Living Arts Weekly: Sustaining

January 20, 2019

Then you would read a Sustaining Book, such as would help and comfort a Wedged Bear in Great Tightness  — A.A Milne, Winnie the Pooh

 

At an estate sale in a dusty attic, I sorted through a pile of old books.

I just love old books. The practicality of a Kindle is a welcome perk that I take advantage of from time to time, especially when traveling, and I’m also really enjoying listening to the audio version of Michelle Obama’s book Becoming. Listening to the author’s stories in her own voice is captivating. These experiences, however, will never replace the appeal of an old book in my hands.  The smell of the pages, the gentle crack of the binding, being able to go back and find just the right sentence on page 182 that brought a tear to my eye; these are food for the senses and the soul.  Back in 1996, when Kindle and Audible weren’t even a thing yet, I was a young mom who stopped by an estate sale and found myself in a stranger’s attic looking through stacks of old books. The books’ owner had been a teacher, so there were lots of interesting titles that appealed to me. It felt strangely intimate to sort through a retired teacher’s beloved book collection. I was sorry to meet her only by way of her books, as I was sure she could have taught me a great many things.

There, at the bottom of a pile, I found it. An old hardbound book called For the Children’s Hour, by Carolyn Bailey and Clara Lewis, published in 1920.  When I read the dedication: “To our Kindergarten Children” I was hooked.  The compact volume, full of stories of the home, the farmer, the seasons, folk tales and holiday stories for young children, came home with me that day for the price of 50 cents and has been a treasured possession ever since. Many times over the years this trusty book has rescued me on the eve of parent-child playgroup or at the beginning of naptime after a particularly trying morning.

When I look back on my life and work with young children, there are a couple of things that stand out as having held me, sustained me, and given me steady support. This little book, surprisingly, is one of them. The support of LifeWays has been another — we hear from students all the time saying that our training, online courses, and in-person workshops nourish them and save them when they are struggling. I agree wholeheartedly, because they continue to do the same for me.

What provides you with sustenance as a parent, teacher or caregiver?

Thank you for being part of our LifeWays community, dear readers,

Mary O’Connell, Your Living Arts Weekly blog editor


Creative Exploration

Illustration from The Story of the Root Children by Sibylle von Olfers

The Seed Babies’ Blanket, A story from The Children’s Hour, perfect for those times when the children long for snow. (I remember a day when, after a week of hearing this story at naptime, a wee one in my home childcare program called out the window, “Mr. North Wind, PLEEEEEEEEEEASE send us some snow!”]

“Dear me,” said Mother Nature as she tucked the last of her seed babies in bed and spread over them a blanket of leaves, “King Winter will soon be here, and I am afraid this covering is not enough to keep my babies from his icy grasp. I must get them another blanket.  What shall it be? Let me see. It should be something soft and light. And for babies, of course, it should be white.”

So she went to Mr. North Wind and said, “Oh, Mr. North Wind, please bring to me

A blanket pure and white

Soft as down and sparkling bright,

To wrap my little seed babies.

But Mr. North Wind said, “I cannot unless Jack Frost will give me some of his silvery powder.” So Mother Nature called to Jack Frost, “Oh, Jack Frost, please give Mr. North Wind some of your silvery powder, that he may make for me

A blanket pure and white

Soft as down and sparkling bright,

To wrap my little seed babies.

But Jack Frost said, “You must ask the clouds to give me some vapor.”  So Mother Nature called to the clouds, “Oh, kind clouds, please give Jack Frost some of your vapor, that he may change it into silvery powder, and give it to Mr. North Wind, that he may make for me

A blanket pure and white

Soft as down and sparkling bright,

To wrap my little seed babies.

But the Clouds said, “We must wait until Old Ocean sends us more vapor.” So Mother Earth called to the ocean, “Please, Old Ocean, send more vapor to the little Clouds, that they may give some to Jack Frost, that he may change it into silvery powder and give it to Mr. North Wind, that he may make for me

A blanket pure and white

Soft as down and sparkling bright,

To wrap my little seed babies.

But the Ocean said, “The Sun must send us some heat fairies, first.” So Mother Nature said to the Sun, “Dear old Father Sun, please send some of your heat fairies to Old Ocean, that he may send vapor to the Clouds, that they may give some to Jack Frost, that he may change it into silvery powder and give it to Mr. North Wind, that he may make for me

A blanket pure and white

Soft as down and sparkling bright,

To wrap my little seed babies.

And Father Sun said, “Gladly!” and sent forth a host of little heat fairies that called the vapor from the Ocean to the Clouds, and the Clouds gave some to Jack Frost, and Jack Frost changed it into silvery powder, and gave it to Mr. North Wind, and Mr. North Wind made for Mother Nature

A blanket pure and white

Soft as down and sparkling bright,

And covered her little seed babies.


Nurturing Care

Do you long for support in learning to discipline with love? Cynthia’s popular online course begins on February 6th! Click below for details.

Discipline with Loving Awareness Feb 2019


Practical Activity

Nature-Inspired Valentines

Click here for instructions on making Nature-Inspired Valentines


Social Awareness