cinderella memorandum

cinderella blog 1Goodness knows I could stand to write about planting potatoes right now, but we’re still shaking off post-production whiplash from Lulah’s fifth performance run with the local high school theater group. We are so proud of her. It was great. The songs are still rolling around in my head all day. The experience of live theater really sticks to my ribs.

The Spring 2016 show was Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Cinderella. I had never heard of it before, but we quickly got up to speed by watching the (rather ancient) movie version starring a very young Julie Andrews as Cinderella. Lulah has had a long-standing aversion to the Disney cartoon Cinderella, even though she’s never seen the movie, so we were relieved to find that the musical version was quite a bit more spunky and fun than the sappy sweet Disney. I was even more pleasantly surprised to find that the Rodgers and Hammerstein version had been “updated” with a new sub-plot involving a political fire-brand who falls in love with one of Ella’s step-sisters and convinces Ella to tell the prince (the charmingly clueless Prince ‘Topher) that his people were being treated unfairly. In the end, Cinderella is not only escorted out of squalor and oppression and into Queen-dom, she also carries her people with her and convinces her true love to establish a democracy. (Wow, right?)cinderella 6cinderella ten minutes ago 2

The kids are so gorgeous. They throw themselves into the show and transport us into a suspended reality. For those hours, we believe them in their characters, in their sincerity, and their hilarity. And then, after the curtain call, we see them return to themselves, but still in fancy costume. They have such wonderful vitality. They are beautiful in so many ways.

cinderella grand entrance

cinderella blog 2Watching the show, night after night, I began to wonder about my own personal sub-plot in the drama of this High School Theater group. Why am I so mesmerized by the activity of the show? Something happens to me when the lights go up on that stage. Seeing those fresh faces, teetering on the brink of adulthood, takes me back.

And the truth is, looking back is not a completely comfortable experience. I remember some of the thrill of BEing where they are now. I remember the small sea of faces in the audience – trying not to be TOO obvious about seeking out my loved ones – letting the months of rehearsal, memorization, repetition, flow through me. I remember the magic of performance as art. And I remember being a contradictory teenage bundle of energy, bravado, and insecurity.

Don’t get me wrong – it was a great time. But in the midst of all that fun stuff, I never believed that I was enough. I wasn’t pretty enough, or smart enough, or strong enough. I didn’t let on about my perceived insufficiencies much, but I held onto them inside. (The way so many of us do.)

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Watching the stage, feeling my heartstrings plucked, it becomes obvious that I was plenty beautiful, smart, and strong, just like they are now. I don’t know if I would have listened to anyone telling me that I really was sufficient, for myself, and for the task ahead of growing up. But I can’t help wishing that I had felt a little more comfortable in my own skin (I had nice skin, but I didn’t know it then.). The past has passed.

There’s always room for greater peace, though, and that’s what washes over me in the aftermath of the show. By opening my heart to these kids – my own, as well as all the others I am fortunate enough to meet in our community – I have the opportunity to make peace with my old demons of insecurity and self-doubt. Watching these young people at play and at work on this show, has helped me remember myself as I was, and extend the affection I feel for the kids towards that (rather grumpy and critical) memory of myself at their age. When I am able to look into my past with greater compassion and affection, I become more capable of loving my life as it IS, right now. What a gift.

cinderella fairy god mother hug

In return, I hope to add my voice to the multifaceted cultural message these young folks are absorbing as they move toward maturity, because the Disney storyline doesn’t work for a lot of us, and it’s good to have options. Here I am, long enough past adolescence and early adulthood to be irrelevant, strange, or maybe a little wise. I guess it’s up to them to decide.

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These days, my voice travels to the next generation primarily in the context to being a mother – mostly, Lulah’s mother. My best bet is to embrace and enjoy my post for all it’s worth. And so I am… Lulah’s mother who doesn’t wear make up and refuses to color over the gray in her hair. Lulah’s mother who drives the muddy car. Lulah’s mother who brings a ball of wool and a crochet hook to rehearsal. Lulah’s mother, who insists that it’s good for you to stand on one foot and breathe. Lulah’s mother, who wants you to touch your toes, drink more water, bend your knees, AND relax. Lulah’s mother who wants you to be yourself, and believe in yourself as much (or more) than the rest of us believe in you. Lulah’s mother may be a little batty, and maybe that’s alright.

cinderella the shoe does not fit

But my aim is true. I want them to experience for themselves that they ARE sufficiently beautiful, strong and smart, that they are just as wonderful as they dream themselves to be, and also that they have so much farther to go. I want them to have confidence to walk into the world around them, not as masters, but as students of LIFE, because the best masters also stay students.

Life is full of foibles. I may not succeed in my heart-felt effort to inspire greater confidence in personal goodness in the next generation, but having seen the possibility for myself, in myself – I have to try.

So, thanks kids, for the great show, for doing some yoga with me, and for being your beautiful selves. Please – carry on. Keep singing. You are on a roll – don’t stop growing!

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May your shoes always fit!cinderella the shoe fits

horizontal and vertical

basilIt’s the smell of basil that does it to me. I feel grounded. My thoughts come in for landing. At the same time, I am uplifted. My spirit is full of light. I guess, overall, picking basil balances me. And that is how the various streams of thought that have been bouncing in my head all week finally coalesce. It’s the basil.

In the garden, the visual field of work is horizontal. Plants grow out of the earth, into the air. Ourselves and our various livestock walk on the earth with our heads in the air, more or less. We share the effects of gravity, the quality of the atmosphere. We share a horizontal plane.

But in truth, we are being influenced and are making waves in the vertical plane as well. The life beneath the soil has everything to do with what happens above it, as does the atmosphere above us, and beyond.bee flower

It is easier, simpler, to work horizontally and not think too much about the vertical plane. Don’t worry about the soil as long as the plants grow. Just slap down some NPK and carry on. Don’t think about CO2 emissions or the phase of the moon, just drive that tractor!

In the practice of Biodynamic agriculture, we are called upon to expand our thinking, and our work, in every direction. The life beneath the soil is of utmost importance, and we cannot see it. We have to rely on the evidence we find growing out of it to learn about it, and do what we can from up here to make a positive impact below. Likewise, we stretch our understanding upward, into the cosmos, and try to perceive that the soil, the plants, and all life, is influenced by the near and outer reaches of space. We even do things to try to help that relationship be healthy and strong. We cannot see it, but maybe, with time, we begin to feel something about it that we didn’t feel before.

I began thinking of this after attending church last Sunday. The visiting pastor spoke about a three fold way of forgiveness. It was a new one for me. He explained that as we come to understand, ask, and receive the forgiveness of a higher power, we grow in our ability to forgive others. This is laid out in the Lord’s Prayer when we say “forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.” The unspoken third link is that by engaging in that relationship of forgiveness and forgiving, we become able to forgive ourselves, as well. It’s a very important third link, in my opinion, often overlooked, to the detriment of our well-being.

And it seems to translate into other realms of relationship, as well.

My parents are of the Baby Boomer generation. They had some rather severe differences with their parents, my grandparents, in both lifestyle and ideology. But, from what I witnessed growing up, they still respected their parents. By respecting their parents, they were able to respect themselves, and in turn became respectable people. And I respect them all the more for having watched it all go down.

I don’t know, but I suspect that when we lose respect for others, especially those older than ourselves, it becomes harder to develop a sense of self-respect, which in turn makes it more difficult to treat those younger than ourselves with respect. But how else will they learn? Surely, it’s up to us, each one to become a respectable person.

Verticality isn’t easy. Look to see whether you are sitting up straight right now. Your spine and all the internal organs around it work best when it is lined up, balanced, vertically. But many of us have a tendency to slump into the horizontal plane. When we sit back up, there is an instant of relief, a feeling of rightness, a deeper breath. That instant is followed by some tension, because we have made a habit of the horizontal slump. The habit has invaded the musculature of our backs, so it becomes more difficult to do what we were made to do.tree light

But it’s worth it to do it anyway. We can establish a new habit of sitting tall, and our musculature will adapt, and we will be stronger and breathe more freely. Likewise, if we practice making friendly and respectful relationships with people of all ages (and colors and creeds), our community will be healthier, stronger, and more enjoyable as we begin to appreciate all those people who share our world. If we accept and practice forgiveness, with others, with a higher power, with ourselves, our hearts will be lighter. If we grow our food in relationship to the soil and the air and the whole universe, seen and unseen, our world will be fit for life in abundance, in balance, in beauty.

There’s plenty to be said about the effects of letting ourselves slide into existence on a purely horizontal plane.  I don’t really want to say all that.  It’s easy enough to see, everywhere.  It seems more important to affirm that verticality is worth the effort.

At least, that’s how it seems when I am picking the basil.sunset cloud 2

I would like to give credit to some of my thinking today to the following:

Robert Bly’s book The Sibling Society.

Rudolf Steiner’s work in creating Biodynamic Agriculture.

And Pastor Jason Roe for his effective sermon.