Gratitude Celebration 51: Expert Guides

 

 “You have your own flavor of Radical Forgiveness coaching. It will be amazing to see that emerge!” 

That was Pamela Black’s encouragement for me as I struggled to find my footing in my new business, Forgiveness Walks. Today, I’m remembering Pamela and some of the other coaches who have helped me realize my business as I celebrate my 60th birthday with 60 posts of gratitude. This is Post 51.

I knew I had a unique way of expressing myself with the tools of transformation that had already worked wonders in my own life and seemed to be seeking a voice through me. Yet, I wrestled with self-doubt that my expression was valid and worthy to share broadly. Pamela, one of the first coaches trained personally by Colin Tipping, author of Radical Forgiveness, was generously coaching me in the early days of my striving to “earn my living hiking.”  She was right! I smile inside when I recall Colin’s words for me several years later, “Regina, YOUR niche is all the green people who want to be outside! See, you even DRESS in green! Talk to them!”

“What if you’re the first one?!”  

Joyce Bone, the Millionaire Moms founder responded when I lamented that no one else was out there selling coaching while walking. I’m bravely allowing that to fuel my walk.

Pamela and Joyce have been just two of the cotillion of coaches and mentors who have shared their expertise, experience, and encouragement as I transform myself from shy, self-doubting dreamer to focused, visible, and prosperous entrepreneur. I’m well on my way and still on the journey!  It was a big step just to hire Pamela for those first months of coaching, investing in myself, my message, my personal transformation. I’m so grateful that I have taken this path and spent time with these wonderful coaches!

Wendy Watkins helped me coddle the seed of Forgiveness Walks right in my own neighborhood in Decatur, Georgia! I loved walking over to her house to envision this venture. I knew I wanted to work with her when she guided me to look out the window during our introductory session.  “What catches your eye?” she asked.  “The huge pine tree.” I responded. “Describe how it grows and responds to the world.”

“It’s organic, flexible, resilient, sturdy.”
“That’s how your business can be. Let those qualities imbue your vision and your work.” Her words have nourished my vision and allowed me to trust it.

Wendy recruited five participants for my first Forgiveness Walk. They were all women who trusted her to share something wonderful with them. They were perfect for that first walk, and the seed of Forgiveness Walk had found fertile ground!

Laura West, Creator of Joyful Business, guided my first steps across the threshold to claim my business and to put my own unlimited creative energy into it. While in her Master Mind group called Spirit Rich, I took the leap of working as a Ridgerunner on the Appalachian Trail while forming the basic ideas of Forgiveness Walks. I surprised myself with how I was able to join in our weekly calls even from the mountaintops of Virginia! Now, that’s a regular part of my work style!

Laura introduced me to Thea Sheldon who brought a special virtual retreat day to us during Spirit Rich. I knew something magical was about to happen when I received a package in the mail containing a bright new box filled with tantalizing fabric pieces, ribbon, and a doll form. For half a day, Thea guided me and my other Spirit Rich sisters in alternating phone calls and time on our own as we crafted our “Spirit Dolls” as totems for our businesses. The fabrics called me, even insisting that I craft a golden hat for my doll, whose inspired name is Amadea Argenta, goddess of love and silver.  In one visioning session, I saw a green flowing light guiding and calling me in the forest. When I looked in my box of fabrics, there lay a luminescent green piece that embodied this vision perfectly!  I came to see that business could be a living expression of something of a spiritual nature that I would bring to form.

Later that year, I hired Thea to help me realize and honor My Story. Over a period of six weeks, she guided me with visualizations and writing exercises to clarify the Pain, the Hope, and the Promise in my own life that would be the foundation of my business venture.

Ellen Britt spent an entire day with me scrutinizing a business plan and laying out some practical steps for engaging with social media. My big realization that day was seeing a financial plan right there before my eyes. “This IS a $100,000 project and I can see how my programs could definitely be worth it!”

Ellen introduced me to Marnie Pehrson whose “get-er-done” methodology has been most helpful to me in the past couple of years. Every time I work with her, something visible gets done – website tweaks, programs and products get created, and the unique value of what I’m offering emerges.

Julie Ann Turner helped me see that my business idea has really been developing throughout my life and that everything I’ve done has contributed to my life as a Creative Genius. She’s helping me get the myriad of ideas organized. She calls it “getting your butterflies of brilliance into formation.”

Bill Barren taught me how to enroll clients through personal conversations.

Christina Hills taught me how to build my WordPress website.

Isabel Parlett guided me to discover my words and use my language to say what I do and organize it in a way that conveys my message and my methods clearly.  She’s helped me to craft that personal flavor that Pamela Black could see!  With her guidance, I crafted my True Spirit and my True Wisdom that express the deep and unique value of what I do and bring through my programs.

The True Spirit of my work is to help courageous heartsingers feel the inner radiance, joy and satisfaction that come from recognizing, heeding and fulfilling their true heart’s calling. When they do they feel really good being in their own bodies and in their own lives. They express themselves confidently, beautifully, and easily with a healthy self-love that radiates out to all of humanity with joyful purpose and prosperity. Come walk with me!

And the teachers  who started it all were

Colin and JoAnn Tipping, creators of Radical Forgiveness, whose Miracles Workshop sparked the desire within me to share their life changing technology with others.  I didn’t realize it at the time, but the journey of Forgiveness Walks began there and it’s getting more interesting every day!

Thanks today for all these wonderful coaches who have contributed their unique gifts to my endeavor! I would not have done this on my own!

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Contact these amazing coaches yourself!

Joyce Bone at Millionaire Mom

Wendy Watkins, your Joy Strategist

Laura West and her Center for Joyful Business

Thea Sheldon Prime of Life Coaching

Ellen Britt and Pink Coattails.com

Marnie Pehrson and Ignite your WOW

Julie Ann Turner’s Genesis of Genius

Bill Baren and The Art of Conscious Success

Christina Hills and Website Creation Workshop

Isabel Parlett and Put the MOJO in Your Message

Colin and Jo Ann Tipping and Radical Forgiveness

 

 

 

Gratitude Celebration 50: Ladies Who Launch

It’s December, 2008 and I’m  googling “women’s business groups Atlanta” or something like that. Up comes “Ladies Who Launch.” With a name like that, this had to be good! And it was!

A couple of months earlier I had been completing my last few miles of my 5 ½ month walk on the Pacific Crest Trail from Mexico to Canada. I was saying to myself, “Doing this trail convinces me that I really CAN do anything I want to do!” What I wanted to do was keep walking on long trails like this one and the Appalachian Trail I had completed just the previous year. “What I want to do is earn my living hiking.”  That was in October, 2008.

In January, 2009, I was enrolled in the Business Incubator Class of Ladies Who Launch. I had no idea what business I was launching, nor how to start one. In the month-long session, though, I got clear that I could combine my love of walking in Nature with the tools of Radical Forgiveness. I figured that this combination was what helped me walk over 4,000 miles in two years. Perhaps I could coach others to do the same.

The workshop leader, Montine Blank, was an entrepreneur herself, using the same exploratory methods to envision her own business. In the company of the other five women in that workshop, we all invented business ideas that came from our hearts.  Nothing was denied or shot down, but received with curiousity, wonderment, and….. tools for planning it out as a business.  What I came up with from that Incubation Session was Forgiveness Walks, the business I’m still dedicated to growing!

For most of that year, I attended the monthly meetings of the Atlanta Chapter of Ladies Who Launch. At the time, we owned no car, so I would take the public transportation from my home in South Dekalb County to the community building in Cobb County, no small feat! It would take me about three hours to navigate my route on three buses, two trains, and a one-mile walk.  I would get there early, and help Angela Stalcup, the director, set up the room.  I asked her if I could request a ride back to Decatur from the group. She agreed, and when she introduced me, she said, “And here’s Regina Reiter with a ride request. She’s someone who walks her talk! She came here by public transportation all the way from Decatur!”

This was typical of Angela’s style, highlighting the unique qualities that make each woman’s business worthy of acclaim. With her encouragement, leadership, and expert ability to create training in just what we start-up entrepreneurs needed, I actually started seeing my own potential as a business owner! Angela even met with me personally for a complimentary business strategy session, in exchange for her own Forgiveness Walk. I think I was the benefactor of BOTH sessions!

Today’s thanks goes to Angela, and all the other Ladies Who Launch, in whose company my dream of “earning my living hiking” looks more and more possible every day!

One of those women was the person who had said, “I can take her home!” in response to that first ride request that Angela made on my behalf.  That was Wendy Watkins, a long standing member of Ladies Who Launch, who lived less than a mile from my house! That first night, she dropped me off at my door, and we’ve been friends and mutual clients ever since!

Here’s to The Ladies Who Launch!

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Resources cited on this post:

Ladies Who Launch

Wendy Watkins

Montine Blank: Geneva Montine Blank

 

Gratitude Celebration 49: Vibrant Health

I signed up for the 10-day training and detox at The Living Foods Institute on an intuition that this focused experience with raw and living foods would clean out the abscess in my molar. I knew I needed more than the colloidal silver I was taking and thought that clearing my body with food and lifestyle suited me perfectly.

I didn’t even attend a preview session, just registered for the next session. I couldn’t make it to the first two days, however, because the final sales at the Native Plant Garden happened on those days. Jane, the director, said that would be fine to arrive on Day 3, so I registered.

Arriving on Day 3 proved to be just the healing opportunity I needed, although it looked like a repetition of my life’s drama and story that “I’m always trying to do things differently than everyone else” and “People who say they’re going to help me, really don’t.”  This time, though, I allowed myself to not buy that interpretation, and when an emotional upset occurred on Day 4, I went straight to Jane and said, “I need help. I’m having an emotional upset and I know that this is an old story coming up to be cleared out, so will you help me?”  And she did!  Right there, in the front of the community room and with everyone else going about their own healing business, Jane listened and held me and encouraged me while I cried and expressed all the stuffed up anger that the situation in the kitchen had triggered.  I experienced, for a rare moment in my life,  that it was ok to have those intense feelings and get supported while they moved through my body.  At the end of the fifteen minutes or so, I felt lighter and freer and self accepting that I had for a long time! It was a miracle moment!

I am deeply grateful for Jane’s willingness to not just allow, but to support me, in that transformation! After the ten-day session, I volunteered for Brenda and Jane at Living Foods, then Brenda hired me to work there as a kitchen assistant. I worked there for almost a year, until setting off on my Appalachian Trail walk. The Institute was a godsend for me at the time because one of the healing modalities they use there is Radical Forgiveness. That was fortunate for me because my time there coincided with my training as a Radical Forgiveness Coach. Jane turned over the weekly session on Radical Forgiveness to me, giving me just the venue I needed to fulfill my practice teaching requirements.

In addition, Brenda hosted a Radical Forgiveness Circle Ceremony, offering it to her entire community! I was able to lead my second required Ceremony there, thus fulfilling my Ceremony Facilitator certification as well.

So many healing opportunities arose for me in my year of interaction with The Living Foods Institute! Physical, emotional, and professional transformation were all supported in so many ways! While working there, I was able to train for my Appalachian Trail walk by walking the four miles to and from the Institute most of the days I worked there.  I would carry my pack partially loaded so that in the evening I could pack out the compost! With all the fresh vegetables served every day, we would accumulate a good 10 pounds of perfect compost.  My compost piles at home were quite productive that year!

Several of my co-workers enhanced my experience as well.  Mimi delighted me with her effervescent personality.  My funniest moment with Mimi, though, was one of the last days I worked with her. She was all excited then about her courses with Landmark Education, which I caught in a two-minute video. With great exuberance, she animatedly told me how, since learning leadership at Landmark, she “could go into any CEO’s office and make a proposal for her program”.  That in itself, was not remarkable.  What delighted me was that all the while she spoke, her face was covered with green wheatgrass foam, a common facial at the Living Foods Institue!

Wendy, the first Kitchen Manager I worked with at The Institute, was a healing angel through and through! At the time, I didn’t see this, but she was a perfect mirror for my judgments about being a good leader and an organized manager! Everything I found lacking in my own ability to manage an operation like that was mirrored in her. When I finally saw that, I could do my Radical Forgiveness Worksheets, and let her off my hook, turning the acceptance and unconditional love to myself, where it could work its magic and healing. I honor Wendy for being my healing angel there.

Sara, on the other hand, was there to mirror back what I already loved about myself! And she was easy to be with and to work with. We sang while we did dishes and made it all go quickly! Her inner beauty was magnified by her outer beauty. She was one of those people I loved being with so I could admire a beautiful human being!

At Living Foods, I was also introduced to Kathryn Lawson, who provides holistic chiropractic that really works for me! Her blending of physical and emotional balancing, which I could use more often than I make an appointment with her, seems to give me just the approach to health that I like. I was tickled that she chose me as the demonstration subject during my 10-day class. I learned that my wire framed glasses short-circuit the energy flow in my body.  Shortly afterward, and especially in response to the improvement in my eyesight from two months of raw and living foods, I proudly wore my new all-plastic frames to show her. “Nice frames!” she agreed.

The Living Foods Institute, with its hundreds of participants, was an oasis of transformation for me!  There were many other co-workers and students I didn’t mention here, some whose names I remember, many I don’t. In all, however, glows a light of honor and self-respect, as everyone took responsibility for working together WITH the sacred temples of our physical bodies.  I am grateful for having had the opportunity to not just attend classes there but to contribute my work and particular skills to expand the mission that Brenda and Jane have to heal the world, one person at a time!

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Resources cited in this post:

The Living Foods Institute

Kathryn Lawson’s Holistic Chiropractic

Landmark Education

 

 

 

Gratitude Celebration 48: Passionate Leadership

“Would you like to work for me tomorrow and pot up all these ferns?” That was the beginning of my six-year job with George Sanko at the Georgia Perimeter College Native Plant Garden. I had been fascinated by the garden when I first went there with John Reiter for the informal Christmas Party when he volunteered there.

It was December, and something called me about that place. “I’d like to work here!” I remember thinking. A few months later, I was! My job at the Waldorf School had abruptly ended, and I was floundering around about what to do. George’s invitation to pot up the hundred or so ferns that he and John and I had just dug up from the nearby quarry really excited me. The next day, I learned how he did it, and, in a few hours had transformed that bag of floppy fern rhizomes into six rows of half-gallon pots.

He asked me to come back!

For my first couple of years there, I vowed to do only what he said. I didn’t want to lose that job! Even when I thought I had a better way, I simply did what he told me, and I thrived there. There was something satisfying about potting up hundreds of ferns, which usually I would only see in the woods.

Soon, George asked me to help sell the plants at the regular Wednesday sales. As I listened to him and the other garden employees, Katherine and Kathleen, I got familiar with what to say to customers. Mainly, “Do you need something for sun or shade?”  With just that information, I could point them to the native plants that would work for them.

One day, near the end of my third season, George said, “Regina, I want you to go through the growing area and make a list of everything you think needs to be done.”  Apparently, he was pleased with my answers because the next season he promoted me to “Sales Manager.” For my last two years there, he turned the sales area over to me to set up and run the Wednesday sales. Of course, he would tell me what to do when he had his opinion, but he usually approved of how I had done things.

During that last season at the garden, however, I felt less and less in sync with his mission. I DID see other ways I would take the garden and the sales. He wasn’t interested. I was also working at The Living Foods Institute, feeling more and more attuned to the philosophy there and not with George.  In addition, John and I had started going for one to two-week walks on the Appalachian Trail. That was fine with George, especially because I would come back with increased knowledge about the actual native habitats of the native plants, giving me even more skill at recommending plants to our customers. Those outings, however, made my heart yearn to be right out there with the plants, not enclosed in the high fence of the sales area with all the plants in pots.

Then, in September of 2006, I decided that I would, indeed, walk the Appalachian Trail the following spring. I wanted to work full-time at Living Foods and train for my walk. I told George at the end of the fall season that I would end my work there. To my surprise, it came easy to say! It was easy to tell him that I was very grateful to have had the chance to work with him for those six years and that I wanted to go hike the Appalachian Trail. His response?  “Yes! You are smart to do that now while you still can! Don’t wait! You’ve done really good job here, and we’ll miss you, but I think that’s a great idea!”

George Sanko will always be one of the people at the top of my list for having a dream and going after it, day after day, step after step, never giving up. His Native Plant Garden has been a passion project like few I know. It was a healing place for me to mend my broken self-worth after falling from grace at the Waldorf School.  It was a happy community of people for me to spend time with, enjoying our lunch breaks together out in the garden. It was the source of thousands of dollars worth of plant material that I could bring home for John to plant in our landscape. It was the source of hands-on learning about native plants. It even provided short-term employment for two of my sons!

George Sanko and his Native Plant Garden will always ring the Gratitude Bell in my heart!

 

 

Gratitude Celebration 47: Creative Freedom

When I left the Waldorf School of Atlanta, believing that I had no choice but to resign from my position of Class Teacher of Grade One, I was devastated! My self-esteem plummeted to the floor, and I doubted that I could ever teach again! Thanks for my sister-in-law, Deborah, a door opened to a new possibility.

“You could talk with Deron Davis over at Dunwoody Nature Center. He’s the director there, and probably could use teachers who love the outdoors,”  she suggested when I shared my plight with her.  I set a time to meet him within a week. He, indeed, was delighted to meet me, and practically gave me a job that same day! “I definitely need someone who could take this idea I have and run with it.” He took me over to Brook Run Park, which the County had just purchased, and showed me a musty building with a beautiful deck that overlooked a dense forest. “I’m trying to get this area to use as a demonstration of Outdoor Education. I need a lead teacher, someone who can create a program over here for the summer.”

“I could do that!” I responded instantly. As soon as I saw the place, with its ideal layout and compelling loop of trails through the woods, my mind starting racing with program ideas. Within a month, the program was underway. I taught four weeks of summer camp, having co-teachers each week. The classes were a great success, and Brook Run became a satellite camp for the overflowing programs at the Dunwoody Nature Center.  In contrast to the creative roadblocks I had encountered at the Waldorf School, Deron loved all my ideas and I had a blast creating hands-on outdoor learning for the 8-10 year olds.

The next summer, Deron’s position had been filled by Claire Hayes, who turned out to be equally thrilled with my artistic, sensory approach to science education for children. Once again, I thrived in that environment where my methods were supported, and for the next five summers, spent four weeks at Brook Run, teaching 8-10 year olds about the forest, or animals, or native Americans, or science through hands-on explorations in the nearby forest.

One of my favorite activities, which I tried to do with every group, was called The Basement of The Forest. I would lead the campers to one section of the stream that flowed in a 6-foot deep eroded ditch between a footbridge and a culvert. It was a little spooky as we descended deeper and deeper beneath the surface, climbing under roots and seeing the layers of the soil right next to our heads. Exiting the stream by clambering through the five-foot high culvert was a thrillingly memorable experience. Some of the campers even talked their parents into coming back out to camp to see The Basement of The Forest!

Today, I want to thank Deborah for opening a door to my favorite kind of education and Deron and Claire for providing the canvas plus the creative freedom for me to express my own brand of Nature Education – experiential, sensory, and holistic! Hundreds of happy children thank you too!

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Resources in this post:

The Dunwoody Nature Center

Deron Davis has moved on to great things! He’s now the Executive Director of the Georgia Chapter of The Nature Conservancy! Congratulations, Deron! So glad I had the privelege of working with you at Dunwoody Nature Center. Here’s a link to The Nature Conservancy.

Claire Hayes has also moved on from Dunwoody Nature Center and is now the Director of Woodlands Garden, a unique preserve in the residential area of Decatur, Georgia.

Gratitude Celebration 46: Teacher Friends

 One of the ironies of my life was that when I lived in Evansville, IN I found little connection with other parents in the homeschool community. I resigned to enrolling my children in the public school and got involved there the best I could. While they went to school, I studied to become a Waldorf school teacher, dreaming of having my children at a school where I resonated with the education and my friends were the faculty.

I landed a job in the Waldorf School of Atlanta, Georgia, fulfilling that dream, when the boys were almost finished with their schooling! David was in 11th grade, Adam in 7th, and Simon in 5th. The dream, however, turned into a nightmare, and Adam and Simon stayed in the school just one year. David endured a year at the local high school where he was in a 2% racial minority.

The next year, David moved on to the community college and the other two returned home. The quality of our homeschooling experience in Atlanta is where the irony appeared! Here, where I was so sure that it would be the school experience that would be fulfilling, it was the homeschooling one that surpassed all my expectations for community and quality!

Soon after leaving the Waldorf school where the faculty and parents lobbied to replace me just 7 months after I had started, I met the homeschool community. They met every Thursday at Glenlake Park for “Playday”. At the park, kids of all ages, from infant to teenaged would meet for several hours to do what most detractors of homeschool think is the biggest downfall of homeschooling. We would “socialize”. Older kids would organize Frisbee or soccer or Capture the Flag, ranging over the whole park. Younger kids would be supervised at the playground or dabbling in the creek. Moms would talk over curriculum or discipline or plan outings together while they watched the kids.  To my surprise and satisfaction, creativity, support, and quality education was flourishing.

One parent, Sally Hansen, took organization up a notch and established L.E.A.D. Learners and Educators of Atlanta and Decatur. She and her co-leaders organized weekly classes from Latin to Math to baking and art at the nearby Boys and Girls Club. Parents and local experts were the teachers. I offered to teach what I love best and what I wasn’t allowed to do in the Waldorf School – Sharing Nature With Children.

My first session of that class was populated by the moms who renewed my self-esteem, welcoming me as their teacher!  Angie, Val, Nina, Marilyn, and others came with open minds, eager for my suggestions on how to touch the souls of their children in Nature.  Through subsequent years, they always welcomed my classes, which later focused on the children without their parents and included painting, science, and nature exploration.  When Simon reached high school age, two other parents hired me to teach all three of them Chemistry and then Biology. All the Waldorf Science I had been preparing to share as a Waldorf teacher could be unleashed in our semi-weekly classes.

Angie Graver, in particular, stands out as my favorite champion. Several times she called me to see if I would teach something to parents she had organized. First, it was watercolor painting. She hosted at her home the first of many parent’s painting classes in which I taught them how to bring the Waldorf methodology to their children. Then, it was Nature classes at the Dunwoody Nature Center. Then, it was an afternoon presentation on the Pacific Crest Trail, a new interest of her son who had been in that first Sharing Nature With Children session way back ten years earlier!

The other irony is that there seemed to be a revolving door between the Waldorf School and the homeschooling group! Parents would leave the school and start homeschooling or they would discover the Waldorf School from what they learned in the homeschooling group!  I discovered that I was highly respected as a trained Waldorf teacher within the homeschool community, especially now that I had resumed homeschooling myself! In the end, I found my place and fulfilled my dream! My children were in a school where I resonated with the education and my friends were their teachers!  Sadly, that only happened with the youngest, Simon, but it did happen!

I want to especially thank a few of the wonderful teacher friends who blessed us with their dedication and superior classes. Randall Carlson, master of mathematics and sacred geometry, taught his informal math classes for several semesters while Simon was eligible for them. Randall’s classes were so good that several parents, myself included, joined in for the twice-weekly sessions. Under Randall’s tutelage, I learned the foundations of geometry and algebra from their origins and through diagrams and proofs, not just from abstract formulas. We used 20”x 28” drawing pads for our books, constructing geometric proofs with custom made compasses that could draw 12” circles. Our drawings would come alive when we followed his encouragement to color them in when they were finished.

We learned The Golden Mean by proving it algebraically, then discovering the many places this ratio occurs in nature, in our bodies, in the solar system, in French cathedrals, and in the paintings of Leonardo da Vinci.

Randall taught these classes as his hobby to supplement his work as a remodeling construction master, along with his brother. One day, while we were studying the geometry of ovals, he said, “If you’re interested, how about stopping over at one of our construction jobs after class. We’ve got an oval arch going up.”  Simon and I agreed to go, and just as we stepped into the house, the builders were raising the arch! We could see the geometric drawing where they had constructed it still marking the floor. It was a life sized version of what we had drawn in class that day!  Magical moments like that were always happening in Randall’s class. I credit him for reawakening my love of mathematics and for re-educating my understanding of it!

Ironically, he was not hired by the newly formed Waldorf High School around that time because he lacked a college degree! Everything he had learned and so masterfully taught was “homeschooled!”

Another homeschool teacher I want to thank is Marilyn McGinnis.  She was an expert at blending disciplines. I was thrilled with Simon’s semester in her class History and Geography of Asia through Literature.  During the semester, the students read four works of young adult fiction. They were all coming of age stories from different historical periods in different Asian countries.  Through these tales, and studying the geography  and history they expressed, Marilyn guided the students in a lively experience of all of the disciplines. I enjoyed watching Simon, not a voracious reader, willingly read and study those books and do the assignments, more eagerly than other studies he had done.

There are so many men and women in the homeschooling community in Atlanta who warrant my gratitude for helping me share my own educational gifts as well as their own! With them, I can say that I did eventually fulfill my dream of education for my children! It was a long, winding road, but satisfying in the end!

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Are you a homeschool parent in Atlanta or Decatur, Georgia? If you’re looking for a secular support group, open to any homeschool family, check out Learners and Educators of Atlanta and Decatur. L.E.A.D.

It looks like Randall Carlson and his Sacred Geometry have gone international! Now I feel even more blessed to have had the privelege to be his student! His classes are surprising and nourishing! Take advantage of his work when you can!
www.sacredgeometryinternational.com

 

Gratitude Celebration 45: Healing Angels

Eleanor Winship called me. “Would you please come interview at the Atlanta Waldorf School?”

That was late May, 1999.

In February, 2000, she stood in my first grade classroom, saying, “I have called my friend to see if he could come take your class, to make it easy for you to get out of this.”

In between those two statements, marking the beginning and the end of my welcome with the Waldorf School of Atlanta, Eleanor played many cards in the game that was my life with the school. Although I was not aware of it at the time,  I am deeply grateful for being introduced to the idea that we are spiritual beings having a human experience and that relationships are the medium in which our soul’s mission is dabbled.

That view gives me a perspective that allows me to honor Eleanor for playing an essential role in my personal growth as I danced with the Waldorf community to experience all the life lessons my soul created, to throw myself into the fire of transformation, burning off any conceit, pride, self-centeredness, and arrogance keeping me separate from others and from my life’s purpose. If I were blind to this significance, I would be puzzled, angry, regretful, resentful, and revengeful with the many people who danced with me during that time.

Eleanor could be a representative of the entire community, but others who filled out the personification of my spiritual training were Dena, Peter, Liara, Patricia, and parents Mary, Linda, and Joshua’s mom. Then there was Susan Irby who was wise to both sides and willing to cast off the veil of conspiracy that I was not seeing.

Other characters in the play could be seen as supporters: Kathy, Brigitte, Carol, Bradford, Sara, Jake and Natasha.

At the end of that year, as Bradford was being rejected as well, we attended a showing of Richard I at the Shakespeare Theatre.  The play seemed to mirror our journey perfectly  as the favored king arrived in a cloud of blessings and was subsequently betrayed, conspired against, and beheaded.  At least I didn’t have to die!

My “purification by fire” in the Waldorf Community has perhaps been my most dramatic and significant in my life! I had poured so much of my hopes and dreams into being a Waldorf teacher! To have my position there fall apart within six months was devastating to my ego – and to my career plans. Nevertheless, even as I was leaving, I heard a voice say, “Consider forgiveness. There’s something here about forgiveness.” It took several more years of peeling away at the wounds of being rejected and having to start over before I learned about Radical Forgiveness.

That’s what has given me the tools to truly see how I was doing a healing dance with and for everyone in that community! That view has turned that whole experience from the deepest failure and disappointment in my life to a true blessing of spiritual significance for my life.

Today, I can be grateful to Eleanor for playing her guiding role for my spiritual growth. My heart is at peace.

 

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Read the book that paved my path for forgiveness – radical forgiveness – and helped me reconnect with the people who ushered in my biggest life blow!

 http://forgivenesswalks.com/the-book-radical-forgiveness/

Radical Forgiveness

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Gratitude Celebration 44: Living Color

LaVonne Sheets and Van James taught me how to use the properties of light, dark, and color to awaken my heart and reveal my soul and what wanted to be expressed.

I  met LaVonne through the Waldorf School of Louisville initiative. Her painting classes looked so inviting that I drove all the way to Louisville and back weekly for a six-week session. For the first time, I experienced light as a phenomenon that dispelled darkness and then fell either behind or in front of the darkness which was created by forms. How fascinating!

Through my work with LaVonne, I started to see that these qualities worked within my soul as well.

She first read the Rudolf Steiner meditation that I love

Quiet I bear within me
I bear within myself forces that make me strong.
Now will I be imbued with their glowing warmth.
Now will I fill myself with my own will’s resolve,
and I will feel the quiet pouring throughout my being.
When, by my steadfast striving, I become strong
to find within myself the source of strength,
the strength of inner quiet.

~ Rudolf Steiner
This poem, which was read before and after each class, encouraged me to acknowledge that it was through delving into my own quietness that my inner strength could be realized.

Van James, my painting teacher in Waldorf Teacher Training, taught me the essential paintings brought through the grades in a Waldorf School. Painting was probably the part of Waldorf School that I enjoy the most, and the one I still use, even twelve years since I left the Waldorf School! Since learning the wet-on-wet watercolor method, which provides painters an experience of color as living beings of light, I have helped hundreds of people experience this!

I brought living color experiences to my son, Simon’s, second grade class in weekly sessions for most of the year! We painted stories from their reader, seeds emerging from the ground, winter descending coldly, butterflies emerging from a medicine man’s bag. The children were mesmerized by the color and quieted by the guided painting.  Once, the principal, Maddie Miller, remarked, as she perused the paintings on the wall,  “I don’t know what you’re doing here with these paintings, but it’s beautiful.”  Well, I thought I did know what I was doing, and that was guiding the children in this soul dance with the colors, which Van James had taught me about!

I brought painting to a dozen families during the weekend Nature Link Program, sponsored by the Wesselman Woods Nature Preserve. Parents and children, both, enjoyed playfully painting, feeling uplifted and happy. I was proud to be bringing something artistic and soul nourishing to round out the cognitive classes in tracking and plant identification.

Later, when we had moved to Atlanta, and I had exhausted my welcome at the Waldorf School, I taught classes to the homeschoolers and to campers at the Dunwoody Nature Center. They all loved the painting experiences!  For six summers, I ran four weeks of day camp for the Nature Center. Each week, regardless of the theme – Native American, Science, Forest, or Animals – I had at least one session of painting!

The painters who loved it the most were the parents! Homeschooling moms, especially, found their wet-on-wet watercolor experiences to be just what they needed to relax from their childraising tensions, at least for their evenings out painting!

I’m still painting too! I even use painting in my coaching work. Now, I use the spectrum painting exercise, which Van taught me 15 years ago, to help clients enliven their “Nonsenses”, which is what I call the energy centers in our bodies others know as chakras. Painters still remark how enlivened they feel, how uninhibited they felt with my guidance, and how they love what they’ve painted! A couple of years ago, I even shared this exercise at a hikers’ conference! One particularly “rebellious” man, who was laughing and making fun of his painting the whole time, sent me a photo of his painting proudly displayed at his front door!

Today, I thank Van James and LaVonne Sheets for opening my eyes to the awakening possibilities of watercolor painting! It’s been a gift that has been multiplied a hundred-fold!

Happy Painter

Happy Painter

 

Gratitude Celebration 43: Contribution

What a blessing to be a contribution. I had a very strong belief that what I had to offer would not be useful to anyone.  I didn’t think I could create my own program or school for my children. I believed that I had to join one that already existed. When we moved to Evansville, I had just heard about a school that sounded wonderful – Waldorf School. John found out that Becky Trela had a Waldorf daycare in New Harmony, 35 miles from our home.

I could take Adam there! Once a week, she had a playgroup, so I’d drive there and join in. I have no recollection that Adam had a good time, in fact, he may have already been too old for the program, so I just went on my own, first pregnant, and then with Simon. Actually, I don’t remember when I found out about Becky’s school, but it seems that it was right away.

Anyway, Becky gave me the experience of loving something and wanting to do it, and doing it herself, and me feeling that I couldn’t get it right, even though I tried, and feeling challenged and having beliefs that just didn’t fit.

One little drama that occurred was when I had created a puppet play for the fall celebration called Michaelmas. I had studied the Waldorf philosophy, at least what I could find, and thought my 10-minute play expressed it beautifully. Becky and her assistant, Alma wanted to see it in advance, so I obliged with an impromptu showing. As my last notes of song faded, they sat in stone silence. After a few long seconds, Becky said, “It’s a cute play, but the message is “problematic”. Not all of our mothers would accept it.”  I was stunned, because it seemed pretty innocuous to me!

 I left, thinking that my play had been rejected. On the day it had been scheduled to be shown at the end of playgroup, I left all the puppets at home. Becky, on the other hand, seemed frantic that I wasn’t prepared to share it, lamenting that she had been counting on that to fill the time! Oh my! “I can never get it right!” I said, and drove the 25 minutes back home, to get the props.  My sense of worthiness and compatibility and ability to contribute was so fragile and personalized! My need to commune with other moms for companionship kept me struggling to balanced this see-saw of contribution and compatibility!

The final separation came, however, when Becky moved the playgroup to Evansville. I was ostracized because one vocal woman was scared about vaccinations and lobbied for the school to require them, so I stopped going. I had chosen to avoid vaccinations and the school was providing no exemptions. Then I was on my own again.

Then there was Judy Leyden who believed in herself and her message and her organizational abilities and commitment to forge ahead with her own preschool, with criticisms, legal matters, and her own brand of fanaticism and institutionalism to make the thing run. That’s something that Becky and Judy did that I wasn’t willing to commit to – choosing a focus and fulfilling it.  I even went to some program on having a dream and saying there that what I wanted was a “nature school”. That was when we still lived in Washington, D.C. as an outgrowth of my work with Robert Fritz and his Path of Least Resistance.

I had my vision, but have lacked the personal commitment and leadership to carry out anything bigger than myself. Can I love myself for that? Can I love myself being a dreamer, a vision maker who falls short of fulfillment?

But, Maddie Miller and Lisa Hale, the principal and teacher at Harper Elementary School, where I resigned to enroll all three children, gave me a little opening to contribute with my own expression. They invited and supported me in bringing watercolor painting to Lisa’s class – 20 sessions! Then, Maddie Miller even paid me to do a session with her faculty. Sure, it was in fulfillment of her requirement to demonstrate that she had input from her community, but that’s ok with me. Then, two other teachers wanted me to paint with their classes. For a time, I enjoyed contributing with something that felt authentic to me!

I  thank Becky, Judy, Maddie, and Lisa for bringing form to their dreams and letting me participate in them, borrowing their canvas for a brief painting session of my big dream.

Gratitude Celebration 42: Ritual and Song

It’s easy to start feeling unworthy and that I haven’t done enough when I remember Calvin and Nelia Kimbrough, founders of the Patchwork Central Ministry in Evansville, Indiana.

When I think of them, I think of people who have been willing to do what their hearts want, to be clear on a mission and live it out, to be proud of what they do and how they do it to carry it out for decades, for their entire life time.

I know them from two places where they have done the same thing for decades, create rituals and celebrations, create art and photos and take a stand for poor people.

When I think of Calvin and Nelia, I think of people who work fervently, believing in the small daily steps of their mission, yet perhaps overall that theirs is an impossible goal. They WILL remain disenfranchised and victimized. The poor will remain poor and the downtrodden will continue to be downtrodden. They have little power to affect the system except for a few individual people.

On the surface, I am grateful to Calvin and Nelia for their gifts of song and art, leadership and genuine graciousness. The happy memories of beautifully uplifting rituals they created at Patchwork Central, a Christian ministry in Evansville, Indiana, light my heart. Nelia created a blessingway for our third child, Simon, who was born just a few months after we had arrived in our new Evansville home. We were welcomed right away into the community and Simon’s name was fitting for a member of that community. A dozen or so community members came over to our house, created a little book of blessings, read poems and sang songs.  Of course, we shared food as well! The Patchwork Community was exemplary at sharing food!

Still, after a few years of community membership, we felt that we didn’t quite fit in. We got the idea that our children were not quite as welcome as we had thought, especially since they were among just a handful in the group. Eventually, we left the community, again with a tender ritual created by Nelia, realizing that there was something else we wanted more. In particular, it was connection with trails and camping on the weekends.  We had found ourselves participating less and less in the projects going on, and more on our own exploring the backcountry of Southern Illinois in Bell Smith Springs.

Looking back through my Radical Forgiveness lens, I see that my relationship with Calvin and Nelia was giving me a chance to love a part of me that I was repressing – that part of me that wanted control, and the part of me that was scared to commit to leadership and formation of rituals and family education that truly expressed my convictions.  I couldn’t do that, and I was jealous of them!

Step 10 in the Radical Forgiveness Worksheet says:

“I now realize that I get upset when someone resonates in me, something I have denied, repressed and projected onto them. I now see the truth in the adage, “If You Spot It, You Got It!” This person is reflecting what I need to love and accept in myself.  I am now willing to take back the projection and own it as part of my shadow. I love and accept this part of me.”

Now, I can thank them for giving me this opportunity to feel this and to give me a chance to be fully human!  I’m willing to love myself having those judgments and honor Calvin and Nelia for helping me grow!