Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Sacred Refuge

After taking note of Shannon Hayes' book in the New York Times article, The Femivore's Dilemma, this morning I read a fabulous review of Radical Homemakers: Reclaiming Domesticity from a Consumer CultureI've been feeling empowered all day.  Surely, having my existence validated feels good, but that's only a tiny piece of it.  It's more that I've been reminded that I'm not alone in my endeavors to make my home a sacred refuge from economic materialism.  

Throughout the day my thoughts returned to the women I'm honored to know... supra-ordinary mamas who are redefining feminism by simplifying their lives and setting their heart's compass to ecological sustainability, social justice, and family well-being.  In some ways, it feels like the mamas of today have given birth to a new paradigm for femininity.  We've discovered that life outside the office doesn't mean a four walled torture chamber of bon bons and casseroles.  We know what road blind servitude and mindless consumerism takes us down and we're choosing a new path.

I don't think radical homemaking would be possible without the blood and sweat of our feminist sisters who paved the way... and I wouldn't want to stay home if our culture was as patriarchally backwards as it was 50 years ago.  Does this suggest a return of the Sacred Feminine?  Maybe our world is finally beginning to realize that internalizing our female half practically tipped the earth off of her axis. 

With my inner-goddess invoked, our school day felt like a downhill slalom.  I woke up before dawn and sat in meditation for an hour, then spent the sunrise in Surya Namaskara with the Gāyatrī Mantra.  Full of sunbeams and universe juice, it was time for tending to seedlings, plants, and compost, then a slow-paced, mindful breakfast, lesson planning, and organizing artwork into portfolios. 

The highlights of our day included:

a little Greek Mythology...
with the story of Persephone, Goddess of Spring and Queen of the Underworld, from The Lady of Ten Thousand Names: Goddess Stories from Many Cultures retold by Burleigh Muten.  

a silly tongue twister...
Swan swam over the sea
Swim swan! Swim!
Swan swam back again
Well swum swan!

... writing some sentences:
Six swans swim swiftly.
Seven sisters sleep soundly.
Silver stars shine in the sheltering sky.

... spelling our S words in song:
s-e-v-e-n, s-e-v-e-n, s-e-v-e-n, that's how we spell seven!

... an introduction to the second spoke of the dharma wheel, right intention - in Pali samma sankappa:
The Buddha explained right intention as threefold: the intention of renunciation, the intention of good will, and the intention of harmlessness.

... a little piano practice perfecting
a Samba!

Then it was time for a piano lesson, a ballet class, and the park with daddy.  Still, the best part of the day was our continued seeking of spring.  We're blessed to live in a warm little corner of the universe and everywhere we turned, Persephone's work abounded.  Too beautiful for words, I'll close here with some pictures.

cherry blossoms aflame

almost like a lotus unfurling

rosemary gone wild

seedlings sprouting...

 and shining in the sun

baby leaves being born on our favorite oak

welcome little leaves!

spring heralds popping up in the fairy garden

snow peas smiling

Sunday, March 14, 2010

S is for Spring

With one week to go, signs of spring abound and, by yet another sweet synchronicity, we began our letter S unit this week.  

We use Fry's 300 Instant Sight Words for our weekly words.  With a total of 30 S Words on the list, we decided to split it in half and give the letter S two weeks instead of one.  This week's words were: spring, said, see, she, so, stand, such, some, saw, say, school, seem, shall, should, soon, and sure.  Instead of a written spelling test this week, we elected for something more fun.  After singing all of the words all week, we had a family Spelling Bee on Saturday.  I'm proud to report that A. is becoming quite a fantastic little speller. 

Some of other S things we enjoyed this week were Spring's Sprung by Lynn Plourde, beautifully illustrated by Greg Couch, learning to play a Samba on piano, Book 10 in Scholastic's Planet Earth Phonics Reading Program - Snakes, and committing to memory eight math facts we called "sister sums" where we matched doubles (like 4+4 and 6+6) with other math facts (like 5+3 and 7+5).

Still, the highlights of our week were welcoming spring in our outdoor classroom.  We've been closely watching the trees in our area give birth to blossoms and baby leaves.  Our neighbor's Flowering Cherry is aflame with pink blossoms, our winter daphne is full and sweet smelling, the manzanita are covered in tiny white flowers, our snow peas are thriving, and our tomato and jalapeno seedlings are now three inches tall with water droplets always glistening on their primary leaves.

With the sun's return, and our studies turned to the letter S, it seemed like a perfect time for sun salutations... a moving prayer of gratitude to the life-giving energy of the sun.  Sun salutation, Surya Namaskar, links together twelve asanas in a dynamic flow.  Beginning the day with a set in each of the four cardinal directions wakes up our bodies, gets out the wiggles, and as Christopher Key Chapple, a professor of Indic and comparative theology at Loyola Marymout University says in this month's Yoga Journal, "calls us to stretch our minds and spirits to the corners of the universe, allowing us to feel the vast expanse of the cosmos within the movement of our bodies."

The ability to sense the cosmos within our body is something I hope my munchkin is cultivating through our at-home studies.  It comes when we slow down, when we put some space between our habitual responses and our actions, and when we take care to spend time with the natural world.  

Watching tiny blossoms sprout from barren winter branches reminds me that spring is a promise the earth keeps each year.  Sensing the birth of that promise within myself gives me a deep peace -- a trusting feeling in my heart.  There is a surrender, a certain acceptance, in this trusting... a calmness of spirit that informs each day with joy.

Tomorrow we'll begin eight more sister sums, fourteen new S words, sing a silly swan tongue twister, and continue seeking spring.  Tonight, I'm settling down with my family for a Sunday night in stillness.
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