Happy New Year! I wrote this blog on Three Kings Day , January 6. This date always brings me the gifts of the past season. When one goes within during the month of December, starting after the Feast of Thanksgiving and prepares for the winter solstice by observing Advent or some other guiding ritual, it becomes a sacred time and act. To withdraw to prepare for the birth of Christ or the everlasting light within oneself.
It pays off to descend into darkness for the month as the light dims and the air gets colder and walk in faith that the light is coming, despite any fear, doubt or upset that arises in this dark time. The light is born,(and was always there) and then the two weeks after – as the sun and light grows then the gifts of the three kings in January are felt in the spirit, in the body, in one’s life. That’s how I have been celebrating the holidays for the past five years, largely eschewing western traditional emphasis on speeding up to shop, overeat and hyper consume – the opposite of what the season is about. It should be a participatory consciousness and union with the cosmos. Many people get depressed after the holidays because they missed this alignment ritual, I believe. But by allowing ourselves to “die” and cleanse by fasting, praying and preparing inwardly, the gifts of joy and the spirit come instead – Rebirth, renewal and the recognition of eternal life within!
This was my family’s first Christmas in the U.S. mainland in four years. It took a lot of mindful effort not to be negative with the newspaper emphasis on Black Friday, sales and consumption of the holiday rather than the experiencing of it. I focused my family on the ritual of that time of year instead. We went out to a lovely tree farm and ritualistically selected a tree, prayed for permission to cut it down, and brought it home. Arby Girl, as the tree was now known, graced our house. The kids and I also celebrated Saint Nicholas Day on Dec. 6, a Dutch tradition of Sinterklaas I have been celebrating since I was a child via my Dutch father. This year Sinterklaas brought us tickets to Colorado to spend with my father at my childhood home in Boulder. The last thing I ever wanted to spend money on was tickets to Colorado in the winter! Having spent most of my life there and surviving decades of frigid winters that aggravates my delicate vata balance, I much preferred the tropical climates of St. Croix and Florida!
But family draws you in during Christmas, which without family can be terribly lonely. The hoildays really are time to be with the ones you love! And love is the real gift of Christmas. One need have nothing except time and a physical body to be available for others, because stuff comes and goes, but love is eternal. It was a great gift for my children to be around their “Opa” and numerous family and friends in Colorado, as well as for me to help my brother care for our 80-year-old dad. But just as the frigid winter closed in on the US, the kids and I made it out of Denver back to our new home in sunny Florida!
I left Boulder, Colorado more than three years ago to find a more sustainable and better lifestyle for my kids and I. Read about my Mythic Return Here. The Householder Yogini and her kids travelled first to Buenos Aires, then to St. Croix in the U.S. Virgin Islands. Little did I know that the best place to live was back in the U.S and in DeLand, Florida! This quaint little town is the Volusia County seat, which was named by AARP a one of the best paces to retire on $30k a year. So yes, it’s affordable, and I can walk everywhere from my house, a restored 1911 Victorian a few blocks from the library and an old-fashioned downtown. DeLand just won the Orlando Sentinel’s best “other downtown” too. DeLand was named one of the best small town revivals in America by CNN this year, and it has a growing and thriving artist and yoga community.
Michael Arth, a friend from Boulder I have known since childhood, revitalized the Garden District from a rundown crack town into a pedestrian-friendly and integrated neighborhood. I was able to walk from my house to a school board meeting recently when some right-wingers got upset about a high school text book issue. I can walk to my church, Buddhist meditation group, a grocery store and Asian food store, library, cute shops and boutiques downtown. Called the Athens of Florida and filled with gorgeous art deco architecture, there is even a bell tower on city hall that tolls every hour. Stetson University, Florida’s oldest private university, is here as well as The Museum of Art, DeLand. There are dozens of art and music fairs, and we have a monstrous farmer’s market and flea market. I rarely have to drive, which was a big goal of mine leaving the U.S. I sold my Prius in Boulder and lived in Buenos Aires not needing a car. I did need one in St. Croix, which was a drag. Coming back to the U.S. I got hit with horrendously expensive car insurance expense. So I just don’t drive much to make up for the expense.
Walking is great yoga! My daughter rides her bike to middle school, and was cast as a featured extra in the movie “Walt Before Mickey” that was shot here recently. My son didn’t fit too well in the large public high school culture, so he does home school with the Florida Virtual School. He is in honors classes and is into his computer. Online is the future of education, I believe, so he’s ahead of the curve. Here in Florida he can start taking advanced placement classes through Daytona State College and graduate with an associates degree by the time he is finished with high school.
Our neighborhood is a splendid mix of artistic people. Michael is a filmmaker, as are our neighbors. Kaye Armstrong and Tony Fostera, who were the audio and video crew who filmed Joseph Campbell in Bill Moyer’s Classic The Power of Myth! how synchonistic is that? The neighborhood is not some elite, gentrified, gated, exclusive zone either, but retains a diverse population. Earl is a farmer and dyed his beard orange using Cheetos for our neighborhood Halloween party. Another neighbor, Beverly, is the PR head at Bethune-Cookman University, and her daughter, Alana, is practicing yoga with my daughter and I. Hope to get her blogging about her experiences! Beverly is a writer too, so we have started a writer’s group. This is also artist paradise, as it’s a tourist destination, right on the edge of the Ocala National Forest and near numerous springs. My art is hanging at the Funky Trunk in DeLand, and still at the Henle Studio in St. Croix. I joined the Sandcastle storytellers, which meets at the Boston Coffee House. And of course there’s the beach! palm trees! Hibiscus flowers! Palm tree! Geckos! And my hair looks great with all the humidity!
Amazingly enough, Deirdre Englehart and her 3-year-old daughter Caera took my online kids yoga classes on Powhow at the Mythic Yoga Studio and happens to live the next town over! She has a Ph.D. in early childhood education. Another neighbor, Mandy, was a third grade teacher who is now staying home with her 2-year-old son Trenton. They come by our house to play in the playhouse and hang out in the garden. Of course the garden is slowly flourishing again! I don’t have my friend Tonio in St. Croix to help me, so I just started digging again. The sandy soil is so different from St. Croix or Colorado, so I am learning through the Master Gardener Extension program what to do. I have always believed in composting, cooking my own food and not buying a lot of restaurant food or packaged food. I like to grow as much of my own food as possible, as it connects one to nature and the food one is consuming. Great for kids! It’s sadhana, a rhythm to life. I am teaching kids online yoga classes and kids yoga teacher trainings for teachers and parents too, as well as monthly live family yoga classes at the Light House Children’s Museum in downtown DeLand.
Being back in America it’s hard to stick with this, as restaurants are ubiquitous and cheap, not expensive like St. Croix, and few people are very connected to nature. Plus I like cooking from scratch, as the Householder Yogini has always put her family first and delights in being a mother entrenched in the art of home economics and to raise her children in a yogic, healthy way, despite the tragedy of her husband’s death more than 10 years ago.
People often ask me, “How did you do it? How did you survive so much stress and difficulty?” I always reply, “Yoga and stories!” Truly yoga has been my lifeboat and stories have been my compass. They still are, a the Householder Yogini starts again, and Storytime Yoga with the Queen of Bohemia delights and educates little children in her new neighborhood in DeLand, Florida.
Join me! Start telling stories orally to your children! Get down to your local library and check out some great folktales to tell and act out with yoga! Start breathing in and out with awareness. Start a meditation practice with your kids, even a few minutes of silence before meals or walking in nature. Start a family yoga and storytelling hour in your home. Look into growing your own food with your kids, even if it’s just a tomato, and cook that tomato and eat it! The whole family will get connected and healthy with yoga and stories! The rewards are endless.
More Great Links on Kids Yoga!
Follow me on Pinterest: Kids Yoga Homeschool Resources.