Living Arts Weekly: Being

April 22, 2018

Are you a human being or a human doing?


As a hobby beekeeper, I continue to learn a great number of lessons from the humble honeybee, the most profound being, well, “bee-ing.”  Spending time observing the bee go about her work, so simply and selflessly, yet with a sophisticated consciousness humans can only begin to understand, encourages the observer to step back from planning and pursuing to embrace Being. I hope the contributions in this week’s blog post encourage you to connect with your Inner Bee!

Mary O’Connell, Your Living Arts Weekly editor

Practical Activity

Gifts from the bees, shared by Amy Gerassimoff, former LifeWays chef, parent, student and newsletter editor!

DIY Beeswax Wraps

Beeswax wrap is a wonderful alternative to traditional plastic wrap and baggies. You can make your own with this tutorial from Amy’s Secret Garden School!


Amy’s Honey Vanilla Earl Grey Lavender Tea Latte
Ever since Amy shared this recipe years ago, this is my go-to comfort drink featuring two favorite flavors — raw, local honey and lavender flowers.

1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tbsp honey
1 earl grey lavender tea bag, or tea of choice.
1 cup milk of your choice

Over the stove top heat the milk, honey and vanilla, stirring slowly with whisk at first until honey is melted and combined. As milk reaches simmer, whisk to add a bit of froth and remove from heat. Pour over tea bag and allow to steep for 5-10 minutes. Enjoy!


Nurturing Care

Finding Balance

from Mary O’Connell

One of my sincerest pursuits in life has been to create an atmosphere in our family’s home that nurtures our bodies and our souls, and helps us renew our spirits. Over the years, I have learned that this kind of space can’t be created with “stuff”.  I need to be present in my life. I’ve discovered the hard way that when I’m not paying attention, I tend to get caught up in the busyness of life. When I take time to connect with Spirit, I make better choices. I let go of extraneous details and focus on relationships, and our home becomes less of a crash pad for our belongings and more of a place of renewal.

The quest for balance is a constant exercise in listening for, feeling for, attuning ourselves to equilibrium as we ride the teeter-totter of living, working, and parenting on the fulcrum of “what is.” Finding that point of balance, learning to always come back into balance when we find we have slipped away from it, seems to be part of the spiritual work of being human.  I’ve learned it is fruitless to struggle against it, or to chastise myself for failing to maintain it, because the very act of finding balance is a constant practice, not a static goal I achieve one glorious day and then sit back and relax.

In Gift from the Sea, Anne Morrow Lindbergh writes: “There is so little empty space. The space is scribbled on, the time has been filled.  There are so few empty pages in my engagement pad, or empty hours in the day, or empty rooms in my life in which to stand alone and find myself. Too many activities, and people, and things.  Too many worthy activities, valuable things, and interesting people. For it is not merely the trivial which clutters our lives but the important as well. We can have a surfeit of treasures.”

Like the large, once-empty attic that sits atop our old creaky house, I notice that we fill our spaces with things because we can, until one day we look around and ask, “How did we accumulate all this stuff?” And we fill our calendars much the same way — one pursuit or passion moves on and another eagerly takes its place. How can we make space to connect with Spirit if we have filled every nook and cranny of our lives? Interestingly, Anne Morrow Lindbergh achieved the poetic clarity she shared in Gift from the Sea by leaving her home, her husband, and her five children for weeks of solitude on the beach. Can you imagine?? Creating time and space to find balance is a challenge for busy parents and caregivers.  Our loved ones really do need us. If I am completely honest with myself, I also recognize that making myself indispensable helps me convince myself that I am worthy, that I am enough, but it doesn’t do me or my family any favors to have a depleted caregiver.

Can you step out of the Doing of your life for a morning each week? Or an hour a day? Or give yourself the gift of enrolling in the LifeWays Early Childhood training? Scheduling time to rest, reflect, meditate, pray or to be inspired helps you to come back into balance, to fully penetrate your life rather than merely survive it. Will you set aside some time in the coming week to simply Be? I invite you to share your experiences with Being in the comments below.

Social Awareness


Do you long to study the Living Arts and transform your home life or your work with young children? Consider joining our online community of learners for The Living Arts: Cornerstones of Care! We’ll dive deeply into Practical Activity, Nurturing Care, Creative Exploration and Social Awareness along with classmates from all over the world, sharing ideas, creating connections and learning from each other and the course teachers, Cynthia and Mary. This four-week course begins on May 30th. Visit our website for more details!

“This course was so full of life! The conversations between Mary and Cynthia were so juicy, and the comment threads breathed fresh air!”

“Ahhh! This course was like a breath of fresh air amidst the many lifeless trainings offered in our state.  It had so much soul and heart. Just as we are encouraged to work with ‘the whole child’ you have done a beautiful job here of working with ‘the whole caregiver’.  Well done and I will most definitely recommend your courses to whomever will listen. Thank you for a nourishing experience.”

Creative Exploration

“Spring is here,” said the bumblebee
“How do you know?” asked the old oak tree
“I just saw a daffodil dancing with the fairies up on yonder hill.”

A simple song or verse with a puppet in your pocket can create sweet moment of connection anytime with your wee one.

(Thanks to Kerry Ingram from Mothering Arts for sharing this verse and bowlful of bees!)

Did you enjoy Cynthia’s finger play of Two Little Blackbirds last week? Here she is again to share this as a song!

Two Little Blackbirds Song from LifeWays North America on Vimeo.


A New Story for the Children

This story comes to us from Pamela Perkins, who has worked with and for children in various capacities since 1970. A former Waldorf teacher, LifeWays graduate and home provider, she now delights in being with her five granddaughters, plus creating magical needle-felted puppet stories and writing gentle tales to nurture young and old. She lives in the Upper Valley of Vermont, and is working on her new writing project Silver Seedlings – Nurturing Tales for the Young and Young at Heart.


The Unlikely Travels of Henrietta and Hector


This is a story about a little black bantam hen who once had a longing to see the world. The name of this hen is Henrietta.  She is very proud of her name, which is French, and means “Keeper of the Hearth”.

This is also a story about a bantam rooster with a magnificent glossy blue-green plume of a tail. He once dreamed about traveling and exploring unknown places. The name of this rooster is Hector. He is very proud of his name, which means steadfast.

Chapter 1: How It All Began

Henrietta and Hector have been best friends since they were chicks. They used to live with many other bantams, in and amongst a large stand of wild mango trees, tangles of vines and dense guava thickets. They had plenty of clean, fresh water to drink, and ever so many bugs to eat, plus ripe fruit that fell plentifully to the forest floor. They were content and loved their simple life, except for one thing: they felt a certain odd restlessness of spirit. Unlike their friends, who were quite laid back, content to scratch and peck, sun and snooze the whole day through, and when dusk came, fly up into the nearest tree to roost, Henrietta and Hector were curious about everything. Was the world just one endless forest that stretched on and on until it bumped into the rim of blue that they could just glimpse from their perches high up in the tallest mango tree? What was that blue, so dark and different from the daytime blue overhead? Where had the bright sun come from before it rose up out of the darkness into their sky each morning? Where did it go at night?  They would often whisper together and wonder. Before they settled down to sleep each evening, they would promise each other that someday, when the time was right, they would travel together and discover answers to their questions.

Little did Henrietta or Hector know, but some friendly young sea breezes overheard them discuss their hopes and dreams. The young breezes smiled to each other: they had an idea. Together, they wind-whispered a plan. They would offer to help the little bantams with their wish for a most adventuresome experience! They would help them to safely see the whole island, from the mountains to the seashore. Now, at this point in time, the two little bantams had no idea that they lived on an island, nor that the island lay in the middle of a vast ocean. They had never seen more water in one place than the large puddles that pooled on the forest floor after a heavy rain.

In the end, when the right time arrived, something happened that was quite unexpected, and completely unplanned, by either the young sea breezes or Henrietta and Hector. What follows is the unlikely story of how two little wild chickens thus ended up far, far, far away from their home in the jumbled tangle of wild mango trees and vines and thickets on an island in the middle of the ocean.

Chapter 2: The Travelers Set Off 

One morning Henrietta woke up before dawn and decided that it was the perfect day to travel. She nudged Hector and said, “Wake up! I have an idea! As soon as you announce the dawn, as you do so faithfully every morning, let’s take a trip together and see where the wind takes us! It is such a lovely morning, and I feel like soaring high into the blue, blue sky, higher than we have ever flown before! Let’s explore!” Hector yawned, then agreed. First, he stretched his left leg straight out behind him, and then he stretched out his right leg the same way. Then he stood firmly on both feet, flapped his wings vigorously, stretched out his neck, tossed his head back, and proceeded to crow in the day, as he always did, to let the creatures nearby know that it was time to rise.  Next, he and Henrietta ate their fill of juicy fruit and crunchy insects and took long sips of cool water. After their breakfast, they took a good dust bath, fluffed out their feathers, then smoothed them down again. Now they were ready. “We’re going off to travel and see a bit of the world,” they excitedly informed their friends, who just looked at one another in complete astonishment, shook their heads and sighed. Why anyone would want to leave such a safe, comfortable life to go off into the unknown was beyond their understanding. Unruffled and undaunted by their friends’ skepticism, the two adventurers cheerfully said farewell, and headed off down a narrow trail between the trees.

For a while, Henrietta and Hector were content just to stroll along through the underbrush. When they reached a large clearing, they stopped to have a snack and enjoy the warm sunshine. Suddenly the friendly young sea breezes came huffing and puffing along, then quietly settled down beside them. “We have been looking for you two!” they exclaimed. “Your friends told us that you had set off to travel and see a bit of the world. We would love to help you.” Then the sea breezes explained how they had overheard Henrietta and Hector whispering at night. They offered to help the bantams fly high up into the blue, blue sky, just as Henrietta wished, but much farther that the little birds could possibly fly on their own.  They offered to guide them around and show them the many different places that the two could safely explore, just as Hector had hoped. Henrietta and Hector were delighted by this surprise gift and thanked their new breezy friends.

The sea breezes wanted to explain a few more details, so they chatted a while longer before they all set off up, up, up and over the trees of the forest. Higher and higher, and farther and farther they flew into the blue, blue sky, soaring just the way Henrietta had imagined they would. They looked down upon strange new sights, just as Hector had hoped they would. The two travelers were astonished by how big and beautiful the world was! A vast mountain swelled up behind them, tipped with snow. Below them they sighted a fast-flowing river, high waterfalls, many deep ravines, patches of open farmland and pastures, and everywhere, ribbons of rich red soil that wound in and out between the green. They learned from the friendly young ocean breezes that their world was called an island, and that it was set in the middle of an even bigger, endless world of blue called an ocean that stretched all the way to the sky. But the breezes had no idea what lay further than they all could see. They were still quite young and only allowed to puff and float around the island, close to shore. Henrietta and Hector were overjoyed and thrilled! This experience was already beyond their wildest dreams and imagining. Neither of them had ever flown so far, so fast, nor so high. All the while, their sea breeze friends swirled and swooped under their wings, help to lift and support them, and gently pushed them here and there to show them new and interesting places.

(Read next week’s Living Arts Weekly to follow the adventures of Henrietta and Hector!)