Ode to Waldorf-Part 1

I originally meant to make this one post-my top 10 reasons I love Waldorf Home Education. But it’s getting quite lengthy so it will come in a few portions. . .

I want to start with a little caveat. Because I have read blog posts that are very positive (and make things sound all magical and lovely ALL the time) and I think that perhaps this post might read that way. I DO love Waldorf. On some days though I do not. On the days when I stumble across an article about how media is the enemy of childhood WHILE MY CHILDREN ARE WATCHING SID THE SCIENCE GUY, I feel guilty and then angry! I also am not a straight up Waldorf style homeschooler. I have simply taken what I like (which is a lot) and am trying to find my way with it. Because at least once almost every day since finding this way of being with my children, I have the thought “this life is SO good.” And this morning, I’m having one of those moments.  I’m smitten…

Oh, Waldorf Homeschooling, how I do love thee. Let me count the ways…

10. Warmth. I love how Waldorf has introduced this concept to me. And not just for my children. For myself as well. It has taken me until I’m 35 to realize that during the cooler months, I need to wear wool socks EVERY day! It makes me so much happier! And I love how willing my children are to bundle up in all their layers! And I love that they hardly ever have cold hands and feet anymore. I have no idea if there is any scientific proof that this will help them learn better, but I do know they have a cozy childhood filled with woolie undershirts and slippers. It just feels good!

9.  Mother Nature. I feel like I’m rekindling a love affair with good ol’ dependable Mother Earth. After doing this for about 2 years, I’m now in a pretty good rhythm with getting us outside most days. Not always, but most times now, I can recognize how a good dose of some nature under our feet and wind on our cheeks can be energizing, healing, grounding or whatever we all NEED in the moment. And I am convinced that the sight of Mother Moon when she’s full, or a V of geese flying over head, or the smell of warm pine needles (my favorite smell in the whole world!) is indeed healing for all of us.

8.  Warmth again. This time warmth in our hearts and emotions. I have the words “love and warmth” posted in my house in several places. Reminding myself to be a warm presence in my children’s lives has become the “work” of my mothering. It is hard in this world of fast-paced schedules, lots of stimulation and stress, computers, TV’s, etc, to stay calm and present with young children. Knowing that developing my warmth with them is benefitting not only them but our whole family, makes it all worth it.

7.  Fairies and Magic. Just the other day, Big C was getting quite freaked out by some mighty gusts of  wind. After two years of “practice” it is now in my repertoire to answer her in a more magical, story-telling way, rather than try to rationalize with her. Instead of saying “there is nothing to be afraid of” and trying to explain why, I said “Did you know that some of these trees still have a few leaves left? King Winter is on his way and the leaves need to come down. Maybe Brother Wind is giving a big gust to help those last leaves. Maybe we can help him.” And we, all three, proceeded to blow down leaves for the rest of our walk. And it really is magic, because she immediately stopped feeling scared and joined in with Mother Nature and all her lovely ways. I love that!

6.  Talking in pictures. This took me a while to master. I’m still working on it, because some days (the eating chocolate with my head in the fridge days) I just don’t FEEL like talking in pictures to my children and it just doesn’t work if you don’t feel it. Or it doesn’t work as well. But I remember very clearly one day last winter, as we were getting all “coated” up for a walk outside. This was causing all sorts of drama for my then 4-year-old who was not liking all the different feelings of layers and layers of clothing. It was escalating to a point where I was ready to cancel the walk (like the getting dressed part was taking far longer than the actual walk was going to) and I just DID it. I said “oh little Bear, it’s winter and we must grow our winter coats. Do you know how we do that? We must eat lots of fish and berries.” I then pretended to catch a fish and feed it to her. I couldn’t believe it when she “ate” it. Then I fed her some blackberries. And then she put her coat on. Just like that. We went from crying, whining, throwing off mittens to happily putting on a coat within seconds. I was floored and have never doubted the truth to this whole talking in pictures to kids! It. Just. Plain. Works.

Stay tuned. . .5 more are on their way!

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Love and Warmth

It’s been about 2 and 1/2 years since I began my walk down the Waldorf homeschool path. My children have never been to preschool or regular school. I am it. And I have learned so much! During these early years, from birth to age 6 or 7, Waldorf offers a different focus than what Good Girl is trained in. Much of what my path has entailed is working on Love and Warmth.

Up until recently, Good Girl took this on herself. She made Love and Warmth a to-do list item. She read about it. She put reminders up around the house. She tried to eat well, drink enough water, get enough sleep…all so she could be more able to provide Love and Warmth. But Good Girl was missing one essential element. Love and Warmth FOR ME. How can I possibly provide Love and Warmth to my children if I feel none for myself?

And this morning, as I took a deep breath and tried to help a panicky five-year old manage her feelings in a dark room without waking anybody else up, I realized what gritty work this has been for me. The things Good Girl was doing only scratched the surface. And frankly, Good Girl’s strategies don’t work on things like love. You can’t tell yourself “Love her” and then magically FEEL love. You can’t say “Be more warm” and voila, warmth just emanates from you. This fall I have delved deeper in to my SELF, questioned my beliefs, my reactions, taken a pause, observed myself in action. It’s like I’m on a dig, going deeper and deeper to find the well within me, where love and warmth flow. It’s dirty, back-breaking work but I’ve started to taste a bit of this natural spring that I do believe we all have inside of us. Slowly, slowly over time, I am letting love and warmth bubble up. It is in me. I am a mother. But there were boulders, tangled roots and loads of dirt in the way. One by one, Good Girl and I are tossing the things that don’t serve us aside (like angry words and short tempers) and learning how important love and warmth is in raising the next generation.

In the past, I struggled with how to shape my days. I was just discovering the tip of the SHOULD iceberg and I was constantly torn between things I thought SHOULD be done and these new concepts I was learning; love and warmth, rhythm, connection. I worked it over in my mind over and over.  And one day, as I was looking at a graphic from one of my cookbooks, it hit me. In this food guide, it outlined 4 boxes that should be the mainstays of a healthy diet. Then there were smaller triangles of foods that were to be had in moderation. In my diet, I had the two flip-flopped. I was eating the triangles as my mainstays and sprinkling in the big boxes (for example, I was eating LOTS of cheese in my meals and only have small amounts of veggies). I realized that in my days, I was making the triangles of my life (things like returning phone calls, running errands and marking things off my to-do list) the main course when things like Love and Warmth and time in nature should be the main course. So I created this.

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And as you can see, Love and Warmth is at the center. I’m pretty sure that having Love and Warmth for my children, myself, my family is top priority. It trumps all else. I look to this on days like these (when the dishes are piled in the sink, the bills are piling up, the sleep is never enough) and think that as long as I can reach for love and warmth, our day has been a success! Good Girl is not so sure, but I’m winning her over day by day.

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Good Girl is Taking it All In

The big day is over.  The gifts are unwrapped.  The cheeseball has been delivered.  The children are sleeping.

Even though I did not technically work on one of my “receptive” words each and every day during the Advent season, they were sinking into my soul throughout this month.  I feel the need to reflect on this notion of receiving.  There is just something speaking to me about the ability to dwell in receptivity in at least equal parts to action.

Like the day I went to the post office with a pile of big boxes.  And attempted to open the door by myself, despite the quickened steps of two strangers, rushing to help me.  What makes me think “I MUST do this myself!”?

Or the day the girls and I packed up baggies of our home-baked cookies to hand out to folks standing on the corners.  (You know, the ones with the signs that leave Good Girl feeling either put out or guilty depending on the day.  The REAL me is starting to get it….those folks ARE me.  Someday, I could be holding up a sign for help, either literally or figuratively.)  I pulled up to deliver our first baggie and felt terrified that the man would say something along the lines of “Geez, lady, what do I need with your cookies!  What I really need is (fill in the blank)!”  He didn’t say that.  He said thank you.  And I think he meant it.  My fear made me wonder….am I afraid my gifts won’t be received?

Or reading about all the Random Acts of Kindness folks all over this country are doing, in honor of 20 sweet little children.  I wondered. . . don’t these acts also need recipients?  We need a country full of good receivers too, don’t we?  For the energy of those sweet little souls to really translate, each act or gift must also be received.  All the better if it is warmly received.

Or how about the box of clothing that arrived for my children from a dear friend across many miles?  Clothes that are like new.  Clothes that we need.  Normally, Good Girl gets uncomfortable with this and must find a way to “reciprocate” immediately.  Not this time.  I soaked it all in.  I basked in the feeling of being on the receiving end of someone’s generosity, help, love. I just swam in gratitude for a while.  I let my heart and body fill with appreciation for what was truly an amazing gift.  Coats and shoes, swimsuits and leggings.  My littles tried new things on and paraded around in glee.  And I just soaked it all up!  Then I sent my dear long-time friend an email, filled with my heart-felt thanks.  For her to feel the joy of giving, I must be a willing receiver.

What about Grandma, so eager to help out around the house on Christmas day?  Offering to peel potatoes, do some dishes, give the girls their bath?  Why do E and I feel the need to play host first?  We are family.  It was so lovely to say YES and put my feet up for a few minutes, listening to the sound of girls in the tub, showing Grandma their bath-time antics.  And E said himself, there was something about the three of us cooking in the kitchen that really revved up the Christmas spirit.

I don’t have all the answers.  But I think I can say for sure that there is power in receiving.  And my world has been much richer, warmer and full of love for having embarked on this path.

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A letter to Good Girl

Dear Good Girl,

These are the days.  The days when you and I can easily agree.  We know, deep in our heart, what’s important.  You and I both know today that it doesn’t matter one iota that we all stayed in our pj’s until after lunch, that the dishes just piled up all day long, that not one single Christmas gift was wrapped.  Because, you and I, dear Good Girl, got to do something tonight that 20 families in Connecticut would give anything to do.  We got to hold our dear girls.  We got to snuggle them into pjs and lay with them while they fell asleep.  You and I get to tiptoe down the hall anytime we want and peek in on our precious little souls, knowing that at least for right now, they are safe and sound.

And so Good Girl, I’m proposing this.  A truce.  A compromise.  A shared goal for the coming days, months, years.  Let’s not forget this day.  Let’s not forget the gifts we are given each day.  And let’s work together to stop arguing and remember what’s important. I know this won’t be easy.  This news story will fade into the ethers.  Every day life will resume.  Whole days will go by in which life becomes ordinary again.  So, I know, we can’t feel this way every day. But maybe just a flicker can remain, somewhere in our core.  A flicker that will flare up in a heated moment of disagreement over some unmet expectation.  A flicker that will remind us to come together and hug our girls.

I believe in us Good Girl.  We can do this.

And in the meantime, I think we should just have that good long cry we’ve been waiting all day to have.  And send our love to those families whose grief we cannot begin to imagine.  And try to remember.

With love,

me

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Keeping my eyes on the Horizon

Ever since this summer, I keep finding myself back at this place.  I wake up in the morning and realize “I just can’t do this anymore.”  It feels horrible in the moment.  But I think there is something bigger here.  Something that is, in fact, quite GOOD.  And when I say I can’t do “this” I usually mean some daily activity.  Or some yearly tradition.  Or some “to-do list” item.

In September it was making oatmeal.  Literally the idea of getting up and making a batch of oatmeal, as I have done hundreds of times, made me want to. . .

cry, vomit, sleep, find a cave and crawl in it, give up.

You get the idea.

At one point, I sat up in bed around 5:30 am and just sobbed.  And sobbed.  The people sleeping around me woke up one at a time to gather around me.  And I sobbed some more.

And that day, I did not make oatmeal.  I took my girls out for breakfast at a place that had an outdoor patio and a sandbox for kids.  They played.  I knit.  We ate delicious food that someone else cooked.  And for the next few weeks, I did this kind of thing often.  And eventually, I cooked some oatmeal again.  And it didn’t make me feel like dying.  I came back.  But I was different.

This summer changed me.  At my core.  And it wasn’t just recovering in the fall.  I’m still bumping into this change.  Often.  I wake up and think “I. just. can’t. do. this.”  Right now, it’s the Christmas season.  I’m not holly and jolly this year.  I am thoughtful, torn, caught between “what I’ve always done” and something new that I’m not even sure how to identify.  So, now that I’ve hit this wall again, I think I’m seeing a bigger picture here.  When your core is changed, you simply cannot go back to doing what you did before.  And as I walk down the road of life, after the Hellatious Summer, I will continue to bump into this wall.  I just might find myself unable to do lots of things in the same ol’ way.

Perhaps this is my year of drifting on the sea of change.  No shore in sight yet, but there is bound to be one.  Maybe next year.  Or the year after.  And this is where the GOOD comes in.  When I do land, it will be more real, authentic to me, and meaningful.  So in the meantime, I’ve got to just hang on to the rails, ride the waves, maybe barf a few times over the side and keep my eyes on the horizon.

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Good Girl Notices

Yesterday we celebrated my dear hubby’s 36th birthday.  And it was a good day for me to choose the word “notice” from our list.  And as you may have “noticed” I am no longer choosing a word a day.  I don’t want to.  And, as you also know, I am essentially refusing to do things simply because I should.  So, we’ll just see where this takes me.  Maybe I’ll get to all the words.  Maybe I won’t.  What about you?  Are you still tackling a word a day during this busy time?

Back to our birthday celebration.  As I lay in bed putting our two little girls to sleep last night, my heart was full.  I felt tears just behind my eyes.  I was reflecting on our day, which was far from the day Good Girl thinks she should be providing to her husband on his birthday.  This year, when I felt that old familiar feeling that I should sacrifice ALL to make sure he has the PERFECT day (according to my Good Girl standards) I resisted it.

Here is an example. . .

Every year, we do a treasure hunt for all members of the family when they first wake up on their birthday.  Clues lead you to find your first gift of the day.  This year, I was going to a concert the night before E’s big day. And in the midst of preparing for that and decorating a Christmas tree and other such holiday hoopla, I did not prepare the hunt.  When I arrived home from my night on the town, it was 12:30 am.  I was tired and I knew that 5:30 am would come all too soon (Big C’s wake up time).  The Voice tried to tell me that I HAD to do the hunt.  And implied  that if I didn’t, I would be a very Bad Girl!  I ignored it.  She tried again.  I went to bed.

Fast forward to 10 AM.  E had left the house early to take himself out for breakfast and an early morning hike in some solitude.  The girls and I had grocery shopped (and picked up his requested dinner ingredients) and were now scrambling to finish a hunt.  We wrapped his gift and Big C cut out the clues and numbered them.  We literally finish the last clue as E pulls into the driveway.  The absolute sweetness of this moment strikes me because we would have missed it, had Good Girl won out and I had been SUPER prepared.   Big C opens the front door and shouts “Don’t come in for one more minute!”  The three of us run around giggling, hiding the clues and the present.  We finally allow Daddy admittance to his birthday extravaganza!  And after he finds his present (which was a hit-new cozy pj pants!) I found myself just filled with love for my dear partner in crime.  I climbed on his lap for a birthday hug and snuggle.  I mention this because, had I made myself stay up late to GET HIS HUNT DONE, I not sure I would have been so likely to do so.  I see know that  forcing perfection breeds a feeling of rigidity that translates to a lack of affection.  It happens all the time.  I pull away from my family because I’m feeling rigid over trying to make things perfect for them!

I think in this process of letting go, I am trading in PERFECTION for genuine life moments.  Isn’t this what is important?  How we feel on the birthday of a loved one?  How we connect with that person and reflect on what this person means to us?  It all sounds so simple when I write it out here.  And yet, in those moments when The Voice speaks to me of “what is RIGHT” and “BEST” and “EXPECTED” I actually believe her!  I believe her by default.

The rest of our day involved all sorts of LIFE, not perfection.  I even took a nap!  (Usually, I assume I should be a slave to the birthday boy, no matter what my needs.)  There were brownies, out of a box!  I did not put out pictures of him as a baby or make a birthday table (Waldorf style) with pictures and flowers, etc.  What we did instead was dig through some boxes to find the slide show that we played at our wedding. It has baby pictures of us both.  So we got to see wee baby E.  And there was sweetness there too.  Watching pictures of the two of us growing up together (we’ve known each other since we were about 11) and thinking about the life we have now created together.

So what about from the birthday boy’s perspective?  I wonder, is he satisfied with his birthday?  I think so.  He had his morning to himself.  He got to drink beer and watch football.  And he got to spend time with his two adoring daughters, who both insisted on sitting in his lap for dinner.  He later told me that was his favorite part of the day.

There were no fancy gifts, no big parties, no big tributes to Daddy.  Just simple, good, and full of love and everyday life.

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Good Girl Realizes

I have not kept my end of the bargain.  I am a couple of days behind on my “challengish” thingy-ma-bob.  And today, instead of working on one of the words from the list, I want to propose a new word.  A word that is hitting me at the core tonight.

Realize.  

The last few days have been downers for me.  I’ve been in a pit.  “The pit of despair!”  (Ever see the Princess Bride?  No?  Well, never mind.)  Regardless, I have been feeling pretty low.  Doing lots of “thinking.”  And crying.  And swearing.  And bah-humbugging.

And, as has happened to me a lot this fall, I am coming out of it with a renewed sense of how GOOD life is.  Tonight I opened my email to this quote…

“When you realize how perfect everything is,

you will tilt your head back and laugh at the sky.”

~Guatama Siddharta

It was front and center on this blog that I’m currently LOVING!

So today, I want my word to be…

REALIZE.

Because I’m realizing how perfect it all is.  A loud, busy, impromptu dinner with my family and our beloved grandma.  Glasses of wine.  Beef stew.  Candles lit.  Blessings said.  Messy kitchens that somehow get cleaned up, only to become messy again.  Snuggly, freshly bathed children in pjs.  Gingerbread cookies.  And my current soundtrack to life, My Sarah’s Coldplay Fav’s.

I love these days when. . .

I.

Just.

Realize.

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Day 3-What was I Thinking?

Didn’t we all know this would happen?  I feel behind!  Trying to write a post a day is just too much for me!  🙂  But the REAL me handles this kind of reality with a little less panic and a lot more openness to what CAN work.  So for today, you will get basically a stream of conscience .  There will be little to no proofreading and definitely no re-writing, re-reading and general “making it sound good.”  Are you ready for that?

Today’s word is “allowing.”  And I’m going to make a subtle change, suggested to me by my dear friend, M.  No more “ing.”  Try it out.  Doesn’t “allow” feel different from “allowing?”  We both thought yes, so from here on out, no more past present participles (or whatever you call “ing”).  With that, I will allow you an inside peek into the mind of Good Girl/me. . .

Allow…..

Can I allow myself to just be?  Can I allow Big C to be bored?  Do I always need to provide her with something to do? I certainly believe so.  Am I just passing Good Girl’s need to be DOing all the time to the next generation of Good Girls?

I think I often still believe it has only been a good day when you’ve been productive.  Isn’t this kind of true?

Is this process hard because receptive states need active states to balance them out?  This reminds me of the Waldorf view of rhythm…..balancing in-breath with the out-breath.

Today, I allowed a bed picnic (cuz that’s what I really wanted to do-stay in bed!) but it was really hard to execute.  As in mental angst ensued.  I mean some people go to India to meditate for months, years.  I feel the need to retreat often.  I call them bed days and I always feel guilty for them.  Am I having angst during these moments (bed picnics, unproductive times) because I’m always thinking of what’s next?  Not allowing the moment to be.

Seems to me, there is an Ebb and Flow to life.  Yet we are given the impression that we are the ultimate control of how we feel….if you are wanting a bed-day, you must…

-change your diet

-get more exercise

-use aromatherapy

-have a better rhythm

But is there a bigger flow that is beyond us that accounts for our feelings (reminds me of Tao).  Is the energy of the weather, the season, the people around me, the atmosphere, the earth, all affecting me.  It’s winter.  Is it any wonder I want to stay snuggled in longer?  But as I said to E the other day, I don’t like Ebb.  Sorry buddy, but I’m really uncomfortable in the Ebb.

I’m wondering what does it look like when someone embraces the ebb?  Do we have any models of this?  Do I know someone who embodies this?  (Why yes, actually I think I do-you know who you are!)

As the girls lost interest in the bed picnic, I stayed.  Trying to allow.  Staying in the moment till the flow grabbed me and took me to what was next.  I laid there for a long time.  Doing nothing.  Just laying.  Listening to the sounds of ABC yoga bubbling up from my two cuties.

And then I got up and we all went for a walk.

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Day 2-Good Girl is Getting Twitchy

Well, today has thrown me for a loop.  The word I picked at random is. . .

contemplating.

Let’s start with some definitions (Sidenote:  I’m wondering if my need for definitions is helping or hindering this process of exploring some new ways of being.)

1. to look at attentively and thoughtfully

2.  to consider carefully and at length; meditate on or ponder

3. to have in mind as an intention or possibility

After reading these this morning, all that came up for me were questions……perhaps some questions to “consider carefully.”

*How can I be thoughtful without being analytical?

*How can I consider carefully and at length without judging or taking action?

*How can I have in mind several possibilities without feeling as if I must DO all of them?

*Is there value to something that is only contemplated but never “done?”


I’m not sure I even possess the skills required to contemplate.  To me, contemplating becomes a bit more like analyzing and thinking.  Next thing I know, I’m feeling all murky, scattered and ill at ease.  (Perhaps it didn’t help that I was getting the Christmas anxiety today as I attempt to begin what I feel should have already been started…..shopping for the PERFECT gifts!)

 

Maybe this is the whole point of this excercise:  to build skills (or develop ways of being) that do not come naturally to me.  I guess I sort of expected that every day would be like yesterday…..the practice of focusing on one of these words would automatically make me feel GOOD.  Instead, today, I feel unsettled.  It occurred to me that in the process of contemplating, you might exclude yourself from other activities (that normally  make me feel okay in the world) like “getting stuff done.”  Can you be contemplative and have your house ship-shape?  So much of Good Girl’s self-worth comes from what she “gets done” in a day.  A day where on the outside it looks like not much happened usually translates to laziness in Good Girls eyes.  But in truth today, I just was really busy up in my head.  Trying to contemplate.

 

I have observed this pattern with myself over the last few months.  It seems like there are some days where it is just easy to be very active, productive.  Things flow, like getting three loads of laundry done (folded and all!) and getting in all our homeschooling sections (circle time, story time, some art).  And then there are days where even getting one dish in the dishwasher is HARD.  Today was one of those days.  I’m drawn more to cerebral activity than physical.  And doesn’t it all just come out in the wash?  Because tomorrow when I wake up, I might just have that spring in my step and all the chores that didn’t get done today will be completed by lunch.

This brings me back to those questions.  Is there value in a contemplative day?  A day where I might have a deep conversation with a good friend for an hour and forego the breakfast and lunch dishes on the table?  The REAL me wants to do this.  But it makes Good Girl twitchy.

 

 

 

And maybe Good Girl is just not used to considering something at length.  She always DOES something about what she is pondering.  She judges herself (and others for that matter) for dilly-dallying.  But again, here we are back at what our culture values…..ACTIVE qualities, like being decisive, taking action.

 

So no wonder today’s word made me a bit uncomfortable.  Goodness, maybe I should just stick with appreciating!

What about you?  What do you make of contemplation?  And if you are good at this, can you pass along your secret?

 

 

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Day One-Appreciating

 

I am already thrilled with this “challenge.”  Because I woke up VERY cranky.  This is not a new thing.  I’m cranky most mornings.  I like to wake up on my terms, which almost NEVER happens these days.  I knew that picking one of the Receptive words this morning would not be something I was very open to.  I MADE myself do it!  And I’m so glad I did!  (See there is definitely a place for some Active States here!)

Today, we are pondering Appreciating.  And as any Good Girl would do, I started with the definition.  (By the way, I used an old-fashioned dictionary to look it up and it was quite satisfying!)  Straight from the American Heritage College Dictionary, here are the some definitions of “appreciate.”

1. Recognize the quality, significance or magnitude of

2. To be fully aware of; realize

3. To be thankful or show gratitude for

4. To admire greatly; value

5. To raise in value, especially over time

When I started out this morning, I thought my best way to practice “appreciating” would be to make a list of things I’m thankful for.  Then I read these definitions and I realized it is so much more.  I especially like #1 and #2.  Appreciating is going beyond a gratitude list.  Beyond a simple statement of “I am thankful for…” and taking it to the next level.  You must be FULLY AWARE of what is so great.  You are thinking of the magnitude of your object of appreciation.  For example, I’m spending time actually thinking about what it took for my husband to get up in the wee hours, silently get dressed and pack a lunch and be out the door while it is still dark.  I’m really imagining for a moment all he has on his to-do list today and the hundreds of tasks it takes for him to bring home that paycheck that we all so depend on.  It means asking him how his day was AND LISTENING TO THE ANSWER so that I know just what his work day entails.

And the real gift for me today was realizing that I already do this quite a bit.  For example, lately, when I take a shower, I have been really pondering all it took in human history for me to have the true gift of HOT water, pouring out at me with the turn of a knob EVERY day.  How far back in history did the seeds of what is now something many of us take for granted sprout?  When fire was discovered?  When water could be heated in big batches?  And just think of all the people who had a hand over time to develop all it takes for me to have indoor plumbing, clean water, hot water, all conveniently spouting out at me through a very lovely shower head through which I can even choose my own water pressure!

So, I’m offering you this little exercise.  I’m sure I can’t take credit for it.  Some other amazing metaphysical guru has probably already said this exact same thing.  But since I’m not sure about who, I’m going to give my little exercise a name……

The Rabbit Hole of Appreciation 

Start with a gratitude.  “I am thankful for cereal.”

Now, just follow the path of how that cereal came to be in your house, break it down to all its bits and pieces.  You will discover so many other things to appreciate….(and be careful, your head might explode with appreciation, Oprah’s Favorite Things style)

*The store that is always stocked with your cereal.

*The vast array of choices of cereal.

*The vacuum sealed bag that keeps your cereal fresh.

*The person who developed the recipe for your cereal.

*The manufacturer who found a way to make mass quantities of this cereal.

*The farmer who grew the wheat.

*The sun, the earth, bugs!  Oh my!

And so on.

Now a word of warning.  It could be very easy for some of these appreciations to turn into something else.  Like a dissertation in your head on the quality of mass-produced food (or lack there of) or the wastefulness of millions of plastic, vacuum-sealed cereal bags going into landfills.  This is not the time for any of that!  It’s not that those thoughts don’t have a place, but during this exercise, we are just trying to focus on appreciation.  Gently remind yourself that you are appreciating.  For me, it is helpful to think about the people involved and that helps me get right back to appreciation.  Pondering the farmer who woke early to check the fields or who lay in bed nights worrying about an early frost reminds me of all the effort that went in to my cereal.  That is the definition of appreciating!

And you can always try a new gratitude if what you chose sends you down the wrong rabbit hole (say of “judgement” or “comparing”).

So, it is now 8:36 AM and I still have a whole day of appreciating ahead of me.  And yet, I’m already feeling it.  I’m feeling that expansive feeling when you truly appreciate all that is before you.

I’ll leave you with this.

A leaf on our Appreciation Tree

A leaf on our Appreciation Tree

Again, not my idea.  I’ve seen several folks in my blog-o-sphere doing this for Thanksgiving.  Many are calling it a Tree of Gratitude.  But today, the girls and I are calling it the Tree of Appreciation and they have embraced this idea with gusto.

So, how about you? Are you pondering “appreciation” today?  I’d love to hear your thoughts!

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