Living Arts Weekly: Traveling

June 10, 2018

School’s out, and for many of us that means family vacations. When I was a kid, our vacations mostly involved driving long distances, a forced togetherness that often induced squabbling but also created lasting memories. There is an openness and a vulnerability that accompanies leaving one’s home and familiar routines to encounter new people and places. We open ourselves to the other when we travel, and we are grateful to those who open their hearts to us as well.

This past winter, I visited Miami, FL to do a workshop for LifeWays (in preparation for our new training there!) and was blessed to be able to stay a few extra days in Fort Lauderdale. There, I had an encounter on the beach that embodied the sort of chance meetings we can experience when we travel. I wrote about it in my journal that day:

“This morning at Fort Lauderdale Beach:
I sit down on the cement ledge at the beach to begin my morning meditation, so grateful for the relative solitude on the beach this early morning. Very windy, but mild, the waves steadily break on the sand as I breathe in the salt air. The day ahead will be full of fun, and I am happy to have these moments alone with the sea.

I hear a voice behind me, in a Jamaican accent, say, ‘I see you have also come to be captivated.’ I look behind me and see a man addressing me, maybe in his early sixties, dressed in a polo shirt and khaki pants, with a jacket that has the logo of a nearby resort. He is on his way to work, I think to myself, selfishly pleased that he won’t be able to talk too long. Not really annoyed by the interruption, I am just not really in the mood for chit-chat.

He begins to talk about the mysteries of the universe, how scientists can’t really explain the mood of the sea, and I start to think this conversation might not fall into the category of ‘small talk.’ He talks for twenty minutes, during which time I say maybe ten words. Mostly I listen. His biography pours out and I wonder if he shares this much with everyone he meets. He speaks of a childhood in Jamaica, missionaries from Chicago who educated him and also taught him what it is to love. He talks of unrequited love of an American woman from Boston, a lifetime of devotion, heartbreak, faith and hope. Nothing of what he tells me reveals what one might call a ‘remarkable’ life. But as he speaks, I see Christ in this man—in his humility, his kindness, his brokenness and his beauty. As the stories of his life pour out on the sand, we laugh, he cries, and I am drawn into the story of one man’s life, as unremarkable as it may seem on the surface.

He asks me my name and I tell him. He says his name is Robert. We shake hands and bid each other farewell, as I get back to my vacation and he walks to work.”

Blessings on your travels, both far and near.

Mary O’Connell, Your Living Arts Weekly Blog Editor

Social Awareness

For the Traveler

–by John O’Donohue 

Every time you leave home,

Another road takes you
Into a world you were never in.

New strangers on other paths await.
New places that have never seen you
Will startle a little at your entry.
Old places that know you well
Will pretend nothing
Changed since your last visit.

When you travel, you find yourself
Alone in a different way,
More attentive now
To the self you bring along,
Your more subtle eye watching
You abroad; and how what meets you
Touches that part of the heart
That lies low at home:

How you unexpectedly attune
To the timbre in some voice,
Opening in conversation
You want to take in
To where your longing
Has pressed hard enough
Inward, on some unsaid dark,
To create a crystal of insight
You could not have known
You needed
To illuminate
Your way.

When you travel,
A new silence
Goes with you,
And if you listen,
You will hear
What your heart would
Love to say.

A journey can become a sacred thing:
Make sure, before you go,
To take the time
To bless your going forth,
To free your heart of ballast
So that the compass of your soul
Might direct you toward
The territories of spirit
Where you will discover
More of your hidden life,
And the urgencies
That deserve to claim you.

May you travel in an awakened way,
Gathered wisely into your inner ground;
That you may not waste the invitations
Which wait along the way to transform you.

May you travel safely, arrive refreshed,
And live your time away to its fullest;
Return home more enriched, and free
To balance the gift of days which call you.

Travel for YOU!

Two of our upcoming LifeWays Early Childhood trainings are in locations that are vacation-worthy! Why not take this opportunity to become inspired, refreshed, and enliven your work and life with children in a setting that is equally inspiring?

Our New England training begins in October in Westport, CT!  Located in an old manor home near Long Island Sound, there is room for you to stay on site in one of many affordable guest rooms. Easy to get to by train from New York City, Boston and Providence. Enjoy the beach, in-ground pool, retreat-like setting and author Sharifa Oppenheimer as one of your lead teachers (I am grateful to be the other!) Learn more here.

Our LifeWays Early Childhood Training in Miami, FL is organized so that the first session is ONLINE. This means traveling students will only need to fly in for three on-site sessions, instead of the usual four, saving you money to spend a few extra days at the beach! I, along with wise and experienced early childhood professionals Cynthia Aldinger and Rena Osmer, will be the lead teachers for this training. To learn more about this training that begins in November, click here.

We hope you will join us!

Practical Activity

Tips from our community members for traveling with kids

Tempting as it may be to plug them into movies for the duration of your trip, traveling with children can offer opportunities for connection and creativity if we can think outside the box (or the screen.)  Here are some ideas from our LifeWays community to make your summer trips more enjoyable for all:

  • Road games, like finding license plates from every state, finding every letter of the alphabet on billboards and road signs, “I spy with my little eye something yellow…”
  • Audio stories (Audible, Sparkle Stories)
  • When driving long distances, take long scheduled stops at rest areas to play, run, and eat. Bring bikes and some balls if you can, to get those large muscles moving.
  • Pack little goodie bags with activities that can be brought out at different times (balls of yarn to finger knit — “Who can knit the longest rope between stops?”, little sets of legos or puzzles, beeswax, activity books, coloring books or pads of blank drawing paper, finger puppets, etc.)
  • Group storytelling — one person begins a story and people take turns continuing it
  • Quiet time after lunch when they can look at books but not talk to each other (may lead to a nap!)
  • AIrplane and train travel allows you to connect with your kids without having to stress about traffic and directions
  • Maps with highlighter markers to allow kids to follow along with the route
  • Singing! (Making up funny lyrics to songs you already know, learning new songs)
  • Yelp has a kid-friendly section to help you find parks and picnic spots while you are on the road
  • Plan for some kid-free time when you arrive at your destination, if you can, to refill your own cup

Nurturing Care

Speaking of refilling your own cup, crossing time zones, traveling in planes, and sleeping in strange beds can wreak havoc on one’s life forces. I have discovered a remedy from Uriel Pharmacy that is very helpful! Uriel creates natural drugs and herbal remedies designed for the whole human being, based on the insights of Rudolf Steiner.  Their Travel Remedy is a safe and effective way to support your body while you travel. (This is not a paid endorsement. Just wanted to pass along some helpful advice from one traveler to another.)  And don’t forget to drink plenty of water when you travel!

Creative Exploration

Daphne The Curious Little Donkey Meets Henrietta and Hector 

This is the conclusion of a story from Pamela Perkins, about some of our favorite animal friends, continued from last week’s Living Arts Weekly.

Pamela Perkins 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.

Chapter 3 – A  Visit to the Pond (And What Daphne Discovered There)

Daphne smiled to herself as she remembered that first meeting almost two weeks ago. She continued to wander along the hedgerow snacking on tender blackberry leaves until she came to the path leading down to the pond. She could still faintly hear the chickens, who were still arguing over ‘grubs and bugs’.  She sighed, then trotted along more quickly, for she was thirsty and eager to nibble the juicy purslane that grew alongside the pond. Her sensitive nose twitched, and her sensitive ears flicked this way and that. She would have to check out these new scents and sounds before she went back to her herd. When she came closer to the reedy grasses and cattails, she let out a quiet, “Hee-haw,” to announce her arrival. To her surprise, only Hector came out to greet her. She wrinkled her forehead. Was something wrong? Was Henrietta alright?

Hector did not just walk out of his home in the reeds and cattails; he strutted this way and that, with his chest up and out.  Although it was the middle of the morning, not dawn, 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.

He kept doing this as Daphne looked at him with curiosity and some impatience. Finally, she burst out, “What is going on? Where is Henrietta?!” Hector stopped mid-crow in surprise and said, “Oh, sorry about that. I guess I got carried away. I am just so proud and excited.” And then, he started to stretch out his neck again, as if to continue crowing.

“Stop!” interjected Daphne, whose curiosity by now was at fever pitch.  “Please tell me what is going on? Where is Henrietta?”

Hector drew himself up to his full height and burst out,” She is sitting on our eggs!” Daphne suddenly remembered that on her last visit six days ago, Henrietta had smiled shyly and told Daphne that she was “working on something” but had then gone on to talk about other things, as if the something was not very special. How could Daphne have forgotten to be curious and wonder about that secretive comment! Of course! She now peppered Hector with so many eager questions that finally he said, somewhat flustered, “Oh my, my head is spinning. Let me go back and take a turn on the nest, and let Henrietta come tell you all of the details. With that Hector, steadfast rooster, escaped into the reeds.

A few moments later Henrietta appeared, her beautiful dove grey feathers and golden cape shimmering in the sunlight. She looked immensely proud and happy. As she drank and scratched for bugs, grit and seeds, she answered all of Daphne’s questions.

She had laid 12 eggs in varying shades of pale creamy brown and white. They were about half the size of other types of chicken eggs. Bantam eggs generally hatch in about 18 days, less time that it takes for larger hens. Henrietta only came off her nest briefly to eat and drink. Yes, Hector, steadfast rooster, kept a careful eye out for predators coming anywhere near, and had his spurs sharpened. He could look very fierce when he had to, and this generally terrified any would-be attackers. Cheeree- chee and the other Redwings also stood guard, for they had babies too.

Henrietta had already laid eight eggs when Daphne had last visited. She then laid 4 more, one each day after that. The nest was then ready, and she began the next day to sit. Daphne counted by tapping her hoof lightly on the ground. So…the eggs will hatch in … maybe 16 more days!?? Yes, said Henrietta. But now, dear friend, I really must get back to my nest. Hector gets nervous when he is not on guard. Except for crowing in the morning, this is his main task these days.

Daphne congratulated her friend and promised to come check back in a week. She would let Maeve know and be sure to have her bring corn.

Chapter 4 – Emergency !

Happily, she trotted back up the hill, smiling at the Redwings and other bird friends as she went. She was careful not to announce the news or to draw any undue attention into herself…nesting is a private affair and one must be careful not to attract unwelcome hungry predators.

When she came up out of the dingle and headed up the steep slope towards the hedgerow, she heard a car bumping along at a fast pace. It went fast enough around the curve on the other side of the brambles and electric fence to spin up a large cloud of dust. “Humph,” she thought, “This is a farm road, and people ought to go slowly.” Maeve had taught her about roads. Her father had made a special sign with farm animals painted on it warning drivers to go carefully. And just past the farm,  the Wildlife Rehabilitation Center and Sanctuary had also posted numerous caution signs. She paused for a moment to let the air clear and took a deep breath. She looked around to take a last view of the pond down at the bottom of the sloping meadow, where somewhere in those thick clusters of reeds, cattails and bushes, Henrietta sat safely on her 10 eggs in varying shades of pale creamy brown and white, with Hector, steadfast rooster, guarding her.  She smiled. It that moment of silence, her very sensitive ears caught a tiny sound,  a teeny, tiny moan and cry. It was the sound of pain. And fear.

Conclusion – The End of One Tale and the Beginning of Another

You are probably holding your breath and anxiously wondering what was going on, and what Daphne would do next, and who was hurt, and where he or she was, and would things turn out all right- which is exactly what Daphne was doing and feeling and thinking. Her heart pounded, but she did not panic. She knew that she needed to take action, but she was also a steady clear thinker and did not panic easily. She had learned a lot from Old Mother Squirrel  about how to act in an emergency when she was trapped in the forest during that unexpected blizzard. Daphne used her keen sense of smell and hearing, and her gift of ‘sensing’ what was going on around her. Suddenly she knew what had happened, and that she must act very, very quickly. Which is precisely what she did, which you too will discover when you read the next story : Daphne the Curious Little Donkey and The Rescue (Coming soon to Living Arts Weekly!)