here and a little bit there. That is my style.
Story of The Goose Girl
Man as Symphony, Part 1
Man as Symphony, Part 2
Man as Symphony, Part 3
Man as Symphony, Part 4
Karma and Reincarnation Biography Project, Mark Twain
The wishes of the soul are springing
The deeds of the will are growing
The fruits of life are ripening.
I feel my destiny,
My destiny finds me.
I feel my star,
My star finds me.
I feel my goals,
My goals find me.
My soul and the World are one.
Life grows more radiant about me.
Life grows more arduous for me,
Life grows more abundant within me.
Cheers to a peaceful journey towards your destiny in this New Year of 2014!
"Happy Birthday!" would have exploded from my lips, had I called that familiar number today. Instead, the number has already been disconnected and there isn't the deep voice at the other end to answer.
Today, my dad would have celebrated his 69th birthday. But, two weeks ago, on October 22nd, he died. He died. In the hospital. Alone.
"I'm feeling really good," he said before going in for what we thought was the final leg of surgery for colon cancer. He had recovered well and was ready for the iliostomy bag to be removed. In the six months between surgeries, he had developed a hernia, so the doctors thought that they may as well address both issues at the same time. I got news after his surgery on the 14th that all had gone well.
He did not want visitors in the hospital. Too much chaos for my anxious father, with nurses and doctors coming and going. We left it as I'd check on him as soon as he got home.
I was awoken by cell phone vibrations and rings throughout the house close to 4am. My mom and the hospital were calling. I was awoken from a deep sleep to be given this message: Your father is dying and has about fifteen minutes left.
What does one do with this informaton? My first instinct was to get into my car and head south as fast as I could in hopes he would hang on until I could cross those mountains and be by his side. At the very least to hold his hand and not let him leave this world alone. Instead, I sat in the dark, feeling completely helpless. Time passed with the images in my head of him unconsciuos and unable to breathe, alone in the sterile environment of the hospital. I sent my love to him so intensely for those last minutes as he was exiting our world.
It may sound silly to say this, but he did not want to die. He fought cancer with such courage and determination. Having lived a life dominated by anxiety which he relieved through alcoholism, he spent the last two years completely sober and cognizant. He stopped his lifetime habits of both smoking and drinking cold turkey, followed doctors orders, and stayed connected to family and friends.
My father's 6 foot frame weighed about 135 pounds. After the wear and tear on his body over the years, and the multiple rounds of chemo and radiation he underwent, it's a miracle he got the two years that he did. He was simply not strong enough to make it through this last surgery. His body was sick, tired, and old, even if his will had finally been enlivened to choose life.
My dad was not the most consistent person in my life, but he loved me entirely and showed it as best he could. In more recent years, he expressed it every time we visited or spoke. There was much goodness in him, although not so easy to see and reach, but I experienced it as often as I could.
He's my one and only dad and he is now gone. I will miss him dearly but am focusing my energy around sending him off with immense love, knowing that he is free from all the fears and anxieties he dealt with in his lifetime. We will be celebrating his love of music, humor, friends and good times in his home after Thanksgiving.
Even though I don't get to tell it to him directly, I do wish him love on this tenth day of November, when he came to embrace what he could in his lifetime.
The photo is the most recent of my parents together, who have been separated since I was 10. People have always said that I look a lot like both of them. It's nice to see them here, together, looking quite happy.
This past week, Julian stepped up to the grades with the rose ceremony and had his first day of first grade. His feeling about it all? "I can't believe I get to do this everyday for a whole year!"
When he stood up in front of the school with his yellow rose, he kept inhaling deeply, to take in as much of that sweet scent as he could (don't mind the petal that fell). How representative of what this year holds for him with so much to stimulate his senses and help his maturing bud grow.
He also lost his fifth tooth on the first day of first grade.
Lulu had her first day of the Marigold preschool. Her excitement quickly turned that morning as she ran out of the room and hid behind the coat in her cubby (butterfly symbol for which we now have matching socks - complete happenstance, I promise.) After I returned with her to the room and stayed for circle, tears were inevitably shed when I shut the door behind me. I was assured they did not last. "It was as if she suddenly decided it wasn't fun being sad at school," her teacher explained at pickup. Long nap that afternoon for my big girl.
I also had my first day of my second year. Feeling proud to be stepped up in the program, even if the work load is daunting.
Next week will be our first of a complete new school year schedule. It will also include my first time ever with blocks of free time while both kids are in school.
Every year, we take our summer trek north to Oregon. There is so much to discover as we visit friends and family along the way. At the close of our vacation, I often look at the kids (I can really call them that now) and notice in what ways they've grown.
From brief encounters with new children to staying with grandparents, the comfort and ease of interactions continue to increase. Each encourages the other in areas of greater confidence. What one may feel shy about is quickly forgotten when the other jumps at the opportunity.
The trip started with the Folklife Festival and we are so grateful for all the talent in Humboldt. Especially feeling gratitude towards Lyndsey Battle for providing Julian's first ukele lesson (with an appearance in the Sunday paper!) and our road-trip-sing-along-music. None of it would have been a part of our summer if it weren't for our dear, Arcata friends.
River play in Gold Hill and bonding with grandma and grandpa for a few days was a nice bridge to the next leg of the trip in Portland. Spoiled by Aunt Siri, the kids got their fill of Herbie the Lovebug, an ice cream party and Slappy Cakes. I got a bit spoiled, too with a trip to the Goodwill super store, unplanned city adventures, and the annual Portland date with Chris. Our main purpose, of course, was to visit with family, which we kept busy with on many a late night.
Seeing Chris' grandparents decline over the years has been a hard process and also one that reminds us all of the course of life. The kids happily played in the hospice rooms, observing how we interacted with these two most influential people in Chris' life. Their play would be interrupted with a newfound curiosity as they made their way in for a closer look. Studying the aged bodies, they took in what they would question later.
Tonight, our conversation at bedtime included two comments that struck me as a theme of this summer's trip.
Lulu: When I grow up, do I have to be a grown up?
Julian: Does it hurt to die? I bet it doesn't since we're born from a seed and that doesn't hurt.
Their reflections and their ways of processing such complexities revealed in the bedtime chatter that I love so much.
With all the wildfires in Oregon and California, the smoke was a bit heavy in Gold Hill. With a few days left and not as much freedom to roam outdoors, we took off with Sue to the small coastal town of Brookings. The kids were thrilled to stay in a motel. "Look, we even have closets with our own hangers...and a toaster!" Julian exclaimed, running around to inspect the rooms. Lulu unpacked and organized her clothes into the dresser drawers. When I asked her where Julian would put his clothes, she immediately reorganized the whole set up.
We found ourselves wandering the beach one afternoon, which ended with two kids chasing (and running from) waves. Back to the car, stripped and wrapped in beach towels, they were were relieved to be driving home to plunge into a warm, bubble bath. Microwavable popcorn and a movie for all was a special treat to end the day.
With all of this fun behind us now, our trip is coming to an end. Through daily life experiences with loved ones, they have gained so much. Although none of us want to return home to our 'normal' lives, we still have a couple more summer adventures ahead, so "our vacation is not over yet," Julian reminds us.
Week four is complete with a wonderful celebration of summer's end. A nearby Fellowship hall was converted into a tranquil space for our choir and eurythmy performances, as well as our lighthearted roasts of the faculty in the form of some hilarious skits. Artwork was exhibited and feasts (two!) were shared.
My class pulled together with such determination and focus to present that the 'first years' are fully capable. Feeling proud of our feat as performers, I also have a great sense of accomplishment as we are now the new 'second years'.
Closely watching the many footsteps to follow, we are gaining clarity as to what lies ahead. At times, carrying on with the program seems impossible and I wonder how I will ever make it. But, then, I know there is no option but to stay in and carry forth with this path of self development and teacher training.
Feeling much gratitude for being part of this community and to the many ways I am being supported through this process.
I made it through week three, and surprisingly left on Friday feeling more adequate than I had predicted. The teachers are amazing at ever so subtly giving feedback to the group, yet somehow we know how to take it in individually. Our senses are so alive, but not just externally. Through our entire being, we are able to process the guidance given.
Driving home, I realized that in the past three weeks, I have gained capacities as a singer, sculptor, writer, draw-er, and eurythmist. My greatest compliment? That I have good gestalt by my dear eurythmy teacher whom I have the utmost respect for.
I am so looking forward to week four, even if it is a whirlwind of a tizzied week preparing for our performance and the third year's graduation!
After an eventful weekend, I am hardly rested enough from week two that's it quite hard for me to imagine my alarm going off at 6am tomorrow morning. Yet, there is also an excitement to return to the routine and wonderful work.
Advised to keep it calm over the weekend, I did anything but that. Chris and I got a night out in this beautiful weather to celebrate eleven years married. We also invited family from close and far for a dinner in the garden. As the sun set, the glow of candlelight took over, illuminating the silhouettes of flowers. Images, sounds, words and people that left my soul feeling very satisfied.
With a quiet from the kids' room, the hum of the dishwasher, and bags ready at the door for an early morning departure, I'm off to rest for week three...the week I've been most warned about. And, what can I do to truly prepare? Remain open and dedicated to this process and the wisdom behind it.