mayacama mama

Soul Food

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Casco Bay

Yesterday Zane and I celebrated his half-birthday at Wolfe’s Neck Woods State Park. It wasn’t really our intention to celebrate his half-birthday, but it was a good excuse to get out of the house while Zoey stayed at home on dog duty, catching up on the Anne of Green Gables series she’s started watching. Zane and I went for a short hike, found a shady spot on a rock to have our picnic lunch, read a little from The House at Pooh Corner, and dug in the sand with seashells.

I’ve been reflecting on how slow our summer passed compared to our whirlwind adventure last summer. Our daily rhythm for the past month has seemed even slower than usual due to welcoming Ziggy, our 12 week old miniature poodle, into our family.

And yet at the same time, I feel like a new mother exhausted with the constant care of a newborn except that at least Ziggy sleeps through the night! I’ve been waking again around 5:30 a.m., some mornings closer to 6:00 a.m. if Ziggy is able to sleep in a little later. As much as I detest waking up in the dark, I love being outside as the dawn arrives and birds begin their morning songs. Two days ago I saw a porcupine on our front lawn as I took Ziggy out. Ziggy didn’t even notice.

We’ve also welcomed six Rhode Island Red chicks into our family. Three days after we brought Ziggy home, Stephen and the kids went to Tractor Supply and brought home the chicks. In about two weeks they should be old enough to move out of the basement permanently into the chicken coop Stephen built.

The kids have been taking them out to the coop during the day, but bring them back to the basement at night.

Although the warm days still feel like summer, the school year has begun. Zoey started school August 26th and Zane started on the 31st. They are making new friends and returning to the familiar rhythm of Waldorf education even though they are at a new school. Zane returns to one more year of kindergarten, just like his mama who needed a little extra time strengthening social skills. His class meets outside all day with everyone wearing masks. He’s been enjoying digging deep holes in the sandbox with a small garden shovel. Zoey has been climbing trees with classmates in the forest on campus, learning Hebrew for her first main lesson block of hearing Old Testament stories, learning French, painting, crocheting, doing math games, and playing the ukulele. Her third grade class is supposed to start violin or cello this year, but because they are unable to do much if any singing this year, her teacher thought they would enjoy learning the ukulele.

I’ve been using my 3 hours that Zane is at school (he has half day Kindergarten until noon) doing my online continuing education classes to reactivate my license. I’m considering some telemental health work options. As much as I would love to do my student teaching to complete my Waldorf teaching certificate, it doesn’t seem like the best choice for me and my family right now during this pandemic.

The past several months as I’ve read the news, I’ve carried in my heart the question of what can I do to bring about a positive change in this world? How can I be of service to others? Those questions have lived in me since I was a child in Catholic school. How can I embody Christ in my actions and words? I haven’t been able to live up to that ideal but I am striving. I fail again and again within my own family, but I start again. I was drawn to social work 17 years ago because I saw it as a way to connect with others, to bring some assistance and relief to those in need or who were suffering, and it was meaningful work that I saw as an act of social justice. I have never seen myself as an expert in mental health, but I still feel called to walk alongside those who are struggling and to try to bring some more light into their life.

I know I am not alone in feeling the heaviness of reading the news daily. Time and again I question how we could elect a leader who exhibits the very opposite behavior of how we want our children to behave. I shudder to think there may be a reasonable, intelligent adult in our country who upholds our president as a role model for their child. In the darkness and division we hear about and live in our daily lives, I think about this idea of “soul food.” Chris Bennett, one of my instructors at the West Coast Institute told my class one time about the importance of telling your students a story at the end of main lesson, that it’s important to give them “soul food.” He was referencing Rudolf Steiner’s idea that “Feelings are for the soul what food is for the body.” I think we all need some soul food right now, something that nourishes us and fills us in these difficult times. For me, I’ve been getting my dose of soul food listening to several audiobooks by Clarissa Pinkola Estes on Hoopla (for you Mendocino County folks). I love hearing her stories, some well known fairytales and others I’ve never heard before, in her own voice. I feel blessed with an inner strength after listening. In one of her audiobooks she retells the story of The Emperor’s New Clothes. If you don’t remember the story, which I’m sure you must have heard during childhood, go ahead and read it again in light of the current political reality we live in. Those who commit violence with their words, underneath there is much fear. And those who remain silent, unable to stand up against the bullies and oppressors in this world, they too have much fear. But I also believe that the wisdom of the child, like in The Emperor’s New Clothes, lives in all of us which is that ability to name the truth and to see things as they really are. Who among us will be brave enough to stand up for what is right and stand in solidarity with our fellow human beings regardless of race, gender, ethnicity, religion, political party, etc?

“Come to the edge,” he said.
“We can’t, we’re afraid! they responded.
“Come to the edge,” he said.
“We can’t, We will fall! they responded.
“Come to the edge,” he said.
And so they came.
And he pushed them.
And they flew.

-Guillaume Apollinaire

Author: Jessica Adriance Cowan

I'm a wife, mama of a daughter and son, a lover of writing, and budding herbalist.

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