For almost 9 years I have had an internet presence. For a time I was a member of the old WE-Homeschool yahoo group and then branched out to form my own yahoo group, Waldorf at Home (which eventually spawned both Melisa Nielsen's group as well as Marsha Johnson's!). My yahoo group grew and grew, reaching somewhere in the neighborhood of 2,500 members before I closed it.
I closed it three years ago, wishing to create a more intimate space for people. One way to do this was to create a forum, not a yahoo group. The other way was to charge a nominal fee. This allowed me to justify devoting the considerable time and effort I put into keeping the group going. For it did not run itself! I needed to be "on" constantly, ensuring that the tone and warmth and personal touch of the group was palpable. And it was, as many, many people, over the years told me.
Of course I was not alone and could not have done what I did alone. A core of valuable and trusted members soon established themselves. And of course my hand-picked moderators shouldered much of the work of the group, keeping threads ticking over, helping reassure new parents, offering advice and warm and often wry humor. When perennial questions like "how do I resurface my blackboard" came up for the seemingly zillioneth time and I felt like screaming, it was often one of them who picked up the question, with grace and freshness. A number of women came and went over the years as moderators - Barbara Benson, Lauri Bolland, Serina Lopez, Dionne Plantamura, Catherine Forest, Lisa Marshall, Karen Petz, Carrie Dendtler and of course Leigh Anders from the Christopherus office were my Circle of Wise Women.
And when it came time for me to move on and to close my forum, they were gracious enough to understand and to offer whatever support they could. Likewise, members also expressed understanding and support for my decision. But there was also great trepidation. What would happen to the archives? So much information, support and advice had been shared over the years. What an enormous blow to the Waldorf community if that was to be lost! And indeed, for a number of years after the original yahoo group closed, I had kept the archives open so that people could search them and hopefully find some answers to their questions. But this would not be possible, for several reasons, to do with the forum.
And so I decided to compile what I could, focusing especially on the Early Years sections of the forum as these were, by far, the biggest sections and it was here that people often expressed their deepest needs, being as they were often new to parenting and new to Waldorf. My original idea was to somehow put much of this onto the Christopherus website as a resource. I also looked at the Personal Growth sub forum and at the Therapeutic Waldorf forums with the same thought - but the nature of those posts there was, for the most part, way too personal and intimate to be shared more widely. To take those posts I would have had to keep them intact, as they were. And that would violate people's trust in the smallness of the community (though, being on the internet, there was actually more than one breach of confidentiality that occurred) and did not seem right.
But I knew that I could do this with the threads from the Early Years sub forum. There, many or the questions and even responses were "generic" enough for me to rewrite them, condense them and form them so that they could form the heart of a book. And that is what I did. For it soon became apparent that the wealth to be found in the archives was not something I could just slap onto the Christopherus website. A book was crying out to be created. And as I had been repeatedly asked over the years to write and early years book, I saw that this was my opening. I had often thought about how I could write such a book but could not quite "land" on a way that felt right. But now, I could take as the heart of the book the conversation, the mother to mother sharing that had been the essence of the forum and base a book on this! I spent several hundred hours combing through the archives, re-writing threads and shortening many, but also trying, as far as possible, to keep the warmth, humor and aliveness that was so valuable about the forum, to the fore. And this is why I can honestly say that this book is written by me! It is not a case of having simply cut and pasted from the forum.
And so you, dear reader, when you read our new book The Journey Begins at Home: A Waldorf Early Years Guide (whose title of course reflects the origin of the book), you will not be able to tell what I have rewritten (ie most of it) and what were the original words of the original post! Even the words of the moderators have been changed somewhat. And this was done to protect people's privacy and to make the book slightly less personal; and more widely useful.
For the point is, we all, as parents of young children, struggle with many of the same challenges and issues. Here in this book you will discover questions about a wide range of parenting dilemmas, ranging from how to be comfortable being a stay at home mother to when to use the potty to issues around the family bed, play dates and much more. And the answers to those questions while mainly from me, also have contributions from both a range of moderators and from other forum members. Indeed, there came a point where I realized I kept using contributions from two particular forum members again and again. So I contacted both of them to ask if I could use their words. Both were delighted to help and so you will find "Tamara" and "Elsa's" contributions as well. And those are not their real names, again, to protect their privacy.
The book also contains long, long pieces written by me on various aspects of parenting and child development including a very valuable section on the twelve senses (based on a study I had led on the forum). Carrie Dendtler of theparentingpassageway.com also sent in a number of contributions.
In all the book is over 430 pages and is in ebook format. We know that in this grave economic climate many people are struggling so we hope this will make things a bit easier for them!