Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Monthly Goals and Planning Pages; Rhythm

This is long but necessary to get organized - So no photo!

September for some of us moms is like a second New Year’s – a second chance to start, yet again, and get our rhythm and routine in order. To make things right. Thank goodness for the human quality of hope and optimism. I am very excited! I have a general layout for my year ahead. At present the details are quite lofty, vivid in my mind, though a week from now they may be gone if I don’t write them down. But it is easy to spend too much time in the planning though for me the planning indeed needs to be done. So, I am going, once again with my keep it simple motto, use what I’ve got (this also being a more green and less money and time consuming method). I am also employing some coping strategies learned in counseling years back – aiming to get through time in small packages (not day by day in this instance but perhaps month by month, having each month broken into two week sections).

As taught in Waldorf Schooling and various religions, I use the rhythm of the season and the accompanying festivals, around which to develop my daily curriculum. Seasonal festivals abound in every country and every religion on earth, but they are all very similar within each season and serve the same purpose. Latin cultures are a fabulous resource for festivals, Mexican, Italian, Catholic as are middle eastern countries and religions. Asia too has fabulous ritual. And of course probably first, for success and ideas that work with your own, it is best to look within your own culture and spiritual practice. Our own backyard, as usual, holds an abundance of ideas easily accessed within the community.

Here’s my general skeletal structure. One festival per month (Christmas having many semi festivals that I just can’t avoid, being a lover of the Christmas Season). Two weeks, general seasonal celebration to get into the swing of a new month. Two weeks prep time to work up to a particular festival , final celebration and then close it up and move on. In reality, however, I can get so into a particular festival that I find it hard to let it go, especially birthday, Halloween and Christmas. Some overlap which I find is fine sometimes, but in general my hanging on can be unhealthy. This year I will work on that specifically. I believe in the repetition, the joy of a season, but as always I need to work on my finish, my clean up!

That said, here’s my plan for September (and I realize it should have been done last night at the latest so I was all prepped for today) but I am quick with lots of experience and organized resources so I can now pull it all together pretty quick!

A Festival or Theme (could just be in general – harvest or a specific holiday or from any ethnic origin)

Set the Seasonal Table

A Verse for the next two weeks (month if children are young)

2 Projects one for each two week section (or more)

Theme Stories (traditional stories I read sporadically through the season)

For September I use the, (lesser known in America unless you are Catholic) celebration of Michaelmas. I love the focus on personal strength, courage and power as well as the facing of personal demons. Michael overpowering the dragon. Light vs dark. Good over evil! Personal strength is something our children, we all, need. Strong self image being one of the keys to a successful and happy life.

Festival or Theme for September

Michaelmas, September 29th (personal strength, courage)

Quickly, while the children are making beds, dressing and doing piano I rush together a theme table (we use a corner cabinet in the kitchen for this ever changing visual). I have a mid size cardboard suitcase (from Home Sense) for each season, filled with things we have made or collected over time for seasonal tables. Today I use a square of yellow fabric, a beautiful felted fairy in fall colours, a glass bottle my daughter painted filled with a few yellow flowers I quickly pick from our garden, some fall coloured, knotted, string bracelets my son bought in Mexico where he went this summer with a family and his dad, and three copper coins flattened in a machine when we were in California last week – the kids paid fifty cents to press their pennies with an imprint of the town we were in – the colour works and they are reminders of fun had this summer. I choose a yellow candle holder from my candle drawer and put in a tea light. I may add store bought sunflowers because I love them – later, we’ll see. I find a piece of rainbow coloured paper from the mess called our art room and asked my son to write the following line that I love, found years ago in a preschool handbook,: “I give you a cape of golden light, to give you courage, strength and might” but I change it to I HAVE a cape of golden light, to GIVE ME courage, strength and might, so we can say it and embolden ourselves subconsciously. My university psychology and years use affirmations with nutrition clients, paying off yet again.

For each month, I choose two morning verses, songs, poems or prayers of thanks fort the breakfast table – one for the first two weeks one for the second half of the month. Two weeks seems long enough to learn and to begin to have the verse penetrate our soul yet short enough that we don’t get bored. When the children were younger I carried on one verse for the whole month. Today I will use the “golden cape” line above (author and source unknown, though sounds like something from a Waldorf classroom) add a short poem I found a couple of years ago (also sounds like a Waldorf source) and then sing one of te children’s many favorite blessing songs which they learned in Kindergarten and we have used for years at home.

Breakfast Verse for first half of September


“I have a cape of golden light, to give me courage, strength and might.

My deeds I will do with my feet on the ground, My head will direct them that they may be sound"

Followed by (sung)

“Blessings on the blossom, Blessings on the fruit, Blessings on the leaf and stem,

Blessings on the root, Blessings on our meal today"

I also choose a project or two or three related to the theme. I have a file of project ideas I have collected over the year. Sources include my memories from childhood, years of baby sitting and Sunday school teaching in my teens, jobs as camp counselor in my very late teens, books, magazines, experience as an artist, workshops taken and lead, my children’s early schooling and my own conglomeration of experience. I have always been crafty, as they say. I have organized everything into files by month and this is key, however, artist that I am I don’t usually look too much up any more but pick or make something up on the spot. It is lovely to repeat projects year to year, creating rhythm, routine and ritual, the security of childhood and the things of which memories are made. For example most years we incorporate dragon bread – my children love it!

Projects for September

Drawing or painting Michael or the dragon or both, to place on the wall (and this year to actively contemplate) (first two weeks).

Dragon bread sometime closer to the festival (September 29th) 2nd two weeks.

I think I will add a harvest soup as after September we are into the very full All Hallows Eve! Hmmm, I’ll think on that the harvest soup and lanterns of Martinmas are a joy to me – I will work them either into this month or next.

I will also organizing my waking and bedtime songs which I have never done and choose one or each for this month or season (or more likely, I will sing this through ‘till Christmas based on past experience). For now I will simply choose one I remember as today is September! This morning I sang the first waking song that came to mind, so that will be the one I continue. Work with what I’ve got!

Waking Song

"Good morning to you, good morning to you, We're all in our places, with sunshining faces,

Oh this is the way, we start our new day, new day, new dilly, dilly daaaaay, hey!"

Bedtime Song

“Train whistle blowing, makes a sleepy noise

underneath the covers go all the girls and boys,

rocking, rolling, riding, out along the bay

all bound for morning town many miles away.

Tyler’s at the engine, Carissa rings the bell,

Daddy swing the lantern to show that all is well

rocking, rolling, riding, out along the bay

all bound for morning town many miles away.

Somewhere it is morning, somewhere it is day,

Somewhere there is morning town, many miles away.”

This is probably one of my children’s very favorites and I have sung it often for years. I do not even know if I have the words right but it doesn’t matter. Any song from your childhood, or a nursery rhyme book, children’s tv show, nap time at school, lullaby collection or whatever song speaks to you – or you happen to now, is suitable – don’t be shy!

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