The stories from the two Dry Gables Series include an accompanying post from the Sparkle Schoolhouse Educator, Meredith Markow. Each post offers insights into the characters and dynamics of the stories, along with suggestions for how to use the stories as parenting or teaching tools!
Hello, Sparklers! Please, pull up a chair and do nothing productive with Lena Denken and me! Doing nothing productive isn’t so easy for folks like Lena and me, but deep down, we know that sometimes, doing nothing is the most productive thing we can do!
Lena, she is so loyal and dedicated. She takes care of her people, of her community. She will stop at almost nothing (except doing nothing) to make sure that her network is supported. She takes care of details that others miss. She is responsible, dutiful and completely reliable. She is a problem-solver and a troubleshooter. Lena likes to form strong personal bonds with others, and she is deeply committed to family, friends and to the well being of her community. She is extremely reliable, responsible and trustworthy. The thing to remember, however, is that she works as tirelessly as she does to create stability and security in the world—in her world.
Lena is saying: “I want to feel supported!”
And as much as she wants to feel supported, it’s very hard for her. This is why she is compelled to take matters into her own hands, and why is close to impossible for her to do Nothing! How could anyone do anything better than she can do it, herself?
In our story we hear:
Now – part of the problem was that Lena would never really let them plan anything without giving her opinions or advice… It’s not that she thought everything was going to be wrong – its just that… well, she felt pretty sure that everything would be fine … so long as she had a hand in it. She was just very good at details and making sure things were done. So … against her own intentions … she meddled. She got involved. She gave advice – and when her birthday finally arrived, she tended to already know everything that was going to happen and she couldn’t help but notice when those things … well – fell a little short.
Because our Lenas so want to feel safe and cared for, but have such a hard time feeling safe and cared for, they can be anxious. And they can complain because of how hard they have to work to compensate for what others don’t or can’t do. And this is why Lena needs Marta. Marta doesn’t just tell Lena to “let go and relax”; Marta lets go and relaxes herself. She is living proof for Lena that all is well, and in fact, that the life of greater ease is found when we trust that things are just as they are meant to be, without our having to micro-manage:
“Do you know what you need to do in order to have a wonderful birthday?”
“What?” asked Lena at once very curious and a little suspicious.
“Nothing” said Marta with a sparkle in her eye.
This was not what Lena was expecting and she frowned in confusion.
“Nothing? How does one do nothing?”
“Like this” said Marta who tipped her head back slightly, “When it comes to your birthday – you do not plan, suggest, give advice, or even ask questions. You just … let it go”
Marta brings peace and calm and reassurances, but most of all, she models for Lena that she has everything that she needs with her at all times. As long as she can tend to what gives her most joy; as long as she can feel her the earth beneath her feet and take a deep breath, then she is connected to the earth and to the heavens, and she is part of a much larger circle of life. It is only here that Lena can truly relax, knowing that true reassurance comes from the safety of being connected to the greater whole. Marta lives comfortably and harmoniously in connectedness of the world. Lena can get there, too. She just has to look a little harder and do nothing to get there! Lena wants to know that even if she doesn’t tend to every detail, that things may even work out for themselves.
Marta says to Lena, “It is safe to relax.”
Marta helps Lena to realize that she can embrace a life of greater ease, and in doing say, can say to herself, “Maybe this will work out fine. Maybe I don't have to foresee every possible problem. Maybe I can trust others, and I don’t have to do it all myself.”
What we hope for our Lenas is to have faith in others, and to trust in the goodness of life.
We want her to become more relaxed and optimistic.
And thanks to Marta, she can do all of this. She can feel her feet on the earth, and she can breathe!
When you notice your little Lena “meddling” or having trouble relaxing and letting others take care of matters, call on our peaceful and calm Marta!
Here’s what you can do to bring a little Marta to your Lena:
Feel Your Feet and Breathe: When your Lena seems a little nervous, try walking barefoot in the grass. Stomp. Stomp and stomp. Then skip. Hop. Skip. Stand on your toes. Squat and sit. And take in a deeeeeep breath. Then breath again. This can help replace little Lena’s worry with the security that the strong earth supports her and the big, fluffy air keeps her light.
Feel your Feet and Breathe some more.
Trace and calm: Get out your crayons. Draw a continual shape, like a figure eight…(or the shape in the video.) Over and over and over, trace it. Over and over and over. No talking. No discussion. Just tracing. And doing Nothing. It was help to calm down your Lenas nervous system.
Bake-Away! Bake away your cares. Do what Marta does best. Get your fingers in the dough and make something sweet. It doesn’t have to have any purpose other than to be a fun activity. But if it tastes good, all the better. But no worries if it doesn’t! Just Bake-Away your cares!
Planned Surprise! Lenas don’t much like surprises. Much better to have a plan than a surprise. But tell your Lena that you are planning a fun activitiy for her—tell her what it is, like going out to dinner, or a day outdoors, but then tell her that you will take care of all of the rest!
Just for Fun! Do something with Lena just for fun. Show her that even in your own busy life, that it’s OK to take a break. At select times, put aside your agenda, and do something even a little frivolous. Model for her that you, too, trust that life will take care of life. If you trust that, then so can she.
Our Lenas need our Martas! Hands Together!
Marta helps Lena to feel secure.
She helps her to feel the earth under her feet. She helps her to breathe!
About the Author
Meredith has been working with adults and children of all ages for the past 25 years as a Waldorf Teacher and Educational Consultant. She received a B.A. with a focus on child development and child psychology from the University of Michigan, in 1984, an M.A. Ed from Washington University in 1987, and her Waldorf Teaching Certificate from the Lehrerausbildung (Teacher Training) in Nurnberg, Germany in 1989. She was certified as a Living Inquiries Facilitator in 2014, and she completed her formal teaching certification with The Enneagram Institute in 2014. Her work in the classroom and with individuals and groups is designed to help people of all ages to drop self-limiting beliefs to live a more joyful and compassionate life.