Monday, March 21, 2011

A Waldorf Conference: Inspiration and a Grand Time

Isn't Grand a great word? When was the last time you heard it? I'll bet the person was either over seventy or using it to describe their car, as in Pontiac Grand Am, in which case they were probably under twenty-five.

But Grand is exactly how this weekend turned out to be. Accompanied by my co-pilot (of the non-driving but highly entertaining sort), Aragorn, 12, we set out for Viroqua, Wisconsin, at 4:30am, Saturday morning. Destination: a conference on Simplicity Parenting. What attracted me to register was that it was a Waldorf conference. I was looking forward to my painting workshop in the afternoon, but the whole simplicity thing  seemed sort of old hat. Oh well, maybe a Waldorf approach to simplicity would hold new treasures. How little I knew!

We stopped for gas and caffeine and Aragorn talked me into sharing one of those energy colas that I now know taste like sweetened recycled pee with bubbles. Luckily, I also had a thermos of tea and some good chocolate on hand. We took one wrong turn and ended up 20 miles from Madison before I knew what hit me, that is an hour out of the way.

Why drive four hours (OK, five and a half) to spend a weekend in lectures and workshops? As a parent and educator of my children, the spirit and intellect need some renewing and fresh air once in awhile. Inner work is the term for this in Steiner language, becoming a better person, thus a better mother and better teacher through a conscious effort to do so is the idea. Besides, I am really bad at painting and always hoping for a miracle break-though each time I try.
The guest speaker was Kim John Payne, author of "Simplicity Parenting." His lovely Australian accent made him a joy to listen to, and he was a good speaker. (Accents make me go weak in the knee anyway.) He  had so much to offer in information, statistics and practical advice. This Waldorf crowd should have had it all figured out, we knew not too surround our kids with too much junk, overschedule them or let them sit in front of the tv. Sitting there, though, I realized that modern life had unfurled its insidious tiny leaves into the clean lines we had set out for our family's life together. Like a noxious, viney weed, the moment your concentration is  focused elsewhere, the moment you begin to listen to the "shoulds" and "musts" of society, it enters your life and fills the spaces you had reserved but forgot to safeguard. More on each topic will follow in further posts, it would fill pages! For simplicity's sake I will offer my insights on his counsel in tidbits rather than the huge post I've been trying to write all week. I am learning...all the time.

Here is a link to an article on his organization's blog:

1 comment:

  1. I am looking forward to your posts about this conference. I've only begun to simplify our lives (having done maybe a tenth of a percent of what I feel needs done!) and appreciate any input I can get on making it easier, convincing reluctant family to join me in this endeavor.

    I used Grand last week, and had almost the exact same thought as you! Who says Grand anymore! love it!


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